Windy roads

Lou Piniella and Alex Rodriguez were nearly reunited when the former was rumored to be in line for Joe Torre’s job. Instead, Piniella is making high school local access commentators dream even larger. With blowhard Thom Brennaman by their sides, who ever would have thought that Steve Lyons would be the most intuitive of any given trio?

But they might be yet still reunited next season. Sort of.

While Piniella seems to be in line for the managerial opening with the Chicago Cubs, Dave Van Dyk reports today in the Chicago Tribune that, south of town, the White Sox might have interest in the Yankees third baseman, who despite the Yankees’ denials, is expected to be shopped around this offseason.

General manager Kenny Williams, according to those in the know, long has had a “thing” for Rodriguez, much like he has had for Carl Everett (acquired twice), Sandy Alomar Jr. (acquired for a third time) and Ken Griffey Jr. (whom he tried to acquire two years ago).

In fact, insist sources very close to the situation at the time, first-year GM Williams tried to get a one-on-one interview with Rodriguez to induce him to join the White Sox before he signed with Texas in the winter of 2000.

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Van Dyk floats the names of third baseman Joe Crede and pitcher Freddy Garcia as trade bait, which isn’t a terrible deal for New York. Garcia, who won 17 games in 2006, would be a solid No. 2 starter behind ace Chien Ming Wang, and Crede hit 30 home runs this past season, five less than Rodriguez.

In any case, any White Sox interest in Rodriguez likely indirectly helps the Red Sox in their annual quest to unload Manny Ramirez. The predisposed thought is of course, that Theo Epstein better start talks with the Angels yesterday if he wants to move Ramirez, lest they decide they’d rather take Rodriguez off the Yankees hands first. But with another team like Chicago in the mix, it helps the Angels’ bargaining power. LA could also just sign Alfonso Soriano or Carlos Lee, both free agents, and tell both the Yankees and Red Sox to find someone else to pawn off their multi-million dollar All-Star headaches.

Then again, if the Sox don’t get anyone else involved in Manny discussions, you might as well forget about the prospects of landing pitcher Ervin Santana in return. Santana was the pitcher Boston insisted on getting in any Ramirez deal last offseason, a stipulation that broke down talks. You can expect them to start with the righty once again this offseason.

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Rotoworld’s Matthew Pouliot guesses that if the Red Sox eat significant salary, the Houston Astros could also be a player for Ramirez, with Brad Lidge and Morgan Ensberg possible trade chips. But how much more salary are the Red Sox willing to eat, particularly with the all but done status of Matt Clement next season, on the books for $9 million?

By the way, even the folks at KeepManny.com seem to have given up hope. Doesn’t seem like a heck of a lot of activity over there lately.