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Tag:Albert Pujols
Posted on: January 24, 2012 6:08 pm
Edited on: January 24, 2012 7:50 pm
 

'Mystery Team' goes from joke to major player

Mystery Team

By C. Trent Rosecrans


Once again, the Mystery Team got its man, as Prince Fielder is headed to Detroit -- not Washington or Texas.

Last November, the idea of a "Mystery Team" was a joke -- a meme making fun of writers who dared to suggest there were things they didn't know, a team that could get by the new world order of Twitter and the 86,400 second news cycle. One blogger even called the chance of Cliff Lee signing with anyone other than the Yankees or Rangers "the invention of an agent" who was using a writer who dared to buck the status quo. That blogger even highlighted his jabs at the writer with a picture of the Mystery Machine, the vehicle of choice for Scooby Doo and pals. And it wasn't just snarky bloggers who have more jokes than information, mainstream writers got in on the meme as well.

Prince to Tigers
And then, well… Cliff Lee signed with the Mystery Team.

And so did Adrian Beltre.

But that didn't stop the barbs. After Albert Pujols went to Anaheim and now Prince Fielder to Tigers, the Mystery Team is no joke.

It's almost to the point where for the biggest of the big free agents, the Mystery Team is a favorite. And if we're not there, we're probably to the point where the Mystery Team should never be counted out of the running, and certainly to the point where it shouldn't be mocked.

The biggest reason there's more Mystery Team chatter is because there's more chatter, the people making the biggest decisions are doing so with respect to Twitter and the proliferation of outlets reporting on baseball and sports, in general. We're at the point where fans see an interviewing Theo Epstein in a Chicago Starbucks and it makes national news. The teams aren't laughing about "bloggers in their mother's basements" anymore -- it's serious stuff. If rivals learn of a team's plan, it can cost them on the field and off the field in terms of money.

In response, teams are being much more careful about where they are seen and who they are seen with. At the winter meetings, teams will use service elevators and back hallways, places unavailable to the public -- and the press -- to get around.

Also, when it comes to the highest levels of free agents, the type that could cost $100 or $200 million, you're not talking about a general manager having the final say, it's the owners who have to pull the trigger. That leads to an agent, such as Scott Boras, dealing with the money people, not the baseball people who have less of an incentive to keep quiet. The more people who know that a team is considering signing a player, the more chance it can leak out. At some point, the GM can say, "yeah, I'd love to have Albert Pujols." And that's a no-brainer. It's all up to the owner to decide if he wants to spend the money, so he meets with the agent, and maybe the player.

There are still cases like Jose Reyes, where pretty much everyone assumed he'd end up in Miami, but we're also at the point where you should never, ever count out the Mystery Team.

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Posted on: January 24, 2012 4:25 pm
 

Would You Rather Have: Pujols or Fielder?



By Matt Snyder


Two superstar first basemen helped lead NL Central teams into the playoffs in 2011. In 2012, each will be playing in the American League.

Albert Pujols signed a whopping 10-year, $254 million contract to leave St. Louis and head to the Angels. Several weeks later (today), Prince Fielder accepted a nine-year, $214 million deal to join the Detroit Tigers.

We long had this matchup slated to run at some point in this Would You Rather Have series, but wanted to hold off until the dollar figures were known. Obviously if Fielder signed for half what Pujols did -- especially being younger -- he'd be the choice. But we now have contracts that are essentially apples to apples, as they're close enough in average annual value. 

Would You Rather Have
The case for Pujols

Ever since Barry Bonds retired, Pujols has been either the consensus best player in baseball or the runner-up (at times Alex Rodriguez was considered superior). Pujols has won three MVPs and finished in the top 10 of MVP voting every single season of his career -- and the top five all but one time. He already has 445 home runs and sports an absurd 1.037 career OPS (170 OPS-plus).

On top of all the considerable damage Pujols can do with his bat, he's a well-rounded player. He's widely regarded as an exceptional baserunner and an above average defender. He's certainly a much better defender than Fielder, so leave the puns alone.

Pujols also doesn't have the weight concerns many attach to Fielder.

The case for Fielder

He's no slouch with the bat himself. In only six full seasons -- and change -- Fielder has 230 homers and a .929 OPS. Last season he hit 38 home runs and drove home 120. For the third consecutive season, Fielder drew more than 100 walks, too, so his plate discipline can rival that of Pujols. And Fielder does have three top-four finishes in MVP voting in the past five seasons.

Despite concerns about weight, Fielder trumps Pujols in the durability category. Prince has only missed one game in the past three seasons combined. In his six full seasons, Fielder has averaged 160 games played. And that's a segue to the age issue.

Prince Fielder is only 27 -- he'll turn 28 this May. Albert Pujols just turned 32. And Pujols' contract is one year longer.

So, obviously Pujols would have been the choice for this past decade, but what about the decade to come?

Our call

I'm sticking with Pujols in a ridiculously difficult choice. Each player probably switches to designated hitter around the same time and I'll take Pujols' defense as the separation point in the next few years.

Fan Vote:



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Posted on: January 20, 2012 10:05 am
 

Failed imports may replace Darvish in Japan

Kei Igawa Kenshin Kawakami

By C. Trent Rosecrans


If you're a Japanese team and you lose your best player to the big leagues, what do you do to replace him? Well, besides cashing a check for more than $51.7 million, you turn to former big-league pitchers.

The Nippon Ham Fighters (and once again, let me stress that it's the Nippon Ham… Fighters, not the Ham Fighters) are looking at former Japanese big leaguers Kei Igawa and Kenshin Kawakami, according to Daily Sports in Japan (via YakyuBaka.com). The Rangers hope it's not an even trade, as neither Igawa nor Kawakami lived up to expectations in the United States.

Igawa, 32, was posted after the 2006 season and the Yankees paid a posting fee of more than $26 million before signing to a five-year, $20 million contract with New York. For all that money, the Yankees got 13 starts and three relief appearances out of the left-hander, and he hasn't appeared in a big-league game since 2008. In MLB, he went 2-4 with a 6.66 ERA. Last year he was 3-2 with a 3.86 ERA at Double-A and Triple-A. With the Hanshin Tigers of Japan's Central League, he led the league in strikeouts three times and won the 2003 Eiji Sawamura Award, Japan's Cy Young equivalent.

Kawakami, 36, signed with the Braves as an international free agent in 2009, meaning the Braves didn't have to pay a posting fee. He won the Sawamura Award and Central League MVP in 2004. With the Braves, Kawakami was 8-22 with a 4.32 ERA in 41 starts and nine relief appearances in 2009 and 2010 before being outrighted to Double-A after the 2010 season. He struggled in Double-A in 2011, going 2-4 with an 8.41 ERA in 16 appearances (six starts) for Double-A Mississippi.

As Matt Snyder already pointed out, the fact that other Japanese pitchers have failed, doesn't mean Darvish will. Of course, that didn't stop our Taiwanese friends to make the comparison in one of their infamous videos, where Walker "Tex-xas" Ranger is handing over the checks to Darvish to face off Albert Pujols.



The Rangers will have a press conference with Darvish to make the signing official Friday night at 7 p.m. Texas time at Rangers Ballpark.

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Posted on: January 15, 2012 5:02 pm
 

Showtime series considering Marlins for season 2

Jose Reyes

By C. Trent Rosecrans


The Franchise, Showtime and MLB's answer to HBO's popular Hard Knocks, is returning for a second season and a second team. Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports the Marlins are under consideration to be this year's subject, following in the footsteps of the San Francisco Giants.

The Marlins would seem to be as good of a pick as any big league team as there's a new stadium, colorful new uniforms, an even more colorful new manager and new talent in the likes of Jose Reyes, Heath Bell and Mark Buehrle. The team even has the walking soap opera that is Carlos Zambrano, as well as the spotlight-seeking Logan Morrison.

If Showtime decides to go in another direction, here are some other ideas:

• The A's: It seems Lew Wolff and Billy Beane are trying to pull a real-life version of Major League, putting together a team not to win, but in preparation for a move. Heck, they already have Brad Pitt as the general manager, so we know the camera will love them.

• The Angels: It's a time-honored television tradition, the fish-out-of-story of a family packing up its modest home and heading to California. We've had the Clampetts move out to Bev-er-ly, the Walshes to 90210 and the Fresh Prince hailing a cab for Bel-Air, so why not the Pujols family dealing with the disrespect of being offered a lowly $130 million and finding love and respect in Anaheim? Oh, and there's C.J. Wilson and his race cars and Vernon Wells cashing his paychecks.

• The Yankees and Red Sox: It'd be nice to see these teams get a little attention.

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Posted on: January 7, 2012 11:22 am
 

Kendrys Morales cleared to 'ramp up' activities

By Matt Snyder

More than 18 months since breaking his ankle while celebrating a walk-off home run, Kendrys Morales' long and winding road to a hopeful return continues. The latest news, via LATimes.com, is that Morales has been cleared to "ramp up" baseball activities, as he's been running "on his own body weight" recently. He's also been hitting off a tee.

“The news has been consistently positive, and we’re hopeful of a healthy return,” general manager Jerry Dipoto said earlier this week (LATimes.com). “With the depth we have at the corners, we’re not contingent on his return by opening day, but we’re optimistic that could happen.”

Ah, yes, the depth at the corners. Specifically first base. The Angels have the runner-up for 2011 AL Rookie of the Year in Mark Trumbo ... and you may have heard of this dude they just signed in early December? His name is Albert Pujols.

In all seriousness, the Pujols signing actually should help Morales. He doesn't have to worry about playing the field any time soon. If Morales can get close to full health with that ankle and swing the bat the way he's capable --  he hit .306/.355/.569 with 34 homers and 108 RBI in 2009 -- he can be the designated hitter and bat cleanup as protection for Pujols. Should that happen, the Angels have a logjam with people like Trumbo and Bobby Abreu, but it would sure be a nice problem to have.

Still, there have been so many setbacks with Morales' rehab, there's very little reason to be more than cautiously optimistic for his chances of a healthy return.

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Posted on: January 4, 2012 1:30 pm
Edited on: January 4, 2012 1:57 pm
 

Five active surefire Hall of Famers



By Matt Snyder


With the Hall of Fame voting results revealed this coming Monday, it's always a perfect time to look at ahead at future Hall of Famers. Sure, we'll debate about them when the time comes, but why wait? We've got time -- as it's a slow time of the year for baseball.

Thus, Eye On Baseball will do a five-part series about current players who may or may not eventually be enshrined into the Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown, New York. The first part, this one, will deal with players who could retire right this second and be a sure bet to be voted into the Hall. While the resume isn't necessarily complete -- one of these guys' is far from complete -- it's already Hall-worthy.

Anyway, considering we're saying a player can retire right this instant and still easily get into the Hall, this list is short. It's just five names. We'll go in alphabetical order. To reiterate, this isn't players who we think will get in one day (which would certainly include someone like Roy Halladay). This list is of guys who could call a press conference and retire right now and still make the Hall.

Hall of Fame coverage
Derek Jeter: The Captain was already headed to Cooperstown regardless, but the 3,000th hit this past summer completed his first-ballot resume. He has a career .313 batting average with 240 homers, 339 steals, a Rookie of the Year award and five World Series rings. His postseason line -- .307/.374/.465 with 20 homers in 152 games -- along with seven top-10 finishes in MVP voting further cements his legacy.

Chipper Jones: Jones joined a division-winner and was one of the key members of 11 more division championships, winning the World Series once. The seven-time All-Star won the 1999 MVP -- pretty darn tough to do in those days for a presumed non-juicer -- and finished in the top 10 in voting five other times. He has 454 home runs and over 1,500 runs and RBI. Perhaps the most underrated aspect of Jones' game is he's walked more times than he's struck out in his career, helping to give him a .402 career on-base percentage. His .935 OPS ranks him 31st in MLB history.

Albert Pujols: Will the "longevity" crowd go nuts over this pick? Maybe. But c'mon. The guy has been one of the three best players in baseball for 11 years and the best since Barry Bonds retired. To randomly select a recent inductee, Jim Rice played 2,098 games in 16 seasons; winning one MVP and finishing in the top five six total times. Pujols? He's played in 1,705 games. In his 11 seasons, he's won three MVPs and finished in the top five 10 times. He already has 445 career home runs and his rate stats are insane. Pujols' .328 career batting average ranks him 33rd of all-time. His .420 OBP ranks him 19th and his .617 slugging percentage ranks him fourth ever. Only Babe Ruth, Ted Williams and Lou Gehrig had a higher mark. Yes, those rate stats tend to decline with age, so then I'd go back to the prime and point to the top five MVP finishes. Oh, and the two World Series rings, along with several huge postseason hits.

The point is, while he hasn't played 15 years, for example, few in the history of the game have ever put up 11 seasons at any point in their career as Pujols already has, so he's in right now. The only thing that could possibly keep him out is an unfortunate test at some point, but we're talking facts here, not baseless speculation.

Mariano Rivera: Obviously there's a spot for the best reliever in major-league history. Not only does Rivera hold the all-time record with 603 regular-season saves, but he's closed down 42 of 45 postseason save chances with a sparkling 0.70 ERA and 0.76 WHIP. Small sample? Not really. It's 141 innings, which is roughly twice as many as he'll throw in a given regular season. The 12-time All-Star also has those five rings, like Jeter does. Rivera's consistency, dominance and longevity mean he's a sure bet, even if other relievers have had trouble getting in.

Jim Thome: Is 600 the new 500? It used to be that hitting a 500th home run was like punching one's ticket to Cooperstown. That club has grown to 25 guys now, and will be adding one more pretty soon (Pujols). That's still pretty exclusive and might remain a barrier that always gets guys voted in -- assuming the PED cloud of suspiscion doesn't hang over their heads the way it does McGwire and Manny Ramirez, to name two. For good measure, though, Thome just went past 600 home runs this past season. Only seven have ever hit more homers in a career, three of which (Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Alex Rodriguez) will have to deal with those PED questions.

Thome doesn't just hit home runs, either. He's drawn 1,725 career walks (eighth all-time), which has helped him garner over 1,500 runs and a .403 career OBP. He also ranks 26th in history with 1,674 career RBI. Even if most of Thome's value does stem from hitting home runs, that's the best possible outcome a hitter can have. That's like saying all a football player does is score touchdowns -- more than all but seven have in the game's history. How is that bad?

Coming Thursday: Borderline candidates among older veterans
Friday: Players over 30 who have a shot of getting there with a few more good years
Saturday: Players under 30 building a good foundation
Sunday: Asterisk candidates -- on-field numbers good enough but PED issues cloud matters

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.
Posted on: December 30, 2011 5:18 pm
Edited on: December 31, 2011 11:19 am
 

And the Bloggies go to...



By C. Trent Rosecrans

No need to get dressed up -- but the Bloggies are here and they're best viewed in sweatpants or pajama pants. The winners, the winner get nothing. But we get to fill out a post and bring something new.

So, Monday (Part I) and Tuesday (Part II), we put up the nominees in several categories and let the fans vote. Well, we couldn't just stick to that, because we all know the internets is for disagreement over awards, so Matt Snyder and I will chime in with our picks, as well.

Best Moment(s) of 2011
Fans: World Series Game 6
Snyder: Game 6
Rosecrans: Sept. 28

Most Historic Milestone
Fans: Derek Jeter's 3,000th
Snyder: Jim Thome's 600th
Rosecrans: Jeter's 3,000th

Biggest Surprise
Fans: Cardinals
Snyder: Albert Pujols to the Angels
Rosecrans: Cardinals

Biggest Disappointment -- Individual section
Fans: Ryan Braun's failed test
Snyder: Braun
Rosecrans: Coco Crisp not sticking with the 'fro

Biggest Disappointment -- Team
Fans: Red Sox
Snyder: Red Sox
Rosecrans: Red Sox

Most Bush League Moment
Fans: Carlos Zambrano quitting on his teammates
Snyder: Carlos Guillen's celebration in the Jered Weaver/Tigers feud
Rosecrans: Zambrano

Worst Call
Fans: Jerry Meals
Snyder: Billy Butler's "inside the park" home run
Rosecrans: Meals

Biggest "Can't-Look-Away" Character
Fans: Ozzie Guillen
Snyder: Nyjer Morgan
Rosecrans: Guillen

Best Twitterer
Fans: @DatDudeBP (Brandon Phillips)
Snyder: @BMcCarthy32 (Brandon McCarthy)
Rosecrans: @BMcCarthy32

Biggest bonehead move
Fans: Mike Leake been caught stealing
Snyder: Leake
Rosecrans: Leake

Best celebration
Fans: None: They're all lame
Snyder: None
Rosecrans: None

Weirdest injury
Fans; Matt Holliday and the moth
Snyder: Holliday
Rosecrans: Holliday

Most impressive home run
Fans: Francisco

Snyder: Upton

Rosecrans: Upton

Best defensively play
Fans: Phillips

Snyder: Revere

Rosecrans: Revere

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Posted on: December 29, 2011 6:50 pm
Edited on: December 29, 2011 7:19 pm
 

Report: Pujols contract heavily backloaded

By Matt Snyder

We already knew Albert Pujols signed a gargantuan 10-year contract worth over $250 million to play for the Angels. What we didn't know initially was how the contract would break down. Considering the Angels went into the offseason saying they couldn't drastically increase payroll, it's not overly surprising that Pujols' contract is reportedly backloaded pretty heavily. From Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com:
Pujols will make a base salary of $12 million in 2012 and $16 million in 2013, said a source. His salary will gradually increase until it surpasses $30 million annually near the end of the deal.
Crasnick also notes that Pujols agreeing to have a lower salary in the next two seasons helped the Angels afford to sign starting pitcher C.J. Wilson. Then again, getting paid over $30 million when he's surpassed 40 years of age doesn't exactly sound too shabby for Pujols.

Also, Crasnick reports the deal has taken a while to finalize because the it includes a "personal services contract with the Angels once [Pujols'] playing days are done."

Pujols turns 32 this coming January, so he'll turn 42 before the final year of this contract. And, again, he'll make over $30 million that season. While Pujols has been the best player in baseball for a while -- finishing in the top five of MVP voting 10 of his 11 seasons, it's hard to see him being worth anywhere close to that salary in 10 years. The Angels are obviously counting on him earning back the entirety of the deal in the first five to seven years.

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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