Tag:Clint Barmes
Posted on: December 4, 2011 11:30 am
Edited on: December 4, 2011 7:25 pm
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Homegrown Team: Colorado Rockies

Troy Tulowitzki

By C. Trent Rosecrans


What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional? No trades, no Rule-5 Draft, no minor or major league free agency ... once you are a professional baseball player, you stay in that organization. This series shows how all 30 teams would look. We give you: Homegrown teams. To view the schedule/past entries of this feature, click here.

Building a team in Colorado has been a bit of a conundrum throughout the Rockies' brief history -- the offensive numbers will come in the elevation, while pitchers have to be homegrown because free agent pitchers aren't exactly lining up to play in the high altitude.

Lineup

1. Dexter Fowler, CF
2. Seth Smith, RF
3. Troy Tulowitzki, SS
4. Matt Holliday, LF
5. Todd Helton, 1B
6. Juan Uribe, 3B
7. Chris Iannetta, C
8. Clint Barmes, 2B

Starting Rotation

1. Ubaldo Jimenez
2. Jhoulys Chacin
3. Jake Westbrook
4. Aaron Cook
5. Jeff Francis

Bullpen

Closer - Franklin Morales
Set up - Luis Ayala, Jamey Wright, Pedro Strop, Edgmer Escalona, Rex Brothers, Matt Reynolds
Long - Juan Nicasio

Notable Bench Players

Wilin Rosario and Josh Bard give this team a good stable of catchers, while Everth Cabrera, Chone Figgins, Ian Stewart, Juan Pierre and Ryan Spilborghs give the team some veratile players in the field, with Brad Hawpe perhaps the best bat off the bench.

What's Good?

The lineup's going to score some runs, that's for sure. Especially in Colorado, having a 3-4 of Tulowitzki and Holliday is going to be impressive. Of course, there's not Carlos Gonzalez, so it's pretty much even compared to the regular team. The team is strong up the middle defensively, which it will need...

What's Not?

The pitching staff is similar to what we saw in real life in 2011, with Chacin leading the way and Jimenez struggling before being traded. Westbrook helps, but you have to remember he wasn't even on the Cardinals' playoff roster for the first two rounds and pitched two innings in the World Series. The bullpen is deep, but not overpowering.

Comparison to real 2011

The wheels fell off the Rockies in 2011, with the team going a disappointing 73-89. The offense on this team is similar, while the pitching (especially the bullpen) is not as good -- that formula adds up to another losing season and probably a 90-loss season.

Next: Arizona Diamondbacks

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: November 21, 2011 11:18 am
 

Clint Barmes signs with Pirates

By Matt Snyder

The Pirates have signed free agent shortstop Clint Barmes to a two-year, $10.5 million contract, multiple outlets are reporting.

“In talking with my agent and talking with the club, they were wanting to make a decision and they wanted to know by pretty much yesterday who their shortstop was going to be so they could continue to move on,” Barmes said (MLB.com). “It was one of those things they had a few others guys lined up behind me, and the way it was explained to me I was the first in line as far as who they wanted. They threw a great offer.”

The Pirates had previously declined to pick up the option for incumbent shortstop Ronny Cedeno.

Barmes, 32, is a very good defensive shortstop who hit .244/.312/.386 with 27 doubles and 12 homers in 123 games last season for the Astros.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: November 16, 2011 6:27 pm
Edited on: November 16, 2011 6:33 pm
 

Brewers shortstop search includes Betancourt

By Matt Snyder

With the Brewers pretty well resigned to the fact that they're going to lose All-Star slugger Prince Fielder to free agency, it appears they've instead focused on shortstop. CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler reports that it's more likely they land Jose Reyes or Jimmy Rollins than retain Fielder. Of course, Knobler also reports that either Reyes or Rollins would be a longshot as well. So that means they'll likely have to focus their efforts a bit lower down the list of available shortstops.

Could Clint Barmes be a possibility? Tuesday, MLB.com reported the Brewers were taking a look at Barmes. He'd definitely be an affordable option and is a mildly productive player. He had a good defensive season while collecting 27 doubles and 12 homers in 495 plate appearances.

Rafael Furcal's name has been mentioned, too, but Knobler reported Tuesday that the Brewers have some serious reservations about going after Furcal and may just bring back Yuniesky Betancourt. Also, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has mentioned that general manager Doug Melvin continues to preach that Betancourt is better than his critics, which sounds a lot like he's bracing himself for another season of Yuni.

Betancourt, 29, is widely regarded as a poor defensive shortstop and hit .252/.271/.381 last season, his first in Milwaukee.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: November 1, 2011 10:27 pm
 

2011 free agent diamonds in the rough

Carroll, Crisp, Lidge

By Evan Brunell


The baseball free-agent class is a bear. Once you get beyond the first couple of names at each position that are eligible for free agency, you quickly dissolve into reading a list of retreads, never-weres or aging All-Stars. That will make it difficult for teams to fill holes via free agency, but at the same time, there are some names that are poised for bounceback seasons and are being overlooked. That's what this list is all about -- what players could contribute in 2012 given the chance, that are being overlooked right now?

Some of these names are true diamonds in the rough, while others are a product of choosing between bad or worse. But hitting right on one of these names could mean the difference between playing golf in October or getting a ring.

C: Chris Snyder

SnyderBack problems are never a good thing when it comes to catchers. If Snyder can recover from a herniated disc, however, he could give a team strong production as a backstop for minimal price. It wasn't all that long ago that Snyder had a long-term deal in hand from the Diamondbacks and was blocking Miguel Montero, but injuries sapped his production and he was shipped to Pittsburgh in 2010. Before the injury, Snyder showed signs of coming out of his slump. His plate discipline was still there, but he was driving balls with more authority. He didn't get enough playing time to accurately draw conclusions, but quality catchers are rare in baseball and Snyder should get another chance to show he belongs.

1B: Lyle Overbay

OverbayWhile age has caught up to Overbay, he still has something to offer as a first baseman. While one wouldn't have ever called him one of the better first baseman in the league in recent years, he did finish his Blue Jays career as a respectable first baseman. Problem is, he was anything but respectable with the Pirates and needed a late-season rejuvenation in Arizona to feel better about himself. At this point in Overbay's career, it would be a surprise if he found a full-time job at first somewhere, but Overbay is still capable of cracking doubles and providing solid (albeit unspectacular) defense. In a platoon role playing against just righties, Overbay could deliver.

2B: Aaron Hill

HillHill once hit 36 home runs, doing so in his breakout 2009 campaign as a 27-year-old. That bode well for the future, giving Toronto a beast in the middle of the order that played second, no less. Unfortunately for Hill, things took a turn for the worse in 2010 as he tried too hard to drive the ball over the fence. This season, Hill stopped trying to swing for the fences so much, but his offense was completely disastrous in every possibility, hitting .225/.270/.313 before the Jays gave up. Arizona saw what Hill could be like at his best, as the 29-year-old hit .315/.386/.492 down the stretch. That offers a lot of optimism moving forward, even if 2009 remains his high-water point. The mere fact he rebounded as well as he did with the Diamondbacks puts Hill in the category of low risk, high reward.

3B: Jamey Carroll

CarrollCarroll is actually one of the better names on the free-agent market, although that's mostly by default given the thin crop of free agents. Some may overlook Carroll for a third-base job given he has played second and short almost exclusively the last two seasons.  Yet, he's played more career games at third than shortstop (by one game), so he can handle the hot corner. In a market devoid of third basemen, teams would be well-served to look at Carroll to plug the hot corner and a fill-in across the diamond. The utility player has really emerged over the last two years with the Dodgers and is an above-average player. He won't excite you, but he won't give games away. Any team hoping to wins needs a Jamey Carroll as a complementary piece.

SS: Clint Barmes

BarmesBarmes is a criminally underrated shortstop who could solve a lot of problems for many teams -- the Brewers are one that springs to mind. The now-32-year-old was popular back in 2005 when he busted out in Colorado and fast becoming a darling of fans and media alike when he broke his left shoulder falling down a flight of stairs after carrying deer meat. Since then, Barmes has become a slick fielder who can't quite hit with the bat. But in the depressed scoring of the last two years, Barmes' bat has started looking better in comparison and hit .244/.312/.386 for Houston last year, numbers not that far off an average shortstop these days. And his fielding. Oh, his fielding. Bottom line, he can flat pick it and will come cheap enough that whatever production he gives will outstrip what he is being paid. Barmes is an average- to below-average hitter with superior defense and is head and shoulders better than, say, Yuniesky Betancourt.

LF: Felix Pie

PiePie was once supposed to solve the Cubs' problems in center field and usher in a new era of baseball in the Windy City. Instead, he got drummed out to Baltimore and for a while there, it looked as if he was yet another in a line of players that got away from Chicago. Except that Pie hit .220/.264/.280 in 175 at-bats after finally being primed to take over a starting role after slashing .274/.305/.413 in 308 PA in 2010. There's no getting around how bad Pie's 2011 was, but he will turn 27 at the beginning of February and his talent didn't just disappear overnight. Pie will struggle to find playing time on even rebuilding clubs, but it's too early to give up on the lefty.

CF: Coco Crisp

CrispIn a thin crop of free agents, it's easy to scan by Crisp's name and think he's just another name in a motley crew of unappetizing players. But Crisp could be a dynamic center fielder finally getting back in the groove for the first time since receiving the tall task of replacing Johnny Damon in Boston. Prior to linking up with Oakland for 2010, Crisp had never stolen more than 28 bases in a season (2007 Red Sox). He swiped 32 in 2010, and anted that all the way up to 49, leading the league and being caught just nine times. In addition, playing in his cavernous home stadium doesn't do justice to his bat, which has been the best over the last two seasons since 2004-05 with the Indians. Don't look past this guy.

RF: Magglio Ordonez

OrdonezOrdonez may opt for retirement after breaking his right ankle for a second time, but if he tries to give it another go next season, Ordonez could be the perfect salve for a team looking to plug a gap in the outfield or DH.  Ordonez's final season line of .255/.303/.331 in 357 plate appearances looks horribly weak, but he hit .354 from Aug. 12 on, and was 5-for-11 in the ALDS. The 37-year-old reported that his surgically-repaired right ankle, which hadn't been feeling right after breaking it in June 2010, was finally starting to come around. Then he broke it again in the ALCS. If he can bounce back, it appears as if Ordonez has enough left in his bat to hit over .300. However, if he chooses to play again, he may be forced to sign late and prove to teams he's fully healthy.

SP: Hisashi Iwakuma

IwakumaDon't forget about Iwakuma, who could have been pitching for the Athletics in 2011 had negotiations between Oakland and Iwakuma's agent, Don Nelson, not broken down. This season, the lefty is free to negotiate with any team as he is now an unrestricted international free agent. He appears likely to jump stateside, and will draw quite a bit of interest from teams. Once the top names on the starting pitching market sign, Iwakuma could quickly rise to the top of the list. He's known for his control and walking just 19 in 17 games in Japan ball in 2011. The 30-year-old finished with a 2.42 ERA in 119 innings after spending two years as a reliever. Teams may be concerned about his ability to handle the demands of a MLB rotation as opposed to Japan, where starters take their turns once a week.

RP: Mike Gonzalez

GonzalezIt seems as if Gonzalez's luster has diminished in recent years not just because of injury problems, but thanks to pitching in Baltimore. You'd do well not to overlook Gonzalez, however, who throws hard. From the left side, that's rare to see, and when healthy, the 33-year-old can be one of the most dominant relievers in the league. Gonzalez pitched a total of 53 1/3 innings in 2011, split between the Orioles and Rangers. His strikeout rate, while not as high as recent years, still remains high and he displayed some of the best control of his career this past season as well and a subsequent dip in fastball velocity was not recorded. In Texas, he took on the role of a lefty specialist which was the best way to use him in '11, but this is a guy who can function as a top-notch setup man for any team in the league.

CL: Brad Lidge

LidgeLidge was supposed to spend the entire year as the Phillies' closer, but that changed when injuries struck yet again. Fortunately, Lidge was able to recover to pitch 19 1/3 innings down the stretch and proved he could still strike out batters despite a fastball that couldn't reach over 90 and relying too often on his slider. With an entire offseason to rest, it's possible Lidge could reclaim some of his lost fastball velocity, which would reduce his reliance on a slider. Control is a problem, as evidenced by his 13 unintentional walks (against 23 strikeouts), but he showed improved control in September, walking just four and punching out 11 in 9 1/3 innings. That was a major step forward from August, when he walked seven in 7 1/3 innings. There are a lot of closers on the free agent market, so Lidge will struggle to find a team that could give him a shot to close, but could end up as baseball's comeback player of the year in 2012 if all breaks right.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: November 1, 2011 5:40 pm
Edited on: November 1, 2011 10:20 pm
 

Team-by-team NL free agency outlooks



By C. Trent Rosecrans

With open free agency set to hit us at 12:01 a.m. Thursday, it's worth taking a quick look at what every single team is going to be looking for. We've already done detailed breakdowns in the R.I.P. series, so here are some quick hitters for the National League:

East
Atlanta Braves | R.I.P.
Needs: shortstop, corner outfielder, relief pitching
Money to spend?: Not much. The Braves' biggest need was getting rid of Derrek Lowe, and they did that and have saved $5 million to boot. The team has good, young starters, but put too many innings on their bullpen. They'll need more bullpen arms and also a bat in left field and a shortstop. With Tyler Pastronicky just about ready, the team could use a veteran backup just in case he doesn't work out.

Miami Marlins | R.I.P.
Needs: starting pitching, center field
Money to spend? Oh yeah… with the team preparing to move into a new stadium, owner Jeffrey Loria is expected to make a splash in free agency and could raise payroll to the $100 million range. South Florida will be a favorite of baseball agents in the offseason who will use the Marlins as leverage -- they may even be more popular than the "mystery team" of the past off seasons. The Marlins will be rumored as a possible landing point for nearly every big free agent. The question is, which ones -- if any -- will actually take their talents to South Beach.

New York Mets | R.I.P.
Needs: starting pitching, closer, relief pitching, middle infield
Money to spend? There are plenty of questions about the Mets ownership group, so nobody outside GM Sandy Alderson really knows what's going on and how much money he has to play with. It doesn't look like the team will go crazy in trying to re-sign Jose Reyes. The team will instead hope to improve its bullpen and rotation.

More Free Agency
Position rankings

Philadelphia Phillies | R.I.P.
Needs: shortstop, corner outfielder, closer, relief pitching, first base
Money to spend? It seems like they always find it when they need it, so there's no real concern about the budget. Even with Roy Oswalt likely to leave Philadelphia, there are few worries about the team's rotation. The bullpen, however, will need to be addressed. Ryan Madson may be re-signed and used as the closer, but the Phillies need middle-innings guys, as well. Left field is still an issue and the team could look to upgrade there, but will also need to address first base while Ryan Howard recovers from his Achilles injury. John Mayberry Jr. can play first, but moving him there creates a spot in the outfield.

Washington Nationals | R.I.P.
Needs: center field, starting pitching, relief pitching
Money to spend? Oh yeah. Like the Marlins, the Nationals have money to spend and unlike the Marlins, they have shown a willingness to actually use it. Last year the team overspent on Jayson Werth, something that certainly caught the eyes of free-agents-to-be. Several top names will certainly be courted by the Nationals, including Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder and C.J. Wilson. The Nationals really can't be counted out on anyone.

Central
Chicago Cubs | R.I.P.
Needs: first base, third base, closer, relief pitching, right field
Money to spend? The Ricketts opened the pocketbooks for their general manager, so it's unlikely they'll close 'em for players. Epstein says he wants to build a team from the bottom up, but that takes time and there will be pressure to win right away, and free agency will be part of that. Expect the Cubs to at least talk to the likes of Pujols and Fielder, even if they don't sign them. With Epstein in the fold, it'll certainly be interesting to see what route the Cubs take.

Cincinnati Reds | R.I.P.
Needs: closer, relief pitcher, corner outfielder, shortstop
Money to spend? Not much. It looks like the team will stand pat in the rotation, but after not picking up the option on Francisco Cordero, Cincinnati will need someone to finish out games. Last year Walt Jocketty stayed quiet during the offseason, but this winter that may not happen. However, the team is more likely to use the trade market than spend big in free agency.

Houston Astros | R.I.P.
Needs: shortstop, relief pitching
Money to spend? The Astros are in full-on rebuilding mode, as evidenced by their July fire sale. There's also the holdup of the sale of the team and the possible switch to the American League. If Jim Crane is approved by MLB, he may want to find his own general manager. The Astros won't be much of a player in the free agent market, looking for low-priced.

Milwaukee Brewers | R.I.P.
Needs: first baseman, shortstop, third baseman, relief pitching
Money to spend? Some -- for the right people. The team will try to make a pitch to retain Fielder and possibly Jerry Hairston Jr., but are likely celebrating to be free of Yuniesky Betancourt. The team probably won't be in the race for Reyes or even Jimmy Rollins, but could be in the market for a second-tier shortstop like Clint Barmes. They'll also need to add some arms in the bullpen, but could try to re-sign the likes of Takashi Saito and LaTroy Hawkins.

Pittsburgh Pirates | R.I.P.
Needs: catcher, first base, shortstop, corner outfielder, starting pitching
Money to spend? Yes, as much as $25 million or even a little more, but they also have plenty of holes. The Pirates took some steps forward in 2011, but will need to fill out their roster and will likely be going for the second-tier players to fill out a lineup around Andrew McCutchen, Neil Walker, Jeff Karstens, Kevin Correia, Charlie Morton and James McDonald.

St. Louis Cardinals | R.I.P.
Needs: First base, shortstop, relief pitching
Money to spend? Some for the right player. The Cardinals have nearly $60 million tied up for 2012 in six players -- Matt Holliday, Kyle Lohse, Lance Berkman, Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright and Jake Westbrook. There's also the little matter of Pujols -- who will listen to offers from the Cardinals, but is unlikely to give much (or any) of a hometown discount. The team also needs a shortstop and could use another left-handed reliever.

West
Arizona Diamondbacks | R.I.P.
Needs: second base, middle infield, relief pitching
Money to spend? There's not much tinkering expected of a team that surprised everyone by winning the NL West in 2011 -- the rotation is looking good and most of the positions are already manned. The team declined its option on second baseman Aaron Hill, but could also look at former Diamondback second baseman Kelly Johnson. The bullpen was radically rebuilt last season, but could use some tweaking.

Colorado Rockies | R.I.P.
Needs: starting pitching, second base, third base
Money to spend? The team needs a starter and also two infield spots -- all without spending much money. They could be looking to trade to find their infielders and a lefty reliever. But they also need a pitcher that can throw 200 innings in a season, but those don't come cheap on the open market. They'd also like a right-handed bat.

Los Angeles Dodgers | R.I.P.
Needs:catcher, second base, third base, starting pitching, relief pitching
Money to spend? Who knows? With the Frank McCourt mess, nobody knows what the future holds for the Dodgers. If they are sold, the timing may still be off for any big additions to the budget. In a perfect world, the Dodgers are looking at the big names like Fielder, Reyes and Wilson, but it doesn't seem like that will happen.

San Diego Padres | R.I.P.
Needs: closer, relief pitching, corner outfield, middle infield
Money to spend? The Padres have money to spend and spots to fill -- but don't expect them to be wooing the big names. Big money in San Diego is still small money to the likes of the Phillies and Cubs. The highest-priced free agent likely to sign with San Diego is closer Heath Bell.

San Francisco Giants | R.I.P.
Needs: shortstop, corner outfielder
Money to spend? The Giants will spend for the right player, and Reyes may just be that player. Or Rollins. The team may also try to retain Carlos Beltran, but at his age and injury history, the Giants are unlikely to gamble with a multiyear contract.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: October 27, 2011 3:05 pm
Edited on: October 27, 2011 3:06 pm
 

Free agent shortstop rankings: High risk, reward



By Matt Snyder

The theme here is high-risk, high-reward guys, at least toward the top. In the top two (and I'd include number four as well) teams are possibly looking at All-Star seasons or an albatross contract down the road, depending on how things shake out with health and the aging process. The entire list here contains gambles, but you know what? Sometimes in gambling you win.

List of MLB free agents

1. Jose Reyes. The 28 year old has now been an All-Star four times. He's led the majors in triples four times and the NL in steals three times. He upped his on-base percentage to .384 (nearly 30 points higher than his previous career high) in 2011 while winning the NL batting title. Had he not injured his hamstring twice, he may have been an MVP candidate. Of course, therein lies the issue. From 2005-08, Reyes was very durable. Since then, he's been unable to shake injuries. Someone is going to give him a big contract, there's little question about that. If Reyes can stay healthy, he'll be worth every dime. If he can't, the contract could end up handcuffing a franchise.
Potential teams: Mets, Tigers (shifting Jhonny Peralta to third), Giants, Nationals, Phillies, Brewers, Mariners

2. Jimmy Rollins. He turns 33 in a month and is actually coming off his best season since 2008. He can still steal bases, can still hit for moderate power and play good defense. He's just not a star anymore, and Rollins seems to be seeking a star-like contract. The hunch is some team that misses out on Reyes gives Rollins three to four years and regrets the deal by the third season, but it's possible he could be a good signing. 
Potential teams: Same as Reyes, Rollins is just the second option.

3. Marco Scutaro. He'll be 36 in less than a week, but he should have enough left in the tank to be a meaningful starter for the next two seasons. He had a .358 OBP in a tough division, so Scutaro could prove a good option for some ballclub that isn't capable of spending big money to fill a hole at short. Of course, they probably won't have a chance, because the Red Sox are expected to pick up Scutaro's option.
Potential teams: Red Sox

4. Rafael Furcal. It seems like Furcal has been around forever, and that's because he was a rookie at the ripe young age of 22. He's 34 now and certainly has lost some speed and power. Plus, he has only been healthy enough to play at least 100 games once in the past four seasons. Furcal has played better since joining the Cardinals, but he still hasn't shown enough to be considered a big name on the free agency market. He has said publicly he wants to remain in St. Louis and a one-year deal there is a distinct possibility.
Potential teams: Cardinals, Twins, Reds, Giants, Brewers, Mariners, Phillies

5. Clint Barmes. Barmes had a decent 2011 season for the Astros, shifting back to being an everyday shortstop -- the position he lost to Troy Tulowitzki in Colorado. He'll be very affordable and the Astros may let him walk, considering that's very little chance for them to compete in the next two seasons. It makes Barmes a nice, cheap option for teams strapped for cash.
Potential teams: Twins, Reds, Braves, Pirates, Giants

6. Willie Bloomquist.
The Diamondbacks will be getting Stephen Drew back from injury, but Bloomquist still has value to the franchise as a sort of supersub -- someone who can be plugged in as an injury replacement anywhere on the field (in 2010 he played every position except pitcher and catcher). The D-Backs are expected to pick up his option.
Potential teams: Diamondbacks

7. Yuniesky Betancourt. He has power, but his inability to get on base (.271 OBP in '11) and awful range at shortstop make Betancourt a liability most games. He did have a great offensive NLCS, so it's possible that lands him a few extra bucks on the open market. It's possible the Brewers pick up Betancourt's option if they can't get one of the above guys, but it's a $6 million option. That's hard to justify for a guy who can't get on base or field very well.
Potential teams: Pirates, Astros, Brewers, Twins, Braves

8. Ronny Cedeno. He's 29 and already shown his upside is severely limited. If the Pirates don't pick up his option, it's hard to see anyone signing him to come in and be the starter, at least not unchallenged.
Potential teams: Astros? Otherwise he'll be a backup just about anywhere.

9. Alex Gonzalez. The veteran will be 35 before next season starts, but he still has some pop. A team looking to bolster the offense's power could give him a one-year deal. There is talk the Braves will end up keeping him, so that bears watching.
Potential teams: Braves, Twins, Giants, Mariners

10. Cesar Izturis. He's only 31, but he's long since shown that he can't be a decent major-league hitter. He can help someone as a backup middle infielder that is only used as a defensive replacement, but his value is minimal. Look for teams with a good offensive shortstop that can't field to see Izturis as a late-innings defensive replacement -- but it can't be a star. Stars don't usually come out of the game.
Potential teams: Blue Jays, Braves, Padres, Rays, Nationals, Brewers, Retirement

11. John McDonald. Very similar to Izturis in that McDonald can play defense but not hit. He's just depth.
Potential teams: Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Braves, Padres, Rays, Nationals, Brewers

12. Edgar Renteria. Is there a place for an old backup who can barely hit or field anymore, but was once an All-Star and has a penchant for dramatic postseason hits? It's possible. Renteria could realistically be forced into retirement, but the guess is someone gives him a modest one-year deal.
Potential teams: Brewers, Twins, Mariners, Astros, Pirates, Retirement

13. Felipe Lopez. He's a headache off the field and has alienated himself from several ballclubs. He was an All-Star in 2005, when he hit 23 home runs and stole 11 bases, but Lopez hit just .206/.247/.277 in 2011 and he's north of 30 years old. If he gets a chance somewhere, it's gonna be on a minor-league deal.
Potential teams: anyone other than the eight teams he's already played for ... or forced retirement.

14. Orlando Cabrera. The soon-to-be 37 year old can't hit and his defense is drastically declining. With more and more teams ready to go young instead of wasting money on veterans, there is likely to be zero market for Cabrera's services early in the free agency period. It's possible when several of the names above fly off the board that some club grabs Cabrera on the cheap, but he also might end up like Jermaine Dye a few years ago ... just waiting on the right deal that never comes along.
Potential teams: Marlins? Mariners? Brewers? Retirement very possible.

15. Drew Sutton. He hit .315/.362/.444 in 31 games for the Red Sox, but there is little chance of that keeping up in the long run. Sutton is probably more likely to land a job -- for different reasons -- than Cabrera (age), Lopez (personality) or Renteria (asking price), but it's hard to tell who is going to view him as the proper fit to back up their shortstop.
Potential teams: Anyone and everyone.

Other free agents who could play shortstop: Jamey Carroll, Jerry Hairston, Ramon Santiago, Jack Wilson, Nick Punto, Omar Vizquel, Craig Counsell, Alex Cora

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 29, 2011 10:26 am
Edited on: September 29, 2011 10:37 am
 

R.I.P.: 2011 Pittsburgh Pirates

By Evan Brunell

Another season gone, another disappointment for 29 teams as one is immortalized forever. Let’s take a look back at 2011 and forward in Eye on Baseball’s R.I.P. series...


Team name: Pittsburgh Pirates
Record: 72-89, 23 games back in NL Central
Manager: Clint Hurdle
Best hitter: Andrew McCutchen: .260/.366/.459, 23 HR, 23 SB, 5.7 WAR
Best pitcher: Joel Hanrahan: 1-4, 68.1 IP, 1.83 ERA, 2.98 xFIP, 61 K, 16 BB, 40 SV

The Pirates entered 2011 knowing that a 19th straight losing season was going to happen. What they didn't know, however, was how badly their hearts would be ripped out of their chest accomplishing the feat. The Pirates have been a non-factor for almost two decades now, and only recently started to turn things around under the stewardship of GM Neal Huntington. While Huntington has improved the team, it's also been set back by a fruitless bounty for trading Jason Bay, and no pitchers really emerging as a bona fide ace.

2011 SEASON RECAP

The Pirates began 2011 by taking the opening game against the Cubs. The team would go on to finish April with a losing record, but it was just 13-15. The club was buoyed by Charlie Morton taking to his new delivery, emulating Roy Halladay, and posting a 3.00 ERA in five starts. Morton kicked into gear in May, though, with a 2.06 ERA in five starts, and so did the Pirates, splitting their games evenly for a .500 month. The best was yet to come, with a 16-13 June that put them on the map. Pittsburgh wouldn't stop winning, reaching seven games over .500 on July 19. That spurred the club to acquire Ryan Ludwick and Derrek Lee at the trade deadline.

And then, collapse. All that needs to be said is what the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review found from the Elias Sports Bureau:
In the modern history of Major League Baseball that began in 1900, no team has fared worse than these Pirates after holding first place through 100 games. Actually, no team has even come close. The Pirates' 16-40 record down the stretch makes for a .286 winning percentage. Next-worst was the 1977 Chicago Cubs, who went 60-40 to lead their division through 100 games, then went 21-41 for a .339 winning percentage.
2012 AUDIT

The Pirates will enter 2012 staring at the prospect of a 20th straight losing season, and the team understandably wants nothing to do with that. A major priority will be shoring up the rotation. Jeff Karstens and Charlie Morton appear to have pitched over their head and the team has gotten away with surprising health in the rotation as well, something that can't be counted on to repeat as well. On offense, the team has some amount of flexibility, but also needs to count on the core of McCutchen, Neil Walker, Jose Tabata and Pedro Alvarez to deliver.

Even as motivated as the team is to make upgrades and finish with a winning record, there is always the issue of money, which the team doesn't have in spades. Fortunately, though, the club is committed to less than $10 million in 2012, and only Hanrahan and Karstens figure to make leaps in salary through the arbitration process. Only Evan Meek and Charlie Morton are other arbitration-eligible players of consequence, and they won't earn a significant amount in their first year of eligibility. However, Huntington said 2012 will be about the young players, which makes complete sense. This is a team in the middle of building -- you don't just scrap that entirely. What the Pirates need to do is build around their young players.

FREE AGENTS

Ronny Cedeno, SS (club option)
Ryan Doumit, C
Derrek Lee, 1B
Ryan Ludwick, OF
Chris Snyder, C (club option)
Paul Maholm, SP (club option)

OFFSEASON FOCUS

There are . The Pirates need to shore up their rotation by bringing in another starter -- and this is on top of Maholm. If Maholm leaves, the wish list grows to two. In addition, the team really needs a better option at shortstop than Ronny Cedeno. He may be able to pick it, but he just can't hit. The team also needs a brand-new catching corps. Other than that, the prudent thing to do is allow this club to grow together.
  • The Pirates need to pick up Paul Maholm's $9.75 million club option. Maholm bounced back from a poor 2010 to post a 3.66 ERA over 26 starts. The 29-year-old isn't a great starter, but if he hit the free agent market, would receive a fairly hefty deal. The Pirates here have an opportunity to keep a vital cog of their rotation for just one more year. The ability to retain Maholm for only one year is worth the premium of a couple more million than he might otherwise get in free agency, as it will allow the team an extra year of evaluation, as well as the opportunity to trade him.
  • Although returning Maholm would seem to stuff the rotation with Maholm, James McDonald, Kevin Correia, Karstens and Morton, the team needs to build its pitching depth and shouldn't feel beholden to Correia to keep a rotation spot warm for him. The top names on the market in C.J. Wilson and Edwin Jackson don't figure to be interested, but there are other mid-rotation starters that would entertain Pittsburgh. Bruce Chen appears poised to get a solid two- or three-year deal from a club after two straight successful years in Kansas City. He's not a sexy name, but he would hold up well in the middle of the rotation and outperform Correia.
  • Decline the team option on Chris Snyder for $6.75 million and resign him. Before Snyder's season ended due to back problems, he was hitting .271/.376.,396. That's pretty good production, and Snyder can work his way back off the bench while giving the club a catcher with some familiarity with Pirate pitchers. The catcher's market in free agency is quite poor, and it's hard to imagine Ramon Hernandez picking Pittsburgh out of his suitors. The team could luck into Rod Barajas, but will most likely have to take a risk and sign someone like Kelly Shoppach or even bring Doumit back.
  • Resign Derrek Lee. This may not be easy to pull off as Lee probably won't want to return, but the Pirates need to try. Lee hit .337/.394/.583 and Clint Hurdle has already said he wants Lee back. Lee can provide veteran presence and leadership on a young team, which it desperately needs to adapt the right frame of mind toward finishing at least 81-81. If Lee won't return, the team should go after Carlos Pena. He's another player with a fantastic reputation who can pick it at first base defensively.. He can't hit for average, but can hit balls a far way.
  • Shortstop is the main area, and the Pirates really need to focus on adding value here. If Marco Scutaro hits the market, Pittsburgh should call him up with a two-year deal and hand him the starting shortstop gig, which would be enough to attract his attention. Given Scoot's hot end to the season, though, he would likely find a better opportunity. Clint Barmes would be a solid acquisition -- a rich man's Ronny Cedeno. (No, Jose Reyes won't happen.) Pittsburgh would be better served to go the trade route and try to find a better long-term option. If the Angels grab Reyes, the Pirates could deal for Erick Aybar, or take fliers on Alexi Casilla or Everth Cabrera. Finding a new shortstop won't be easy, but the Pirates need to do what they can to upgrade the position.
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Posted on: September 19, 2011 11:56 pm
Edited on: September 20, 2011 12:26 am
 

Picking the National League's best defenders



By C. Trent Rosecrans

The Gold Gloves are one of baseball's toughest awards to decide -- and sometimes toughest to understand. Unlike many of the game's other awards, the Gold Gloves are voted on by managers and coaches, and every year it seems there's a winner or two that seems to win the award more with their bat than their glove.

Not only do some players seem to win it with something other than their glove, sometimes the award can be a lot like the Supreme Court, once you get elected, you're not going to lose your seat.

That said, it's a difficult award to vote for. There are better fielding statistics coming out every year, yet most are still in their infancy and can tell you only so much. Good defense, sometimes can be a lot like the definition Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart gave for pornograpy in Jacobelis v. Ohio in 1964: "I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embrued within that shorthand description; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it." 

With that in mind, perhaps the voters for the Gold Gloves should be the scouts, but instead I'll try my hand at picking out the best defensive players in the National League.

Catcher: Yadier Molina, Cardinals

As tough as it is to use numbers to evaluate fielders, it's even tougher with catchers. At least the numbers with other fielders have some meaning, with catchers there's so much more to what they do defensively that it's hard not to go on reputation -- and nobody has a better reputation than Molina.

Others considered: Carlos Ruiz, Phillies; Brian McCann, Braves.

First base: Joey Votto, Reds

When Votto was coming up, people knew he could hit -- that was hard to ignore -- but his reputation at first base was nowhere near as good. Even as a rookie, he often struggled, especially on throws to a pitcher covering first. Since then, he's improved every year and this year he has proven himself to be the best defensive first baseman in the league. Votto, last year's MVP, covers more ground at first than any other first baseman in the league, which means it can be tough to get a hit if you hit it on the ground to the right side of the Reds infield, beacuse of the next guy on the list.

Others considered: Albert Pujols, Cardinals. Todd Helton, Rockies.

Brandon PhillipsSecond base: Brandon Phillips, Reds

A two-time Gold Glover, Phillips should be in line for his third. There may be no other player in baseball with as long of a highlight-reel as Phillips, who seemingly makes another amazing play every night.

Others considered: Chase Utley, Phillies, Omar Infante, Marlins, Neil Walker, Pirates

Third base: Pablo Sandoval, Giants

There are players with better defensive reputations than the Kung Fu Panda, but nobody's had a better year. The advanced stats don't tell you everything yet, but they're still pretty good. Sandoval leads qualified National League third basemen in UZR (12.3), UZR/150 (21.2) and plus-minus (20). 

Others considered: Placido Polanco, Phillies; Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals.

Shortstop: Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies

The Rockies may know a little something about drafting defensive shortstops -- they picked two of the best in the league, Tulowitzki and the Astros' Clint Barmes. Finally healthy, Barmes was outstanding defensively for the Astros, while Tulowitzki seems like the second coming of Cal Ripken. 

Others considered: Alex Gonzalez, Braves; Jose Reyes, Mets; Clint Barmes, Astros.

Left field: Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies

The voting has changed this year to award Gold Gloves to each of the three outfield positions instead of three generic outfielder awards that usually went to center fielders. Carlos Gonzalez is tough to categorize, but considering he's played more games in left than any other spot, he's the easy choice here. He's started 60 games in left, 34 in right and 28 in center. He's played all three well, which isn't easy at spacious Coors Field, committing only one error on the season.

Others considered: Matt Holliday, Cardinals. Gerardo Parra, Diamondbacks. Tony Gwynn, Dodgers.

Shane VictorinoCenter field: Shane Victorino, Phillies

This is one stacked category, with several deserving players. Under the old rules it would be easy, you'd have three center fielders and give them the three Gold Gloves. Under the new rules, it's a tougher choice. Victorino has had an MVP-type year, and no small part of that has been patrolling center field for the Phillies. The Flyin' Hawaiian is as good as anyone out there and his error-less season gives him the edge.

Others considered: Chris Young, Diamondbacks; Carlos Gomez, Brewers; Cameron Maybin, Padres; Rick Ankiel, Nationals; Andrew McCutchen, Pirates.

Right field: Mike Stanton, Marlins

He may be known best for the moon shots off his bat, but Stanton is a surprisingly good defensive outfielder. Stanton has the combination of athleticism and arm strength to be the best defensive right fielder in the game.

Others considered: Jay Bruce, Reds; Carlos Beltran, Giants; Jason Heyward, Braves.

Pitcher: R.A. Dickey, Mets

A knuckleball pitcher needs to field his position well -- there are plenty of bad hits coming back to the mound off poor contact. Dickey has been very good fielding his position and helped his team with his glove.

Others considered: Jake Westbrook, Cardinals; Bronson Arroyo, Reds; Hiroki Kuroda, Dodgers; Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers; Derek Lowe, Braves.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com