The free agency class of the 2011 season is not something worth getting too excited about. There are no real game-changing faces coming onto the market, and this means that I hope you enjoyed last season.
Without a talent-heavy market, except for Cliff Lee, of course, there is no reason to believe that the results of last season will be any different this year. The Yankees or the Rangers will most likely sign Lee, and Crawford is also looking to be wearing pinstripes with bulging pockets.
This means the top prospects are: Jayson Werth, most notably a doubles hitter who has only once topped 30 home runs; Victor Martinez, who will most likely re-sign with the Red Sox; and Paul Konerko, typically, a DH who will not be able to find work in the National League.
Unless one team goes out and signs a combination of talent including Garland, Berkman and maybe outbids the Yankees or Red Sox on the Lee or Crawford deal, we will see a repeat of last year’s playoffs. Thankfully, there is no salary cap to keep things a bit more level.
The Yankees have already stated that their current salary will be the same as last year, which makes me wonder what moves they plan on making to their current roster to make room for Crawford and Lee.
I assume they believe someone may be dumb enough to take Burnett, possibly a small-market NL team looking to rehash an old arm that had success there once before. The other play would be Granderson, a lot simpler to move and currently a road block for the Crawford deal.
Which Team is Least Likely to Repeat as Division Champions
This of course is in the assumption that they wouldn’t move Granderson around the outfield with Crawford comfortably in center field. Either way, a similar salary is hugely unlikely for a pitching staff that runs a three-man staff when successful.
If they do lose the Lee deal, they may make a play for Garland who will be looking for about $6 million this year. Not exactly a small contract.
Pavano will come off the books, which will free up about $1.5 million. Either way, the players who are rumored to be moving are from small teams, such as Greinke from the Royals, Gonzalez from the Padres and Carmona from the Indians, who have already provided the rest of the league with talent like Cliff Lee, C.C. Sabathia, Victor Martinez and Manny Ramirez.
One glaring truth that makes me believe my prediction will be correct was the signing of David Ortiz by the Red Sox. This will be the worst signing of the offseason, and we’re one month in.
They are going to pay him over $12 million, I assume because they believe they will stay with the $12 million devil they know rather than the $8 million they don’t. Ortiz jerseys will after all sell a hell of a lot better than a Konerko or Thome jersey.
This season, smaller teams will look to strengthen their farm leagues while squeezing out the rest of the revenue from their remaining big names. I hope Royal fans didn’t go nuts on those Greinke jerseys, but don’t worry, there might be a Pavano run in your future.
All this truly means is that barring injury, the Red Sox, Rays, Yankees, Rangers and Twins will all be fighting it out once again for their respective seedings in the AL, while the Cardinals, Phillies, Braves and pitching-reliant Giants will dominate the NL.
Although it was nice to have a different World Series champ almost every year it seems lately, things are about to go full circle again from a legit pool of about seven teams. I wouldn’t go to Vegas to place a bet on the Mariners or Astros just yet, but a continuation of your Yankee bet from last year sounds about right.