Some Trades Considered

Arizona trades bird-killer Randy Johnson to the Yankees for Jeff Weaver-clone Javier Vazquez, roustabout Brad Hasley, catching-prospect Dioner Navarro, and oodles of Big Stein’s money.

Of the four, only Johnson and Vazquez have fantasy value. Randy will pitch as he always has: tall, goofy-looking, left-handed, and dominant. The only difference is that the New York pigeon population will decrease, causing an overpopulation of rats, leading to an excess of hot dogs at the ballpark and the introduction of Dollar Dogs Days at Yankee Stadium. Also, with Randy in town, photographers’ insurance premiums go up.

The key player to watch in this trade is Vazquez. With the Big Apple pressure off, his arm well-rested, and the NL batters not used to seeing him, he should bounce back big from his Renny Harlin-esque second-half performance to become a solid, if not dominant, addition to your fantasy roster. Don’t be scared of Javy. He’s friendly.

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Oakland trades MSU alum Mark Mulder to St. Louis for the oft-stoned Danny Haren, infamous mime Kiko Calero, and longtime vampire Daric Barton.

Besides his late-season swoon, Mulder was a fine pitcher last year. That alone should make you confident in his ability to anchor your fantasy staff. But if those high pitch counts and arm woes worry you, just remember he’s now playing on a team with a better offense, defense, and 17 times against the Brewers.

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Oakland trades all-around tough guy Tim Hudson to Atlanta for the much- booed-upon reliever Juan Cruz, outfielder Charles Thomas (owned in 0.9 percent of all fantasy leagues last season), and pitcher Dan Meyer.

Even if you’re in 40-team fantasy league, I’d stay away from the three that went to Oakland. Unless you’re trying to spend less time playing fantasy sports so you can write your novel, get that promotion, or watch your kids grow up. Then, by all means, draft the trio.

And then there’s Hudson. Draft him anytime after the fourth round. He has a wicked soul patch.

Assorted Signings Pondered

Anaheim duct-tapes Orlando Cabrera to a four-year, $32 million deal.

And the juggling shortstops comes to an end with Edgar Renteria settling in Boston, Mini-Eckstein landing in St. Louis, and Cabrera heading to the—this is going to take some getting used to—Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

(And yes, this does translate to “The Angels Angels of Anaheim.” It’s actually kind of fun to say. It reminds me of being drunk.)

Drafting Cabrera based on his performance in last year’s postseason would be a mistake, drunk or not. He’s not one of the top five fantasy shortstops in the league, so don’t overpay.

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The Red Sox sign pitcher Matt Clement to a three-year contract.

To the Boston fans that fear your team overpaid for someone who has been, let’s face it, a mediocre pitcher during his stints with the Padres, Marlins, and Cubs: Fear not!

A little-known stipulation in his contract is that he must grow and maintain his goatee for the entire 2005 season. At least then, when he starts performing poorly and collapses under the über-pressure of the Red Sox-Yankees feud, you’ll be able to track his fear as his chin hair slowly goes gray.

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The Mariners sign third baseman Adrian Beltre to a five-year, $65 million deal and first baseman Richie Sexson to a four-year, $50 million deal.

Let’s see if I understand this correctly. When the Mariners actually had a team in World Series contention (2001-2002), they used less money than me on a date (“ticket for one, please”). Years later, when they’ve become one of the worst teams in the league and have no chance of competing, they use Darkwing Duck-type gold mounds to bring in two high-risk players: (a) Beltre, who, besides last year, was responsible for ruining at least one fantasy team a year on his wasted potential; (b) Sexson, who could hit 30 HRs a year easily … if only he stopped injuring his shoulder swinging those heavy bats.

Alas, so sure are the Mariners of their offensive explosion, they’ve decided to discard the pitching position altogether, and just use a tee. This change will hurt their ERA a bit, but dramatically help their walk totals.

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The Mets, not comfortable simply signing the Yankees’ illegitimate child, Pedro Martinez, for four years and $53 million, go out and spend $119 million on Carlos Beltran.

Three Reasons Why the Mets Will Still Suck Next Year:

1. Even Steinbrenner wouldn’t pay $53 million for a pitcher who, indisputably, can’t get past the sixth inning, or over 100 pitches.

2. Last year, Carlos Beltran had a .267 batting average.

3. Mike Piazza is still a Met.

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The Yankees buy Carl Pavano’s soul.

What’s that? The Yankees spent a ton of money on a young power pitcher who showed tremendous promise last year, while pitching in a less-pressure-filled situation than a kicker at the Pro Bowl? That sounds vaguely familiar …

Javier Weaver? Was that his name? Or was it Jeff Vazquez? Something like that …

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The Red Sox sign David “It’s Beer-thirty!” Wells to a two-year contract.

Remember when you first heard that Hulk Hogan was making a cinematic comeback following his turn as Mr. Nanny? And it was going to be a Christmas movie? And you were psyched because you could think of no more perfect marriage than Hulk and X-mas? I mean, some things just go together. Like peanut butter and jelly.

And then you saw Santa With Muscles.

All I’m saying is sometimes two pieces that, in theory, should fit together perfectly (ex.: a pitcher who pitched a perfect game hung-over, and a ragtag team of misfits who dubbed themselves The Idiots) don’t mesh as well as you’d think.