Nationals acquire Alfonso Soriano
In one of the biggest player transactions that have taken place during the annual winter meetings of MLB owners, the Washington Nationals have traded Brad Wilkerson and Terrmel Sledge, plus a minor league player, for Texas Rangers star Alfonso Soriano. Since he has played at second base since his days as a Yankee, that creates a conflict with the "incumbent," Jose Vidro, and "the new kid in town" will probably end up in the outfield. This trade came as a surprise to Soriano, who says he wants to stay at second base, so there may be some friction. It will become official as soon as Wilkerson (presumably) passes his physical exam next week. See MLB.com. All this came as a big shock to me, too, since Wilkerson was one of the anchors of the Expos/Nationals, though he slumped in the latter half of the season. I was lucky to see Soriano play in Detroit in August 2004, on a day when he hit a single, a triple (419 feet to center field!), and a home run. Rangers 2, Tigers 1.
Among other Nationals whose contracts have expired, Carlos Baerga and Preston Wilson will not get new offers from the team, while pitchers Tony Armas and Joey Eischen will have the opportunity to have their contract terms decided by arbitration. What's strange about all this is that the General Manager Jim Bowden himself is still negotiating with the Red Sox, and may jump ship at any time.
Busch Stadium (II) is history
The last remaining section of Busch Stadium (II) was torn down yesterday, and some lucky (or crazy?) fans standing outside the fence were given chunks of concrete by the construction workers. See the St. Louis Post-Dispatch for some photos. The first game at Busch Stadium III will be on April 10, against the Brewers. I'll have to get crackin' on that diagram...