In order to replace Pat Burrell’s bat, the Phillies have signed Raul Ibanez to a 3 year, 30 million dollar contract. The Mariners are happy as well; they receive the Phillies first round draft pick next June because Ibanez was a Type A free agent.
I think this is a very solid move by the Phils. They plug their left field void with a great bat, and Ibanez might even be a better player than Burrell. Raul played in one of the best pitchers’ parks in the MLB yet still put up more RBIs than Burrell to go along with a higher average. Because he is moving from Safeco Field to Citizens Bank Park, his power numbers are sure to rise dramatically. I wouldn’t be surprised if he bopped 35 home runs next year. It seems as though he will be an upgrade over Burrell despite the probability of Ibanez being cheaper than the latter. This is a very nice move for the Phils, and also for Ibanez who has a chance at heading into his next free agency with some great numbers because of the ballpark he chose.
Now that Ibanez’s 10 million is eched into the
books, the Phils will probably have a payroll of 110 million dollars after various arbitration raises. Hopefully for their sake they will be able to add an extra 8-10 million in order to either resign Jamie Moyer or to replace him with a guy like Randy Wolf or Paul Byrd.
It looks like the Phillies will be heading into 2009 with almost an identical replica of the team that won the World Series in 2008. It should be fun to watch them compete with the improved Mets and Braves.
The Cubs have resigned starting pitcher Ryan Dempster for 4 years and 52 million. Sorry I didn’t post about it earlier; I was busy yesterday. Solid move for the Cubs. This is about the amount I figured he would get. Demp getting 14, 15, 16, 17 million per year would be kind of stupid since he had only one great year. Still, the 52 million is only 12 million more than what Kyle Lohse got, even though Dempster has much more upside. The Cardinals expect Lohse to be a guy with an ERA around 4.00 every year. Dempster could do what he did last year, or worst case scenerio he is a guy with an ERA in the 3.75 to 4.00 range. This was overall just a good move for the Cubs as they bring back a clubhouse leader, and a big part of their team for a fair if not below market price. Now that his contract is in the books, the Cubs will focus only on a right fielder. Bobby Abreu remains the most likely target, but infielders Rafael Furcal and Brian Roberts remain possibilities. In these cases Mark DeRosa would move to right field and Ryan Theriot might move to second base. Neither aquisition seems likely, though, because the Cubs are running short on money and prospects. If Abreu cannot be signed, Raul Ibanez could become the backup plan. They would have to be willing to sacrifice a lot of defense, though. I think that in the end, Abreu will be with the Cubs and they will be even better than they were in 2008. Hopefully, next year is their year.
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The Atlanta Braves, a huge disappointment last season, need to decide whether to rebuild or retool this offseason. I lean toward rebuild, but with Bobby Cox, they probably will try to retool. They have a few needs. They have to get a left fielder, center fielder, starting pitcher, and reliever. They might have to look to fix center field from within with Gregor Blanco and Josh Anderson stopgaping untill one of the center field prospects are ready. Left field could be given to Brandon Jones, but they think he needs more time. They can sign a guy in the Raul Ibanez, Garret Anderson, Jaun Rivera teir. If they want to spend a lot they could sign Pat Burrell, Manny Ramirez, or Adam Dunn. For pitching, I don’t think they have a chance at getting CC Sabathia or Ben Sheets, but could go after a solid #2 or #3. Jon Garland makes a lot of sense for this team. The bullpen also must be adressed. They should try hard to retain Will Ohman, although he should be tough to resign. If they decide to sell, Kelly Johnson, Mike Gonzalez, and Rafeal Soriano could be trade chips. Tim Hudson, also, when he returns from injury could be shopped at the trade deadline. So, the Braves could go either way, but they probably won’t be able to compete next year or build up a great farm system next year.
The Cincinnati Reds are trying to retool what is a bad season for them. Oddly, after losing adam Dunn and Ken Griffey Jr. They think they can be better than they were this year. They have a lot of money to burn. About 30 million is coming off the books in contracts. They probably won’t spend it all in one plce, but will spend a lot of it. They have many holes. Five of them. They need a reliever, shortstop, left fielder, center fielder, and a catcher.They will go after Raul Ibanez, Garret Anderson, and Jaun Rivera to be their left fielder. They also will pursue Mark Kotsay as their center fielder. They could go after a guy like David Eckstein for shortstop, and Jason Varitek makes a lot of sense at catcher if the Red Sox don’t resign him. They could try to resign David Weathers and Jeremy Affeldt. The Reds have the money to fill all of their holes, just not with impact players. They are hoping they get a bounce back season from Aaron Harang and that Johnny Cueto steps up the be the #3 they need. Micah Owings is a solid #5 starter if he beats out Homer Baily for the finale spot in the rotation. Baily needs to step up as well. For the offense, Joey Votto and Jay Bruce need to become big-time run producers. The rest if the offense needs to be solid as well. This team reminds me a lot like the other Ohio team, the Indians. Both teams have a lot of things that need to go right, but if they do, these teams will be contenders.
The Tampa Bay Rays, the biggest surprise of the 2008 season, will hopefully build on their successfull 2008 season with a good offseason. In my top 50 free agents, I predicted they would dole out the cash and sign Adam Dunn. If they do, their offseason would be just about done. The only needs they have are DH and right field. They sign Dunn for DH, and could resign Eric Hinske or pick up Cliff Floyd’s option for ’09. Then trade for Matt Murton. They have always liked Murton, and tried to trade for him when he was with the Cubs. Murton seems to be avalable with the A’s because they have Travis Buck, Carlos Gonzalez, Ryan Sweeny and eventually Aaron Cunningham for the outfield. Murton shouldn’t be too hard to pry loose from Billy Beane, a GM always open to making a deal. Maybe offer them a Jason Hammel and Mitch Talbot. Neither guy has anywhere to go in the Rays organazation. Platoon Hinske with Murton and you have a successfull right field. If the Rays can’t get Dunn, they could still go after other DHs like Milton Bradley, Pat Burrell, Raul Ibanez, and Jason Giambi. They can keep the same right field. They could even sign Bobby Abreu and have him play right field and DH switching off with the platoon of Murton and Hinske. They will have to move a starter in the offseason. Either Andy Sonnanstine or Edwin Jackson need to be traded to open up a spot for stud prospect David Price. Maybe instead of using the platoon of Murton and Hinske they can trade Sonnanstine or Jackson for a right fielder. The Tampa Bay Rays have options, and are only one Adam Dunn type player awaty from contending for a world series.
Next up is the Philadelphia Phillies. This team is good team without many needs. The only need they have are left field/right field, starting pitching, and a reliever. They are losing a big slugger in their lineup in Pat Burrell, and will try hard to resign him. They Phils don’t have a lot of money to spend, however. Only about 8 million. If they backload Burrel’s deal they could get it done, but that would leave nothing for pitching. They could possibly trade Ryan Howard, who could earn 14 million in arbitration next year. They could trade Howard and shave that 14 million off the payroll so they can resign Burrell and have enough to sign a reliever and a first baseman. Maybe trade Howard to the Yankees for Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy, then resign Burrell to a 4 year, 60 million contract. Hughes solves the pitching, and they can trade Ian Kennedy to the Florida Marlins for Mike Jacobs. I know it’s a inter-divsion trade, but it could work. They can then resign Chad Durbin with their remaining money. This is unlikely, but it makes sense, doesn’t it? If they don’t do that, they’ll probably let Burrell walk, resign Jamie Moyer, and sign a Raul Ibanez, Jaun Rivera, Garret Anderson type left fielder. They also could sign a reliever, but it might not be Chad Durbin. So, the Phillies are going to have to get creative this offseason since they don’t have much money.