Around the Horn

Keeping on top of your opponents is crucial to your own success in the Major Leagues. The San Diego Padres keep a close eye on their immediate competition. Knowing their strengths and weaknesses can put your team over the top. The Padres look at the relief pitching in LA and want to emulate it. They look at the patience and San Fran and get ideas. Without this knowledge, they wont have the edge they need to be winners.


General Manager Joe Garagiola Jr. headed to Florida to gauge trade interest during Games 3-5 of the World Series.

"It's a good opportunity. Face-to-face discussions always are better. I'm sure I'll see some people there. Who knows where it will lead to?" -- General manager Joe Garagiola Jr., on his visit to Florida to resume trade discussions.

The Diamondbacks are seeking to land a power hitter but are restricted by a player payroll projected in the $80 million range for next season. They've already earmarked $65 million to 10 players and have saved nearly $5 million by not picking up the option on RHP Miguel Batista.

In order to land a slugger, such as the likes of 1B Richie Sexson of Milwaukee and Derrek Lee of Florida, they will have to clear at least $7 million.

They are limited in their flexibility because RHP Curt Schilling has a no-trade clause in addition to his $12 million salary and closer Matt Mantei will earn $7 million, has a limited no-trade clause and has a history of shoulder problems.

Colorado Rockies:

First RHP Jose Jimenez went. Having cleared waivers, he declined an assignment to Triple-A Colorado Springs. Next it was RHP Steve Reed. The Rockies declined to pick up his $1.15 million option for 2004, paying off his $300,000 buyout instead. The Rockies are dealing with the financial realities of the game.

The Rockies have $51.1 million committed for 2004 to outfielders Larry Walker and Preston Wilson, first baseman Todd Helton, catcher Charles Johnson and left-handed pitcher Denny Neagle and are picking up $2 million of left-handed pitcher Mike Hampton's salary in Atlanta. That will leave O'Dowd with roughly $9 million to fill out the roster for 2004, which limits his flexibility.

They have to make decisions based on payroll more than ability.

General manager Dan O'Dowd said he'd be interested in re-signing Reed, but it won't be right away.

"This is not an indication of anything other than we can't afford him at the (option)," said O'Dowd. "We have to be fiscally responsible in relation to the amount of money we have to work with (this offseason)."

The Rockies still have an option to exercise with third baseman Chris Stynes for $1.25 million -- the alternative is a $200,000 buyout -- but they are trying to rework that agreement to retain him. There also are indications they will not tender a contract to outfielder Jay Payton, who has arbitration leverage, and are still debating what to do with right-handed pitcher Justin Speier, second baseman Ronnie Belliard and infielder Mark Bellhorn, who are arbitration eligible.

"This will be an offseason where we will have to be patient and examine every opportunity that presents itself," O'Dowd said.

Larry Walker underwent surgery on his left shoulder and right knee, ailments that Walker played with during the 2003 season. Dr. Tom Noonan and Dr. Richard Hawkins at the Steadman-Hawkins Clinic in Englewood repaired a torn labrum in Walker's shoulder and a partial tear of the meniscus in Walker's right knee. Walker is expected to be at full strength by the start of next season. Despite the injuries, Walker appeared in 143 games during the 2003 season, the most for Walker since a career-high 153 games in 1997 and equaling the second most active season of his career. Walker also appeared in 143 games in 1992 with Montreal.

Los Angeles:

Employees are bracing for change at Dodger Stadium.

Though the sale of the team to a group headed by Frank McCourt won't be approved until mid-November at the next owners' meeting, the Boston real estate developer has assembled a team to oversee the transition process.

Commissioner Bud Selig expressed confidence the sale will be approved, though McCourt reportedly was still in the process of assembling his investor group. The group agreed to purchase the team for $430 million, though the actual figure reportedly is closer to $325-340 million when discounts and credits are factored into the accounting.

It remains unclear whether McCourt will order the payroll slashed in an effort to minimize losses; the Dodgers lost an average of $40 million per season in six years under Fox. The team is desperate for offense after finishing last in the major leagues in runs scored this season.

Even with large raises in arbitration due to Eric Gagne and others, the team figured to have about $20-25 million to spend to upgrade the lineup. But that could change if McCourt tightens the purse strings.

Also unclear was the status of GM Dan Evans and manager Jim Tracy, both of whom are under contract for 2004. Sources close to McCourt describe him as an achiever who strives to surround himself with top minds. Already, there is speculation that he will seek to hire Oakland GM Billy Beane. If Evans is shown the door, Tracy likely would go as well.

If Evans is allowed to retain his job and he has clearance to pursue major free agents, he is expected to be a top bidder for Seibu Lions shortstop Kazuo Matsui. The team also is expected to show interest in Vladimir Guerrero. Milwaukee first baseman Richie Sexson will be available in a trade and might be the player the Dodgers most covet.

RF Shawn Green underwent surgery Oct. 14 to repair a frayed labrum in the back of his right shoulder. No other damage was found during the 45-minute arthroscopic procedure. Green is expected to be fully recovered in 6-8 weeks. Green hit just 19 home runs in 2003 after averaging 45.5 homers the two previous seasons. He said shoulder pain prevented him from finishing his swing.

The Dodgers have a number of free agents, but most of them won't be in the team's plans for next season. Two notable exceptions are LHP Wilson Alvarez and LHP Tom Martin. The team also might make a pitch to keep RF Jeromy Burnitz. 1B/3B Robin Ventura could be offered a contract, most likely in a reserve role.

San Francisco Giants

The Giants haven't made any changes for 2004 yet. At least on the roster. They did change the name of their ballpark, though.

It's no longer Pacific Bell Park, but SBC Park.

RHP Jason Schmidt underwent elbow surgery to remove scar tissue and repair a tendon in his right elbow. The 40-minute procedure was done in Redwood City, Calif.

For now, the Giants hope he'll be ready for the 2004 opener.

"Initially, when they went in, they were concerned that the tendon was torn off the bone," trainer Stan Conte said. "However, it was not. It was just split with scar tissue. They sewed the tendon back together. The elbow will immobilized for a week. Following that, he'll be in rehab and is expected to be throwing in December and off a mound in spring training. If all goes as expected, he'll be pitching competitively in April."

Other players to undergo similar surgeries include Robb Nen, Billy Wagner and Kevin Brown.

After winning 100 games, the Giants were the first playoff team eliminated. A possible result of their second straight offseason shuffling: Bonds could be the only everyday player still around from the 2002 World Series team when they take the field next year.

Those expected to be jettisoned include Beinto Santiago, Rich Aurillia, JT Snow, Andres Gallaraga, Jose Cruz Jr., and Marvin Benard, Pitcher Sidney Ponson is also unlikely to return.

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