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Posted: Thursday January 29, 2009 12:32PM; Updated: Thursday January 29, 2009 5:40PM
Ted Keith Ted Keith >
INSIDE BASEBALL

My All-Free Agency Team (cont.)

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Miguel Cairo: With Wigginton providing offense off the bench, a veteran like Cairo who can provide a valuable glove at multiple spots makes perfect sense. Nomar Garciaparra could be an option, but Cairo can play both middle infield spots, doesn't get hurt as often as Nomar and would likely cost less too.

'08 salary: $850,000

Ken Griffey Jr.: Good news is he stayed healthy enough to top 140 games for the first time since 2000. Bad news is that he posted his lowest power numbers (18 home runs and a .424 slugging percentage) in a full season since his rookie year of 1989. Still, he would provide good left-handed pop off the bench.

'08 salary: $12.5 million

Garret Anderson: He wants to play long enough to reach 3,000 hits, but that won't be with the Angels, where he's spent his entire 15-year career. He wouldn't get a full-time spot on this team either, but his numbers (.293, 15 HRs, 84 RBIs) reflect someone who could carry an everyday job if need be.

'08 salary: $12 million

Frank Thomas

The 40-year-old Big Hurt might be more likely to retire than continue his Hall of Fame career after playing just 71 games in '08, but two years ago he had enough left to smack 26 homers and drive in 95 runs with a .480 slugging percentage, so he might be worth taking a chance on, especially as a late-inning pinch-hitter option.

'08 salary: $8 million

Starting Rotation

Ben Sheets: Sheets is still looking for a new team after turning down the Brewers offer to go to arbitration. Concerns over a torn muscle in his pitching arm late in the season have surely kept teams away from the oft-injured righty who, when healthy, is a force, as his 13-9 record and 3.09 ERA in 2008 can attest. The Rangers still seem to be his most likely landing spot.

'08 salary: $11 million

Oliver Perez: When he's on, Perez shows glimpses of being one of the best young lefties in the game. But after yet another maddeningly inconsistent season in 2008, teams have been wary of meeting his pricey demands. Still, his talent and his age (27) make him a good catch.

'08 salary: $6.5 million

Randy Wolf: It sounds like Wolf could be on the verge of signing with his hometown Dodgers, but for now he's still available for this roster. The 32-year-old missed the second half of the '07 campaign after shoulder surgery, but he bounced back to go 12-12 with a 4.30 ERA last season (splitting time between San Diego and Houston). He was an All-Star in 2003 and boasts a respectable 4.26 ERA for his career.

'08 salary: $4.75 million

Braden Looper: Despite a worse record (12-12 to 12-14), he showed noticeable improvement in his second year as a starting pitcher: his innings pitched jumped from 175 to 199, his strikeouts rose from 87 to 108, he issued fewer walks (51 to 45) and his ERA dropped from 4.94 to 4.16. Certainly not a bad option for the middle or back end of the rotation.

'08 salary: $5.5 million

Tom Glavine: Rather than joining former rotation-mate Greg Maddux in retirement and starting work on his Hall of Fame Class of 2014 induction speech, Glavine has said he'd like to pitch one more year. He made just 13 starts in 2008, and landed on the disabled list for the first times in his career, but the 305-game winner still knows how to get hitters out.

'08 salary: $8 million

Bullpen

Juan Cruz: Another player who turned down his club's offer of arbitration, Cruz is hard-throwing righty who racked up 71 strikeouts in just 51.2 innings pitched for the Diamondbacks in 2008. Although he has just one career save, his stats and makeup suggest he could be effective as a closer (on this club, he'd have to be). The Brewers were reportedly one team that backed down because of his Type A status.

'08 salary: $1.9375 million

Jason Isringhausen: To add a closer with experience, Isringhausen would be a good option, especially since he's willing to take a pay cut after missing substantial time with an elbow injury late last season.

'08 salary: $8 million

Brian Shouse: He posted a 2.81 ERA and 1.169 WHIP in 69 games for the wild-card winning Brewers last year while posting a better than 2:1 K/BB ratio.

'08 salary: $2 million

Will Ohman: Pitching 83 games, the second-most in the NL, may have caused Ohman to tire down the stretch and his numbers to rise, but his 4-1 record and 3.68 ERA are worth a spot in the bullpen.

'08 salary: $1.6 million

Ron Villone: The journeyman is another affordable lefty who can be relied upon regularly, having pitched 74 games for the Cardinals last season.

'08 salary: $600,000

The total value in 2008 salaries of this roster comes to $191,437,500. But considering that only Ramirez, Sheets and Dunn are likely to command eight-figure deals this season, and several players (Varitek, Abreu, Rodriguez, Anderson, Griffey, Thomas, Glavine and Isringhausen) are looking at substantial pay cuts, this would suddenly become a much more affordable, yet still highly competitive, ballclub.

 
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