Division Series notes, and the other 15
A few notes from the division series games:
- The Torii Hunter "triple" showed why the Yankees defense is so bad. Bernie Williams is not a center fielder anymore, and Alfonso Soriano is worthless at second. God knows the Yankees won't address this issue anytime soon, but it's definitely holding the back.
- Shannon Stewart must be re-signed.
- Barry Bonds talking about retirement is crazy. Watching the Giants play, I realized how bad that team would be without Bonds. Schmidt pitched a sensational game, and it was those two and Edgardo Alfonzo that won this game.
- Josh Beckett looked fantastic, I've never seen such movement on a high-90s pitch since...
- Kerry Wood. The Cubs must re-sign him to a long-term deal, he's such an integral piece. The guts he showed with the double, the back-handed stab, and a great performance demands his eternal stay in the Windy City. Would Mark Prior be as effective without Wood? I'm not so sure.
- Finally, the Braves must make a conscious effort this offseason to return to pitching. There aren't many teams with more pitching depth in the minors, but this bullpen is terrible. I think they should let Sheffield go, trade for Richie Sexson, and spend the remaining money on a great bullpen.
And now to the real article, a quick synopsis on the other half of the Major League teams this offseason.
Milwaukee- BUYERS/NEITHER- The Brewers finished under $30,000,000 for this season, and probably won't next season. There's rumors they want to trade Sexson, to give more money for Doug Melvin to spend. Getting Bubba Nelson and Adam LaRoche from Atlanta would be great, and it would help the move for the future. This team should get an innings-eater for the rotation, and make some trials on a few more hitters.
Minnesota- NEITHER- Carl Pohlad allowed Terry Ryan to increase payroll after the successes of 2002, but that won't happen next year. If I had to guess, I would bet the team goes below the $67.8M they spent this season. Signing Shannon Stewart is a must, he proved to be the ultimate sparkplug for the team. They will non-tender Doug Mientkiewicz, and likely lose Rick Reed, Eddie Guardado, and LaTroy Hawkins. Adding a cheap fifth starter, a 2004 Kenny Rogers, is a good idea. They should also sign one more reliever to help finish games with Jesse Crain, Juan Rincon, and J.C. Romero.
Montreal- SELLERS- I can't think of anything more despicable about baseball than the current state of the Expos. The payroll should decrease about five million next year, landing at about $40M. Vladimir Guerrero is out the door, and Javier Vazquez is likely right behind him. Tomo Ohka is rumored to be non-tendered, and Fernando Tatis is gone. The team should sign a cheap center fielder, a cheaper third basemen, and a starter. The next GM, Minaya is probably gone, must be able to work with a low budget. But Terrmel Sledge should definitely be playing right next season.
New York Mets- SELLERS- Would you pour more money into this team? No, neither will Fred Wilpon. Signing Mike Cameron is an increasing possibility, but that will be about it. I think the team would be smart to find a stopgap at second, and a cheap right fielder. Also, trying to land the next Tom Gordon would be intelligent as well. There is no blueprint to rebuilding a team, and the Mets need a couple of years for sure.
New York Yankees- NEITHER- George Steinbrenner can't really add money next year, but he definitely will keep it at the same place. Gary Sheffield is the team's top priority, and will surely be manning right field next year. The team will need a fifth starter, and probably will pursue Curt Schilling to fill the spot. Also, expect a set-up spot to be filled. The Yankees will once again to be favored next year.
Oakland- NEITHER- Billy Beane won't be moving payroll dramatically, but he must rebound after the loss of Miguel Tejada. The top two priorities are surely a right-handed bat in left field, and a closer to replace Keith Foulke. Also, Ted Lilly should be traded at some point in the offseason.
Philadelphia- BUYERS- Moving into a new stadium will allow the team to jump in payroll. Kevin Millwood is probably out the door, but the team is hoping to replace him with ex-Phillie Curt Schilling. Also, building a bullpen is also important. Mesa, Williams, Cormier, Wendell, and Adams are probably out the door. Ed Wade will be spending all of his money finding another way to boost payroll.
Pittsburgh- NEITHER- Just like the Reds yesterday, the Pirates already dropped payroll enough during this season. The team will be re-signing Matt Stairs, but Reggie Sanders is out the door. Jason Kendall may be traded to the Padres, depending on how much money the Pirates will hang onto. The team will probably drop in the thirty million dollar range until they have to re-sign their young studs. Pirates fans: count down the days until Bullington, Burnett, and Van Benschoten...you won't compete until then.
San Diego- BUYERS- Another example of what a new stadium can do. The team has already added Brian Giles, yet they are hardly done. Jason Kendall may be the next Pirate to make the switch, depending on how much more than Xavier Nady they must pay. The team also is looking at signing a southpaw, like David Wells or Sterling Hitchcock. Also, Towers must decide between Rod Beck and Trevor Hoffman.
San Francisco- NEITHER- It's funny that the team with the league's largest attendance can't keep their payroll. Tim Worrell or Felix Rodriguez is gone, and they have to rebuild in the infield. Rich Aurilia must be kept, and Sidney Ponson should be as well. J.T. Snow is gone, along with Benito Santiago. My guesses at replacements? Pedro Feliz and Yorvit Torrealba.
Seattle- NEITHER- Mike Cameron is gone. But, Edgar Martinez must be kept. The team will sign Kaz Matsui at short, and Carlos Guillen will be playing third. Randy Winn is going to take over in center, meaning Chris Snelling or a free agent is going to take over in left. Freddy Garcia will probably be non-tendered, hopefully opening up a slot for Rafeal Soriano.
St. Louis- NEITHER- Edgar Renteria must be kept, and Fernando Vina must go. The rotation must improve, to the degree of Matt Morris, Woody Williams, Dan Haren, Brett Tomko, and either Chris Carpenter, Garrett Stephenson, and Jason Simontacchi. The bullpen must get better next year, because Jeff Fassero and Cal Eldred are not adequate.
Tampa Bay- BUYERS- They say Gary Sheffield and Mike Cameron are at the top of their lists. But neither will be signed. But Carl Everett is a more realistic goal, and the team should also re-sign Julio Lugo. I would also target a third basemen if I were them, but who knows what Pinella will do. The rotation and bullpen don't need too much help, but a little veteran influence can't help.
Texas- SELLERS- Lots of money will be thrown out the money in Texas. They will not win the division next year, guaranteed. Next season is simply about getting Teixeira, Nix, Nivar, Gonzalez, and other rookies acclimated to Major League life. Don't get me wrong, if Kerry Wood ever comes here, than they'll be a lock for the playoffs. But Tom Hicks must get more dedicated to sign pitchers, and no, Chan Ho Park doesn't count. Re-signing John Thomson would be a good first step.
Toronto- NEITHER- Lock up Roy Halladay. Re-sign Kelvim Escobar and Frank Catalanotto. That is pretty much all the things on the J.P. Riccardi wish list this offseason. Don't be surprised if they go after Ted Lilly, or throw some more outfielders at pitchers. I dunno.
Check back tomorrow...