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News Roundup

-P- The Rockies have signed Jeff Francis to a four-year, $13.25 million contract with an option for a fifth year. This is a nice move by the Rockies - you'd never know it, but Francis had a great year last year. This contract carries him through one year at the minimum salary and his three arbitration years. If he continued pitching well, which seems likely, he'd be making a lot more than $13 million in those three arbitration years. Also, this deal enables the Rockies to keep him for an extra year if they want to.

-P- Justin Morneau has been named the AL MVP. As much as it pains me to say it, I'd definitely have gone with Derek Jeter over Morneau. I probably would have put Joe Mauer, Travis Hafner, Johan Santana and David Ortiz over Morneau, too.

-P- The Marlins have made a couple of minor trades for relief help that indicate that they're looking to contend right now. First, they dealt Jason Vargas and minor leaguer Adam Bostick to the Mets for relievers Matt Lindstrom and Henry Owens. Lindstrom and Owens (whom you may remember from his days as a hard-throwing Pirate farmhand - the Bucs lost him for no particular reason) are the oldest players in the deal and they're both minor leaguers, but both could probably step in immediately and be solid contributors in the Marlins' bullpen. Owens struck out a ridiculous 74 batters in 40 innings at Class AA Binghamton last year, and Lindstrom has good minor league numbers as well. Vargas looked like a very good prospect after he shot through three levels in 2005, but he had a terrible year last year. He's a worthy reclamation project for the Mets, but the Marlins have a number of better young starters and can afford to part with him. Bostick is a Grade-C starting pitching prospect.

The Marlins also dealt pitcher Chris Resop to the Angels for pitcher Kevin Gregg. Resop could end up being a good reliever in the majors, but he hasn't shined in limited duty there. The Marlins can use Gregg as a swingman. He might benefit from moving to the Marlins' more pitcher-friendly park - his problem last year was that he allowed too many homers, and Dolphin Stadium supresses homers. He posts very good strikeout and walk numbers, so he could instantly become an important part of the Marlins' pitching staff. This is a great trade for Florida.