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No Relief

How do you spell Relief?

Mike Piazza’s old spring training Tango partner Guillermo Mota, a talented right-handed set-up reliever who had a down year in 2005 after two fine seasons in 03-04, was included in the Josh Beckett trade at the last moment. According to The Boston Globe:

The Sox, according to a major league source with direct knowledge of the negotiations, threatened to call off the deal because of health concerns over Beckett unless the Marlins included Mota. And so, on the busiest shopping day of the year, the Sox can sit back today pleased with not only a full cart of goods but what appears to be at bargain prices.

In adding the 32-year-old Mota to the deal, the Sox had to sweeten the deal only with Harvey Garcia, a 21-year-old righthander who in 32 games with Single A Greenville last season went 3-5 with a 2.01 ERA in 44 2/3 innings.

Meanwhile, the Daily News reports that B.J. Ryan, the hard throwing southpaw coveted by the Yankees and a host of other teams around the league, is close to signing a five-year, $47 million deal to become the closer of the Toronto Blue Jays. The Jays are also rumored to be hot after starting pitcher A.J. Burnett, and may even trade their erstwhile closer Miguel Batista to the Rangers for Kevin Mench, the only outfielder in the majors with a larger noggin than Godzilla Matui.

Beckett, Mota, Ryan–who’d be moving from Baltimore to Toronto, the chance of Burnett joining him: the AL East is adding some arms. With Billy Wagner set to to ink a big deal either with the Mets or back in Philly, Trevor Hoffman remains as the best high-profile reliver left on the market. I doubt that there is any chance that he’d want to become an eighth inning guy at this stage in his career, what with so many saves already to his name, but he’d be a swell cherce to set-up Rivera. Again, I don’t think Hoffman’s ego could handle it (understandably so too), but with Ryan gone, it’s a nice little fantasy.

With the Cubs spending liberally on set-up men Eyre and Howry, the Yankees are in a tight spot. The big names–even Flash Gordon–may sign elsewhere. If the middle of the road guys are getting $3-4 million, then Gordon is going to get more like $6-8 million, no? That’s a lot of cheese. Steve Karsay cheese. I’m not crazy about Farnsworth, but if you signed him Gordon it wouldn’t be awful.

Relievers are so funny. A journeyman like Todd Jones can turn around and be lights out one year and then have an ERA of 4.50 the following season. It seems crazy to spend a lot of money on but a few select relief pitchers–guys like Wagner, maybe even Ryan. The other guys, it’s a crap shoot. Mota was nasty for two years, had a down season last year, so what will he be in 2006?

Bullpen and centerfield, it’s simple the Yankees tell us. That is what they need to address between now and spring training. Though they were not confident that they’d be able to ink Ryan, I wonder what their plan B or plan C is gunna yield. Anyhow, it’s exciting to see all Hot Stove movement over the past couple of days, and somewhat unfamiliar to find the Yankees standing off to the side. Their two closest rivals, the Red Sox and the Mets, are clearly out-Yankeein’ the Yanks. Still a long ways to go before Opening Day, but the final days of 2005 are providing some interesting results thus far wouldn’t you say?

Oh, and one last word on the Sox deal. I’m not familiar enough with the young players they gave up to speak on how they’ll pan out for Florida, but I can tell you my impressions of the newest members of the Red Sox. Josh Beckett and Guillermo Mota are two easy guys to root against if you are a Yankee fan. Beckett is the goods when he’s healthy, a tall, cocky Texan, who already has some pretty nice success against the Bombers. He’s good and he’s got attitude, perfect for the rivalry. Mota, a hot-tempered slinger should add some fireworks as well. I don’t know if he’s wised up any since his two confrontations with Piazza but he struck me as a punk in those days. He can be a nasty pitcher, and he’s certainly an easy guy to root against.

Mike Lowell, on the other hand, I would find hard to hate under the most extreme circumstances–and this here’s the most extreme you can get for a Yankee fan. I won’t necessarily root for him, but I think he’ll do just fine in Boston. I wouldn’t want him to be a disaster. He’s a solid citizen and a fine fielder. If he hits .262/.360/.500 with 18 dingers and plays stellar defense, he’s going to do more than just fine for the Home Nine.

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