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Only a few weeks ago the Yankees won their 27th World Series Championship. Baseball awards winners are taking home their hardware this week. No rest for the weary. Yesterday became the first day teams can negotiate with free agents. I'm curious to see how aggressive teams are in securing talent for next season. Who commands top dollar from this thin list of stars? Speaking of top dollar... will economic factors determine salaries? Probably not based on recent history but owners might employ a wait and see mentality.
Angels star pitcher John Lackey is the best starter on the market and teams are already lining up. Clubs looking for sluggers or key offensive contributors will chase after Matt Holliday, Jason Bay, Chone Figgins, Jermaine Dye, Vladmir Guerrero, Miguel Tejada and Carlos Delgado. In the coming days I'll be focusing on needs of most MLB clubs and flourishing rumors.
I've put together a short wish list of players I'd like to see signed by my favorite clubs and who I think will be targeted by rivals.
Yankees - Damon, Matsui, Pettitte might all have played their last games as Yanks. NY will be nuts not to bring back Pettitte. Damon is gone. Matsui could be back if willing to sign for less than top dollar. Soutpaws Bedard or Washburn would be a good fits if Lackey ends up elsewhere. Chone Figgins as a left fielder? Holliday won't return to AL so give up dreaming New Yorkers. Vlad Guerrero as DH if Matsui leaves would shake up opponents loading up on lefties. Then, there's Lackey. Will NY throw big bucks trying to lock up another pre-prime starting pitcher? CC, AJ and Lackey for years to come? Interesting.
Mets - Where to begin? How about by cleaning out the front office? The Mets should go after Chone Figgins with everything they have. He can play multiple positions and is the type of player who can take full advantage of spacious CitiField. Reyes + Figgins will rattle opposing batteries on the basepaths and hit doubles/triples galore. Lackey is another big piece to the puzzle. Just think of how well he'd do in a big park facing NL DH-less lineups. Santana + Lackey = 40-50 team wins. There's been rumors of Jason Marquis coming to town. It better not be for top dollar! If NY wants economic starters then pitchers such as Pavano, Padilla, Piniero, Penny or maybe Marquis (hoping this isn't how things unfold). Figgins, Lackey & another starter needed. Trade or release Castillo. Resign Delgado or find another 1B.
Red Sox - Everyone knows Boston wants to knock off the Champion Yankees. Jason Bay is testing FA market most likely for negotiating power. Boston would be nuts to let a young superstar escape their grasp. Every year 3B Lowell is subject of keep him or trade him rumors. Chone Figgins fits in well here too to play multiple positions. Damon back to Sox? Don't laugh especially if Bay can switch to RF. Short Fenway negates Damon's weaker than average left arm. Sox in a bind pitching wise. They have talented young starters who are always subject of trade talks. Keep 'em or trade 'em? Theo Epstein's is at crossroads. They'll be rumored in talks with big name FA's... will they pull the trigger?
Cubs - Team chemistry was lost before spring training began in '09. Getting rid of Derosa was bigger than Cubs brass anticipated. Where to go for 2010? Pitching, 2B, RF and dump/release dead weight. I don't know how Cubs fans can take it. Heck, even Red Sox fans managed to kill demons. How can any team endure a century of bad luck? One of my friend Facebooked how it's been generations of family members praying to witness the Cubs return to World Series action. Wonder if his kids will be saying the same thing in 20 years?
Rangers - WHEN WILL THIS TEAM FINALLY SIGN A TOP STARTING PITCHER? WHEN? Here's a team which escalated free agent salaries by handing Alex Rodriguez $250,000,000.00 You'd think at some point in time these guys would have thrown treasure chests at Johan Santana, CC Sabathia, Smoltz, Lee, Burnett, Beckett... anyone! Hellooooooo! Texas is rumored to be in big money trouble for 2010. We'll soon find out. Now is the perfect time to bring in a seasoned HEALTHY veteran to compliment a first time ever surging young staff. Lackey? Doubt he's sign with Texas. Sheets rumors circulated last year since he's been rehabbing/working out with Ranger affiliated personnel. Sheets would be nice but not as top dog. Health is still a big issue for the oft injured fire baller. Pitchers can be had.
Giants - If they have a stock pile of cash laying around then look out baseball world. Lincecum just won another Cy Young. Matt Cain is a great #2/#3. How about west coaster Lackey? Then Figgins? Or Dye, Delgado, Holliday? Landing run producers is a must. Either by big star power or economy class... just get someone who can hit. I was never a Giants fan but talk about a team sitting in complete control of destiny for years to come (health permitting)... skies the limit.
Players - Here's my short list of best fits (or tema most likely to sign)...
Orlando Hudson - Cubs, Cardinals, Giants, Rays.Matt Holliday - Cardinals, Mets, Phillies, Braves, Giants.Carlos Delgado - Mets, Twins (new home, new DH), Rangers or any AL team needing DH.Bengie Molina - Mets, Rangers, Tigers.John Lackey - Mets, Yankees, Giants, Red Sox, Braves.Jermane Dye - Yankees, Red Sox, Rays, Angels.Miguel Tejada - Cardinals, Braves, Giants, Cubs, Tigers, Mariners.Hideki Matsui - Yankees, Mariners, White Sox.Johnny Damon - Red SoxVladmir Guerrero - Yankees, Angels, Rays, Tigers, White Sox.Billy Wagner - Red Sox, Yankees, Tigers, Cubs.Chone Figgins - 3B is thin. He's on most wish lists and plays multiple positions. Phillies, Red Sox, Mets, Braves, Cubs, Angels, Rays... will the highest bidder step forward. He's getting top dollar.Andy Pettitte - Yankees. He's not going anywhere.
Let the bidding wars begin. Great headlines will soon to flood local newspapers announcing home teams big acquisitions.