Projections for top 65 free-agents (cont.)
34. Javier Vazquez. He has spoken of retirement, but his finish was just too strong. Projection $8 million, one year.
35. Joe Nathan. Good second half (11 saves, 3.91 ERA) should help him. Projection: $8 million, one year.
36. LaTroy Hawkins. Very nice year with Brewers. Projection: $8 million two years.
37. Hisashi Iwakuma. He couldn't come to $16 million, four-year deal with Oakland last year. Good pitcher but velocity is down. Projection: $8 million, two years.
38. Grady Sizemore. A multitalented athlete is thought close to returning to the Indians, his team from the beginning. The only question about him is his health, and it's a good sign that his old team is still interested. Projection: $7 million (plus a lot of incentives), one year.
39. Matt Capps. Not worth trading Wilson Ramos for. Projection: $7 million, two years.
40. Mike Gonzalez. Lefthanders are always useful. Projection: $7 million, two years.
41. Freddy Garcia. Has Yankees and Red Sox interested, which is usually a formula for free-agent success. Projection: $6 million, one year.
42. Erik Bedard. If healthy, someone will like him. Not here. Projection: $6 million, one year.
43. Derrek Lee. Looked good for Pirates. One more year. Projection: $6 million, one year.
44. Johnny Damon. Still going strong. Cooperstown awaits? Projection: $5 million, one year.
45. Brad Lidge. Could bounce back strong from his injury year. Projection: $5 million, one year.
46. Yuniesky Betancourt. Got some bad publicity but one of the better Brewers in the postseason. Projection: $5 million, one year.
47. David DeJesus. Nice player but hasn't become the star he was projected to be. Projection: $5 million, one year.
48. J.D. Drew. Still may play. Projection: $4 million, one year.
49. Jonathan Broxton. Yet another strong closer. If healthy, a monster. Projection: $4 million (plus lots of incentives), one year.
50. Cody Ross. 2010 postseason hero had rough finish to 2011, batting just .197 in the second half. Projection: $4 million, one year.
51. Jeff Francis. Lefthander was still on the mend last year when he went 6-16 with a 4.82 ERA for the Royals, two years after missing the entire 2009 season with an injury. Projection: $4 million, one year.
52. Joel Pineiro. Faded with Angels. Projection: $4 million, one year.
53. Jack Wilson. Excellent defender. Projection: $4 million, one year.
54. Raul Ibaņez. Will have to take monster pay cut. Good guy for clubhouse, though. Projection: $4 million, one year.
55. Vladimir Guerrero. One more year? Projection: $4 million, one year.
56. Jason Marquis. Can still provide innings. Projection: $4 million, one year.
57. Jon Rauch. Yet another potential closer. Projection: $4 million, one year.
58. Ryan Ludwick. Useful RBI man. Projection: $4 million, one year.
59. Juan Pierre. Speedster still has value. Projection: $4 million, one year.
60. Rich Harden. Injuries always the question. Projection: $4 million, one year.
61. Octavio Dotel. Showed his value in the postseason, especially by neutralizing Ryan Braun. Projection: $4 million, one year.
62. Andruw Jones. Proved to be terrific off the bench and in the clubhouse for the Yankees. Projection: $4 million, one year.
63. Kevin Millwood. Nice finish with Rockies. Projection: $4 million, one year.
64. Adam Kennedy. Can't be hurt by the interest in infielders. Projection: $4 million, one year.
65. Hideki Matsui. Professional hitter did much better after Bob Melvin came in to manage A's. Projection: $4 million, one year.
Bobby Valentine meets with Red Sox GM Ben Cherington and his righthand man Allard Baird in Boston today. Valentine looks like the sudden favorite for the manager's job after club honchos declined to make an offer to Cherington's original first choice, Dale Sveum. No other known candidates have been added yet, and that may depend on how this interview goes. It's unsure what the chances of the Red Sox turning to someone below Sveum on Cherington's first list, though there's no word on whether Sandy Alomar, Torey Lovullo or Gene Lamont is out of the picture. Valentine, with a long resume -- he managed the Rangers and Mets, taking the latter team to the 2000 World Series -- and huge personality, is very different than Sveum. It can't hurt him that he is a longtime friend of Larry Lucchino. Valentine looks like the favorite now. But Valentine has come close before.
Kerry Wood seems destined to go back to the Cubs since he doesn't want to go anywhere else.
With the new minimum salary $480,000, Brandon Wood's salary with the Rockies is set at $580,000 since he agreed to receive $100,000 over the minimum.
The Brewers are proving to be a nice development system for coaches and executives. New Cubs manager Sveum was hired off Milwaukee's staff, where he had most recently been the hitting coach. Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux, who held that job in Milwaukee before going to Texas, was interviewed in Chicago and had interest from Boston for manager. In recent years, Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik and scouting director Tom McNamara also came from Milwaukee. Royals manager Ned Yost also had his first managing job I with the Brewers. Though, some Brewers people were slightly surprised about the clamoring for Sveum, a hit item with two major-market teams.
Rangers people are still suggesting that a nine-figure deal is a long shot for them (meaning Pujols or Fielder). But we have to remember they were late to the Adrian Beltre party last winter before making one of the best free-agent purchases of that offseason. One focus now is to try to lock up Josh Hamilton.
Good luck to Scott Kazmir, who's trying to make a comeback in winter ball at age 27. He is a nice kid who didn't take things seriously enough. The Mets were killed for trading him (and it was indeed a mistake) but they knew he was trying to wing it on talent alone.
Nice job by MLB VP Rob Manfred, union leader Michael Weiner and all their guys to finish the collective bargaining agreement three weeks ahead of the deadline (though there were technically a last few items being finalized at last count). An announcement is expected Tuesday. Blood testing for human growth hormone will begin in spring, so MLB has beaten the NFL to a test for HGH. However, testing is expected to be broken in slowly. Some recent improvements have led to somewhat more effective testing, though Mike Jacobs was the only one caught in the minors so far and it will probably take incredible stupidity to be caught now. There will be a tax system on draft bonuses whereby teams that go over recommended slot totals will be taxed. One drawback to this new system is that some small-market teams -- such as the Nationals, Royals and Pirates -- had wisely begun using the draft to build their talent bases. Hopefully, this won't discourage them too much.