This Week in the National League

Welcome to 2006!

The New Year has arrived. The first step to reaching the 2006 baseball season involves getting out the new calendars and throwing out those old ones. It's a new year, and 2005 is officially history. It's a chance for managers, coaches and players to all start anew. March is now less than two months away, and before we know it pitchers and catchers will be reporting for Spring Training. The 2006 season is nearing. Here's what has been going on in the National League during the past two weeks...


Arizona Diamondbacks - The Diamondbacks have picked up the pace after a slow start this offseason. In a move that probably benefited their trading partner more than themselves, the Diamondbacks removed third baseman Troy Glaus from the National League by trading him to Toronto along with minor league shortstop Sergio Sanchez in exchange for Miguel Batista and Orlando Hudson. Batista returns to his former club, where he was a reliable third man in the rotation from 2001-2003. He will likely return to the Diamondback rotation after serving as Toronto's closer last season and earning 31 saves. With Hudson, Arizona gets a Gold Glove winning second baseman. The D'Backs also added center fielder Chris Byrnes to the lineup with a one-year contract. He bounced around the majors last season, playing with three different teams, and is looking for a place to call home for 162 games.


Atlanta Braves - No dealings in Atlanta for the holidays. The club is just dealing with the Associated Press story that former star closer Jeff Reardon was arrested for allegedly robbing a jewelry story. Stories like that really make you wonder what could possibly be going on in a retired professional ballplayer's life that they might opt to attempting a jewel heist.


Chicago Cubs - Manager Dusty Baker got back one of his old favorites, Marquis Grissom, as the Cubs signed the veteran outfielder to a minor-league contract. He's struggled with injuries in recent years, but could prove a valuable commodity off the bench for the Cubbies should he make the roster at some point during the season.


Cincinnati Reds - After a crazy flurry of activity, the Reds' front office appears to have gone on vacation for the holidays. That or they are busy restocking paper in the copiers and printers.


Colorado Rockies - The Rockies picked up free agent second baseman Willie Harris. He brings some speed to the Colorado lineup and should be fun to watch slapping the ball around in that enormous outfield.


Florida Marlins - After giving up most of their high-priced talent, the Marlins added some budget-friendly veterans. The club signed free agent and former Cubs closer Joe Borowski to a one-year contract, as well as infielder Pokey Reese. Both players are big question marks, but are worth watching in Spring Training to see what roles they take with the dressed-down squad. The Marlins also added infielder Wes Helms and catcher Miguel Olivo to their roster. Helms is one of those guys you look at and expect to be able to hit the ball a mile. He put up some decent power numbers in 2003, but that output seems to be out of place compared to the rest of his very sub par career.


Houston Astros - The Astros kicked off the New Year by snatching outfielder Preston Wilson and signing him to a $4.5 million, one-year deal. He will bring big power numbers and speed to that oddly built ballpark in Houston and could have a monster year in 2006.


Los Angeles Dodgers - After taking a break during the holidays, the Dodgers sealed a deal with the New York Mets for starting pitcher Jae Seo and reliever Tim Hamulack. Seo went 8-2 in 14 starts last season, while striking out 59 in 90.1 innings of work. He has serious potential to be a big surprise in the National League in 2006.


Milwaukee Brewers - After reacquiring Dan Kolb and then having to release him to free agency, the Brewers re-signed the relief pitcher to a one-year, $2 million dollar contract. Kolb will serve as Derrick Turnbow's set-up man this season.


New York Mets - The Mets signed free agent relief pitcher Chad Bradford to a one-year contract. If he can stay healthy, Bradford should prove valuable for the Mets out of the bullpen. They also picked up relievers Duaner Sanchez and Steve Schmoll in the Seo deal with the Dodgers. Most interestingly, though, the Mets rolled the dice and signed Bret Boone to a minor-league contract, putting the heat on Kaz Matsui, who has underachieved so far as a Met.


Philadelphia Phillies - There's been nothing but silence from the Philadelphia front office as of late. They might have been too consumed with the hoopla around Penn State University's trip to the Orange Bowl.


Pittsburgh Pirates - The Phillies' cross-state neighbors haven't been as quiet. The Bucs added veteran third baseman Joe Randa and his sweet, controlled swing to their lineup. They also added outfielder Jeromy Burnitz and his sweet, not-so controlled swing. The Burnitz signing didn't go through without a little controversy, however. The AP has reported that the Baltimore Orioles are claiming that Burnitz backed out of a two-year deal with their club. Nothing seems to be going Baltimore's way these days, but who cares? They're in that other league.


St. Louis Cardinals - All's quiet in St. Louis.


San Diego Padres - The AP reports that the Padres are close to sealing a deal with left-handed starting pitcher Shawn Estes. He's not a dominant pitcher, and his stats aren't even that great. He continues to find clubs willing to give him a spot in their rotation, mainly because he is one of those rare, freakish starting pitchers, you know, the left-handed kind, who is a dependable change of pave and can win a chunk games every year.


San Francisco Giants - The club signed former Astro utility man Jose Vizcaino to a $1.25-million, one-year contract. Vizcaino served as the Giants starting shortstop in 1997, but the veteran should be a utility infielder and pinch hitter in 2006.


Washington Nationals - The Nationals closed out 2005 by signing three free agent pitchers. Reliever Mike Stanton, who was traded to the Boston Red Sox for the final week of the 2005 season against the New York Yankees, was re-signed to a one-year contract. The Nats also signed starting pitchers Ramon Ortiz and Tony Armas to the ever-popular one-year contracts. The two veterans should round out the Nats' starting rotation for 2006.


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