Posted: Tuesday November 1, 2005 11:56AM; Updated: Tuesday November 1, 2005 9:20PM
6. Will the Cubs spend big money in the free-agent market?
Welcome to Year 98 in the kingdom of long-suffering Cubs fans, the first one in 88 years in which they have to stomach a title on the south side of town. The White Sox's world championship may exert even more pressure on the Cubs to step up their spending on veterans rather than get younger. That means the Cubs could get into bidding wars for outfielder Johnny Damon and infielders Rafael Furcal and Nomar Garciaparra.
7. Who will be the next center fielder for the Yankees?
Filling center field, which the Yankees should have done a year ago, is the most important priority for New York. The Yanks' best option may be to trade for Torii Hunter of the Twins, and Robinson Cano, who had a terrific rookie season at second base for New York, may have to be part of the package. Otherwise, Damon, who wants at least a four-year contract, may be a mistake for the Yankees because he is a center fielder who can't throw and will be asked to play the position at ages 32, 33, 34 and 35 -- which just happened to be the decline phase of weak-armed Bernie Williams that the Yankees just lived through. Should New York pursue Preston Wilson? Milton Bradley? Good luck getting Rocco Baldelli from Tampa Bay, which will need to move an outfielder at some point.
8. Will the A's trade Barry Zito?
They were pro-active in moving Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder before their walk years. GM Billy Beane could choose to play out the first half of the season with Zito and reassess his club in July to see if a trade makes sense, or he could shop Zito now in a weak free-agent pitching market and get a greater return on the dollar.
9. How do the Astros budget for Roger Clemens?
As reported here last week, Clemens has committed to pitch in the World Baseball Classic, which puts him in pitching shape in March, which makes another season likely (especially with his son, Kobe, expected to get a spring invitation from the Astros). Clemens made $18 million last season, the most money ever for a pitcher, and he certainly doesn't deserve a pay cut after a 1.87 ERA.
10. Is Billy Wagner worth $10 million a year?
At some salary point a closer becomes a luxury item because he throws so few innings and pitches in so few games that could not otherwise be handled by any other capable relief pitcher. But the Mets are desperate to get a strikeout pitcher at the end of their games and the security blanket of having a proven closer in their bullpen. It's hard to know yet where Philadelphia is on keeping Wagner; it will depend on whom the Phillies pick as GM. Veteran GMs Gerry Hunsicker and Gillick are proven winners, having each built playoff teams. Mike Arbuckle and Ruben Amaro Jr. would be hires from within who know the system in Philadelphia, but never have been the point man for an organization.