Urban: Winter meetings are little more than hot air

It’s official: Baseball’s winter meetings are useless.

The majority of baseball writers in the country are here at the ridiculously large Opryland Hotel. Virtually anybody who is somebody in the game is here — front-office types, scouts, agents, the works.

Most of us have been here since Sunday night, and when most of us leave this afternoon, we’ll all have the same thought: Why did we do this?

Nothing gets done at the winter meetings that couldn’t get done over the phone. That big Florida MarlinsDetroit Tigers trade? You think it took being holed up in a suite inside a virtual biosphere facilitated it? If anything, being here slowed it down, just as it’s slowing the Johan Santana sweepstakes.

The inevitable rumors that come when you stick hundreds of writers in a ballroom for four-plus days create confusion. Confusion takes time to sift through.

There was a five-year stretch, from 1993-97, when baseball went without winter meetings, and the game survived. It’s time to kill this thing off again.

Just don’t do it until 2009. The 2008 winter meetings are in Vegas.

» Tejada no, Rios maybe: The last thing the rebuilding Giants need is an expensive, fading former superstar in his 30s, and that’s what they’d have if they traded for Baltimore Orioles shortstop Miguel Tejada.

Tejada is coming off his worst year and his first significant injury, and he’s owed $13 million for each of the next two seasons. Joining Omar Vizquel on the left side of San Francisco’s infield might re-energize Tejada, who needs a change of scenery in the worst way, but moving from shortstop to third base is a lot more difficult than it sounds, and Tejada is past his prime.

The Giants had talks with the O’s about Tejada here, but that’s on the back burner for now as they pursue outfielder Alex Rios of the Toronto Blue Jays in a trade that might cost them Tim Lincecum.

Rios makes far more sense for the Giants, but in dealing Lincecum, they’d be breaking up what could be the best 1-2 punch — Lincecum and Matt Cain — in baseball before long. Is it worth the risk? For a team that will be relying on pitching and defense for the next couple of years, the answer is probably no.

The Giants need several hitters, and giving up one of their best two starting pitchers to get just one bat is too steep a price to pay.

If the Jays will take Jonathan Sanchez and Brad Hennessey, do the deal. If it’s no deal without Lincecum, the Giants should walk away.

Mychael Urban is the author of “Aces: The Last Season On The Mound With The Oakland A’s Big Three — Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder and Barry Zito” and a writer for MLB.com. He also hosts the weekend edition of “Sportsphone 680” on KNBR (680 AM).</b>

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