WTNYDecember 02, 2003
Tying Loose Ends
By Bryan Smith

While I've gone to press with a few news items too early recently, much of my reporting was proven true yesterday. Friday, I wrote Luis Castillo would sign with the Marlins, apparently displaying more foresight that I had cared for. While Castillo didn't cross his T's and dot his I's on Friday, ESPN reports a deal has been reached. Florida will pay their Gold Glove second basemen $16M over three years, with a $5.25M option for a fourth season, and a $2M signing bonus. I've often argued for Castillo, citing a five-year streak of solid OBP numbers, along with good speed, and solid defense. Look for Castillo's SB percentage to improve next season, and for the Marlins to ultimately be pleased for locking up their number two hitter.

In Sunday's column, I reported on a possible deal for Richie Sexson that ESPN radio 1000 here in Chicago was reporting. The trade had the Diamondbacks sending Craig Counsell, Junior Spivey, Lyle Overbay, and Chris Capuano in exchange for Sexson of the Brewers. Doug Melvin denied that rumor, and a subsequent rumor yesterday said the deal was Counsell, Overbay, and Jorge De La Rosa. But yesterday the deal was officially announced, with the Diamondbacks sending over six players. Counsell, Spivey, Overbay, Capuano, De La Rosa, and Chad Moeller are all Brewers, and the Diamondbacks landed Sexson, Shane Nance, and a future minor leaguer. Doug Melvin did very well, possibly landing half of his position players for next season, along with 40% of a rotation. There's a good chance the team will trade Spivey, but that will only yield more quantity for a team in desperate need of it.

Finally, yesterday I passed on the Peter Gammons report that the Yankees had signed Gary Sheffield for three seasons, and Flash Gordon for two. Parties from the Sheffield camp are denying the signing is finalized, although you won't find many people who think Sheffield won't be in pinstripes next season. The deal may not be announced today, tomorrow, or next week, but Lee Sinins summed it up best by saying, "expect the deal to be announced whenever George Steinbrenner decides it's the right time to do so."

On a seperate note, the Gordon deal looks to be completed, as Flash passed a physical Monday morning. The terms will in fact be $7.25M over two years, setting the market for set-up men and powerful right-handed relievers. Brian Cashman is also said to be close to landing former Dodger middle reliever Paul Quantill to a two-year, $6M deal, which would end the need for right-handers in the bullpen. Quantrill was a force last season, and the team could really baby Steve Karsay back into his former self this way. Bret Prinz, your chance of pitching in New York has just decreased substantially.

P.S. Does anyone find it hilarious the Yankees are going to sign Sheffield and Gordon, the two players the Tampa Bay Devil Rays announced they had their eyes on? It's a conspiracy...

While I'm on the topic of the AL East, a reader pointed out last week that I failed to post AL East OPS reports, which was completely ignorant of me, but I guess you can't accuse me of East Coast bias, huh? So, without further adeiu, here's the OPS reports of all East players, with three years of experience...

New York Yankees

Jorge Posada- 838, 838, 923
Jason Giambi- 1137,1033, 939- Three down
Alfonso Soriano- 736, 879, 863
Derek Jeter- 857, 794, 843
Aaron Boone- 834, 753, 780
Bernie Williams- 917, 908, 778- Three down

Boston Red Sox

Jason Varitek- 860, 724, 863
Kevin Millar- 931, 875, 820- Three down
David Ortiz- 799, 839, 961- Three up
Todd Walker- 814, 784, 761- Three down
Nomar Garciaparra- 822, 880, 869
Bill Mueller- 851, 743, 938
Manny Ramirez- 1014, 1097, 1014
Johnny Damon- 687, 799, 750
Trot Nixon- 881, 808, 974

Toronto Blue Jays

Carlos Delgado- 948, 955, 1019- Three Up
Frank Catalanotto- 881, 807, 823

Baltimore Orioles

Jerry Hairston Jr.- 649, 705, 725- Three up
Deivi Cruz- 670, 660, 647- Three down
Tony Batista- 715, 766, 663
Jay Gibbons- 781, 793, 786
Melvin Mora- 691, 742, 921- Three up

Tampa Bay Devil Rays

Toby Hall- 768, 669, 675
Travis Lee- 775, 725, 807
Marlon Anderson- 758, 695, 704
Julio Lugo- 698, 710, 743- Three Up
Aubrey Huff- 660, 884, 922- Three up

OK, so I've now gone through every division. Here are all the players, grouped by position, to show positive indicators, or improvements in OPS from 2001-2003 (those in italics aren't important because they lack fantasy value):

Brandon Inge- C- Tigers
Jeff Kendall- C- Pirates
Jason LaRue- C- Reds
Mike Lieberthal- C- Phillies
Mike Matheny- C- Cardinals
A.J. Pierzynski- C- Giants

Carlos Delgado- 1B- Blue Jays
Eric Karros- 1B- Free Agent
Derrek Lee- 1B- Cubs
David Ortiz- 1B- Red Sox

Luis Castillo- 2B- Marlins
Jerry Hairston- 2B- Orioles
Mark Loretta- 2B- Padres

Rafael Furcal- SS- Braves
Carlos Guillen- SS- Mariners
Julio Lugo- SS- Devil Rays
Edgar Renteria- SS- Cardinals
Jack Wilson- SS- Pirates

Mike Lowell- 3B- Marlins
Melvin Mora- 3B/SS/OF- Orioles
Joe Randa- 3B- Royals

Garret Anderson- OF- Angels
Milton Bradley- OF- Indians
Jim Edmonds- OF- Cardinals
Carl Everett- OF- Free Agent
Vladimir Guerrero- OF- Free Agent
Aubrey Huff- OF- Devil Rays
Kenny Lofton- OF- Free Agent
Corey Patterson- OF- Cubs
Jay Payton- OF- Rockies/FA
Matt Stairs- OF- Free Agent
Brad Wilkerson- OF- Expos

And now for a list of those players on a decline (those in bold are exempt for certain reasons)...

Paul Lo Duca- C- Dodgers
Mike Piazza- C- Mets

Jeff Bagwell- 1B- Astros
Rob Fick- 1B- Free Agent
Jason Giambi- 1B- Yankees
Fred McGriff- 1B- Free Agent
Kevin Millar- 1B- Red Sox
Randall Simon- 1B- Cubs/FA

Robbie Alomar- 2B- Free Agent
Desi Relaford- 2B- Royals

Todd Walker- 2B- Free Agent

Royce Clayton- SS- Free Agent
Deivi Cruz- SS- Free Agent

Alex Rodriguez- SS- Rangers
Jose Valentin- SS- White Sox

Bobby Abreu- OF- Phillies
Lance Berkman- OF- Astros
Mike Cameron- OF- Free Agent
Adam Dunn- OF- Reds
Jermaine Dye- OF- A's

Steve Finley- OF- Diamondbacks
Cliff Floyd- OF- Mets
Shawn Green- OF- Dodgers
Bobby Higginson- OF- Tigers
Chipper Jones- OF- Braves
Terrence Long- OF- Padres
Sammy Sosa- OF- Cubs
Ichiro Suzuki- OF- Mariners
Larry Walker- OF- Rockies
Bernie Williams- OF- Yankees

I'm going to refer back to that list often during the offseason, and I will definitely have a copy available during my fantasy draft. It's the little things that win leagues, like realizing that in 2004, Brad Wilkerson is a better draft choice that Bernie Williams.

Finally, let me also state that Cris Carpenter has signed a deal with the St. Louis Cardinals. The base of the contract is only about $500,000, with about 300k in incentives. While choosing the next Esteban Loaiza isn't something to waste a lot of time thinking about, Carpenter's a nice bet. He's always had the pitches, but has also always had a glass arm.

I'm working on a new blog project on the side right now, and I'm hoping it will debut by the end of this week. Also, the Christian Ruzich organizational meeting should be either Wednesday or Thursday's column. The next five days are very important as baseball, since December 7 is the day teams can offer arbitration to free agents. One important situation to look for is Ivan Rodriguez and the Marlins, who are contractually not allowed to offer Pudge arbitration. Well, keep your eyes and ears open folks...