WTNYSeptember 19, 2003
By Bryan Smith

Good morning everyone, today I will sound off on useless thoughts that have been circulating in my head. Good luck with the interpretation...

- To me, the Padres are the team to beat next season in the NL. This team will have a huge middle of the order, with Giles-Klesko-Nevin. Mark Kotsay should have a huge 2004, and Khalil Greene belongs in Rookie of the Year talk. Rumors will be wild on an Xavier Nady for Jason Kendall switch, and if that doesn't happen, the team will snag Benito Santiago.

And the pitching is also impressive. Rumors are swirling that Maddux will land in San Diego, giving the team a boost in every facet of pitching. And, two of my breakout pitchers for next year will definitly be Adam Eaton and Jake Peavy. The reasoning behind Eaton is the extreme success he's had a year away from surgery. For people like Roy Halladay and Kerry Wood, it took one recovery year to re-adjust to pitching. Eaton's hit rate is down, and he is still striking out. The same holds true for Peavy, who will be seeing his third year in the bigs at 23 next season. Along with Brian Lawrence and Ben Howard, this team is poised for a run.

- Joining them in the playoffs should be the Cubbies. Next year the Cubs should be sensational, especially if they take my advice and sign Tejada. He would give them a huge bat, and allow Randall Simon to be non-tendered. Juan Cruz is another pitcher who you should buy next year, and Corey Patterson will be back full-time. Watch out!

- Two random pitchers you probably didn't see having huge second halfs: Kip Wells and Javier Vazquez. There's an increasing likelihood that Vazquez will be wearing a Red Sox uniform next season, and he should have a Pedro-like effect. He has one of the better H/9 numbers in the game during this second half, and has a K/9 of nearly nine. Wells has had similar success, although he just can't get a win in Pittsburgh. But he and Wade Miller have both favored the second half, a note you may want to keep for Fantasy Baseball 2004.

- People in Montreal have been quite happy to hear the team is speaking with Vladimir Guerrero's agent. Hogwash. Major League Baseball is simply doing this so that when Guerrero locks up in Baltimore they can shrug and say, "We've tried." The leagues inability to find an owner for this team may have been the single most disgracing thing in Selig's tenure. On Monday, I'll be writing about where MLB should be in 2008 (after Bud), and you better believe Expo relocation is included.

- Interesting free agent news. The Arizona Diamondbacks are hoping to lower payroll $14M for 2004, which shouldn't be bad because of Matt Williams' retirement. But what was shocking to me was the fact that they are shooting for $55M in 2005. That surely means that Curt Schilling won't get another contract extension. One likely place for him will be...

The Texas Rangers have also indicated they'd like to drop their team payroll by about $20M next season. Rafeal Palmiero and Juan Gonzalez will take big chunks out of the payroll, although the team has said they'll try to bring back Palmiero. The lineup will be a good one, something along the lines of:

Michael Young- 2B
Laynce Nix- LF
Alex Rodriguez- SS
Hank Blalock- 3B
Mark Teixeira- 1B
Rafeal Palmiero- DH
Kevin Mench- RF
Ramon Nivar- CF
Einar Diaz/Gerald Laird- C

Not bad at all. The team should be reinvesting in pitching, but instead are waiting for Dominguez and Travis Hughes to establish themselves. The Rangers will win a division during A-Rod's contract.

- Lou Pinella is sounding off on his desires for the offseason. The Devil Rays want to add a power bat, and some relief pitching. Expect Tony Batista, Mike Cameron, and Carl Everett to all get calls. And Pinella will also want to add either Tom Gordon or Arthur Rhodes to his bullpen. Some interesting times ahead in Tampa.

- I'd also like to announce the first business day after the regular season ends, I'll be running the first annual WaTNeY awards. Categories will include Most Likely Hitter to Breakout in 2004, and best 2003-2004 free agent signee. Its something to look forward to. Oh yeah, and after that I'll be doing team-by-team organizational reports (two a day during the playoffs), and after the playoffs documenting what each team needs to do in the offseason. Oh yes, exciting times ahead on Wait 'Til Next Year.

I'll be catching the Chili Peppers tonight, so no baseball watching for me. Have a good weekend, and let's go Cubs!