....is a blast, one pure sport in itself. Actually I call it the Beautiful Game, because it has the ability to seem so perfect, sorry Futbol! But right now it's more like "The Perfect Storm". So with that thought in mind, coupled with the chaos that is Hot Stove Time I have decided to take a shot at predicting where most FA's will end up. Join me in this what I call the "Match Game"!
Let's start with let's say the top 20 remaining FA's and a few who may not be elite but who should be pivotal to his new/old teams success.
1.) Barry Zito - Easily the best pitcher on the market or at least the biggest name. Which either way should be enough to cash in.
Prediction - NY Mets
A great fit with his ex-pitching coach Peterson there. He'll be expensive and the Mets need starting pitching in the worst way. He would rather be on the Left Coast but it's just not in the cards from where I sit. Both L.A. teams would love to have him but need offense more.
2.) Jason Schmidt - Probably a better option than Zito although older and more likely not to finish his contract if it's anything more than 4 years long (and that is a stretch IMHO).
Prediction - San Diego
The Padres need this guy to be the Ace in case Peavy's '06 season was a vision of things to come. But even if Peavy is ok you cannot necc. depend on Chris Young & Clay Hensley continuing to be your #2 & #3 starters respectively if you have visions of playing in the postseason. Simply put you need 3 good dependable starters. And from what I am hearing early on the Padres intend on going for it all this year.
3.) Greg Maddux - Likely a cheaper option than both Zito and Schmidt and a great 2nd half after being dealt to the Dodgers. And from what I have read he greatly enjoyed his time there and would like to continue if the #'s work out. The Dodgers still need him and can afford both him and a bat with Drews departure.
Prediction - Dodgers
4.) Ted Lilly - The LH is reportedly looking for 4 yrs and around 40 million and chances are slim that he or Toronto truly could come to terms after last years "alledged" clubhouse brawl with manager Gibbons who is still there. Sure they are saying all the right things but Lilly is better suited to return to the pinstripes where Cash-Man has freed up some extra ducketts by ridding themselves of Jaret Wright and Gary Sheffields contracts. Plus it's just a matter of time before the Yanks break open the bank this off-season and what better way to do it than a LH starting pitcher who is a former Yankee and knows the division intimately.
Prediction - NYY
5.) Gil Meche - Meche is a strange case because he has alot of upside but hasn't had the success that comes with a guy who possesses such upside. He will have plenty of suitors because it's baseball and he can throw a ball in the vicinity of 90 MPH and has a pulse. My guess is since he is more of a Flyball pitcher he will at least wanna go somewhere that has a solid OF defense coupled with a team that can compete since he has spent a few years now toiling away in Seattle where they aren't currently competing. The Cubs want him but that OF is not set (and likely won't be for the next 8 years) and pitching in Wrigley can terrify some. My gut says Dave Duncan can figure this guy out and make him a 20 game winner.
Prediction - Cardinals
6.) Vicente Padilla - Hardnosed competitor, good stuff, keeps it in the park well enough to play in any park judging from where he's pitched I.E. Philly, Texas. But a bit of a D'LO (not all the way of course). Probably looking for his final payday so it must be somewhere with $$$.
Prediction - Cubs
7.) Randy Wolf - Coming of off a season in which he was starting his comeback from TJ surjery. Could be that he decides to sign a 1 yr deal to prove his ability to pitch and then come back next season for the bigger $$$'s. If healthy a more than capable #3 pitcher. My guess is he will still end up signing a 3-4 yr deal anyway because teams figure he is a solid candidate to bounce back fully and he is worth the gamble.
Prediction - Houston
8.) Roger Clemens - Will he retire this time? Really the question is will Petite return? And if so will they both end up in Houston? My guess is Petite moves on to either the NYY or Retirement. So that my friends should signal the end of Clemens coming back to Houston IMO. He has 348 career wins does he really need 2 more to be considered any better, I don't think so.
Prediction - Retirement
9.) Danys Baez - Looks like he wants to be a closer, but would settle for a set-up job if it's the right money/contender (Mets, Dodgers etc.). But I think Closer is want he really wants so I would say hmmmm, tough one here. Wherever he goes it should be somewhere they play good IF defense with his style and more likely a smaller park (Less room for his BIP to get away).
Prediction - Reds
10.) Joe Borowski - Solid guy bounced back nicely last year in a spacious park with solid defense. Is probably now out of the Marlins price range, but shouldn't be. He is the same as Baez in that he prefers to be a Closer but is open to a set-up role. Should come a bit cheaper than Baez due to age and he is less of a K guy.
Prediction - Cubs
Adam Eaton: Rangers
Jeff Suppan: Houston
Jeff Weaver: St. Louis
Woody Williams: S.D.
Tom Glavine: (He's a top 3 pitcher but will only play for 2 teams) Mets
Andy Petite: Retirement
Toma Ohka: Boston (The Sox look to be signing Matsuzaka and what Ohka to help translate the game and help him in other ways off the field).
Steve Trachsel: Mets
Mark Mulder: D-Backs
Eric Gagne: Dodgers
Kip Wells: Rangers
Dan Kolb: Rockies
David Weathers: Marlins
Chad Bradford: Mets
Miguel Batista: D-Backs
Tony Armas Jr.: D-Rays
1.) Carlos Lee - From the looks of it he is very close to signing with either the Astros or Orioles. Had a face-to-face with Purpura today so I am thinking Lee to the astros seeing as how he has a Ranch near Houston.
Prediction - Astros
2.) J.D. Drew - Wow he could land in a host of places. But he is a very good offensive player and solid defensive guy who can also run the bases. LH bat who can play any OF position. This is all assuming he can stay healthy and passionate, 2 words that you cannot attribute to him. But production is the name of the game so somebody is going to get desperate and give up the moon for this kid. My gut says the O's could be that team but he is prone to not like certain ML cities. He would likely play RF there and that's not necc. a good fit with their youth in the OF. They are looking more for a 1B/DH. He could play CF in a smaller park and it would also spice up those power #'s.
Prediction - Rangers
3.) Julio Lugo - A guy who wants paid who can hit & run like the dickens but defense is a bit subpar. Looking for somewhere in the vicinity of 4 yr 32 mill. Probably feels more comfortable in the AL because of his familiarity with the league. Sounds like a good fit for a team that loves it's offense but understands the importance of defense. But will still likely end up playing 2B in the AL East.
Prediction - Red Sox
4.) Dave Roberts - Need a veteran CF and a top of the lineup bat. Willing to pay 4 yr and approx. 20 mill. He's your man! and with Bruce Bochy heading to S.F. and his age over 35 he's a perfect fit there.
Prediction - S.F.
5.) Mike Piazza - I think even Mike knows his days of catching are over although he will likely get some token games there just to make him feel good about it. He will likely need to DH now because he is incapable of playing any other position. He's a west coast guy and he is likely cheaper than Bonds.
Prediction - Oakland
6.) Barry Bonds - Look he is going to have to quit this charade. There is only one true place he will play. Because that's the only place he is liked.
Prediction - S.F.
7.) Rich Aurilia - I don't believe he comes back now that the Reds have signed a full time starter in the IF. HIs offense and his leadership were nice but he belongs out on the west coast where he wants to be playing full time 1B. I'm sure it's simply a matter of fine tuning this deal and perhaps waiting until 12/8/06 to see if the Reds offer Arbitration (which I am sure he will promptly turn down).
Prediction - S.F.
8.) Bengie Molina - Not a great catchers market this year especially when one of the few teams who are really in the market is the team who you played for last year, and whom you played below avg defense for, and who paid you more than you are likely to receive this go around. But you may be stubborn and hold out because you feel you are worth more. Sorry Gregg Zaun will be the starter and the Jays will find a cheaper back-up. I see '07 being a bad year for one of the Bros. Molina. And it's a shame because he is an outstanding hitting catcher.
Prediction - I have no idea, Florence Freedom?
9.) Adam Kennedy - Looks like this could be a tough one for Kennedy as well. 4 yrs. 20 Mill. is the price tag and although lots of teams are in the market for a 2B none probably wanna pay that kind of Do-Rey-Mee for a 30 yr old with somewhat diminishing skills. But fortunately he is a gamer type who is solid in most areas but just unspectacular in any. My gut says he might get 4 yrs if he drops his asking price a few million to about 17-18 mill.
Prediction - Toronto
10.) Luis Gonzales - A good LH run producer but not a great OF anymore due to lack of a solid arm. Could be a perfect fit for a team with a small park and need of a good RBI man. Would prefer to stay out west in the NL but those teams are not a good fit. Was rumored to be close with St. Louis on a 1 yr deal.
Prediction - Cardinals
Ray Durham: S.F.
Mark Loretta: S.D.
Cliff Floyd: Cubs
David Dellucci: Pirates
Shannon Stewart: Reds
Kevin Millar: Reds
Jose Guillen: Phillies
Shea Hillenbrand: NYY
Aubrey Huff: Detroit
Jay Payton: Oakland
Tony Graffinino: Cardinals
Ron Belliard: Red Sox (To be Manny's caddy)
Craig Wilson: Nationals
Pedro Feliz: Angels
Doug Meintkiewicz: O's
Eduardo Perez: Marlins
Rod Barajas: Colorado
As far as Starting Pitchers for us:
Reds Trade Brandon Watson & Joey Votto to Cleveland for Jake Westbrook.