Potential free-agent busts (Pavano, Wood) and bargains (Garland, Lee)
No teams want to make a mistake in free agency, as a bad contract can hamper a franchise for years (although the world champion Giants overcame bad deals for Barry Zito and Aaron Rowand). Nobody wants to add the wrong person to their clubhouse, either. Here's a list of 10 free agents to be avoided, or at least be very wary of.
Sandy Alderson has been busy hiring, firing and interviewing folks in his first weeks as GM of the Mets, and so far we can draw these conclusions:
• It helps to have been associated with Alderson's old A's teams. He has hired J.P. Ricciardi and is reportedly trying to lure Paul DePodesta. Can't really blame him too much as he's charged with putting together a front office on the fly after not being a GM since 1997, so it makes some sense to call upon the old gang. The casualties are friends of Omar Minaya, who are being fired or forced out. Can't imagine Minaya will want to re-join this team now, after Alderson showed so little interest in his guys. Also, what becomes of John Ricco, the well-respected assistant GM who was in on the interview process that identified Alderson (though he had a good head start with the endorsement of both Bud Selig and Fred Wilpon)?
• The Mets may be skimping on players this year, but they are spending big on front-office imports. Ricciardi was lured after working one day in the Red Sox front office, and DePodesta is another former GM who was thought to be one of the highest-paid non-GMs in anyone's front office in San Diego.
• It appears that Alderson's looking for a manager with some experience, as his outside interviews so far include Clint Hurdle and Don Wakamatsu (he's also interviewing well-regarded Red Sox coach DeMarlo Hale). But he's showing respect for uniformed Mets people by interviewing several, in addition to field coordinator Terry Collins, who has connections to several key figures, including DePodesta and Wilpon's childhood friend Sandy Koufax, and is believed to be at or near the top of Alderson's list, he's interviewing at least Bob Melvin, Chip Hale, Wally Backman and Dave Jauss from in-house.
Collins looks like an early managerial favorite due to his vast upper-level connections, but Melvin, Wakamatsu and Hurdle seem to fit the criteria, as well, and a Collins appointment won't necessarily be well-received, considering he has yet to make the playoffs in six previous seasons managing in the bigs with the Astros and Angels.
• The Pirates are thought to be choosing between Hurdle and well-respected organization man Jeff Banister as their new manager. Hurdle was seen as the favorite, and someone close to him thought he would take the Pirates job if he didn't get the Mets' job, as Hurdle is "ever the optimist.''
• The Pirates, by the way, seem active in early free-agent calls. They are believed to be showing interest in some surprising free agent prizes, such as Beltre. Whether this is because they are being encouraged to spend more by MLB isn't known.
• Brewers owner Mark Attanasio at first wanted to hire Bobby Valentine but was talked out of it be people "outside the organization,'' Bill Madden of the New York
• The one-year deal in Florida for Edwin Rodriguez makes him quite possibly the longest-running interim in history. Marlins people seem to want to hire Ozzie Guillen, who was the third base coach previously, still lives in Miami and wasn't extended by the White Sox recently after he went to the press with his desire. White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf is said to still love Guillen, who is currently starring in a long-running South Side soap opera that includes GM Kenny Williams. But Guillen's contract expires after the 2011 season.
• The Yankees were intent on putting on an early press release for top target Lee. They also want to keep their own stars Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, but there were early signs that the Jeter talks could take awhile. Jeter's agent, Casey Close, responded to Hal Steinbrenner's early claim that negotiations are all about winning by telling AOL FanHouse that baseball is a business, too. The Yankees can't claim that Jeter's 3,000-hit march (expected to be completed in June) isn't relevant, as they are contracted to pay Alex Rodriguez as much as $30 million based on potential home run milestones. The Jeter talks may not go quickly or easily, but it would be a shocker if they didn't work it out.
• The Giants reportedly have told Pablo Sandoval that he risks being sent to the minors if he doesn't get in better shape. He is listed at 245, but that seems a tad generous (to the downside).
• The Yankees will consider Gil Patterson for pitching coach after being denied permission to talk to their No. 1 choice, Don Cooper, by the White Sox. Cooper, a New York native, would have been a natural. But Chicago understandably wants to hold on to him.
• Someone close to Nationals GM Mike Rizzo said he runs "hot and cold'' on Adam Dunn. The Nationals reportedly made Dunn a three-year offer, and he wants to stay in the National League. But the Nats like defense, so it would surprise no one if they signed Carlos Pena instead, and let Dunn go to the Cubs or elsewhere. Dunn has told everyone who'll listen that he abhors the DH role, though, so some AL teams that could have interest, such as the White Sox and A's, are probably out of luck.
• Hall-of-Famer-to-be Trevor Hoffman will come back to pitch if he can find a closer's job.
• Funny that two straight years -- first Matsui, then Renteria -- the World Series MVP wasn't treated like royalty by the championship team. Matsui was allowed to go elsewhere, and Renteria's option wasn't picked up. Another reminder that baseball is indeed a business.