Once again–unless you’re hastily making arrangements to go see some piping hot Arizona Fall League action–baseball is leaving us for the winter.
The Giants captured the World Series title Sunday night by doing what the White Sox could not–emphatically sweep the Tigers out of title contention. Some, still wearing the scars of the brutal AL Central race, might thank the Giants for getting revenge. But the Giants also ended the season, which might be a greater crime than winning 88 regular-season games.
This is not some great funeral. While the White Sox year ending was the death of a dream and perhaps a window of opportunity finally slamming shut for some beloved veterans, this is more of a changing of the seasons. The easy, contemplative pace of the game of baseball is gone along with the humid summer nights that so smoothly accommodated it.
Admittedly, that’s a bummer, but preparations have been made to deal with this. If anything, it’s jarring how immediate the transition is from the emotional climax of the season, to the process of picking rosters apart and placing cash values on the performances we just observed. Thank goodness there’s no World Series title afterglow that anyone around here is desperately trying to cling to. Remember feeling anxiety about Paul Konerko‘s contract situation during the 2005 World Series parade? No thanks, right?*
There will be five days for exclusive negotiations for teams with their outgoing free agents. This period will stand in as a period for reflecting on the season, because almost nothing will happen. Except declined options! Plenty of declined options.
- Jake Peavy ($22 million) – Getting declined
- Kevin Youkilis ($13 million) – Promised to be declined
- Gavin Floyd ($9.5 million) – Declining would be foolish
- Brett Myers ($10 million) – Too much
- Orlando Hudson ($8 million) – Is this a serious question?
- A.J. Pierzynski – Probably gone
- Francisco Liriano – Hopefully gone
- Dewayne Wise – If he’s not gone, someone going to need to restrain Ventura from giving him 500 plate appearances
- Jose Lopez – Gone
- Brian Bruney – Actually has as good of a chance to be back with the organization as anyone on this list
Six days later comes the decision deadline for players to accept any qualifying offers from their former teams. Jake Peavy is a shoo-in for this category, because he’s a shoo-in to turn down the offer. If I were a man who thought nothing of blowing over $13.3 million of my boss’ money, I might toss a qualifying offer A.J.’s way if I sensed a large market building up for him. But I am not, and chances are Rick Hahn is not, either.**
The Winter Meetings kickoff in Nashville on December 3rd, starting a high-tension waiting game more nerve-wracking than some actual regular-season contests (especially that Cleveland series). It is only after those four days, and the gripping finale that is the Rule 5 draft, that a true absence of baseball covers all, blackening the sky, and swallowing our hearts.
That’s when stuff gets real bad, and when we start making posts about players from the 50′s, live-blogging ourselves watching five year-old games off of iTunes, and consume the World Baseball Classic in a super-serious manner out of withdrawl . Until then, there’s far too much fantasizing and speculating about future baseball to lament the absence of real baseball.
**Maybe he is! How much fun would that be!?
Follow James Fegan on Twitter @JRFegan