When I started writing this, it was going to be a brief post to note two Rockies-related transactions that really weren't worthy of all that much discussion: Kazuo Matsui signed with Houston, which was a little surpising in that I didn't really hear much connecting the Astros with Matsui before the deal was announced, but not particularly surprising on a larger scale since the Rockies have been behaving since the moment the World Series ended as if there was no chance of them getting back their second baseman. Kazuo got 3 years, $16.5 million from Houston, who are -- and I don't think there's a lot of debate about this at the moment -- one of the worst-run franchises in the National League. Matsui's VORP was 16.9 last year, just a hair ahead of Ryan Spilborghs for sixth among hitters on the team in the category. And Spilborghs had almost exactly two-thirds the number of at-bats that Matsui did. Kazuo was a contributor for the Rockies last season, but $5.5 million per season is too much for his skills. The Astros will find themselves with the same buyers' remorse the Mets did when they first brought Matsui over from Japan.
We've talked a lot about Dan O'Dowd's ability to generate bullpen talent by rubbing two sticks together; so let's not dismiss the Denny Bautista-for-Jose Capellan trade as mere roster-fiddling. Capellan was a guy that many prospect guides touted highly, at least around the time of the Dan Kolb trade between Atlanta and Milwaukee that made Capellan a Brewer. He's never gotten it done in a meaningful fashion at the major-league level, but he's young yet and Bautista was clearly not Coors Field material in his handful of inflammatory relief appearances last season. O'Dowd as quoted by Jayson Stark on the ESPN winter meetings blog: "Relievers are like the stock market. Hopefully, we'll hit on this one."
There are also some rumors flying around out there about a Brian Fuentes trade, and some are claiming Colorado tried to flip Clint Barmes for Houston's Chris Burke (a classic offense for defense trade, only Barmes' offense was awful last season too) only to be rebuffed. I can't get too excited about any of this manuevering, not when the real teams are talking about Johan Santana deals.
So I would be done now, except word just came down from the research department that Detroit has sent every significant prospect in its system to Florida for Dontrelle Willis, who has a famous name but hasn't been good in more than two years, and Miguel Cabrera, who is one (forthcoming) massive contract extension away from gaining another fifty pounds and getting the first of several knee injuries that will render him into this decade's version of Mo Vaughn. I openly loathe Detroit's team, their manager, and their stupid ownership, and I hope very much that my initial reaction to this trade (so much for the Tigers for another five to ten years) is the correct one. No matter how big the extensions they give Willis and Cabrera, the Bobby Higginson deal is safe as the dumbest in Detroit history... but we'll see if this dumb move cripples them for longer. Could be!