There is a thread going on at Wicked East Coast (link to the right) right now that is very interesting. What follows are snippets of the thread.
I started off with the following post:

Top Free Agents in ’05 and Who Will Replace Them [ESPN article]
Player: Nomar Garciaparra
Team, Position: Red Sox, SS
Replacement: Pokey Reese
Do I really think the Red Sox are going to let Garciaparra get away? No, I don’t. They need him, and he needs them (because they can afford to pay him more than anybody else except the Yankees, and the Yankees already have two shortstops). That said, Garciaparra’s not particularly happy with management and the Red Sox could take the money they’d plow into Garciaparra and go after Carlos Beltran or Jose Vidro. See, the organization’s No. 1 prospect just happens to be a shortstop, Hanley Ramirez. He’s still very young, though, and not nearly ready for the AL East pennant race. So perhaps Pokey Reese can flash the leather in 2005, with Ramirez graduating to the majors in ’06.
Player: Jason Varitek
Team, Position: Red Sox, C
Replacement: Kelly Shoppach
The Red Sox don’t exactly have a deep farm system, but their No. 2 prospect happens to be a catcher, Kelly Shoppach. The first college catcher drafted in 2001, Shoppach is already playing for Boston’s Triple-A club. He’s not currently playing well, but if Shoppach turns things around he’ll give the Red Sox a legitimate alternative to spending a lot of money on the decline phase of Varitek’s career.

Steve Smith, the owner of WEC, brought in Hanley Ramirez into the discussion with the quote “I think Ramirez isnt ready until 2007 at the earliest but I think 2008 is more realistic and its still a big IF. But doesnt the LA Dodgers and Nomar seem like perfect fit??”
Sam Killay started questioning where Nomar could end up.

The Dodgers are the only other possibility I see. Boston and NY, of course.
Baltimore will be buying, but not at SS. Toronto might be buying, depending on what Delgado wants. The ChiSox will resign Mags, and that should account for most of their free cash. The Braves and Phils are set at SS. Same for Texas. Same for the Mets. St. Louis will keep Renteria if they can afford him, and if they can’t afford Renteria then they can’t afford Nomar. Seattle couldn’t afford Tejada, so they won’t be in the running. Houston is already stretched too tight.
The Cubs, maybe?
For the California teams, SD is banking on Khalil Greene. The A’s . . . OK forget I mentioned the A’s. Anaheim had their big spending spree this year, so I don’t think they’ll be in for another. And SF is cutting back salary, not adding on.
The only problem with the Dodgers is their stadium. If I’m Nomar, I’m taking careful note of my home/away splits. Fenway Park makes Nomar look like a great hitter, but his road stats tell a very different story. So if I’m going to make my home someplace else, I want that place to be as hitter-friendly as possible. And that ain’t Dodger Stadium.

I then replied with something I personally had never thought of before – the Houston Astros.

I think he’ll be an Astro. They need offense, with an aging Jeff Kent, and defensive whiz Everett at SS who could move to 2B.
And don’t forget … the ‘Stro manager is Jimy Williams.
And that park is a .. bandbox.

BoSoxGuru (He of RedSoxHaven) replied saying he thought that the Hanley Ramirez ETA of 2007 was too early, that the Red Sox could ” shoot earlier than that like, 2006. With the potential he has, I think they’ll shoot him through A and AA.”
I then replied, saying that “Pokey’ll replace Nomar. He’ll sign a 2y contract. Bellhorn will return for 1y, and they’ll try to find a 2b/SS on the cheap next year. They’ll realize offense isn’t everything when we win the WS this year with pitching. The money will be spent on the pitching, not on Nomar.”
Sam Killay took this a step further, by examining how the Astros could join the Nomar sweepstakes.

Here’s a link to DugoutDollars’ salary figures for the Stros.
According to this, they could decline Kent’s option for next year and free up $9m. Meanwhile, they’ll also have Dotel, Lidge, Oswalt, and Miller up for new contracts or free agency–but I assume they’ll want to keep these guys around. And if they keep them around, that’ll eat up a good portion of that $9m.
But they also free up salary on Hidalgo: I doubt they’ll pick up his $18m dollar (!?!?) option for ’05. So you could be right: Jimy Williams, hitter-friendly park, the opening will be there, the money will be there. Nomar could be a Stro. And they’ll need the celebrity power, with Kent, Clemens, and Hidalgo departing.
So Boston, NYY, LA, and Houston.
I’d be happy with a fill-in middle infield until Hanley Ramirez is ready. And assuming he doesn’t lose a step, keep Reese around longer: he’s cheap, but he performs a valuable service to the team. Apply all money saved to pitching pitching pitching. I could go for that.
According to today’s ProJo, Ortiz is “close” to a deal with the Sox. Ortiz, Nixon, and Ramirez in the middle of our lineup: pretty good boppers. Good corps of hitters to power our (hypothetical) pitching-minded future.

Join in and post your thoughts, or leave a comment.
Is Nomar to the Astros feasible? Will it happen? Are the Dodgers still the best bet, or will King George get him to play second? Or will this all be moot when we resign Nomar?