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"Lou is not talking about mechanics when he goes out to the mound,"
~Chicago Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild

Thursday, November 17, 2005

From The Mailbag

Each MLB team website has a feature in which fans write questions that are answered by a team beat writer. Most of the beat writers give surprisingly good answers, but there are still some I take issue with. For that reason, and just for fun I'm going to copy some of the fans questions from different sites and then answer them the way I think they should be answered. This is something I intend to do on a weekly or bi-weekly basis throughout the offseason. Whether or not it works out that way remains to be seen. Here we go! First question please.

With the Braves in desperate need of repairing the bullpen situation, have they looked to signing free agent closers such as Billy Wagner or Trevor Hoffman? -- Alex A., Chattanooga, Tenn.

Not really. The Braves have never had a history of spending big bucks on the bullpen. With the exception of John Smoltz, they haven't had a consistantly dominant closer throughout their streak of division titles, so I wouldn't expect anything different this offseason. Wagner is going to command $10-12 million, most likely from the Mets or the Phillies. Hoffman's price won't be quite as high, but at age 38 it doesn't make sense to offer him the multi-year deal he's seeking.

I would expect that if Kyle Farnsworth is back he will be given every opportunity to win the closer job. Joey Devine, Blaine Boyer, and Macay McBride have opportunities to impress Cox in Spring Training. The Braves will probably bring in a couple veteran relievers, but for the most part will rely on the youngsters.

What are the Astros going to do with Chris Burke and Brad Lidge? Will Lidge ever become a starting pitcher?
-- Danielle S., Houston

That remains to be seen and NO!

Burke cannot play everday without pushing either Biggio or Lane out of the lineup. He does have some trade value and I'm sure clubs will be asking about his availability. Purpura loves Burke, so I don't see him going anywhere. He's in line to take over 2nd when Biggio retires. Burke will likely pinch hit and get the occasional start at 2nd or in left field.

Lidge is one of the best closers in the game. There has been no thought or desire to move him into the staters role.

What are the chances of the Twins signing Mike Piazza? I hear he's likely to sign with an American League team and be the DH, since his catching days are probably over. I think he would be a good fit for our offense, but can we afford him?
-- Ben A., Minneapolis, Minn.

I'd say it's about a 25% chance. The Twins have already spoken with Piazza's agent and Mike ahs labeled the Twins as one of the teams he would like to play for. Piazza still has a couple years of good hitting in him, especially as a DH. Whether or not the Twins can afford him remains to be seen. Most people, myself included, believe Piazza will make about $4 million a year in '06. At that price it would be a very good signing. If his salary goes north of that figure, which depends on the number of teams bidding on him, the Twins would probably pass on him. The good news for the Twins is that the big spenders haven't expressed much interest in Piazza, so the price could stay relatively low.

What will the Cubs do about center field in 2006? Will Corey Patterson start the year in the Minors? And what does that mean for the Cubs' blue-chip prospect, Felix Pie? Will he start or ride the bench?
-- Brad K., Lockport, Ill.

It's been reported that the Cubs are trying to work out a deal to acquire Juan Pierre from the Marlins. That would solve the Cubs CF and leadoff batter problems with one player. So I expect Hendry to get that deal done, regardless of what happens with Furcal. What does that mean for Patterson? Hendry will try to trade him and there will be teams intrigued by his potential that believes all he needs is a change of scenery. I don't expect those teams to give much in return, but at this point the salary dump may be worth it. Not to mention the fact that it relieve much of Graham's stress. Pie appears to be the real deal. I think he'll start the year in the minors though unless he's spectacular in Spring Training. It's probably not a good idea to rush the kid the same way the organization did with Patterson.

What would it take to get Carl Crawford from Tampa Bay?
-- Brandon L., Chula Vista

This question is from the Padres site, so answereing his question from that team's point of view is simple. Jake Peavy. Maybe Khalil Greene and Adam Eaton along with a prospect or 2.

There has been no talk of Crawford actually being available though. If he were it would take top starting pitching prospects and would be a complete salary dump.

Am I the only one that thinks Pedro Feliz is totally overrated? I know he led the Giants in homers and RBIs, but they were not even impressive numbers, given the number of at-bats he had. I would personally rather see a more productive hitter coming from the third base position.
-- Alex S., Davis, Calif.

Well, I don't know who you are talking to that is rating Feliz so highly, but if that person truly does exist then they are wrong. Feliz at 31 isn't likely to improve and has only once broken the .300 barrier in OBP. Yes, he does have some power. He hit 20 dingers last year and 22 the year before. Keep in mind that Adam LaRoche, David Dellucci, Joe Crede, and Rod Barajas also hit at least 20 homers. That number is not impressive enough to make up for his lack of plate discipline.

Alright, last one. Just for kicks, let's go to Kansas City. The Royals still play there, right?

Can you look in your crystal ball and tell us what the Royals' lineup will be on April 3 against Detroit?
-- Alex C., Leawood, Kan.

This will be tough because it requires that I be able to name 9 or more Kansas City Royals. Let me give it a shot though. I will also assume they give big time contracts to a couple of mid-level free agents.

1B-Matt Stairs
2B-Brett Boone
SS-Angel Berroa
3B-Mark Teahan
OF-David DeJesus
OF-Preston Wilson
OF-Juan Encanacion
DH-Mark Sweeney
C-John Buck

The real answer to your question, Alex C, is that nobody really cares. A team put together consisting of only Twins pitching prospects and Angels hitting prospects would be as competetive as the Royals.

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