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Top 50 Free Agents Review #1-10

With the season on the horizon, I figured that it's time to take a look back at my Top 50 Free Agents list.  I published this baby on October 25, 2005, which was before any of the other lists came out.  My goal was to beat Steve Phillips and ESPN, so we'll tally it up at the end.  The list is in the format Player - Prediction/Actual.

1.  Roger Clemens - Astros/Undecided.  The Rocket has been holding up this entire review for quite some time.  He'll probably come back to Houston, so this one will be a win.  But does anyone really think he'd play anywhere else?

2.  Daisuke Matsuzaka - Mariners/Lions.  Back before Japan's best pitcher made a splash in the WBC, it looked like his team might post him and allow the Mariners, Yankees, Athletics, and Red Sox to compete for his services.  He would've probably been a more valuable commodity than A.J. Burnett if he'd come over.  Alas, Seibu's manager said that it was obvious that his 2005 season record (2.30 ERA, 9.4 K/9) was "not convincing enough" for the team to post him. Keep an eye on this one for the 2006-07 offseason.   

3.  Paul Konerko - White Sox/White Sox.  I had a feeling it would be impossible for the Sox to let him walk even with the demand for a five-year deal.  The Angels and Orioles were deeply involved, with the Orioles even topping Chicago's offer.  In the end, Paulie stayed put.  You have to respect that.

4.  A.J. Burnett - Nationals/Blue Jays.  I figured the team would have an owner by December and that the new regime would open up the checkbook for the best available starting pitcher.  Burnett and Washington had mutual interest, but Toronto simply outbid everyone else.   

5.  Brian Giles - Cardinals/Padres. We'll probably never really know how amenable Giles was to leaving San Diego.  He certainly could've gotten more than three years and $30MM.  Giles has the type of skills that age well, and he was the best available outfielder by far.  Maybe the Cardinals never could've signed Giles even if they wanted to.  But the difference between Juan Encarnacion and Giles is probably four full wins in 2006, so keep that in mind at the end of the season.  Same goes for the Cubs, who went with Jacque Jones.

6.  Rafael Furcal - Cubs/Dodgers.  The Cubs really needed to overpay to get Furcal.  I like Ronny Cedeno, I really do.  But the 2006 difference in value is something close to three wins.  Those three wins might've pushed the Cubs over the hump for a division title.  The Dodgers swooped in with a shorter contract offer with a high annual average salary.  If L.A. eventually uses Cesar Izturis at second base, Derek Lowe will really reap the benefits of his new middle infield.

7.  Nomar Garciaparra - Dodgers/Dodgers.  I figured they'd employ him on the left side of the infield - Nomar doesn't really have the bat for first base anymore.  For one year at a price of $6-10MM, it's a low risk investment for a major market team.  Still, I'm not sure if he'll be measurably better than Hee Seop Choi, who was waived.  But c'mon, it's No-mah!

8.  Hideki Matsui - Yankees/Yankees.  This was a gimme, he didn't really consider signing elsewhere.  He'll continue to rack up the RBIs.

9.  Kevin Millwood - Orioles/Rangers.  Sosa and Palmeiro off the books, and the chance to reunite Millwood with Leo Mazzone?  Peter Angelos passed, as he often does on health risks.  Baltimore instead settled for a host of lamer moves: acquiring Kris Benson, Corey Patterson, and LaTroy Hawkins, signing Ramon Hernandez despite the presence of Javy Lopez, and signing Kevin Millar and Jeff Conine for veterany goodness.  All that for fourth place?  Hell, the D-Rays are a starter or two away from making the O's a last place club.  With Burnett off the market, Texas went with the best available starter.

10.  Billy Wagner - Mets/Mets.  The Phillies swung and missed, and instead signed up for three years of Tom Gordon and his creaky elbow.  Mets fans can rest easy in the ninth inning, as Braden Looper is somewhere far, far away (St. Louis).

I realized that 50 is a lot of players, so I'll break this into a five-part series.


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Aren't there any trade rumors out there?

Is Todd Walker staying put?

What, I bust out something that's not a trade rumor and no one's interested?

I'll post 'em if I got 'em...

If there's nothing out there, perhaps you should start making stuff up and post this as a story....

Sources close to the Mets claim Aaron Heilman was so p'd-off over his demotion to the bullpen that he challenged Brian Bannister to a Mortal Combat tournament on his Sega Genesis system.

That'll get this website rollin again.

I see Heilman as more of a Johnny Cage type whereas Bannister has some Raiden in him.

What about Carlos Pena and the Major's greatest sideburns? Any word on where he might end up?

Aren't a lot of teams in need of a 1B...I'm thinking the Reds or Rays could take a flier on him...

Maybe that Nats too.

Dont count the Rangers out of the race for Clemens. They have been persistent all winter and have really improved their team. If Texas were to sign Clemens I believe they would win the AL West, and I think Mr. Clemens is aware of that.

Roger Clemens pitched Game 1 of the World Series, and I wasn't intimidated in the slightest. I took that steroid freak over the fence. He's finished, stick a fork in him.

"I see Heilman as more of a Johnny Cage type whereas Bannister has some Raiden in him."

Another classic quote.

Wagner worries me. He's had several nagging injuries the last few years.

"I see Heilman as more of a Johnny Cage type whereas Bannister has some Raiden in him."

I would argue that Bannister be Kano instead of Rayden, due to his battle with Heilman.

The Mets pitching staff and their Mortal Kombat comparrison...

Pedro -> Liu Kang
T Glavine -> SubZero
A Heilman -> Johnny Cage
B Bannister -> Kano
J Julio -> Jax
B Wagner -> Scorpion
R Peterson -> Lord Rayden

It's too bad Anna Benson was traded, she would have been a perfect Sonya Blade.

Brilliant write on #9 about the O's. Every time you think the Orioles have had their dumbest off-season ever, they go and prove otherwise. They'd better hope the Rays' pitching prospects are any shade of decent, or else the O's are cellar-bound.

I mean, a team would have to be totally stupid to have Patterson and Hawkins on the same team. Oh, wait. . . . . .



DURRAZO will be an angell


I have to respectfully disagree with your statement of Carlos Pena having the coolest sideburns in the MLB. I rather dug Joe Crede's burns (and locks) during the '05 playoff run. Even if he doesn't sport either this year, that was still above and beyond what Pena could come up with.

Come on with your Joe Crede business. Anyone with a membership in the hair club for men could grow wild bushy sideburns like Crede. Actually I would like to see MLB investigate Crede and see whether or not he has been using sideburn enhancing drugs such as Propecia. What makes Carlos' 'burns so cool is how well maintained they are. I have accussed him of drawing them on, but I have been assured by sources close to the 'burns that they are real, and they are spectacular.

The Rocket isn't going to be landing in Arlington now that Eaton is gone for the 1st 3 months. After Millwood, the Rangers' starting rotation is even more of a question mark now than the Astros. The Astros also picked up utility infielder Joe McEwing yesterday, so there are rumors buzzing in Houston that Burke may be on the block. Possibly to the Twins for Radke, to the Mets for Heilman. Of course, it's quite possible that McEwing is just AAA roster filler too.

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