First of all I want to say I’m sorry for not being able to post the last couple of days. I didn’t feel well, and couldn’t focus because of my headache. Now it’s time to get back to baseball, though.
All of the free agent talk for starting pitchers seems to be about CC Sabathia, Derek Lowe, and AJ Burnett. What about Ben Sheets? I would definately have Sabathia or Lowe instead, because those players have a track record of being healthy, but Sheets seems like he might be a better bargain than Burnett.
River Ave. Blues wrote a nice article summing up how Sheets has been more durable and a better pitcher than Burnett throughout both players’ careers. Yet, for some reason, Burnett is looking for a 5 year, 80 million dollar deal while Sheets is hopeful to get 3 years. When you look at all of the stats, Sheets is just a better pitcher than Burnett, and he will cost less money. No one realizes that Burnett’s ERA was over 4.00 last year, while Sheets had one in the low 3.00s. That’s what matters most, right? The amount of runs they give up.
Maybe AJ has better stuff, heck, maybe he has the best stuff in the MLB, but Sheets is also up there. Sheets has better control, better results, and a better health record. (not a good one, but better than Burnett’s)
Despite all of this, there aren’t many good fits for Sheets yet many fits for Burnett. The Yankees, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Oriols, and Braves all have some serious interest in the free agent hurler. No one has expressed interest in Sheets, yet. I still love the Red Sox fit, because it just makes too much sense for them. They have the rotation depth to afford an injury to Sheets. In that case, they could just hand the ball to Clay Buchholz, Michael Bowden, or Justin Masterson.
The Brewers also make sense if Sheets cannot find a team willing to pay a lot for him. The Brew-Crew know him, and could afford him.
Overall, I think he will sign with the Red Sox while the Yankees sign Burnett. Sheets will get 3 years, 42 million; Burnett will get 5 years, 80 million. Both players will have similar production next year, and the Red Sox will look like geniuses while the Yankees look stupid. Kind of like last year.
The Red Sox have 30 million to spend without anything to spend it on. Their only holes: catcher and middle reliever. Niether position have superstars available that would take up 30 million. So if the Red Sox fill those holes cheaply, what else will they do? Mark Teixera has been a pretty popular rumor. I like this idea for them because it would take their lineup to a whole new demension while getting protection behind David Ortiz. Ortiz-Tex is just as good of a 3-4 punch as Ortiz-Manny Ramirez. Mike Lowell would have to be traded for this idea to come to fruition, but he should be moveable on a salary dump trade. Some team will take a chance on him. If they strike out on Tex, they could turn to starting pitching. I know that you aren’t hearing any rumors about it, but CC Sabathia could be an intriging free agent for two big reasons. 1: He could make them the unquestioned best team in the MLB, and 2: He won’t become a Yankee. They seem unhappy about the price, though, so don’t expect to see CC in Red Sox next summer. The next tier of starters are all possible. The Sox will be in the bidding for Derek Lowe, AJ Burnett, and Ben Sheets. Lowe has familiarity which makes him the most attractive; you can rest assured he won’t fall apart under the pressure of Boston. Burnett is also a target because the Yankees want him. He could help their team out a ton. If they miss out on Burnett and Lowe, they could turn to Sheets. They might be the best fit for him because it won’t kill them if he gets injured since they have such great depth. It is very possible that they don’t land anyone because they don’t feel they have to overpay since they don’t have a need at any of these positions. It is also possible that they add Teixera and a starter. Let’s say that Tex takes 20 million per year and the starter takes 16 million per. That would be 36 million, but after aquiring Tex they must trade Lowell and his 12 million. If they bring in Teixera along with either Lowe or Burnett, they will be a very tough team to beat in 2009 and should challenge for the world series again, let alone the AL East.
The Dodgers are up for some major spending this offseason. They have 50 million to spend and have many needs. They need to adress the rotaion, resign Manny Ramirez, find out what to do at shortstop and third base, and possibly add a second baseman. 50 million seems like a lot, but when you add it up, they are very limited in trying to fill all of their holes with good players. Manny will cost at least 20 million per year, Rafael Furcal might take 15 million per to convince him to resign, and that leaves only 15 million to sign a starter and a third baseman. Casey Blake could return for 8 million, and then a cheap starting pitcher could be signed. Or they could go after a better starter like Derek Lowe, Ben Sheets, or Ryan Dempster. They would have to settle with a cheap third baseman in this scenerio. Nomar Garciaparra might be resigned to play third. If they are willing to either let Manny leave or to abandon other needs, CC Sabathia could enter the mix. He’s from LA and would be willing to sign for 120 million to go to the west coast. With Manny and CC going to the Dodgers, the remaining 10 million could be used to resign Casey Blake. Then give the shorstop job to Chin-Lung Hu. I could see this scenerio, but I find it unlikely. This is going to be a very important offseason for the Dodgers.
The Red Sox have about 30 million to spend this offseason. What will they spend it on is the question. Unlike other teams with a large amount of money, the Red Sox don’t have many needs. All they need is a catcher and a reliever. I’m sure they’ll get a reliever through free agency. Catcher is the harder need to fill. I think they might want to trade for a Rangers’ catcher. That player would be cheap, however. So they are still going to have over 25 million to spend on luxories. They could go after a starting pitcher. I could see them go all-in for CC Sabathia. Not only would an aquisition make them the unquestioned best team in the MLB, but they would be keeping him away from the Yankees. If they don’t want to pay that much, they could opt for some of the cheaper top-of-the-rotation type players. Ben Sheets, Derek Lowe, and AJ Burnett could all be under serious consideration. If they want to, they could attempt to trade Mike Lowell, move Kevin Youkilis to third base, and sign Mark Teixera. I don’t really like this idea, as it would be getting rid of one of the club house leaders, moving Youk to a new position which might mess up his hitting, and would be throwing out money. Would Lowell be 7+ million worse than Tex? I don’t think so. I’d just keep the team the same, with the exception of adding a starting pitcher.
I haven’t done a player market in a while. There have been some rumors that the Padres could shop Jake Peavy around this winter. A lot of teams will be interested. Lets break it down.
Padres. (frontrunners) Even though the Pads will likely shop him around, I don’t think they’ll get the offer they want. I doubt they trade the face-of-the-franchise unless their blown out of the water.
Braves. (possible) They seem to be very interested, despite the possibility of redestroying their farm system the same way they did during the Mark Teixera trade. Also, since they have so much money to spend it might be smarter to sign a guy like Derek Lowe instead of trading the farm for Peavy. They could offer any group from this package: Tommy Hanson, Jason Heyward, Jordon Schafer, Brent Lillibridge, Brandon Jones, and others. Yunel Escobar and Khalil Greene could be part of a deal, too. So you can see they have the stuff. Peavy wants to go there on top of it. This one could work out.
Rays (possible) There is no frontrunner to aquire Peavy because he’ll probably stay. The Rays do make some sense, however. How about a package of Matt Gaza, Wade Davis, Reid Brignac, Desmond Jennings and Edwin Jackson. The Padres add two established starters, a high upside one, and get their future replacements for Brian Giles and Khalil Greene. The Padres would be at least tempted to take this offer. I don’t know if the Rays would offer it, however. With the Yankees possibly getting CC Sabathia, and the Red Sox possibly getting Ben Sheets, the Rays could jump in and add an ace for a second playoff push. And with those three aces, watch out if they do get in. Plus, Peavy wouldn’t just be a rent-a-player, since he’s signed for four more years with a club option for a fifth. Very cheap, too. It is possible that both teams say no, but both could also say yes.
Dodgers (not likely) I know they are in the same division as the Padres, so they’d have to pay a higher price than other teams. It would be risky for the Dodgers, but there could be a huge benefit. The Dodgers would have the pieces by offering someone out of the Matt Kemp, Clayton Kersaw, James McDonald, Chin-Lung Hu range. Who knows, it might take all of them. They have a chance.
Cardinals (not likely) They have been named as a possibility because they have Colby Rasmus to offer. They’d have to give up their best prospect, other prospects, and all of their money to get Peavy. With all of the other holes the Cards have, I don’t know if they would want to do that.
Red Sox (not likely) I don’t know if they have the pieces, but they’ll have to at least check in. It might be smarter for them to sign CC Sabathia or Ben Sheets, anyway. Why give out top prospects when you could just sign a starter for big money. It doesn’t make a lot of sense for them.
Yankees (not likely) They’ll at least try aquiring Jake, but I don’t know if they have the pieces to get it done. Even if they do, wouldn’t it just be smarter to overpay and sign Sabathia than to sell the farm for Peavy. I could only see this if they miss out on CC. I would be surprised to see him go there, even with Sabathia not in the Bronx.
Rangers (not likely) They would love to have him, and also have the pieces to aquire him. The only problem is Peavy’s no-trade-clause. Why would he waive it to go from Petcoe Park to Arlington. He has set himself up for another big contract after this one ends. He could lose millions by playing at Arlington over Petcoe. If one of the teams would pay him 20 million, he might waive it. But then the contract turns from what is an affordable 60 million to 80 million for 4 years. That isn’t much of a bargain anymore. So if Peavy didn’t have a NTC, then he could be a Ranger, but the problem is that he does.
I am going to predict who wins what in the playoffs today. I will start in the NL and then do the AL. This will be listed under “Predictions.”
Dodgers at Cubs
Cubs. The Dodgers are a pretty scary team in the postseason. They have been red hot going into the playoffs, and are a good all around team. Plus, they have a guy named Manny Ramirez. Takashi Saito leads a fantastic bullpen. They have a solid rotation as well. The Cubs are a better team, though. They have a better rotation and a better offense. (Assuming the Cubs don’t pitch to Manny) They have the best three man rotation of playoff teams. Plus, the Cubs are at home where they have been dominant all year. It is going to be really tough for the Dodgers to win this series.
Brewers at Phillies
Phillies. These two teams are very similar. They both have solid rotations and a great lineup. The advantage for the Phillies is a by far better bullpen. Yes, we know CC Sabathia can go 9 innings, and I think the Brew-Crew will take game 1. But after that, you have two pitchers who are returning fron injuries. If both Ben Sheets and Yovani Gallardo are completly healthy, then they’ll easily win the series. But, if those players get injured or have to come out of the game early, the Brewers will have to give the ball to that aweful bullpen. The Phillies have a light-out bullpen, however, so they won’t blow late leads like their oponent could. I like the Phils in this one.
Phillies at Cubs
Cubs. The Cubs have the best rotation of all playoff teams, and pitching is what wins in October. The Phillies have the better bullpen, but if the starters can go seven innings they can give the ball to Carlos Marmol and Kerry Wood to end the game. Both teams have great lineups, and the only thing that separates these two teams is the starting pitching. Since the Cubs have the advantage there, they have the advantage in the series. I sure hope no curse happens this time around.
This is a post where you can click on any tag you want to. It will be a side-bar link.
The recent injury to Ben Sheets really hurts the Brewers chances both in the regular season and the post season. It is going to be tougher than ever for the falling fast Brewers to win that wild card, and even if they do get in, may be a first round exit. They’d play the Mets, a team very close to where the Brewers are at. They both have bad bullpens, a good lineup, and one great starting pitcher as their ace. I just have to say I’d love a matchup of CC Sabathia and Johan Santana in game 1. That would be a huge game for both teams. After that, neither rotation has much. It doesn’t even matter, though, because they’d have to play the far better Cubs for the NL crown assuming they beat the Dodgers. I will talk more about play-off matchups in the predictions segment for October 1. Things are not looking good for the Brewers right now.
AJ Burnett is likely to be a pretty sought after free agent. Lets look at some teams that could be interested.
Yankees (frontrunner) The Yankees will go extremly hard after Burnett if they haven’t already signed CC Sabathia or Ben Sheets. They will probably sign one of those two, though, making Burnett unlikely.
Mets (frontrunner) The Mets need starting pitching, it is their offseason priority. If they miss out on other options, Burnett could be their man. The Mets are probably going to be in on every starter on the market as they try to fill the hole left by Oliver Perez. Burnett makes a lot of sense here.
Red Sox (frontrunner) The Red Sox don’t need starting pitching, but they can seperate themselves from other teams with this signing, or if they get a better one like CC or Sheets. If those two sign elsewhere, then Burnett makes a lot of sense.
Cardinals (possible) They have a need at starting pitcher, and almost signed him last time he was in free agency. They could go after him again. However, the last thing they need is another injury prone starter. And they usually don’t spend a lot of money on free agents.
Phillies (possible) They had interest in him at the trade deadline and could go after him again in the offseason. Burnett still makes a lot of sense for this team if they can afford him.
Blue Jays (possible) It is possible that Burnett exersises his 24 million player options. It has been said that the Jays could pay Burnett an extra 4 to 6 million to entice him to not opt out. So, essentially offer him 2 years, 30 million. I don’t think Burnett would take this, anyway.
Nationals (slim chance) Burnett could chose to sign close to his home if he hooks on with the Nats. But, they might not offer enough money, and probably wouldn’t want to make a big free agent signing, rather save up for Stephen Strasburg.
Oriols (dark horse) The Oriols are the dark horse because they could end up signing him. If they want to accelerate the rebuilding by signing a free agent, they could look into Burnett. Burnett lives in Baltimore and could take a small discount to sign there.
Ryan Dempster will have an enourmas amount of suitors. Lets dig into ’em.
Cubs (frontrunner) Demp’ loves Chicago, has a great relationship with managment, and donates a lot to the Cubs charities. There is no question he would like to return, and there is no question the Cubs want him back. I’m not even going to explain why because he has just been so good this year. If the Cubs offer a fair amount, he most likely will be back.
Astros (possible) If Dempster doesn’t return to the Cubs for whatever reason, look for him to have the Astros as a big suitor if they don’t sign Ben Sheets. This team needs pitching and will probably get it. It just depends which pitcher they sign.
Braves (possible) The Braves are looking for a veteran starting pitcher and Ryan Dempster is a very good one. He would be a great fit on the Braves, he is a good person, and a solid leader. The Braves like those types and should have serious interest in Ryan.
Mets (possible) If the Mets strike out on different targets, they could look to sign Ryan Dempster. He is the solid #2 the Mets need. Look for them to be big players on Demp’, they need him.
Rangers (dark horse) The Rangers could use a solid middle-of-the-rotation starter. Dempster would make this a much better team.