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Drew, Kolb and other fun stuff

The big news to hit the hot stove league yesterday was J.D. Drew's opting to test the waters of free-agency. By hampering the Dodgers, this development obviously aids the Rockies and every other team in the NL West. As OhNoKoolAid put it yesterday:

How else might this help?  You'll have to let me stretch this a bit, but it is plausible.  For starters, Drew leaves over 30 million, and expects to get it all back from someone, so he'll take potentially fifty million budgeted dollars out of the market.  Also, Drew has a history in centerfield and can play it capably for some team should they so desire.  The Cubs, for one, could be interested in Drew playing a year in center until Pie's ready, when J.D. would move over to right.  Assuming Drew can leapfrog several free agent centerfielders, he'll lower the market interest in the middle/lower rungs, that could lower the price somewhat for these guys.  So again, it is a stretch, but it is possible Drew's entrance into the market could lessen the price of some centerfield targets.  It won't be a great deal, but I'm sure every little bit helps.

Immediately it's been observed that there's not a shortage of teams could use a left-handed slugging outfielder, but fortunately for the Rockies, most of them are outside the division. Who will the Dodgers target instead? Try Luis Gonzalez, for one. Of course, Gonzo was already in the division and is in decline, so his potential move from the hitting friendly confines of AZ to the pitching friendly park in LA doesn't figure to add any further stress to our run prevention against the Dodgers next season. We'll see what else LA does to correct things, but so far their offseason seems to be having their offense take a step back to the pack.

The Rockies meanwhile have noticed another once prominent, late underachiever to target for their bullpen opening in Danny Kolb. Maybe this is another reason why we're making more of a fuss over the center field issue, as it appears the team is at least a little more sane in its approach to filling this position. It doesn't sound like they are going to go out and offer an insane contract for a position that could be filled efficiently by bargain hunting. Kolb, Hawkins, Dotel, all three might come more cheap than pitchers of similar value -such as Joe Borowski- that are stamped with the "closer" mantel.

Certain early dominoes that will kick the off-season scrum into gear appear poised to fall, namely the Daisuke Matsuzaka Derby has a winner, we just haven't been told who it is yet. The link points to a favorite, though. After Matsuzaka, look for a fierce bidding war to erupt on Barry Zito and Jason Schmidt. I have a feeling that the trading action this winter will be heavier than it has been in recent years, with a relatively weak free agent class, many teams will look to get upgrades in other ways and be less stingy about holding onto prospects with the labor agreement assuring peace for the next few seasons.