With less than one week until Opening Day, let’s take a look at some early week links from around the baseball world.

MLB Trade Rumors is wondering the same thing I posted about a couple of weeks ago with Jermaine Dye’s lack of work. They are right—retirement would be a shame for someone who can still produce.

Not every roster spot is set in stone at the start of spring training as we are reminded by the Nationals prospect Ian Desmond winning the job at shortstop for Washington. He beat out Christian Guzman, who will serve as the Nats utility player (hey, can he play the outfield?). It will be interesting to see how Desmond develops after getting a brief taste of the majors last September.

Good thing Strasburg’s in the minors to avoid the attention and pressure from the media. Nothing like a minor league start as one of the top headlines at MLB.com. Hmm, Altoona is only a couple of hour drive for me.

Did I mention just one week away?! I have to purchase my MLB-TV package soon.

Baseball Musings breaks down Curtis Granderson and what to expect for him this year in the Bronx. Was last season a fluke or did Grandy peak early? He may not hit lefties, but he may crush that short porch in right at Yankee Stadium.

And last, what would a links post be without a link from Baseball Reference? Stat of the Day takes a look at Phil Hughes being awarded the fifth spot in the Yankees rotation and how many other 24-year-old’s in their fourth season were locks in the Yanks rotation. For the record, I don’t know about this decision for Hughes as a starter, then again he didn’t look good in the bullpen this spring either.


It’s that time in spring training when teams start looking at their 25-man roster and current injuries and wonder if it’s worth it to make a play at a 30-something-year-old free agent. Garrett Anderson was one of those free agents until the 37-year-old outfielder signed a minor league deal with the Dodgers last week. Anderson was not exactly effective last season with the Braves (.268/.303/.401) with 13 home runs in 135 games. It remains to be seen if Anderson will cash in on the minor league deal and make the Dodgers as a left-handed bat coming off the bench.

Similar to Anderson, there are about a dozen of older, big name free agents still for sale on the market. The question is—are these guys worth the risk and can they still produce even in the late stage of their career? The Braves were obviously looking for more from Anderson last year, and he failed to deliver. Let’s take a look at some of the notable free agents remaining in no particular order:

Carlos Delgado
Jermaine Dye
Jason Isringhausen
Joe Crede
Pedro Martinez
Gary Sheffield
Rich Aurilia
Jarrod Washburn
Dmitri Young
Mike Hampton
Braden Looper

The name that jumps out to me on this list is Dye. I’m not sure why the 37-year-old slugger remains jobless on March 19. I realize that over the past couple years MLB teams are reluctant to sign older players, but Dye has done nothing to prove he can’t produce at his age. Last year with the White Sox, he hit 27 homers and while his average dipped to .250, he still managed to walk enough for a .340 on-base percentage in 141 games. One place Dye could end up is Washington where the Nationals are suddenly in need of a starting outfielder after releasing Elijah Dukes earlier this week. I would be shocked if Dye didn’t find a team before Opening Day.

Pedro also remains unsigned after pitching well for the Phillies (5-1, 3.63) after signing a second half deal with the National League champs, but he could likely be waiting for that midseason call again from a contender. On the other hand, Delgado and Sheffield may be staring retirement in the face. Both sluggers’ game has declined especially last season due to injuries, and Delgado has already publicly said he would retire if he did not find a team in 2010.

Crede’s rough luck continued in 2009 as his season was cut short due to an injury again. He remains unemployed, but if he’s healthy some team will take a flier. I also predict Washburn and Looper will definitely find work, but it may be tough for the rest.

The game has already lost some good players to retirement at some point this offseason: Randy Johnson, Doug Brocail, Aaron Boone, Nomar Garciaparra, Mark Loretta, Brian Giles, Darin Erstad, Troy Percival, Jason Schmidt, Scott Eyre and Greg Norton. And you know what, I’m also going to add John Smoltz and Rocco Baldelli to the list. Both players have taken jobs off the field with Smoltz as an analyst for TBS and MLB Network and Baldelli as a “special assistant” to the Rays front office. I really don’t see a team picking up either of these players after they take some time off. Baldelli is still under 30, but everyone knows about his injury-riddled career that never amounted to the potential that seemed to always follow him.

It just seems to gets harder for these older players to find jobs in today’s game. There are exceptions to the rule as Ken Griffey Jr. continues to hack away in his second stint in Seattle despite hitting just .214 last year. Recently, we’ve seen teams trying to get younger every year, and the risk of picking up a 38-year-old bat or arm becomes too great for some teams to take.

For a team coming off a disastrous season full of injuries, could there be a worse sign for the Mets than news that Jose Reyes is heading back to New York for tests for a possible thyroid imbalance? Talk about a bad omen to kick off your spring training schedule. On a positive note, at least it’s not a baseball injury like his hamstring that cost him to miss the majority of last season. Hopefully for the Mets, Reyes gets this problem properly diagnosed, is OK and will be able to treat the issue and concentrate on baseball all season. But if I’m a Mets fan, I’m wondering when’s the next axe going to fall and on who?

Staying on injury front, it looks like Diamondbacks pitcher Brandon Webb starting the season on the DL is a real possibility. This appears to be nothing more than Arizona just wanting to ease Webb back into the fold after his injury last year and make sure he gets all of his necessary starts in this spring. With the top of the rotation that could be the best in the NL West with Dan Haren, Edwin Jackson and Webb, it’s imperative for the Diamondbacks to have Webb get back to form sooner than later into the 2010 season. Arizona was expected to challenge the Dodgers for the division title last season until Webb’s injury, so not falling behind early this season is crucial for the D-backs.

Is anyone going to sign Jermaine Dye? I realize the trend of signing older players that are breaking down is falling by the wayside these days, but holy smokes Dye can still be extremely productive for a team. I’m guessing he’ll have a team by the end of spring training once some injuries occur.

This happened last month, but I wanted to mention the Giants two-year extension they gave Tim Lincecum. The Giants played around with this for a while and almost took it to arbitration (which they would have easily lost) before signing the two-year deal worth $23 million. My question, why weren’t the Giants trying to keep Lincecum with a long-term deal in the first place? They don’t want to lock up their 25-year-old ace that has won back-to-back Cy Young awards? The Giants should sign him to an eight-year deal, give him whatever he wants and name the Bay Bridge after him. Of course, this really isn’t surprising to question what Brian Sabean is thinking after all the trade success he’s had in the past. Seriously, how is this guy still employed?