November 10, 2009

Why do they call it a hot stove?

by Dan Bilicki In: Baseball

MLB free agency is right around the corner and, for the first time that I can remember, there isn’t a true megastar available to be had. Sure, there are plenty of guys available in the trade market, but teams these days are very hesitant to either give up their stars or give up their prospects. The only thing that teams really want to get rid of is contracts that they shouldn’t have handed out in the first place.

But who are the big name free agents of this winter? Well, there’s a so-called Big Three, but really, they all have their flaws.

John Lackey is the best starting pitcher out there and that’s only going to drive up is value. He’s said to be looking for even more than A.J. Burnett got last winter from the Yankees and that might be one of the more ridiculous demands I’ve ever heard from an 11-game winner. Sure, he has playoff pedigree, but the deal that the Angels offered him to stay, $40 million over three seasons, was more than fair. I can see the Yankees ponying up for Lackey, considering what they went through in the playoffs with a three-man rotation. But, the Rangers have an outside shot, needing a better ace than Kevin Millwood.

Matt Holliday came over to the Cardinals at the trade deadline and lit up the world with his explosive bat. The only problem is that he stunk it up huge with Oakland before that and there’s no telling if he can actually handle the American League and its superior pitchers. That might be enough to scare away some AL contenders keep Holliday in the senior circuit. The Cards will definitely make a run at keeping him to backup Pujols in the lineup, but they won’t have the cash to offer what a team like the Mets can. Queens is, I think the most likely destination after they spent a season with some of the poorest hitting outfielders a pseudo-contender could have.

Then there’s Jason Bay, a man that Sports Illustrated mistaken called the best Canadian player out there today. Apparently they forgot that former AL MVP Justin Morneau was just injured and not retired. Bay is a solid all-around player in the field and at bat and shown that he can deal with the pressures of playing in a big market. My concern is if he can lead your team to the post-season by himself. In Pittsburgh, he didn’t have enough parts around him to help out and in Boston, he was on an all-star team. I would maybe think twice if you were a GM looking for a savior, like Toronto might be doing.

So, it may not be as interesting as last season, when the Yankees spent a found fortune to haul in the three biggest names available, but the trade market should prop up the intrigue factor for this winter in baseball.

Leave a Reply