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The Daily Vazquez Rumo(u)r

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[A note to new readers: in proper English, "rumour" does have a U in it. It's only you Americans who lost it - presumably to the same place the second I in "aluminIum" went. I'm British, and so will continue my, probably futile, efforts to edukate youse all in propur writing, like wot the Queen speaks.]

As noted by Otacon, Gambo proclaimed the trade of Vazquez was imminent on Sunday night, but nothing seems to have come of it so far, and that claim is no longer in the article. The line "a deal was almost agreed to on Sunday and could be done by later today" was removed from the first paragraph, and Gambo will no doubt deny having ever said it. ;-)

However, the White Sox appear to have moved into the running, with suggestions of a trade involving Garland or Contreras. My instincts doubt this one. Garland is fairly cost-effective [earned $3.4m in 2005, with an ERA of 3.50] but is a free agent after 2006, which goes against the long-term strategy espoused by Byrnes. Alternatively, Contreras is a slightly cheaper, older version of Vazquez [age 33, career ERA+ 106; Vazquez is 29, with a career ERA+ of 105]. He wouldn't help us much, and why would the White Sox want to pay $4m more for the same level of pitching - or a lot more for Garland, and quite possibly a downgrade.

The other three candidates are the Mets, Nats and Cardinals: the Mets are still pushing Benson, but we are apparently not interested. The Nationals' chances dimmed significantly when they traded CF Brad Wilkerson to Texas, though they still have Ryan Church, who is highly rated. The White Sox are supposed to be including a centerfielder in their proposal, but the name mentioned (Chris Young) was only a AA player last season, and we need to fill that gap now. Meanwhile, going by the response to my post on their board, the Cardinals aren't exactly expecting Vazquez to end up there. At the moment, I don't see any of the teams as a front-runner: the Mets are most desperate, but seem to have little we want beyond prospect Milledge. Could still go any way.

However, there is actual news today, with the signing of Damion Easley to a one-year, $700K contract. This is somewhat of a mixed blessing: it all but guarantees we won't be resigning Clayton, but it's difficult to see what Easley (who hit only .240 last year - and that was his highest average since 2001) will give us that Green and Cintron couldn't.

He is pretty versatile, however. MLB.com says he "can play all four infield positions as well as both corner outfield slots," but that seems a bit of an exaggeration. In 14 seasons, he's played exactly seven games in the outfield: he is primarily a second baseman, which is something of a surprise given Counsell's apparent lock on that position and Melvin's apparent unwillingness to move him.

What this might signal, however, is a that a trade of Cintron or Green - most likely the former - is close to completion. It's difficult to see how we can justify carrying four backup infielders, with Clark/Jackson as well. That's even if, as has been suggested, we only have one reserve outfielder in Luis Terrero, because of Green and (supposedly) Easley's ability to play the outfield. I would not at all be surprised to see Cintron dealt - perhaps to the Cubs?