As promised, here's a roundup of everything that's happened since I've been gone:
PIRATES: Supposedly interested in Brian Lawrence. Whatever. Lawrence put up a 4.83 ERA in a huge pitchers' park in his last season of play, is coming off a serious injury, and doesn't strike guys out. All these factors make him a bad addition for the Pirates, who have a poor defense and a short right-field fence that won't play well for Lawrence. And that assumes that he'll be ready to go in the first place. Unless he comes incredibly cheap, I'd stay away.
YANKEES: Traded Randy Johnson to the Diamondbacks for Luis Vizcaino and minor leaguers Alberto Gonzalez, Steven Jackson and Ross Ohlendorf; signed Doug Mientkiewicz. Johnson has a no-trade clause, so the Diamondbacks need to sign him to an extension within the next couple of days, or he won't waive it. Also, the Diamondbacks will pay $14 million of Johnson's 2007 salary. Johnson is still a useful pitcher, but he had a 5.00 ERA in 2006 and will be 43 in 2007. Why you'd want to pay $14 million and sign a guy like that to an extension is beyond me, unless you're doing it for PR reasons. The Yankees get very little in this trade, but still come out on top.
As for Mientkiewicz - as much as I like to dump on him for being a mediocre player, he will put up a decent OBP and play good defense. As long as the Yankees don't play him every day - and I assume they won't - he can help them. I recently saw someone float the idea of moving Hideki Matsui to first to make room for Melky Cabrera, and I find that idea to be a lot more interesting than signing Mientkiewicz. But Matsui obviously has to play every day, and I think it's pretty likely that Jason Giambi needs to play first once a week or so to stay happy.
RED SOX: Signed Joel Pineiro to a one-year, $4 million deal. The Sox will try to make Pineiro a reliever, which I think is a really interesting idea. Pineiro had very good stuff before injuries took his velocity away from him a couple years or so ago. It's probably a good idea to let him try to get his stuff back while pitching in one-inning chunks rather than in six-inning chunks. I don't think depending on him to be a closer would be a good idea, but I like the idea of putting him in the bullpen, giving him some good coaching, and seeing what happens.
INDIANS: Signed former Sox closer Keith Foulke to a one-year, $5 million deal and will let him compete with Joe Borowski for the closer's job. This is another decent idea. Foulke has has a mess of injuries in the past two years, but showed signs of returning to normal at the end of 2006. He also had very good peripherals last year. It's easy to forget how dominant he was from 1999 to 2004.
ASTROS: Signed Mark Loretta to a one-year deal worth $2.5 million plus an extra mil in incentives. Loretta's 2004 peak is long gone, and now he's just an infielder who'll put up an OBP-heavy .700 OPS. That's valuable, and in this market it's surely worth $2.5 million, but the Astros are wise to not give Loretta a starting job - they already have Craig Biggio, Adam Everett and Morgan Ensberg to man the infield positions. Loretta can be a very good, versatile bench player for the 'Stros.