Monday, November 27, 2006

2007 Free Agency Preview (Part 3) - Left Field

Didn't quite make that 11 Nov deadline, did I? Life lesson for all of you: If no deadline is set, no work will get done. I didn't set a deadline, which meant it was all too easy to blow off the ol' blog. No more.

I will update this blog on Mondays and Thursdays. New articles may appear on the other 5 days if something comes up I have to write about, but most definitely Mondays and Thursdays, starting today.

Which brings us back to our free agency preview. The best thing about procrastinating is, you wait long enough the workload goes down. This is one of the 3 basic tenets of government service ('establish an alibi' and 'when accused, make counter-accusations' being the other two). I previewed the available free agent outfielders in Part Two. Here's their current status:

F. Catalanotto - Signed with the Texas Rangers
C. Lee - Signed with the Houston Astros (for obscene money)
A. Soriano - Signed with the Chicago Cubs (for even more obscene money)
J. Valentin - Re-signed with the NY Mets
D. Roberts - Reportedly signing with the SF Giants (according to the SF Chronicle this past Saturday. That would make sense since he liked playing for Bruce Bochy).
R. Ledee - on the Reserve list (Minors) with the NY Mets.

Jose Cruz Jr, Eli Marrero, and Terrence Long were designated for assignment during the regular season and not picked up by anyone. Terrence Long is still in the Yankee organization (at Columbus), but is listed as a free agent; I think Cruz is playing for Leones de Ponce in the Puerto Rican league; and Marrero has dropped off the map. Which means their careers are probably over. But it also means they can be had for a song. Not a song girl, though - sorry.

This narrows our list of potential replacement left fielders to 12. Let's break down the list:

Bonds (42)
- NO UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES. I don't care if he's one of the great hitters of all time, or that having him and Pujols in the middle of the order would be a devastating 1-2 punch. The man is a cancer in the clubhouse and a genuinely nasty human being. Not on my team.
David Dellucci (32) - appeared in more games as a pinch hitter (69) than at any one position (he played 45 in LF). Hit a measly .200 against lefties; not a good fit for a team that has trouble against left-handed pitching. Made $950K last season.
Cliff Floyd (33) - left-handed hitter who struggles against lefties (.179), so would be a platoon-type situation; not much of an upgrade from last year. A's have expressed an interest (per SF Chronicle of 22 Nov). Made $6.5M last season.
Luis Gonzalez (39) - Still a good hitter (.259 vs left; .277 vs right); had 50 doubles last season in spacious whatever-the-hell-they-call-it-now D'Back Park. BELOW average outfielder. Made $10.67M last season.
Jay Payton (33) - Listed as a RF on, but anyway. Good hitter (.296 vs right and lefthanded pitching). Pretty good defensive outfielder. Versatile; split time at all 3 OF positions last year (62 games in LF, 46 in CF, 45 in RF). Spark guy at the top of the order. Made $4M last season.
Dave Roberts (34) - Odds are good that he'll follow Boch to SF, but I like this guy. Career year last season with SD. .292 vs lefties, .293 vs righties. Played the majority of his time in LF (Gold Glover Mike Cameron covered CF for the Pads), but can play CF well. Made $2.25M last season.
Shannon Stewart (32) - Currently on the Twins' 60 day DL with a strained left plantar fascia (the AP affliction from two years ago). Good hitter (.288 vs lefties, .295 vs righties). Fielding numbers are comparable to Jay Payton. Made $6.5M last season.
Preston Wilson (32) - Spent most of his time in RF with StL, but since Encarnacion is projected to play in right next season he would shift over to left. Good hitter for average (.292 vs lefties, .255 vs righties), but a free swinger of the Sammy Sosa persuasion without the power. Strikes out an awful lot. Average plus fielder; played well in playoffs last season. Made $4M.
Eric Young (39) - Too old at 2B. Also too old in LF, where you run more and have to throw farther.
Ryan Klesko (35) - Think Chris Duncan, but with a bigger contract.
Todd Hollandsworth (33) - Former NL ROY. Not too good against lefties (.174), so would be another platoon situation. Average minus OF (my impression). Made $900K last season.
Rondell White (34) - Mostly a DH last season. Has trouble against righties, a concern since most pitching staffs are right handed. .271 vs lefties, .235 vs righties. Only 176 fielding chances the last 2 seasons, so probably better suited to DH/PH roles. Made $2.5M last season.

After careful consideration of these potential suitors, I think the Cardinals would be best served with a corner outfielder who can also play CF well in case Edmonds breaks down over the next 2 years. Since Dave Roberts will most likely sign with the Giants, this means targeting Jay Payton. I am not aware of any personality (a la Milton Bradley) issues he had in his time with the Mets, Red Sox or A's; so he could well be a good fit in StL. Unfortunately with the way salaries are spinning out of control this off-season (Catalanotto, a spectacularly average outfielder, signed for $6.5M a season with the Rangers), the Cardinals would be forced into signing Payton for similar money - and with the holes in next year's starting rotation, I don't think they can spare that expense. That would mean praying Chris Duncan loses his fear of line drives and learns to play the outfield in winter ball.

This free agent preview is becoming pretty boring, isn't it?

Well the hell with boring. Let's say that Jocketty pursues Payton and signs him for 2 years, $10M, a 20% raise from last year with the A's, but still less money than Catalanotto will make. With the terms of Edmonds' contract disclosed, We need to update our running total:

Running total: $68.45M (11 players)
Add $2M (Edmonds value for 07 actually $8M, not the $6M we projected) and Payton at $5M: $7M

New total (12 players): $75.45M.

Next installment we will discuss starting pitching.

1 comment:

Rob I said...

Good update.