Thursday, October 12, 2006

Let's Talk About the Players

With so much emphasis on managers recently, I haven't had time to post much of anything about the players. Before I go there, here's one more bit of news on who the Cubs manager might be.

Probably the guy that is third in line behind Girardi and Pinella is Bob Brenly. Brenly has also interviewed with the Giants and Rangers, and is said to be a front runner to replace Buck Showalter in Texas. Brenly replaced Showalter in Arizona and led the D'Backs to a World Series Championship in 2001. Brenly appears to be the Yin to Showalter's Yang.

Even though the off-season hasn't officially begun in MLB, that hasn't stopped the speculation about where some of the top free agents might end up in 2007. Of the free agent pitchers, most of the buzz has been about Barry Zito and Jason Schmidt. Zito has been rumored to be heading to NY, but no one is sure if it will be the Mets or Yankees that will claim the pitcher. However, I don't think Zito will be heading east. Zito is a typical Californian who is laid back, writes music, and has aspirations to act. I don't see him leaving California. While Oakland probably won't be able to afford his asking price, I think San Diego will. With the money the Pads have to spend this off-season, expect to see them make a strong run at Zito.

Schmidt too may be staying out West. Seattle has their eye on him and will likely make a generous offer to acquire his services. Especially if the M's can move overpaid 3rd baseman Adrian Beltre, they will pull out all of the stops to acquire Schmidt.

So what about the Mets and Yanks? What are they going to do for pitching? I think both will make a really strong run for Japanese hurler extraordinnaire Daisuke Matsuzaka. It is going to take big bucks to acquire Daisuke, and both the Mets and Yanks have proven they are willing to spend big bucks. I don't expect the Cubs to be a serious player in the Daisuke sweepstakes.

The Yanks pitching problems could have a profound impact on the Cubs. The Yankees have a $17 million option on Mike Mussina next year and reports out of NY claim the Yanks likely will not pick it up. They also have a team option on streaky Jaret Wright that likely won't be exercised. Randy Johnson's back problems are only getting worse and his future is uncertain. Carl Pavano's health continues to be a question mark, so he is far from a sure thing for next year. And Tanyon Sturtz is scheduled to be a free agent. That leaves only Chien-Ming Wang as a sure thing starter for the Yankees. They are desperate.

The Cubs have pitching prospects they could package and move to NY in exchange for ARod. A package of Rich Hill, Angel Guzman and someone else might just intrigue the Yankees. Hill has proven himself and Guzman is a highly regarded prospect. What about Mark Prior? If he can return to his 2003 form, Prior could be one of the pieces the Yankees so deperately are looking for.

Before the Cubs start looking at making trades or signing free agents, they'll need to decide what is going to happen with Aramis Ramirez and Juan Pierre. ARam's manager said this past week that he and Jim Hendry have exchanged offers, so at lesat they are talking. News has been scarce about Pierre, but I would expect the Cubs to offer him arbitation. I doubt if Pierre will accept arbitration, so he'll likely hit the free agent market.


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