The Book of Mike

"This is no junior college. This is the notorious University of Miami.” -- Marlins starter Dontrelle Willis, after getting knocked around for six runs in 2 1/3 innings by the Canes.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Offseason Predictions

Baseball’s winter meetings are about to begin, and that, coupled with some semi-major movement on the free agent front means that the offseason is really starting to heat up. Carl Pavano has toured the country; Troy Percival signed with the Tigers (!); Damian Miller, Vinny Castilla, and Cristian Guzman got overpaid. Since things are getting moving, I’ll make some predictions about where I think some of the guys who are still left on the market (or the trading table) will end up:

Carlos Beltran – Angels
Arte Moreno will let the other clubs bid each other up so that he can determine what Beltran’s market value is. Then he’ll swoop in and close the deal. An outfield with Vlad and Beltran is just a sick though. Manager Mike Scoscia probably sleeps well at night with the mere possibility in his head.

Pedro Martinez – Angels
Re-read the first line above about Beltran. My guess is that it applies to Petey too. Plus, I think Pedro is too smart to subject himself to the disaster that is the New York Mets. I have some faith that Omar Minaya may be able to turn things around, but Pedro doesn't need to risk the tail end of his career in helping him prove it.

Randy Johnson – Diamondbacks
Unless the DBacks get realistic about what they can expect in return for Johnson (two top tier young starters is too much), there’s nowhere for Randy to go. Hopefully the Diamondbacks can score enough runs for Johnson this year so that they don’t keep him from a Cy Young Award.

Sammy Sosa – Mets
I just can’t imagine any other team taking on Sosa and I also can’t see him staying with the Cubs. Dusty Baker has a strong reputation in the game that has been built up over many years. Keeping Sammy on the club would be a serious knock on that.

Carl Pavano – Red Sox
This is a virtual lock if Pedro does not sign with the Red Sox. In many ways – particularly because of his younger age – you could argue that Pavano is a better fit for the Red Sox than Pedro. Plus he’ll probably come cheaper.

Russ Ortiz - ?
I have no idea, but he’ll certainly be an interesting pitcher to follow. He’s won more games than any other pitcher over the past three seasons (and yes, I know that wins by a pitcher is a questionable stat as it is dependent on the runs scored by your offense – just ask Randy Johnson) and he’s available. Once Pedro and Pavano sign, look for it to get hot and heavy for Ortiz.

Adrian Beltre – Dodgers
I know that ESPN is reporting that there’s a good chance that Beltre will end up in Detroit. I just don’t see it. Yes, the Tigers have made some big time free agent acquisitions this year and last, but I don’t see how Beltre will be added to that list. The Dodgers have a plan, and part of that plan has to be keeping Beltre. If he goes anywhere else I’ll simply be shocked.

Troy Glaus – Tigers
Unless they can somehow land Beltre, which would shock me (see above!), Glaus is a lock to go to the Tigers. And if Carlos Guillen maintains his high level of play from the 2004 season, that will give the Tigers an impressive left side of the infield, made up of West Coast castoffs. Glaus’s health is a question mark though, but the Tigers rolled the dice with Ivan Rodriguez (and even Guillen) last year, but it has paid off so far.

Edgar Renteria – Red Sox
If not here, he’ll be a Cardinal again. I really like Edgar, and wouldn’t mind seeing him in a White Sox uni next spring, but I don’t think it’s going to happen. Besides, Edgar is more of a stopgap solution for the White Sox and not the long term fix they need. Plus, he’ll be expensive, so it really isn’t the right fit. For the Red Sox though, he makes sense. They can afford his asking price, and if one of their minor league prospects emerges in two or three years, they can move Renteria to second or jettison him to another team.

Orlando Cabrera – Cardinals
They’re going to need someone, and why not Cabrera? He’ll be an adequate enough replacement for Renteria and his style of play will likely be very appreciated by the Cardinals fans and players.

Steroid fallout

The seriousness of the testing and punishment program is greatly stepped up. Bud Selig issues some serious rhetoric about Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi, et al. Nothing can be done about Giambi’s contract though, so the Yankees are stuck paying him. Giambi’s contract, and the fact that it is probably not insured, has a greater impact on the length of future free agent contracts than we will realize for many years. Mark McGwire, and others recently retired and/or not associated with BALCO, escape unscathed.


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