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HumpLinks: The Winter Storm is upon us!

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Still days away from Winter Meetings, player/team activity is already significant and accelerating. This could be an epic offseason.

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It's only Wednesday, but I hope that you are sensing a theme here. There is a thunderstorm of player movement activity heading our way, and I have been smelling the coming rain on the initial winds. Now we have heavy sprinkles. It's coming.

I should warn the uninitiated, those of you who live beyond Southern California. Here, in this desert region of America, our modern community is completely artificial and dominated by a culture of cars. Our roads are paved of asphalt, as are much of our highways. Massive acres of parking lots, in strip malls and shopping centers and commercial districts, are paved of that same asphalt. And the overwhelming majority of the rooftops of all these suburban homes and those same office buildings are covered with shingles and tar paper. Again, asphalt. So for we natives, the smell of coming rain is really that sickly aroma of, yes, wet asphalt. What we think of as sweet and clean is really the smell of that grime and dust built up since the last rare rainfall, being washed off wet asphalt. We have low standards.

So beware. What the residents in and around Anaheim might consider as the blessing of a coming storm of opportunity, might very well be little more than the muck of greasy oil byproducts. A lot of things are starting to happen. But maybe we should keep our umbrellas open against the outcome.

Have some happy National Fritters Day Links:

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Angels Baseball

Non-tender Care: The Tender deadline is 9PM tonight, and Billy Eppler may be choosing to non-tender Cesar Ramos and Collin Cowgill, making both free agents effective immediately. Ramos being non-tendered would be less interesting that Cowgill. Ramos is a bullpen arm, and bullpens get rebuilt all the time. Cowgill is a known quantity as outfield depth and those things, even those who have forgotten how to hit a baseball, do grow on trees...........

It's Fall: Speaking of trees, Billy Eppler shook it and off fell an intriguing leaf. Perhaps to replace Cowgill, Eppler signed a pretty nice Rafael Ortega to a simple 1-year contract. Ortega is 5 years younger than Cowgill, considered a nice outfield defender with a plus arm, and makes good contact at the plate. And it's not possible to get a player any cheaper, with Ortega coming in at the league minimum of just over $500 grand. Eppler is making our bench depth younger, better and cheaper. Gotta love that.............

Stocking Stuffer: The LAA Team Store has added another bobblehead for Christmas. It's Santa Trout, but it doesn't look like he is wearing his Nike's. As I type this, I just checked and it's not yet available online...............

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Elsewhere In Baseball

Caps & Frowns: Fangraphs does a thought experiment concerning the next CBA negotiations, and makes a hail mary case for why the MLBPA should consider a salary cap. In a nutshell, it's because the overall player share of revenue is declining and some level of salary floor needs to be in place, and having a floor means agreeing to a cap...........

Something Fishy: If Bonds agrees to take on the role of full-time hitting coach with the Marlinshe would be below one interesting peer in terms of tenure..........

Pizza! Pizza!: Mike Ilitch, owner of the Detroit Tigers, must be seeing the end of his time and is more than happy to spend as necessary to put together a winning product. So, Ok, this happens. We all wish our owners did the same. But why don't we see owners commit those millions to their farm systems and build their own pipelines, where there is no luxury tax exposures?............

Pharma: MLB and MLBPA released the drug testing data and total tests were up in 2015. There were 8,158 total tests, up about 3%. If this is of interest to you, you might want to read about testing as controlled in the CBA. You will find that the testing has pretty strict limitations, so this is not as broad as you might expect. Then, 7,600 of those tests were during the season. Since it deals with everyone on a 40-man roster, and there are 30 teams, we have 1,200 players undergoing those 7,600 tests in a 6-month period. From the perspective of the test administrators that is a lot of testing, but not from the perspective of the players. Roughly, every player was tested about once a month during the season...........

Ka-Ching!: The Dodgers are getting hit with their lux tax bill for 2015, and it's a doozy. In addition to their nearly $300mm payroll, from which they got a less than satisfactory result, they also get to pay the premium amount of $43mm for absolutely zero more. And other owners, such as Jon Fisher (majority owner) up in Oakland who chooses to pocket revenue rather than plow it back into player payroll, takes advantage of his small-market classification and gets to claim a chunk of that $43mm coming out of the pockets of Magic Johnson and company. In the case of "small market" Oakland, and John Fisher, there is this to think about: "Fisher is the majority owner...He's worth an estimated $2.8 billion...So the next time the A's have plumbing issues, remember that somewhere along the line, a choice is being made not to fix it by someone worth $2.8 billion.".........

Sports Biz: The impact of technology on those financial plans of franchise owners cannot be understated. Changes are coming, and coming fast. Just look at how the Pac12 Athletic Directors are already struggling with their own relatively new sports channel. Keep your nose attuned to perspectives that align with this quote coming from Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott : "In this world with the rapidly changing media landscape, and over-the-top options, technology companies getting involved, owning your own content will give us great advantages going forward. I think we’ll be sitting here five years from now with us having many more options than the traditional cable, satellite or telco companies. … It will open up more options for our fans to be able to access the Pac-12 Networks on whatever device they want........'

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Hot Stove Season

Price Boom: As anticipated, this run-up week to the Winter Meetings would be fun. David Price appears to be going to Boston, which desperately needs to upgrade their rotation as it is. And the reported price is amazing. 7-years/$217mm ($31mm AAV). Temporarily at least, this right there makes Price the richest player in baseball. He better be. Because the hysteria has already saying such silly things as adding David Price to Boston changes a team that won only 78 games in 2015 into the guaranteed 2016 AL Champions. Ha!  And, following Zack Greinke's lead, Price carved in an opt out at the 3-year mark. By then he will still be only 33 with a chance to go back to the well for even more money! Gads. By the way, out of all the MLB stadiums wherein Price has at least 10 starts, in no other park is he as effective as he has been in Fenway. His 1.95 ERA over 74 innings in 11 games jumps right out. (And might we chalk this one up as another option that may have been closed to us all along because we committed massive funds towards first base years ago?)...........

Short-term Parking: The Twins signed Byung-Ho Park quite rapidly, easily beating the December 7th deadline. The impressive part to me was how a player who was coveted enough to warrant a winning posting bid of nearly $13mm just for the rights to talk to him, then signs for only a $3.6mm AAV (factoring in the club option for year 5 of $6.5mm). That is chump change. This does make the Twins infield overloaded, especially at the corners. So Trevor Plouffe should be going somewhere, most likely to some team that has a hole at 3B right now. Such as? Amyone??.............

TrumBomb: Mark Trumbo has left Seattle. He is being shipped by Dipoto - again - off to Baltimore. In theory, a second player is headed to the Orioles along with Trumbo, but as of this writing that person has not been confirmed, much less identified. But it occurs to me that at 6'4" and 225 pounds, the orioles have finally found their replacement for Boog Powell, except for that whole On Base Percentage thingy............

Cueto: If the D'Backs fail to step up in their pursuit of Johnny Cueto, they run the risk of stepping up to the plate often and seeing Cueto standing on the mound opposing them. Among the current suitors are the Dodgers and Giants...........

OT: In this Season of Star Wars, I offer up to you this: all the Star Wars transportation objects sized, to scale. (h/t Gizmodo)

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