View Full Version : Winners and Losers

Homer's Ghost
02-13-2007, 04:05 PM
Practically all of the money is spent now, well past $1 billion all told. Still, general managers worry about this hole and that, knowing that no club is perfect, no matter how expensive.

When considering the best and worst reconstructions of the 2006-07 off-season, remember that every roster is fluid, every situation changeable, every move subject to further review.

Phillies: The additions of right-handers Freddy Garcia and Adam Eaton created that rarest of baseball treasures, a surplus of starting pitchers; Eaton's three-year, $24 million deal, while excessive for an oft-injured pitcher, looked more reasonable by the end of the off-season. The Phillies also signed third baseman Wes Helms and catcher Rod Barajas to inexpensive deals, and still hold two trade chips to get the bullpen help they need: Right-hander Jon Lieber and outfielder Aaron Rowand.

Indians: For the bargain price of $28.9 million, they added former closers Keith Foulke and Joe Borowski and two other veteran relievers while signing David Dellucci and Trot Nixon to build corner-outfield depth. The Indians will be vulnerable if shortstop Jhonny Peralta and/or third baseman Andy Marte stumble, but they're protected against injury and inconsistency almost everywhere else on their roster — no small feat for a low-revenue club.

Dodgers: It's difficult to heap too much praise on a team that awarded free-agent center fielder Juan Pierre $44 million for five years. But GM Ned Colletti maintained flexibility by going short-term with his other free agents — right-hander Jason Schmidt, left-hander Randy Wolf, left fielder Luis Gonzalez and first baseman Nomar Garciaparra. The signings of Schmidt and Wolf give Colletti enough depth to trade a starting pitcher, ideally right-hander Brad Penny.

Braves: For once, they might be underrated. G.M. John Schuerholz finally fixed the bullpen by trading for lefty Mike Gonzalez and righty Rafael Soriano, left-hander Mike Hampton is coming off elbow-ligament transplant surgery and club officials are enthused about the new right side of their infield — first baseman Scott Thorman, who could platoon with free agent Craig Wilson, and second baseman Kelly Johnson.

Red Sox: They are better on paper, but face numerous questions despite spending — gasp — $221 million. Right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka might not prove the pitcher the Sox envision. Right fielder J.D. Drew could be too passive for Boston. Shortstop Julio Lugo is viewed by some as a defensive liability. And rookie second baseman Dustin Pedroia ... well, some scouts believe he simply can't play. Not to mention, the Sox still don't have a closer.

Honorable mention
Yankees: Difficult to argue that they're better short-term when left-hander Andy Pettitte was their only major addition, but the trades of right fielder Gary Sheffield and left-hander Randy Johnson brought much-needed young talent.

Tigers: The Gary Sheffield trade was a winner, even though the cost will be $41 million over three years. The Tigers also signed first baseman Sean Casey and reliever Jose Mesa at bargain rates and reached extensions with right-hander Jeremy Bonderman and third baseman Brandon Inge.

Diamondbacks: Acquired two left-handed starters, Johnson and Doug Davis, without sacrificing elite prospects. G.M. Josh Byrnes also netted four draft picks by completely shunning the free-agent market while losing left fielder Luis Gonzalez, right-hander Miguel Batista and utility infielder Craig Counsell.

Brewers: Won a minor bidding war for Counsell, flipped Davis and prospects for Johnny Estrada and right-handers Claudio Vargas and Greg Aquino and signed free-agent right-hander Jeff Suppan to give their rotation even more stability.

Rangers: This is what happens when a team enters an off-season with too many free agents. The Rangers' starting pitching will be typically suspect even with the addition of right-hander Brandon McCarthy, and for once their offense is questionable, too. After losing Carlos Lee and Gary Matthews Jr., the outfield will consist of Frank Catalanatto in left, Kenny Lofton in center and Nelson Cruz in right — unless Brad Wilkerson makes a strong recovery from shoulder surgery. The Rangers actually need Sammy Sosa to make an impact. Gulp.

Cardinals: Not the first time they've been in this position, and Walt Jocketty, Tony La Russa and Co. usually find a way to emerge with a contender. The losses of free-agent righties Jeff Suppan, Jeff Weaver and Jason Marquis, however, make the rotation behind Chris Carpenter a genuine concern. Kip Wells, Braden Looper and Ryan Franklin are not trustworthy replacements, and the necessity for a trade only will increase if closer Jason Isringhausen fails to make a successful recovery from hip surgery, forcing Adam Wainwright back to the closer's role.

Angels: Blew their chance to deliver early knockout punch in AL West. Owner Arte Moreno promised to add a major offensive piece; Matthews Jr. is more of a complementary part. The free-agent market wasn't the only option; the Angels remain deep enough in prospects to trade for the players they need. The good news: Free-agent right-hander Justin Speier makes a powerhouse bullpen even better, and the team's starting pitching is deep enough to await Bartolo Colon's recovery from rotator-cuff problems.

Mets: Free-agent left fielder Moises Alou was a solid one-year investment, but the Mets remain stuck with two other 40-somethings, lefty Tom Glavine and righty Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez, at the top of their rotation. They've got plenty of options, young and old, but it's almost inconceivable that they failed to add a proven starter when righty Pedro Martinez will be out at least half the season. A more formidable rotation would make the Mets prohibitive favorites in the NL East.

Nationals: If they're going to lose 100, why not 120? The Nats' rotation consists of right-hander John Patterson and 12 vagabonds competing for four spots. Trading second baseman Jose Vidro and parting with free-agent left fielder Alfonso Soriano, right fielder Jose Guillen and right-handers Tony Armas Jr. and Ramon Ortiz were understandable moves for a rebuilding club. But the Nats should do a full Marlins-style fire sale and trade closer Chad Cordero and right fielder Austin Kearns, too.

Dishonorable mention
Mariners: The pieces never seem to fit with this club, and little figures to change after another ill-fated reconstruction. Right fielder Jose Guillen and designated hitter Jose Vidro won't transform the offense, and right-handers Jeff Weaver and Miguel Batista and lefty Horacio Ramirez won't cure the rotation.

Giants: Center fielder Dave Roberts gives them more speed, left-hander Barry Zito a durable ace. Still, the Giants' position players remain, for the most part, a collection of old-timers, the latest being free-agent infielder Rich Aurilia, 35; outfielder Ryan Klesko, 35; and catcher Bengie Molina, 32. Their biggest loss: Trainer Stan Conte, who left for the Dodgers.

Astros: Carlos Lee will hit, but the Astros' outfield defense could be among the game's worst with Lee in left and Chris Burke in center — and the starting pitching certainly isn't better with righties Jason Jennings and Woody Williams replacing lefty Andy Pettitte and, for the moment, righty Roger Clemens.

Twins: Their only additions were free-agent right-handers Ramon Ortiz and Sidney Ponson, neither of whom will adequately replace right-hander Brad Radke, and infielder Jeff Cirillo, who will fill a part-time DH/infield role. Does it even matter? As always, the Twins will find a way to contend.

A league of their own
Cubs: Hoo boy. Their total free-agent payout was $297.55 million — not including $10.5 million for new manager Lou Piniella — and they still can't identify their center fielder or promise a formidable rotation. The job security of GM Jim Hendry could hinge on free-agent left-hander Ted Lilly and righty Jason Marquis, two league-average pitchers who cost a combined $61 million. Imagine if the rotation collapses and the Cubs then fail to sign potential free-agent right-hander Carlos Zambrano. Hoo boy!


No sign of the Reds. That is part good part bad.

02-13-2007, 05:20 PM
I thought Soriano was set as the Cubs' center fielder?

Johnny Footstool
02-13-2007, 05:23 PM
Lumping Ted Lilly and Jason Marquis together is patently unfair to Ted Lilly.