Believe it or not, the acquisition of David Aardsma was a mere offseason appetizer for Chicago GM Kenny Williams, writes the Sun-Times’ Chris De Luca.

Among the more interesting scenarios is a pitch that sources say the Los Angeles Angels made for right-hander Freddy Garcia (above), whom they highly covet. The Angels’ deal would call for a package that includes right-hander Ervin Santana, who turns 24 on Dec. 12.

Santana, who went 16-8 with a 4.28 ERA, has been dangled by the Angels in talks about acquiring offensive help. But they would part with their key trading chip to land Garcia, 30, who has done some of his best work at Angel Stadium, going 8-1 with a 2.99 ERA during his career.

Williams isn’t exactly looking for starting pitching, but it would be hard to pass on Santana.

Still, Williams is looking for some offensive punch in his outfield. Sources say the Sox have inquired about the possibility of getting Aaron Rowand back from the Philadelphia Phillies. Rowand, who was dealt to Philly last offseason for slugger Jim Thome, might be available if the Phils land free agent Alfonso Soriano.

But Williams always likes to aim high, and sources say the Sox have strong interest in Atlanta Braves center fielder Andruw Jones, who might be willing to waive his no-trade protection to play for Ozzie Guillen. Jones will be a free agent next season, but his agent is Sox nemesis Scott Boras, so that could be a deal-breaker.

The New York Sun’s Tim Marchman, perhaps unimpressed by the prospect of a 24 hour NESN feed in Japan, asks of Boston’s D-Mat adventure, “are these people insane?”

Even supposing Matsukaza pitches at the level of Johan Santana, the best pitcher in the game, that level of performance is worth, speaking generously, something like $20 million. Any contract that hinges on the assumption the pitcher performs like Santana for five years is, on its face, problematic. And Matsukaza will almost certainly sign for fewer years (so as to hit free agency while still in his prime) and more money a year, perhaps pushing the Sox’ annual outlay above $30 million.

The Sox have virtually no leverage here. The player’s agent is Scott Boras, who’s advised freshly drafted college graduates to play independent ball rather than sign for less than his estimate of their market value. There will be no mercy in these negotiations. Matsukaza will be paid as one of the very top starters in the game or he’ll go back to Japan, play out his contract and hit the market next year.

The Red Sox are paying basically for talent, not ancillary benefits. Matsukaza may bring in merchandising revenue, but that gets split equally among the 30 teams. Keeping him away from the Yankees has a certain amount of value, but only so much. He may make the Red Sox a presence in Japan, but that’s simply not a concrete enough benefit to justify doubling the salary normally paid a young, Cy Young-caliber pitcher (although its role in this deal suggests how much money MLB sees itself eventually making in Japan, and the value teams see in establishing a brand name there). Work things through, and it’s clear not only that what the Red Sox are prepared to pay for is an ace pitcher, but also that if a pending free agent MLB pitcher of similar age and caliber ” Santana, Brandon Webb, or Carlos Zambrano, for instance ” were to be posted, his team would collect tens of millions of dollars while he collected his fat contract.

Futility Infielder’s Jay Jaffe
gives new A’s skipper Bob Geren a qualified endorsement ; it seems Geren autographed a ball for the young Jaffe some years ago. On a dissimilar tip, my boyhood idol, Rogelio Moret, has once again been overlooked for a managerial gig.

Baseball America’s Alan Schwarz, while not mentioning the name of Ernie Harwell, recalls the late Bo Schembechler’s tumultuous reign as president of The Detroit Tigers.