Thoughts on the Winter Meetings

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Two or three years from now this will all be old hat for me. I’ll be of the Winter Meetings, not merely at them. For now, however, I wish to preserve some observations taken as an outsider to this mad process:

  • The central dynamic of the first day of the meetings was the extreme activity of nothing happening.  Whereas, I’m told, in years past slow news was met with a lot of reporters standing around talking about the lack of news, now it’s met with everyone tweeting about either (a) the lack of news; or (b) the smallest nothing of a rumor in an effort to bootstrap it into something approaching news, usually unsuccessfully.

  • I won’t complain about Twitter’s impact on the meetings itself — it is what it is — but it has the strangest impact on the writers using it.  Mostly I’m struck by how much content and, subsequently, pageviews writers are giving away to Twitter.  Sure, we here at CTB tweet, but not everything and not constantly.  A lot of writers who have primary online outlets, however, are racing to tweet things rather than racing to write even the most basic of blurbs about it on their own websites. Are they “extending their brand,” or are they “robbing their employer of web traffic”?  That’s for the web philosophers to decide, I suppose, but it strikes me that it’s better for me and NBC if you all are reading my b.s. here rather than on Twitter.  Dissenting views appreciated.

  • I’m struggling to think of anywhere I’ve ever been where the male-to-female ratio is so extreme. It’s like Amalie Benjamin and a thousand dudes. 

  • Peter Gammons doesn’t go anywhere without his iPod.

  • Tracy Ringolsby doesn’t go anywhere without his cowboy hat.

  • The Japanese reporters don’t go anywhere without each other. Ever watch the “Planet Earth” documentaries? You know the amazing scenes showing the schools of fish dashing around in perfect unison, darting left and right as if guided by a hive mind?  That’s the Japanese reporters.  They’re mostly interested in where Hideki Matsui is going and they really want to know why anyone would not want to sign Hideki Matsui.

  • I know I shouldn’t be, but I continue to be amazed that I can just leave my laptop in the big press room and no one will mess with it while I’m away.

  • They don’t have coffee in the press room. They have water and soda, but not coffee. I’m guessing the people that run the Starbucks in the hotel lobby have something to do with that.

That’s all I got right now.  We’ll be back at it all day today.  Yesterday we had 50+ posts, and that’s without much of anything happening. Imagine how much we’ll shoot your way in the event some actual news transpires.

Cubs, Jake Arrieta avoid arbitration at $10.7 million

Jake Arrieta
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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The Associated Press is reporting that the Cubs and starter Jake Arrieta have avoided arbitration, agreeing to a $10.7 million salary for the 2016 season. That marks the highest salary on a one-year deal for a pitcher with four years of service, the AP notes. Arrieta and the Cubs were set to go before an independent arbitrator but now can simply focus on the season ahead.

Arrieta, 29, is in his second of three years of arbitration eligibility. He had filed for $13 million while the Cubs countered at $7.5 million. The $5.5 million gap was the largest among players who did not come to terms with their respective teams by the January deadline. The $10.7 million salary is $450,000 above the midpoint between the two submitted figures.

Arrieta won the National League Cy Young Award for his performance this past season, narrowly edging out Zack Greinke, then with the Dodgers. Arrieta led the majors with 22 wins, four complete games, and three shutouts. With that, he compiled a 1.77 ERA and a 236/48 K/BB ratio across 229 innings.

Once a top prospect in the Orioles’ minor league system, Arrieta struggled in the majors but found immediate success with the Cubs in 2013 after the O’s traded him along with Pedro Strop in exchange for Steve Clevenger and Scott Feldman.

Giants sign Conor Gillaspie to a minor league deal

Los Angeles Angels third baseman Conor Gillaspie is unable to hold on to the ball after catching a grounder hit by Kansas City Royals' Lorenzo Cain in the fourth inning of a baseball game at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., Friday, Aug. 14, 2015. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley)
AP Photo/Colin E. Braley
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Per Baseball America’s Matt Eddy, the Giants have signed infielder Conor Gillaspie to a minor league deal. Gillaspie was selected by the Giants in the supplemental round of the 2008 draft, then was traded to the White Sox in February 2013.

Gillaspie, 28, hit a meager .228/.269/.359 with four home runs and 24 RBI in 253 plate appearances between the White Sox and Angels during the 2015 season. Almost all of his playing time has come at third base but he can also play first base if needed.

The Giants, thin on depth, will allow Gillaspie to audition in spring training for a spot on the 25-man roster.

Joe Nathan plans to pitch in 2016

Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Joe Nathan throws against the Chicago White Sox in the ninth inning of a baseball game in Detroit Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
AP Photo/Paul Sancya
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Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that free agent reliever Joe Nathan, recovering from Tommy John surgery, plans to pitch in 2016 according to his agent Dave Pepe. According to Pepe, Nathan’s workouts are “going well” and the right-hander is “definitely planning on playing this year.”

Nathan, 41, got the final out on Opening Day (April 6) against the Twins before going on the disabled list with a flexor strain in his right elbow, causing him to miss the next 161 games. He will likely be able to contribute out of the bullpen in late May or early June if he has no setbacks. On a minor league deal or incentive-laden major league deal, Nathan could make for a low-risk gamble.

Over a 15-season career that dates back to 1999 (he did not pitch in the majors in 2001 or 2010), Nathan has 377 saves with a 2.89 ERA and a 967/340 K/BB ratio over 917 innings.

The Rays are considering reliever Tyler Clippard

New York Mets pitcher Tyler Clippard throws during the eighth inning of Game 4 of the National League baseball championship series against the Chicago Cubs Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh
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On Thursday, we learned that the Diamondbacks were still considering free agent reliever Tyler Clippard. You can add the Rays to the list as well, per Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.

The Rays traded lefty reliever Jake McGee to the Rockies in exchange for outfielder Corey Dickerson in late January, so Clippard would be able to slot right in behind closer Brad Boxberger. Clippard, 30, compiled a 2.92 ERA with 64 strikeouts and 31 walks over 71 innings in a season split between the Athletics and Mets. The strikeout rate was at its lowest since the right-hander become a full-time reliever in 2009, and his walk rate was at its highest since 2010, which may be a factor in his still being a free agent in February.