In Jon Daniels’s first winter on the job (2005-06), it wasn’t until the Winter Meetings that he traded Alfonso Soriano to the Nationals, his first move affecting the core of the club. Days later he traded for Vicente Padilla. Late in December he signed Kevin Millwood, two weeks after which he made the trade with San Diego that shall not be recounted.
The next off-season, Daniels didn’t do much of note until after the Winter Meetings, signing Kenny Lofton and Eric Gagné and making the Danks-Masset/McCarthy deal in a two-week, mid-December stretch.
After the 2007 season, Daniels signed Milton Bradley on December 10, traded for Josh Hamilton on December 21, and signed Eddie Guardado on January 11.
Daniels didn’t mess with the core much after 2008, signing Omar Vizquel in January and Andruw Jones in February.
December 2009: Rich Harden and Darren Oliver. January 2010: Vladimir Guerrero and Colby Lewis.
Daniels signed Yorvit Torrealba after Thanksgiving 2010 had passed. He signed Adrian Beltre in January 2011, three weeks before trading for Mike Napoli.
When Daniels signed Joe Nathan last November 21, it was the earliest on the calendar he’s ever made what was thought at the time to be a key winter acquisition. And we all remember the special circumstances: Texas was determined to send a quick, unmistakable message to Neftali Feliz, early in his off-season conditioning program, that he was a starting pitcher.
Nathan probably got more money (two years and an option, $14.75 million guaranteed) than he would have gotten a month later. The much younger Ryan Madson, coming off 32 saves and strong strikeout-walk numbers, got one year in January, $8.5 million guaranteed. Francisco Cordero, coming off 37 saves, got one year in February, $4.5 million. Francisco Rodriguez, Frankie Francisco, and Matt Capps were all coming off useful seasons, and got less (later) than Texas agreed to pay Nathan, who was coming off an uneven season that followed Tommy John surgery, on his 37th birthday.
But the Rangers accepted the overpay on Nathan in order to drive home an instant point with Feliz, whose off-season transition to starter a year earlier hadn’t gone well.
Everyone hoisted the Angels (Pujols/Wilson/Iannetta) and Marlins (Reyes/Bell/Buehrle) onto floats last off-season.
A year earlier, it was Boston (Gonzalez/Crawford) whose cannonball splash stole all the headlines.
None of those three teams made the playoffs.
They won the winter, no doubt, but that’s all they won.
I’m not suggesting you necessarily win by waiting. I’d have been happy if Texas was the team Torii Hunter wanted to strike a quick deal with. But he wanted the Tigers, they wanted him, and props to both for not messing around.
Waiting isn’t always the best course, but impulsiveness is usually worse.
Miami admitted this week, pathetically, that it screwed up last winter.
The Red Sox paid Crawford because there was no Pujols and no Fielder to give that money to, and they were able to get the Dodgers to help them undo their disaster.
There will come a time when Los Angeles regrets the Pujols deal, especially if that club doesn’t win a World Series with him soon. But right now the Angels aren’t thinking about that, presumably worried more about the P.R. hit if they don’t end up signing Zack Greinke now that Hunter has come out and told Mike DiGiovanna [Los Angeles Times] that he’d have taken the one-year, $13.3 million qualifying offer had Los Angeles offered it two weeks ago.
If there’s any urgency in the division, that’s where it is. Not in Arlington.
Relax a bit. Read a book. (Hint, hint.) Dig up a little patience.
There’s not just one way to do this, and just because Texas hasn’t added (or brought back) a big piece yet doesn’t mean anything. Yesterday we got two new Cy Young Award winners, one a former top pick in the entire draft, the other a pitcher who signed for 10 cents on the dollar coming out of the late first round, and was designated for assignment and run through waivers untouched and outrighted five years after that, and was designated for assignment again and run through waivers untouched again and outrighted again another five years later, and signed a minor league deal the following year, was Rule 5’d a month after that but didn’t make his new club out of camp and cleared waivers, and was outrighted again that following winter, and signed another minor league deal, and was designated for assignment again and run through waivers untouched again and outrighted again, and signed yet another minor league deal, and is now R.A. Dickey, Warrior.
It isn’t easy being patient. But it pays off a lot of the time.
It’s not a race. And it’s not an exact science. Sometimes you aim to sign Cliff Lee, and when that doesn’t work out you settle for Adrian Beltre in January.