ORLANDO — Baseball's winter meetings began with Jayson Werth's(notes) stunning deal with the Washington Nationals, peaked with the Boston Red Sox's one-two punch acquisitions of Adrian Gonzalez(notes) and Carl Crawford(notes), and ended with Cliff Lee(notes) still thinkin' on the New York Yankees and Texas Rangers.
And somewhere along the way, a certain Baltimore Orioles slugger told anyone who would listen that he's got cat scratch fever. Here are five things I learned in Florida this week:
• Luke Scott(notes) would love to meet Ted Nugent. OK — that wasn't the most-quoted sound bite from Scott's Answer Man session, but it does go a long way toward explaining his views on where the president of the United States was born. Or not born. (His affection for Nuge doesn't explain Scott fully, though, because I want to meet Nuge too.)
I was hanging with Scott for half, or 60 percent, of what he was saying -- at least idealistically. And when he got to the edge, I hoped he would pivot, but he just kept on going. Listening to him, I felt exhilaration followed by a slight depression.
• Ozzie Guillen is a lifesaver. This got almost no attention, but the White Sox manager cut short his visit to the meetings so he could go home to Venezuela to help flood victims. Guillen said he was already housing several dozen people at his home who've probably lost every one of their possessions. I'm not nominating Guillen for Time's Man of the Year (yet), but he's not just some clown in a baseball uniform and people should know that.
• Carlos Peña has no idea what he's in for. In a sport where optimism abounds, Peña might be the most optimistic (and nicest) person in the majors. After signing a one-year contract, he's genuinely enthusiastic about the Chicago Cubs' chances to win. He said the kind of energy and positive-thinking that new manager Mike Quade exudes "can move mountains." Yes, but can he move Carloses?
Yeah, lots of guys feel that way before playing their first game at Wrigley Field. And then, reality sets in. Peña might be correct about the Cubs' chances, but if he's not, I hope it doesn't sour him on life one bit.
• Before you report someone is dead, please, double check first. A newspaper report out of Ohio said that legendary Cleveland Indians righthander Bob Feller had died when he had not. Worse, the story — which listed no sources —was picked up by ESPN Radio in Cleveland and presented as the truth. Getting any story wrong is bad enough, but when you suspect someone has died — especially a person as well-known and beloved as Feller — just make sure you're right.
• The logo for the winter meetings was an alligator...
... that kind of looks like a Maryland Terrapin.
Fear the Selig!
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