So the period when players file for free agency is in full swing, and that means it's time for early off-season speculations. On the Nationals side, they don't have an owner and their GM is only on the books until spring training. I'm not particularly sure how they plan to compete in the free agent market, so guess what, I'm ignoring them! HA! (Hopefully I'll be back with a more full analysis of their needs later.)
Anyways, Peter Angelos, the man who you should call if you've been exposed to asbestos, has vowed to spend, spend, spend this off-season. In interviews he seemed almost cocky in his prediction that the fans would be back, saying that the team was ready to spend what it takes to be competitive in the American League East.
Well, there are a couple of problems. First, you have to actually convince people to play in Baltimore for this maligned franchise! For pitchers, you've got the best lure in baseball, Leo Mazzone. So maybe that won't be such a problem. But for the hitters, you may have to overpay a couple of guys.
(Why am I writing like Peter Angelos is reading this?)
Anyways, the O's lineup right now looks something like this:
C - Javy Lopez
2B - Brian Roberts
3B - Melvin Mora
SS - Miguel Tejada
RF - Jay Gibbons
SP - Erik Bedard
SP - Bruce Chen
SP - Daniel Cabrera
SP - Rodrigo Lopez
Clearly, there are holes.
If the O's go after two starting pitchers, they could throw Rodrigo Lopez into the bullpen. If I'm the GM, I'm going a different direction, based on what's available on the free agent market.
(Check out who has filed so far at The Baltimore Sun Web site.)
I know some O's fans will think I'm crazy for this, but I say move Jay Gibbons to first base and go after three new outfielders. The first base market is weak, and face it, we ain't getting Konerko. Besides, I wouldn't want to pay the ridiculous price he's going to retrieve. O's fans aren't going to like this either, but if I'm dishing out the cash, I'm not paying off a closer. It's the most overvalued position in baseball, and if the O's lose B.J. Ryan, they can replace him with Chris Ray or Aaron Rakers and either would likely do an adequate job.
In the outfield, my picks are Jacque Jones (probably in the $5 million a year range) at CF, Brian Giles (probably in the $9 million a year range) at RF, and Reggie Sanders or Matt Lawton (probably in the $4 to $5 million a year range) at LF. Now, there is a good possibility that Lawton will get another inflated contract, but if he can be had for a couple of years at around $5 million per, he's a legit number two hitter (haha ... number two hitter) with some speed. I'd prefer to go after Sanders with a one-year deal, because his power numbers are better.
To fill the DH hole, I go after Olmedo Saenz (made less than $1 million last year, no way he gets more than $1.5 million next year.)
For pitchers, I would like to see Kevin Millwood in an O's uniform even though he seems to have a pattern of only being good on contract years. He had success with Mazzone in the past, and I think they could replicate that. I would not be averse to having A.J. Burnett, because I think Mazzone could do wonders with him, but if I am picking one or the other, I'll take the one with the track record of success with the new pitching coach.
That leaves a lineup that looks something like this:
1. Brian Roberts - 1B
2. Melvin Mora - 3B
3. Brian Giles - RF
4. Miguel Tejada - SS
5. Reggie Sanders - LF
6. Jay Gibbons - 1B
7. Javy Lopez - C
8. Olmedo Saenz - DH
9. Jacque Jones - CF
With a rotation of:
1. Kevin Millwood
2. Eric Bedard
3. Bruce Chen
4. Rodrigo Lopez
5. Daniel Cabrera
The problem with that lineup is that Jacque Jones can't hit lefties, but they could platoon him with Eric Byrnes, who is very good against lefties.
That's around $30 million for five players and a vastly improved lineup.