Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Free Agent-rific, Numero Two

JP Ricciardi, loyal reader and noted financial supporter of The Ninth, wisely noted last week's free agent recommendations and spent the weekend making his move. 2.2 mil might be a little high for Hentgen, but he got a good arm - and hell, I can't negotiate the contracts too. I was intending to wait a few more days to put up my NL picks (things are heating up here at The Ninth Home Office), but JP kept calling my cell and sending fruit baskets to the house, so I figured I should just get it done. Hell hath no fury like JP Ricciardi with a redial button.

  • Arthur Rhodes (Seattle Mariners): I forgot him when I was doing the AL. A power lefty reliever, Rhodes would be somewhat redundant with Embree around, but can certainly get big outs. He may be on the decline, as last year marked the first time since 2000 his ERA was over 2.5. Rhodes can still throw in the mid 90's however, and was 9th in the league in Holds last year.

  • Mike Myers (Arizona Diamondbacks): Wait, this guy hasn't been good since '00. Screw it.

  • Steve Reed (Colorado Rockies): Reed has been one of the most reliable right-handed relievers in the game for a long time, but he gets zero press and always signs for less than a million dollars. No idea why. Lefties destroy him, but since 2000, righties have managed a sorry .192 average with 5 HR's in.....wait for it.....459 AB's. That's like pitching against Craig Grebeck for a full year. Ideal for situational use in the late innings (Chad Bradford anyone?), could be had for 700 g's.

  • Paul Quantrill (Los Angeles Dodgers): In 1994 the Red Sox traded Paul Quantrill and Billy "Tons of Fun" Hatcher to the Phillies for Wes Chamberlain and a minor-leaguer. Since becoming a reliever 2 years later, Quantrill has an ERA of 2.83 and 145 Holds over 7 seasons. Since becoming unemployed 2 years later, Wes Chamberlain has an EDH (Estimated Donuts an Hour) of 5.63 and 145 hours of community service. This was not one of Duke's best, and Quantrill could be brought back. Theo would need to spring for multiple years, but Paul is quite an asset. He likes to pitch everyday, and gets righties and lefties out.

  • Glendon Rusch (Milwaukee Brewers): OK, OK, I know what you're saying -- this guy stinks. Yes, his BAA last year was .331, and OK, he did allow 171 hits in 123 innings, and alright, his ERA was over 6. Not good. In fact, very bad. Agreed. BUT - he's 29, he's left-handed, and he's a Dave Wallace disciple. When Wallace was with the Mets in 2000 he made Rusch a major project and got a pretty fine season out of him. As a starter that year, Glendon had a 3.96 in 188 innings with 155 K's and only 43 walks. He was viewed as a major up-and-comer, and was asked for often in trades. After that season, Wallace left, Glendon started to waiver, and soon enough he was on the Brewers. It's a bit of stretch, I know, but why not give him a minor league deal and see what Wallace can do? Worth 500 grand, right?

  • Terry Adams (Philadelphia Phillies): A reliable sinkerball reliever who has been effective when not asked to start. Both Los Angeles and Philly have tried Adams in the rotation with little success, but when used exclusively in the 7th and 8th innings, he's succeeded. Had a 2.65 ERA in 2003, while allowing only 1 HR in 68 IP.

  • Turk Wendell (Philadelphia Phillies): Yet another tasty set-up option. Turk's been a solid late-innings guy for a while now, and has held righties to .209 over the last three years. He's on the wrong side of 35, which isn't ideal, but he compensates by being sort of crazy. Born and raised in Pittsfield, perhaps Turk would like to finish his career at home.

  • Chris Carpenter (St. Louis Cardinals): After shoulder surgery, Carpenter did not pitch in 2003. Before getting hurt, Chris looked like he would finally become the top of the rotation starter everyone expected. Had some solid years in Toronto and was widely considered every bit as good as his counterpart, Roy Halliday. A New Hampshire native, Carpenter is still only 28 and has time to become a very good pitcher. Before the injury had a nasty curve.

  • Fernando Vina (St. Louis Cardinals): Apparently the Red Sox have expressed interest in Vina as a replacement for Walker at 2B. Once upon a time he was great defender with a reliable OBP. But, as Peter Gammons covered this weekend, his numbers have dropped greatly in the last few years. If his price tag drops too, Vina could be an interesting choice. Has had recurring knee troubles.

  • Rich Aurilia (San Francisco Giants): Shocked the world in 2001 with 37 HR's and 97 RBI. His OPS that season was a full 158 points higher than any other full season he's played however, and it was likely a fluke. Normally, he's a good defender with respectable power to the gaps. Not clear if Aurilia would be willing to shift to second, but would be a nice defensive upgrade if he did. Had a .927 OPS against lefties in '03.

So there it is. Plenty of guys for Hot Stove fodder, and none of them costing an arm and a leg. Once all the non-tenders hit the market, prices will sink even further, so don't expect many of these players to be snapped up soon. But in late December these names should be real popular, unless JP gets them all first.