This off-season wasn’t like many we’ve seen recently. More teams were cautious of spending and lossing draft picks (outside of New York, that is). Whether it be strategy, the economy, or calusion, teams took a much different approach than they have in the past.
The potential 10 best free agent signings this off-season…
10. Mike Hampton – Low risk, low reward. Hampton had success in Houston before and will try to replicate it. If he’s healthy, he’s a steal. If not, they didn’t invest much.
9. Carl Pavano – See Hampton. Pavano will be in a pitchers park which will help his numbers. If he fails, they have guys at Triple A that can step in.
8. Rafael Furcal – After the drama cleared, this was a solid signing (if healthy). Furcal was the top guy available at his position and he didn’t cost an arm and a leg to sign.
7. John Smoltz – In the shocking move of the off-season, Smoltz left Atlanta. In Boston, they’ll get a guy who still has something left, doesn’t cost a whole lot, and will work with the young guys.
6. Jason Giambi – The Athletics offense needed a boost, and Giambi can still hit. He’s an upgrade over Frank Thomas and Mike Sweeney at this point.
5. Andruw Jones – This is my shocker – he’s going to rebound. Where’s a better ballpark to re-invent your swing? If he makes the roster, I expect he’ll have a season like in his prime in Atlanta.
4. Adam Dunn – It’s a short-term deal for a guys that has power and gets on base. I don’t care that he strikes out a lot; an out is an out (and hitting into a double play is much worse than striking out). Playing first base will make him less of a liability in the field.
3. Francisco Rodriguez – His deal was smaller than most anticipated. He’s one of the best closers in the game, so this deal works out very well for the Mets.
2. Randy Johnson – This is Smoltz, but better. Johnson is still a very good pitch and the rest of the rotation in San Francisco is young (outside of Barry Zito). The Giants also get the added benefit of marketing his 300th win.
1. Pat Burrell – Now I’m not the biggest Burrell fan, but this signing will work nicely for the Rays. Sure, their ballpark isn’t a home run haven like in Philly, but he’s an upgrade and cost a lot less than most of the other options (see his replacement in Philly, Raul Ibanez).
The potential 10 best trades this off-season…
10. The Orioles receive Rich Hill from the Cubs for a PTBNL – I guess this one depends on who the Cubs get (which is determined by Hill’s performance this season), but Hill is a quality arm when healthy. He wasn’t last year, and it shows in his stats. Now, he’ll be in a low pressure environment. He may not have the run support he did in Chicago, but he’ll have more of an opportunity to pick every 5th day.
9. The Tigers receive Edwin Jackson from the Rays for Matt Joyce – Jackson finally lived up to his potential, and he should be even better with the move to Detroit. The ballpark will help him quite a bit. The Tigers also gave up a piece they didn’t need to get him.
8. The Reds receive Ramon Hernandez from the Orioles for Ryan Freel and 2 prospects – The Reds get a permanent catcher (after using platoons for a few seasons) and get rid of a head ache. I think Hernandez is underrated – he’s a solid bat and a decent catcher. While Freel’s versatility was nice, his attitude wasn’t. Jerry Hairston is a similar player, so he was expendable and I don’t think the prospects had much of a shot of making it to the majors.
7. The Athletics receive Matt Holliday from the Rockies for Huston Street, Carlos Gonzalez, and Greg Smith – The move you never expected from Billy Beane – adding to the payroll. You can never complain about adding a player like Holliday; even with the hit his stats might take. It only cost 2 players who were expendable and a player they were selling high on.
6. The Cardinals recevie Khalil Greene from the Padres for Mark Worrell and a PTBNL – The Cardinals are taking a chance on which Greene they’ll get – 2007 slugger or 2008 headcase. The cost of the move was low (a disgruntled middle reliever and a PTBNL), so the move will look very good if it works out.
5. The Braves receive Javier Vazquez and Boone Logan from the White Sox for Brent Lillibridge and prospects – The Braves got a good start and good reliever for a potential All Star and prospects. Vazquez should see an improvement pitching in Atlanta – the stadium will play better to him than U.S. Cellular Field did. Logan is as good, if not better, than what they’ve been running out of their ‘pen. Lillibridge is expected to be a good player, but was blocked by Yunel Escobar. The other prospects were either blocked or low on the Atlanta depth charts.
4. The Yankees receive Nick Swisher and a prospect from the White Sox for Wilson Betemit and 2 prospects – Any day you can get a good everyday hitter for a utility guy, you take it (as long as you have room for him). Swisher had a down year, causing the White Sox to sell low. I expect a rebound, if he can get playing time in the crowded Yankees outfield. Betemit is a failed prospect who couldn’t play everyday. None of the prospects dealt have any real value.
3. The Nationals receive Scott Olsen and Josh Willingham from the Marlins for Emilio Bonaficio and 2 prospects – The Nationals pitching was so horrendous that Olsen could have his worse year of his career and still be the ace of the team. He’s a good pitcher; if the deal was only him for the 3 guys trade, it’d still be a good deal. The Nat’s also landed Josh Willingham – he of little patience and good power. Of course, he doesn’t have a place to play right now in Washington. None of the guys the Marlins receive have much upside.
2. The Indiants receive Mark DeRosa from the Cubs for 3 prospects – The Cubs did this as a cost cutting move; only it’ll cost them more in production now that it’s done. The Indians have a lot of options with DeRosa; he can play anywhere on the infield along with the corner OF spots. He’s going to see a slight decline moving to Cleveland. The Cubs only got a few middle relievers for him, along with the ability to make a couple of bad signings (Milton Bradley and Aaron Miles).
1. The Marlins receive Jose Ceda from the Cubs for Kevin Gregg – The Marlins sold high on Gregg, even coming off a bad second half last year. The get Ceda, who could be their closer next year. He’s a power pitcher that projects as a future closer. The Cubs in turn take a guys who’s had a little success closing in the past, but nowhere near the level of the departed Kerry Wood or the potential of Ceda. I think Gregg will not be the closer by the end of the seaon, and will be non-tendered next December.