Posted on: January 25, 2012 3:26 pm
Edited on: January 25, 2012 4:41 pm
By C. Trent Rosecrans
With Prince Fielder finally off the market, we're officially in free-agent left-over time, with most of the big-name, big-money guys enjoying new contracts.
So, who is left? That's a good question. The best players available are starting pitchers -- with Edwin Jackson and Roy Oswalt leading the charge -- but in our free-agent tracker, only one position player (Derrek Lee) among the top 25 free-agent position players is available, while three top 25 pitchers remain (Jackson, Oswalt, Javier Vazquez).
Here's the best player -- and the rest -- among the remaining free agents at each position as we get closer and closer to spring training:
Catcher: Ivan Rodriguez. OK, he's a big name, a future Hall of Famer, but he's also 40 -- and a catcher. Rodriguez, 156 hits from 3,000, adjusted to being a backup catcher last season and it's the role he'll play if he can find a team for 2012.
Others available: Jason Varitek, Ronny Paulino, Ramon Castro, Jason Kendall.
First base: Derrek Lee. The 36-year-old finished the 2011 season in Pittsburgh and had a nice finish to the season, hitting .337/.398/.584 with seven homers in his return to the National League Central after struggling in Baltimore for most of the first half of the season. However, he did miss nearly a month after breaking a bone in his left wrist shortly after joining the Pirates. Lee could retire, CBSSports.com Insider Jon Heyman reported.
Others available: Casey Kotchman, Conor Jackson, Ross Gload, Russell Branyan.
Second base: Jeff Keppinger. The Giants non-tendered the 31-year-old infielder who struggled in his 56 games in San Francisco. Keppinger hit just .255/.285/.333 as the team's everyday second baseman, well off his career .281/.332/.388 line. Keppinger brings versatility with the ability to play any of the infield positions, and he's also played in the outfield. He could be a fit with the Mariners, Yankees or Rays.
Others available: Aaron Miles, Carlos Guillen.
Third base: Mark Teahen. Our top third baseman was recently released to make room for a 41-year-old relief pitcher, what does that tell you? The Blue Jays acquired the 30-year-old Teahen in three-team deal that sent Edwin Jackson and others to St. Louis and Colby Rasmus to Toronto. Teahen hit .200/.273/.300 with the White Sox and Blue Jays, playing both corner infield and outfield spots, in addition to handling some DH duties. Another positive is that he often tweets pictures of his two adorable boxers.
Others available: Eric Chavez, Bill Hall, Alex Cora.
Shortstop: Ryan Theriot. Theriot is versatile, with the ability to play pretty much anywhere on the field -- but he's best suited, defensively, to second base. He started the 2011 season as the Cardinals' starter at shortstop, but there's a reason the team went out to get Rafael Furcal. He hit .271/.321/.342 for the Cardinals last season, but at this point he's likely best suited as a utility player.
Others available: Edgar Renteria, Miguel Tejada, Felipe Lopez.
Outfield: Yoenis Cespedes. While we have J.D. Drew ranked higher, he's expected to retire soon, leaving the extremely talented Cespedes as the top available outfielder. Cespedes has just recently acquired citizenship in the Dominican Republic, so now the official courting of the Cuban center fielder can begin. The Marlins, of course, are said to be very interested, even if Cespedes is less interested in Miami. Both Chicago teams are said to have interest in him as well.
Others available: Kosuke Fukudome, Raul Ibanez, Juan Pierre, Magglio Ordonez, Corey Patterson, Rick Ankiel, Marcus Thames, Jeremy Hermida, Jay Gibbons, Milton Bradley.
Designated hitter: Johnny Damon. The 38-year-old Damon is hardly the prototypical slugging designated hitter, but he still has some value. Last season he hit .261/.326/.418 for the Rays with 16 home runs. He could be a fit in Detroit, where he hit .271/.355/.401 with eight home runs in 2010.
Others available: Hideki Matsui, Vladimir Guerrero.
Starting pitcher: Edwin Jackson. At 28, Jackson has already pitched for six different teams and could be looking at his seventh. With the White Sox and Cardinals, the hard-throwing right-hander went 12-9 with a 3.79 ERA in 31 starts and 199 2/3 innings. He struck out 148 batters while putting up a 1.437 WHIP. There are recent reports that he's willing to sign a one-year deal, and is drawing interest from the Tigers. He was 13-9 with a 3.62 ERA for Detroit in 2009.
Others available: Roy Oswalt, Javier Vazquez, Rich Harden, Jeff Francis, Brad Penny, Chris Young, Brandon Webb, Jon Garland, Livan Hernandez, Tim Wakefield, Scott Kazmir, Rodrigo Lopez, Kyle Davies, Ross Ohlendorf, Doug Davis.
Relief pitcher: Arthur Rhodes. Rhodes turned 42 during the World Series and still appeared in 51 games during the regular season and eight more in the postseason. The left-hander had a disappointing run with the Rangers after signing a two-year deal with Texas. But he returned as part of Tony La Russa's bullpen in St. Louis, earning his first World Series ring in his 19 years in the big leagues.
Others available: Chad Qualls, Brad Lidge, Dan Wheeler, Damaso Marte, Michael Wuertz, Zach Duke, Javier Lopez, Juan Cruz, Jason Isringhausen, Mike Gonzalez, Todd Coffey, Shawn Camp, Scott Linebrink, Hong-Chih Kuo, Jamey Wright, Chad Durbin, Brian Tallet, Hideki Luis Ayala, Micah Owings, Dan Cortes, Sergio Mitre, Tony Pena, David Aardsma, Pat Neshek, Danys Baez, Ramon Ortiz.
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Tags: 2012 free agency, 2012 MLB Free Agency, 2012 MLB Free Agents, 2012 MLB Hot Stove, Aaron Cook, Aaron Miles, Alex Cora, Arthur Rhodes, Bill Hall, Brad Lidge, Brad Penny, Brandon Webb, Brian Tallet, C. Trent Rosecrans, Carlos Guillen, Casey Kotchman, Chad Durbin, Chad Qualls, Chris Young, Connor Jackson, Corey Patterson, Damaso Marte, Dan Cortes, Dan Wheeler, Danys Baez, David Aardsma, Derrek Lee, Doug Davis, Edgar Renteria, Edwin Jackson, Eric Chavez, Felipe Lopez, free agency, free agent tracker, Hideki Matsui, Hideki Okajima, Hong-Chih Kuo, Ivan Rodriguez, Jamey Wright, Jason Isringhausen, Jason Kendall, Jason Michael, Jason Varitek, Javier Lopez, Javier Vazquez, Jay Gibbons, Jeff Francis, Jeff Keppinger, Jeremy Hermida, Johnny Damon, Jon Garland, Juan Cruz, Juan Pierre, Kosuke Fukudome, Kyle Davies, Livan Hernandez, Luis Ayala, Magglio Ordonez, Marcus Thammes, Mark Teahen, Micah Owings, Michael Wuertz, Mike Gonzalez, Milton Bradley, MLB Free Agency, MLB Free Agents, MLB Hot Stove, Pat Neshek, Ramon Castro, Ramon Ortiz, Raul Ibanez, Rich Harden, Rick Ankiel, Rodrigo Lopez, Ronny Paulino, Ross Gload, Ross Ohlendorf, Roy Oswalt, Russell Branyan, Ryan Theriot, Scott Kazmir, Scott Linebrink, Sergio Mitre, Shawn Camp, Tim Wakefield, Todd Coffey, Tony Pena, Vladimir Guerrero, Yoenis Cespedes, Zach Duke
Posted on: November 25, 2011 3:09 pm
Edited on: November 26, 2011 1:38 pm
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 waivers, 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.
For years, the Minnesota Twins were the model of how to build a consistent winner in a small market. From 2001-2010, the Twins appeared in the playoffs six times and recorded just one losing season. But the wheels fell off in 2011, with a mixture of bad fortune and bad pitching. The Twins have two former MVPs in their lineup, but it would be tough to find two former MVPs who did less in 2011 than Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer. Those two homegrown players were supposed to be cornerstones for the franchise, but their performance last season was more fitting a tombstone. The team's fortunes, for better or worse, will be tied to those two for the next few years.
1. Denard Span, CF
2. Michael Cuddyer, 3B
3. Joe Mauer, 1B
4. Justin Morneau, DH
5. Torii Hunter, RF
6. Jason Kubel, LF
7. Wilson Ramos, C
8. Danny Valencia, 2B
9. Tsuyoshi Nishioka, SS
1. Matt Garza
2. Nick Blackburn
3. Kevin Slowey
4. Brian Duensing
5. Anthony Swarzak
Closer - Jesse Crain
Set up - LaTroy Hawkins, J.C. Romero, Pat Neshek, Glen Perkins, Grant Balfour, Peter Moylan
Notable Bench Players
A.J. Pierzynski, Ben Revere, Luke Hughes, Trevor Plouffe.
With Ramos and Pierzynski on the roster, there's zero reason for Mauer to get anywhere near catching gear -- unless it's for another commercial. With Mauer freed of pitching duties, he can concentrate on first base and Justin Morneau doesn't have to worry about playing in the field. Even though Morneau is a very good defensive first baseman, keeping him off the field could keep him on the field. Last year he suffered concussion-like symptoms after merely diving for a ball. Limiting his risks for a recurrence of head injuries should be a top priority for the Twins, and the easiest way to do that solves the team's other big problem, getting the most out of their long-term deal with Mauer. While the Twins don't have anyone on this list with a large number of saves on their resume, there are a ton of good relievers.
It's a good thing the team has good relievers, because they're going to need them -- and even more than the seven listed above. The rotation, after Garza, is shaky. That rotation isn't going to get much help from its defense, either. The roster makeup requires several position shuffles, including Cuddyer to third, a position he's played, but is not too keen on playing. The Twins also have to put Nishioka at shortstop. Although he played there some in 2011, the team signed Jamey Carroll to play shortstop every day in 2012 for a reason.
Comparison to real 2011
Well, if you thought it couldn't get much worse in Minnesota than it did in 2011, it may with this lineup and rotation. Minnesota went 63-99 in 2011, and it probably breaks the 100-loss barrier with this squad, but don't expect them to be historically bad, so it'd probably only cost four-to-eight wins in my unscientific research. Either way, it's an ugly summer in Minneapolis.
Up next: Pittsburgh Pirates
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Tags: A.J. Pierzynski, AL Central, Anthony Swarzak, Ben Revere, Brian Duensing, C. Trent Rosecrans, Danny Valencia, Denard Span, Glen Perkins, Grant Balfour, homegrown, J.C. Romero, Jamey Carroll, Jason Kubel, Jesse Crain, Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Kevin Slowey, LaTroy Hawkins, Luke Hughes, Matt Garza, Michael Cuddyer, Nick Blackburn, Pat Neshek, Peter Moylan, Torii Hunter, Trevor Plouffe, Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Twins, Wilson Ramos
Posted on: June 21, 2011 1:28 am
Edited on: June 21, 2011 1:31 am
By Evan Brunell
Tim Hudson, Braves -- Tim Hudson was brilliant Monday in his second-best outing of the season, blanking the Blue Jays for eight innings and allowing just three baserunners on two hits and a walk. He punched out eight. Two of those baserunners came in the ninth inning, but closer Craig Kimbrel whiffed the heart of the Jays' order to finish the game off. But Hudson wasn't done. He also provided the margin of victory, taking Ricky Romero deep in the seventh inning for a two-run home run, which was the final score of the game. "It's hard to say there's anything better," Hudson told the Associated Press. "Obviously, you [nearly] throw a shutout and hit a homer, you win the game. It was fun, man, It was a lot of fun."
Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers -- Kershaw did what Hudson couldn't, slamming the door for nine innings against the Tigers, punching out 11 and walking just one, allowing two hits. Kershaw tossed 112 pitches, 73 for strikes in utterly baffling the Tigers, who appeared to have no idea what to do. The strong lefty is one of the few pitchers in the game classified as a True Ace. Kershaw now boasts of a 3.01 ERA on the season in 107 2/3 innings, but can be even better. His ERAs in the two seasons previous were 2.91 and 2.79. Oh, and Kershaw also stroked a two-run single in the eighth.
Starlin Castro, Cubs -- The Cubs finally got on the board in the third inning after the White Sox staked a 3-0 lead on a two-run single by Starlin Castro, plating Geovany Soto and Kosuke Fukudome. Castro came up in the sixth and ripped a 392-footer to left field to tie the game at three-all. Carlos Pena would follow later in the sixth with a three-run shot. That's a 2-for-4 night for Castro with a run scored, a home run and three RBI. He also swiped base, his ninth of the season. It's becoming increasingly obvious that the 21-year-old is going to be a superstar.
Padres bullpen -- Wade LeBlanc lasted just three innings, giving up three runs. But Cory Luebke, going into the seventh, had tossed three shutout innings to keep things honest in a game that had just been tied up in the top of the sixth inning. But in the bottom seventh, Luebke, Ernesto Frieri and Evan Scribner all imploded in a meltdown of the best bullpen in baseball. Luebke started the inning by walking Jacoby Ellsbury and seeing him erased at second base on a fielder's choice. Adrian Gonzalez tormented his former team by doubling in Dustin Pedroia, and that was it for Luebke. But Frieri would come in to get just one out, allow no hits and give up four runs. He did so by immediately inducing Kevin Youkilis into a flyout, then intentionally walking David Ortiz. J.D. Drew then walked to the load the bases, and then promptly hit two straight batters. Evan Scribner came in to continue the hilarity, giving up a pinch-hit, 2-run RBI single by Josh Reddick, with another single by Ellsbury loading the bases again. A walk, two-run single and bases-clearing double finished up the 10-run inning for the Red Sox, who were retired when Pat Neshek got Big Papi swinging.
Charlie Morton, Pirates -- That's the sound of regression. Morton is backsliding, giving up six earned runs in his third straight poor start to spike his ERA to 3.77, still a quality mark and more in line with what Morton has done this season. Imitating Roy Halladay's windup has allowed Morton to induce a ton of groundballs but at the expense of striking anyone out, and not being stingy enough with walks. Morton is still a far better pitcher than he was, especially the debacle he resembled last season, but this loss dropped him to 7-4 and the Pirates to two games under .500.
Jeff Mathis, Angels -- And the worst hitting performance goes to Jeff Mathis, who punched out three times in four hitless at-bats against the Marlins. Jered Weaver and Anibal Sanchez had a great duel, with the Angels winning the battle of the bullpens for a 2-1 final. Jack McKeon's triumphant return, replete with smoking a cigar on the bench, had a rain delay precede the loss. Mathis, meanwhile, sinks to .191/.229/.282 on the year. When does his failings at the plate outweigh his defense, skipper Mike Scioscia?
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