Well, the Winter Meetings are officially over.  They closed up shop in Dallas yesterday afternoon, and everyone went back to their respective homes for the weekend.  It’s a sad day for us hot stove junkies.  Sure, there are still some exciting players yet to be signed, but it’s not quite the same.  While mystery teams will pop up out of nowhere and Twitter accounts will still be abuzz with rumors; the next few weeks will lack the sense of urgency and sheer volume of information as the last four days.  For those still buzzing off the high of watching Jeffrey Loria burn through cash like Tony Montana burned through cocaine; it’s going to be a tough transition.  We will survive though.

Still, like I said, we have plenty to look forward to following over the next few weeks.  Prince Fielder, Carlos Beltran, Ryan Madson, Roy Oswalt, Aramis Ramirez, Hiroki Kuroda, Edwin Jackson, and Josh Willingham are all still available.  Could the Red Sox land one of them?  Or two?  Plus, starting in mid-January, the arbitration process starts up, and that’s always interesting.  It’ll especially be interesting for the Red Sox this year as Jacoby Ellsbury is due a huge raise.  Will the Red Sox and Ellsbury settle on a deal amicably, or will they be forced to go before an arbitrator?  Keep in mind that the Red Sox haven’t gone before to arbitration since before the Epstein administration, so this will be a big test for Ben Cherington.

And trades!  Oh yes, trades!  Didier Morais of NESN thinks that the Red Sox should give the Marlins a call to inquire about Hanley Ramirez.  On the surface, it seems like a pretty decent idea.  Just two seasons ago, Ramirez was one of the best players in baseball.  Any time you can trade for a player who’s in his mid-20s, plays a premium defensive position, and has 30/30 potential at the plate; you have to, right?  Well, not so fast.  Ramirez has struggled mightily over each of the past two seasons.  He’s been hitting ground balls like it’s his job, playing terrible defense at short, and exhibiting bouts of immaturity at inopportune times.  Plus, when you factor in that he’s been suffering from a shoulder injury for a couple of years, he suddenly doesn’t seem like such a great option.  Ultimately, Han-Ram needs to be moved off of shortstop permanently.  Perhaps, he could be an option for the Red Sox in right field or, on the off chance they trade Kevin Youkilis, at third base.  Still, given his recent struggles, I don’t think it’s wise to give up a blockbuster package of prospects for him; especially if the idea is to play him at short over the long-term.  Furthermore, I can’t imagine the Marlins would sell low on their franchise player.  The return could be significantly higher if returns to form this season; especially if he proves to be adequate defensively at third base.

Check out more links after the break.

  • With Ron Santo FINALLY being elected into the Hall of Fame, Bill of the Platoon Advantage wonders which player is the new Santo?  He shares his top ten list of players not currently in the Hall.  At least six of those players should be inducted without question.  The other four are so close, it’s a coin flip.  It’s a must click link.
  • Hunter Golden of Baseball New England recaps the week that was at the Winter Meetings.  As Hunter points out, it was both a quite and productive week for Ben Cherington and the Red Sox.  They locked up David Ortiz, and found several new trade opportunities pop up on the pitching side of the coin.
  • Jason Rosenberg of IIATMS, the dark underlord that allows me to write on his site occasionally, has recently inducted Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson into his anti-IIATMS Hall of Fame.  Why has Jason added them to this illustrious group?  Well, I could tell you, but then you wouldn’t click the link.
  • There are three things the precocious Julian Levine, the proprietor of Giants Nirvana, loves more than anything in this world:  FIP, Madison Bumgarner, and Andres Torres.  Ok.  Maybe that isn’t entirely true, but he does have a man crush on Torres.  In his latest piece, he says good bye to the versatile, undervalued outfielder.
  • Mark of The Ray Area sends a letter of condolense to Cardinals fans regarding their loss of Pujols.  It’s tough being a fan of a small to mid market team, and watching big market clubs swoop in with their bags of money to steal away your favorite players…or at least that’s what I’m told.  I’m a Red Sox fan, so I’ve never experienced that before.  Seriously though, I don’t really have room to talk.  We stole Crawford away from them last year, and they knocked us out of the playoffs on the last day of the season.  Guess we know who had the last laugh.
  • In spite of yesterday’s Pujols news, Dennis of Pitchers Hit Eighth is trying to keep it light for Cardinals fans.  Check out his top 20 reasons the Machine chose the Angels over the Cardinals.
  • Lastly, this link is from David Schubert of Sabeanmetrics.  He thinks everyone should see this.