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Let the rumors and crazy make-em up trades roll. It's Hot Stove time.

Begin with the beloved Cubs. According to the Chicago Tribune, Rafael Furcal is as interested in the Cubs as they are in him. If Furcal signs with the Cubs, rumor then has it that they would shop Walker and move Ronny Cedeno to 2nd Base. I think that is counterproductive. Walker only makes 2.5 million and is one of the few Cubs to actually get on base. If they liked Cedeno so much, why didn't he play more last year? Walker can also be your backup 1st Baseman. No reason not to keep him--they need more players like him.

Balls, Sticks & Stuff reports on a Thome and David Bell for Beltre deal. Very intriguing. The Phils don't need Thome and don't want Bell. They are on the hook with Thome. Beltre is the most overpaid player in baseball, but has had that one killer season that makes GM's drool. Dodger Thoughts analyzes Beltre here. Speaking of the Dodgers, the Press Telegram has a nice "statistical analysis" of Paul DePodesta's GM career. But back to the Phils/M's trade--if I am the Phils I make the deal. They actually save a few nickels and Beltre is only 26. He is an above-average 3rd Baseman and he is likely to hit 20 homers and 40 doubles per season for the next 4 years playing in Philly. He could provide even more. Thome could be very helpful as a DH and no one else--if Seattle has even offered--is going to pick up all of Thome's contract.

If the White Sox do not sign Konerko, Kenny Williams might want to get on the horn with new Philly GM Pat Gillick. Assuming decent health and that Gillick would eat a lot of Thome's contract, Thome would be perfect for the Sox. Big Frank could also be had at a major discount. Frank, Thome and Dye is a nice 3-4-5. The Sox desperately need a left-handed bat. But here's hoping they sign Paulie K because he is indeed the heart and soul of the balllcub.

It looks as if the Yankees are leading in the "Who Will Overpay Johnny Damon For the Downside of His Career" sweepstakes. Good for them.

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