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News » With Brewers out, CC sweepstakes can begin 2008-10-06


With Brewers out, CC sweepstakes can begin 2008-10-06


With Brewers out, CC sweepstakes can begin 2008-10-06
The Brewers' season is over. Fifteen days after the end of the World Series, the free-agent market opens and the CC Sabathia sweepstakes begin.

The early line:

Yankees, 5-2: Will not be outbid. Their problem will be convincing Sabathia to return to the American League and play in the Bronx when he could get his $150 million to $200 million elsewhere.

Angels, 4-1: Lots of ways the Angels can go this offseason, but one way or another, they need to sign at least one starting pitcher. John Lackey is a free agent after next season.

Mets, 6-1: Sabathia and Johan Santana might cost a combined $50 million per season, and the Mets still would need a closer. So? The Mets, like the Yankees, are opening a new ballpark, and signing Sabathia would help reduce the stench around their team.

Dodgers, 8-1: Forfeited the inside track by failing to trade for Sabathia in July. No chance owner Frank McCourt signs both Sabathia and Manny Ramirez. He might not sign either.

Red Sox, 4-1: The Sox control Josh Beckett only through 2010. Some rival executives think they ultimately might go for A.J. Burnett, who is 5-0 with a 2.56 ERA against them in eight career starts.

Astros, 10-1: In desperate need of a top-of-the-rotation starter to complement Roy Oswalt. Difficult to imagine Drayton McLane being the high bidder, but he did give Carlos Lee $100 million.

Giants, 20-1: Sabathia and Barry Zito at a combined cost of over $300 million? Not likely when the Giants' biggest need is offense.

Cubs, 30-1: Their sale is unlikely to be completed by the time Sabathia hits the market in November.

Braves, 50-1: Upgrading the rotation is a priority, but the Braves are more likely to pursue Burnett or Derek Lowe than spend big on Sabathia.

Brewers, 100-1: While both sides are saying all the right things, there's just no way the Brewers will prevail in such a heated market.

The field, 40-1: Some wacky surprise team is certain to emerge. Maybe the Nationals. Not the Marlins.

CHANGES COMING IN COLORADO

A year ago at this time, the Rockies were in the middle of a spectacular 21-1 run that led to their first World Series appearance.

Now, after a disappointing 74-88 record and third-place finish in the NL West, a major shakeup on the team's coaching staff is looming.

No member of Clint Hurdle's staff has been assured of his return, and hitting coach Alan Cockrell and pitching coach Bob Apodaca appear particularly vulnerable.

One or more of the other coaches — Jamie Quirk (bench), Mike Gallego (third base), Glenallen Hill (first base) and Rick Mathews (bullpen) — also could be dismissed.

Hurdle first worked with Apodaca in the Mets' minor-league system, but possesses little leverage to fight the moves as he enters the final year of his contract.

The firings of coaches will be only the start of a tumultuous offseason in Colorado. The team will entertain trade offers for left fielder Matt Holliday, third baseman Garrett Atkins and center fielder Willy Taveras, and could move all three.

TO DYE FOR?

Even if the White Sox rally to defeat the Rays, they're likely to undergo some type of offensive makeover this offseason. The powerful Sox, while well-suited for hitter-friendly U.S. Cellular Field, have become too one-dimensional.

To build a faster, more athletic lineup, the Sox might need to trade one of their top sluggers. Of that group, right fielder Jermaine Dye would be the most attractive to other clubs. He is coming off a 34-homer, 96-RBI season, one of the best of his career.

Designated hitter Jim Thome, 38, and first baseman Paul Konerko, 32, both possess full no-trade clauses. Dye, 34, also has a full no-trade clause for 2008, but can block trades to only six clubs in '09. He will earn $11.5 million next season, and his contract includes a $12 million mutual option for 2010.

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If the White Sox moved Dye — perhaps in a deal for a veteran starting pitcher with a comparable salary — they could move Carlos Quentin to right field, play Nick Swisher in left and find an athletic center fielder.

The White Sox also are expected to be in the market for a second baseman, with Alexei Ramirez moving to shortstop and Orlando Cabrera departing as a free agent.

PIRATES: LOOKING FOR BATS

The idea of the Pirates adding Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano makes sense; the team could attempt to reconstruct its entire middle infield this offseason, trading both shortstop Jack Wilson and second baseman Freddy Sanchez.

The Pirates, however, would not deal center fielder Nate McLouth for Cano, and they will not move McLouth at all unless it was for "a dramatic overpay," according to a baseball executive with knowledge of the team's plans.

Nyjer Morgan, who batted .347 in August and September, is a more likely trade candidate among the Pirates' center-field types — Morgan is 28, and the team's top outfield prospect, Andrew McCutchen, is nearly ready for the majors.

First base and left field are two other positions the Pirates could address. Third base is set long-term now that the team has signed No. 1 draft pick Pedro Alvarez, who eventually figures to pass Andy LaRoche and Neil Walker.

First baseman Adam LaRoche batted .304-.361-.613 after the All-Star break, but the Pirates could trade him and acquire another player at the position; LaRoche's salary could jump to $7 million-plus in his final year of arbitration, after which he will become a free agent.

Left field is open because Brandon Moss will need at least four to six months to recover from micro-fracture surgery on his left knee. The Pirates, however, figure to be careful in free agency, avoiding mediocre veterans who would only block younger players.

ORIOLES' ROBERTS: STAYING OR GOING?

The Yankees could move Cano. The Marlins could trade Dan Uggla. The free-agent class will include Orlando Hudson. But the Orioles' Brian Roberts, a switch-hitting leadoff man, still would be a unique commodity in a crowded second-base market.

A large number of teams could seek to upgrade at second, including the Diamondbacks, Cubs, Padres, Dodgers, Mets, Cardinals, Indians and White Sox. Several of those clubs have long coveted Roberts.

The Orioles plan to explore an extension with Roberts, who is a free agent after the 2009 season. If those talks fail, the O's might finally concede and part with Roberts.

DODGERS' WADE: A QUIET FORCE

Dodgers right-hander Cory Wade frequently gets overlooked in a bullpen that features Jonathan Broxton and Takashi Saito, but Wade appeared in every game of the Division Series, continuing his strong work from the regular season.

"He never tries to do more than what he can do," one scout says. "He's a kid who understands that he doesn't have a fastball that he can throw by you, but he has a plus curveball.

"He knows that if he keeps his fastball out of the middle of the plate, he can pitch up and down with his curveball and get hitters out all day long. He doesn't center-cut a lot of balls."

Wade, 25, was the Dodgers' 10th-round draft pick in 2004. He pitched 3 2/3 innings against the Cubs, allowing one run, and in 55 regular-season games held opponents to a batting average/on-base/slugging line of .202-.256-.328.

AROUND THE HORN

The early word is that Rockies closer Brian Fuentes will seek Brad Lidge money — three years, $37.5 million — as a free agent. Don't be surprised if some team meets that price: Fuentes, 32, is left-handed, only a year older than Lidge and coming off a second half in which he went 16-for-16 in save chances with a 1.75 ERA. Keep in mind, also, that

Lidge negotiated only with the Phillies. Fuentes will be negotiating on the open market. ...

Just wondering: If the Royals are unwilling to trade right-hander Zack Grienke except for a monster package, then why don't they sign him to a contract extension? Grienke, who turns 25 on Oct. 21, is a free agent after 2010. The Rangers made a big offer for him before the July 31 non-waiver deadline, and the Braves have maintained steady interest. The Royals continue to say that they will move Grienke only if they are overwhelmed.


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: October 6, 2008

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