Free Agency Comments July 2005

 

At mid-season 2005 hereís a look at how some free agency signings look 6 months later.

 

Though still no-brainer signings for 2005, the future looks depressing for the Burgesses as next year Randy Johnson will be simply be mediocre IP filler and Barry Bonds mostly or totally a no-show for $12 mil. The other part of free agency for me was missing out on Clemens. I did have the highest one year offer for him but others offered a little less but for 2 years; the Rocket was still undecided at that point about playing in 2005 so I did not want to commit for 2 years. Still, Williamsburg has a playoff team and even with the arms and bats currently assembled, we are capable of upsetting a team or two.Had I been convinced Clemens was going to play 2 more years, I believe I would have made the high bid and Clemens would replace Maroth in the rotation.

 

Silver offered Jason Isringhausen 20 mil for 4 years and thus far Izzy has been solid for future; as a comparison, Northwoods needed only 13 mil for 4 years to sign Billy Wagner. Wagner has pitched 10 more innings but not as effectively vs RHB. Maybe the 7 mil difference is the lefty discount in Strat.Troy Percival was another big name available among closers and he has developed an unhealthy fetish for diamonds; so far he has surrendered 5 HRs in 22 IP. At least Rivendell is committed for just 2 years.

 

Steve Finley fetched 12 mil for 3 years but it looks like this deal will not be in Rivendellís favor for years 2 and 3. Finley is slumping badly vs RHP but will still oddly enough punch around LHPs. Moises Alou was more expensive at 14 mil for 2 years but he still looks worth the money, especially vs LHPs.

 

One of the more curious signings was Bret Boone a 36 year old for 4 years at 11.25 mil. His OPS had dropped 160 points from the prior year and it continues to fall; now its near 680, perhaps still defensible with a gold glove, but for 3 more years? Similarly, late bloomer Mark Loretta may be fading himself with an OPS 160 points below last year. He has only 160 Abs also so this 6 million dollar man looks to be an expensive platoon player next year.

 

Good pitching is hard to find but as great as Greg Maddux was, he continues his descent into mediocrity. Heís still reliable for the IP but his ERA was at 4 for 2 straight years and its lurched closer to 5 as of now. At 13 mil for 3 years, heís become an expensive IP chowhound. ďChicks may dig the longballĒ, but thatís no excuse for giving up so many home runs.

 

Steve Trachsel was signed for 2 years for 7 mil; I donít see where heís played in 2005. Maybe heís been injured and his stats removed.

 

Javy Lopez no doubt is helping Northwoods catapault into first place now; the contract is 15.6 mil for 3 years. Itís not looking too bad for the future; Javy has cooled off some but still has decent offensive numbers for a catcher.My team by comparison is still looking for its first bona fide MLB catcher having gone through Henry Blanco, Tom Lampkin, Tom Prince, Todd Pratt, Chris Widger, Corky Miller Ö. Biff Pocoroba, where are you?

 

I must admit shock when I saw Ryan Drese signed for 3 years for 8+ mil. I didnít realize he had a decent 2004 and perhaps there was hope he had finally discovered some pitching secrets. So far in 2005 it has been a mixed bag: in Texas, he was once again getting shellacked to an ERA of 6.50; since traded to the Nationals in a small sample his ERA is at 2.86. His K rate is still very low however.

 

Kirk Rueter a 34 year old left hander has 91 IP so far for next year and only 22 Ks but 106 hits. He got 4 years for 8 + mil. At least his GM canít say heís disappointed; the performance is within his expected standards if only modestly worse.

 

Aspen picked up Bob Wickman and Bobby Howry cheap. Greenvilleís Bruce Chen looks good now at 1 mil per year but heís still a lefty in strat.

 

My best free agent for value may be Craig Biggio. I was worried the guy was essentially through, a CF 4 +3 is horrific if his hitting deteriorated more but he has come back to play 2nd base. Next year heíll platoon with Chase Utley. My best overall for the 2 years is Mark Bellhorn. For 375 k this year, heís one reason I decided to open the vaults and try to sign Clemens, Johnson and Bonds.