Wow, 2005. Doesn't it seem like just a few moments ago we were all panicking the lights would go out and that we didn't have enough canned goods to make it through Y2K? This opening week of the new year should be pretty eventful for baseball as the last remaining free agents will get serious about where they end up.
Carlos Beltran is the obvious prize and much like Ivan Rodriguez last season, he'll be about the last credible free agent to sign. The Astros only have until Saturday to sign him, forcing them to lay it all on the table early. The Yankees and Mets will be charging hard with the Cubs and a few other teams hanging back in the weeds, hopeful that a few things break their way. Boras' 10/200 looks optimistic, but I think the final numbers will be closer to that than most think right now.
The Randy Johnson trade will be finalized later this week, allowing the D-Backs to get serious about getting Shawn Green. Vazquez will have to be convinced to stay in L.A., far from his family, and that won't be an easy sell. (Did anyone else notice that J.D. Drew signed for exactly what Darren Dreifort did a few years back? Bad omen.)
Odalis Perez is the only pitcher left worth much. There are some teams, including L.A. and Milwaukee, that don't seem to have enough pitchers on their staff. The trade market, as predicted, is going to be more interesting and have more talent than the free agents.
Now that D.C. has it's baseball team, MLB will need to find ownership. There are already a few ownership groups in place with two way out front. The Malek group (www.baseballindc.com) will have only a late challenge from a group put together by former Braves president Stan Kasten. This should be in place near the start of the season. It'd be a nice move for Bob DuPuy if he could pull this off without headaches and on time.
Once Washington is in place, the derby for the nexy "build me a stadium or else" will start. This time, we have the best cases for new stadiums in Oakland and Miami. Miami is in the lead here, already in "productive discussions" with Las Vegas. Mayor Oscar Goodman think Vegas can put together a stadium in eighteen months once guaranteed a team. That fast time frame would seem less credible anywhere else; Vegas can put up a casino the size of Wynn's new place in two years. (Does anyone think it's possible that Loria would sell the Marlins to a Vegas group, then buy the Nationals?)
Finally, my car buying saga came to an end and, I think, a happy one. There's a new Acura RSX in my driveway. A very good dealership experience at Hubler Acura got me the deal I wanted. I won't have the AWD or screaming horsepower of the Subaru or the "cute/cool" factor of the Mini Convertible, but I got 95% of the things I wanted without as many tradeoffs as I would make with the others. The car drives like a dream, with the SportShift the perfect compromise for those who like a manual but have to have an automatic. The handling is great, the leather is comfortable, and all I need now is to get the XM moved over from the Volvo.
I'm thinking of replacing the stock stereo in the Acura to get one that also has an auxiliary jack for the iPod and XM. It'd just be easier. Any suggestions?
I'm finishing up my BP '05 piece - I'm serious, you're gonna LOVE this and finally, I'll have the data everyone's been begging for since I started doing UTK - and a magazine piece. Then the real work begins on "The Juice." I have one more (big) interview to do, so if blogging gets light, you'll know why. Add in the ASMI Injuries Conference and another meeting in January and it should be an interesting month ... and yes, the Conference is open to the public if you're interested.