The official newsletter of the Santa Barbara Outlaws

Free Agency Preview

It’s time once again to take a look at this year’s free agency pool.   Unlike past years, the 2002 Free Agency lacks the quantity of stars that we have been accustomed too.  However, that does not mean there aren’t players out there that could help a BRASSball team!  Let’s take an unofficial look at this year’s top talent.  Please forgive me if I skipped your favorite player.  This is an unofficial scan of the rosters to see who might be available in the off season. 

First base has a wealth of talent available.  Leading the pack are Carlos Delgado (RFA), Ryan Klesko, and Mike Sweeney (RFA).  No doubt Mark McGwire and Frank Thomas (RFA) will be rich men in spite of seasons in which they both would prefer to forget.  If you can’t land one of the big names, players like Brad Fullmer, Fred McGriff, and Doug Mientkiewicz (RFA) would work.  Veteran Mark Grace is looking to cash in one last time, while Eric Karros and JT Snow are hoping they don’t get stuck with a $376k offer from Metropolis. 

The big name at second base appears to be Jeff Kent.  After an MVP season two years ago, and protecting Barry Bonds this year, Kent has established himself as one of the top hitters in the league.  Veterans like David Bell, Quilvio Veras, and Jose Offerman can provide some added punch at second base.  It will be interesting to see how Marlon Anderson (RFA) and Jose Macias (RFA) make out in their first Free Agency process.  Both should earn a raise. 

Phil Nevin is finally putting up the type of numbers that were expected of him when the Santa Barbara Outlaws drafted him in the first few rounds of the Inaugural BRASSball Annual Draft some 8 years ago.   This year’s top third base talent is Phil Nevin (RFA), although Jeff Cirillo will be right behind him.  Placido Polanco (RFA) looks to cash in, too.  Veterans like Chris Stynes, Fernando Tatis (RFA), and Ken Caminiti are hoping to latch on. 

There are also a fair amount of quality shortstops available this year.   Topping the list this year is shortstop Rich Aurilia (RFA).  And you can’t go wrong with Orlando Cabrera (RFA), Omar Vizquel, Jose Hernandez, or Rey Sanchez.   Other guys worth a look are Deivi Cruz (RFA), Benji Gil (RFA), Mark Loretta (RFA), and the flashy Rey Ordonez (RFA).

Two years ago, Mike Piazza, Javy Lopez, and Jason Kendall entered free agency.   All three cashed in big time.  This year may be similar as catchers Charles Johnson (RFA) and Jorge Posada (RFA) test the market.  It’s not too often when catchers of this caliber are available. 

No question, Luis Gonzalez will be on the top of many BRASSball teams wish list.  He has proven that he is no fluke, posting respectable numbers the last few years.  This has been another monster season for Luis Gonzalez, and he is having a career year just before entering the free agent market.  How ‘bout a loan, Luis?  Other solid outfielders include Brian Giles (RFA), Mike Cameron (RFA), Rusty Greer, and Raul Mondesi (RFA).  Outfielder Darin Erstad (RFA) has been praying to the Angels in the Outfield that he hasn’t cost himself millions by having an off year in his free agency season.  There is no better pinch hitter available than Mr. Tony Gwynn.   He’ll be looking for the highest 1-year contract he can find.  Mysterious ailments have cast a shadow of doubt over Chuck Knoblauch and Todd Hollandsworth’s (RFA) chances of coming up with the big pay day.  Solid big leaguers like Brian Jordan and Reggie Sanders will be worth a look.  Veterans David Justice, BJ Surhoff, Brady Anderson, Steve Finley, Mark McLemore, Troy O'Leary, and Paul O'Neill can contribute to a team’s success too. 

Starting pitchers always make out in Free Agency since they are always in demand.  But no matter how risky their arms may be, owners always dish out the money to them.  And generally, they are well worth the investment.  Occasionally we get poor results, like Wilson Alvarez and his 6-year, $18M mistake!  Think Randy Johnson (3 years, $26.5M) and Curt Schilling (3 years, $33M).  These guys might bring a BRASSball championship home!

This year, Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling will expect similar contracts for their services as they re-enter free agency after record breaking contracts.  Kevin Brown, Roger Clemens, John Burkett, Tom Glavine, and Rick Helling will also command the big bucks.   If you can’t afford the big guys, go after Albie Lopez (RFA), Matt Morris (RFA), Jeff Suppan (RFA), Brian Anderson, Pedro Astacio, Kelvim Escobar (RFA), Dustin Hermanson, Joe Mays, Brian Meadows, or Hideo Nomo to name a few.