Take a look at the list of available players in the free-agent market, and you have to think that group would have a better shot at finding some October glory.
Granted, there are a number of risks involved with the imaginary All-Available Team (namely age), but combine the resumes of the yet-to-be-signed players, and you've got yourself a potent lineup.
NESN features producer Jeb Fisher fields the All-Available Team team below:
C — Rod Barajas
1B — Hank Blalock
2B — Felipe Lopez
3B — Joe Crede
SS — Ramon E. Martinez
LF — Garret Anderson
CF — Johnny Damon
RF — Jermaine Dye
DH — Russell Branyan
Bench players could include:
1B/DH — Carlos Delgado
OF — Corey Patterson
C — Yorvit Torrealba
The rotation, as Fisher notes, has some age and/or injury issues, which is why a six-man rotation would be effective for the imaginary unit:
The bullpen, however, might do in the chances of the 2010 All-Availables:
A brief glance at the roster spotlights the value of pitching in today's game. There are some interesting candidates available, but for the most part, it's safe to say that all quality pitchers have been scooped up by now. The pitcher with the most upside in the group is Chien-Ming Wang, but given his utter ineffectiveness the past two seasons, it's hard for any team right now to take a flier on the former Cy Young candidate.
Pedro Martinez is coming off an impressive October, in which he displayed at least fleeting glimpses of his former, dominant self. He hasn't pitched in 30 or more games, though, since 2005, so his contributions over the long haul may be minimal.
Offensively, there are bats to be had. Johnny Damon stands out as the best, as he's coming off as good a season as he's ever had. Scott Boras is likely responsible for Damon's current unemployment, but it's a near guarantee that Damon will be back with someone soon. The Braves or Tigers could pounce on Damon when his price becomes more reasonable.
Rod Barajas also wouldn't be a bad pickup, as the 34-year-old hit 19 home runs last season — just two shy of his career high, which he set in 2005.
Hank Blalock is intriguing at just 29 years old and coming off a 25-home run campaign last season, but his .234 batting average is probably enough to scare teams away.
Carlos Delgado, who suffered hip problems last year and was limited to just 26 games, is only one season removed from a 38-HR, 118-RBI season with the Mets. He hit .298 with four home runs and 24 RBIs in 23 games this winter in the Puerto Rican league. He may only make sense as a part-time DH option for an AL club, but he could be a difference-maker off the bench for a contending team.
Though he didn't make the list, Nomar Garciaparra wouldn't be a bad option either.
When you look at the snapshot of available players, you have to think that the strapped economy has to be playing a role in at least some of these players' current status among the unemployed (the extraordinarily rich unemployed, but unemployed nonetheless). While we haven't seen a drop-off in big contracts across the majors, we're seeing teams shying away from risky deals. The Red Sox learned that lesson the hard way last season with John Smoltz, who ended up costing them upward of $5 million for a 2-5 record, 8.32 ERA and zero quality starts.
Of course, there's still time for many of these guys to find a new home, but chances are they'll be doing so for less money than they originally wanted. Still, you can't help but wonder what kind of record this imaginary squad could put up in the NL West.
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