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the boys at baseball analysts project this off-season's 10 most expensive free agents. they have giles as the 7th-priciest buy at 3 years / $30 million, which estimate strikes me as a bulls-eye. aj burnett checks in at #2 or (if clemens retires) #1, signing (per their guess) for 4 years / $48 million. i don't think he'll get that much, as none of the primary bidders (det balt sea tor) has that type of a salary structure. if the red sox get heavily involved, maybe the price goes that high -- but the sox need a gm first. . . . jocketty wants this guy and may get him for, say, $10.5 per if he can sell him on the frills -- new stadium, famously supportive fans, annual postseason appearances, etc etc, plus possible hometown discount (burnett is from arkansas). . . . none of the cardinals' departees made BA's top 10, but morris will likely show up in the second 10, to appear tomorrow.

you've probably been wondering what don denkinger's up to these days; and here's the answer.

p-d scribe derrick goold has a couple of worthwhile posts up at his blog, BirdLand, comparing the defensive abilities of middle infielders -- shortstops and 2d-sackers. turning the concept of fielding-independent pitching (FIP) inside-out, goold unveils what he calls "pitching-independent defense" (PID). while the output is a bit imprecise, i think it's a worthy concept -- and goold himself opines that defense is primarily like beauty, ie best measured in the eye of the beholder.

same subject in the most recent post at the birdwatch, where rob writes: "I've got a pretty good argument that the Cardinals had an historic effort from their infield." and D also on the mind of baseball primer's chris dial, whose no glove, no love award recognizes guys who he thinks were more deserving of gold gloves than the actual winners. "The St. Louis Cardinals had some outstanding defense: Edmonds, Grudzielanek, Rolen, Molina all could have won the No Glove, No Love Award. In case some of you were curious, Eckstein was slightly below average."

fungoes author pip debuts at SB Nation site Beyond the Boxscore with a look at centerfielders by win shares. edmonds and the cards check in at #1. . . .

i never realized that our own al reyes ruined nomah's career. david gassko reports at hardball times.

worthless but fun (sorta) list: espn has the cards 3d -- and 1st in the nl -- in its 2006 power rankings. the accompanying blurb: "The Cards will have to replace Larry Walker (retirement) and likely Reggie Sanders (free agency). But Scott Rolen will be back. Couple his return with Pujols and Edmonds in the middle of the order, a strong staff led by Chris Carpenter, and the excitement over the new Busch Stadium, and an NL pennant is highly possible." espn's infallible forecasters don't like the rest of the comedy central: brewers rank 11th, astros 12th, cubs 22d, bucs 26th, reds 28th.

baseball america's jim callis rates anthony reyes as the 16th most promising prospect in baseball, and the 6th most promising pitching prospect). callis's comment: "Would rank higher if he could make it through a whole season healthy." . . . . roto authority rates reyes #7 among all 2006 rookies for fantasy-baseball purposes. "Polished college pitcher, in line to take over Morris's spot in '06. Could win 15 and strike out 150."

mike carminati unearthed this data about october pain-in-the-ass brandon backe: "His career postseason ERA (2.95) is almost two runs lower than his career regular-season ERA (4.86). That made me wonder what was the greatest difference between a pitcher's regular-season and postseason ERAs. Is Backe's the highest ever or among the highest? Who knows? So I looked it up." and the results are right here.

i don't follow the nfl, but if you do -- and if you like the rams -- deadspin last week reviewed the 3 best rams blogs.