San Francisco Giants
Despite the league's best attendance, the Giants probably will not be able to add payroll next year, they may have to decrease it. That isn't good news, especially when the club will have four open position spots, two rotation holes, and a couple of bullpen spots.
Barry Bonds is all a team needs to succeed. Add in an improved Edgardo Alfonzo and Ray Durham, plus Marquis Grissom should be enough. But, its important to note the team will probably lose J.T. Snow, Rich Aurilia, and Benito Santiago to free agency. They also must decide on Jose Cruz Jr., whom has a $4M option for next season. My advice: let everyone go but Aurilia. Todd Linden and an extremely cheap free agent (think Ben Grieve), would be enough next year. At first, the team could go with a combination of Pedro Feliz (honestly, 30HR), and Lance Niekro. Behind the plate, the team has already started to groove Yorvit Torrealba for the role. But Aurilia is the key, and I think the team must sign him. No, platooning Neifi Perez and Cody Ransom doesn't make up for Rich.
With all that money being saved in the hitting department, the team should focus it on pitching. Jason Schmidt, Kirk Rueter, and Jerome Williams are all guaranteed rotation spots next year. The final fifth slot could go to a mix of Kevin Correia, a veteran like Dustin Hermanson, and Boof Bonser. This gives the team lots of money to be in the races for Kevin Millwood, Sidney Ponson, and even Greg Maddux. Those are the three the Giants could go after.
Robb Nen is gone for a year, and the team discovers Tim Worrell. Only to lose him? Maybe. It's likely the G-Men will be forced to decide between Worrell and Felix Rodriguez. Peter Gammons hints the team would pick Worrell, and put him in middle relief. Joe Nathan is ready for a set-up role, and in 2005, the closer spot. The team is well-equipped from the left side, they can choose between Jason Christenson, Chad Zerbe, Scott Eyre, and Noah Lowry. They will likely re-sign Matt Herges, who would come cheap and did a good job for them. And finally, expect Jim Brower to be back in some capacity, he's been good since the break. Until Barry Bonds retires, the Giants have chances. But, the Padres will likely be the favorites next year.