Winter meetings notes: Day 1

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Let’s touch on some stuff that didn’t make it into the blog entries:
*ESPN’s Jayson Stark says the Blue Jays and Dodgers discussed Roy Halladay but didn’t find a match.
In no small part because the Dodgers are apparently flat broke.
*The Mariners are talking to free agent reliever Darren Oliver about a contract, says FOXSports.com.
Perhaps Jack Zduriencik’s biggest misstep in his rookie year as the Mariners’ GM was giving away Eric O’Flaherty on waivers. The team could use a lefty for the bullpen, and besides Mike Gonzalez, Oliver would seem to be the best option available.
*The Red Sox met with Justin Duchscherer’s agent on Sunday night, according to WEEI.com.
It’d be an upset if Boston didn’t land one or two pitchers from the group of high-upside-but-injury-prone pitchers that includes Ben Sheets, Rich Harden, Erik Bedard, Duchscherer and Kelvim Escobar. I’d put John Smoltz and Pedro Martinez in that class as well, but the Red Sox aren’t going there.
*The Yankees and Mets have joined the Red Sox in inquiring about Escobar, says Joel Sherman of the New York Post.
Escobar is considering pitching in the Venezuelan Winter League to show teams what he can do. He’ll probably have to if he expects to land a guaranteed contract. Otherwise, he’d only be worth a flier on a minor league contract.
*SI.com’s Jon Heyman thinks the Mets’ forthcoming offer to Bengie Molina could be a one-year deal worth $6 million with an option for 2011.
As the top catcher on the market, Molina won’t be quick to take a one-year offer. The Giants might be willing to re-sign him if he backs down from his request for a multiyear pact, so the Mets will probably have to guarantee that second year if they hope to bring him in.

Bartolo Colon ain’t doing so hot this year

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If he wasn’t 44 years-old we’d just call it a slump, but the way Bartolo Colon is pitching right now makes you wonder if the end is nigh.

Colon was shelled this afternoon, giving up seven runs on ten hits and walking three in five innings of work to take the loss against the Pirates. That brings his ERA up to 6.96 on the year. He’s allowed five or more runs in five of his ten starts and opposing batters are hitting .320 against him. One of the big reasons he had been so effective into his 40s had been his low walk rate — he led the NL in this category for the past two seasons — but he’s walking more guys this year than last.

The Braves picked up Colon for the reasons a lot of rebuilding teams pick up veteran starters: to provide innings and stability until the younger arms of the future can mature. Colon, however, has been the weakest link of the Braves rotation.

At some point, every baseball player reaches the end. Almost all of them do it before the age of 44. One hopes, given his history and popularity that Colon is just experiencing a rough patch and that, by mid season, he’ll be reliably pumping strikes into the zone the way he has the past few seasons. But with each bad start he registers this year, that’s seeming like more and more of a stretch.

Braves designate Josh Collmenter for assignment

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Last night Braves reliever Josh Collmenter surrendered three homers and seven runs in the 10th inning of a loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates. He came into the game when it was tied 5-5 so, yeah, ouch. Today Collmenter is on his way to no longer being a Braves reliever as he has been designated for assignment.

Collmenter made 11 appearances for the Braves, going 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA in 17 innings. If he doesn’t latch on someplace else he can take heart that his final act in the big leagues was striking out former MVP Andrew McCutchen. If only he hadn’t surrendered consecutive homers to David Freese, Jose Osuna and Jordy Mercer just before that. Oh well. Take the good with the bad.

Right-hander Matt Wisler, who has been no great shakes in the bigs himself, was called up from Triple-A Gwinnett before today’s series finale against the Pirates. He’s currently throwing mopup duty for Bartolo Colon, who got shelled for seven runs in four innings.

Given how Colon is going, maybe the Braves will be thinking about some more transactions soon.