Honoring managerial greats during a somewhat quiet Winter Meetings.

1207_four.JPGMajor League Baseball has received its share of criticism over the years, but one thing I think we can all agree on is how well it honors the people who have made significant contributions to the game.

On Tuesday, Commissioner Selig recognized the long and fruitful careers of four retiring managers — Joe Torre, Lou Piniella, Cito Gaston and Bobby Cox, all of whom called the 2010 season their last.

Three of the four managers were front and center before a huge media contingent, with one — Cox — unable to attend because of a family matter. Braves president John Schuerholz sat on the panel to represent his longtime colleague.

Their managerial successes speak volumes, of course, but it was fun to see the group together, in a relaxed atmosphere, reflecting on their careers with both humor and candor. Joe Torre recalled one particular trip of his dozens to Boston over the years: “Someone said to me, “If I had to choose between capturing Sadaam Hussein and beating the Yankees, I’m picking beating the Yankees.”

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Torre, Piniella, Selig

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Gaston, Schuerholz

Speaking of honoring our own, congratulations are in order for Greeneville Astros general manager David Lane, who received his second consecutive  Appalacian League Executive of the Year honor following the 2010 season. The award is based on categories such as marketing, operation, community relations and facility management.

The Corpus Christi Hooks were also recently recognized as the 2010 Bob Freitas “Organization of the Year” for Double-A Baseball. The Freitas Award is named for long-time Minor League ambassador Bob Freitas and conferred on franchises “on a path of long-term excellence and true parts of their communities.”

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Lane, left, with Greeneville assistant GM Hunter Reed. 

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Corpus Christi Hooks front office

It’s been a pretty slow Winter Meetings so far, and not just for the Astros. The feeling before the meetings started was that this could be an active week, considering the non-tender deadline, for the first time, expired before the meetings, not after. That means that every free agent who will be available this offseason is already out there and ripe for the taking.

Instead, there seems to be a stall as everyone waits for the big guns Cliff Lee, Carl Crawford, etc. — to sign, at which time we’ll watch the dominos fall at a pretty rapid rate. Teams that thought they had a chance at one of the top prizes will then look to the next tier of pitchers/outfielders, and on and on.

But first, those top-tier free agents must sign, and the odds of that happening before the meetings end on Thursday are slim to none. I sense we’ll see a lot more movement in the next few weeks than we did over this four-day convention.

On the Lee front, I’ve received a lot of inquiries from you asking if the Astros are indeed “quietly” in on the coveted starting pitcher, as indicated a few days ago in a national report. That’s an easy one to answer — they’re not.

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1 Comment

Really like the piching staff and new shortstop. One more piece and a breakout season from Wallace, and this could be a very interesting season for fans.

My pick for the big surprise coming out of spring training is Casey Fien, Relief Pitcher. This guy was a steal !

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