Players signed through 2005: Pettitte, Ausmus, Bagwell. Players eligible for arbitration: Lidge, Everett, Ensberg, Lane, Bruntlett, Backe, Gallo, Harville, Hernandez, Qualls. Players for whom we hold an option : Kent, Biggio. I'm not sure what the situation with Clemens is, but I'm assuming his 10-year personal services contract negates his ability to sign with some other team. Whether or not he'll sign with us (I've heard that he's seriously leaning that way) is yet to be determined. He sure likes to wait it out though.
The big question is, which All-Star do they sign between Berkman, Beltran and Oswalt. I think Oswalt should be our first priority. Sure, his groin gave out last year, but this year he's avoided the injury bug and can now be relied upon as a quality ace. A nice, juicy 3-year, $30 million contract would fit nicely.
So: Berkman or Beltran? Their career stats:
Berkman .301 .416 .561 .977
Beltran .285 .353 .492 .845 (182/209 SB)
Berkman is 28; Beltran 27. Both are switch-hitters. Beltran plays tra-mendous defense in center; Berkman looks foolish in left or right. Still, Berkman gets on base at a higher clip, and absolutely smacks the HELL out of the ball. And while his career OPS is more than 100 points lower than Berkman's, Beltran is the talk of the town. Everyone's talking about him getting $12 million per year. No one seems to be talking about Berkman.
I say we retain Oswalt and Berkman. I bet we can get both for around $10 million per year. We all know they'd be worth that price. Despite what Beltran has done for us this year, I just don't see how we can afford him. We could move Biggio back to center (shudder), or call up Willy Taveras next year. Burke and Lane would get a chance to play full time, as we bid farewell to Kent. Next year's projected lineup and rotation:
Biggio CF $3 million
Everett SS cheap
Bagwell 1B $17 million
Berkman LF $10 million
Lane RF cheap
Ensberg 3B cheap
Burke 2B cheap
Ausmus C $3 million
Oswalt $10 million
Pettitte $7.5 million
Redding / Backe / Duckworth / Munro / Buchholz / Qualls cheap
Jack keeps telling me we're screwed for year to come. I don't think this looks so bad.