Ready, Set, Arbitrate
No Calls to Arms
Even with Paul Byrd taking himself off the market for, at least, the first half of the 2009 season, all has been relatively quite on the free-agent starters front.
The one pitcher with any negotiating power is lefty Oliver Perez, who gained significant stroke with his old team once Derek Lowe went south to Atlanta. The three years, $30 million originally offered by Mets’ GM Omar Minaya won’t be nearly enough to bring back the 27-year old, even though they are currently the one team bidding.
Andy Pettitte on the other hand is a man without a team, a country, or an offer. He’s prays nightly that the Yanks unload the salary of either Nick Swisher or Xavier Nady and that one-year, $10 million offer comes a knocking one last time.
The most intriguing and possibly most impactful arm remaining could come out of the bullpen in hard-throwing righty Juan Cruz. Cruz has closer-type stuff with a starter’s durability. His name came up quite often during the winter meetings, but very little since.
Brandon Lyon and Dennys Reyes are two others who could really help. Rumors are Jason Isringhausen has three offers to close. One being the Tigers, the other two are too embarrassed to admit it.
The Phillies’ Ryan Howard and Cole Hamels lead an outstanding 2009 class of players preparing for arbitration cases.
ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark did a tremendous job breaking down some of the higher profile players that may be heading to an ugly show down with their current employers.
The most interesting of that list has to be Royals starter Zack Greinke. Just two years removed from being out of the game with “personal issues”, the 25-year old Greinke has his best season to date, going 13-10, with a 3.47 ERA in 202 1/3 innings.
Kansas City has failed to attract top level talent, including being rebuffed by Rafael Furcal and having to settle CF Coco Crisp and UT Willie Bloomquist. Greinke will be looking for big market money in arbitration and when eligible a big market club who can also offer more wins.
The Mariners don't want to burn a bridge with their ace Felix Hernandez following the debacle that was the Erik Bedard trade. Hernandez is at the fore-front of new GM's Jack Zduriencik rebuilding process.
Not only do the defending world champions have to deal with the two stars, Howard and Hamels going to the tables, but key role players such as starter Joe Blanton, setup man Ryan Madson, and OF Jayson Werth are also thinking big raise. Werth had a breakout season with 24 HR's and 21 stolen bases after taking over full-time in right field.
A for Andruw and Atlanta
Could Andruw Jones be more of a schoolgirl when it comes to telling everyone who he wants to hop into bed with next? Working out with Chipper, attending a Georgia Tech basketball game in his old team’s cap, but still property of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
At any moment Jones and his newly re-worked contract will be released from Dodger Blue and the Atlanta Braves will probably be the first and only ones to call. Without the $19 million price tag, the Mets may have interest, but their pitching staff is first priority.
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