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Now Leading Off For The Angels, Johnny Damon: Halolinks

Johnny Damon is still a free agent as 2010 season nears - Ben Reiter -
Damon has been a free agent for more than two months, and during that time he and his agent, Scott Boras, have discovered how the free-agent market treats formerly highly paid ($13 million a year for his four seasons as a Yankee, in Damon's case), defensively flawed 36-year-olds. The answer is: not kindly. HT;BBTF

Okay, I'll admit it. I've got some serious man-love for Johnny Damon and would love to see him in Anaheim in 2010. I realize he has a noodle arm, but left field is the second least important defensive positions on the field (according to guru Bill James, the least important is first base), and the Angels have a need for speed. I think the Angels signed the wrong former-Yankee this off-season. The Halos could have signed Damon instead of Matsui, slid Rivera over to RF and put Damon in left and in the lead off spot. Would the defense have been that much worse with Damon in left than with Abreu in right?

A couple links from MLBTradeRumors:

Two Teams Left In Edmonds Sweepstakes
There are only two teams left competing for the services of Jim Edmonds reports Rob Rains of The St. Louis Globe-Democrat, and the Cardinals are not one of them. It's unknown what kind of salary either team is offering, or if they're even guaranteeing him a roster spot, but Rains says the Cards likely would have offered him just the league minimum.

There's a Jim Edmonds sweepstakes? Does the owner of the winning ticket get to have Edmonds come to his house to mow his lawn? That'd be so cool! Seriously though, I'm really surprised there are two teams interested in Edmonds. It's nothing against Edmonds, I just find it hard to believe there aren't better and/or younger players available in the minors more worthy of a team's roster spot.

Athletics Eyeing Sheets Or Damon's Mychael Urban tweets that the A's have in fact made a "competitive" offer to Sheets, and hope to have answer today or tomorrow.

I wonder how much their offer was. Buster Olney wrote Sheets was asking for a salary in the $8M range. In other words, the same amount the Angels are going to pay Pineiro. I still like the Pineiro deal, but...

More after the jump

Winter Rankings -
The Angels have lost much of their firepower this offseason and it's anyone's guess as to whether or not they'll remain at the top of the AL West again this season. While the Angels are known for developing a strong farm to replace their players, not many teams could lose Mark Teixeira, Vladimir Guerrero, John Lackey, and Chone Figgins over the past two offseasons and still be fine. The Angels window of opportunity is closing quickly. Signing over the hill players like Matsui and Abreu means the team is just one injury away from their season ending early.

This ranking has the Angels in the #10 spot (five places behind the Rangers and one ahead of the Mariners).

MLB -- Buster Olney -- Ideas being discussed by management in MLB about how to fix the draft - ESPN
There was some discussion about having the ability to either trade draft picks or trade the rights to spend money on picks. This way, teams would be in position to recoup the value of a pick even if they didn't want to pay a player in that position. Say, for example, that the Nationals didn't want to take the No. 1 pick for themselves. Under the idea that is being discussed, they would either be able to trade the pick, or perhaps trade some of their allotted slot money in the draft.

I like this idea. Give me one reason teams shouldn't be allowed to trade draft picks? Go ahead, I'll wait. See! You couldn't think of any. Imagine what Washington could have received for their #1 pick (Strasburg) last year, plus they would have saved the the entire signing bonus which could have been used to sign other players.

The Rangers deal is not a done deal - Circling the Bases - Baseball - NBC Sports
According to Sports Business Journal, a hedge fund called Monarch Alternative Capital -- which came in late in the game and bought up a bunch of Hicks Sports' Group's debt when they nearly defaulted on their obligations last summer -- has yet to sign off. And they may not, because they think that Hicks passed up a better offer: from Houston businessman Jim Crane.

There's also mention about how Hicks is both the buyer and seller in this deal.

Ex-Astros and Reds pitcher Ricky Stone battling back from cancer - Joe Lemire -
Within days, calls from Ricky's friends in baseball started flooding the office of Jim Martin in the executive office of the Baseball Assistance Team (B.A.T.), an organization that in 24 years has raised $19 million to assist down-on-their-luck former ballplayers, scouts, coaches, umpires and front office personnel. Martin then called Tracey and asked, "What can we do to help you?" That simple question helped change the fortunes for the Stones. B.A.T. picked up the tab for insurance for Tracey and the children, started making their mortgage payments and even began contributing a monthly stipend for groceries. "I was floored beyond words," Tracey says. "They were coming to help us at a time when, who knows what we would have done?" Adds Ricky, "I had donated to them when I was playing in the big leagues. I always thought that was a great thing, to invest in the people that needed help. Obviously I would need help later, but I didn't know that at the time." One particularly supportive player was Brad Lidge, a former Astros teammate. Now the Phillies closer, Lidge has been such a significant supporter of B.A.T. that he will receive the organization's Big BAT/Frank Slocum Award, given annually for continuous financial generosity. He will receive that award Tuesday evening as part of B.A.T.'s annual fundraising dinner in New York City.

This is a cool story.