Baseball Toaster Bad Altitude
The Future's Not Ours to See
2006-12-06 10:03
by Mark T.R. Donohue

Maybe my mind is playing tricks on me, but it seems like the free agent scene is more opaque than usual this winter. It's not always the case that the signings of one marquee pitcher and one star position player serve to unlock the rest of the puzzle, but it's for sure not the situation this year. I still don't know what's going on, and I'm not even close to sure who the winners and losers are. There are major questions about the thought processes of all the teams in the NL West save the Rockies themselves. Colorado has assumed a bunker mentality. They're not moving unless you blow them away.

San Diego signed Greg Maddux. Well, that could work. Or not. They stand to lose Mike Piazza though and their offense already wasn't good. The Dodgers have lost Maddux and J.D. Drew, signed Juan Pierre to a real head-scratcher, and a Manny Ramirez deal looks dead. It does appear as if they're adding Jason Schmidt, though. It's hard to say what Ned Colletti is doing. I fear Los Angeles's next generation, but I have little confidence as to when and if they'll play. Arizona is looking for the pitching they need, but like the Rockies it's unclear whether they'll pay the freight required. And for San Francisco broader plans are on hold until they figure out what's happening with Barry Bonds. As far as I can tell no one else has serious interest in adding Bonds and a season-long distraction of epic proportions, but Barry seems to determined to negotiate as if he had suitors beating down his door. You'd think a guy in plain sight of the biggest record in baseball wouldn't retire in a fit of pique, but it's foolish to underestimate the force of Bonds' pique. I hardly think I'm alone in wishing he would just go away. Whether he does or not, the Giants are a competitive nonentity in '07 and for the forseeable future.

While it seems like the Rockies are a long way away still on a Jason Jennings extension, the general tone of negotiations continues to drift slowly towards a happy ending. Trade offers for Jennings have been underwhelming besides. While the research department is quick to point out that he had a pretty good 2006, Jacque Jones, dangled by the Cubs, is a terrible fit for Colorado. If the Rockies had the kind of money to pay a contract like Jones's (two more years, $11.5 million), they wouldn't be moving so slowly on getting a Jennings re-sign done. One of the Mets discussed in a possible Jennings swap is off the market as Brian Bannister was dealt for Kansas City's Ambiorix Burgos. My guesstimate on what will happen with Jennings remains the same. He won't get traded during the offseason, but nor will he sign a deal before the season begins. They'll get him signed, unless the team utterly spits the bit right out of the gate. Which is a distinct possibility.

I haven't written anything yet about the Mexican League lefty the Rockies have invited to spring training. What's to say? I don't know anything about Oscar Rivera, and I always have a healthy suspicion about the far-flung on-the-cheap signings Colorado regularly makes in lieu of spending money like a real team. I will say this. If the Red Sox sign Daisuke Matsuzaka, they owe the Seibu Lions $51.1 million. If Rivera, who's not quite 25, makes the Rockies' roster, the Yucatan Leones get $1.3 million from Colorado. I'm pretty sure former Lion Matsuzaka is not worth $50 million more than former Lion Oscar Rivera.

2006-12-06 13:01:23
1.   Chyll Will
Great. Now I have a recurring bad image running through my head: All the mediocre free agents, upon signing these ludicrous contracts start humming Geto Boys anthems without the slightest irony.

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