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Fire Up the Stove
Daniel G. Habib
November 07, 2005
ANYONE WHO thought the World Series ended anticlimactically needn't worry: The off-season promises plenty of intrigue. Though this winter's free-agent class isn't deep, it includes impact players at almost every position. A rundown of the front-burner questions on the hot stove.
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November 07, 2005

Fire Up The Stove

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Three of last year's best closers--the Indians' Bob Wickman (45 saves, second in the majors), the Padres' Trevor Hoffman (43, fourth) and the Phillies' Billy Wagner (38, 12th)--are free agents, as are lesser lights such as Baltimore's B.J. Ryan and Pittsburgh's Jose Mesa. Hoffman made $5 million this year, and San Diego, under new CEO Sandy Alderson, may economize and replace the 38-year-old with setup men Scott Linebrink and Aki Otsuka. Wagner has told Philadelphia that he'll shop around. Closers are as replaceable as anyone else, even through the draft, as Washington's Chad Cordero and Oakland's Huston Street have shown, but that won't stop teams from handing out huge deals. PREDICTION: Hoffman, an icon in San Diego, stays put. Wagner signs with the Mets. Wickman, who'll be 37 in February, retires.

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