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November 09, 2009

Good morning from the not-so-swanky GM meetings

The view from the hotel room last year at the general managers meetings was of the Pacific Ocean in the high-dollar community of Dana Point, Calif. The meetings there were at the same fancy hotel where AIG sent its executives for a lavish retreat while also reaching for buyout money. The media rate for a room was something like $385 a night.

A look out the window this morning produced a lovely view of a McDonalds, a Westin, about five highways and the O'Hare Airport in Chicago. This year's meetings are at the O'Hare Hilton, which is on aiport grounds. I decided to live a little and stay at a Marriott down the road. I'm also not a member of the Hilton rewards program, so that factored into the decision.

But, whether the meetings were held in Monte Carlo, at the apartment building where Good Times was filmed or on the moon, not much news will be made this week. The GM meetings are another step in the process of getting to a deal, whether a trade or a free-agent signing.

Obviously, free agents are still under an exclusive negotiating period with the club they've just left until Nov. 20, but that won't keep agents out of O'Hare this week. The GM meetings in 2007 were the site of continued conversation between the Rangers and Reds about a trade for Josh Hamilton. Last year, Hank Blalock was discussed rather seriously with an AL club before the deal fizzled.

Jon Daniels, GM of the for-sale Rangers, will try again to find a trade to improve the team rather than woo a big-name free agent. That's been the trend the past few off-seasons as the payroll has shrunk. While it's expected to be around the same as in 2009, that $68 million will have to include jumps in the salaries of arbitration-eligibles. There will still be some money to maneuver with Vicente Padilla, Blalock and a few others off the payroll, but not much.

Daniels arrives just after noon and will jump into a meeting with club officials before dining with his fellow GMs tonight. With the vacancy at hitting coach filled, it's time to concentrate on the roster and how to improve in 2010.

Just don't expect all the club's problems to be solved this week.

-- Jeff Wilson

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