By Jacob Luft
January 20, 2005
MLB Hot Stove Power Rankings
Rank LW Team
16 17 San Diego Padres
The Padres were able to make modest improvements (adding Woody Williams, trading Terrence Long) while not getting caught up in the free-agent frenzy. Most important, they didn't let the wacky maneuverings of NL West rivals Arizona and Los Angeles alter their plan of building around talented youth (Khalil Greene, Jake Peavy) and quality veterans (Brian Giles, Trevor Hoffman).
Key additions: RHP Williams, INF Eric Young, OF Dave Roberts
17 11 Philadelphia Phillies
If you have received random e-mails from Phillies beat writers and columnists ripping the team, you are not alone. Allan E. Carlson of Glendale, Calif., is on trial for computer crimes and identity theft. Reportedly, he was spending 70 hours a week hijacking e-mail addresses (including those of sports writers) and spamming thousands of people with anti-Phillies diatribes.
Key additions: RHP Jon Lieber, OF Kenny Lofton
18 15 Pittsburgh Pirates
Having your own bobblehead day must be nice, but what happens if you are not there to enjoy it? Craig Wilson, who hit a career-high 29 home runs last season, will be going to arbitration after making $1.15 million in 2004. His bobblehead day is slated for June 4. If his salary gets too high, though, the team might have to consider moving him.
Key additions: OF Matt Lawton, C Benito Santiago, LHP Mark Redman
19 13 Arizona Diamondbacks
Having the Dodgers pay them to take Shawn Green would have made so much sense. But then the D'backs had to give Green a long-term extension, officially making it a trade that hurts both teams.
Key additions: Shawn Green, Javier Vazquez, Troy Glaus, Russ Ortiz
20 21 Detroit Tigers
Other than Troy Percival, the Tigers struck out on landing any big names. The best news for Detroit lately was Jack Morris' 7 percent increase on the Hall of Fame ballot. But even at 33 percent, Morris is still well short of the 75 percent needed for enshrinement.
Key additions: Percival
21 27 Cincinnati Reds
Once again, much is being made about the Reds having four outfielders for three spots. Just remember that one of those four is Griffey, which means it will be three outfielders for three spots soon enough.
Key additions: Eric Milton, Joe Randa
22 19 Texas Rangers
The Rangers are hoping the Mets' signing of Beltran clears the way for Texas to land free agent Carlos Delgado. The lukewarm market for the former Blue Jays star is puzzling considering he has hit at least 30 home runs for eight consecutive years. After the All-Star break last season, he batted .305 with a .408 on-base percentage, 22 homers and 63 RBIs. Signing him for less than the $50 million Richie Sexson got from Seattle should be considered a bargain.
Key additions: RF Richard Hidalgo, C Sandy Alomar Jr.
23 22 Chicago Cubs
Hey, look, another team at the mercy of a star player (Sammy Sosa) with a no-trade clause. The Chicago Tribune reports it will take at least a two-year, $20 million extension to get Sosa to approve of a trade. Looks like Sosa will be back in Wrigley next year.
Key additions: None
24 24 Baltimore Orioles
Have they waved the white flag? The Yankees and Red Sox had their pick of the litter in the free-agent market while the Orioles have responded by signing Steve Kline. Even their pursuit of Delgado, who would fill a gaping need at first base, has been unusually tepid.
Key additions: LHP Kline
25 18 Houston Astros
As much as losing Beltran will hurt, it was in the franchise's best interest to let him go. Giving Beltran seven years, $100 million-plus and a complete no-trade clause would have made Scott Boras a de-facto general manager of the ballclub. Ask the Rangers how the A-Rod deal worked out for them. In the meantime, Houston has to figure out how to keep Craig Biggio from returning to center field and Roger Clemens from retiring.
Key additions: None
26 25 Washington Nationals
A Washington Post poll found that 69 percent of D.C. voters do not favor using public funds for a new stadium. It seems they would rather spend their tax money on rebuilding schools and reopening a hospital than lining MLB's pockets with money. Go figure.
Key additions: OF Jose Guillen, SS Cristian Guzman, 3B Vinny Castilla, OF Jeffrey Hammonds
27 26 Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays are bringing back Billy Koch for $900,000, or one dollar for every reason you can think of not to sign Billy Koch.
Key additions: 3B Corey Koskie
28 28 Colorado Rockies
Free-agent bust Mike Hampton will be on the books until 2018, and Denny Neagle may end up collecting his $19 million despite the team's termination of his contract. Even Todd Helton, their best hitter, represents an albatross of sorts with his mega contract that runs through 2012. About all the Rockies can do now is let the kids play, and they will as shortstop Clint Barmes, catcher J.D. Closser, outfielder Choo Freeman and third baseman Garrett Atkins get their chances this year.
Key additions: OF Dustan Mohr, INF Desi Relaford
29 29 Kansas City Royals
Just how much disparity is there between Kansas City and New York? Beltran's new contract of $119 million is enough to pay the Royals' entire payroll for 2004 and 2003 combined (roughly $90 million).
Key additions: RHP Jose Lima, OF Eli Marrero, 3B Chris Truby, OF Terrence Long, RHP Dennis Tankersley, LHP Andy Sisco
30 30 Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Remember when Alex S. Gonzalez (formerly of the Cubs) was considered the "good Alex Gonzalez?" Well, the Marlins' version of Alex Gonzalez slugged .419 last season and .433 the year before. The Gonzalez the Devil Rays signed slugged .368 and .409, respectively.
Key additions: 1B-DH Josh Phelps, 3B Gonzalez

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