1stWrigley Field is host to its first NHL hockey match as 40,818 are on hand for the Red Wings -Black Hawks game. Included among the fans are Ryan Dempster, Kerry Wood, Ryne Sandberg, Fergie Jenkins, Billy Williams, Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita, Pat Sajak and John Cusack. The match, won by Detroit, 6-4, is the first January event at Wrigley since a ski-jumping competition in 1944. The temperature is 31.9.
5thThe Rays agree to a two-year contract with free agent OF Pat Burrell. Burrell will join Edgar Renteria, Gary Thomasson, Tommy John and Don Gullett as the only players to play for a World Series winner one season and its opponent the next.
Carl Pohlad, owner of the Minnesota Twins, dies at the age of 93. He purchased to club in 1984 from Calvin Griffith for$38 million. It is currently valued at $300 million. Pohlad spent much of his tenure fighting for a new ballpark to replace the Metrodome, arguing that he needed a new park to compete. In November 2001, after the Twins’ 9thstraight losing campaign, MLB owners voted to contract two teams—the Twins and Expos. Pohlad offered to sell his team to MLB, but that was rejected. The state senate approved a bill for a new stadium in 2006.
The Cardinals agree to a one-year deal with free agent P Royce Ring.
6thPhillies reliever J.C. Romero is suspended for 50 games for testing positive for a banned supplement.
The Indians sign free agent P Carl Pavano to a one-year deal.
The Phillies sign free agent P Chan Ho Park to a one-year deal.
The Marlins sign free agent P Scott Proctor to a one-year deal.
The Rockies obtain pitcher Jason Marquis from the Cubs in exchange for 34-year-old pitcher Luis Vizcaino. Marquis will make the All-star team; Vizcaino will be released.
The Mariners agree to a one-year deal with free agent P Tyler Walker, but they will release him at the end of spring training. Lucky for him as the Phillies will sign him in early April.
7thThe A’s sign free agent 1B Jason Giambi to a one-year deal. Giambi, who came up with the A’s, will struggle and be released in early August.
8thThe Dodgers sign free agent SS Juan Castro to a one-year deal. The 14-year veteran spent his first 5 years with the Dodgers.
The Cubs agree to a three-year contract with free agent outfielder Milton Bradley. The Cubs are his 6thteam in 6 years. The switch hitter hit .321 last year for the Rangers with a league-leading OBA of .436. He had career highs of 22 homers and 77 RBIs. Bradley will have a typically tumultuous year, hit just .257, and the Cubs will trade him in December.
Hoping to catch lightning in a bottle, the Red Sox agree to a one-year deal with free agent P John Smoltz. The 20-year veteran won 210 games with the Braves, but pitched just 28 innings last year. He’ll not do much better in the Hub City, winning just 2 games before being released in August. They also sign oft-injured free agent OF Rocco Baldelli to a one-year deal and he will fare a bit better than Smoltz.
The Brewers come to an agreement with free agent P Trevor Hoffman on a one-year deal.
9thContinuing to sign free-agent vets, the Red Sox sign P Brad Penny to a one-year deal. After two straight 16-win seasons with the Dodgers, Penny’s record deflated to 6-9 with a 6.29 ERA last year. He’ll win 7 in Boston before being released in August.
The Royals sign free agent utility man Willie Bloomquist to a two-year contract.
10thMiguel Cabrera has a grand slam and 6 RBIs to pace the Tigers to a 15-2 drive-by over the Rangers.
The Red Sox sign free agent P Takashi Saito to a one-year deal.
12thRickey Henderson and Jim Rice are elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Henderson is chosen in his first year of eligibility, and Rice in his 15th, and last.
Tampa Bay signs veteran Gabe Kapler, who hit .301 in 229 at bats for the Brewers in 2008. The contract calls for the outfielder to be paid $1,000,000.18. Kapler considers 18 his lucky number and it’s also a symbol of life, or chai, in Kapler’s Jewish faith. Unfortunately for Kapler, shortstop Ben Zobrist of the Rays had already claimed 18 for his uniform number.
14thThe Dodgers agree to terms on a one-year deal with free agent P Guillermo Mota.
15thThe White Sox sign free agent P Bartolo Colon to a one-year deal. Colon will win three games before the Sox release him in mid September.
The Padres agree to a one-year deal with free agent IF David Eckstein.
The Braves sign free agent P Derek Lowe to a four-year contract. The veteran has averaged 200 innings pitched for each of the last 7 seasons.
16thThe Orioles reach agreement on a one-year deal with free agent C Gregg Zaun.
19thThe Red Sox and Orioles swap pitchers, with David Pauley going to Baltimore and Randor Bierd to Boston.
22ndThe Mets sign free agent IF Alex Cora to a one-year deal.
23rdThe Chicago Tribune reports that the Ricketts family has emerged as the favored bidder for the Chicago Cubs, receiving the exclusive rights to negotiate a deal. The newspaper reports a bid price of $900 million.
26thVeteran Brad Ausmus agrees to a one-year, $1 million deal (plus incentives) to be a back-up catcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers. He will be one of six Ivy League catchers to start the season on a ML roster.
28thBack to your own leagues, boys. The Mariners trade P Aaron Heilman, acquired in December from the Mets, to the Cubs for IF Ronny Cedeno and P Garrett Olson. Olson was just acquired in a trade with the Orioles.
29thThe Diamondbacks sign free agent P Jon Garland to a one-year deal worth $7.25 million. Garland had been looking for a three-year contract.
The Cardinals agree to a one-year deal with free agent P Russ Springer.