Ten ball clubs that can add payroll and notes around the majors
Who's really looking to sign Pedro Martinez?
No. 2 overall pick Dustin Ackley wants to duplicate Mark Teixeira's $9.5M deal
Fortunately, the Red Sox never traded Brad Penny
Baseball is doing better than most businesses. But you know something's amiss when even the Yankees are claiming they can't add salary or expand their payroll.
Ultimately, the $200 million team just might find a few mil in the seat cushions. But for now anyway, they're saying they are tapped out.
The same may be true for the Cubs, yet another storied big-market club that may not spend this summer. The Cubs' situation could be compromised by the glacial pace of the team's sale. At present, their player dealings appear to be in the same sort of limbo as the sale, meaning their big in-season acquisition may be limited to recovering star Aramis Ramirez.
The Rangers also are believed to have very little money for player acquisitions, while the Braves are thought to be in that boat, too. Word was, Atlanta needed to balance the books to bring in Nate McLouth (which they did by releasing longtime great Tom Glavine).
The tight monetary stance might put those clubs in a majority of baseball teams that are counting pennies.
Although, there are still several teams that will likely take on a salaried player if he helps. Even taking the Yankees at their word (for now, anyway), perhaps as many as 10 teams can add payroll. Let's start with three big-market clubs that surely have the wherewithal and willingness to take on salary:
1. Red Sox: They have great revenue but few needs, the perfect combination. With starting shortstop Jed Lowrie expected back within two weeks and Nick Green filling in ably, the need isn't as great as believed at shortstop. And David Ortiz is finally allaying season-long fears about his hitting, though that may still be the one area they'd look to improve.
2. Mets: Brand-new Citi Field should provide plenty of revenue, and heaven knows, they have needs. A hitter who plays the outfield or first base (but preferably both) is the priority. Though, there are issues with bullpen and rotation (not to mention defense and baserunning).
3. Phillies: They've said all along that they'd like another starting pitcher, and a top-flight one at that. So that'd cost a few bucks.
Those three teams could be joined by five more likely spenders ...
4. Angels: A model franchise, they don't often need much at the midway point. But they've suffered a lot of bad luck involving pitchers this year. As far as the loot, they're attempting to sign five of the top 50 draft picks. Still, they may have a few shekels left over from the winter when they failed to land Mark Teixeira and CC Sabathia. Plus, they have several stars coming off the books after this season.
5. Giants: They have a new aggressive, involved owner in managing partner Bill Neukom, and longtime GM Brian Sabean is in the last year of his own deal. A hitter would certainly help.
6. Cardinals: They've looked at both hitters and pitchers, and could go either way. The Cardinals have been very fiscally prudent in season in recent years. But at the very least, they are looking hard.
7. Brewers: Owner Mark Attanasio showed a willingness to take on salary last year with the wise, well-timed acquisition of Sabathia, which pushed them into the playoffs for the first time in 26 years. They are suggesting they may go for either a hitter or pitcher this time, but with Manny Parra in the minors and Dave Bush struggling, a wise move might be two pitchers.
8. Tigers: Owner Mike Ilitch said his team will do what's necessary, suggesting they may add a bit of salary to their $140 million payroll. They could go either way, pitcher or hitter.
And here are two more possible spenders ...
9. White Sox: One of baseball's more unpredictable teams already showed they were willing to take on the nearly $60 million remaining on Jake Peavy's contract. They have a shot in the wide-open AL Central but the ace Peavy was viewed as a special case. The White Sox may not go for it quite like in the past, as they haven't proved to themselves that they are a World Series threat just yet.
10. Dodgers: They kept their payroll to $100 million, so they should have money, too -- though owner Frank McCourt has generally preferred not to add salary in season. Last year they managed to make their two big purchases of Manny Ramirez and Casey Blake by convincing the trading team to pay the freight. To do that, though, oftentimes means giving up a big prospect (for Blake, they surrendered catching standout Carlos Santana). While their needs appear few, a pitcher wouldn't hurt.
And, of course, we can't really count out one more team ...
11. Yankees: Of course, they can never be ignored, not with their through-the-roof revenues. History tells us they may find a few extra bucks (or more than a few), if needed. They did sell some of those $2,500 seats, after all.
Some mystery to Martinez story
Pedro Martinez's agent Fern Cuza suggested by phone late last week that he expected to have a deal for Martinez sometime this week. Cuza also said Martinez planned to be a starter.
But the question remains: Where is he going?
Six teams were set to watch Martinez's workout last Friday -- the Angels, Rays, Rangers, Yankees, Cardinals and Brewers -- though mysteriously, Brewers scouting guru Dick Groch was quoted saying their scout never got to see Martinez.
The Cubs have been among the most interested in Martinez all along, but their ownership situation seems to have curtailed their pursuit (see above). The non-contending Indians and Diamondbacks have been mentioned as having interest, as well.
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