Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Seismic Signing

When the Yankees announced the signing of free agent first baseman Mark Teixeira Tuesday afternoon they didn’t just fill a massive hole in their lineup; they also sent shockwaves that will impact baseball from Los Angeles to Boston and many points in between. Let’s take a look at the eight teams affected most by yesterday’s signing:

Anaheim Angels – The Angels find themselves in an interesting predicament – they still have excellent run prevention, but other than injury-riddled Vladimir Guerrero the lineup lacks punch. Look for GM Tony Reagins to fortify the bullpen by signing free agent closer Brian Fuentes. Manny Ramirez would be a good fit, but Reagins quelled those rumors on Tuesday. Pat Burrell and Adam Dunn are possibilities, but does their all-or-nothing approach really fit with manager Mike Scioscia’s rabbit ball style?

Baltimore Orioles – The Orioles were kidding themselves if they thought they’d be able to out-market the Yankees, Angels and Red Sox for Teixeira’s services. With Adam Jones and Nick Markakis already established at the big league level and Brian Matusz, Chris Tillman, Jake Arrieta and Matt Wieters almost there, look for Baltimore to kick the rebuilding into high gear with an eye on contending in 2010. That could mean standout second baseman Brian Roberts gets dangled as trade bait before then.

Boston Red Sox – With the sole object of GM Theo Epstein’s affection off the market, look for the Red Sox to make a serious run at Derek Lowe in an effort to deepen their starting rotation. While losing Teixeira to the hated Yankees stings, Boston is still in excellent shape with Kevin Youkilis at first base and former Gold Glove winner Mike Lowell at third.

Los Angeles Dodgers – With the Yankees seemingly out of the Manny Ramirez sweepstakes, the Dodgers are the only team at this point to have an ongoing dialogue with the slugger. Don’t be surprised if GM Ned Colletti smells blood and extends Manny a “modest” two-year proposal with a strict time table.

Milwaukee Brewers -- Because Teixeira's Elias rating is higher than those of CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett, the Angels now get the Yankees' first round draft pick, pushing the Brewers’ compensation pick from the first round to the second (at least 40 picks below where it would have been had the Yanks not signed Teixeira). This is no insignificant matter for a small market organization that has used the draft to its advantage in constructing a playoff-caliber team.

New York Mets – They just can’t win. Even after signing closer Francisco Rodriguez to a team-friendly contract and landing fireballing reliever J.J. Putz in a trade, the Metropolitans still can’t escape the Yankees’ shadow. And unless Tom Seaver, Mike Piazza and Darryl Strawberry suddenly discover the fountain of youth, that will likely always be the case.

Toronto Blue Jays – With a strong starting staff, shutdown bullpen and solid defense, Toronto would contend in just about any other division. However, in the dog-eat-dog world of the A.L. East they are no better than the fourth-best team. Combine that with owner Ted Rogers’ recent death and the ongoing depreciation of the Canadian dollar versus the greenback and you’ve got a possible rebuilding plan in the works.

Washington Nationals – Now that the Teixeira train has stopped in the Bronx, look for GM Jim Bowden to make a run at Dunn, a player he is intimately familiar with from his days in Cincinnati. Also, it’s not out of the realm of imagination to think that after being thwarted in their serious attempts to woo Tex back home, the Nationals might make a dramatic effort to land Ramirez.

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