My Pinstripes would like to wish a Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa, and any other holiday greeting we left out, to our loyal readers (and any newbies).
As we mentioned yesterday, we already got a great gift in the signing of Mark Teixeira. But where does that leave the rest of the market right now?
According to several sources, the Mets are deep into talks with Derek Lowe, the best starting pitcher left on the free agent market. Unable to come to an agreement with their own free agent Oliver Perez, the Mets would be wise to sign Lowe even if they have to overpay by a bit. Lowe is a much more consistent pitcher than Oliver Perez has ever been.
The Mets' current rotation consists of stud Johan Santana, John Maine, who showed a lot of wear and tear this past season, and Mike Pelfrey, who was outstanding in the second half. In addition to Lowe, the Mets should be trying to sign Ben Sheets to a 2-year deal as well unless they want to count on youngsters like Jon Niese.
Manny Being Where?
The Mets meanwhile will also not seek to sign Manny Ramirez (perhaps owner Fred Wilpon's losses in the Ponzi scheme are affecting this team more than we know) according to a team source. So where does that leave Manny?
Ramirez certainly won't be returning to Boston though the Red Sox will be looking for another bat. The Dodgers still remain the favorites to keep the "Manny being Manny" show going, but we have to think the Nationals will throw some big money out there as they are in desperate need of a crowd draw. One team we don't hear mentioned when Ramirez's name comes up is the Baltimore Orioles. Peter Angelos has always thrown money around like there's no tomorrow, and usually not in the smartest way. But if he can bring in Manny for say 3 years, it would be a great signing. Ramirez would absolutely destroy Camden Yards. He would also be able to exact vengeance on the Red Sox 19 times a year.
Who'll Don the Sox?
So where do the Red Sox turn now? Perhaps to slugging outfielder Adam Dunn. Though not the player that Teixeira is, Dunn would appeal to the Red Sox philosophy of high on-base percentage guys in the lineup. Dunn has only played 127 of his 1000 games at first base, but he could slide in there with Kevin Youkilis moving to third base. The Red Sox are concerned about Mike Lowell's hip and may try to move him, which they definitely would have done had they signed Teixeira. Youkillis meanwhile will not get a long term deal prior to spring training, according to his agent Joe Bick.
The Angels have inserted Kendry Morales as their first baseman, for now. (Remember when Andy Phillips was "supposed" to be the Yankees regular first baseman or when Bubba Crosby was to be their regular center fielder?) We can't imagine the Angels relying on Morales to hit on a regular basis, but stranger things have happened. We also don't expect the Angels to stay out of the Manny Ramirez tug of war, even if they publicly say otherwise.
GM Tony Reagins has decided to "go with the kids" after saying the Angels would not only go after Ramirez, but wouldn't pursue Pat Burrell or Bobby Abreu either. That also means that long time Angel Garrett Anderson will have to find a new home.
There are plenty of free agents out on the market that still aren't getting big time offers. Be it the economy, the wait for the bigger names to sign, or something unforeseen, there are plenty of good bats still available to all the teams in baseball.
Abreu, Burrell, Milton Bradley, Orlando Hudson, and Dunn are the top tier bats still out there. At the next two levels you have Rocco Baldelli, who feels a change in diagnosis and meds could make him more durable, Anderson, Jim Edmonds, Jason Giambi, Jeff Kent, and Ken Griffey Jr.
The two top relievers out there are Trevor Hoffman, who we see still somehow returning to the Padres, and left-hander Brian Fuentes. The Cardinals rescinded their offer for Fuentes after feeling that Fuente's reps were jerking them around.