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Fans apparently aren't the only ones who like to warm their wintry hands around the Hot Stove. So do baseball general managers. And when they hold a virtual Hot Stove-side chat these days, the chatter turns to another possible deal between the Chicago White Sox and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
According to a Los Angeles Daily News source, "the hot rumor among general managers" is a trade of first baseman Paul Konerko to the Angels, with Howie Kendrick and Ervin Santana the candidates to move to the Midwest.
The ears of people hearing such whispers perk up, for at least two reasons:
The Angels have a documented interest in Konerko, for whom they bid fervently as a free agent in the winter of 2005-06. At the time, loyalist Konerko accepted a slightly lower offer to remain with the World Series champion White Sox.
The Angels also have a chronicled need for an additional impact bat, the lack of which caused their swift downfalls in their last three postseason appearances. They scored a total of four runs in their sweep by Boston in last October's American League Division Series.
So the only significant change since the Angels' last pursuit of Konerko is their general manager, Tony Reagins having succeeded Bill Stoneman, now a consultant to the club.
Reagins had an amusingly firm non-comment on a renewed interest in Konerko -- "I definitely can't confirm or deny that" -- without discounting the likelihood that he is working behind the scenes to stir things up again.
"Silence doesn't mean were not working hard every day," he said. "We're in here and taking care of the club's business and always looking toward opportunities. I don't think you can dismiss anything. If it makes sense, you take a look at it."
Chicago is reportedly also interested in a package that would include Chone Figgins and, in response to a leaky bullpen last season, also seeks relief help.
An acquisition of Konerko that would potentially affect both of the Angels' incumbent corner infielders -- first baseman Casey Kotchman and Figgins, penciled in as the starting third baseman -- would greatly alter Los Angeles' projected lineup.
Figgins and Kotchman are both table-setter types who in 2007 combined for 14 homers and 126 RBIs, compared to the Major League average of 46 home runs and 183 RBIs from corner infielders. Konerko, who will turn 32 during Spring Training, has averaged 39 homers and 105 RBIs the past four seasons.
Elsewhere around the Hot Stove, from people to places ...
With general manager Billy Beane having donned his hard hat and the reconstruction of the A's in full swing, the young right-hander may not be the most alluring pitcher on the perceived market -- not with Johan Santana and Erik Bedard still in the grapevine -- but he could be the most attractive. And the Mets, who expressed interest in him even before Beane set up shop with the trades of Danny Haren and Nick Swisher, are still "interested in doing something there," an insider tells the New York Daily News.
Finances enhance the 27-year-old Blanton's appeal, even though he is arbitration-eligible for the first time. He won 14 games last season and had a sub-4.00 ERA (3.95) -- while earning $380,000, the Major League minimum, in his third big league season.
The third baseman displaced by Miguel Cabrera wants out of town, and the Tigers would like to accommodate a good teammate by trading him to a team where he could remain a regular. However, Inge's contract (three years, $19.1 million remaining on the books) and subpar 2007 (.236, 14, 71) are making it difficult on GM Dave Dombrowski.
Most likely, Inge will have to show some upside in Spring Training for his market to open up.
"There is no need to trade Brandon before Spring Training starts," Dombrowski told the Detroit News. "However, if it makes sense to do so, we will. We will try and honor his request to play every day at third base."
While still working on finalizing deals with relievers Kazuo Fukumori and Eddie Guardado, Texas is also considering a diminishing checklist of free agents for its rotation. Jason Jennings (2-9 with the Astros in 2007) appears to top a list that also includes lefties Mark Hendrickson and Mike Maroth.
While some teams are still sifting through options and generating rumors, others are actually making them come true by getting deals done. Such as the Bucs, who have brought back Elmer Dessens on a Minor League contract, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. And the ...
... who have come to an agreement for a $400,000 guarantee with right-hander Josh Towers, according to the Denver Post. The incentive-laden deal could be a gold mine for both if the 31-year-old right-hander flashes back to his form of only two years ago, when he went 13-12 with an AL East-best 3.71 ERA for the Blue Jays.