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By Sweeny Murti
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The Marlins officially introduced Heath Bell, and now we all await the move they have yet to publicly acknowledge–the signing of Jose Reyes.
The Marlins have become big spenders quickly here, proving to all doubters that they were indeed serious bidders for the top free agents this winter. Owner Jeffrey Loria points to the new stadium in Miami as the prime reason. He said his projections point to attendance around 2.8 million next season in their new air-conditioned, retractable roof covered, 37,000-seat stadium.
For his sake, those projections better be right. Handicapped by the behemoth football stadium they have played in since their birth in 1993, the Marlins haven’t drawn even 2 million in a season since 1997.
Meanwhile, the Mets now move to life after Reyes. Terry Collins met the media Monday and gave his thoughts on how the Mets go about moving on from losing the most dynamic player in franchise history…
Yankee GM Brian Cashman arrived Monday afternoon, and might actually have been the last GM to arrive in Dallas. You could interpret that as another sign to back up Cashman’s view—that he is not optimistic of making a deal before the meetings end on Thursday…
It’s interesting to hear Cashman speaking about the way old-fashioned trades were made. The mistakes made in deals like that weren’t as costly as they are now. Trade away the wrong prospect, and it could cost you millions down the road to replace him. And new GMs will be scared to pull the trigger sometimes.
Cashman’s example of the old-fashioned cocktail napkin trades made me think of a funny story from a few years ago…
The beat reporters were all gathered in Cashman’s suite to discuss what was another typically slow-moving Winter Meetings for the Yankees. Cashman seemed unusually giddy as he answered the usual round of questions. Finally, about five minutes into the session he burst out laughing, revealing a napkin he had hidden on the coffee table in front of us that said in big bold letters, “WE GET: BEN SHEETS. THEY GET:” and four names I don’t remember scribbled underneath.
The GM tried to pull a funny on us. Why didn’t everybody see the napkin and fall for the prank? Because good friend Mark Feinsand of the Daily News saw it and quickly placed his notebook over top to cover it up, thinking he could hide the evidence and take the scoop for himself. Good thing Cashman let us all off the hook.
Earlier Monday the Hall of Fame Golden Era Committee announced Ron Santo as the newest immortal selected to Cooperstown. The former Cubs 3rd baseman received 15 out of 16 votes (12 needed for election).
Santo was a 9-time All-Star, 5-time Gold Glove Award winner, and hit 342 home runs over 14 seasons with the Cubs and one with the White Sox. Santo’s election to the Hall of Fame came one year and two days after his death.
Yankee manager Joe Girardi grew up a Cubs fan, and later playing for the Cubs became quite close to Santo and his family. When I asked Girardi his thoughts upon hearing the news of Santo’s election Girardi said, “Just so happy for Ron, who is dancing in heaven right now, and his wife Vicki and their children. He was a great player, one of my heroes, but even a better person. So deserving.”
Jim Kaat finished second on the ballot this year, finishing two votes short of election. Kaat told me, “I knew I had a committee that would give me a fair hearing. I appreciate being considered. It in itself is an honor.” He then joked that he should have run for President instead, since he would only need 51% of the vote to win that election.
Kaat, who played one year with Santo in 1974, said he was “happy for Ron’s family, yet sad that it didn’t happen while he was alive.”
After the announcement I caught up with committee members Juan Marichal and Brooks Robinson for their thoughts on the newest member of their club, the Hall of Fame.
The BBWAA balloting will be announced January 9th. Any new members from that class will join Santo for induction day in Cooperstown next July 22nd.