I willbe ranking the upcoming free agents and putting down a grade on how their value will be and how good they will do next year. Some of the free agents I put down may be signed by their teams this off-season, I'm no psychic, but I am just estimating. I will have a blog for each position, starting with starting pitchers. Top 3 only.
1. C.C. Sabathia
Team pitcher is currently on: Milwaukee Brewers
The Price Range: Anywhere from $15-$22 million per year
C.C. Sabathia has been one of the best pitchers in the league this year and he has certainly been the best since the beginning of July, the time he got traded to Milwaukee from the Tribe. Since then, he has a record of 9-0 along with a sparkling ERA that is at 1.42. He has average almost a strikeout per inning and six complete games. He is one of the front-runners for both Cy Young and MVP and that is saying something since he has only been in the National League for two months. Can he keep up the success in the American League though? He'll be good - but not as good.
Top 3 Signing Candidates
3. Colorado Rockies - The Colorado Rockies certainly have some money to spend and maybe if they clear some more space in their payroll by trading a big money guy (possibly Matt Holliday), they will have the money to sign CC and some extra. Colorado is 27th in the league in ERA this year and any fan would tell you that pitching is the reason why the Rockies are 10 games under .500. Also, after his 2008 performance, it seems that CC might want to stay in the National League.
2. Detroit Tigers - Owner Mike Illitch showed that he was willing to spend money last year and the Tigers are already planning to get rid of some high-paid guy for trade bait. ROY candidate Armando Galarraga looks like the real deal but there is no way of knowing. They have Justin Verlander but he isn't a true ace, he has been inconsistent, even in his first two years where his ERA was in the 3.60's. After Verlander, they have absoutely nothing. CC would be a good fit.
1. New York Yankees - The Yankees claim that they are going to make Sabathia an offer that he can't refuse. If so, that will probably mean around $20 million, more than any other team is willing to pay. Still, Sabathia may be able to refuse that offer. The Yankees are in third place and a 15-year fantastic, great franchise may be coming to an end as vets are getting older and stepping out of their primes.
2. Ryan Dempster
Team Pitcher is currently on: Chicago Cubs
The Price Range: Between $8-$13 million
Ryan Dempster is having an amazing year this year, he is 15-6 with a 2.99 ERA. He has 167 strikeouts in 183.2 innings pitched. Those are great numbers so why did I only give him a B+? How will this former closer's arm hold up when he pitches 200+ innings again next year (if he can get that many)? Remember, before this year, Dempster was only pitching one inning a game, probably close to 45-50 times a year. He could be good again, don't get me wrong, but his arm might not hold up the whole next season.
Top 3 Signing Candidates
3. New York Mets - Everybody thought that the Mets addressed their pitching needs last off-season when they signed Johan Santana. That helped a little bit but there are still some holes. The Mets surely have the money and Dempster can come in right away since Mike Pelfrey remains very unproven (plus, he can't pitch at the MLB level) and Pedro Martinez may not be back next year.
2. Seattle Mariners - The Carlos Silva signing ended up to be a major bust, his ERA is in the 6's and he has 10 more wins than he does losses. Other than that, they still have some holes besides their aces in Erik Bedard and Felix Hernandez (even Bedard isn't doing great). Dempster is better than 4 out of the 5 pitchers currently in their rotation and with his boost, the Mariners could have a major turn-around and be in playoff contention.
1. Texas Rangers - The Texas Rangers have the best offense in the league but the worst pitching staff in the league. Not a great combo and it has been like that for years. Kevin Millwood's 2006 season where he went 16-12 with a 4.52 ERA has probably been the best performance by any Rangers pitcher in the past three years. Something needs to be done. The Rangers may be able to move some players around in the off-season and get the money they need.
3. Ben Sheets
Team Pitcher is currently on: Milwaukee Brewers
The Price Range: $16 million, give or take
Ben Sheets has been a great pitcher this year too, after all he was the starting pitcher for the National League in the All-Star Game. His year has just been overshadowed by his fellow teamate, Carsten Charles Sabathia. Sheets is 12-7 this year with a 2.97 ERA. He has only walked 41 batters this year, second best among upcoming free agent pitchers who have pitched the full season (Btw, Mike Mussina was first with 24). Sheets is only 30-years old and a prime for a pitcher usually lasts unntil about 35 so he still has some good years left in the tank.
Top 3 Signing Candidates
3. Milwaukee Brewers - Milwaukee wouldn't want to give up two of the better pitchers in the league just like that so Milwaukee should surely go after Sheets since he is cheaper than Sabathia. Still, other teams are going to offer more money than the Brewers can offer so the Brewers don't look like they are going to be able to cough up 17-18 million dollars for one player.
2. Kansas City Royals - Many people thought that Kansas City could be in playoff contention earlier this season. All hope is lost this season but there is a chance for 2009. KC has to hold on to their good young players during the off-season and if they pull of a signing like Sheets, they could win up to 85 games. KC may have a solid offense next year but something needs to be done about their pitching.
1. Boston Red Sox - I don't think you can ever count out Boston in any free agency signing. Boston has a good pitching staff with Josh Beckett, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Jon Lester being their Top 3 pitchers but behind them is not so good. Tim Wakefield is only an average pitcher and Paul Byrd has done terrible with Boston this year. They could hope that Clay Buccholz does better next year or just be sure and safe and go after Sheets.
The Others . . .
A.J. Burnett, 16-10, 4.47 ERA - Grade: C+
Jon Garland, 12-8, 4.64 ERA - Grade: C+
Randy Wolf, 9-11, 4.47 ERA - Grade: C+
Carl Pavano, 2-0, 4.20 ERA - Grade: D
Mike Mussina, 17-7, 3.39 ERA - Grade: B
Derek Lowe, 12-11, 3.53 ERA - Grade: B-