Saturday, November 17, 2007

Potential Free Agents

First Base:
Sean Casey
Tony Clark
Jeff Conine
Shea Hillenbrand
Eric Hinske
Ryan Klesko
Doug Mientkiewicz
Olmedo Saenz
Mark Sweeney
Mike Sweeney
Not a lot of very attractive options here. There are some potential platoon partners here and a couple decent gloves, but no one you'd want to plan on as your full-time first baseman.
Tony Clark might be then best pick of the bunch, but the market seems to agree, and he may end up getting more money than you'd want to spend on an aging platoon first baseman.

Second Base:
Mark Bellhorn
Geoff Blum
Miguel Cairo
Luis Castillo
Marcus Giles
Tony Graffanino
Jerry Hairston, Jr.
Tadahito Iguchi
Mark Loretta
Kaz Matsui
Jose Valentin
Todd Walker
I see here a bevy of minor league contracts. Kaz Matsui will probably get the biggest contract of the bunch, and he should donate some portion of that to the maintenance of Coors Field. Luis Castillo should get some interest, but his skills are declining, and when Luis Castillo's speed, defense and batting average deteriorate, there ain't a lot left. Tadahito Iguchi is probably the best bet here, but there could also be some useful guys here coming off the bench.

Royce Clayton
David Eckstein
Cesar Izturis
Neifi Perez
Ouch. Major ouch. David Eckstein won't break the bank, but he'll be the one to get a big payday here, even though his scrappiness is not substitute for good production at shortstop.

Third Base:
Aaron Boone
Russel Branyan
Jeff Cirillo
Pedro Feliz
Corey Koskie
Mike Lamb
Mike Lowell
There are some better options here, although things drop off after Lowell, which is why he's being pursued so strongly. Some rumors came out recently (which may or may not have been accurate) that the Yankees had offered Lowell a contract to be their first baseman. I thought that was the most bass-ackwards thing I'd heard in some time. Why in the hell would you sign Lowell, a great defender, and stick him at third, when A-Rod and his fringe-average defense remain at third? Let's hope these discussions really didn't take place, and that Lowell will be headed to the Phillies or the Red Sox, instead.
The Giants pulled out of the Pedro Felix sweepstakes, saying that they weren't ready to go much more than one year. Feliz is a good glove at third with some pop, but damn he makes some outs. The knucklehead that signs Feliz to a long-term deal deserves the ensuing headache.
Mike Lamb's name has popped up, as a four-corners (1B, 3B, LF, RF) player who's done quite well as a part-timer in Houston. Some team looking for left-handed offense off the bench or as a platoon in a corner would do well to pick up Lamb, who can still hit.

Barry Bonds
Milton Bradley
Mike Cameron
Jeff DaVanon
Darin Erstad
Cliff Floyd
Luis Gonzalez
Shawn Green
Jose Guillen
Torii Hunter
Geoff Jenkins
Andruw Jones
Bobby Kielty
Kenny Lofton
Rob Mackowiak
Trot Nixon
Corey Patterson
Aaron Rowand
Reggie Sanders
Sammy Sosa
Shannon Stewart
Brad Wilkerson
Preston Wilson
There are a lot of center fielders out there, but the bidding is going to be so fierce that the last man standing after the other stars sign shoul make a lot of money from a desperate team. Of the three big names -- Andruw Jones, Torii Hunter and Aaron Rowand -- only Jones would provide any real return on an investment, as his terrible 2007 has lowered his price tag. Hunter and Rowand are vastly overrated, with Rowand especially coming off a career year.
Those looking for a more reasonable outfield solution would do well to take a flyer on someone like Mike Cameron (suspension and all), Brad Wilkerson, Corey Patterson, and especially Milton Bradley. Whomever gets Bradley this offseason may look smarter than anyone in a year's time.
Luis Gonzalez, Reggie Sanders, Sammy Sosa and Shawn Green are the big veterans available. Green is useless, as you can get his production from much cheaper, younger sources. Gonzalez is still an above-average hitter, and I for one didn't think that his 1-year contract with the Dodgers was such a bad idea after all. Another one-year deal for a team that needs to win now wouldn't be a bad idea.
I don't trust Reggie Sanders' health, so I wouldn't pursue him. And Sosa just wasn't good at all last year, and a poor-hitting DH at his age shouldn't go around demanding big money as a free agent.
Jose Guillen may have been implicated in the latest PED scandal, but there still appears to be a thriving market for him. I don't really but it. Guillen is good, but his performance on and off the field is unreliable. He's also getting older and can't carry the offensive burden that comes with being a right fielder. He'd be best used as a short-term fix for a win-now team. (In other words, the Royals should back off.)

Rod Barajas
Michael Barrett
Jason Kendall
Paul Lo Duca
Damian Miller
Jose Molina
Mike Piazza
Yorvit Torrealba
This is a pretty bare group to choose from, especially since Piazza isn't a catcher anymore. The best bet by far is Michael Barrett, who should come fairly cheap after a star-crossed 2007. He should be the first stop for teams with a hole at catcher, but instead several GMs are focusing on Yorvit Torrealba for reasons as yet unknown.

Starting Pitcher:
Tony Armas
Kris Benson
Matt Clement
Bartolo Colon
Josh Fogg
Tom Glavine
Livan Hernandez
Jason Jennings
Jon Lieber
Kyle Lohse
Rodrigo Lopez
Eric Milton
Odalis Perez
Andy Pettitte
Kenny Rogers
Carlos Silva
John Thomson
Brett Tomko
Steve Trachsel
Jeff Weaver
David Wells
Kip Wells
Randy Wolf
Jaret Wright
A sorry spectacle, it's true. Pettitte is the best option, but he's made it clear that it's the Yankees or nothing for him. After him, there are two main groups of free agents: reliably fringe-average guys (Carlos Silva, Josh Fogg, Jason Jennings, Kris Benson, Livan Hernandez, Eric Milton) and high-risk/high-reward types (Bartolo Colon, Matt Clement, Randy Wolf). Personally, I'd take one from the latter group, since they're not likely to get as much money as the former.

Relief Pitchers:
Jon Adkins
Jeremy Affeldt
Armando Benitez
Micah Bowie
Doug Brocail
Francisco Cordero
Octavio Dotel
Eric Gagne
Eddie Guardado
LaTroy Hawkins
Jorge Julio
Scott Linebrink
Troy Percival
Mariano Rivera
Kirk Saarloos
Rudy Seanez
Luis Vizcaino
Kerry Wood
Mike Wood
Both Rivera and Cordero are lining up for a pretty big payday, and that's as should be. But there will also be some guys who could get surprisingly good money to be a spare middle reliver; guys like Eric Gagne, Kerry Wood, Octavio Dotel, and Troy Percival.

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