A guide to the free-agent market (cont.)
17. Jarrod Washburn. Knee issues hurt him in Detroit, but he starred in Seattle before that. His great rapport with Mariners pitching coach Rick Adair make them a natural reunion. Milwaukee also inquired about the native Wisconsinite.
18. Bengie Molina. The Mets have tried him before, but they can't afford to miss this time. With catching scarce, he should have a big opportunity for big bucks.
19. Marlon Byrd. Well-timed solid season in Texas gives him a chance to cash in
20. Jason Marquis. Perennial double digit winner who seems to be a good-luck charm (his teams have reached playoffs in all nine of his seasons). Begging for job with the Mets. They can test any good-luck charm.
21. Vladimir Guerrero. While his "body is breaking down,'' one GM said, he can still rake. Showed it in the postseason. Strictly a DH now, though.
22. Adam LaRoche. Big-time power and a second-half scourge. The Braves have liked him twice.
23. Fernando Rodney. Well-timed big-time year with Tigers.
24. Rafael Soriano. Talented reliever who can set up or close.
25. Billy Wagner. Was throwing great 11 months after returning from Tommy John surgery.
26. Mike Cameron. A big plus in the clubhouse, and still a big plus in center.
27. Nick Johnson. Great on-base percentage but he's brittle and is losing range.
28. Russell Branyan. Career year last year at 34 should boost interest. If he can hit them out in Seattle, he can hit them out anywhere.
29. Jon Garland. Noted innings eater. Back to the Dodgers?
30. Placido Polanco. Clever player had a poorly-timed off year last year. The Dodgers and Nats could be looking for a second baseman while the Phillies might consider bringing him back for third.
31. Jermaine Dye. He wasn't worth the $12 million option the White Sox turned down, but he's better than his rep. Weak finish will hurt, though.
32. Pedro Feliz. Excellent defender who shows occasional power. But low on-base mark won't help.
33. Carl Pavano. Back in the game after a four-year blight in New York.
34. Rafael Betancourt. Great job in Colorado raised stock.
35. Brandon Lyon. Solid set-up man.
36. Rick Ankiel. Low performance last year, high ceiling.
37. Yorvit Torrealba. Rockies rejected his $4 million option after he worked his way into the starting role yet again.
38. Juan Uribe. Surprisingly solid year in San Fran should play here.
Oldies but goodies
39. Pedro Martinez. Became the No. 2 pitcher for the World Series runner-up by the end. An amazing man.
40. Jim Thome. Great team man hit homers for White Sox before joining Dodgers as bench player.
41. Randy Johnson. Still no word on whether the 300-game winner will return.
42. Jason Giambi. Proved useful as pinch hitter in Colorado. Says he prefers DHing to first base now.
43. Ivan Rodriguez. Nice job in Texas should give him one more year, at least.
44. John Smoltz. Said to be feeling better now and ready to return.
45. Carlos Delgado. Mets will follow him in winter ball.
The reclamation guys
46. Ben Sheets. A No. 1 pitcher when healthy.
47. Erik Bedard. Quirky personality also.
48. Joe Crede. Talented defender might do better staying away from turf.
49. Troy Glaus. St. Louis is moving on. Hard to gauge what he has left.
50. Xavier Nady. Yankees were prepared to start him over Nick Swisher before recurrence of elbow trouble.
And now the teams ...
The Big Spenders
Yankees. They won't repeat last year's outlay of $423.5 million for three years. But they're always a threat to buy someone good. Looking for pitching. Will pursue Lackey plus trade possibilities Roy Halladay and Derek Lowe.
Red Sox. They still have all that money left from not spending it on Teixeira. Looking for a big bat first. After that, it's anyone's guess. Very creative.
Mets. They're expected to stay at around $147 million for their payroll. Omar Minaya said they need to find a slugger and seems locked on Holliday (though others in the organization like Bay, as well). Pineiro, Wolf, Marquis, Garland, Molina, Figgins and Delgado all look like possible targets.
The Hopeful Spenders
Mariners. They talked to Lackey and are said to be thinking about Bay or Holliday after bringing back Ken Griffey and Jack Wilson. And that's on top of wanting to lock up Felix Hernandez.
Brewers. They've looked into Lackey, Washburn, Doug Davis, Harden and Wolf plus possible No. 5-type guys Mark Mulder and Todd Wellemeyer. Mulder could reconnect with pitching coach Rick Peterson.
Giants. Damon is a target. And Bay makes sense, even from a marketing standpoint in that area.
The Smart Spenders
Angels. They have an interesting puzzle what with Lackey, Figgins and Guerrero all free agents. They employ their own stealth style, but it seems to work -- though, they shouldn't take their loss of Teixeira out on Holliday.
Phillies. They'll consider DeRosa, Beltre, Polanco and maybe even Tejada and Figgins for third after letting Feliz go. But they also want to improve the pen, so an extra big pitcher looks like a long shot. They have $110 million committed to 12 players. Cliff Lee ($9 million) in for Adam Eaton ($8.5 million) is about as good a swap as one can make.
The Wild Cards
Cubs. New owner Tom Ricketts hasn't said how he will proceed. The general feeling is that new owners don't like to make waves, but they make big money and there are no guarantees.
Rangers. They met with the agent for Lackey and looked into Milton Bradley and other right-handed hitters despite an iffy ownership situation. MLB wants an ownership change by Thanksgiving, but people close to the financially-troubled current owner Tom Hicks say he is showing signs of wanting to hold onto the team lately. In the meantime, the Rangers remain in limbo.
The Surprise Wallflowers
Dodgers. The storied major-market team appears to be looking for innings eaters (yawn!). Whether it's because of their iffy ownership situation or a plethora of arbitration cases -- they have nine -- don't look for L.A. to spend big this winter.
Tigers. They spent their way to $140 million as owner Mike Ilitch does what he can to win. But they will appear to take a breather now even if they don't hold a major sell-off. GM Dave Dombrowski says there will be no fire sale, and if anyone knows fire sales, he does.
Around the Majors
The Mariners and Tigers are still discussing a possible trade involving Detroit right-hander Edwin Jackson, who is arbitration-eligible and should expect a big increase from the $2.3 million he made in '09.
The Brewers are going to make a big push this winter to lock up star first baseman Prince Fielder.
There are indications the Angels might be willing to trade outfielder Juan Rivera.
I have no problem with Tim Lincecum winning the Cy Young award, though I supported Chris Carpenter. But those two, plus Adam Wainwright, have to be the top three, no? The two voters who omitted Carpenter who led the league in ERA and winning percentage erred, I believe. The reasoning seemed to be about the slightly lower number of innings he pitched (Javier Vazquez had about 30 more innings). But I think the issue may also be the voters' great emphasis of the strikeout. At least one ballot seemed to reflect gross strikeout total.
Lincecum's double Cy win gives him a major hit under the "special achievements'' category in arbitration. He will easily bust pass the record for first-year arbitration-eligible starting pitchers ($4.35 million for Dontrelle Willis and Cole Hamels) and the record for pitchers of any sort (Jonathan Papelbon got $6.25 million). The number to shoot for might be Ryan Howard, whose agent Casey Close won a stunning $10-million award as a first-year arbitration eligible player thanks in part to Howard's own special achievements (Rookie of the Year, MVP).
Roberto Alomar has to be a Hall of Famer.
MLB Truth & Rumors