Trades take backseat as Meetings open
Hot Stove cool as managerial greats honored, Halladay retires
Monday's opening day at the 2014 Winter Meetings might have been more talk than action on the Hot Stove front, but history was made in honorary and bittersweet fashion, too.
The first order of business at the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., was a rare and special one when it was announced that managing legends Tony La Russa, Joe Torre and Bobby Cox were elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in unanimous fashion by the 16-member Expansion Era Committee. The three were notified of their elections at 8:30 a.m. ET.
"I am thrilled that these great managers during my tenure as Commissioner will join the legends of our game in the halls of Cooperstown," Commissioner Bud Selig said. "In careers of consistent excellence and incredible longevity, Bobby, Tony and Joe all left indelible impacts on our national pastime. For decades, these three individuals not only led great ballclubs, but instilled in their teams a brand of class and professionalism that baseball fans admired. It is fitting that Bobby, Tony and Joe will share our game's highest honor together."
The trio will enter the Hall of Fame on the second day of Induction Weekend, to be held July 26-27 in Cooperstown, N.Y., and will have plaques put on the walls soon thereafter.
And Monday, baseball fans had to be wondering whether Roy Halladay would join the three in the Hall someday.
Halladay, the 16-year veteran right-handed starter who played in 12 seasons with the Blue Jays before moving on to the Phillies, winning two Cy Young Awards, announced his retirement Monday at the resort, signing a one-day contract with Toronto so he could finish as a member of the organization with which he began his storied career.
"I've been very fortunate that I played two places where the fans have been extremely supportive," Halladay said in an afternoon news conference. "They may boo when you're on the field, but you run into them on the street or in a restaurant and they're the first ones that come up and shake your hand and smile and greet you.
"It happened in Toronto, it happened in Philadelphia, but [leaving] Toronto was hard for me. As much as I loved it there, I felt like I needed to make a decision to give myself a chance to get to the playoffs, and thankfully the fans understood that and were very supportive. Hopefully they'll get a chance to experience that also, because it is a tremendous feeling."
Elsewhere around the Major Leagues on Monday, some talk once again centered on the Mariners, who reportedly agreed to an as-yet-unannounced 10-year, $240 million contract with free-agent second baseman Robinson Cano last Friday. On Monday, the club's general manager, Jack Zduriencik, released a statement in response to a recent report in The Seattle Times that quoted former manager Eric Wedge and former statistical analysis specialist Tony Blengino describing the organization as dysfunctional and Zduriencik and CEO Howard Lincoln and former club president Chuck Armstrong as meddling.
"When there are areas that need improvement, it's my job to ask questions, suggest ideas and give direction to the field staff," Zduriencik said in his statement. "When our upper management has questions or suggestions, it's my job to respond to them. I don't believe meddling is a fair portrayal."
The Mariners are believed to be one of the teams with many winter roster alterations to make, but they had not made any when dinner time rolled around near Orlando. Then again, the Winter Meetings were nearly silent Monday following one of the most active weeks in Hot Stove history. In two more under-the-radar moves, the White Sox signed veteran pitcher Felipe Paulino, and the Indians inked first baseman David Cooper.
The more exciting news was not news, just speculation, but at the Winter Meetings, the latter can become the former over the course of a coffee in the lobby between the right two people.
Rumors continued to center around Rays starter David Price, who could be traded soon for a huge package of Major League talent and prospects, with the Dodgers the latest team to be rumored as inquiring into his availability. Rumors also involved Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp, one of the best hitters who could be available in a swap.
It would not be the winter without the Yankees doing something, and the team announced Monday that it planned to honor the late South African leader Nelson Mandela, with a plaque at Monument Park in Yankee Stadium next season.
The plaque will commemorate Mandela's June 21, 1990, visit to the big ballpark in the Bronx and speech that included the words, "You know who I am. I am a Yankee."