This is one of my favorite times of the year. No, not because it's the holidays, but because it's Winter Meetings time! However, the Winter Meetings is like waking up Christmas morning, running down the stairs, grabbing the first present you see from Santa, tearing off that wrapping that mom and dad spent all night making perfect.......and finding the best pair of white 100% cotton socks that will fit nicely in your top dresser drawer.
Every year we go crazy about this time to get the inside scoop on free agent signings, trades, acquisitions, etc. We get all excited about the meetings and usually it ends without excitement. The blockbuster trades don't happen and the major free agents signings are pushed back further, probably so agents and players can see how the market shapes up. This year is no different and I am embracing myself for another potentially uneventful week. Let's not get ourselves down though, below is a list of a few of the impact players available in this off-season and we all like to predict where they will end up. My list is not only where I think they could end up, but also where I think they should end up! Follow along.....
I took Tim Dierkes Top 50 Free Agent list and kind of made it my own, tweaked it a bit, deleted a bunch and added some funk. Tim runs a fantastic site called MLB Trade Rumors and it's the ONLY place for all of the most up-to-date baseball rumors, signings, trade talks, etc. Actually, it's up-to-the-minute!
By the way, I'm obviously a huge Yankees fan............Duh!
After sifting through all the rumors, news reports, talk radio, etc., here's how I predict the "cream of the 2009 free agent crop" of Starting Pitchers will shape up for 2009...
Sabathia - Yankees
Burnett - Yankees
Lowe - Red Sox
Peavy - I hope the Yankees, but otherwise back with the Padres.
Sheets - Mets
1. C.C. Sabathia (via Free Agency) - Yankees - The offer is out there and it's considerably higher than the Brewers, even though Ben Sheets declined arbitration. Even the Giants have been rumored to make a splash here, but, I have a hard time believing that the Giants really want to pay Sabathia $120+ million after the Barry Zito debacle. Imagine now having two starting pitchers who cost over $250 million dollars. Not me dude!
2. Mark Teixeira (via Free Agency) - Yankees (or Angels) - I don't believe the Yankees will pass on Tex because they signed Nick Swisher, which I explained in a post I wrote a few weeks ago when the trade happened. Plus, the Yankees lost Bobby Abreu who declined arbitration and they won't resign Jason Giambi. So, who's going to replace the Abreu/Giambi production? Nady and Swisher? I can see keeping Nady (great pick up by the way!). It has to be Tex! You can't have Swisher and then piece together the rest of your offense. I say we flip Swisher! Otherwise, Tex ends up with the Angels. However..... see #3..
3. Manny Ramirez (via Free Agency) - Yankees (or Angels) - I almost have made myself believe that who ever doesn't get Tex or Manny between the Yankees and the Angels will get the other. That's assuming Manny doesn't resign with the Dodgers. So if the Yankees do pass on Tex, because they have Swisher to play 1B, they certainly have an open OF spot to make a play on Manny...and the can realistically move Xavier Nady to CF if they have to. They could even move Damon back if that means getting Manny's bat in the lineup. Remember, George Steinbrenner loves Manny (I'm sure his sons do too), and Manny is also a Bronx native. It probably won't happen, but you can't dismiss it just yet!
4. Jake Peavy (via Trade) - Yankees (or Padres) - Sabathia, Burnett, Lowe....the Yankees aren't getting all three! Jake Peavy is one of the league's best starting pitchers when he's healthy. The Yankees need to be making a push to trade for Peavy. They have the chips. Give them Ian Kennedy and Melky Cabrera! Give them Phil Hughes! Let's flip Nick Swisher! Duh. This one is a no brainer. It's rumored that the Braves are out of the mix, the Cubs don't have squat, and the Padres probably won't trade Peavy within the division! Duh. The Yankees have chips, they've done business before, let's make this happen people! Sign Sabathia, sign Burnett, trade for Peavy with players you've deemed incapable at this point and let's move on! No brainer on my end! Otherwise, I think he stays in San Diego, has a great year and is traded at the dealine!
5. A.J. Burnett (via Free Agency) - Yankees - The current rumor is that the Braves are interested and offering a 5-year deal. It's also rumored now that the Yankees called that bet and will offer that 5th year. That shows you how much the Yankees want Burnett. They have the money. Thing is, if the Yankees crap out on Sabathia and he signs elsewhere, Lowe goes to Boston, the Yankees will need to save some face and overpay for Burnett! That's worst case scenario. But I think the Yankees end up with Burnett anyway.
6. Francisco Rodriguez (via Free Agency) - Angels - Why would the Angels not want to resign K-Rod? Where would they be right now without him? They owe him that money the way the Yankees owed Mariano Rivera. He's half the reason people come to that ballpark. Unless they know something that we don't, I see K-Rod staying in Anaheim.
7. Derek Lowe (via Free Agency) - Red Sox - Just a gut feeling but I like the Mets as the darkhorse. I don't think the Yankees will land Lowe considering the situations I have outlined above.
8. Ben Sheets (declined arbitration) - Mets (or Giants) - I'm intrigued to think of what the Mets, Giants, Cubs, or Braves would do to get him. My thought here is that Sheets is probably the last to sign with someone. You have to believe that Sabathia, Burnett and Lowe need to sign to see who will go after Sheets as a fallback guy. That injury risk is tough to deal with. So if the Braves miss on Burnett now, Sheets is a real opton there. If the Cubs miss on Peavy, he's an option there although I don't like the risk with Rich Harden. The Mets definitely have the dough to pony up in a deal for Sheets if they miss on Lowe and the Giants could go for Sheets if they miss on C.C.
9. Bobby Abreu (not offered arbitration) - Cubs - At least that's the big rumor and where everyone sees Abreu as the best fit. I think the Giants have a chance since they are in need of an impact hitter and I wouldn't be surprised if he ends up in Atlanta. Why not?
10. Adam Dunn and Pat Burrell (not offered arbitration) - Giants - I think one of these two guys end up on the Giants. They desperately need power. Simple as that! The Mariners could use one of these guys as well and if the Yankees miss on Tex or Manny, I could see Burrell or Dunn in pinstripes.
I know I know! Most of this is pretty whacky! Any agreement anywhere? I'm sure those who disagree will crucify me here. Anyone think I am close with any of these or like some of the potential? It will certainly be interesting to see how it all shapes out!