The Colorado Rockies are in a tough position. They need to decide whether they want to try to contend for ’09 or if they want to rebuild. I have said before that the Rox would be smart to retool, because they play in a poor division. They only need a reliever, starter, and a second baseman. Clint Barmes is just as good if not better than any free agent second baseman on the market other than Orlando Hudson or Mark Ellis. They shouldn’t waste their money on that position. They should let Brian Fuentes walk and could let former closer Manny Corpas replace him. They need another middle reliever, though. They need to sign a starter badly. It will be tough to convince players to come to Coors Field, however. The could try to sign starters, but they don’t have much money to spend and aren’t one starter away from catching the D’Backs or Dodgers. They might end up trading Matt Holliday and rebuilding. They need to open up a spot in the lineup for Ian Stewart. The could deal Garret Atkins and play Stewart at third base, or they could trade Matt Holliday and move Stewart to left field. One of Holliday or Atkins will be traded if the Rockies decide to rebuild. There will be a ton of suitors for both. They could trade Atkins to the Twins for Nick Blackburn or Kevin Slowey. They could tarde Holliday to the Phillies for Carlos Carrasco, Lou Marson, Greg Golson, and Joe Savery. It would be a great win-now move for the Phillies, but they would completley destroy their farm system. The Rox would get a pretty nice haul for one year of Holliday. Possibly to the Reds for Homer Baily and others. Maybe to the Angels fo a package around Nick Adenhart and Sean Rodriguez. The Phillies make the most sense, especially if they trade Ryan Howard to keep their farm system respectable. There are many desinations for Holliday, but if I were the Rockies, I would trade him right away before teams started signing the big money left fielders like Adam Dunn, Pat Burrell, Manny Ramirez, Milton Bradley, and Raul Ibanez. So the Rockies could go in two different directions, but I think the rebuilding choice would be more fun to watch.
The Cincinnati Reds are trying to retool what is a bad season for them. Oddly, after losing adam Dunn and Ken Griffey Jr. They think they can be better than they were this year. They have a lot of money to burn. About 30 million is coming off the books in contracts. They probably won’t spend it all in one plce, but will spend a lot of it. They have many holes. Five of them. They need a reliever, shortstop, left fielder, center fielder, and a catcher.They will go after Raul Ibanez, Garret Anderson, and Jaun Rivera to be their left fielder. They also will pursue Mark Kotsay as their center fielder. They could go after a guy like David Eckstein for shortstop, and Jason Varitek makes a lot of sense at catcher if the Red Sox don’t resign him. They could try to resign David Weathers and Jeremy Affeldt. The Reds have the money to fill all of their holes, just not with impact players. They are hoping they get a bounce back season from Aaron Harang and that Johnny Cueto steps up the be the #3 they need. Micah Owings is a solid #5 starter if he beats out Homer Baily for the finale spot in the rotation. Baily needs to step up as well. For the offense, Joey Votto and Jay Bruce need to become big-time run producers. The rest if the offense needs to be solid as well. This team reminds me a lot like the other Ohio team, the Indians. Both teams have a lot of things that need to go right, but if they do, these teams will be contenders.
The Kansas City Royals need to rebuild. They are trying to win by next year. After next year two of their key players, Zack Grienke and Jose Guillen, are free agents. The following year, David DeJesus, Gil Meche, and others reach free agency. I don’t think they should be very active in free agency. Some have said they are going to be looking for a shortstop, but they have Matt Aviles. If they want to move him to second base, they have Alberto Callapso for shortstop. They do need a first baseman, and could use a starter and a reliever. I think they should be selling off pieces. Ron Mahay should defiantley be traded. He could fetch a good pitching propsect for him. Maybe trade him to the Phillies for Kyle Kendrick or AJ Happ and Jason Donald. DeJesus, Guillen, Grienke, and Meche could be moved if they right deal comes along. They need to build aroung the time when they will have Alex Gordon, Billy Butler, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakes, and Matt Aviles or Alberto Callapso. Their offense will be raking about that time. Try to extened Zack Grienke, he’s the one player they shouldn’t trade unless they have to. So the Royals could spend in free agency and try to compete by next year, or they could start over again and wait to build aroung guys like Gordon, Butler, Hosmer, and Moustakes. They have to chose.
The Tampa Bay Rays, the biggest surprise of the 2008 season, will hopefully build on their successfull 2008 season with a good offseason. In my top 50 free agents, I predicted they would dole out the cash and sign Adam Dunn. If they do, their offseason would be just about done. The only needs they have are DH and right field. They sign Dunn for DH, and could resign Eric Hinske or pick up Cliff Floyd’s option for ’09. Then trade for Matt Murton. They have always liked Murton, and tried to trade for him when he was with the Cubs. Murton seems to be avalable with the A’s because they have Travis Buck, Carlos Gonzalez, Ryan Sweeny and eventually Aaron Cunningham for the outfield. Murton shouldn’t be too hard to pry loose from Billy Beane, a GM always open to making a deal. Maybe offer them a Jason Hammel and Mitch Talbot. Neither guy has anywhere to go in the Rays organazation. Platoon Hinske with Murton and you have a successfull right field. If the Rays can’t get Dunn, they could still go after other DHs like Milton Bradley, Pat Burrell, Raul Ibanez, and Jason Giambi. They can keep the same right field. They could even sign Bobby Abreu and have him play right field and DH switching off with the platoon of Murton and Hinske. They will have to move a starter in the offseason. Either Andy Sonnanstine or Edwin Jackson need to be traded to open up a spot for stud prospect David Price. Maybe instead of using the platoon of Murton and Hinske they can trade Sonnanstine or Jackson for a right fielder. The Tampa Bay Rays have options, and are only one Adam Dunn type player awaty from contending for a world series.
Next up is the Philadelphia Phillies. This team is good team without many needs. The only need they have are left field/right field, starting pitching, and a reliever. They are losing a big slugger in their lineup in Pat Burrell, and will try hard to resign him. They Phils don’t have a lot of money to spend, however. Only about 8 million. If they backload Burrel’s deal they could get it done, but that would leave nothing for pitching. They could possibly trade Ryan Howard, who could earn 14 million in arbitration next year. They could trade Howard and shave that 14 million off the payroll so they can resign Burrell and have enough to sign a reliever and a first baseman. Maybe trade Howard to the Yankees for Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy, then resign Burrell to a 4 year, 60 million contract. Hughes solves the pitching, and they can trade Ian Kennedy to the Florida Marlins for Mike Jacobs. I know it’s a inter-divsion trade, but it could work. They can then resign Chad Durbin with their remaining money. This is unlikely, but it makes sense, doesn’t it? If they don’t do that, they’ll probably let Burrell walk, resign Jamie Moyer, and sign a Raul Ibanez, Jaun Rivera, Garret Anderson type left fielder. They also could sign a reliever, but it might not be Chad Durbin. So, the Phillies are going to have to get creative this offseason since they don’t have much money.
The offseason plan for the Los Angelos Angels of Anahiem is pretty simple: Resign Mark Teixera. They need this guy back badly. They can afford to lose Francisco Rodriguez. They can sign Brian Fuentes who I think makes a ton of sense here to replace K-Rod. Fuentes wants a closer job on the west coast for a contending team. He gets all three if he signs with the Angels. Garret Anderson and Jaun Rivera, the other two key free agents for them, are easily replacable and might be resigned. Jon Garland, another good free agent that could leave, is not needed with Kelvim Escobar returning from injury and with a great pitching prospect in Nick Adenhart sitting in the minos. There are two scenerios, depending if the Angels resign Tex or not.
If they resign Teixera: If the Angels find a way to convince Tex to stay with the Angels instead of going to the Yankees, they will be a lot better off. Then, all they’d have to do is get a closer like Fuentes, and get a left field/DH type. I could see them resigning Rivera or Anderson to fill this void. Or they could sign Raul Ibanez or Jason Giambi to fill the hole. I don’t think, but it’s possible they sign Tex and a Pat Burrel, Milton Bradley, Adam Dunn, Manny Ramirez to be the DH.
If they don’t resign Mark Teixera: This is not going to improve their team, but if they make the right moves it won’t hurt the team, either. They need to add a big bat. If Tex leaves they’ll go after a Burrel, Dunn, Manny, Bradley type player to play left field and DH. I still think they’ll go after and sign Brian Fuentes. They also will want to sign a player out of the Giambi, Anderson, Ibanez, Rivera group to play first base. Kendry Morales could also get some playing time. This team is not as good as the other, but not that much worse.
The Clevland Indians are the hottest team in the MLB. They don’t have that many holes. They need to get a closer, shortstop/third baseman, second baseman, and starter in the offseason. They have a decent amount of money to spend, and have all the core players they had when they were one game away from the world series except CC Sabathia. But Cliff Lee has been just as good if not better than CC this year. They need to add a high OBP player to put at the top of their lineup so they can move Grady Sizemore down to the #3 hole. Orlando Hudson is a perfect fit here. He can bat leadoff and is a second baseman. The Tribe has enough money to afford O-Dawg and I think they will sign him. If they get him, they still need to add a closer. Brandon Lyon makes a lot of sense. They will be big players for Brian Fuentes, but I think he signs with the more successfull and west coast team Angels. Brandon Lyon is affordable and will help their bullpen a lot. For the shortstop or third baseman signing, I think Nomar Garciaparra makes sense. They can switch off Garciaparra and Jhonny Peralta at shorstop and third base. They also need to add a starting pitcher for depth. Cliff Lee and Fausto Carmona form arguably the best 1-2 punch in the AL, but after that there isn’t much. They have Aaron Laffey, Jeremy Sowers, and Anthony Reyes as there 3-4-5. They could aquire this in a trade. It is likely that they move DLed catcher Victor Martinez to first base with Kelly Shoppach as the catcher. They could do that or they could sign a guy like Jason Giambi to play first base and keep Victor Martinez at catcher. That would open up Shoppach as a trade chip. They could trade Shoppach back to his former team, the Red Sox. I’m sure they would have interest in him. Maybe Shoppach for Michael Bowden, if things don’t work out for Jarrod Saltalamacchia. This is just another option. They could spend the money they would’ve spent on Giambi and use it on a starter. One of the three young guys have to step up for the Tribe to compete, at least as long as it takes for Jake Westbrook to return from injury. The Indians have a lot of wild cards like will Travis Hafner and Victor Martinez return well from injury? Will one of the young players in the rotation step up to be the #3? Will Adam Miller fianlly stay healthy? If he does, can he and Matt LaPorta be key contibuters? Can Rafeal Bentancourt return to form? All of these questions must be answered. The amount of right answers will tell whether the Indians make it to the ALCS again or have a repeat performance of 2008.
Arguably the bigest dissapiontment of the 2008 season, the Detroit Tigers will try to retool this offseason. It will be tough, however, because they want to cut the payroll from 135 million to 110 million. They already have about 105 million locked in on contracts, so look for them to either make one samll signing or make a trade to clear salary and then go after a bigger free agent. One player they could consider trading is Magglio Ordonez. Ordonez’s contract is kind of tricky. He makes 18 million next season, and has two 15 million club options for 2010 and 1011. It’s not that bad, but if Mags get 27 more at bats this year (he definatley will unless the Tigers sit him becasue of the options) the options for 2010 and 2011 will vest. If I’m a team looking in to trading for Magglio, I’m not sure I would want to take on 3 years, 48 million for a declining slugger. Plus, if they lose him it doesn’t matter what kind of free agent they sign becasue no right fielder on the market is as good as him, and they would just add tiny pieces if they spent the money on many players. So a Magglio trade is unlikely. The next guy is Carlos Guillen. He has been a good player for them, but will earn 12 million next year and 13 million in ’10 and ’11. This is also unlikely, but because of the weak free agent market for third and first baseman, he could bring back a decent pitcher. It would hurt their team losing this guy, though. That’s it for position players. Next up is starters they could trade. Justin Verlander is safe. They probably want to keep Jeremy Bonderman and see if he recovers from Tommy John surgery. Dontelle Willis and Nate Robertson are the most likely to be shopped. Willis has 22 million left on his deal through 2010. Robertson has 17 million on his deal through 2010. If the Tigers eat 7 million, Robertson might be atractive to some team looking for a veteran starter with upside. If they can do a deal like that I would pull the triger in a second. That would give them 10 million so they can sign a starter like Freddy Garcia or Paul Byrd to a small deal, then sign a reliever. Not great, but it doesn’t hurt. The bottom line is that the Tigers don’t have much flexibility and likely won’t be competing in ’09.
The Chicago White Sox are in a dog fight for the AL central right now with the Twins. (Don’t forget, I will do my predictions on September first) But today I will look ahead to what they should do in the offseason. This team should be one of the most quietest teams, with only one need, second base. Their designated hitter Jim Thome’s option is likely to get picked up, because the White Sox have a lot of money coming off the books when Orlando Cabrera and Joe Crede leave. (I think both will) All they have to do is sign a second baseman on a 1 or 2 year deal. So, sign one of Mark Grudzielanek, Ray Durham, and David Eckstein. They can then shift Alexie Ramirez to shortstop. This is all they have to do, but with Kenny Williams you never know what they will do. It seems like Williams wants to move Jose Contreras. If they do, they would have to get a starter. Maybe sign a guy like Paul Byrd or trade for a guy like Jason Marquis if the Cubs eat salary. These are guys on one year deals that can be a stopgap to top pitching prospect Aaron Poreda. They have former top prospect Josh Fields ready to take over for Crede. However, Fields has struggled this year and could be traded. That would put the White Sox in the hunt for a third baseman. So the bottom line for the White Sox is: All they need to do is one little move, but they could end up being very active.
The Boson Red Sox are a very good team with few holes and a lot of money to spend. According to our Offseason Needs post, the Red Sox have only 2 holes: relief pitching and catcher. They could also consider adding a big time free agent starter like CC Sabathia or Ben Sheets. Especially since the Yankees will be amoung the top contenders for both. Becausue this team has so much money to burn after swaping out Manny Ramirez’s 20 million for next year with Jason Bay’s 7 million. They save 13 million. If they sign a guy like CC or Sheets they couod trade a starter like, say, Michael Bowden to the Rangers for a catcher like Jarrod Saltalamacchia. I think theyn are definate to sign a big-money reliever like Chad Durbin, Will Ohman, or Russ Springer. Maybe they’ll overpay to get Brian Fuentes or Brandon Lyon to get them to not take a closer’s job elsewhere. For a catcher, they could trade for one of the Rangers catchers, possibly Bengie Molina if the Giants make him avalable. If those options don’t work, they’ll try to resign Jason Varitek. I think Scott Boras is going to end up screwing Varitek. I think the Red Sox will offer something like 1 year, 8 million. But Boras will ask for Jorge Posada’s 4 year, 52 million deal. The Red Sox will then trade for Jarrod Saltalamacchia to fill the catcher hole. Then, after holding out untill February, he will sign a 1 year, 6 million deal witht the Reds. He gets less money on a worse team, because of Scott Boras. So, the Red Sox plan is to spend big on a reliever, and get a catcher at least as good as Jason Varitek.