BES-BALL TALK #6

OK, so with the Mets and Yanks' seasons all wrapped up, we now turn to the Hot Stove. Tomorrow is a big day, the day when free agents can begin talking with teams about contracts. This is usually a scramble to sign the top guys, and this free agent class has some big ones. Heading the list are pitchers CC Sabathia and Francisco Rodriguez and sluggers Manny Ramirez and Mark Teixeira. There's a nice slew of good options for teams behind them, too. Let's start at the top though.

By now everyone knows that the Yankees' intentions are to sign CC, and blow everyone out of the water with an offer higher than what the Mets got Johan Santana with. The offer may start at 150 million for 6 years, and it'll most likely go higher than that. I think this is a smart move. The Yankees are in desperate need for a true ace and CC is a horse of one. The guy can flat out go. He would head up a rotation that has Chien-Ming Wang and Joba Chamberlen definitely behind him, and then possibly a returning Andy Pettitte, and either another free agent, or a return of Mike Mussina. I'm hoping for a Pettitte/Moose back end myself.

Moose had one of his best seasons, winning 20 games for his first time. If he decides not to retire, I think you have to bring him back. I'd sign him for 2 yrs with an option for a third. He's given a lot to this organization and it would be nice to reward that. Also, I'm more in the camp of saying that his bad 2007 was the fluke and not this year. Just look at his career, there's no reason to think otherwise.

I would take him and Pettitte over free agents AJ Burnett and Derek Lowe in a heartbeat. Burnett is an injury waiting to happen. Sure, he throws hard, but I just don't see this guy's value otherwise. Did we not learn anything from Carl Pavano? Derek Lowe though is on level with Moose and Pettitte, and would be welcome if one of those guys don't come back. I predict that it won't happen, and Moose and Andy return, AJ signs with another AL East team, possibly his hometown Baltimore Orioles, and that Lowe goes to the Mets.

Mark Teixeira is a guy I'd love to have on the Yankees. He's a great first baseman, obviously our biggest positional need, and a great all around hitter with high on base percentages. If he doesn't resign with the Angels, a strong possibility, there's not many teams I see him going to because A. he wants to play for a winner, and B. he's going to be expensive as all hell. There aren't that many teams that can provide both.

If the Yanks don't get him, the field gets tricky after him. You'd be looking at a trade, maybe for a Prince Fielder type. *They've just acquired Nick Swisher as I'm writing this, so if they plan to use him as more than a bench guy (centerfield/first base backup) then he could be the first baseman. That throws a little monkey wrench into my ideas...however I'll continue for now. My suggestion for the Yankees past Teixeira (and prior to Swisher!) though would be to move Xavier Nady to first. The guy has played there before, and it would open up the outfield for two possibilities...

The main one being bringing Manny Ramirez home to the Bronx! While this may be a long shot, crazier things have happened. This is baseball's most feared hitter, and while may his defense is subpar at best, he more than makes up for it with the bat. Now, he wants major cash and at least 4 years, but so far the Dodgers, who have till midnight to work out a deal with him, haven't come close to that. The Yankees can, and it'll be interesting to see who else will jump in on the sweepstakes. Honestly, though, I'd don't see the Yanks getting him, but I've always envisioned him on the Mets. I think this is a greater possibility than most think. Omar Minaya has long coveted him, so don't be surprised if they open up the wallets for the guy.

If the Yankees don't bring in Manny or Teixeira, than I suggest bringing Bobby Abeu back. The guy was a model player in his time here, and I'd welcome him back in a heart beat. Again, put Nady at first, him back in right, Damon in left, and please, please give Brett Gardner a chance in center. He's something we haven't had in a long time: a bonafide speedster, a real pest on the base paths, and if his major league hitting can develop, he can be gold. Melky Cabrera can be the fourth outfielder since he can play all three positions. *The acquisition of Nick Swisher may change this. Melky has now been pushed to the fifth outfielder, and may end up traded or in Triple A, and Swisher may push Gardner out of the starter role. I just don't see the need to go get a center fielder this year, when we have interesting in house options.

As far as outfield options for the Mets, besides Ramirez, you could be looking at signing Raul Ibanez, whom they were linked with at the trade deadline. This makes sense if you can get over that he's getting up there in age. However Ibanez was a late bloomer, and may have a good 3 year deal in him. Bobby Abreu could be a good choice if not for his past link with the Phillies. If not those, you already have Ryan Church, Fernando Tatis, and Daniel Murphy signed or under control and ready to go for the corner positions. Can you live with that? Probably not. Adam Dunn could be an option as well, if you can get over all the strikeouts.

Dunn could also be an option for Tampa Bay as a DH/outfielder, as well as Pat Burrell, who apparently has cut ties with the Phillies. The World Series champs may actually have a great shot at filling Burrell's role with Manny, which could make for an interesting bidding war with the Mets, and further up the rivalry, however, big money free agents really isn't Phildelphia's MO. Another guy all these teams could look at is Milton Bradley, who has calmed down a bit and is a pretty damn good hitter.

The Mets, however, have a more pressing need: the bullpen. This will probably have to be almost completely reconstructed. I'm sure Aaron Heilman is on his way out, and there are plenty of suitors out there who'd want to plug him into their rotation, which I've always believed the Mets should've done. The closer role will be interesting, but to me it's a no brainer: sign K-Rod! The guy is young and far from being done. He's one of the best in the game, and no one else on the market is better. I've heard Brian Fuentes name being kicked around for the Mets, but honestly I don't see a guy like that having the make up for NY. Go get K-Rod, and work your way down. Maybe a David Weathers type veteran to start.

To handle these guys, and give them more pop than Brian Schneider, the Mets should sign Pudge Rodriguez to a one year deal with an option. He didn't do anything in his short time as a Yankee, but the guy has had a stellar career, and would fit perfectly on the Mets. Grab one more starter, maybe resigning Ollie Perez or grabbing a Jon Garland or even a trade for a Javy Vasquez type, and you're good to go.

One last thing I would suggest to the Yankees is to get a couple of good guys to round out the bench. This has been a weak area for the team in past years, and after this past season it's time to get a better look at the options. Wilson Betemit in now gone in the Swisher trade, so you need a backup infielder. My suggestion would be Mark Loretta. I've always loved this guy, and he did great as a starter for the Red Sox. Get this guy, and let Cody Ransom stick with the team, and you're golden.

There are a ton of other interesting names on the free agent list, and it'll be interesting to see where, if anywhere, that some of them land. Like, I'm very curious to see where Jason Giambi will take his stache. I'll miss him on the Yanks, but I think it was time to move on. If Bobby Abreu doesn't come back too, then I'll be interested in his landing spot as well; most folks think the Cubs is a logical spot. What about Randy Johnson, who's a few wins shy of 300? Will the Dodgers bring back Rafael Furcal, and Manny, and will they be players for CC? Matt Holliday was already traded this week, shockingly to the A's. What other big trades will happen? Jake Peavy sounds good to go to the Braves. Lot's of intriguing questions this off season, and a couple of interesting answers have come already, but they'll really start coming after midnight tonight. Get your score card out.

And that's Bes-Ball.