Free agent rundown (cont.)
More Interesting Cases
21. Rocco Baldelli, outfielder. Tampa Bay declined the option in spring, but he showed he can still play in spurts. Very talented, and could be a bargain if his health improves.
22. Juan Cruz, reliever. Hard thrower has closer stuff. In a weak market for relievers, he'll prosper.
23. David Eckstein, shortstop. He gets a do-over after turning down $25 million from the Mets, only to have to take $5 million from Toronto. He'll struggle to get the $5 mil this time.
24. Cliff Floyd, DH. Great in the clubhouse, and can still hit.
25. Jon Garland, starting pitcher. Solid pitcher was lost in the Angels' deep starting shuffle.
26. Jason Giambi, DH. Maybe he'll go back to the A's. Should never have left.
27. Eddie Guardado, reliever. Everyday Eddie will be sought after in this market.
28. Braden Looper, starting pitcher. Proved to be a valuable, versatile performer in St. Louis.
The Over-40 Set (or close to it)
29. Moises Alou. Now incredibly slow to heal, it's time for this superb hitter to hang 'em up. Hit .347 in just 15 games last year.
30. Tom Glavine. Doesn't appear to want to go out after first injury-wrecked year.
31. Luis Gonzalez. He expressed an interest in going back to Arizona, but that's unlikely.
32. Ken Griffey Jr. Seattle would be a nostalgic spot for him. But the market can't be too big now.
33. Mike Hampton. Big comeback year fizzled. Pretty much worthless since the last century.
34. Orlando Hernandez, starting pitcher. Great and clutch, but it's time to gather that AARP card.
35. Trevor Hoffman. Hall of Famer to be will almost surely be back in San Diego.
36. Jason Isringhausen. The one member of the Mets' vaunted Generation K to make it big is nearing the end.
37. Randy Johnson. He's only five wins away from 300 after a very decent 11-10 season, so there's no way he's quitting willingly.
38. Jeff Kent. Looked even unhappier than usual this year, if that's possible.
39. Greg Maddux. Talk of player-coach role makes some sense.
40. Jamie Moyer. Sure, he's 45. But he wants to go 'til he's 50. Who's arguing?
41. Andy Pettitte. This time, he wants to go back to the Yankees. But so far, they aren't jumping.
42. Kenny Rogers, starting pitcher. Stubborn pitcher trying not to give it up.
43. Curt Schilling, starting pitcher. Blogged that he thought Manny stole money last year when Schilling himself made $8 mil for being a self-aggrandizing blogger and not pitching in a single big league game.
44. Frank Thomas. Time to wrap up his Hall of Fame career.
On the Block
1. Peavy. The Braves balked at the high asking price. So with the Astros having nothing of interest to trade, it appears the Padres will investigate the others on Peavy's original approved list: the Cubs, Dodgers and Cardinals. Perhaps eventually, Peavy may have to expand that list. Or the Padres may have to accept less from the Braves.
2. Holliday. With no chance to extend Holliday, the Rockies are looking to restock. The acquiring team has to know there's little chance for a quick deal, as Holliday looks forward to his own free agency after 2009.
3. Prince Fielder, Brewers first baseman. After an off year -- his slugging percentage more than slipped 100 points, from .618 to .507 -- the Brewers may consider a trade as a way to replace Sabathia and/or Sheets.
4. Coco Crisp, Red Sox center fielder. Perpetually on the block.
5. Gerald Laird/Jarrod Saltalamacchia/Max Ramriez/Taylor Teagarden, Rangers catchers. Never has a team matched the Rangers for young catching talent.
6. Aaron Heilman, Mets reliever. Time for a change of scenery after an uncharacteristic 3-8 record and 5.21 ERA. There are other teams -- Rockies, Diamondbacks, etc. -- who think he can start.
7. Jose Guillen, Royals outfielder. Perennial malcontent with a $12-million salary will be a tough sell.
8. Luis Castillo, Mets second baseman. Another tough one. He's got $18 million and three years to go, and manager Jerry Manuel never was a fan (even when the two were together in Florida).
9. Kevin Gregg, Marlins closer. The Marlins already excised Mike Jacobs and may consider other arbitration eligibles.
10. Huston Street, A's reliever. The A's had their big fire sale last year. Street looks like a leftover at this point.
11. Paul Konerko, White Sox first baseman. The White Sox want to move away from their lumbering style. The Angels were interested before acquiring Teixeira. While the Giants have a need, they will more likely give one of their young hopefuls a chance at first.
12. Adrian Beltre, Mariners third baseman. There's some rebuilding to do there.
13. Russell Martin, Dodgers catcher. Sure, it's a long shot. But the Dodgers would like to see a little more maturity from their talented and versatile catcher.
Big Players who are Non Players
1. Scott Boras, agent. In an era where free agency is allegedly becoming increasingly rare, he has Teixeira, Ramirez, Lowe, Perez, Jason Varitek, Ivan Rodriguez and about 10 others, all the way down to Alex Cora, Julian Tavarez, Brad Wilkerson, Ron Villone and Willie Bloomquist, just to show he doesn't only represent the elite.
2. Legacy of Sports, agents. The agenting group that is down the block in Newport Beach from archrival Boras (and up Pacific Cost Highway from here) has Sabathia, Dunn and Burrell, even after losing Ramirez to Boras last spring. Sabathia is the player of a lifetime for Greg Genske, Scott Parker & Co.
3. Paul Kinzer, agent. The underrated agent will overcome those few lost mph for K-Rod and get him $75 mil over five.
4. Beverly Hills Sports Council. With relief nowhere to be found, Fuentes is expected to be one of the most popular players here. Cabrera and Hoffman are also theirs.
5. Kevin Towers, Padres GM. He'll presumably pick up Brian Giles' $9 million option and bring back Hoffman, but the real question regards Peavy. Towers seems determined to find a new home for Peavy as the Padres rebuild (there, I said the unspeakable word) in the wake of owner John Moores' expensive divorce.
6. Brian Cashman, Yankees GM. It's like the winter of 1992-93 all over again, where the Yankees had bags of cash with which to entice big-time free agents. (That time, managing partner Joe Molloy was the point man, and after they lost out on Barry Bonds, Maddux and David Cone, they came back with Jimmy Key and Wade Boggs, and traded for Jim Abbott.) The Yankees will try first and hardest for Sabathia, but also have their sights on Burnett, Lowe and possibly Sheets. They will look into Teixeira and Ramirez for good measure. If they don't get Teixeira, look for Blake as a backup plan.
7. Dan O'Dowd, Rockies GM. The experienced wheeler-dealer will talk to everyone and their brother-in-law about Holliday.
8. Ned Colletti, Dodgers GM. He and Boras will get together to see whether Ramirez (the Dodgers' franchise savior) can be kept.
9. Tony Reagins, Angels GM. The hometown GM for these meetings will try to keep Teixeira and may play for Sabathia. And what about K-Rod?
10. Doug Melvin, Brewers GM. He takes the Crew's long-shot bid to Sabathia, then will have to figure out how to make up for the presumed defection of Sheets, as well. It's tough to say whether Brad Nelson or Matt Gamel (who finished at .329 at Double A Hunstville) is ready to replace Fielder.
Around the Majors
Burnett should opt out of his Jays contract within days (without the fanfare that accompanied A-Rod's opt-out a year ago).
The Brewers should pick up the $10-million option on Mike Cameron and "trade him to the Yankees,'' one competing GM says. In any case, the price looks fair for Cameron.
The Padres should just close up if they have to buy out Brian Giles for $3 million rather then bring him back for $9 million.
Ken Macha wasn't an unexpected choice by Melvin as Brewers' manager. But Macha may have some mending to do with Brewers catcher Jason Kendall, a prominent member of the A's team that grew disenchanted with Ned Yost.
Friends of Willie Randolph suggest he isn't enthused about the possibility of going to Colorado to be a bench coach. The Mets are on the hook for $2.25 million for 2009, anyway, and Randolph recently had his first grandchild.
Fernando Tatis' new Mets deal is for $1.7 million, according to the filing. Which shows how far he's come.
With the Mets considering whether they'd like to upgrade at catcher, it should be interesting to see whether Omar Minaya and Sandy Johnson take a close look at the Cooperstown-bound Ivan Rodriguez, whom they signed for the Texas Rangers eons ago.
New Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik is said to realize the mammoth task before him. His first order of business for the first franchise to spend $100 million and lose 100 games (they spent $120 million and lost 101) is to pick a new manager, and he's said to have formed his list already. Bobby Valentine, who was the Mets' Triple-A manager when Zduriencik was farm director, would be the call here.
If there was an MVP for the whole year (including the postseason), my vote goes to Mr. Perfect, Brad Lidge.