<$BlogRSDURL$>

Get the DR's opinions of what adjustments & fixes are needed to fill and patch the Mariners Gaps and Holes. Review note worthy links to articles around both leagues nearly everyday.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

The front office for the M’s is at a cross roads this winter. They can either go about business as usual or they can step up to the plate and spend some of the cash they’ve been hording the past three seasons.

This is a franchise that has no debt. They’ve consistently run large profits since moving into Safeco Field and since they paid off the stadium cost over runs they’ve taken their profits and built up a huge war chest of cash that’s just sitting there earning interest.

If management continues to go the cheap route and cry poor, they are going to run this fan base into the ground.

There is absolutely no reason, from an operating standpoint that this franchise can’t spend $100+ million on player payroll and not loose money on a cash basis. An organization of this size probably has $10-$15 million in depreciation/amortization expense (this is a non-cash expense) included in their operating expenses every season. So when the organization says they generated $10 or $12 million in “operating profits", they really had $20 - $27 million in “operating cash flow” that season. Now there are certain expense items that need to be covered by that “operating cash flow", like interest expense, debt reduction (they haven’t had any debt since the stadium cost over runs were paid off) capital projects on the stadium (think batters eye) adn the likes, however those items don’t come anywhere close to totalling up to $20 million (assuming the low side).

This franchise has been stocking cash away for a rainy day…..well, that rainy day has come via the 2004 season. Its time to step up and crying poor or budget contraints, just isn’t going to cut it any longer.

I have NO DOUBT that the M’s have the cash reserves to sign all of these players:
Beltran, Beltre, Delgado, Clement

THEY WON'T, but they have the cash resources to do it.

The other thing that disturbs me? Our 2004 budget was $95M, and management stated publicly last November that they would be “willing” to go over $95M by the July 2004 trading deadline if the right deal came along. Well hello, we ended the season paying out $79M in payroll…that is $16M less than the entire 2004 pre-approved budget of AT LEAST $95M.

Why, Why, Why in the world don’t they apply that $16M toward the bad contracts that we ended up releasing but are still stuck with through 2005: Cirillo, Jarvis…So that their salary doesn’t effect the payroll budget in 2005?!

Then, WHY can’t they take the difference and extend our 2005 budget from $95M to at least $105M?

This would ensure several things:

1. That we could lock up Beltran for the next 6-7 years.
2. That we could lock up Beltre for the next 5-6 years.
3. That we could lock up Delgado for the next 3-5 years.
4. That we could lock up Clement for the next 3 years, with an option year.
5. That we could even pickup Nomar for CHEAP for the next 1-2 years, on a incentive laden deal, with an option year.

Everybody will deny that the M’s would do "all" of this, but my point being is that the money $$$ is there to do all of this. And in noway am I going to except any BS regarding how much money we “don’t” have this offseason from people and idiots like Finnegan!

SEATTLE MARINERS
Under Guaranteed Contract:
2B- Bret Boone 2005: $9m
1B- Scott Spiezio 2005: $3.1m
C- Wiki Gonzalez 2005: $2.25m
SP- Kevin Jarvis 2005: $500k Buyout
LF- Randy Winn 2005: $3.75m
RF- Ichiro Suzski 2005: $10.5m
LF- Raul Ibanez 2005: $3.75m
SP- Joel Pineiro 2005: $4.2m
SP- Ryan Franklin 2005: $2.40m
RP- Shigetoshi Hasegawa 2005: $2.90m
SP- Jamie Moyer 2005: $3.0m + $1.5m for 30+ GS in 2003 + $1.5m for 30+ GS in 2004 = $6M
RP- Eddie Guardado 2005: $4.5M Seattle will decline option, Guardado will pickup his $4.5M contract with the M’s…considering his health is still questionable.

2005 GUARANTEED CONTRACT TOTALS: $52.85M

Arbitration Eligible: SP- Gil Meche – Made $1.9M in 2004. He will no doubt sign a very similar contract like Franklin did. There are still questionable things regarding Meche that doesn’t merit a huge contract. Look for a 2yr deal with an option year: 2005-$2M, 2006-$2.4M, 2007-$3M team option

UT- Willie Bloomquist – Made $330k in 2004. Non-Tender him and let him find his way to Arizona with Melvin

2005 ARBITRATION CONTRACT TOTALS: $2M (Meche)

Cheap Team Controlled Contracts:
C- Miguel Olivo– 2004: $170k
3B- Greg Dobbs– 2004: $50k
3B- Justin Leone– 2004: $50k
2B- Mickey Lopez– 2004: $50k
SS- Jose Lopez– 2004: $50k
SS- Ramon Santiago– 2004: $50k
CF- Jeremy Reed???
DH- Bucky Jacobsen???
C Rene Rivera???
SP- Bobby Madritsch– 2004: $50k
SP- Clint Nageotte– 2004: $50k
SP- Travis Blackley???
SP- Cha Seung Baek– 2004: $50k
RP- Julio Mateo– 2004: $350k
RP- J.J. Putz– 2004: $50k
RP- George Sherrill???
RP- Matt Thornton– 2004: $50k
RP- Randy Williams???
RP- Scott Atchison (I see us trading Atchison)
RP- Aaron Taylor– 2004: $300k
RP- Rafael Soriano– 2004: $340k
OF- Chris Snelling– 2004: $300k (Trade him, I’m tired of his injures)

2005 TOTAL TEAM CONTROLLED CONTRACTS ESTIMATE: $2.5M (this total is including team approved raises for all these guys)

Free Agents:
C- Dan Wilson– 2004: $3.5M. I’m estimating Dan will resign a 1yr contract for $2-2.5M
RP- Ron Villone– 2004: $1M. I’m estimating Villone will resign a 1y contract for $1.5MRP- Masao Kida ??? I not impress with this guy

2005 TOTAL FA SIGNINGS FOR WILSON & VILLONE: $3.5M

2005 TOTAL COMMITTED SO FAR: $60.85M

NOW, with a $95M budget...How in the hell can anybody justify publicly writing an article stating the M's only have $12.5M available for FA signings?!

The M's spent a total payroll of $79M in 2004, a total of $16M under their $95M budget that was approved last November 2003. Nearly $9M of this money was from Sasaki's salary that was never paid out.

It is way past the time for the FO to step up to the plate and spend $40M this offseason, for the future of the M's...for their fan base! I have personally been a M's optimist for the past 3 years, counting on them to make the appropriate moves and invest in this team. I really think this is the LAST offseason they will have to remedy this problem with all fans!

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Well, game 4 ended up being 3 hours and 14 minutes long...6 minutes shy of the lunar eclipse ending, which was at 11:45PM ET!

It was just ment to be for Boston in 2004!

One other thing regarding Jersey numbers:

1918
+34 Ortiz
+33 Varitek
+24 Manny
-5 Nomar

= 2004

So, with Nomar it would of taken Boston another 5 years! Just thought I'd throw that tidbit in.
We all know how superstitous baseball players/fans are. And, what is really whacky is how Boston has gotten here. Being down 3-0 to the Yanks, and accomplishing something that's never been done in MLB history. The first two games of the WS combining for 8 errors. And the list goes on and on and on according to Starks useless information article.

Game 1:http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/fallclassic/columns/story?columnist=stark_jayson&id=1908044

Game 2:http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/fallclassic/columns/story?columnist=stark_jayson&id=1908756

Game 3:http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/fallclassic/columns/story?columnist=stark_jayson&id=1910177

And not to mention Boone's father passing away after Game 3 of the BoSox/Yanks game from a massive heart attack. Many will be thinking he's been up there since Game 3 negotiating with Babe Ruth to reverse the curse. And what timing to do it too!

What a year to break the curse of the Bambino though, in MLB's 100th world series!

What a night to break the curse of the Bambino...the evening of the Lunar Eclipse!

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6345294/?GT1=5472

Who would of thought that Boston would be possibly be going into game 4, the evening of the lunar eclipse, with a possible sweep against the Cards offense. Just amazing! It will be something that will be added to Starks Useless Information article for game 4 if it happens!

Another note on the Lunar Eclipse tonight:

The game starts at 8:25PM ET, and should end approximately at 11:25PM ET.

The eclipse starts at 8:06PM ET, and ends at 11:45PM ET. So the entire game will be played at during the entire eclipse.

At 10:23PM ET (1 hour before the game ends, the earth will be "in total shadow at 10:23 p.m. ET, the moon might turn a shade of deep red that frightened the ancients.")

The Total Eclipse ends at 11:45PM.

Now, what is really interesting is that game 2 in Boston ended up being a total game time of exactly 3 hours 20 minutes...tonights game 4 (game 2 in St Louis) starts at 8:25PM ET...and if followed the same pattern as game 2 in Boston would officially end at 11:45PM ET tonight.

Wow, this is leading up to the most incredible reversal of the curse of the Bambino that anyone would of ever thought possible!!! Is Babe Ruth finally sick and tired of George Steinbrenner now?! Will he forward the curse onto the future of the Yankees for the next 100 years?

Us M's fans can only hope!

Sunday, October 24, 2004

While Nomar Garciaparra took the time to call some of his former Sox mates, including Jason Varitek and Trot Nixon, according to Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune, the future of the former Sox shortstop remains highly uncertain. A likely scenario, according to sources close to Garciaparra, is he may seek a one-year deal this winter as a free agent in order to reestablish his market value. He could return to the Cubs, but there is some talk the Dodgers might consider moving shortstop Cesar Izturis to second to make room for the native southern Californian

Cardinals reliever Steve Kline wasn't happy with being left off the World Series roster. "I'm dumbfounded, shocked," Kline told reporters last night before Game 1. "You get to the end of the rainbow and there's no pot of gold for me. I could have had surgery a month ago." Kline had delayed surgery to repair a 70% tear of a tendon in his left index finger. Ray King is now the only southpaw in the Cardinals bullpen - he gave up a hard-hit, bad hop infield hit to David Ortiz and got Kevin Millar to foul out last night. "At this level of competition, to try to compete at less than 100% is not fair to him, or to us," pitching coach Dave Duncan said. Kline, a free-agent-to-be, figures the decision seals his fate with St. Louis as far as 2005.

The Twins' interest in Cleveland free-agent shortstop Omar Vizquel, 37, is believed to be as a one-season stopgap while minor league Jason Bartlett prepares to take over the job in 2006.

As for Javy Vazquez, the other half of Joe Torre's Game 7 suicide tag team, it appears the Yankees are resigned to trading him rather than attempting to resurrect him next spring. They'll undoubtedly try to re-visit the Randy Johnson talks with Arizona, but as exciting as the prospect of the Big Unit in pinstripes may be, trading young for old with nothing coming in the barren farm system is a recipe for long-term disaster. Again, the failures of the Yankees' player development department over the last eight years has severely handicapped their ability to make necessary improvements and, as such, this team could get old in a hurry.

The Boston Red Sox's interest in Twins free-agent starter Brad Radke is huge.

There's already speculation that Pedro Martinez will go to Anaheim, where he is close to Vladimir Guerrero and Bartolo Colon, and owner Arte Moreno is serious about winning.

Mets people have talked about trying to sign Richie Sexson or Troy Glaus for first base but have concerns because both missed most of 2004 with injuries. Sexson isn't likely to return to Arizona, and his hometown Mariners will pursue him. Glaus is still thought to prefer third base. Magglio Ordoñez remains an option. But he missed the last four months with a knee injury.

Nomar Garciaparra's health problems in 2004 make a big multiyear offer unlikely this winter. But he has told friends he's willing to take a one-year deal for 2005 with an option for 2006 to prove to teams he can play an entire season. If that happens, the Cubs chances of re-signing him will improve significantly.

The Marlins continue to have trouble completing their stadium deal, leaving Mike Lowell on the cusp of free agency and creating uncertainty about the franchise's long-term future. Unless Lowell is traded in the next week, he will very likely be in position to declare for free agency in the first week of November. With a stadium deal unlikely to be completed by Nov. 1, the 2006 and 2007 seasons of Lowell's contract (worth $18 million combined) would be voided. If he chooses, Lowell could stay with the Marlins next season for $7.5 million. But he's better off opting for free agency, having said he prefers to decide where he will play instead of putting himself in position to be traded.

So much has been speculated about the Yankees signing ">Carlos Beltran to play center field, but before they do that, they'd better have a game plan for Bernie Williams, who otherwise becomes a very expensive 300 at-bat fourth outfielder.

The Cubs officially will decline the $11 million option on left fielder Moises Alou in the next week, making Alou a free agent after three seasons with the club. There's an outside chance Alou could return at a much smaller price tag. Alou, 38, hit a career-high 39 home runs and had a team-leading 106 RBIs this season, but his eight errors tied for second among National League left fielders. The Cubs would like some more speed in the outfield, and if Alou and right fielder Sammy Sosa leave, they will get that opportunity.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/sports/bb/2862462

The Houston Chronicle reports that the Astros likely won't be able to afford to re-sign free agent Carlos Beltran this offseason. Beltran said he plans to consider the Astros, though.

How much will Beltran sign for & how long? Lets look at one of the best hitters in the game that was signed last year:

Feb 20th, 2004 – Albert Pujols officially signed a seven-year, $100 million contract with the Cardinals, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

2004: $7.05M
2005: $11M
2006: $14M
2007: $12M
2008: $13M
2009: $13M
2010: $13M
2011: $5M buyout, $16M option

Shouldn’t a similar $100M contract for Beltran be reasonable for us to pull off? We could build around him for the next 8 years with an option year!

Beltran fits our needs more this year than Tejada did last offseason, and the M’s offered a 5yr $60M $12M/yr contract to Tejada. With Beltran only 27yrs old, that would lock him up until he’s 34-35yrs old with us.

2005: $12M
2006: $12M
2007: $12M
2008: $12M
2009: $12M
2010: $12M
2011: $12M
2011: $5M buyout, $16M option

That would total $100M.

OR even more competitive @ $110M:

2005: $12M
2006: $14M
2007: $14M
2008: $14M
2009: $13M
2010: $13M
2011: $13M
2011: $5M buyout, $16M option

That would total $110M

OR if it’s backloaded with a signing bonus if he’s willing to make $9M again in 2005:

2005: $9M
2006: $12M
2007: $15M
2008: $15M
2009: $14M
2010: $14M
2011: $14M
2011: $5M buyout, $16M option

Considering the M’s Tejada offer last year, I really think they will open their checkbook on Beltran for a $90-110M 7yr contract with an option year. The longer out we go, the better overall annual rate we will end up getting for him.
http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/sports/bb/2862462

The Houston Chronicle reports that the Astros likely won't be able to afford to re-sign free agent Carlos Beltran this offseason. Beltran said he plans to consider the Astros, though.
The Cubs officially will decline the $11 million option on left fielder Moises Alou in the next week, making Alou a free agent after three seasons with the club. There's an outside chance Alou could return at a much smaller price tag. Alou, 38, hit a career-high 39 home runs and had a team-leading 106 RBIs this season, but his eight errors tied for second among National League left fielders. The Cubs would like some more speed in the outfield, and if Alou and right fielder Sammy Sosa leave, they will get that opportunity.

The Dodgers have identified retaining third baseman Adrian Beltre as their top off-season priority but have yet to make him an offer and are unlikely to do so in the weeks before their exclusive negotiating rights expire. Beltre can file for free agency as soon as the day after the World Series and can sign with another club as soon as 16 days after the Series. But negotiations are expected to be lengthy, with Beltre and agent Scott Boras expected to solicit bids from other clubs before considering any offer from the Dodgers.

The Cubs will explore the possibility of signing center fielder Carlos Beltran to a multiyear deal, hoping he doesn't price himself out of their range. Beltran declined to speculate about his upcoming free agency after the Astros bowed out of the postseason on Thursday. "That's a decision I'll make in Puerto Rico," he said.

Yankees OF Kenny Lofton doesn't believe he got a chance to make a difference. "I know what I've done in past postseasons," Lofton said yesterday. "I didn't get the opportunities." Lofton, a .277 hitter with nine steals in 30 LCS games prior to this year, played in just three of the seven games against the Red Sox. He was 3-for-10 with two walks and three strikeouts. When he signed a three-year deal with the Yankees, Lofton said he was under the impression that he would play every day. It turned out to be an awkward arrangement. He has two years left on his deal, but because of his inexpensive salary ($3.1 million), it wouldn't be shocking if the Yankees dealt him, especially if they make a run at free agent Carlos Beltran.

Hideki Matsui was one of a half-dozen players who showed up yesterday to clean out their lockers. With one year and $8 million remaining on the three-year contract he signed before the 2003 season, the left fielder is thinking ahead, and hoping he can be with the Yankees beyond the 2005 season. "It would be nice if I could stay," Matsui said, through interpreter Roger Kahlon. "I think, for me, this is the best environment to play baseball. But that's not my decision." Matsui said his agent, Arn Tellem, had not yet begun discussions with the Yankees about an extension, and he didn't sound as if he expected it to happen before the start of next season.

If the Twins need to trade Jacque Jones, and Kubel is unavailable, they have other options for right field. Lew Ford, who batted .299 with 15 homers and 72 RBI in his first full season of action, could move to the outfield. Rochester native Michael Restovich, who spent most of the season in the minors, could get his long-awaited break. And one Twins official pointed out that Michael Cuddyer, mentioned as a possible replacement for free agent Corey Koskie at third or for underperforming Luis Rivas at second, could play right field. Ryan declined to discuss if Kubel's injury disrupts his plans for right field.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Angels likely to cut salary next season, possibily down to $90M

http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/sports/9936898.htm

After committing $146 million to add Vladimir Guerrero, Jose Guillen, Bartolo Colon and Kelvim Escobar a year ago, Moreno reportedly would like to reduce the Angels' payroll from $112 million to somewhere below $100 million, perhaps even as low as $90 million.


Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Carlos Beltran is the way out of the mire for the Phillies. All they have to do is play with the big boys and decide that greatness is a goal worth attaining. Sounds improbable, but you never know. By now, it is obvious that Beltran - hitting .462 for Houston with eight homers in the postseason - will be one of the most sought-after free agents in the short but very lucrative history of sought-after free agents. There is good timing in life and then there is ridiculously good timing. Beltran, who began the season as a well-regarded member of the Kansas City Royals, is ending it as baseball royalty.

There is also the matter of starting pitching - which has to be the Yankees' primary concern this offseason. They need to sign at least one and probably two starting pitchers (assuming they still haven't enough to interest the Diamondbacks in revisiting the Randy Johnson talks) and that's going to be another $20-plus million.

The Twins have made no immediate effort to re-sign shortstop Cristian Guzman, whose $5.25 million contract option for 2005 they declined last week, and it's apparent they have someone else in mind for next season. It wouldn't be surprising to see the Twins trade Jacque Jones for a shortstop.

The pitching-starved Baltimore Orioles likely will pursue Boston Red Sox pitcher Derek Lowe, a free agent after this season. Baltimore officials already are discussing the possibility of signing Lowe, 31, who was 14-12 this season with a 5.42 ERA. The Orioles hope Lowe's sub-par 2004 season has brought down his asking price. The team is encouraged with their good relationship with Lowe's agent, Scott Boras.

With the Mariners' quick search for a manager in its stretch run, Mike Hargrove and Grady Little seem to have become the lead candidates. Or possibly the only candidates, at least the only ones certain of coming to Seattle today and tomorrow for final interviews as the club presses to hire Bob Melvin's replacement prior to Saturday's Game 1 of the World Series.

George Steinbrenner and Scott Boras are destined for a very expensive collision course over Carlos Beltran next month. With Beltran and fellow free agent Adrian Beltre, the NL home run champ, in his stable, Boras is indeed sitting pretty this winter, although it remains to be seen if the market is what he perceives it to be. The seven-year, $100-plus million contracts that Boras had been accustomed to using as a starting point have gone the way of grunge rock in the aftermath of the disastrous Jason Giambi, Chan Ho Park, Kevin Brown and Mike Hampton deals. Still, both Beltran and possibly Beltre (despite having just this one big season), figure to command the sort of five-year, $60-70 million deal that Vladimir Guerrero got from the Angels in the "corrected" market last winter.

As Carlos Beltran cruises through a historic postseason, it's clear Houston's trade for him in June worked out, to put it lightly. But the ballclub is braced for it being a short-term fling. Houston general manager Gerry Hunsicker said he has considered the Beltran trade a rental, because the burgeoning star is likely to command too high a price for the Astros to re-sign. Already, the New York Yankees and Chicago Cubs are believed to be prepping offers. "It depends on if you went there thinking you had to keep him for the trade to make sense," Hunsicker said when asked if signing Beltran would complete the trade's success. "We went into it with the intention it was going to be a rental because - just like the Randy Johnson trade (in 1998) - we didn't think we would have a chance of re-signing him."

Monday, October 18, 2004

Another possible center field solution for the Yankees would be bringing back Alfonso Soriano, who likely would be willing to move off second base for them only. The Rangers are interested in pursuing Gold Glove shortstop Omar Vizquel, whose option was not picked up by the Indians, and moving Michael Young back to second, which would make Soriano expendable.

I'm told George Steinbrenner was heaping praise on Pedro Martinez throughout the Game 2 pitching duel with Jon Lieber (there might even have been a "warrior" or two tossed out during the night). And when it became apparent to all what Pedro's motives were when he volunteered to come into the postgame press conference after having blown off the media the first two days of the ALCS, someone in the room spoke up. "Sounds a lot like he's auditioning for us," the person told Steinbrenner. To that, Steinbrenner reportedly asked who Martinez's agent is. No doubt, signing Martinez is something Steinbrenner might find hard to resist, even though Pedro is detested by the Yankee players and staff.

David Wells, 41, enjoyed his one season pitching for the hometown Padres, but speculation around the Yankees is owner George Steinbrenner will make another one-on-one offseason run at returning the big left-hander to the Bronx

Before the Marlins put much more thought into trading third baseman Mike Lowell, they might want to consider one huge procedural drawback with that scenario. Sure, trading Lowell before Nov. 1 would mean he is under contract to his new team for the next three seasons. However, as a player with a multiyear contract and at least five years of major league service time, he would have the right to demand a trade. That request would have to be met by March 15 or Lowell would again have the right to opt for free agency. According to a source close to Lowell, the three-time All-Star would definitely exercise that right. "What team would trade for Mike under those circumstances?" the source said. One possibility considered was linking Lowell, 30, to overpriced right fielder Juan Encarnacion in the same deal. If the Marlins could rid themselves of Encarnacion's $4.45 million obligation for next year, they would be willing to take much less in return for Lowell.

If the Yankees don't sign free-agent Houston outfielder Carlos Beltran, they might have a strong interest in trading for Twins outfielder Jacque Jones, who is a cinch to be on the market.

A source close to Mike Lowell said Saturday the three-time All-Star would definitely exercise his right to demand a trade as soon as possible if the Marlins dealt him away. That vow figures to put a damper on trade demand.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Two of the Marlins' top potential trading partners are still playing. The Yankees could be interested in reacquiring Mike Lowell to play first base, with Jason Giambi becoming the designated hitter, but the Yankees are unlikely to negotiate any deals until seeing how far they go in the postseason. The Red Sox are another contender for Lowell, but relations between the two front offices have been strained since the spring 2003 debacle over the Marlins' attempted sale of Kevin Millar to Japan. Boston outfielder Trot Nixon, signed at $6.5 million per year through 2006, has been a trade target in the past. Other clubs that could have both the interest and the means to deal for Lowell are the Tigers, Mariners, Padres and Dodgers, although the Dodgers' first option is to re-sign free agent third baseman Adrian Beltre. "He's afraid that's going to happen," a source close to Lowell said. "He wants to choose where he wants to go. He doesn't care about the money or if he makes $5 million next year. He'd rather pick the place he goes than let them pick it, but [the Marlins] aren't going to let him walk away for free."

If Seattle decides to try to sign free agents like Jason Varitek, Derek Lowe or Nomar Garciaparra, Grady Little could be a significant plus.

Seattle club officials also interviewed Joe Maddon, Anaheim's bench coach, but a source said they prefer someone with managerial experience in the major leagues. The Mariners, who are also believed to have met with Terry Collins, also are setting up meetings, or seeking permission to do so, with Don Baylor and Jimy Williams. Grady Little is an intriguing possibility for Seattle, a club in transition seeking to meld veterans and younger players into a competitive group in 2005.

Most of baseball expects Carlos Beltran, the Houston Astros' five-tool center fielder, to sign a lucrative free-agent contract with the Yankees this off-season. Asked about that possibility Thursday before Game 2 of the NLCS in St. Louis, Beltran had high praise for Yankees owner George Steinbrenner. "When I see an owner who cares about winning, I like it," Beltran told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "As a player, you want to be in this situation every year. You like to see what plans a team has for the future. I'm going to go some place I feel comfortable. Right now I don't know where I'm going to end up." The Yankees would like to trade Kenny Lofton to clear room for Beltran. Bernie Williams, another Boras client, would spend the final year of his Yankee contract as a DH or a bench player in that scenario.

Friday, October 15, 2004

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=1902843

Lowell's contract is tied to the Marlins' ability to secure financing for a new ballpark by Nov. 1, for which they currently are $30 million short.

If the Marlins trade Lowell, they would move Miguel Cabrera to third base, which is his natural position, and search for a left fielder at baseball's winter meetings.

There is $23.5M left on Lowell’s contract over the next 3 years. Trading Winn and his salary, for Lowell would give them one of the best defensive LFer’s for only $3.75M/yr. And Winn is only signed for 2 years. This will be very appealing to Florida.

This frees up substantial funds that the Marlins will need for their new stadium. Lowell is a very consistent hitter against RHP’s and LHP’s. But, Lowell just smashes LHPing. Currently the only guy on our team that has been smashing LHPing is Edgar & Bucky…and now Edgar is gone.

I prefer Lowell over Beltre. Especially if he is traded to us under his current contract situation:

2005: $7.5M
2006: $8M
2007: $8M

At the same time we’re moving Winn’s $3.75M salary. So, it’s kind of like paying Lowell only $4.25M. We then use the rest of our offseason funds to acquire Beltran, Delgado, and Polanco. Then trade Boone for Vasquez with Steinbrenner picking up Vasquez’s salary above $9M over the next 3 years, to make the trade a salary wash.

The Yanks expressed A LOT of interest in Moyer this past July. Maybe they would be willing to move Vasquez for both Boone/Moyer straight up. With the extra $5M the M’s would be saving could go toward signing Clement for $6-7M.

Also, there’s been a lot of talk about picking up Matsuzaka from Japan, in a similar way that the M’s picked up Ichiro. The money used to bid on Matsuzaka would not come out of our 2005 budget.

Pineiro
Meche
Madritsch
Vasquez (Trade)
Clement or Matsuzaka

Lowell $4.25M (Salary difference from Lowell & Winn)
Beltran $15M
Delgado $8M
Polanco $4-5M
After watching Beltran this postseason, I just can't see how we can just watch Beltran slip through our fingers with the kind of money we have available. He's now got AL & NL proven experience. And now look what he's doing to the NL teams in the playoffs. I was only expecting him to go for a 5-6 year contract at $12M/yr, but if it takes $15-16/yr I think we just need to DO IT!

This is a very encouraging article about the M's bumping payroll up to the $100M mark:

http://mariners.theinsiders.com/2/297056.html

They offered Tejada a 5yr $55M deal for $11M year. And the way this article is
reading, Lincoln is giving Bavasi an open checkbook to get the legitimate money deals done with possible 5-6 year contracts.

Why? Insider.com comments:

"Howard Lincoln and the rest of the ownership group isn’t as shortsighted as we thought. Translation: The owners won’t continue to make money if the team loses 100 games a season, and they just couldn’t bear to sit around and do nothing about the bank account not getting fatter anymore.

In other words, Lincoln does understand that the fans will not stand for bad baseball. Finally, he gets it. The motive might not be what we’d like it to be but the action required is very much the same.

New General Manager Bill Bavasi will have free reign to go out and turn over the Mariner roster and bring a winner back to Safeco Field. What’s so different about that is the approach of the front office in general.

heading into his second year as Mariners GM, Bavasi will be backed 100% by Lincoln and the checkbook.

Bavasi has stated on more than one occasion that he and Lincoln both realize that the only way to start the turnaround is to make smart but aggressive financial investments in the free agent market this winter.

Something Bavasi convinced the club to do for one player last year, he will have the leeway to do with any players he sees fit, beginning November 1."

I haven't seen one thing suggesting that Seattle will be in the Beltran sweepstakes. In fact, the teams we've been reading about are the Yanks, Cubs & LA that will be in the bidding war. The Cubs will have to dump Sosa, before they do anything. The Yanks have Bernie they would have to move, which is taking up $12M in 2005, and they also have the Giambi dilemma. And, LA's priority is resigning Beltre, which is going to be a tough thing for them to do. Especially considering rumors that LA will be cutting payroll, and not offering anymore than 3yr contracts.

Hopefully Seattle will sneak in at the last moment, like Anaheim did with Vlad, and just pay Beltran the appropriate $$$ and just lock him up longterm.
Something else for us to consider. We are losing Edgar, who despite his horrible 2004 year, creams LHPing. I haven't been too impressed with Boone's numbers over the past 3 years, but at least he has been consistent whether he's batting against RHP's or LHP's. His averages there seem to be pretty consistent.

Bucky is the only guy on our team that currently smashes LHPing. I know everyone wants to focus on power LHB's in our lineup, but the power RHB's we end up getting have to throw up better numbers & averages against LHP's than Boonie has over the past 3 years, or we will be in dire staits!

BELTRE (RHB) VS LOWELL (RHB):
After looking at Beltre versus Lowell, I am going to have to say that I prefer Lowell over Beltre because of our hitting needs. Everyday that goes by, it's sounding more and more definite that Lowell is going to be available as a FA. Lowell just smashes LHP, and he's nearly as good with RHP's. Beltre this year has defied logic, and his power numbers on LHP's are very poor, while he maintains a 347BA, 42HR, 104RBI stats this year on RHP's alone. And even though he has hit 291BA in 2004 on LHP's, he only has 6HR's to show for that. Don't get me wrong: I would love to have Beltre, but Lowell seems to be a better fit for us as a power RHB, and he's been consistently good for more than 1 year.

Solution: Sign Lowell hopefully in the $8-9M range.

BOONE (RHB) VS POLANCO (RHB):
Polanco is signed for $3.9M in 2004, and is now a FA. He just doesn't want to share time with Utley anymore, so he will know doubt welcome a starting position @ $4-5M over a 3yr contract. Polanco is a gold-glove defender at 2B, and he smashes LHP as well. His 3 yr average is 322BA against southpaws, and a 3 yr average of 281BA against righties. He doesn't have as much power that Boone has shown, but would prove to be a perfect fit at Safeco field.

Solution: Trade Boone for Vasquez. Steinbrenner pays Vasquez's salary above Boone's $9M for the next 3 years. And, sign Polanco.

GRIFFEY:
Only if he's for free, like what has been posted above. And only as a DH. Bucky plays 1B and backs up Griffey as DH. Trade Winn/prospects for Ryan Howard, and platoon Howard/Bucky at 1B. Ibanez to LF (even though I would love to have Jacque Jones in LF, since he's one of the best defensive LFers). Reed as 4th OFer.

LOPEZ:
Leave Lopez at SS, and periodically fillin Cabrerra off the bench.

2005 Lineup
RF Ichiro
CF Beltran
3B Lowell
DH Griffey (only if for free like posted above)
2B Polanco
LF Ibanez OR Jones
1B Bucky/Howard Platoon
SS Lopez
C Olivo/Wilson

Starting Pitchers
Pinerio
Meche
Vasquez
Madritsch
Matsuzaka ($6M)

Franklin to Long Relief

Moyer (hopefully retires and starts coaching, or is traded)
TheInsider.Com has rumored a possible three-way trade with the Reds-Colorado-Mariners.

In order for the Reds to move Griffey and save money, they assume the remaining contracts of Neagle and Wilson, which is about 31.5 million (see the above post on the salary/contract breakdown). After the 2005 season, the Reds would have them off their books. Considering Griffey is still owed 54 million (if you include the 2009 buyout), the Reds are saving 22.5 million for one year's worth of Neagle and Wilson's contracts.

The Rockies would contribute 22.5 million to the Mariners to help cover Griffey's portion of the contract. They would be saving 9.5 million for the 2005 season by unloading Neagle and Wilson.

The Mariners would have Griffey to be their DH and wouldn't cost them a penny because his contract would be covered by payouts by the Reds and Rockies.

Mariners would send Pitching prospects to Colorado in exchange for Griffey. Seattle would only owe Griffey's 2009 difference of his $12.5M contract minus his $4M buyout amount, if Seattle picks up Griffey's 2009 contract. Seattle ends up getting Griffey for free, in exchange for some pitching prospects. And in 2009, will only have to pay him $8.5M if they pickup his 2009 contract.
Hello, this is a no brainer if you're able to pickup Griffey for free. Who gives a rats ass if he only does play 80-120 games for the M's, as long as he's free for the next 4 years! Our DH slot would be covered for the next 5 years, between Griffey & Bucky.
The Marlins apparently are prepared to cut ties with All-Star third baseman Mike Lowell, although the timing remains unclear. Lowell was a chief topic this week at the team's annual organizational meetings, during which the Marlins discussed ways to free themselves of the $34 million contract he signed nearly a year ago, a source said. The Marlins would prefer to trade Lowell but that would have to happen before Nov. 1, when he becomes eligible for free agency if the team has not yet reached a deal to build a new stadium.

The once snuggly relationship between the White Sox and Magglio Ordonez is turning into one of baseball's most bizarre off-season stories, and general manager Ken Williams clearly is tiring of it. Ordonez, who sat with Williams at U.S. Cellular Field waving to fans and TV cameras near the end of the season, has become a puzzle to the organization. Not only did he strangely go to Austria to have knee surgery, he apparently has switched agents from Tom Reich to Scott Boras. Right now the Sox's plan appears to be progressing without Ordonez. "I have to proceed with the information in front of me and make plans based on that," Williams said. "Everything else is pure conjecture. If I have to make an adjustment because more information comes our way, so be it. I can't be caught waiting around."

The most sought-after free agent this winter is expected to wind up with the New York Yankees, but the Cubs won't let center fielder Carlos Beltran go there without a fight. Whether the Cubs can come up with a back-loaded five- or six-year deal to persuade Beltran to come to Chicago remains unknown, especially if they are unable to unload Sammy Sosa's contract. But Beltran said Thursday night he would welcome an opportunity to talk to the Cubs about playing at Wrigley Field. "Of course," he said before Game 2 of the National League Championship Series, in which Houston trails St. Louis two games to none. "I feel good hitting in that ballpark. It's a great hitter's ballpark. You could see that from their lineup. Almost every one of those hitters hit more than 30 home runs. "It's fun to play over there. The fans are good fans. The ballpark is sold out every day. I'd like to see what's going to happen in the off-season."

Sources say the Angels remain interested in Cubs free-agent shortstop Nomar Garciaparra. Second baseman Adam Kennedy is scheduled for reconstructive surgery on his right knee today and is expected to miss at least the first half of the 2005 season.

Twins general manager Terry Ryan, on a rumor that instead of trying to trade right fielder Jacque Jones for economic reasons, he might try to trade left fielder Shannon Stewart: "Shannon Stewart is our best offensive player. And we need offense. So you can put that one to rest."

It remains to be seen how many teams will actively bid for Carlos Beltran. His expected asking price, at least $75 million for 5 years, according to the best estimates, eliminates most clubs. The Astros insist they will do what they can to keep him, and he blended in almost immediately after being acquired from the Royals on June 24. In addition to the Yankees, he could wind up with maybe the Mets (although they have Mike Cameron), maybe the Cubs (although the Tribune Co. isn't known for overspending for players), maybe the Red Sox (although Johnny Damon is one of their key players). The Phillies, of course, have acknowledged they will look for a centerfelder this winter. But it appears doubtful they will have payroll room to make a bid.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

The plan is to definitely trade outfielder Jacque Jones to open right field for Jason Kubel. Torii Hunter, Jones' best buddy, will do everything he can to persuade the Twins to keep Jones.

The Tacoma News Tribune has floated the name of Whitey Herzog as a managerial candidate for Seattle because he once promoted current Mariners general manager Bill Bavasi to be his assistant more than a decade ago in Anaheim. But Herzog, a former Cardinals manager and general manager, said he had heard nothing about it and wondered if that would be a good job for him anyway. "I don't think I'll live long enough," the 72-year-old Herzog said. Long enough for what? "Long enough for them to win," joked Herzog, mindful of the Mariners' last-place finish this season in the American League West. "I like Bill," Herzog said. "He called me when they were in town this year. But what direction are they going? They'd better have some young pitching in the minors." Herzog's name reportedly also had come up very informally in Philadelphia, where Larry Bowa was fired. But even though Herzog hasn't been contacted, that doesn't mean that he wouldn't listen. "I would talk to people, let's put it that way," he said. "But, to be honest, they'd really have to sit down and talk turkey. "If a team's got a chance to win, I'd have to look at the whole situation. I might have to try it. It wouldn't have to be a lifetime contract. Maybe it would have to be a day-to-day deal."

In the case of free agent Corey Koskie, the Twins will not pay the third baseman the $4.5 million he received this year. But Koskie says that money is not the big issue, he is building a new house and wants to stay here. However, the Twins are concerned about Koskie being injury-prone.

The Twins have exclusive rights for 10 days after the World Series to sign free agent Brad Radke. Look for the Twins to see what the market is for the pitcher and then definitely sign him.

Jason Varitek also has hit more postseason home runs in a Red Sox uniform than any other player, one more than Nomar Garciaparra.

Can the Braves pay their own veteran free agents? Not all of them. Maybe J.D. Drew and Jaret Wright. "I hope they sign him," Franco said of Drew. "I think this ballclub needs him. He was a great acquisition. I don't think they would have signed him for just one year." They didn't sign him. The Braves traded for Drew last season, desperate to find a cheaper option who might potentially fill the shoes of departed free agent Gary Sheffield. Drew answered critics by staying healthy and carrying much of the Braves' offensive load. Wright was the Braves' best starting pitcher (15-8, 3.28), and his $850,000 salary was a reflection of a career sidetracked by two shoulder surgeries. After his career-best season, he can expect multi-year offers from many teams if the Braves don't make him a strong offer.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

The only way Carlos Beltran is going to help the Orioles become a contender next year is by drawing so much interest in the free-agent market that other marquee players may feel the need to sign quickly to avoid being caught in a late-winter budget squeeze. It's not that the Orioles wouldn't be interested in a 27-year-old switch-hitting superstar who dominated the Division Series against the Atlanta Braves. It's just that everyone correctly assumes Beltran will end up with the Yankees after a protracted bidding war, so why waste a big chunk of an important offseason that would be better spent focused on free agents with a legitimate chance to end up in Baltimore? They will be better served to move quickly and decisively in their pursuit of outfielder Magglio Ordonez and at least one of the front-line pitchers expected to reach the market.

Dr. Tim Kremchek said his jaw dropped when he finally got inside Scott Williamson's right elbow with an arthroscope on Monday in Cincinnati. ``I couldn't believe what I saw,'' said Kremchek, who is the Cincinnati Reds team physician. ``It looked like a grenade had gone off in there. The damage was far worse that the MRIs or any examination alluded to.''' As it turned out, Williamson pitched the last month of the regular season with a completely torn ulnar collateral ligament, mangled cartilage ripped from the bone on the outer part of the elbow and several bone chips and loose bodies within the cavity of the joint. Kremchek performed Tommy John surgery on the Red Sox reliever, taking a hamstring tendon from his right leg and transplanting it to the elbow to form a new UCL. It is the second such procedure for Williamson, who also had Tommy John surgery in April 2001. ``I can't believe he was able to pitch with the elbow like that,'' Kremchek said.

The Reds' decision to part ways with captain Barry Larkin yesterday could have implications on the Red Sox. Depending on which way they go with the shortstop position in the offseason - retaining free agent Orlando Cabrera or signing Edgar Renteria - Larkin could draw serious interest from the Sox as a backup. The 41-year-old has always been considered a tremendous clubhouse presence and a humble teacher with younger players, which is precisely the type of character the Sox' organization seeks. Pokey Reese, meanwhile, is expected to draw strong interest from the Reds - his former team - when he hits the free agent market next year.
The only way Carlos Beltran is going to help the Orioles become a contender next year is by drawing so much interest in the free-agent market that other marquee players may feel the need to sign quickly to avoid being caught in a late-winter budget squeeze. It's not that the Orioles wouldn't be interested in a 27-year-old switch-hitting superstar who dominated the Division Series against the Atlanta Braves. It's just that everyone correctly assumes Beltran will end up with the Yankees after a protracted bidding war, so why waste a big chunk of an important offseason that would be better spent focused on free agents with a legitimate chance to end up in Baltimore? They will be better served to move quickly and decisively in their pursuit of outfielder Magglio Ordonez and at least one of the front-line pitchers expected to reach the market.

Dr. Tim Kremchek said his jaw dropped when he finally got inside Scott Williamson's right elbow with an arthroscope on Monday in Cincinnati. ``I couldn't believe what I saw,'' said Kremchek, who is the Cincinnati Reds team physician. ``It looked like a grenade had gone off in there. The damage was far worse that the MRIs or any examination alluded to.''' As it turned out, Williamson pitched the last month of the regular season with a completely torn ulnar collateral ligament, mangled cartilage ripped from the bone on the outer part of the elbow and several bone chips and loose bodies within the cavity of the joint. Kremchek performed Tommy John surgery on the Red Sox reliever, taking a hamstring tendon from his right leg and transplanting it to the elbow to form a new UCL. It is the second such procedure for Williamson, who also had Tommy John surgery in April 2001. ``I can't believe he was able to pitch with the elbow like that,'' Kremchek said.

The Reds' decision to part ways with captain Barry Larkin yesterday could have implications on the Red Sox. Depending on which way they go with the shortstop position in the offseason - retaining free agent Orlando Cabrera or signing Edgar Renteria - Larkin could draw serious interest from the Sox as a backup. The 41-year-old has always been considered a tremendous clubhouse presence and a humble teacher with younger players, which is precisely the type of character the Sox' organization seeks. Pokey Reese, meanwhile, is expected to draw strong interest from the Reds - his former team - when he hits the free agent market next year.
The only way Carlos Beltran is going to help the Orioles become a contender next year is by drawing so much interest in the free-agent market that other marquee players may feel the need to sign quickly to avoid being caught in a late-winter budget squeeze. It's not that the Orioles wouldn't be interested in a 27-year-old switch-hitting superstar who dominated the Division Series against the Atlanta Braves. It's just that everyone correctly assumes Beltran will end up with the Yankees after a protracted bidding war, so why waste a big chunk of an important offseason that would be better spent focused on free agents with a legitimate chance to end up in Baltimore? They will be better served to move quickly and decisively in their pursuit of outfielder Magglio Ordonez and at least one of the front-line pitchers expected to reach the market.

Dr. Tim Kremchek said his jaw dropped when he finally got inside Scott Williamson's right elbow with an arthroscope on Monday in Cincinnati. ``I couldn't believe what I saw,'' said Kremchek, who is the Cincinnati Reds team physician. ``It looked like a grenade had gone off in there. The damage was far worse that the MRIs or any examination alluded to.''' As it turned out, Williamson pitched the last month of the regular season with a completely torn ulnar collateral ligament, mangled cartilage ripped from the bone on the outer part of the elbow and several bone chips and loose bodies within the cavity of the joint. Kremchek performed Tommy John surgery on the Red Sox reliever, taking a hamstring tendon from his right leg and transplanting it to the elbow to form a new UCL. It is the second such procedure for Williamson, who also had Tommy John surgery in April 2001. ``I can't believe he was able to pitch with the elbow like that,'' Kremchek said.

The Reds' decision to part ways with captain Barry Larkin yesterday could have implications on the Red Sox. Depending on which way they go with the shortstop position in the offseason - retaining free agent Orlando Cabrera or signing Edgar Renteria - Larkin could draw serious interest from the Sox as a backup. The 41-year-old has always been considered a tremendous clubhouse presence and a humble teacher with younger players, which is precisely the type of character the Sox' organization seeks. Pokey Reese, meanwhile, is expected to draw strong interest from the Reds - his former team - when he hits the free agent market next year.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Insiders say the Yankees' top free agent pursuit this winter will be former Twins starter Eric Milton, whom the Yankees traded to Minnesota as part of the Chuck Knoblauch deal before the 1998 season.

Agent Scott Boras has declined to discuss his plans for Adrian Beltre, but baseball sources familiar with Boras' thinking said he might initially seek more than $12 million a season in a seven-year deal. Dodger sources said it was highly doubtful that DePodesta would recommend committing anything in that range to Beltre, who made $5 million in 2004. The Dodgers might not go beyond a four-year contract that averaged $11 million, a team source said. "We're going to make wise decisions," said McCourt, not specifically commenting on Beltre. "When I came to L.A., I said we were going to bring a winner for the fans. "That's what we've done and will continue to do. But we're going to be smart about it. We're going to make good decisions."

Craig Biggio had a terrific season as well, but they'd like to find a way to work Jason Lane into the lineup. My guess is that they have to keep Biggio. He has reached the point in his career where he has earned the right to go out on his own terms. Houston will offer Carlos Beltran a huge contract, but if the Yankees or Cubs come in with a deal worth $18 million or more per season, the Astros won't get him. As for Clemens, it's his call. The Astros are hopeful he'll pitch another season.

Contract negotiations with the agent for free-agent shortstop Nomar Garciaparra could begin next week, Hendry said Monday. If Garciaparra's financial demands are too high, the Cubs aren't expected to be interested in bringing him back. But if Garciaparra is willing to consider a three-year deal in which the base salary is $7 million to $8 million, the Cubs might be willing to cut a deal.

Anybody who thinks money is not important to free agent Corey Koskie regarding a return to the Twins is hallucinating. Koskie prefers to remain in Minnesota, but a handful of other clubs are expected to offer market value for the sure-fielding third baseman who hit a club-high 25 home runs this season. On the open market, Koskie could get at least the $4.5 million he was paid this year.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

A Mets article on things their executives are mulling over:

http://nypost.com/sports/mets/30053.htm

Alfonso Soriano's offense diminished in a hitter's park in Texas and his defense at second was worse than ever. He is about to make big money, and there is no definable proof he can play the outfield. Toronto 1B Carlos Delgado is a bad defender, unproven in a big media market, going to command at least $10 million annually for three years, and as one GM said, "Regardless of your politics, his refusal to come out for the national anthem or 'God Bless America' while playing for an American-based team is going to cause problems with the fan base."…

Here are thoughts that were run by executives and scouts on whom the Mets should pursue….

1. Mike Piazza to the Dodgers for Shawn Green

2. Cliff Floyd and Kaz Matsui to the Mariners for Bret Boone and Eddie Guardado

This is a salary wash in 2005. The Mets save $10 million in 2006, so they might also have to take a player (Scott Spiezio) to make Seattle more financially comfortable. For Japanese ownership, playing with Ichiro Suzuki and away from the New York glare, talented Matsui has a chance to excel. Floyd helps replace retiring DH Edgar Martinez. Boone brings second-base knowledge and stability for a year next to Jose Reyes. Guardado, with a dubious shoulder, is a medical risk, but not much bigger than fragile Floyd. If right, Guardado and Braden Looper would form an excellent end-game, 1-2 punch.

3. Tom Glavine to his home-state Red Sox for Doug Mientkiewicz and Trot Nixon

4. Sign free agents Tino Martinez and Magglio Ordonez

Anaheim and Seattle appear to be possible landing spots for Nomar Garciaparra, while the Dodgers and Mariners are being mentioned as possible suitors for Sox free agent catcher Jason Varitek.

As well as Orlando Cabrera has played for the Sox, there are some in the Red Sox organization who retain keen interest in Cardinals free agent Edgar Renteria, 29, one of the best shortstops in the game. Renteria is expected to seek a deal in the $10 million range, and while the Cardinals are expected to make every effort to retain a player manager Tony La Russa calls the "total package," financial constraints may make that an issue.

The Yankees and Mets can scratch Carl Pavano off their free agent lists. Pavano, who fired his previous agents at IMG and is said to be shifting to Ron Simon, has privately told friends he has no interest in pitching in New York. He is said to favor staying in Florida (if the Marlins get a stadium deal approved) or, failing that, staying east (as in the Orioles or Red Sox). Pavano is perhaps the best free agent pitcher out there.

Cliff Floyd and Kaz Matsui to the Mariners for Bret Boone and Eddie Guardado? This is a salary wash in 2005. The Mets save $10 million in 2006, so they might also have to take a player (Scott Spiezio) to make Seattle more financially comfortable. For Japanese ownership, playing with Ichiro Suzuki and away from the New York glare, talented Matsui has a chance to excel. Floyd helps replace retiring DH Edgar Martinez. Boone brings second-base knowledge and stability for a year next to Jose Reyes. Guardado, with a dubious shoulder, is a medical risk, but not much bigger than fragile Floyd. If right, Guardado and Braden Looper would form an excellent end-game, 1-2 punch.

There are major league managing jobs open in Philadelphia, Arizona, New York (the Mets), and Seattle. Don't be surprised if Grady Little winds up with one of them. You tend to get serious consideration when you've averaged 94 wins a year in your previous go-round as a manager, as Little did in his two years with the Red Sox. Little, still young at 54, told Stone he "has interest in one day getting another opportunity to manage in the major leagues, yes. Any time you get an opportunity to manage at the major league level, it's a good opportunity."

The interview process has begun for the Mets', Diamondbacks', Phillies' and Mariners' managerial vacancies. Angels bench coach Joe Maddon appears to be this year's "hot" candidate (as Ken Macha was a couple of years ago), with both the Mariners and D-Backs having him high on their list. Maddon's relationship with Mariners GM Bill Bavasi (who formerly headed up the Angels) makes him the heavy favorite in Seattle.

Only one player definitely available this offseason deserves substantial commitment in dollars and years: Houston OF Carlos Beltran. With suitors likely to include the Yankees, Dodgers, Angels, Cubs and Astros, the Mets' chances fall someplace between none and none.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Much to the chagrin of excited Phillies fans, Ryan Howard's outfield experiment in Arizona (which is expected to fail) won't give him a future in Philadelphia. The Phillies remain convinced their heralded 6-foot-4, 230-pound bruiser will be traded this winter or in the future due to high-priced roadblocks that are going nowhere - first baseman Jim Thome, right fielder Bobby Abreu and left fielder Pat Burrell. Although the Phillies will be in the market this winter for a starting center fielder, they have no plans to move players around to align a Burrell-Abreu-Howard outfield. Furthermore, general manager Ed Wade would never consider dealing Abreu, and Burrell is not tradable due to his big contract and consecutive down seasons. Meantime, Howard simply will attempt to learn how to play the outfield in Arizona, which could enhance or hurt his trade value.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Scott Boras will cite the rare combination of Carlos Beltran's talent, experience and age (27) as reasons that some team should pay him $20 million a year for six or seven years. He will hope to use teams like the Cubs, Los Angeles and maybe the Washington Expos to give Beltran an alternative to the Yankees or Mets, as he doesn't seem drawn to the brightest lights.

Edgar Renteria has become such an integral part of the Cardinals' lineup and is so popular in St. Louis that many are hoping he won't be allowed to leave. But he'll be in demand on the free-agent market, and if the Cubs don't re-sign Nomar Garciaparra, they might turn their attention to Renteria. General manager Jim Hendry was in the Florida organization when it signed Renteria in 1992, and he long has admired the Colombian-born shortstop. The Cardinals' payroll was in the mid-$80 million range this season. They have added Walker, and some of their pitchers are in line for significant raises. They're one of baseball's top draws, but their broadcast income is limited in the St. Louis market, and they're no longer owned by brewing conglomerate Anheuser-Busch. Thus they might have a hard time fitting Renteria into their budget.

In the free-agent market first, then possibly in trade, Mariners GM Bill Bavasi will look to add run production and must decide where. While the most common guess has been first base, with Toronto free agent Carlos Delgado often mentioned, Seattle has people who can play there, Ibanez for offense and Spiezio for defense. But they have no viable everyday option at third base. Adrian Beltre of Los Angeles is tempting, especially at age 26 next year, but could be a free-agent season phenom, hitting .240 with 23 home runs and 80 RBI in 2003, before jumping to a monster season this year of .334-48-121. Seattle could be more interested in Florida's Mike Lowell, if he chooses to walk away from a mutual option in his contract, which still has three years to run at $25 million in his native Miami area.

About all that is widely known is that the Mariners will have money to work with — while less than previous speculation, it should be about $20 million to $22 million — and possibly a bit more if they trade Bret Boone. Trade Boone? That is one of the choices, depending on, (a) how fast Seattle times its return to contention; (b) there is a taker.

The Marlins are among a number of teams interested in signing Cuban defector Kendry Morales, although the 21-year-old switch-hitter might not fit into the team's 2005 budget. Fred Ferreira, a senior vice president and the team's director of international operations, saw Morales perform in a closed workout in the Dominican Republic last week and came away impressed. ''He's a legitimate hitter,'' said Ferreira, a savvy talent evaluator who has signed 39 major-leaguers, including Anaheim's Vladimir Guerrero and the Yankees' Bernie Williams. ``He's not ready [for the majors] immediately, but he's not far. He's a guy that you can look into and say that he will play in the major leagues.'' Less certain is whether the Marlins can afford him.

Atlanta Braves shortstop Rafael Furcal was allowed to play in the postseason — despite violating probation from a drunken driving conviction — but when the last game is over, he'll have to spend 21 days in jail. Furcal will be under virtual house arrest until he turns himself in to the Cobb County Jail by 5 p.m. the day after the Braves' postseason ends — whether this weekend or through the World Series.

If the Los Angeles Dodgers can't re-sign free-agent third baseman Adrian Beltre, who could seek a $10 million per season, multi-year contract, look for them to pursue the Twins' Corey Koskie, who can become a free agent after the season. Some baseball people believe Koskie, who is making $4.5 million this year, could improve on that next season. The way it appears now, the Twins will try to re-sign Koskie as well as pick up the option on shortstop Cristian Guzman.

In a letter to fans and season ticket-holders, general manager Ken Williams said he will explore the free-agent market and "I also am willing to pull the trigger on a trade." If his comments are any indication, a trade would not involve Paul Konerko, whom Williams lauded. "[Konerko] grabbed all kinds of deserving headlines with his 40-plus home runs, but he proves his value as a player and teammate each and every day by how he approaches the game," Williams wrote. "I am convinced that if Paul came into the last at-bat of the season with the chance for either the home run crown or the opportunity to win the game, he would willingly sacrifice his own success for the team. He is as unselfish a player as we have." Not mentioned is designated hitter Frank Thomas. Although they haven't spoken to each other in months and aren't likely to do so, Williams did not intentionally omit Thomas.

The Indians have targeted between 12 and 15 free-agent starting pitchers. Russ Ortiz, Odalis Perez, Matt Clement, Derek Lowe, Cory Lidle, Paul Wilson, Radke, Milton, Jon Leiber, Orlando Hernandez, Kris Benson, Ismael Valdez, Brett Tomko and Matt Morris could be among them. The Indians would like to bring back Bob Wickman as their closer, but he might retire. The free-agent closer market includes Troy Percival, John Smoltz, Armando Benitez, Ugueth Urbina, Jose Mesa, Trevor Hoffman, Matt Mantei and others.

Omar Vizquel is all but gone. That's the truth of it. For Vizquel to spend next season with the Indians would take a near miracle of maneuvering by General Manager Mark Shapiro. Shapiro would have to be close to signing a free-agent starting pitcher and closer and create payroll by trading a big salary - Matt Lawton and C.C. Sabathia are the only big-money players left on the roster - before Dec. 7 to have a chance at bringing Vizquel back for 2005. The chances of even one of those things happening by Dec. 7 is unlikely because the free-agent market usually hasn't established itself by then. Shapiro told Vizquel and agent Adam Katz as much Monday when they met. Why didn't he just shake Vizquel's hand and say thanks for 11 seasons as the Indians shortstop? "I told Omar that would be the lazy . . . easy thing to do," said Shapiro. "It's a long shot. It's an uphill battle. It's unlikely. It's all those words. But I'm not going to say it can't be done."

As much as the Red Sox want to prevent Jason Varitek from playing elsewhere next year, they had their last best chance this season to work out a deal with him in spring training. They have not negotiated with Varitek, a potential free agent, since then and will not have their next opportunity to reach an agreement until their exclusive window to hammer out a deal begins when the World Series ends. Varitek's agent, Scott Boras, who said midway through the season he would not negotiate for either Varitek or Derek Lowe until the season ends, said he has stood by his position. Boras, who attended Game 1 of the Division Series, believes the potential distraction of contract talks during the season can affect players.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Our available money this offseason being freed up is $37M (which also includes things like the $4M incentives Edgar had in his contract but did get in 2004, incentives Moyer had in his contract but WON'T get in 2005 now, etc).

Moving Winn ($3.75M), and Franklin ($2.4M), totals a "possible" add'l $6.15M.
That would bring us up to $43.15M available this offseason.

And Moyer will be losing approx $4M of his 2005 incentives, because of his performance, etc in 2004.

That now brings us to approx $47.15M.

Earlier in July, the M's brass mentioned that they "wouldn't add" the 2004 savings of $12.5M to our 2005 budget. Now with Edgar not getting his incentives in 2004, the M's saved approx $16.5M in 2004 UNDER THEIR $95M BUDGET!!!

NOW...After Lincoln's comments in his interview yesturday, the M's Brass sounds like they are changing their stance on the savings from this 2004 season.

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/baseball/193932_lincoln06.html

"He said the club would maintain a top-10 payroll and, for the first time since the 1999 opening of Safeco Field, would budget for an annual operating loss "in the many millions" to subsidize the fix....etc,etc,etc,"

**********************************************

Could the M's Brass decide to actually add the $12.5-$16.5M on TOP of their 2005 $95M budget?

If so, they will be commiting to spend $63.65M that will be available for this offseason & for tradeing deadline moves.

This is not even considering if trade Boone for Vasquez (with the Yanks picking up the annual salary difference above $9M) as an add'l starter for us...THEN picking up either Polanco in FA, or Utley (league minimum) in a trade (possibly the rumor could be Winn) to the Philly's!

I would really reaaly like to get Utley for $300k at 2B, instead of Boone. He is a gold glove caliber guy, with a POWER LHB & is over 10 yrs younger than Boone!

Give Philly Winn, which they already stated they are looking for a CF with speed, #2 hitter, with a approx 270BA! Add another prospect they may want out of the 15 that we were showcasing this season!

Howard is another one of their studs that will be awesome for us. But, I think Utley would be the priority so we can move Boone's salary and replace it with Vasquez in our starting rotation. With Utley at 2B, and Vasquez in our starting rotation, we would still have the ENTIRE wad of money to spend this offseason!!!

If the M’s brass actually add $12-16M on top of the $95M budget, THERE IS NO REASON WHY we couldn’t sign Beltran, Beltre, Delgado, Pavano (and have Vasquez in our rotation from the Boone trade)…HELL, we could even go after Nomar @ SS, and signing Varitek (so we can wait on Olivo getting up to par in the next 1-2 years).

If they are totally commited in spending this money, then we could have a lineup & rotation in the likes of:

Ichiro
Utley $300k
Beltran $12-13M
Beltre $9-12M
Delgado $8-10M
Nomar $8-10M
Ibanez
Bucky
Varitek/Olivo

Pavano $12M
Vasquez (picked up from the Boone trade)
Pineiro
Meche
Madritsch
Moyer???

Add Lowe to bullpen as a backup starter for $4-5M!

The encouraging thing?

I would be happy with half of the players I just mentioned. But we HAVE the money to sign all of them, if the M's brass is that committed to it!!!
http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/baseball/193914_myouth06.html

Justin Leone, 3B: The 2003 Texas League Player of the Year hit five homers in his first month in the majors, but hit .210 in July and finished at .216. He might have posted better numbers had his season not ended with two broken fingers on Aug. 17. Even before the injury, however, team officials were indicating privately that Leone was not in their long-term plans.

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/baseball/193917_johnlineup06.html

I’m beginning to think John Hickey is retarted, Here is what he mentioned:

So I'd make big plays for third baseman Troy Glaus of the Anaheim Angels and first baseman Richie Sexson of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Both are likely to want something in the range of $9-11 million per season, so the Mariners won't be able to go after much else if they land these two.
Scouts say that for a right-handed hitter, Glaus is almost perfect for Safeco Field because so much of his power is to the opposite field. He has the bonus of having the Boston Red Sox and Yankees basically not interested. Glaus wants to stay on the West Coast, which is part of the reason for the East Coast disinterest. He has missed big chunks of the past two seasons, but he swung a hefty bat this past month for the Angels, and hit a home run off Red Sox ace Curt Schilling yesterday in Game 1 of the ALDS.
Sexson is the kind of guy the Mariners like -- local (sort of; he's from Portland), young and, assuming his left shoulder is fixed, has the kind of power that makes scouts drool. He hit 45 homers in 2001 and '03.
Land those two, and if the money's gone, let the pitching take care of itself. No one in the organization thought the starters would suffer as much as they did this season. Jamie Moyer and Ryan Franklin, in particular, are due for a rebound.
His “wishful” 2005 lineup is:
Ichiro
Winn
Boone
Glaus
Sexson
Ibanez
Bucky
Wilson
Lopez

His 2005 Starters are:
Moyer
Pineiro
Meche
Franklin
Madritsch

YEAH Hickey…That’ll solve all of our problems…paying Glaus $9-11M and Sexson $9-11M!!! NOT!!! Signing 2 power hitters that have been injury prone over the past several years, coming off major injury in 2004, and that both have the following scary averages:

Glaus Career 253BA Average; Career 154 Annual Strikeout Average
Sexson Career 271BA Average; Career 156 Annual Strikeout Average

Yeah, we all like their added power potential, but do we want to add 2 $10M players that resemble Cameron on SO’s?! Not only that, but their defense at 1B & 3B is only sub-par!

Dave Andriesen’s 2005 lineup
Ichiro
Winn
Drew
Beltre
Boone
Bucky
Ibanez
Olivo
Lopez

Dave Andriesen’s 2005 Rotation
Lowe
Pineiro
Moyer
Madritsch
Meche

Dave Andriesen’s Final Comments:
The job of rebuilding the Mariners is going to be a tough one. I'm glad it's not mine.

* FYI Dave: I’m glad it’s not your responsibility either! Though I do like the Drew & Beltre additions to our lineup. We need a better frontline starter than Lowe!

HERE IS SOMETHING VERY VERY VERY INCOURAGING:

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/baseball/193932_lincoln06.html

Editor's note: P-I sports columnist Art Thiel interviewed Mariners CEO Howard Lincoln yesterday in his office. After expressing his disappointment over the season, a chastened Lincoln vowed that Mariners fans would not be subject to a long-term turnaround project. He said the club would maintain a top-10 payroll and, for the first time since the 1999 opening of Safeco Field, would budget for an annual operating loss "in the many millions" to subsidize the fix.

Q: There is no consensus among them to change the club's approach?
A: The most important thing we can do is maintain a very high major league player payroll, at least in the top 10. If we can do that, that's the most significant contribution the ownership group can make to the Mariners.
That's precisely what we intend to do in 2005, even though in doing so we will budget for a loss. We are prepared to accept that loss in order to provide maximum financial flexibility to (general manager) Bill Bavasi and the baseball people, to give them the full opportunity to get things done right.
Q: So you're anticipating an attendance falloff that will jeopardize profit next season?
A: It's hard to say what will happen. Fans don't make decisions in October about what they'll do next year. Our offseason moves will have a lot to do with attendance. We're very appreciative of the tremendous support fans have given us over the years. We don't take it for granted. Nevertheless, it's fair to say we have to anticipate some decline in attendance. We will go into the season projecting an operating loss in the many millions of dollars, without getting specific.
Q: If there is a second year of non-contention, have you talked about those consequences?
A: We certainly project for not only next year, but following years. Where things stand now is that we don't want to be part of a five-year rebuilding plan that other teams have followed. Our plan is get this turned as quickly as possible.
Our group has been told by Bill Bavasi there are a number of holes to fill. We're going to do our best to fill as many holes as quickly as possible. We want to maintain a high payroll, instead of cutting.
Q: Speaking of perceptions, you've always been a strong advocate of a balanced budget. Why are you willing now to take an operations loss in 2005?
A: There is a perception that we have some kind of static business model that never changes regardless of circumstances. That's not the case. If we're going to achieve the objective, there are times when we have to consider taking a loss. It's not something we look forward to, and we've had seasons where we've made a profit and maintained a high payroll. Every season is different. We don't operate with a model that never changes.
Q: How does the ownership agree to take on a loss?
A: We meet monthly. The budget for the new year (starting Nov. 1) has not been finalized. I have already advised our group that we are going to have a significant loss to accomplish the objective. I anticipate the budget will be approved.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

According to sources, Sammy Sosa has told friends in baseball that he might be amenable to a fresh start elsewhere. He is still very popular at Wrigley Field, but he was booed with increasing frequency this season as he put up numbers that were far below his career norm. He was also dogged by injuries for a second straight year. The booing in the ballpark where he was once idolized clearly bothered him. According to sources, Sosa became upset when the Cubs suggested that waiving or restructuring the 2006 option was the only way to facilitate a trade, and his anger may have fueled Sunday's chain of events. Hendry said "disciplinary action" would be taken against Sosa, but declined to be specific. If he were to be fined a day's pay it would cost Sosa nearly $100,000.

One more bat wouldn't hurt, either. The Orioles want a right-handed slugger such as the Chicago White Sox's Magglio Ordonez, someone they can plug into right field. They believe Tejada and third baseman Melvin Mora, who set the team record with a .340 average, can lure Ordonez to Baltimore.

Are Carlos Lee and/or Paul Konerko bargaining chips in trades? Both would have some value after stellar seasons. Konerko is due to make $8.75 million next season, which, when added to Thomas and Garcia, each due $8 million next season, puts the Sox at $24.75 million for just three players before they even figure out how to proceed with Ordonez. Ross Gload's season and defensive play at first makes an interesting option if the Sox wanted to deal Konerko for pitching. Lee always takes grounders at first during batting practice. Perhaps he winds up there—if the Sox don't move him for a pitcher.

Should the Pirates trade the best catcher in the National League? Jason Kendall's .306 career batting average is 13th among active players, but he will make $10 million next year, $11 million in 2006 and $13 million in 2007. He is 30 and has caught more games in less time than almost any catcher in history. If the Pirates are to have the scratch to pay the likes of Jason Bay, Oliver Perez and Jack Wilson in a few years, now is a good time to shop Kendall. He has a no-trade clause, but the (gag, wheeze) Cubs could use a leadoff hitter and the Dodgers could use a catcher.

Many baseball people believe that longtime Angels coach and minor-league manager Joe Maddon will wind up high on Bavasi's list in Seattle. Maddon, 50, has had three stints as interim manager of the Angels and is currently their bench coach. He also held that position in 2002, when the Angels won the World Series. Asked about the job yesterday in Anaheim, where the Angels held a workout to prepare for their AL Division Series against Boston, Maddon told the Los Angeles Times he's "focused on what we're doing here right now, and when this is over, then I'll think about things like that." However, those with knowledge of the situation believe Maddon would be very interested in the Seattle job, and the interest is likely to be mutual. Speculation immediately began to center on some prominent former managers such as Grady Little, Art Howe, Bobby Valentine, Jimy Williams, Don Baylor and Lee Elia, the latter having strong links to Seattle's glory days under Lou Piniella. Two other names to tuck away are Terry Collins, former Astros and Angels manager who was hired by Bavasi in 1996 to replace Marcel Lachemann in Anaheim, and Jim Riggleman, former manager of the Padres and Cubs who now serves as the Dodgers' bench coach.

Jim Hendry and Moises Alou will talk, but don't look for a happy ending. Alou's career-high 39 home runs and team-leading 106 RBIs may prompt him to ask for more money than the Cubs believe a 39-year-old outfielder is worth. Hendry said sentiment won't be involved in any decision-making, which suggests Alou is a goner. His eight errors tied for second most among NL left fielders. Jason Dubois will get a shot in left, though the Cubs are expected to make a bid for free agent Carlos Beltran if they can trade Sammy Sosa.

M's GM Bill Bavasi said he made a phone call later yesterday morning to tell an unnamed club that Bob Melvin might make a good manager for it. That club is almost certainly Arizona, for which Melvin had been bench coach under Bob Brenly, who was fired as manager earlier this season.

The Cubs will decline Moises Alou's $11 million option for 2005 and consider what is expected to be Alou's request to return at $6 million for one year. ''Mo gave us a great year,'' Hendry said. ''I don't know what Mo's expectations are about coming back. Every decision we make over the winter will be for the good of the club and not the sentiment involved.''

With most of the MVP talk centered on Vladimir Guerrero, Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz and Gary Sheffield, some in the Sox organization find it curious that Johnny Damon isn't being mentioned more as a candidate. The Boston leadoff hitter batted .304 with 20 home runs, 94 RBI and 123 runs scored this season. ``He's been one of the most valuable players in all of baseball,'' Epstein said. ``It's his combination of on-base skills, run production, seeing a ton of pitches, stealing bases, understanding baserunning, playing a fantastic center field, and staying in the lineup. He's done it all.''

Everyone seems to be in agreement the Orioles are "only a couple players away," a phrase that could become their winter slogan, if such a thing existed. Improved by seven games this year, they might be on the cusp of contending in a division that has long been reviled for its unforgiving nature. It's clear the Orioles need an ace. They like Minnesota's Brad Radke, though he might not want to leave the Twins as a free agent. They also have interest in the Philadelphia Philllies' Eric Milton, a University of Maryland alum, and they sent two scouts to watch the Florida Marlins' Carl Pavano.

Cub GM Jim Hendry has not yet talked to any team about a potential deal involving Sammy Sosa, and the Cubs' All-Star right fielder remains a longshot to be dealt to the Mets. Why? Sosa is nearly 36 years old, slumped to .253 with 35 homers and 80 RBIs this year and is due approximately $35 million over the next two seasons (if Sosa gets traded, his 2006 option automatically gets picked up). At the same time, due to Sosa's history with Minaya, his situation bears watching this offseason.

David Ortiz predicted Anaheim's decision to suspend Jose Guillen might cost the Angels a World Series title. Ortiz, the Boston slugger who has dampened his usually provocative sound bites since saying the Yankees were "very worried about us" last month, said Guillen's suspension was a death penalty when a slap on the wrist might've been more appropriate. In fact, he seemed to indicate it might be the deciding factor in the best-of-five ALDS vs. the Red Sox. Guillen, a power-hitting left fielder, was suspended Sept. 26 for the remainder of the regular season and postseason for a dugout tirade a day earlier. He went nuts after being removed for a pinch runner.

Sammy Sosa lashed out at Cubs manager Dusty Baker after Sunday's 10-8 victory over Atlanta, upset at Baker's pregame remarks that the right fielder needed to intensify his offseason preparation both physically and mentally to be ready for 2005. ''I'm tired of being blamed by Dusty Baker for all the failures of this club,'' Sosa said. ''I resent the inference that I'm not prepared. I live my life every minute every day to prepare for combat.' Asked why he didn't remain at Wrigley Field until the game ended, Sosa said that he has wearied of being singled out for criticism and wanted to duck the postgame questions. Sosa had turned down reporters before the game when he was asked to talk after his late arrival at the park for a 1:20 p.m. game. ''I'm always the guy they are going to blame,'' he said. ''They blame me for not going to the World Series last year. They blame me for not going to the playoffs this year. I'm tired of it.''

What will the White Sox do about Magglio Ordonez? Ordonez, 30, was paid $14 million this season, the last year of a three-year deal, and one in which he played just 52 games because bone marrow edema in his left knee. Do the Sox offer arbitration to Ordonez without knowing how well he'll recover? That's a $14 million gamble that might be too big for the Sox's coffers. Instead, the Sox likely won't offer arbitration by the Dec. 15 deadline and will take their chances on signing Ordonez for less—unless another team is ready to take a gamble. A report Monday that Ordonez had surgery on his ailing left knee by doctors in Vienna about a month ago was reluctantly confirmed by Sox general manager Ken Williams.

Mike Piazza's $15 million salary and declining production will make it difficult to move him, though the Mets figure to explore the possibility, with Anaheim and Los Angeles the most logical destinations. The likelihood is that Piazza returns, mainly at catcher - his first-base foray considered a flop. Piazza's batting totals justify the move back behind the plate. He hit .337 as a catcher and .221 at first base this year.

SS Nomar Garciaparra said he laughs at ongoing reports he rejected a four-year, $48 million deal from Boston. ''I never turned down any money in Boston,'' he said Sunday. ''So that's kind of funny they keep saying that.'' It's anybody's guess what Cubs general manager Jim Hendry might offer him as a free agent. ''This is definitely a place I will consider,'' Garciaparra said. ''The fans have been great. They have opened their arms, and I appreciate that. Free agency is all new for me.

The Rangers may try and package Alfonso Soriano in a trade for a No. 1 or No. 2 starter in the offseason, according to the Dallas Morning News.

The Angles have decided to leave Aaron Sele off the postseason roster despite his 9-4 regular season record, according to the Boston Globe.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Omar Vizquel has a meeting today with General Manager Mark Shapiro to find out if he'll be an Indian next year. "I want to know where I'm standing," Vizquel said. "He should know by now if he wants to keep me or not." This is the last year of Vizquel's contract. He's played with the Indians for 11 seasons and wants to return. His contract has a mutual option for 2005, which the Indians will not exercise. Vizquel will receive a $1 million buyout.

Only a few questions remain. Rafael Palmeiro, whose contract did not vest because he didn't play in 140 games in the field, said he would like to return. The team also doesn't have a set closer for next year. Jorge Julio lost his closing job to B.J. Ryan, who established himself as the best left-handed reliever in baseball. The team has asked Julio to come to Baltimore in December to work on his conditioning.

While Royals general manager Allard Baird held out the prospect of Joe Randa's return, Randa said with near-certainty that Sunday marked his last time in a Royals uniform. “Yes,” Randa said. “Yes, it was. It's time. Nothing against the organization. I don't like to close doors, but there'd have to be a miracle that would happen.”

Blue Jays 1B Carlos Delgado a free agent to be: "You get to a situation where it's not just the money," he said. "I'm 32 years old. I want to have the opportunity to win and not finish last."

The Mets have a $10 million option on Al Leiter's contract for 2005, but instead will pay a $2 million buyout. The Mets want Leiter to return at a reduced salary.

Yesterday's game likely ended Carlos Delgado's 10-year stint with the Blue Jays, who aren't expected to re-sign the free agent first baseman. Delgado received a standing ovation when he came to the plate in the seventh inning. He went 2-for-4 with a pair of soft doubles.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?