The further along we proceed in this strange offseason, the better off Colorado looks for basically opting out. The Rockies probably won't be much better in 2006, but neither will they be much worse, and they're not spending a foolish amount of money to not improve. On the off chance that they remain competitive in the NL West, they have "payroll flexibility" up the wazoo, as well.
One of the small joys you must take in others' failures, as a fan of a profoundly bad baseball team, is when your competitors spend lots more money than your team does and don't finish any better. As far as I am concerned, this is what the Tigers and Mariners are for. The National League is a little lighter on obvious spendthrifts, especially with the Mets beginning to resemble contenders. Thank heavens for the Dodgers.
I mention this because the Rangers, a team of interest for this very reason, made a strange trade with the division rival Padres yesterday. On the Rangers' end, I feel as if I ought to compare their motivations with Dan O'Dowd's in the rather pointless Yorvit Torrealba acquisition. Texas declared they were going to get a real live major league starting pitcher, and Adam Eaton more or less fits this description. The inclusion of Japanese gimmick reliever Akinori Otsuka sweetens the deal for Texas -- the American League mostly hasn't seen Otsuka's weird windup yet, so he's likely to have a bounceback year. And he wasn't half bad in '05, either.
However giving up 6'10" junkballer Chris Young seems like too steep a price to pay given that he was quite a bit more useful than Eaton last year -- in fact, more useful than Eaton and Otsuka combined -- and is also a lot cheaper than either. Yet the Padres don't seem to benefit immensely from the trade either. Young is as pretty much as good as he's going to get now, while Eaton at least had the potential to become a legitimate #2 guy after Jake Peavy. Termel Sledge is a nice add for San Diego only in relative terms. Really, their offense was dire last year. To this end, the other guy in the deal, non-power hitting first base prospect Adrian Gonzalez, is a player singularly unsuited to improve San Diego, a team bereft of pop at the traditional power positions. Plus giving up Otsuka unnecessarily weakens the team's chief strength, a deep and versatile bullpen. I don't know who got better here. Maybe they would have been better off doing nothing.