High-payroll teams dominating like never before; more notes (cont.)
Worst teams money could buy
1. Mets, $136 million. Injuries have decimated them (they led the league with $35 million wasted dollars at last count). Even so, yikes. Luis Castillo ($6.25 million) can hit for average and reach base, but this is a $1 million player, at best. Even when he's healthy, Oliver Perez isn't worth $12 million.
2. Cubs, $135 million. They'll finish above .500, but they have more bloated eight-figure salaries than anyone. Alfonso Soriano at $17 million is a joke, though not a happy one. Kosuke Fukudome ($12.5 million) is a fourth outfielder. Milton Bradley ($7 million) is worth that much only to go away.
3. Cleveland Indians, $81 million. Travis Hafner ($11.5 million), Jake Westbrook ($10 million) and Kerry Wood ($10 million) are the eight-figure players. They pared down by trading Victor Martinez and Lee, but those guys are actually good.
4. Houston Astros, $102 million. Almost half of that is wrapped up in Carlos Lee, Miguel Tejada and Lance Berkman, so the roster is just a tad top heavy. Kaz Matsui at $5.5 million looks like a misprint, but unfortunately no.
5. Washington Nationals, $60 million. They are trying to recover from ex-GM Jim Bowden's infatuation with ex-Reds and outfielders who can't catch. The payroll isn't crazy, but considering the lack of wins and revenue it isn't good.
Any chance the Buck stop in Washington? Slim
There have been rumors the Washington Nationals have interest in hiring Buck Showalter. But two people with Nationals ties dispute whispers that there has been significant contact between Showalter and new full-time Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo, who overlapped with Showalter in Arizona. One person with Nationals ties said any contact was likely limited to Showalter congratulating Rizzo regarding his appointment, and another Nats person said he believed Rizzo and Showalter had not been in regular contact for several years.
That doesn't necessarily mean Showalter couldn't become a candidate for the Nationals, who are more likely than not to replace interim manager Jim Riggleman and hire a full-time manager this winter. But it sure seems that nothing's truly going on that should lead anyone to think Showalter is a front-runner for the job.
Showalter does make some sense to manage a rebuilding team. However, he gained a rep for being overbearing, especially in Arizona, and GMs these days are looking for managers who are easier to manage. In other words, at the very least these rumors appear to be far ahead of the story.
Bobby Valentine, another veteran manager who's available (his contract with Chiba Lotte is expiring) and has had success with rebuilding situations in the U.S. and Japan, probably makes more sense than Showalter for Washington.
Around the majors
CC Sabathia offered his sympathy and support for his former manager, Eric Wedge, who looks like he's headed for a firing in Cleveland. Sabathia said he likes Wedge very much, but added, "It's tough with the guys he's got now." One obvious favorite to replace Wedge would be Boston pitching coach John Farrell, but FoxSports.com reported that he has a contract with the Red Sox that stipulates he can't leave to manage until after 2010. Sometimes those clauses can be negotiated away.
Ken Macha emerged from his meeting with GM Doug Melvin and told Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that he expects to remain manager. Macha will return as a lame duck, though, which makes the situation slightly unusual but far from unique.
The Padres are a rare team known to have some interest in troubled outfielder Milton Bradley. Texas was the one place Bradley thrived most, but sources indicate that's a long shot now. The idea of importing Bradley at a time the team's for sale makes little sense.
Pat Burrell hasn't fit in like expected in Tampa Bay, and the Chicago Tribune speculated on a Bradley-for-Burrell deal, which doesn't sound unreasonable. Except that Burrell isn't much of a National League player at this point. (These are the very issues that caused the Phillies to decide to let Burrell go by the end of last year.)
Mark DeRosa is appealing to a lot of teams as a versatile late bloomer with power. The Mets could use such a player, and perhaps the Cubs would like a re-do on their 2008-09 winter decisions. DeRosa is among the free agents not covered on my recent list of 20-plus prominent free agents. Some others are Nick Johnson, Adam LaRoche and Joel Pineiro. Some guesses for their deals: DeRosa, three years, $24 million; Johnson, two years, $16 million; LaRoche, three years, $25 million; Pineiro, two years, $15 million.
Jermaine Dye is likely to be another free agent outfielder, as the likelihood is that the White Sox will decline the $12 million mutual option on his contract. Dye has slumped in the second half, batting .175 this month after batting .189 in August.
Aroldis Chapman, the Cuban left-hander who defected and last week filed for free agency, has been considered one of the three top young pitchers not in the majors, along with Yu Darvish and Stephen Strasburg. One GM ranked Chapman third best of the three, saying he still has issues with control and may wind up a reliever. But since Chapman will be a free agent, look for him to best Strasburg's $15.075 million contract.
Hideki Matsui's first choice is to stay in the Bronx, people close to him say. The Yankees' inclination has been to reluctantly let him leave since the DH spot may be needed more by Posada and other veterans in coming years.
David Wright publicly admitted to flinching since coming back from being beaned by Matt Cain, and he has indeed slumped since returning. He's hit .220 since returning with 32 strikeouts in 24 games. Manager Jerry Manuel suggested Wright should not have made that admission. But the real issue is the flinching, not the talking about it.
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