Hot Stove Baseball! Sometimes I think the free agent signing period is my favorite time of year. New faces. New hopes. The prospect of the season to come.
But then, if you're a Braves fan, you have off-seasons like this one, where you focus on the losses. In the last couple of days the Braves have lost their best player from last year (J. D. Drew) and maybe their best starter (Jaret Wright), and all indications are that any free agent that's remotely attractive is out of the team's price range.
On the bright side, Russ Ortiz isn't coming back. The Diamondbacks have given Russ what looks to me like one of the worst contracts in recent memory. If that doesn't cheer you up, there's the news that the Braves have re-signed the ever youthful Julio Franco.
I know that doesn't sound like much. It certainly doesn't rate as an impact move for this off-season. Except here at Baseball Widow, that is. That's because Julio Franco is one of our favorites, and watching baseball is better when you're watching your favorites. I know that from the competitive side having Julio around at first base won't win as many games as if the Braves had managed to snag Carlos Delgado or Richie Sexson. But part of me doesn't care -- and not because those guys were never really a realistic option for the Braves this year. It has to do with liking to watch your favorites play.
And that's what scares me about the rest of this off-season. Because the team doesn't have much money to sling around, they're looking at trades. And the likely candidates are two of my other favorites: Andruw Jones and Marcus Giles. Jones is looking safer now, if rumors are to be trusted, but I'd still miss his affable smile, his single-robbing belly flops, and even his lack of plate discipline (ok, not that one so much). And if Giles goes, Baseball Widow is threatening to strike. He's her current favorite, and she can't bear the thought of a season without him.
So, Dodger fans go ahead and celebrate the arrival of Jeff Kent. D'backs, have fun with your new Troy. Me, I'll be happy to see Julio collect a few more hits. . .
And even happier if Marcus Giles and Andruw Jones are on base when he does.