WTNYJanuary 15, 2004
This and That
By Bryan Smith

Not much happening in baseball of note, so it won't be a long post for me today. I'd like to first mention that my prediction on Jay Payton to the Padres came through, and I am very impressed with the San Diego lineup. In case you had forgotten, here it is:

1. Sean Burroughs- 3B
2. Mark Loretta- 2B
3. Brian Giles- OF
4. Ryan Klesko- OF
5. Phil Nevin- 1B
6. Ramon Hernandez- C
7. Jay Payton- CF
8. Khalil Greene- SS

Throw that with David Wells and some young, developing pitchers, and you have a divisional contender. While I don't think Jay Payton will hit .280 with the Padres, his help will be substantial. The Orioles signed Sidney Ponson to a three-year deal Wednesday, ending a long courtship that began last July. Ponson will make $7.5M next year, or what Greg Maddux is being offered by the Cubs. That's too much money to pay here, but they needed to find a way to take some pressure off a disastrous rotation.

A pair of formerly decent right-handed relievers signed in the last two days, as Turk Wendell went to Colorado, and Mike Williams to Tampa. Turk had a very good ERA and H/9 last year, but his BB/K was as ugly as they come. I worry about Wendell for this one fact:

1999- 0.62
2000- 0.94
2001- 0.76
2003- 0.89

In his last four seasons, Wendell has a lot more flyballs than groundballs, and that spells trouble in Colorado. That's going to be a pretty bad bullpen in Colorado, but Clint Hurdle better be sure to go to Steve Reed in important situations, not Wendell. As for Williams, I like the low-risk minor league signing. Williams has been good four of the last six years, and his ERA has bested 3.00 in that span twice. He gets a lot of grounders, and I think Mike has a decent chance of helping out the D-Rays in 2004.

Now, using the work I've done in the past week, here are a few predictions for where free agents go:

Greg Maddux- Cubs
Ivan Rodriguez- Tigers
Ugueth Urbina- Twins
Raul Mondesi- Orioles
Orlando Hernandez- Marlins
Rick Reed- Mets
Scott Sauerbeck- Marlins
Randall Simon- Pirates
Glendon Rusch- Rangers
Pedro Astacio- Rockies
Mark Guthrie- Phillies

That's enough for now, but if you want more of my educated guesses, let me know. In the coming days, expect to hear lots of Greg Maddux talk, as he would be smart to get the contract out of the way before January 22nd, when the Maels Rodriguez show hits the United States. The report the Mariners are interested doesn't make sense, and I can't see him in anything but pinstripes. Richard Hidalgo or Jacque Jones will be traded to the Dodgers, guaranteed. If they can do that in conjunction with signing Pudge, my feelings on Dan Evans might change yet. How about this in LA?...

1. Trade Paul Lo Duca for Jacque Jones
2. Sign Pudge Rodriguez
3. Sign Travis Lee

Just an idea. I'll be back tomorrow with you more regularly scheduled program...