The latest on the best remaining free agents (cont.)
9. Joe Crede. He's said to have a clean bill of health, though past back trouble obviously is worrisome to some. The Giants, Twins and Rangers have shown interest.
10. Randy Wolf. Depending on reports, Wolf rejected either $22 million or $28 million from the Astros early. Well, it better be because he detests Texas; baseball people now suggest he will get no better than $10 million for two years, and some say it'll be more like $5 million for one year. He's a very nice pitcher, but he's no Andy Pettitte (who settled for $5.5 million guaranteed form the Yankees), and he's no Perez or Sheets, either. The hometown Dodgers are the most logical landing spot, but the Diamondbacks and Brewers are possibilities as well. The Mets much prefer Perez.
11. Jon Garland. Here's a guy who can be counted on for about 200 innings (he has pitched at least 190 in each of the last seven seasons) and at least 12 wins almost every year (six out of seven, to be exact), yet no one's knocking down his door. In addition to his hometown Dodgers, the Diamondbacks have interest.
12. Jason Varitek. Reports from Boston's WEEI and Globe suggest that he has until Friday to decide on Boston's two offers: a one-year deal for $5 million or a two-year deal with the second year being a mutual option ($5 million for the team, and $3 million for Varitek). The captain hurt himself by hitting .220 last year (including .201 as a left-handed hitter)
13. Braden Looper. He's a Midwesterner who turned himself into a pretty fair starter in St. Louis, with magical pitching coach Dave Duncan's assistance. Yet, so far no one seems all that impressed. If L.A. goes for Wolf and Arizona for Garland, Milwaukee, which is hoping to contend but isn't exactly deep in starters, makes the most sense.
14. Juan Cruz. Terrific reliever seems to be hurt by his tag as a Type-A free agent, a designation that would weigh down any non-closing reliever. No team wants to have to give up a first-round draft choice for a set-up man, even a good one. Perhaps that rule needs to be changed. But for now Cruz is hoping that the Yankees, who already have signed $423 million worth of free agents and would only have to surrender a fourth-rounder at this point, might eventually consider him. Wherever he goes, he looks like he'll be a major steal.
Around the majors
Pedro Martinez is drawing interest from the Pirates, who are trying to do some interesting things. But the Mets' Minaya loves him, and once the Perez situation is resolved, some baseball people believe that Minaya will try to bring Martinez back to New York. Pedro seems to prefer that, as well.
Eric Hinske looks like a possibility for the Pirates. MLB.com first reported that the two sides were in discussions. Hinske was a contributor to the Rays' magical season.
After actually viewing Milton Bradley's contract, it appears to be a $20 million, two-year deal, not a $30 million, three-year guarantee as has been widely reported (including here). While it's very likely Bradley gets the $30 million, the complicated agreement appears to suggest that he needs to spend fewer than 75 days on the disabled list in 2009 to guarantee the full amount. And that's no guarantee for Bradley, especially with him having to play the outfield. Perhaps they only told him it was $30 million so he wouldn't get mad.
The Phillies, looking for a right-handed bat, have looked at Alou, Garciaparra and Rich Aurilia. But they want to pay no more than $3 million, so there's a question whether Alou would come back for that. Alou, like Bradley, would be better as a DH due to injury concerns.
Aurilia may be more likely to go to the Giants if they can find room for him.
The Marlins make the most sense for my Miami neighbor Pudge if they can manage to scrape together a few nickels from the $40 million in revenue sharing/luxury tax monies they receive.
The Royals shocked some folks by locking up talented starter Zack Greinke to a $38 million, four-year extension after letting so many of their better players get away in the past. "We're very pleased to be able to sign Zack to a long-term contract,'' GM Dayton Moore said. "He's proven to be one of the better young pitchers in the league, he's 25 and we've got him for the next four years.'' Greinke's strong relationship with teammates, the coaching staff and city were other factors in the doing the deal, which is quite a commitment for K.C. Greinke is a great kid who walked away a couple springs ago because he had a fear of crowds and told Moore in 2006 that he preferred to stay in the minors at Wichita for the same reason. But he has made major strides and recently went on the Royals' caravan, where he warmly greeted fans. He got a partial no-trade provision in the first two years (and none in the last two), but he appears to belong in K.C., anyway. This looks like a great story all around.
More teams have shown interest in Nick Swisher than Xavier Nady, but it's possible now that the Yankees take both players to spring training. After getting Pettitte back so cheap, they don't appear to be in quite the rush to unload one of the outfielder's contracts. While Swisher may be drawing interest, the value of Nady, who outhit Swisher by quite a bit last year (.305 to .219), has to be much higher.
Tom Ricketts looks like a likely winner of the Cubs. MLB is relieved that Mark Cuban fell out of the bidding after hearing horror stories about how he has tormented David Stern and is said to be very impressed by Ricketts, who's only 43.
Former Diamondbacks boss Jeff Moorad's attempt to buy the Padres is being described as a fait accompli behind the scenes. Moorad, previously seen as something of a slickster while an agent, has really improved his reputation in Arizona. After diving in early and thinking he was a baseball evaluator (and encouraging deals for Troy Glaus, Shawn Green and Russ Ortiz), Moorad learned the lesson of restraint and delegation faster than almost any owner. By the time he left there Moorad was beloved as a great leader. In any case, Moorad should be a major improvement over the current regime in San Diego, which accepted handouts to build their beautiful downtown stadium, then instigated a rebuilding program for the team.
There's no indication that Moorad would remove GM Kevin Towers, who's well-liked and has done a decent job overall. Moorad is also said to have great respect for the erudite assistant Paul DePodesta.
What's the rush to put Jeff Kent into the Hall of Fame? Let's think about it for five years. I'm not saying he won't make it, but the game is more than just stats. Personally, I'll be the one crying if Ron Santo, who fielded his position brilliantly and gave so much to the game, has to watch Kent get into Cooperstown before he does.