February 27, 2010 [LINK / comment]

Late-breaking deal-making

As spring training ramps up into high gear, with the position players joining their teams' respective pitchers and catchers in Florida and Arizona, a few teams are tweaking their rosters for maximum advantage. The biggest news of the past week is that Johnny Damon, former Red Sock and Yankee, has signed a one-year contract with the Detroit Tigers. They need the help, and that acquisition should make the AL Central race more interesting this year. See MLB.com.

The Philadelphia Phillies acquired Toronto's phenomenal pitcher Roy Halladay a couple months ago, and their payroll is estimated to total about $136.55 million; see MLB.com. That's not as much as the Mets or Yankees, but it's a very healthy commitment to winning a National League pennant for the third year in a row, if not another World Series title. Does Ryan Howard still have enough slugging pop to generate runs for the Phils?

As expected, the Washington Nationals signed Livan Hernandez to a minor league contract. He has a good shot at making the starting rotation, but he probably only has a couple years of high-quality pitching left in him. In the Washington Post, Thomas Boswell joins the chorus of awe-struck praise for rookie pitcher Stephen Strasburg, nick-named "Jesus" for the way that players react when they see his fastball.