What we'll be arguing about in 2010

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I’m not the biggest fan of “storylines” in the “what storylines will we be following . . .” sense. Stuff is going to happen on its own anyway, so taking too much time to frame the issues beforehand seems somewhat artificial to me.

But I’m obviously swimming against the tide here, because I’ve seen several “what to expect in 2010” stories already, so I may as well just give in and riff a bit. The bolded items are what MLB.com’s story thinks will be the big issues:

Roy Halladay vs. Cliff Lee: People will be talking it up all year, trying to figure out if the Phillies made the right “choice” between the aces. Almost everyone who talks about it, however, will neglect to mention that these were separate deals, and that if they really wanted to, the Phillies could have kept both of them and gone all-out for the pennant instead of fighting off the Braves or whoever all year.  False choice, is what I’m saying here.

See you at Target Field, and bring blankets: I’m tired of this one already. You’d think that they didn’t play outside baseball games in Minnesota for twenty freakin’ years before they built that monstrosity of a dome.  There will be some cold and icky Twins games in the early going. No more so than there will be cold and icky Tigers, Red Sox, Yankees, White Sox, Cubs, Mets and Phillies games in April.

The Stephen Strasburg Show:  I think the most interesting question is about when he actually plays for the Nats. I’d be shocked if he actually broke camp with the team. You keep him down a few months so he can avoid Super Two status at least, right?  But if they do break camp with Strasburg because they think he’ll be a big draw, the big question is if the Nats will be smart and make him the second or third day starter instead of the Opening Day starter. Everyone comes to Opening Day anyway. If you’re going to use him as a gate attraction, wait pitch him on a random Wednesday against the Marlins.

Joe Girardi’s jersey:  This one is really about whether the Yankees can repeat. This sentence rocks the house: “Competitive balance is greater now than it was a decade ago, so it figures to be even harder.” Call me crazy, but I think there are some people who would disagree with that assertion.

Pujols finishes The Best Decade Ever. The article says “The Cardinals’ first
baseman enters his 10th season, and that will complete the best first
decade of Major League service by a position player.”  I hadn’t really considered that before, but I guess it’s true. Can Pujols keep it up? Or will he join this crowd of players who fell the farthest after ten seasons of excellence?

Cubs, cont’d. Are we really going to ask if the Cubs can break the 100+ year title drought when they (a) kind of stunk last year; and (b) their two biggest offseason acquisitions are Marlon Byrd and Carlos Silva?

There are some other storylines raised. The only really interesting one is whether we’ll see a changing of the guard in the AL West this year, with Seattle passing Anaheim. If the season started today I’d have to say yes. I’d even have to say that Anaheim might fall to third behind the Rangers.

But let’s just let it all unfold, OK?

Orioles have reached out to Yovani Gallardo

Yovani Gallardo
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez

From Jon Heyman of CBS Sports comes word that the Orioles “like” free agent starter Yovani Gallardo and “have reached out to him” to gauge his interest in coming to Baltimore and what that might cost.

Gallardo rejected a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer from the Rangers earlier this month and so his free agency is tied to draft pick compensation, but that shouldn’t hurt his bottom line all that much.

The 29-year-old right-hander posted a solid 3.42 ERA in 184 1/3 innings (33 starts) this past season for Texas and he pitched well in his one ALDS start.

Heyman reported a few weeks ago that the Diamondbacks are interested, and the Cubs, Blue Jays, and Dodgers were tied to him just ahead of the July 31 trade deadline.

Cubs, Cardinals, Giants, Dodgers, and Red Sox all showing serious interest in David Price

AP Photo/Tim Donnelly

David Price has expressed a desire to return to Toronto, where he finished out the 2015 season, but FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal writes Wednesday that the Blue Jays “are not expected to be a major factor in his free agency.”

The teams that should be considered serious suitors, per Rosenthal, are the Cubs, Cardinals, Giants, Dodgers, and Red Sox — all deep-pocketed teams looking to contend in 2016. Money is apparently the issue for the Blue Jays, who are currently owned by Rogers Communications.

Price registered an outstanding 2.45 ERA, 1.076 WHIP, and 225/47 K/BB ratio in 220 1/3 innings (32 starts) this past season between the Tigers and Jays, finishing second in the American League Cy Young Award race behind Dallas Keuchel of the Astros.

The 30-year-old left-hander is probably looking for a six- or seven-year contract worth more than $25 million per season. He is represented by agent Bo McKinnis.

Marlins have begun extension talks with Dee Gordon

Dee Gordon
AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald wrote three weeks ago that the Marlins were probably going to explore an extension this winter with second baseman Dee Gordon. And it sounds like those talks are underway.

Via beat writer Joe Frisaro of MLB.com:

As a guest on MLB Network’s “Hot Stove” show Wednesday morning, Gordon confirmed his camp has been in talks with the Marlins regarding a multiyear deal. A source told MLB.com that the discussions are preliminary and have just recently started.

“My agent is doing the talking,” Gordon said on the show. “They’re just keeping me in the loop. I think it’s going pretty well right now. We’ll see how that goes. I’m just playing the waiting game. We’re going to do the right thing.”

The 27-year-old carries three more seasons of salary arbitration, so there’s no real rush to get something done before next spring. Gordon carries quite a bit of leverage after posting a career-best .333/.359/.418 slash line in 145 games this past season for the Fish. He led all major leaguers in hits (205) and stolen bases (58).

Braves sign Bud Norris to one-year contract

Bud Norris

Bud Norris has found a home for his attempt at a bounceback season, signing a one-year deal with the Braves. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com says it’s worth $2.5 million, which is a huge cut from his $8.8 million salary this year.

Norris had established himself as a solid mid-rotation starter from 2009-2014, but had a brutal 2015 season split between the Orioles and Padres with a 6.72 ERA in 83 innings and a late-season move to the bullpen.

In announcing the signing the Braves referred to Norris as a starting pitcher, so joining the rotation for a rebuilding team gives him a chance to get his career back on track with an eye on hitting the open market as a free agent again next offseason. And if he fares well, the Braves could use him to add a prospect or two at the trade deadline.