Nats GM in trouble, Rox on the block, more (cont.)
Two more top free agents
Thanks also to all the e-mailers who suggested my list of seven top free agents (CC Sabathia, Teixeira, Manny Ramirez, Ben Sheets, Adam Dunn, Francisco Rodriguez and Pat Burrell) probably should have included one or two more top free agents. I agree.
Those two free agents -- Ryan Dempster and Oliver Perez -- should also qualify to receive in the range of the $48 million, four-year deal I predicted for Burrell, perhaps even a little higher.
Dempster has thrived with the Cubs. While I think he'd be wise to stick with Jim Hendry, Lou Piniella, Larry Rothschild and Co. Dempster on Thursday told the Chicago Tirbune he'd indeed prefer to re-sign with the Cubs. He should match that $48 million figure, especially since that was the exact take for Carlos Silva, who isn't nearly the pitcher Dempster is.
Perez has thrived lately with the Mets, and he could also reach that figure, or even beat it. The guesses here would be $48 million for four years for Dempster, and $60 million for five years for Perez.
Around the Majors
The Padres, who normally aren't in the habit of helping out the Dodgers, showed they are open-minded with their trade of Greg Maddux to L.A. Maddux wanted to go to the Dodgers to join a pennant race, and it was nice of the Pads to accommodate him. Of course, the Dodgers also agreed to pay about half the $2.5 million remaining on Maddux's deal.
Maddux plans to play again next year, according to people close to him. Last time around he managed to get a $16 million, two year deal even though it was obvious he only wanted to play for the Padres or Dodgers. The same conditions will likely apply this time.
Maddux's buddies John Smoltz and Tom Glavine, who just underwent a shoulder and elbow operation, also appear determined to return to pitch. It would be nice if they all retire together, whatever year that is, so they could all go into the Hall of Fame together.
Jarrod Washburn, a northern Wisconsin native, badly wanted to go to the Twins after hearing it was Minnesota that got the claim on him. Seattle has to do what it feels is best for its organization. But the total take of their firesale is this: They released Richie Sexson and Jose Vidro and traded Arthur Rhodes for pitching prospect Gaby Hernandez. Anytime a team can be rid of the incredibly unclutch Rhodes, that's a plus. But, all in all, it wasn't much of a firesale.
The Rangers are considering a return for Milton Bradley, who's hit very well (he leads the AL in OPS) and behaved relatively well this year in Arlington (notwithstanding his incident with the Royals broadcaster back in June). But what to pay him? They got a bargain for $6 million this year. His stats indicate a sizable raise and maybe even a multiyear deal. But perhaps he should do what he can to stay in Texas considering manager Ron Washington's apparent excellent influence on him.
Astros players are trying to recruit Ben Sheets, according to the Houston Chronicle. Sheets, a Louisiana product, is a natural fit for the Astros.
The Reds dipped in with high-priced closer Francisco Cordero and high-priced manager Dusty Baker, and some are expecting them to be even bigger players in the free-agent market this winter.
One scout on Michael Inoa, the A's 16-year-old top prospect from the Dominican Republic: "He's special.''
Another scout on Nippon Ham Fighters 22-year-old pitcher Yu Darvish: "He's no Daisuke.'' Darvish pitched a nice game vs. the U.S. in a possible showcase and is expected to be the next big pitcher to come from Japan. This scout wasn't overwhelmed. "He wasn't as good as I expected.''
No scout is needed to tell us about Stephen Strasburg. Barring something crazy, the Olympic star from San Diego State has already established himself as next year's No. 1 pick. His one-hit, 11-whiff performance against the Netherlands was an excellent show.
One reason instant replay is needed on home-run calls: It's impossible to tell in many of the new parks. The replay call is the best one baseball's made this year.
The Mets' starting pitching is so good right now it may not matter who's in their bullpen. Still, I wouldn't be shocked to see the Mets make a play for Francisco Rodriguez this winter.
Luis Castillo is said to be ready. But Mets manager Jerry Manuel understandably likes how things are going with Argenis Reyes and Damion Easley and has no immediate plans to implement Castillo. Both Reyes and Easley have brought an added spark to the team.
In addition to the Red Sox, the Pirates and Royals spent about $10 million on draft choices this year. What is remarkable about the Red Sox doing it is that they were picking at the end of the first round. Even so, that's a nice job by the Pirates and Royals, who appear to be trying a lot harder now than they were a few years ago. Good for them.
It's good to see all-time good guy Cliff Floyd playing a major role for the Rays, who have miraculously managed to thrive even in the absence of Carl Crawford and Evan Longoria. Floyd had been telling people this will probably be his final season. But he might have to rethink that decision.
Symbol of the Braves' rough season: Omar Infante batting cleanup.
If Braves manager Bobby Cox weren't a legend, he'd be on the hot seat by now. It's not just bad luck and a worse 'pen when a team loses 27 straight one-run games on the road.
Carl Pavano is said to have a pain in his neck. But as George King of the New York Post points out, he actually is a pain in the neck. Pavano's lack of effort has appalled teammates and media people for years, and the Yankees' decision to pitch him Saturday only shows how desperate they are. If someone gives him a job next year, even a minor-league job, they should have their head examined. The day the Yankees announced Pavano as the probable pitcher is the day I wrote them off.