Nov 1, 2007

The Hot Stove League Already at a Simmer

The game of managerial musical chairs is seemingly already in mid-off-season form. After Joe Girardi and Joe Torre dawned their new Yankees and Dodgers caps respectively, we here at seamhead are already looking forward to our second favorite season... the baseball off season.

On the local fronts the managerial positions of the A's and Giants aren't going to make any headlines, but you can bet the Dodgers landing of Torre will send a semi title wave through McCovey Cove. To be honest, as a Giants fan myself, I hoped the Boss and Torre would go their separate after the 2006 season when the Giants would be in search of a new skipper. As the story goes, Torre stayed for one more uneventful year and Bruce Boche manged the Giants to their first last place finish since 1996. While that was by no means solely or even partly due to Boche, certainly the hiring of Torre improves their rivals chances.

Torre to the Dodgers raises more questions about future dominoes that will soon fall this off season. Does this mean the end of Nomar in L.A.? Who will bat lead off, Peierre or Furcal? Will Russel Martin and Alyssa Milano last? Okay, so maybe those aren't the questions you'll here Buster Olney answering on ESPN in the months to come. But, everyone is wondering if Torre gives the Dodgers a leg up in the A-Rod derby? The answer? No. However, they still may have an advantage regardless of the Torre factor.

The Dodgers have shown a propensity to over spend in the past and the Angels recent success has made those bleeding Dodger Blue green with envy. The Dodgers do have a solid foundation that includes good young position players, a sound rotation, and a bull-pen that features the best closer in baseball who doesn't river dance. Combine the attraction of A-Rod to a major west coast market that won't treat him like he's Brittney Spears dragging the Chavez Ravine infield with a tabloid photographer, while drinking a frappuccino, with her kids holding on to the luggage rack of her Range Rover, every time he grounds out, with the fact that Dodger Owner Frank McCourt, the engineer of the infamous "Big-Dig" in Boston, won't shy away from a price tag of $300 million or more.

The Giants also can make a compelling case for Rodgriguez. They can boast a beautiful water front ballpark that treats right handed hitters much better than lefties. A fan base that will adore him unconditionally, and a major media market that is even more casual than Los Angeles. Not to mention they have a rotation that features young, affordable talent that will be there for the forseeable future. Tim Lincecum justified the hype he came with. Matt Cain was the best pitcher to lose 16 games in a year since Cy Young. Noah Lowry won 14 games on a team that only won 71. Barry Zito won 11 despite an awful start that can be partly contributed to the pressures of signing the largest contract to a pitcher in history. And the fifth spot of the rotation could be in the young, capable and inexpensive hands of Kevin Correia who proved to be a vastly different pitcher in the first inning then he was in the eighth.

The Giants can also guarantee him his old position of short-stop, and whether or not they will admit this, they can afford him. But, to make San Francisco a real attractive option for A-Rod they will need to convince him that the spending won't stop with the Latin slugger. They have to add a second and a third quality bat to their line up or your looking at the same problems they had when Bonds was there, a one man firing squad with no ammunition. Plugging the hole that Bonds has left isn't nearly enough to improve this team, even if it is Rodriguez who replaces him. They need a corner outfielder with power, a second baseman not named Ray Durham, and an everyday first baseman that can produce runs. That is just looking forward to 2008. In years to come they will also need to handle the impending free agencies of Lincecum and Cain and give them enough to stay by the bay.

With Brian Sabean at least admitting that the Giants would "kick the tires" on A-rod, unlike in the past with other free-agents Vladimir Guerrero, and Gary Sheffield, one has to think the Giants are in the top 5 of possible new homes for A-Rod. Who else is in the running? The list goes as follows:

5. Texas Rangers. Tom Hicks, the owner the Rangers has the propensity of spending money at a rate only equal to a teenage girl with a Bloomingdale's credit card. Yes, the first round of the Texas A-rod marriage didn't work out, but we can bet that money will play as much of a role in this signing as anything else, and the Rangers will spend money.

4. New York Yankees. I know I am losing credibility by the sentence here with these first two teams, but the Yankees have the deepest pockets, and may soon be in the most desperate decision considering what might happen with their other free agents. If the Yankees lose Posada, Rivera, Clemens, and Petite they may feel the need to keep as much of the nucleus together as they can. That could mean bringing A-Rod back and not giving the job to Wilson Betemit just yet.

3. San Francisco Giants. A-Rod will make approx $30 to $35 million a year. The Giants have Bonds ($20 million), Morris ($8 million), Benitez ($7 million), and Mathney ($7 million) off the books in 2008. That leaves some serious iron left over for Rodriguez and others. And lets not forget the need for Giants Ownership to put a player on the field to attract the casual fans. Don't expect them to fill the park to watch a bad team without the allure of a home run chase.

2. Boston Red Sox. I know, I know, but despite how good Mike Lowell has been, and how much more likable hi is, he is 34. He has experienced a rather nice resurgence over the past two seasons but Theo Epstein has shown the Bill Walsh like quality of letting a player go a year too soon rather than a year too late (See Johnny Damon and Pedro Martinez). And after 2008 there will be about $20 million freed up if they don't re-sign Manny Ramirez. Also the Sox have the money, a great core of young talent, and the love of sticking it to the Yankees.

1. Los Angels Dodgers and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Frosted tips and all A-Rod is tailor made for the So-Cal lifestyle. Big money and big celebrity go hand in hand in L.A and A-Rod likes his money and his image. Both teams would offer a chance to compete and a chance to get away from the rabid east coast media. Don't be surprised if you see Alex Rodriguez getting kicked out of his Beverly Hills pad by the Mrs. after another "eventful" road trip next season.

Buyers be ware. Let's not count on A-Rod's next team being his last either. Look at what Boras was able to do for J.D. Drew? If there is more money to be made they will find it elsewhere when the moment arrives and you can guarantee that Boras will have the necessary escape clause in his A-list clients contract. Heck, at this rate A-Rod might end up with more teams over his career than even Alyssa Milano.

Loose Stitches...

It's a Pretty Good Time Out

Its an unpopular opinion, but Golden State Warrior fans, I hope you have Tivo. The Warriors aren't as good as they played at the end of last season, but that doesn't mean you can't re-wind and bask in their glory once more.

It was a perfect storm. Baron Davis was rested, J-Rich was healthy and Matt Barnes was Scottie Pippen. The Warriors are a younger team with out Richardson, who was the heart-beat of the squad over the past several seasons. Boom-Dizzle needs to decide if he wants to play to the level he showed he can, even when he's not on TBS. Steven Jack(son) is liable to hold up a strip club in North Beach at any moment and wind up playing for the California penal league. Monte Ellis is still very young, and played at his best when he was on the floor with Davis and Richardson. Al Harrington is good, but needs to be outstanding, and that includes rebounding more, or at least some. It is fair to expect even more out of the likes of Andres Biedrins and Mickael Pietrus, and an added bonus from Marco Belinelli, but for the Warriors to reach the bar they set last season, they will need to do more than just believe.

This team, as currently constituted will win 44 games and be in the play off hunt vying for the eighth or seventh seed at very best. We are not going to be seeing the same magic we saw the last month of '07 stretched out over seven months of the regular season. But, with Nelly still in town the Warriors will prove to be a very entertaining team that, even on a night where they lose by 20, will keep you interested.

Are You Waiting for Someone?

The 49er's are late. No Seth Rogen, this time it isn't your fault. Many people expected the Niner's to arrive this season, maybe even win 10 games and be serious contenders for a play-off birth. Well, not this year. But, lets give Mike Nolan and Scot McCloughan one more full season. We have seen what they were able to do with the defense since last season, now they'll have a shot to significantly upgrade the offensive side of the ball as well. Lets remember that the teams strongest asset last year was the running game and the left side of its O-line. Possibly the weakest part of the offense on this year's team and an obvious cause for the lack of success in the running game.

The idea that Nolan should be fired is absolutely lazy journalism being perpetuated by unsophisticated fans. Lets remember the team he inherited. It's okay take a minute......................................................................................................................................


... Wow! Remember that? The question that should be asked is, can they fire Erickson and Donahue again?

By the way, Go Sun Devils!!


The Ghost of Drew Bledsoe said...

A-Rod is a stiff. Funny I think that your right about him going to Boston though. Only because Manny is leaving and understanding his preferences for where he would end up is about as predictable as Plinko. I don't really know if I could stomach him though. Any other choices with the clout of Ramirez not named A-Rod on the horizon?

As for wanting him for the Giants, not me. A big ticket, proven loser. That's what he is. According to your rough calculations about the salary cap they would have enough money to pay him and a 7 or 8 mil a year player. I'm not feeling a champion there. And the idea of attracting the casual fan? Build a winning team.

Screw A-Rod. I hope he goes to the Dodgers and that the Dodgers suck!

Theo B. Fightmaster said...

As for A-Rod the person, I agree with you. What I guess I can't get around is the outstanding offensive production he provides any line up he is in. And the Giants need some offense as badly as Fred Thompson needs a public speaking coach.

If he does go to the Dodgers, I certainly hope your right. As for the pay roll calculations, my point was the Giants wouldn’t have to increase their payroll as significantly as they would under different circumstances. They have been spending that amount of money ($42 million) on players regarded to by many to have been a waste. They will need to increase spending, but it’s not like they’re the Devil Rays who would have to more than double their payroll by the addition of Rodriguez. I do tend to agree with your thoughts that the move would smell of desperation, but I can’t say they’re not desperate. Again, the numbers that his track record would bare out are awfully hard to ignore if you’re as impotent offensively as the Giants.

By the way, great game today, Ghost. Unfortunately they didn’t cover, but a rewarding win nonetheless. The Pats proved that they can find a way to win under more strenuous circumstances then they had previously faced this season. But, it may be a different game if these two face off in the post season. Manning didn’t have his favorite target, Harrison, but Joseph Addai did his best to make sure the offense didn’t skip a beat. Here I am now out on a limb, clinging to the trunk of the tree, telling you now that the Patriots will go undefeated this year. Bellichick wants it, and so do the rest of the pats. They will play starters and go for it if the undefeated record is still out there.