Morning Extras: Hot Stove Heart Attacks


The Hot Stove is already on full blast just a week after the World Series. I think this is going to happen a lot this year. The offeseason just sneaks up on the fan base of teams that go to – and win – the World Series. We know from experience now. Check out this list of important off-season dates. Pitchers and catchers report on Valentine's Day.

That's only 115 days from the last pitch of the World Series. It seems awfully short (and that's a good thing). So when the General Managers meetings started early this week, many of us were taken aback at how quickly after the World Series these things happen.

And how quickly our World Championship heroes could be rumored to go elsewhere.

A few days ago, Giants beat writer for the San Jose Mercury News Andrew Baggarly did a hot stove roundup of sorts and mentioned a few Phillies, including Pat Burrell, Scott Eyre and Young James Rollins. Eyre and Burrell are both free agents and their posts were just the requisite discussion of 'level of interest' on both the part of the player and the Giants to bring said Phils to the left coast.

Rollins is another deal altogether. He's under contract. He's a wizard in the field and has been an MVP of both the league and his team in the last two years. But there could be many reasons for floating Rollins' name out there.

First, like many on the team, Rollins will be looking for more money. That request will only be galvanized by his back-to-back Gold Gloves and his clear presence as both and elder statesman and a leader in the clubhouse.The 2009 team is going to cost a lot more than the 2008 team did. Sure you eliminate the hefty contract in left field, but add in what you'll have to pay Cole Hamels, Shane Victorino and even more to Ryan Howard (perhaps double his $10 million from last season), next year's team won't come cheap. And that's before mentioning hot commodities like Ryan Madson and Jayson Werth and even arbitration eligible guys like Greg Dobbs who could see a potential starting spot in left and take that as a chance to ask for the world.

Oh yes, and that pesky starting pitching situation. Can the Phillies go into the season with Hamels, Myers, Blanton, Happ and Kendrick? Sure, but nobody thinks they'll win 90 games with that crew. If the Phillies bring back Moyer it will cost them (maybe more than Blanton/Happ/Kendrick combined) and if Carlos Carrasco were as good as we want him to be, he'd be talked about in the rotation and not as trade bait for Matt Holliday.

So maybe a guy like Jimmy Rollins is being dangled because he's skilled enough and cheap enough to trade and get something solid back in return. The Phillies cannot trade Ryan Howard. They will not trade Chase Utley or Cole Hamels or Brad Lidge. It seems that everyone else on the roster is on notice.

Second, Jason Donald is a hot name this off season. He has been tearing the cover off the ball for the Mesa Solar Sox in the Arizona Fall League, hitting .400, with a .692 slugging and 1.151 OPS in 21 games. He's also hitting .381 and slugging .714 with runners in scoring position and just ask Joe Buck and Tim McCarver how badly the Phillies need that. That said, it would help. Donald has been rumored in some trade scenarios, so perhaps the Phillies are floating Rollins' name to simply drive up the price on Donald.In addition, this line from an October 13th blog post from Donald gives some insight into his thinking this off-season.

"I would say one of the main goals for me while I am here is to learn and play third base. I have always been a shortstop and have only played shortstop my whole entire life, so this will be a great opportunity for me. I still will play short while I am here, but also third and maybe mixing in some second base as well. It has been a process thus far, but getting reps and experience is the most important thing for me. I also know that Jimmy Rollins won't be going anywhere for quite awhile, and if learning and knowing how to play all three spots helps get me to the big leagues, then I will take the opportunity every time."

Basically Donald admitted that he either needs to learn to play third, or he'll be with another franchise in 'short' order.

The last reason to dangle Rollins' name out there is simple; subterfuge. Jimmy Rollins can handle the trade rumors, so maybe throwing his name out there is a smokescreen for other business going on. Like perhaps trading a Ryan Madson or signing Rocco Baldelli to play left field or resigning a Curt Schilling.

Something is going to happen this offseason, we know that much. This team won it all, but like everyone else, needs work to stay at that level. I don't think any of us, and that includes Ruben Amaro, thinks this team would be better next year without JRoll patrolling the infield.


• If you fell asleep last night, the Broncos came back twice to beat the Browns. Cutler had a career day. So, it seems, did Brady Quinn.

• The Flyboys lost last night. They are currently 12 points behind the Rangers (having played four less games). Honestly, the NHL is so screwy. The Rangers have played 16 games and the Canadiens have played TEN? Did an arena catch on fire in Canada and I missed it? How is that possible?

• Florida was not kind to the Sixers, losing their second-straight in the Sunshine State, this time to the Magic, 98-88. Only four Sixers scored in double figures and none scored more than 19 points. They shot 37.9% from the field. And someone who watched this game explain to me how Sam Dalembert and Elton Brand can combine for 65 minutes of play and take exactly TWO FREE THROWS (Brand missing both).TWO?!? Sam Dalembert had eight offensive rebounds and took ZERO free throws. How is that statistically possible?

• Back to the Flyers, this is a great story and a good cause. Kudos to you, Jim McCrossin.

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