So far this offseason, all of the really egregious contract over-reaches have occurred on position players, and despite assumptions that equally bad contracts will be doled out to the weak starting pitcher class, the only evidence we actually have of this happening was the insane $50 million plus posting fee by the Red Sox for Daisuke Matsuzaka. If you look at pitchers re-signed by their current teams, the most recent examples being our own Jeff Francis and the Yankees' Mike Mussina (two years $23 million) are not terribly out of line with what similar pitchers have been offered in past seasons. The assumption is, obviously, that both pitchers gave their current teams discounts.
So I guess the question is, when is this wave of contract insanity going to stretch to starters? Looking at the reports, the wait shouldn't be much longer. There are seemingly three tiers: the first holding Barry Zito and Jason Schmidt alone as the elite pitchers available, with Zito the most sought after, the second involving perceived mid-rotation candidates with Ted Lilly seeming to be the top target and Vincente Padilla a close second, along with several others, and finally a lower tier has emerged which includes the three supposed Rockies targets of Kip Wells, Randy Wolf and Jason Marquis. Wolf is getting a lot of mentions from different media sources and appears to be an option for several teams, while Marquis is seemingly high on the Cubs' wish list for some odd reason. Wells isn't mentioned a lot, and actually might be the Rockies best (well, least worst) play here.
Anyway, I think the key contracts that will spur the biggest wave of madness are Lilly and Padilla as they seem to have the most teams claiming interest. As soon as they choose where they want to play and sign their contracts, expect the other dominoes to fall in rapid succession both above and below. Lilly's decision is expected to come at the winter meetings, December 4-7, and I would assume Padilla will make his choice somewhere around this time as well. Jason Jennings will then be reassessed by the teams that miss out (and there will be more than one) although the Twins continue to evaluate if a trade's in their best interests right now.
The grapevine has otherwise taken the holiday weekend off, but in celebrity gossip news: serious, somber Jessica Biel would like to express deep regret for the incident with Derek Jeter at the Getty the other day, even though secretly guilty Jessica admits she would have done it again.