A Random Sort of Entry

While I decide if it’s worth doing a bullpen entry (All We Know = Tom Martin will be back) some things that have bearing on other conversations, especially free agency…

Just randomly guessing, here are how I think the free agent pitchers shake out. Don’t hold me to this unless I get it right, in which case I’m a total genius:

Yankees: Pedro Martinez, Eric Milton
Red Sox: Carl Pavano, Matt Clement
White Sox: Russ Ortiz
Braves: Jaret Wright, Kevin Millwood
Phillies: Odalis Perez, Matt Morris
Dodgers: Jon Lieber, Jose Lima
Twins: Brad Radke
Mets: Kristin Benson
Marlins: Sean Lowe
Cardinals: Chris Carpenter

One point on that last team: The Cards could make a big free agent splash, particularly if they decline Woody Williams’ option. I don’t think that they will, though.

I’ll mention, as I did in comments, that the pitcher I’m highest on is Clement, that I think he has the best chance to be a true ace, and maybe a 10-20 percent chance of having Curt Schilling’s career from here on out. His most-comparable pitcher is Jason Schmidt, and it was at this age that Schmidt broke out. There are a number of pitchers of this type who didn’t have Schilling-type thirties but did pitch very well from about 30-32, and Clement is coming off his Age 29 season. Of course, he might wash out. You can never tell with pitchers.

I’ve been thinking the last couple of days that maybe Moises Alou — an Atlanta native, as you probably know — might be the Braves’ rightfielder next year. It depends on the market. He’s coming off of a great season, but he’s old. I think he might fall through the cracks and wind up with “only” a two-year, $12 million contract. That could work with the Braves’ finances.

One important thing to consider is that the market, especially for “ordinary good” players, has fallen off drastically from what it was only a couple of years ago. I was emailing with one regular earlier today and he thought that Kevin Millwood might get $5 million a season. That is highly unlikely in the current market. Last year, when pitchers were at more of a premium, Sidney Ponson, coming off a year when he was a better-than-average pitcher, got $3 million. Jeff Suppan, who was average, got $1 million. It’s hard to see how Millwood could get as much as Ponson considering that he was hurt last year and hasn’t pitched well in a year and a half. Wright might get more, but I think that his salary will be held down by the presence of similar but superficially better pitchers on the market and by his “bad” NLDS. (As I’ve said, he didn’t pitch that badly, and if he’d had consecutive starts like that in the regular season nobody would have noticed.) My prediction is three years, $16 million total, but I am just guessing, of course. I figure Pavano sets the market, and barring a good old-fashioned Yankees/Red Sox bidding war — and Pavano says he doesn’t want to pitch in New York — he’ll get between seven and nine million a year.

Back to the hitters… I’m guesstimating that the Braves will have (after the pitchers and the various raises) about $8 million to spend on offense. However, there really isn’t an $8 million hitter on the market. Beltran will probably wind up one of the three highest-paid players in baseball. Drew and Ordonez will probably, unless their injuries are a problem, get about $10 million a year each. And nobody else is really worth that much money.

So the Braves move into a situation where they’d either make a trade, or go after an infielder or first baseman and move Giles or LaRoche to the outfield. I doubt LaRoche’s bat would carry his glove in the outfield, but Richie Sexson and Carlos Delgado are both free agents, and both coming off of injury seasons. Frank Thomas might also be available. There isn’t really anyone very interesting at second (unless the Astros cut Jeff Kent loose) but they could sign a shortstop and move Furcal to second.

Finally, remember I’m working off of a traditional free agency list. If form from the last couple of years holds, a few players will be non-tendered, and some might be more interesting than the second-tier outfielders.

16 thoughts on “A Random Sort of Entry”

  1. If the Yankees are really going to lose tonight (trailing 6-0 at the moment – what was Torre thinking for relieving Brown with Vazquez?), there will be a lot of strange things happening this winter at the Bronx. Perhaps we will end up with Vazquez at a discount like Dodgers got Weaver last year!

  2. Maybe Steinbrenner will trade Vazquez in a fit of pique to the Braves for 5 baseballs and a bag of peanuts after that GS he gave up. Then the Braves sign Clement and we’re in business…

  3. Looks like I wasn’t the only one thinking along those lines. Seriously, though, what more will/can George do than he’s been doing? The onion headline of ‘Yankees buy all players’ doesn’t seem so far-fetched this off-season (and I REALLY hope I’m not counting chickens before they hatch w/ this here game 7)

  4. I like Vazquez, but bringing him in to pitch to a lefthanded hitter in Yankee Stadium with the bases loaded was Russian Roulette. Like I’ve said, he gives up too many home runs, always has, and that’s just not his situation.

  5. Since the problem for the Yankees this year is starting pitching rather than the offense, I think the price of starting pitching will drive up significantly this winter. I think the Yankees will end up with Clement and Milton with Red Sox keeping Pedro and signing Pavano. Perhaps the Yankees will also trade Vazquez to get Randy Johnson. Nobody will take Brown, so they are stuck with him. So, if everything goes well, the Yankees rotation will be Johnson, Mussina, Clement, Milton and Brown!!!!

    Red Sox rotation will be Schilling, Pedro, Pavano, Wakefield and Arroyo!!!

    The Braves?! We will be considering Wright, Millwood, Benson, etc…and our rotation may be Wright, Hampton, Thomson, Rameriz and Millwood!!!

  6. I think Vazquez is probably out — and that the Braves have as good of a chance as anyone to be the beneficiaries of the Yankees’ largesse. By the way, the Braves probably have twenty players who would be among the Yankees’ top three prospects.

  7. Javier Vasquez gets about $11 million a year for the next three years. Randy Johnson gets about that much next year (for the last year of his contract). If the Braves (or anyone else) were to be a third team, the Yankees would have to really eat a lot of Vasquez’s contract to make that a do-able deal.

    If it did work, who do you think the Braves send to Arizona? Would LaRoche be a part of a deal? If he was, would the Braves think about moving Chipper to first and giving Marte a shot at third, or sign someone like Delgado to a short-term deal and wait on Marte?

  8. Wow.

    That was the best baseball series I’ve ever seen. That is, after I the third game.

    All bets are off. The Yankees could do ANYTHING this offseason. They could sign 3 new starters, they could trade Vazquez to another team (I’d love him as a Brave!), they could jettison Brown — ANYTHING. I can’t even begin to start predicting this offseason.

    Incredible game. That’s what baseball is about. I grew up in Atlanta, but I’m in New York now. Nothing will ever gloss over the memory of Jim Leyritz. But I take a lot of satisfaction in seeing Boston, their sworn enemy, take the Yankees out in front of their own fans.


  9. I hate to say this, but the Yankees really decide (directly and indirectly) where each big name free agent goes this offseason. They have so much talent that may be gone that any of their moves will affect or have a ripple effect on where each player goes. If Boston lost, I think we could atleast predict where a few players will go; that just isn’t the case anymore.

  10. I was listening to ESPN radio this morning and the guest (don’t remember who) suggested the Yanks would want pitchers with postseason experience, like Smoltz. So, Smoltz for Vazquez?

  11. There are limits, though. The Yankees, for example, can’t easily add Beltran without trading somebody, because the outfield and DH spots are all filled. (Unless Giambi retires.) They could try for a first baseman such as Delgado, I suppose.

    Here’s a scenario that will never happen, but:

    YANKEES GET: Smoltz, LaRoche, Marrero
    BRAVES GET: Vazquez, Bernie Williams, lots-o-money

    Jeter moves to center. A-Job goes back to short. They sign Adrian Beltre to play third base. The Braves re-sign Drew, Williams plays left, Thomas is the fourth outfielder.

    Like I say, it won’t happen, but there’s nothing implausible about it.

  12. Smoltz for Vazquez makes a lot of sense for both teams, especially if we can get the Yankees to throw in some money for the last two years of Vazquez’s deal. Thank god we actually have assets to trade, because we’re gonna need to make trades (rather than relying on free agents) to fit into our budget. As sad as I will be to see John go, I’d love to get Javy V back in the National League, where he belongs.

  13. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. I would love to see the Braves do everything they can in the off season to get Carl Pavano. It seems everyone here has written him off to boston though and I’m not one to go against the public appeal. Wouldn’t it be Nice to See
    1. Pavano
    2. Wright
    3. Hampton
    4. Ramirez
    5. Meyer/ Capellan

    Granted, Cox would be slow to put three lefties in a rotation with meyer but i think that has all the makings of a strong rotation. Maybe later I’ll give my feelings on next years lineup if anyone cares to hear them

  14. If they do by some miracle get Pavano, then I think the chances are low that they A)can afford to and
    B)would want to re-sign Wright. That would leave a rotation of:
    4.Ramirez (If he’s healthy)
    5.Any of about 100 candidates

    I’d like to see Smoltz start if it would actually be better on his arm like he says. Of course, he has big motivation to lie about that (to himself and the Braves), so I’ll trust Bobby Cox and Leo Mazzone to pick the best candidate (I’d never have stuck with Wright, and look where he ended up). Also, if they do splurge on Pavano, I doubt seriously that they can also give J.D. Drew what he wants, so it creats a hole in RF which is easily filled from within the organization, but hard to actually replace Drew’s output.

    This is one of those winters that I’d hate to be John Shuerholz, but I guess that’s why I’m not GMing the Braves and he is. Hopefully he’s trying to build a team that can eventually win a short series (or rather 3 of them), but I’d certainly be happy with a 14th straight division title, and I’ve learned to trust him to do just that.

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