Baseball Toaster Bad Altitude
At a Loss
2005-11-30 17:37
by Mark T.R. Donohue

The way the free agent market has been developing in the past several days, I'm almost afraid to post. What's the use in ridiculing the contracts Scott Eyre and Bobby Howry received when only a few days later Billy Wagner and B.J. Ryan got Monopoly money? It's insane. You can question the Rockies' commitment to spending the money required to build a winner, but this offseason, they look real smart by default for not playing the games the Mets, Yankees, Red Sox, and Blue Jays (???) are engaged in.

As for Dan O'Dowd's operations down in the bottom-feeder market, Felix Rodriguez and Jose Mesa are slightly more appealing options than the previously discussed Elmer Dessens and Shawn Estes, at the right price anyway. The Rockies are going to get some new catchers to look at, but whether they will be any better than the current crop is subject to some debate. I will duly note that the names floating at the moment are Josh Bard and Yorvit Torrealba; I don't have anything further to say on the subject. The Post also throws out the name of Phillies outfielder Jason Michaels, which is sort of funny because I traded for him in my Rockies MLB 2K5 season. He's another fourth outfielder/tweener kind of guy, which Colorado seriously has coming out of their ears at this point, but I guess he's cheaper and not much of a downgrade from Larry Bigbie, who seems as good as gone at this point. Frankly I think that Clint Hurdle would be best off sticking with Brad Hawpe and Matt Holliday at the corners, giving Cory Sullivan the centerfield job to lose, and maybe throwing Ryan Shealy into the mix as an outfielder in smaller road parks, a backup first baseman, and a DH in interleague games. The Rockies wasted a lot of playing time and money on Dustan Mohr last year, and it's really not necessary to go down that road again with a similar "established" veteran outfielder type.

I'm going to get back to doing my 40-man roster review soon. I'm glad Paul Konerko stayed with the White Sox. The Orioles are rapidly becoming the new joke team of the AL East with Tampa Bay's new dawn and the Blue Jays' sudden spendthriftiness. The Cubs are going to spend a lot of money and not get a whole lot better, I believe. Oakland's signing of Esteban Loaiza is a bit of a head-scratcher, but if they can get an absurd haul for Barry Zito like they got for Mark Mulder last year, they will win the AL West. Remember, Danny Haren was as good or better than Mulder last year, and the A's got useful reliever Kiko Calero and hotshot prospect Daric Barton in the trade as well. The Tim Hudson deal with Atlanta was nowhere near as good (Charles Thomas, Dan Meyer, Juan Cruz), but as Gwen Knapp notes, Billy Beane had far less leverage in that instance than he seemingly does with Zito. And there's still the possibility that Oakland could pull off a lower-wattage deal involving Kirk Saarloos and field a rotation of Zito, Joe Blanton, Haren, Loaiza, and Rich Harden. That's pretty good. You know the A's are going to get a bat somewhere, and the Loaiza signing won't make complete sense until we find out who that bat is going to be. (Not Mike Piazza, I hope.)

Who in the NL West has gotten better so far this offseason? Not the Padres (who are making a last-ditch effort to retain Brian Giles), not the Diamondbacks (who have to trade Javier Vasquez), not the Giants (who are beginning to resemble an old-timers' fantasy camp), and not the Dodgers (I don't even know where to start). Can the Rockies bash their way into the postseason by beating up on their weak division siblings at Coors? Is it worth spending a little more money to be a 78-win "division champion?" Man, I love the hot stove season. Particularly since my two first picks for my fantasy basketball league (Andrei Kirilenko and Michael Redd) are injured and my football team had their winning streak snapped last weekend. Curse you, Peyton Manning.

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