I was checking out Baseball Primer's article links and they had one to the 2005-06 potential free agents. If I had to guess I would say we lose Biggio, Berkman, Ausmus, and Clemens (of the starters, at least), so we'll be looking for OF's, a C, and SP's and RP's. Here are some of the possibilities:
Berkman is the big catch, obviously, and I think we blew our chance at a long-term deal. After the Magglio signing of 5/75 (how good does Vladi's 5/70 contract look to the Angels right now?) I think Berkman is likely to get something in the 5/80 - 7/100 range, which may well be too much for us. I hope we let Biggio walk, so we'll really only have Lane as a sure thing (maybe Taveras or Scott or....someone.) Who might we go after? Here's a list with age (in the winter of '05), position, career OPS+, and 2004 OPS+
Randy Winn, 31, CF, 99, 107
Johnny Damon, 32, CF, 101, 117
Carl Everett, 34, RF, 112, 85
Mark Kotsay, 30, CF, 103, 114
Jose Cruz Jr., 31, RF, 103, 101
Richard Hidalgo, 30, RF, 114, 90
Preston Wilson, 31, CF, 107, 69
Kenny Lofton, 38, CF (ugh), 108, 97
Reggie Sanders, 37, RF, 117, 105
Brian Giles, 34, LF, 146, 126
First of all I don't think Willy Taveras will be a major league starter, so we'll need a CF. From that list, Lofton is too old, Wilson is overrated and hurt, Damon will probably be expensive after his playoff heroics....that leaves Randy Winn and Mark Kotsay. I'm a huge Kotsay fan; he's excellent defensively and underrated offensively. He has more injury concerns (his back, specifically) than Winn, so that evens them out a bit. One of the keys here is the sheer number of possible CF's that will be available - though I like Kotsay and Winn the most, we shouldn't overpay, because there are a few out there. All things equal, I'd give Kotsay 3 /10 or Winn 2/6.
1. Mark Kotsay (3/9?)
2. Randy Winn (3/7?)
The rest of the bunch is highlighted by an aging (but still great) Brian Giles, probably-too-old Reggie Sanders, the former Astro Carl Everett, and Jose Cruz Jr. I think Cruz is likely to be the best value on the list, though a lot depends on how he does in AZ. Again, their are options, though, so we need to not overpay for anyone.
1. Jose Cruz Jr. (2/5?)
2. Brian Giles (3/30?)
We're really going to need one, and while I hope we claim Robby Hammock off waivers, I won't hold my breath. Who we might go after:
Bengie Molina, 30 years old, 79, 86
Henry Blanco, 33 years old, 62, 60
Jason LaRue, 31 years old, 89, 103
Todd Pratt, 38 years old, 100, 86
Benito Santiago, 40 years old, 92, 96
Ramon Hernandez, 28 years old, 95, 116
I would say Hernandez is the big prize here, though the top 3 are excellent defensively (and we love defense at catcher, don't we?). See why I like Hammock? He'd be a good, cheap fit, and there aren't many obviously better options in the FA market. We'll need a starting catcher most likely (please no Raul Chavez), so that eliminates Todd Pratt and Benito Santiago (age). Henry Blanco is awful, so that leaves Bengie Molina, Jason LaRue, and Ramon Hernandez. I love Hernandez; he's put up two big years in a row in pitcher's parks, and LaRue has a solid OBP thanks to tons of HBP's, so they're my top two.
1. Ramon Hernandez (4/16?)
2. Jason LaRue (3/9?)
Gotta run, be back to fill in the gaps and SP/RP analysis later. GET ROBBY HAMMOCK.