Welcome to Orlando, home of Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and the 2006 MLB Winter Meetings.
I’m here at the unbelievably large Swan & Dolphin hotels, where the entire baseball world has gathered to meet. Agents will be peddling their players, GMs will be bouncing trade ideas off one another and writers will be scurrying the lobby, looking for any nugget of information they can find.
I will be providing updates throughout the meetings, trying to give you a feel for what is going on here.
I don’t expect the Yankees to do that much this week, as their biggest needs are a backup catcher, right-handed hitting first baseman and utility infielder, though Miguel Cairo should return to fill that final spot.
The Yanks could also look at another arm or two, but don’t expect it to be any of the major names on the market such as Zito, Schmidt, Meche or Lilly. Andy Pettitte seems like a more likely candidate if he wants to pitch next year and is willing to leave Houston, but only time will tell.
I’ll be back later when there’s some news to report.
7:00 pm: Relatively slow day in the lobby. The only official moves to be announced were Jose Guillen to the Mariners, a contract extension for Chris Carpenter with the Cardinals and the Giants bringing back Rich Aurilia and Pedro Feliz.
Of the hot rumors floating around, Ted Lilly to the Cubs was probably the most talked about. I think this would be a good move for the Cubs, since Lilly has shown his ability to pitch in the American League. Moving to the National League can only help, so he could be a nice addition for a team that desperately needs pitching.
If the Cubs sign Lilly, I could see the Blue Jays moving to sign Gil Meche, since they’ll have to replace Lilly. Toronto has money to spend, so they won’t be scared off.
As for the Yankees, not much going on. Brian Cashman continues to say that he is in no rush to do anything, and quite frankly, why would he be?
Cashman said that teams have still been calling occasionally about A-Rod, but he hasn’t changed his mind when it comes to trading his third baseman. Teams can call all they want, Rodriguez isn’t going anywhere.
Chris Britton showed up in Cashman’s suite and spoke with the beat writers for a few minutes. He lives about three hours away, so he decided to come up and meet with the Yankees’ executives for the first time since being traded. I’ll say this … he’s a big boy. I wasn’t sure if he was a reliever or an offensive lineman.
Octavio Dotel, who didn’t make much of an impression during his brief time in New York, is talking with the Red Sox, Devil Rays and Indians.
One name noticably absent from the lobby buzz is Barry Bonds. This guy may break the all-time home record next year … if he can find a team to sign him. The guess here is that he ends up back with the Giants, because I can’t see any other team taking a chance on him. Maybe the A’s, but that’s about it. And if Oakland signs Mike Piazza as they have been rumored to do, that would end the Bonds speculation.
One name that seems to be on everybody’s lips is Manny Ramirez. It seems like every time I talk to someone new, the conversation turns to, "Where do you think Manny will wind up?" The latest buzz has the Dodgers, Mariners and possibly the Giants in the mix, though Los Angeles seems like the most serious of the three. If the J.D. Drew deal is made official with Boston this week, I’ll believe Manny is going to be traded. Until then, it’s the same old Manny talk.