Ken Davidoff's baseball insider

Yankees, Mets, trade rumors, free agents, off-the-wall predictions and other MLB musings.

Annual visceral, small-sample-sized observations from spring training

Philadelphia Phillies' Jonathan Papelbon throws during practice at

(Credit: AP)

Upon returning home from my first visit to spring training, I always enjoy checking in with some mental snapshots, mindful that what I took away could prove to be hugely significant or, far more likely, wholly irrelevant. Here is last year's entry. I forgot that I had Johnny Damon on the record acknowledging how important reaching 3,000 career hits was.

Some spring trainings, I'll spend almost...

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The Marlins' pursuit of Albert Pujols - and there's a live chat tomorrow

St. Louis Cardinals' Albert Pujols reacts after Game

(Credit: AP)

Here's my proposed gameplan for the 2012 Mets, who will likely begin the season with David Wright aboard. Terry Collins addressed life without Jose Reyes.

The Yankees are indeed interested in Hiroki Kuroda.

Congratulations to the late Ron Santo, a worthy addition to the Hall of Fame. While the Veterans Committee would never admit such a thing, there had to be pressure to elect someone...

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Bobby Valentine, Jose Reyes, Mariano Rivera and Heath Bell

Boston Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine puts on

(Credit: AP)

Greetings, and welcome to another edition of "I'm back to work earlier than I said I would be."

Thursday's confluence of events had me in Boston, to cover Bobby Valentine's introduction as Red Sox manager.

Here's my news story on Valentine. I also wrote a column, in which I contended that the Red Sox, in hiring Valentine, validated the panic crowd of Red Sox Nation.


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A look into my 2011 free-agent predictions

I usually like to release my free-agent rankings and predictions - which I believe pre-date the blog - on the first day of open free agency. This year, that day will be Thursday. I think the feature is a nice way to kick off the unrestricted period, and I like using the days between the end of the World Series and open free agency to do more reporting on this.

So why are we running them today?...

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CC Sabathia, Jacoby Ellsbury, David Einhorn and the Diamondbacks

Your updated playoff brackets:

AL: Boston (1) vs. Detroit (3), Texas (2) vs. Yankees (4).

NL: Philadelphia (1) vs. San Francisco (3), Milwaukee (2) vs. Atlanta (4).

Thoughts: The Yankees and Red Sox are tied atop the AL East, but in our theoretical "If the season ended today" exercise, you'd give the edge to the Red Sox because of their 9-2 edge in head-to-head play....

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Heath Bell and the draft-pick compensation bluff

To be clear, I think the Padres will probably trade Heath Bell. The Rangers, Phillies and Cardinals all seem like they have enough motivation to get something done there.

But I do think it's worth noting that the Padres' message, standard for teams shopping players in their walk years - "We can just keep the guy and get the draft picks this winter" - has more merit than usual.


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The Francisco Rodriguez trade

Francisco Rodriguez blows a kiss after picking up

(Credit: Getty Images)

Not a shocker that the Mets traded K-Rod, nor is it a shocker that the Brewers took the plunge. The timing threw everyone off, that's all.

You generally don't expect a trade to get announced moments after the All-Star Game concludes.

Let's go at it: I'm in an enumerating mood this morning:

1. K-Rod's vesting option made his saga one of the more fascinating ones in recent baseball...

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