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Signed CF-R Mike Cameron to a two-year, $15.5 million contract; signed RHP John Lackey to a five-year, $82.5 million contract. [12/16]

There’s not a lot to say here that isn’t a case of belaboring the obvious. Lackey was this winter’s best free-agent rotation regular, and signing him for essentially the same deal that A.J. Burnett got last winter makes for an easy victory of the checkbook. I’d argue it’s a significantly better deal, which you can blame on Red Sox genius, sunspot activity, or the state of the economy. Consider Lackey’s four seasons before signing the deal against Burnett’s four before he chucked the Blue Jays and donned pinstripes:

      Lackey              Burnett
Year Age  GS  SNWP   Year Age  GS  SNWP
2009  30  27  .540   2008  31  34  .541
2008  29  24  .571   2007  30  25  .559
2007  28  33  .595   2006  29  21  .527
2006  27  33  .550   2005  28  32  .522

So, to line these things up, Lackey’s younger and his performance record’s better, but not having a big contract year helps lowers him to Burnett’s standard. Burnett followed up his deal by giving the Yankees a full, healthy season and a .530 Support-Neutral Winning Percentage, nice enough if a bit dear, and to go back to the contrast, yet another year worse than anything Lackey’s done in the four years running up to his journy to the Fens. I don’t think we call anything involving $82.5 million a bargain, but if you wanted to pick the guy to give that deal to, Lackey’s a significantly better selection. If this were an Olympic event, the judges give Theo Epstein the points over Brian Cashman, even the Russian judge, because without even noting things like inflation, Theo got the better player earlier in his career at the “same” price. Of course, happily this is baseball, not the Olympics, so we can credit Theo for striking a good deal, and see if a rotation manned by Jon Lester with Lackey, Josh Beckett, and two of Daisuke Matsuzaka, Clay Buchholz, and Tim Wakefield will do the trick as far as keeping up with the world champs. It’s certainly a better assemblage that last season’s exercise in pitching a Penny and hoping that where there was Smoltz, there’s fire.

Who’s going to be chasing flies in the middle pasture behind that unit? That’s the present puzzler for the Red Sox now that they have Cameron at a reasonable price. Cameron said the correct, polite things on the subject at the press conference announcing his new status as a Sock-why mix things up, when you’re tasked with being diplomatic at a PR event? But the Sox are already having internal discussions, and perhaps, like the overreaction to “Dustin Pedroia wants to play shortstop!” non-story, they’ll moot how to spin this, in-house and out.

It’s well that they should. Jacoby Ellsbury‘s circle-the-wagons approach to center-field play is good for all sorts of fun if you’re not invested in the outcome-that’s one laager that makes fans reach for ballpark lager at any price. Against that, you have the older man, the better fielder, and the ugly memory of Cameron’s collision with his Mets teammate, center fielder Carlos Beltran, on August 11, 2005 while playing right. That ended Cameron’s season, and it was the last big-league ballgame Cameron played in an outfield corner, which is why it was notable he agreeably, publicly expressed a willingness to go to left. Against that, you have Ellsbury’s youth, statistical ineptitude in center, a people’s choice award for his ability to create excitement, and a ton of experience in right and left field in the far-off, distant days of 2008.

Yeah, this is really a tough call. Assuming they don’t just bundle Ellsbury off to sunny San Diego to achieve that long-awaited acquisition of Adrian Gonzalez, let’s have fun over the next several months, watching to see if they make the wrong choice come Opening Day. I’d credit Epstein for anticipating the nonsense, since he commented about Cameron’s willingness to do whatever it took to join the team, including play anywhere. Later, when Cameron’s in center and Ellsbury in San Diego or left, everyone will remember that everyone said such thoughtful, team-oriented things in December, and that what’s happened is what’s best for the team, and didn’t they handle that well, and doesn’t that speak well of everyone. Of course they did, and of course it does.

To turn back to the really good player the Sox signed to play center field for them next season, you know what you’re getting, given his relative reliability. He’ll walk about 10 to 12 percent of the time, provide .200 points of ISO, add less speed on the bases than you might remember from his youth (he cost the Brewers almost a run across two seasons), contribute an EqA around .280, provide a WARP value between three and four in both years of the deal.

And play a very nice center field. But you knew that.

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Acquired OF-L Juan Pierre and $10.5 million from the Dodgers for two PTBNL. [12/15]
Sent RHPs Jon Link and John Ely to the Dodgers to complete the Pierre trade. [12/18]

I’m not excited about this move, but who could be? It means the lineup’s set with Alex Rios moving back to right field, where his bat’s less of an asset, so instead of adding another corner outfielder, the Sox have to settle for Pierre’s bat in the lineup, not a formula for scoring more runs, not unless the alternatives are limited to Jerry Owens, Jerry Reinsdorf, and some Jerry who just fell out of a Heinkel 111 pulling into Midway. However, jumping without a chute and hoping they land softly is pretty much the way the White Sox have to play it, given that whatever payroll flexibility they had for 2010 got invested in adding Rios and Jake Peavy last summer.

Perhaps this was Ozzie Guillen‘s white (Sox) whale-that one speed guy at the top of the order who lets him indulge his passion for “Ozzieball,” getting elaborately tactical and effusing over the virtues of toothy river fish and the great virtue of a limitless capacity to annoy. Pierre’s good for that, just perhaps not entirely in the way intended. I expect he’ll get to steal bases, yes. To give the Sox the benefit of the doubt, Pierre’s limited time in center field last season shouldn’t obscure the fact that he had been a plus afield in his previous couple of years there as a regular. So they got speed and defense, two ingredients that got talked about a lot in 2005, one of which actually helped them, the defense, as they finished first in Park-Adjusted Defensive Efficiency, against their ranking 11th in team baserunning, and 19th in Equivalent Stolen-Base Runs.

What adding Pierre might also mean by way of comparison to that 2005 club is that they’re basically wiping out any need to be cute, because whatever they do with the DH slot, this is looking more and more like a set lineup of eight position-playing regulars, health permitting. Pierre’s .283 EqA marking the odd exception to a long stretch of .250-something marks, it seems safe to expect that .250-something, not good, but we’re talking about an organization that accepted production at that level from Scott Podsednik as an everyday leadoff man in 2005. Podzilla wasn’t even the worst regular, because they won with a plus defender at short in Juan Uribe (.243 EqA) while stomaching a bad season from A.J. Pierzynski (.245).

In contrast, this team has a better pair of hitters up the middle, an equivalent placeholder at third (replacing Joe Crede with Mark Teahen), Konerko and Pierzynski still in place (enduring and gamely fighting the inevitable loss to Father Time), and a proposition that an outfield of Pierre, Rios, and Carlos Quentin ought to be better than Aaron Rowand, Jermaine Dye, and Podzilla. It’s not as crazy as it sounds. Rowand’s EqA then wasn’t any better than we should expect Pierre’s to be soon, and we’ve seen what a healthy Quentin can do. It isn’t necessarily my idea of how to build a lineup, and it probably isn’t yours either, but within the organzation’s frame of reference, and with the team’s shot already relying on Rios and the addition of Peavy to a quality quartet int he rotation, it isn’t outlandish.

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Signed DH-L Hideki Matsui to a one-year, $6.5 million contract. [12/16]

No differently than last year’s spin with Bobby Abreu, this is an outstanding move. The market’s full of lefty DH types, so the winners among them will be the ones who land with the right needy team with money to spend on them. Having let Vladimir Guerrero ascend into Angels history, the Halos could afford to make a worthwhile offer, and Matsui was willing to take the gig. NuYankee’s elaborate reputation as an extreme homer haven aside, Godzilla actually hit better in the other venues he played in last season, with a .197 ISO in the Bronx against .281 on the road. He’s also a stronger hitter against lefties than most of his unemployed colleagues, so he’s an everyday DH as long as he’s healthy enough to play. Aside from that injury-plagued ’08, he’s managed an Equivalent Average of .290 or higher in five of the six years since his rookie campaign. You could change the year from ’08 to ’09 and say the same of Vladi’s last six seasons, of course, but between the WHYDL factor* and the low price, you can understand the decision to forgo offering a one-year deal to Guerrero.

The other key was the plug-out/plug-in element as far as the Angels’ lineup balance: losing Chone Figgins from the lineup and probably replacing him with Brandon Wood next season means the Angels were now going to be getting right-handed power from third base, in addition to what they get from Juan Rivera in left, Torii Hunter in center, and Mike Napoli behind the plate. Having re-upped Bobby Abreu, they were set for a lefty bat in right field, but not a lot of power, making a decision to go for Matsui that much more understandable. I’m probably as guilty as anyone for getting enthusiastic over what’s shaping up as the most exciting winter in Mariners history, but the Angels aren’t going to just roll over and play dead, and adding Matsui at these terms helps their lineup more certainly than the inimitable Mr. Bradley’s going to help the M’s.

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Signed RHPs Scott Strickland and Matt Peterson and INF-Rs Brian Barden and Donnie Murphy to minor-league contracts. [12/14]
Signed RHP Clay Hensley to a minor-league contract. [12/15]

Oh, look, a Scott Strickland sighting. His last effective season was 2002, but sort of like Chad Fox, he generates news without actually doing anything newsworthy. It would be easy to call this the perfect ballplayer for the Paris Hilton generation, but in fairness the Strickland, he’s got the scars to prove there’s no lack of effort involved. He gave a good account for himself as an Isotope last year, saving 32 of 34 opportunities for Albuquerque while posting a 57/21 K/UBB ratio in 48 1/3 IP. Going to Miami on the theory that what works for Brendan Donnelly or Kiko Calero must be an option for him as well seems like an eminently sensible bit of placement by his agent, and interest from the club. I’m less hopeful for Clay Hensley, although the short right-hander had a great spin with New Orleans last summer after getting dropped by the Astros organization, suppressing extra-base hits and keeping the ball on the ground.

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Traded OF-L Juan Pierre and $10.5 million to the White Sox for two PTBNL. [12/15]
Received RHPs Jon Link and John Ely from the White Sox to complete the Pierre trade. [12/18]

This wasn’t simply a case of doing the White Sox what the South Siders saw as a favor, in that the Dodgers did get out from under some of what they owe Pierre ($8 million), reducing their expense for Ned Colletti’s past mistake by sending the Sox $7 million in 2010, and another $3.5 million in 2011. Still, we shouldn’t get too worked up here. Ely’s an interesting pitcher, a guy whose fastball touched the mid-90s but usually comes in slower, supplementing it with an effective changeup and a true 12-to-6 bender. He’s really more of a finesse type than that sounds, but it’s conceivable that he’d wind up as a useful fourth or fifth starter in a major-league rotation. His numbers at Birmingham might encourage you to hope for more: 2.82 ERA, 7.2 K/9 against 2.9 walks in 27 starts and 156 1/3 IP. However, put the unearned runs in, and you wind up with a RA/9 mark of 3.62, take into account Birmingham’s a nice place to pitch, and you wind up with a 5.41 QERA. Considering he gave up just two homers in all of his first four innings combined (108 IP), and seven in the subsequent 48 1/3, durability might be an issue, so a future in middle-relief work becomes a possibility. Who knows, maybe adding Ely adds back a million here or there back to the till, money they won’t have to spend on Brian Bruney in December 2011. Book that, Dano? Sure, if it helps the Dodgers avoid another one of those regrettable reunions Joe Torre seems stuck on.

Link’s an easy guy to root for, a reliever with an active interest in pitching who might have his uses as a situational right-hander, having held Triple-A righties to .217/.277/.318 while striking them out in 32 percent of all PAs. He’s a sinker/slider guy without more than low-90s velocity, but the slider’s considered a good pitch. He’s the one they have to put onto the 40-man roster and he’ll be heading into his age-26 season, so he’s not a wee kiddo, nor do they get to use Pierre’s roster spot to some other purpose.

However, by moving Pierre off of the bench, the Dodgers do more than just get money back, they also create a spot for an outfield reserve who might fit more neatly into their needs. Say, a right-handed batter who could spot-start against lefties for Andre Ethier? Ideally, one who could also play center, which might mean this is Jason Repko‘s latest big break-OK, his latest big break that doesn’t involve bones or soft tissue. Of course, they could also buy better on the market, but the club’s seeming divorce-inspired passivity probably discourages such activities.

Team Audit | DT Cards | PECOTA Cards | Depth Chart

Signed RHP Clint Everts to a one-year contract. [12/16]
Signed RHP Ryota Igarashi to a two-year, $3 million contract. [12/17]

I don’t know if we should credit Omar Minaya with being creative or just doing something off-beat because he’s trying to mix things up, and Japan’s given the organization its share of the employable enough. Igarashi’s going to be 31 next spring, but his last two years since a 2007 TJS have been relatively effective, as he’s posted translated DERAs of 3.76 and 4.45 and translated strikeout rates of 6.2 and 7.5 K/9. He’s reportedly got a power assortment, relying on a fastball and splitter to get those Ks, but it’ll be interesting to see how well that works against big-league hitters coming from a 5’11” frame. The money isn’t much in the grand scheme of things, of course, but after the the disastrous attempts to come across by the Marines’ Yasuhiko Yabuta and Masa Kobayashi to come over from Chiba Lotte in 2007, it’s interesting to note teams’ renewed willingness to take another bite at that apple.

Everts’ deal was for a major-league contract, putting him onto the 40-man.

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Signed RHPs Joel Peralta and Logan Kensing and C-R Jamie Burke to minor-league contracts. [12/15]

Burke and Kensing are already intimately familiar with the Nationals experience. It seems unlikely that Burke’s got a prayer of spending much time with the team, what with their having indulged themselves in the pricey Pudge experience, but I expect a large part of his role is to wind up as an experienced big-league backup backstop they’ll employ at Syracuse to work with their more promising prospects. The new guy is Peralta, a situational right-hander whose limited assortment didn’t go over so well in Denver. He might stick, but given his ineffectiveness against lefties (they’re at .281/.356/.560 against him, career), it’ll depend greatly on what extra bits Jim Riggleman decides to retain among his last three relievers at the back end of the pen. If he decides to take a page from the Manny Acta playbook and winds up with a small squad of situational playthings but few reliable relievers, Peralta fits in perfectly. If he wants to spend two roster spots on an extreme situational right-hander and (presumably) an extreme situational lefty, Peralta will do his best. If he’s asked to do more than that, however, they’ll both come to grief. Not that it’ll affect the standings, mind you, but people pay to watch this stuff.

*: What Have You Done Lately?

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The Yanks are the defending champs and they've made some nice moves this winter. I can't even argue with the decisions they've made to cut players loose. We can't count them out.

The Red Sox have - I think without question - the best starting rotation in the majors, maybe ever. They might not have much at the plate for next year, but they may not need it to be competitive.

But, as Christina says, this is "shaping up as the most exciting winter in Mariners history" (and, IMHO, that is a gross understatement). And the Angels, while losing some significant talent (Figgins and Lackey aren't easily replaceable) are making enough moves to stay competitive.

Is this the end of the dominance of the AL East? When the dust settles, are there going to be any teams that can stay with the Mariners and Angels? I'm having trouble seeing it right now...
2010 Boston Red Sox - the best starting rotation ever?!? Their ace is *maybe* one of the top 20 pitchers in baseball today. That makes pretty much any rotation with one of the top 20 pitchers in baseball ever better than this year's sawx.

And can any team that can stay with the mariners and angels?!? The mariners have made some nice additions, but I still see an 85 win team replacing their 3b at basically a wash, adding maybe 5 wins with cliff lee and another 2 or 3 with milton bradley. All the angels have done is swap vlad for matsui and lose lackey and figgins.
This got me thinking about best rotations right now. For winning in the playoffs, who's is best? They may not all be up to date, and there may be transactions I've missed, but I thought it would be a start. Who did I miss?

Giants - Lincecum, Cain, Sanchez/Bumgarner/Zito
Dodgers - (Garland), Billingsley, Kershaw
Padres - Correia, Latos
Rockies - Jimenez, Marquis, De La Rosa, Hammel
Diamondbacks - Haren, D. Davis, Webb-inj. in '09, E. Jackson

Astros - W. Rodriguez, Oswalt
Cubs - Dempster, Lilly, Zambrano, Wells
Reds - Arroyo, Cueto, Harang
Cardinals - Carpenter, Wainwright, Piniero
Milwaukee - Gallardo, Wolf, Looper
Pittsburgh - Duke, Maholm, Ohlendorf

Phillies - Halladay, Blanton, Hamels, Happ
Mets - J. Santana, Maine, Pelfrey
Marlins - J. Johnson, Nolasco
Braves - Jurrjens, Vazquez, Lowe, Hanson
Nationals - Lannan, Strasburg, L. Hernandez

Red Sox - Lester, Lackey, Beckett
Rays - Shields, Garza, Niemann, Price, Davis
Orioles - Guthrie, Millwood, Matusz, Tillman, Arrieta
Yankees - Sabathia, Burnett, Pettitte
Jays - Romero, Drabek

Tigers - Verlander, Porcello, Scherzer, Washburn
White Sox - Danks, Floyd, Buerhle, Peavy
Twins - Blackburn, Baker, Pavano
Indians - Huff, Laffey, Sipp, Westbrook, Carmona
Royals - Greinke, Hochevar

Mariners - Hernandez, Lee, Morrow
A's - Anderson, Cahill
Rangers - Harden, Feldman
Angels - Weaver, Saunders
Gil Meche should be added ahead of Hochevar.
And Kazmir for the L.A. Angels and Buchholz as #4 for the Red Sox.

Coincidentally, just featured an article on the need for a big 3 rotation, listing the Yankees, Red Sox, White Sox and Tigers in the A.L. (not the Mariners) and the Phillies, Braves, Diamondbacks, and Giants as the top Top-3 rotations.

In part because the author initially forgot Peavy, the article has generated over 150 comments in the day it's been up, with some interesting discussion.
Pineiro out, Lohse and Penny in for St. Louis. It is not yet clear whether this is a good thing.
Slowey should be back for the Twins. He's better than Pavano and Blackburn and maybe Baker.
Cook and Francis should be back for the Rockies, probably bumping Hammel and maybe De Rosa.
Erps never mind the De La Rosa part.. but Hammel will probably get bumped.
Sipp is not a starter. I think you mean Carrasco, Sowers or Rondon.
I think you meant Josh Beckett up there in the second paragraph.
Unless Dave Duncan pulled off his greatest trick -- switching Penny for Beckett.
Seriously? The Angels and Mariners have caught up to a team that won over 100 games in the AL East?
That isn't the game: as the 2001 Mariners exemplify only too well, mounding up regular-season wins isn't the way you win a pennant. King Felix and Cliff Lee were two of the top 10 starters in baseball last season:

... you've got an excellent defensive team, and it just added Chone Figgins and Milton Bradley, two exceptional OBP sources. The Mariners lineup has two weaknesses, first base and catcher, and those are two positions this market is awash in.

Is it enough to take the Yankees now? No. The lineup still needs help. But it's an exceptional start, and I'd like this construction to being something very like the Marlins of '96 and '97, who were built not to win the NL East or the most games in baseball, but to be a good enough team to beat anybody in a postseason series.

As for the Angels, I didn't put them there, and I don't.
I misinterpreted seedanrun's comment to mean regular season victories. Your interpretation makes more sense. Also, doesn't the strength of their DH slot depend on the number of PAs Griffey accumulates, or are you assuming Bradley doesn't play LF? What options on this market at catcher would turn the position into a non-weakness for the Mariners?
No worries, nothing wrong with talking about it, after all. ;)

If the Mariners stay in on Bay--which they might, because remember, they were willing to afford him when they were paying Silva to do nothing (ideally), and their budget picture hasn't been radically altered as a result of adding Bradley--then as I've kidded, they'll wind up with Griffey getting 300 PAs or so as cheerleader-in-chief, and Bradley doing more DHing than anything else. It's potentially glorious.
I should add, show me the numbers, and I'll be convinced.
I don't think it's fair to compare the Lackey and Burnett contracts side by side like that, basically because Lackey WASN'T available last year. The Yankees had a solid team last year that they obviously thought had World Series aspirations but were missing a #2/3 pitcher. Lackey NOT BEING AVAILABLE was out of the question, so instead they had to decide between Burnett, a strikeout throwing injury case, or Derek Lowe, a pitch-to-contact horse. Considering defense, ballpark and the AL-East factor, (I guess you can't count the WS victory as that was more outcome than process), I think the Yankees made the right choice of the two options they actually had, John Lackey not being one of them. Even if the Yankees did overpay for Burnett, remember that marginal wins mean more at the gate for contending teams and I think the Yankees made quite a profit during the 2009 postseason.

As for the performance record between Lackey and Burnett, I'm not even willing to trust those numbers straight up as Burnett has been putting up his numbers in the AL East the three years prior to the Yankees signing him last offseason, while Lackey has enjoyed dominating the in-offensive A's and Mariners thanks to the unbalanced schedule. I don't think the AL East Lackey will put up the same numbers as the AL West Lackey did.

As for the two West teams in Anaheim and Mariners over tacking the Al East, I can see it happening, but not because they are better teams but more because they still have Oakland and not ready for prime time Texas team to beat up on, while the AL East is a three-way death match, while even the weaker teams in Baltimore and Toronto have some upside (far more so for Baltimore, though Toronto still has that uncanny ability of creating/finding decent pitching out of nowhere).
Burnett's performance record is such that calling him a #2 is flattery, and the deal didn't look good when it was signed:
I think part of that is because you guys have crazy ideas as to what constitutes #1 and #2 pitchers.

There are 30 teams in baseball. That leaves 30 #1 pitchers and 30 #2 pitchers. So your average #2 should be around the 45th best starter in baseball. AJ Burnett was the 41st best starter (min 150 innings pitched) in baseball according to VORP (Lackey was 49) and 41 by SNVA (Lackey was 39). In 2008 Burnett was 46 by VORP (Lackey was 42) and 35 by SNVA (Lackey was 30)

Burnett is pretty much the very definition of a #2 starter. And yea, Lackey is marginally better than Burnett, but we are talking just a few places here, not significantly different. And again, Lackey wasn't on the market last year.

Now you may argue that contending teams should have better than just average, and I'd agree to that somewhere. Contending teams aren't just average, but considering that the Yankees offense was looking to rebound to be one of the best, if not the best, the Yankees were also confident in their bullpen, plus in the rest of the rotation they felt like they had a strong #1 in Sabathia, a good #3 in Pettitte, a great #4 in Wang and a #5 in Joba who had the ability to leap frog the others into the #2 spot if all went right. Now all didn't go right, but contending teams don't need to be above average everywhere and being far enough above average at many other places the Yanks felt that Burnett was a good choice as an average #2. Basically the Yankees don't need a rotation full of aces, they just need pitchers who won't let the game get carried away to give their dominant offense the ability to win the game. Maybe that's not the "right way" to win, cause we all know how everyone loves the pitching and defense method, but it works.

So that brings us to the contract. Is it bad, probably. But with the Yankees looking to win now, they couldn't wait an extra year for the Lackey contract (which I really wouldn't consider all that much better) to fall into their laps. Waiting for the perfect undervalued contracts year after year will see teams waiting forever to actually make a push to an actual championship. The Yankees wanted to win now, and that required a bad AJ Burnett contract. So be it. Flags fly forever. And even if that process didn't end in a flag, going into the year sans-Burnett would surely have not won a flag. I'd rather have the possibility with a bad contract than no possibility at all.

So yeah, the Red Sox are "smarter" than the Yankees yet again, but the Yankees have won just as many World Series this decades as the Red Sox, while showing up in another two and winning a hell lot more AL Easts, not to mention being the defending champions.

The Red Sox can be "smarter" all they want, I'll take the flags any day.
Opponents OPS 2009... Burnett .765, Lackey .755
Opponents OPS 2008 ...Burnett .762, Lackey .766

I don't buy your theory.
Pierre will be playing LF, Rios in CF according to Ozzie
I'm not sure of the defensive numbers, but unless they're amazing Pierre as a left fielder is offensive suicide.
It makes the decision to acquire him odd; Pierre-in-LF is strange, as Podsednik-in-LF was strange in 2005, because you can find usually find better hitters for LF, as you suggest. However, if the goal is the best possible defensive alignment, and you're stuck with the decision that Juan Pierre's one of your outfielders, you don't lose runs compared to how many runs you were going to score employing him anyway, you lose runs compared to what you might have done instead of going out and getting Juan Pierre.

Of course, the other thing involved here is that it gets me to wondering what this might mean about Carlos Quentin: a right fielder on his way up through the Snakes' system, he could move over there if healthy, or, if health's still an issue, he could move to DH. With shopping season in full swing, we'll have to see which way to Sox go, because there's still that one lineup slot to fill.
Christina hits this one on the head (even if she missed it in the article, but nobody is perfect). Ozzie has an outfield that features both Pierre and Rios. One of them has to play CF, one of them LF. I'll play the one (Pierre) who can't throw from me to you (well, given this is the world wide web, and likely thousands of miles, that's not such a criticism) in LF. The issue isn't whether or not Pierre has a LF bat (clearly he does not); it is, given that he is in the starting 10, what should he defend?
I expect the White Sox to wait and see how the market develops before adding a DH. In recent years, the Sox have been righty dominant, so a lefty bat would make sense. In this regard, I have two questions:

(1) If the Yankees and Red Sox opt out of the bidding for Johnny Damon, which teams in the NL and AL are most likely to bid for his services and what will his salary range be if the Yankees and Red Sox are not there to bid against each other and drive up the price?

(2) Now that Hideki Matsui is off of the market, how would you rank the following free agents as to their potential fit for the Pale Hose: Adam LaRoche, Jack Cust, Russell Branyan, Carlos Delgado, Hank Blalock, Aubrey Huff, Mike Jacobs and Rick Ankiel?

Thank you.
1) Damon on the South Side? That'd be fun, but I expect they'll be going cheap.

2) I'd discount LaRoche, Branyan, and Delgado as being too expensive, or looking for first-base jobs. Ankiel would be interesting (not to mention it would keep DH open to rotate Konerko, Quentin, and later in the summer, Flowers), but seems unlikely. Which leaves us with Cust, Blalock, Huff, and Jacobs. From that group, Cust would be tasty, but probably isn't Ozzie's kind of add-on. Huff might be the most interesting, but that's because I'm about as down on Blalock as one can be. Jacobs is a weak platoon DH, and will be a great asset to Charlotte's bid for a title. It's the sort of list that I'd add Eric Hinske to, and put above Huff, or Jim Thome, on a cheap deal for a last spin and proper South Side good-bye tour.

Book it.
ok, here's what I don't get.

2009 ERA GS BB K 2008 ERA GS BB K
Player A 3.83 27 47 139 3.75 24 40 130
Player B 4.09 26 67 171 2.07 25 61 181

Any guesses? hint: Player A just signed for 5 years at $16 million per. Player B signed this off season for 1 year at $6.5 million because he's an "injury risk"

Washburn a Tiger??