It’s a trade that did not make big headlines in the world of baseball, especially on a day when the New York Mets give closer Francisco Rodriguez three years and 37 million dollars. But the Baltimore Orioles trading catcher Ramon Hernandez to the Cincinnati Reds opens the door for the start of a new era – that of our early candidate for Rookie of the Year, Matt Wieters.

Hernandez was swapped to the Reds for utilityman Ryan Freel and two minor league infielders in Justin Turner and Brandon Waring.

This is another excellent trade by Orioles management, who last season got the best of the Seattle Mariners with the trade of Erik Bedard for Adam Jones, George Sherrill, Chris Tillman, Kam Mickolio and Tony Butler.

And the Hernandez departure clearly shows that Baltimore bosses feel that Matt Wieters – the Baseball America 2008 Minor League Player of the Year – is ready to start the 2009 season behind the plate.

Baseball fans will love this 22-year-old from South Carolina.

So, back to the Rodriguez deal. The Mets signed their big closer for the big dollars. But New York still do not have an eighth inning reliever. And if the Mets don’t make any moves, Rodriguez will definitely miss having guys like Scot Shields and Jose Arredondo – the two Angels relievers who will now duke it out for the closer role for Mike Scioscia.

Another closer story, it’s still weird thinking that Kerry Wood will not be wearing a Cubs uniform next season.

Staying with baseball for another item, here is a Chicago Cubs angle to the mess surrounding the arrest of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich.

Heading to the world of hoops, Jasmin Repesa shockingly stepped down as head coach at Lottomatica Roma after four straight losses in the Italian league and despite a 5-1 record in the Euroleague. There is definitely more behind this story, and one must wonder if it has to do with Brandon Jennings.

Here are a couple other basketball notes found:
Marco Belinelli appears wanting out at the Golden State Warriors

And Dragan Sakota is reportedly close to being sacked at Fortitudo Bologna



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