NASHVILLE, Tenn. - We don’t know where Josh Hamilton and Zack Greinke are going to wind up next season. We don’t know if there is going to be a blockbuster three-team trade or not. So on another slow news day at the Winter Meetings, here are answers to the questions that linger in the hotel corridors:
* Is the pace of transactions slower than the normal winter meetings? Without a doubt, that’s true. Most of the transactions have been predictable and there have been no blockbusters, such as the Angels signing Albert Pujols and the Marlins getting Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle last year in Dallas.
* Why is the pace so slow? Nobody knows for sure, but the prevailing theory is that because pitcher Zack Greinke and outfielder Josh Hamilton - the two biggest names on the market - haven’t signed, it slows the entire process. Pitchers Anibal Sanchez and Kyle Lohse aren’t going to see what offers they have until Greinke signs. And with Hamilton, teams are focused on the risk, not the reward, and that could mean a big financial gap between Hamilton and the teams that want him.
* How will pitcher Dan Haren do with the Nationals in 2013? Mike Scioscia, Haren’s former manager with the Angels, said the Nationals could expect a workhorse whose fastball hasn’t dropped much. “It’s probably gone from 91 to 89 (mph), and it’s not like it has dropped to 86,’’ Scioscia says. “I think Dan has come to grips with the fact that his fastball isn’t as crisp as it once was. He’s learning to deal with that.’‘
* What has been the biggest surprise of the meetings? Most transactions have been predictable, but the Indians offering enough money to be competitive for outfielder Shane Victorino has got to be it. Victorino signed a three-year, $39 million contract with the Red Sox and the Indians were apparently close in their offer. Who knew? Most insiders thought the Indians had $10-$12 million to work with, not $40 million.
* Who is going to be the Astros’ DH next season? The Astros are moving from the National League Central to the American League West and are shopping for a DH so they can play by AL rules. A good choice would be former Astros first baseman Lance Berkman, who won a World Series in St. Louis and deserves a chance to finish his career with the Astros, his original team.
* Now that the Red Sox have Victorino, what does that mean for Jacoby Ellsbury? Ellsbury will play centerfield and Victorino will play right field, but there’s no question that the Red Sox will try to trade Ellsbury. But with injuries in the last two seasons, how much value does Ellsbury have?
* Will the Rays trade pitching this offseason? It is a constant question in Music City. For years, the Rays have been reluctant to trade any of their young pitching. Hence, they have one of the best rotations in the league with a lineup that struggles to score runs. But this offseason, the Rays have been expected to trade James Shields or even Jeremy Hellickson. And, their general manager, Andrew Friedman goes back and forth on trading pitchers, but this week, he’s conceded to reporters that the Rays will have to trade pitching.
* How does new manager Mike Redmond, a former Marlins catcher, expect to change the culture in Miami after the team traded away all the big-name players? “Laser-like focus on the fundamentals,’’ he says. “If we do that, we can win.’’ Also, Redmond said he will find situations where his young players can succeed. “That’s what Jim Leyland (did) for me,’’ Redmond said. “If he hadn’t done that, I might not be here today.’‘
* Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said his team will be different without Chipper Jones but that there are plenty of candidates to take his place as the club leader, mentioning Tim Hudson and Brian McCann. Also, Gonzalez thinks new outfielder B.J. Upton will be re-energized in Atlanta: “He knows the game and asks good questions,’’ Gonzalez says. “Don’t think a laid-back personality means no fire. He’s a good player that can help us in many ways.’‘