Baird preparing for anything

Updated: November 19, 2003, 8:24 AM ET
By Jerry Crasnick | ESPN Insider
Allard Baird helped revitalize baseball in Kansas City last summer with some astute acquisitions (Jose Lima springs to mind), faith in the minor-league system and long days at the office. He got snubbed in the Executive of the Year voting but received a two-year contract extension and some gratification when Tony Peña was named the American League's top manager and Angel Berroa won Rookie of the Year.

Now Peña is home and Baird is working on assembling the parts to give Kansas City a shot at another run in 2004. "I have a small financial pie," Baird said. The good news is, the AL Central is baseball's low-budget answer to the Pillsbury bakeoff.

Cost-cutting is in vogue in the Midwest. Minnesota GM Terry Ryan traded catcher A.J. Pierzynski to San Francisco last week to save money, and Carl Pohlad's unwillingness to spend means Doug Mientkiewicz, Jacque Jones, Luis Rivas and Eric Milton might follow. The White Sox are shopping Magglio Ordoñez and his $14 million salary, and the Indians, in the market for a second baseman, wonder if Mark Grudzielanek might be too expensive for their tastes. Mark Grudzielanek?

Baird, operating under the theory that "you have to plan for the worst and adjust to the best-case scenarios," has assembled three game plans for the off-season.

Jerry Crasnick

ESPN Senior Writer