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December 18, 2005

No shirt, no shoes, Nomar
by SG

Well, reports are that Nomar Garciaparra is about to sign with the Dodgers, which eliminates yet another Yankee offseason target.

The Yankees are supposedly one of the four teams that Octavio Dotel has narrowed his list to, which is good news. Dotel will probably not be ready until midseason, but he could be a very valuable pickup if he can make a full recovery from ligament transplant surgery.

December 20 will be an important date for the Yankees, as teams will have to decide whether or not to tender contracts to some of the players under their control. According to this article on there are some interesting names who may not get tendered, making them free agents. From the article:

RHP Joe Borowski. Even though Borowski was arguably the MVP of the Devil Rays' second half in 2005, he may be the odd man out if the Rays sign Japanese setup man Shinji Mori.

RHP Gil Meche. He'll probably make around $4 million and hasn't improved the way the Mariners hoped.

RHP Ryan Franklin. Two rough years in a row for Seattle.

RHP Dan Kolb. The Brewers traded for Kolb at the Winter Meetings and would like to give him a chance to return to 2004 form, but only if he agrees to be non-tendered and re-signed at a significantly reduced price than the $3.4 million he made last year from Atlanta.

3B Russell Branyan. The Brewers plan to start Bill Hall at third base and decided to re-sign veteran Jeff Cirillo as a backup. Prospect Corey Hart played third base in the Arizona Fall League and could serve as a utility man, potentially leaving Branyan without a job. Branyan missed a month last season with a broken middle finger, but more troublingly he struggled all season with a mysterious shoulder injury. He could offer the team a power left-handed bat off the bench, and the Brewers talked at times last season about using him as a backup in the outfield.

1B Hee Seop Choi. Deemed expendable by the Dodgers.

CF Corey Patterson. Cubs are trying to deal him now that they have Juan Pierre.

RHP Jim Brower. The Braves could likely sign him for around $1 million. But management made it known at the end of the 2005 season that they likely wouldn't bring him back. The veteran right-hander never showed consistency after being claimed off waivers in June.

Others possibly joining the non-tender ranks include catchers Jason Phillips (Dodgers) and Geronimo Gil (Orioles); infielders Junior Spivey (Nationals), Willie Harris (White Sox), Willie Bloomquist (Mariners) and Henry Mateo (Nationals); and pitchers Ramon Ortiz (Reds) and Kyle Lohse (Twins).

I don't think any of the relievers are particularly interesting, although I could see the Yankees picking up someone like Gil Meche. Signing Meche would give them a little more flexibility in shopping Carl Pavano for a CF. Hee Seop Choi would fit the Yankees' need as a backup 1B. Choi has been highly touted by statheads for a while, but has not gotten much of a chance at a full-time job. He has a good defensive reputation, and some left-handed pop, so the Yankees would do well to consider him. Corey Patterson has a career OBP of .293, but is a good defender and has shown flashes of decent offensive potential. I wouldn't trade anything for Patterson, but if he's available as a free agent I think the Yankees should take a flier on him and hope he can play solid defense and hit well enough that his low walk rate won't be an issue.

FWIW, Dan Szymborski's ZiPS projects the following lines for Patterson and Bubba Crosby:

Patterson* cf .252 .298 .418 146 564 73 142 23 4 21 68 36 147 23 8
Crosby* lf .253 .307 .367 108 297 37 75 12 2 6 35 20 47 6 3

Neither is very impressive, although Patterson shows better power potential and is 3 years younger, which means he has a better chance of outperforming his track record. I think it is unlikely that the Cubs will non-tender Patterson, but we'll see.

Choi + Patterson + Dotel would make me a happy person. From there, the Yankees can see what it may take to get Jason Michaels from Philadelphia or Gary Matthews Jr. from Texas. If the asking price for either is too high, they may be better off picking up someone like Jeff Davanon, who can at least get on base passably and play good defense in all 3 OF positions.