-P- The Reds have new uniforms. They look good, but as Pirates fans know, superficial things don't make up for bad baseball. I'm going to go out on a limb and predict the Reds are going to finish last in the NL Central next year. Alex Gonzalez, Chad Moeller, and Juan Castro just aren't going to get it done for them. Yeah, I said it - the Pirates aren't going to finish last next year.
-P- Here's a list of free agents who have been offered arbitration by their (former) teams. Barry Bonds wasn't; Carlos Lee and Barry Zito were. The Pirates weren't really involved here - there's no chance they were going to offer arbitration to Jeromy Burnitz or Joe Randa. What's notable about all this, from a Pirate fan's perspective, is that the Bucs would now have to give up a draft pick to get Gil Meche or Ryan Klesko. (UPDATE: Ken Rosenthal reports that the team that signs Klesko would not have to give up a draft pick.)
A couple other notes here - Roberto Hernandez, a Type A free agent, was offered arbitration, and he's going to sign with the Indians. Rotoworld reports that this means the Mets will get a supplemental first round pick plus the Indians' second round pick in the 2007 draft. I'd probably rather have those picks than Xavier Nady. The Pirates would have been a lot better off keeping Hernandez until the end of the season , keeping Oliver Perez, and collecting the free picks. It wasn't automatic at the time that they'd get those picks, but still, the Mets are reaping big-time dividends for trading for Hernandez. To give a sense of what this means, recent supplemental picks have included David Wright and Todd Linden in 2001, Dan Meyer and Mark Teahen in 2002, and Adam Miller, Matt Murton, Omar Quintanilla, Jarrod Saltamacchia and Adam Jones in 2003. Every year there are around ten supplemental first round picks, and usually a couple of them become useful big leaguers.
By the way, I wonder if the Padres may be on to something. They offered arbitration to six players, four more than any other team. Among those players were non-stars like Alan Embree and Chan Ho Park. I wonder if they figure they'll be able to collect tons of draft picks because of this free agent climate. It seems like a pretty good idea, and I wonder why no one else tried it. The strategy already seems to be paying off, as the Giants just signed Dave Roberts to a three-year, $18 million deal.
-P- From the same link, the Giants have also brought back Rich Aurilia, signing him to a two-year worth around $8 million. Aurilia has a pretty up-and-down career, but as a guy who can play all the infield positions and has had two good years in a row, I'd say he's worth the $8 million.
As for Roberts, I really like him as a cheap outfield solution, particularly for a team like the Padres - Roberts has no power and is therefore not hurt as much as most hitters by PETCO Park. Roberts had two solid years for the Padres, and they paid him less than $4 million total.
But three years? And $18 million? And two draft picks? That's too long, and too much. Roberts is getting older and is very heavily reliant on his speed. I don't think this signing is going to look good at all in a year or two.