Bob Watson is not our man. I must say I'm disappointed, if only because I thought I had a pretty good handle on the guy. I guess this makes Pat Gillick the front-runner again. Watson mentioned, quite understandably, that he "didn't want to leave my current job for a position with the Expos that might last only about three months." Gillick didn't seem to mind that possibility.
We have a ticket manager! Okay, that's not all that exciting, but it beats not having a ticket manager. Just one more step towards having a team that exists, and that was the goal all along.
More content: an interview with the aforementioned Mr. Tavares. He's a busy fellow, and tells exactly how busy. Moving on to stuff that interests me, Ryan:
MLB.com: Do you know how much money you are spending on players this offseason?
Tavares: No. We are working on that now. I hope to get that soon.
MLB.com: Do you think you will be active during the free agency period?
Tavares: That will depend on how much budget I get.
I'd be surprised if any budget increase they get is going to allow them to do much more than cover arbitration for a few of the guys.
Sounds like my man Maicer will be starting the year in AAA. I wonder what cheap place-filler they'll get. Mike Bordick? Neifi Perez? Anyone else getting all tingly? And then there's third - bring back Fernando Tatis!
MLB.com: The Expos have a lot of holes. How do you fix it?
Tavares: I don't agree with that. We've had a lot of injuries. I'll give you that. If Nick Johnson is healthy, he's playing first base. (Second baseman Jose) Vidro will be healthy, I'm certain. You have a question mark at shortstop. It doesn't mean we don't like Maicer Izturis. The question is, is he going to be ready at the Major League level? Third base, you have a question mark. We actually made an offer to Tony Batista. We'll see if he wants to come back. If not, you have a hole.
The outfield does not have holes. The way it projects right now is Brad Wilkerson in left, Endy Chavez in center and somewhat of a platoon between Terrmel Sledge and Juan Rivera. I don' have a problem going to war with that.Well, I'm glad Tavares isn't the GM. The Expos outfield has more holes than Blackburn, Lancashire. Let's go from left to right: Brad Wilkerson is rad. He's 27, typically a player's prime. He walks, he hits homers, and he's got a great defensive reputation. Yeah, he strikes out a lot, but that doesn't mean anything in and of itself. So does Jim Thome. So did Reggie Jackson.
Endy Chavez is not rad. He ranks as maybe a slightly above-average defensive center fielder, but he'd need to be able to play all nine positions a la Bugs Bunny to make up for that .318 on-base percentage. He doesn't hit for average, hit for power, or walk. He steals a few bases. Chavez is the kind of player we're going to have to endure for a few years.
Then there's the right field platoon. The thing about a platoon is that right-handed hitters generally do better against left-handed pitchers and vice versa. In this case, though, both Terrmel Sledge and Juan Rivera hit righties better than they hit lefties. This is good for them, as Science informs us that most people are right handed. But you don't have a platoon if neither guy hits lefties. Sledge is a good guy to have on the bench, but Rivera, who hits better than Sledge against either flavor of hurler, should probably be the regular.
Let's go to the pitching: We have a lot of it. What we don't have is a lot of veteran pitching. Under ideal circumstances, you would be able to add in a veteran pitcher that is capable of eating 180 to 200 innings. I'm not talking about a stud. I'm just talking about somebody that is going to keep you in the game. You add that in and your rotation goes, (Livan Hernandez), (Tony) Armas, (Zach) Day, (Tomo) Ohka. Now you have a whole bunch of people fighting for backup jobs. You have decent depth for the first time. You have (John) Patterson, (Jon) Rauch, Claudio Vargas and Sunny Kim. You have Michael Hinckley that could win a job during Spring Training. You don't know you have Josh Karp, who everybody tells me is going to be a better Major League pitcher than he is a minor league pitcher.
Pitching, I don't have much of a concern about. You have Luis Ayala setting up and Chad Cordero closing. We are in pretty good shape. I think with a couple of key acquisitions, we are highly competitive.
If we have a little luck with injuries, pitching could be a real strength for us. Tavares wants an inexpensive innings-eater, but guys you can rely on to throw 200 innings tend to make a pretty good living. I doubt we could afford David Wells. I doubt we could afford to feed David Wells.
MLB.com: The way you are talking, you sound like Armas and Ohka are going to be with the team. Those guys are arbitration eligible. Are you close to signing them?
Tavares: We'll either sign them or go through arbitration. We are not going to give up good young pitchers like that.
I like hearing this. We're not going to lose anybody from last year's Expos except Einar Diaz and maybe Tony Batista. So, here's the team, based on what we know so far. I'm pretty hazy on the pitching staff. And I didn't bother with the bench.
C: Brian Schneider
1B: Nick Johnson
2B: Jose Vidro
SS: ? (Izturis?)
LF: Brad Wilkerson
CF: Endy Chavez
RF: Juan Rivera/Terrmel Sledge
Well, that's a lineup that's not going to score a lot of runs. Nope. Nick Johnson and Wilkerson are the only OBP sources, and there's very little power. But what the hell; they're cheap, they're young, they might finish ahead of the Mets, and you don't have to go to Baltimore to see them.