|Randy Johnson (Icon/SMI)|
Well, the Mark Teixeira signing isn’t official yet and despite rumors that the Red Sox are on the cusp of signing Brad Penny to be their fifth starter and Josh Bard to be either their starting or backup catcher, those rumors aren’t official. So all we have to whet our appetite this week is R.A. Dickey, Randy Johnson and Willy Taveras. Fun times. Is it April yet?
New York Yankees signed RHP Chien-Ming Wang to a one-year contract.
Pittsburgh Pirates signed INF Garrett Jones, RHP Juan Mateo, INF Andy Phillips, OF Jeff Salazar to minor league contracts with invitations to spring training. Invited non-roster RHP Daniel McCutchen and non-roster OF Andrew McCutchen to spring training.
Seattle Mariners signed C Jamie Burke to a minor league contract.
Minnesota Twins signed R.A. Dickey to a minor league contract.
This will be the second go-round for Dickey and the Twins, who waited until after the Rule V draft this time. Last year, the Twins inked Dickey only to lose him to the Seattle Mariners in the Rule V draft. A converted knuckleballer, Dickey threw 112.1 innings for the Mariners with a 5.21 ERA. It was actually his second best ERA ever (posted a 5.09 ERA in 2003) so… progress?
At age 33, Dickey is a spring chicken for a knuckleballer, so don’t count him out in contributing long-term. It’s a nice signing by the Twins, who are looking to fill their slots cheaply as they prepare to contend again in the increasingly hostile AL Central.
San Francisco Giants signed LHP Randy Johnson to a one-year contract.
I love this deal for the Giants. It’s short-term, it puts fannies in the seats (he’s five wins away from 300) and it deepens their pitching staff. What’s not to like? Giants GM Brian Sabean has done a fantastic job this offseason, a topic I wrote about over at MVN Outsider today as well.
I don’t know if Johnson can help mentor the young kids surrounding him in the staff, but this frees up Sabean to look at dealing either Noah Lowry or Jonathan Sanchez for offensive help, primarily at first base, because that’s really the only open slot. I would think Orlando Hudson would be a nice signing for them but all indications are that the club wants Manny Burris to be a starter, so I don’t see that happening. With the candidates still available on the market to play first, I think Sabean would be better off retaining the pitching and investing in a first baseman. They can definitely make a run at the division title.
Cincinnati Reds signed CF Willy Taveras to a two-year contract.
Met with lukewarm approval from the fan base, Taveras will enter 2009 as the Reds’ starting center fielder and brings a ton of speed to the game. The Reds, who are moving their game to contact hitting and speed (started under the Wayne Krivsky era and apparently continued with Walt Jocketty as general manager) liked Taveras’ 68 stolen bases last year enough to hand him a two-year contract despite the fact that Taveras would have been under team control for 2010 even on a one-year deal.
In 2007, Taveras hit .320/.367/.392 but that sank to .251/.308/.296. Clearly you can’t confuse this guy with a home run hitter, after “bashing” just one home run all year long in 2008… playing as a Colorado Rockie! They must have really juiced up the humidor this past season.
Bill James and Marcel both project Taveras to have a .335 OBP next year, which isn’t exactly fantastic but is certainly an improvement over .308. While with the Houston Astros, Taveras had a promising start to his career, worth 2.2 and 2.4 wins to the Astros in 2005 and 2006, respectively. Colorado hasn’t been kind to him though, as he posted 0.6 and -1.9 these past two years with his fielding taking a nosedive from 12.7 in Houston in 2006 to -10.2 in Colorado in 2007.
I’m not sold on Taveras, but he could surprise us all.