A serviceable, if not spectacular starting rotation came with the franchise:
Leiter, Carpenter, Arroyo, Bonderman, and Westbrook, with Estes, Derek Lowe, and Cliff Lee in reserve or as trade material.
The bullpen cupboard was almost bare, occupied by a lonely Mike Koplove (coming off a bad year).
Position players were a mix of quality to average, some of whom required arbitration decisions: Going around the diamond: Loduca, Overbay and Konerko at 1b, Jimenez,
Rollins, Burroughs, Dunn, Byrnes and Nix in CF, and Vlad if RF.
Given an ample supply of cash – the new management was looking to improve at 2b over the possible “4 glove” of Jimenez, find a power bat in the OF, balance the 3b spot vs. lefties, and build a bullpen that would be competitive in a playoff situation – should the team be so fortunate to qualify for the postseason.
Lee, Barajas and Lowe left town for closer Mariano Rivera and reliever Antonio Alfonseca
Shawn Estes left for Kent Mercker.
The beginner’s prime strategy for the first voyage into the Free Agency waters was to try not to do anything stupid and end up shackling the franchise for the future. The big targets were Loretta, Bonds and The Unit; the secondary targets - relief pitching and some infielders that hit lefties and could round out the overall balance.
After much waffling – we reduced our bid on Loretta from 18.6M for 3 years to 16.9
As it turned out – that caused to be 2nd rather than first and we didn’t get Loretta. We also
missed on Spivey – who we were first on – because we didn’t correctly understand the FA decision process/timetable (Still waiting to see the exact process clearly explained in writing by the way). Also came in 2nd or third on Bonds and Unit - but the top teams grabbed the two megastars.
Still – where reason prevailed – dumb luck came to the
rescue. Jimenez – good
Management was feeling pretty good about the overall talent, prospects in-waiting and
the fiscal situation, but a little unsure that the offense was going to be able to carry the
team to the playoff tourney. An opportunity to make a significant offensive improvement came along – but at a cost, and we took the gamble, trading young and inexpensive Sean Burroughs, Gavin Floyd and a # 3 pick for Adrian Beltre (who will be a FA after next year).