Friday, March 23, 2007

The offseason's not quite over — 10 more days til Opening Day! — but I think we can safely assume Purpura's done dealing. Of course, there are several players being shopped around, guys like Jon Lieber, Josh Fogg, Byung-Hyun Kim … maybe Brad Penny.

I can't say I'm a huge fan of how the 2006 offseason played out, but at least it's been exciting. You can't tell me that shelling out $100 million for a slugger isn't an exciting move. Sure, Carlos Lee might be overrated and terrible defensively. And of course Jason Hirsh might outperform Jason Jennings as soon as this year. And Woody Williams could easily serve up 40 homers this year. But at least it'll be fun to watch the new guys in the wide-open NL Central.

I'm still very disappointed Purpura et al didn't make a move for Mark Redman. He was picked up by the Braves a few weeks ago when Mike Hampton went down with an oblique injury. Redman has not been good the last three years, his ERA peaking at 5.71 last year. But he's had moderate success in his earlier years: His career line is 4.65/1.40. I'd say that the very definition of average. But it's still a whole lot better than what Wandy will do this year.

After the last few games of Spring Training, it's becoming clear that Wandy and Nieve are our No. 4 and No. 5 starters. Sampson was given a big start Thursday to show off his stuff, but he fell in the worst way, giving up 10 runs. To the Nationals. Ouch.

Sampson is capable of good things, and it will be interesting to see how he's used during the regular season. It would seem as though Sampson, Borkowski and Moehler (and to a lesser degree, Zeke Astacio) are all competing for the long-reliever/spot-starter role in the bullpen. Of course, with Woody, Wandy and Nieve in the rotation, it might be prudent to have more than one long-reliever to eat innings.

Sampson would also seem to fit into a dependable ground-ball pitcher a la Chad Qualls. Bring him in with men on to induce the GIDP. I bet Sampson could excel in that role.

Hunter Pence was sent down to minor-league camp this week. I suppose it was inevitable. I wonder if Drayton was slapping himself for paying out $100 million when he could have had the same production from a $300K guy. Oh well. I wonder if anyone's set up a pool for Hunter's call-up.

Lane's been doing well, leading the Grapefruit League in RBI. He hit 2 bombs the other day against the Marlins, and he appears to have locked up the RF platoon role with Luke Scott. I think and hope it'll work out well. I wonder if Hidalgo will accept an assignment to Round Rock, knowing that Pence would likely be called up sooner than he would if an injury strikes.

I've been preparing for our pay-league draft this weekend. Jack and J.T. say they'd prefer not to be in slots Nos. 2-7 or so. But I completely disagree. Getting any one of Santana, Reyes, Soriano, Beltran, Howard or Crawford would be OK in my book.

I'm also waffling about the idea of position scarcity. Utley specifically comes to mind. He's eons above anyone else at at second, so it makes sense to draft him early, even though other guys might put up better numbers. Would you rather have Guerrero and Iguchi or Utley and Hunter? Hard to say. But Utley's damn good.

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