Tag:Prince Fielder
Posted on: November 1, 2011 1:39 pm
 

Carlos Beltran dumps agent Scott Boras

Carlos BeltranBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Carlos Beltran is no longer represented by Scott Boras, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com tweets. Beltran has switched to Dan Lozano, who is also the agent for Albert Pujols.

Beltran, 34, is a free agent for the first time since 2005, when he signed a seven-year, $119 million with the Mets with the help of Boras. Beltran was ranked as the No. 1 outfield free agent by CBSSports.com.

Lozano also represents Jimmy Rollins, another of the top free agents available. In our free agent rankings, Beltran, Pujols and Rollins were all among the top 10 position players available in free agency.

Boras isn't likely to go broke with the news, as he still represents Prince Fielder, Ryan Madson, Francisco Rodriguez, Edwin Jackson and more free agents.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 25, 2011 11:00 am
Edited on: October 25, 2011 4:49 pm
 

Free-agent position rankings: Top-heavy 1B

Fielder, Pujols

By Evan Brunell


For all news, check out the CBSSports.com free agency tracker.

The first-base crop of free agents is extremely top-heavy, boasting the best player in the game in Albert Pujols. Even without Pujols, the first-base list would still be star-studded, as 27-year-old Prince Fielder is also hitting the market and should command a sizable deal. However, after that, it drops off significantly, and by the end of the top 10 list, we're looking at someone who hit .194.

Pujols1. Albert Pujols: What more can you say about Pujols that hasn't been said already? He's the best hitter the 21st century has seen, and he may hold that mantle for quite a while. Pujols may be 31, but that shouldn't stop him from commanding a hefty contract given his strong bounceback after starting the year poorly, plus his dazzling defense. There's been a lot of talk about Pujols' failings in dealing with the media, but neither Pujols nor whichever team he ends up with will care much about his approach to the media. The team will care about homers. Pujols will care about money and winning. The media is just a sideshow.
Potential teams: Cardinals, Cubs, Blue Jays, Dodgers, Mariners, Nationals, Orioles, and because they have money: Yankees, Red Sox

Fielder2. Prince Fielder: Fielder is four years younger than Pujols, but he'll struggle to match what Pujols gets -- not just because Pujols is an elite, once-in-a-generation hitter (which, admittedly, Fielder could become), but because there are conditioning issues with his weight that lend comparisons to a late-career breakdown like Mo Vaughn. However, the lefty has appeared in 485 of a possible 486 regular-season games over the last three years, so it's hard to get too worked up about it. He's going to have a robust market and may even sign in advance of Pujols.
Potential teams: Same as Pujols -- Cardinals, Cubs, Blue Jays, Dodgers, Mariners, Nationals, Orioles, and because they have money: Yankees, Red Sox

Cantu3. Carlos Pena
: Pena can hit balls a long way. It's too bad he can't make contact regularly. But there are far worse first-baseman one could have, and getting a 30-homer player with strong defense and leadership skills is something most teams will kill for; Pena will get a healthy contract this year wherever he ends up. Whichever teams lose out on Pujols and Fielder will gun for Pena, so his market figures to be late-developing and it may be into January before he signs anywhere.
Potential teams: Cubs, Dodgers, Rays, Brewers, Cardinals, Cubs, Orioles, Indians, Twins

Lee4. Derrek Lee
: It looked as if Lee was heading the way of Vladimir Guerrero and the other aging power-hitters as of late after beginning the year in a tough spot with Baltimore. Fortunately for Lee, he got dealt to the Pirates at the trade deadline and that reinvigorated him to the point where he should be able to scrape up a starting job somewhere this winter, although Lee may struggle to land with a top-flight contender. The Pirates would like for Lee to return to the team, but unless the Pirates offer one of the only starting jobs in the game, it's tough to see the righty returning.
Potential teams: Dodgers, Pirates, Rays, Brewers, Cardinals, Cubs

Kotchman5. Casey Kotchman
: Kotchman was once a promising up-and-coming first baseman that was part of a Mark Teixeira trade, heading to Atlanta from Los Angeles. That's where his career frayed, and the Red Sox picked him up on a lark. No go. After a forgettable 2010 in Seattle, Kotchman somehow bounced back in Tampa Bay to rake up a .308/.372/.422 line. However, batting average seems to be what's driving Kotchman, and that's one of the least predictive statistics anyone can use. This upcoming season will determine a lot for Kotchman and his future, but no one should invest heavily in him. Unfortunately, after the year he had and with the poor free-agent class, he could haul in a sizable deal.
Potential teams: Rays, Dodgers, Pirates, Brewers, Cardinals, Cubs, Astros, Indians, Orioles

Giambi6. Jason Giambi
: Giambi had a fantastic season as a pinch-hitter for the Rockies, helping to soften the blow when Todd Helton needed out of the lineup. Giambi smashed six doubles and 13 homers in just 152 plate appearances, an absolute wrecking ball off the bench. Who really knows what teams Giambi would sign with, but he'll certainly get plenty of offers to choose from. Wherever he lands, it'll be as a bench player although depending where he ends up, he could be in line to get at least 200 at-bats for the first time since 2009.
Potential teams: Rockies, Yankees, Athletics, Phillies

Overbay7. Lyle Overbay
: Overbay looked cooked as a starting first-baseman, but a resurgence in Arizona after leaving Pittsburgh will help matters significantly, even if he played in just 18 games for the Diamomdbacks. A team desperate for a stopgap at first base could entice Overbay, but it figures that his biggest market will come as a platoon first-baseman. A return to Arizona to mentor and play behind Paul Goldschmidt makes sense. If he wants a shot to start, it'll be with a team that doesn't quite harbor postseason aspirations -- but things have a funny way of working out once options dwindle.
Potential teams: Rays, Orioles, Phillies, Mets, Brewers, Cardinals, Pirates, Astros, Dodgers, Diamondbacks, Rockies, Padres

Gload8. Ross Gload
: Gload, whose career got a late start, has been plying his trade in the NL the last three seasons, primarily as a pinch-hitter for Philadelphia over the last two years. The first-baseman actually led the NL in pinch-hits in 2011, although you wouldn't know it given his poor statistics. Gload should have no problem getting a pinch-hit gig somewhere in the senior circuit this offseason and might even be enticed back to the AL if he can get a decent amount of playing time. Gload and the remaining names on the list could conceivably end up with any team, as their role would fit virtually anywhere as a backup.
Potential teams: Any team

Branyan9. Russell Branyan
: Branyan is a retirement candidate. At age 35, he took a significant step back as his trademark power was missing all year. While his .197 batting average isn't all that far from his .232 career average, that's not why teams kept playing him. No, Branyan got at-bats because of his power, but he only banged five homers and seven doubles in 146 plate appearances all season. Branyan hit 56 homers combined from 2009-10, so teams will still be willing to give him a shot. He could be entering the phase of his career where he hangs on for a few more season as a pinch-hitter in the NL.
Potential teams: Any team

Cantu10. Jorge Cantu
: Cantu's going to have a lot of trouble securing a major-league deal after the awful season he had, appearing in just 55 games for the Padres and hitting .194/.232/.285 before mercifully being released and finishing out the year in the Rockies' minor-league system.  It's quite the fall for the 29-year-old who hit 29 homers in 2008. Over the last two years, Cantu has regressed significantly and will have to play his way onto a team this spring on a minor-league cont
Potential teams: Any team

Others that could be first basemen: Mark DeRosa, Edwin Encarnacion, Eric Hinske, Conor Jackson, Xavier Nady Juan Rivera, Nick Swisher, Josh Willingham.

Free-agent position rankings: C | 1B | 2B | SS | 3B | OF | DH | SP | RP

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

Posted on: October 17, 2011 10:15 am
 

Big-ticket free agents may sign with small market



By Evan Brunell


The four big-ticket items slated to hit the free-agent market may be in for a rude awakening.

Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, Jose Reyes and C.J. Wilson have been expected to receive healthy contracts, but unless each of them is willing to head to a lesser competitor than the top dogs that threaten every year, it figures that the total value of the contracts signed will come in well under what was projected. Wilson might not reach $100 million. Pujols may not crack the $30-million annual salary barrier. Fielder might not even match Adrian Gonzalez's new contract in Boston. Reyes might struggle to get five years, but he'll still have more money than he'll know what to do with once he signs.

There are a multitude of reasons why, but in the cases of Fielder and Pujols, it's because there is simply not a great demand for their services, by virtue of hitting free agency at the wrong time. Boston, the Yankees, Mets, Angels, Dodgers, Rangers, Giants, Cubs... all may pass on either first baseman due to money problems, no open spots or simply not fitting within the club's process at the moment. (Especially the Cubs -- Chicago painfully needs to rebuild and unless Fielder or Pujols lands in the lap of incoming GM Theo Epstein, there's zero chance Epstein will give up draft picks.)

Wilson may have a better time of it by virtue of being a left-handed starter that could attract the Red Sox, Yankees and Angels to name a couple, but even he's suffered a beating in perception as of late, struggling through the postseason thus far and better profiling as a mid-rotation starter that is being lifted up by virtue of a stagnant free-agent crop. But even he could fall shy of $100 million, a demarcation line that has long been bandied about for the Ranger. And Reyes has his problems with injuries and inconsistency that will tamp down his market.

If any of these four players want to hit benchmarks -- Pujols signing the richest contract for annual value, Fielder besting Gonzalez and Wilson netting triple digits, Reyes grabbing five or six years -- they may have to follow in the footsteps of Jayson Werth, to name a recent example. Werth inked a deal worth $126 million to join Washington in a stunning turn of events last winter, a contract that met with instant incredulity from all sides, and no wonder. But if the Nationals wanted to announce themselves as true players instead of wallowing in the dregs of wannabe contenders, they had to make that leap, just like the Tigers had to throw gobs of money at Magglio Ordonez and Ivan Rodriguez following their 119-loss debacle in 2003. (These contracts ended up onerous by the end, just like Werth's is and will, but it put Detroit on the map and the club has been better for it since.)

A similar process could unfold this year, and the Nats could be in the thick of things again, having been linked to Wilson and possibly even going after Pujols or Fielder. The Blue Jays, meanwhile, are expected to eventually skyrocket their payroll north of $100 million and that could begin as early as this year with a play for Pujols or Fielder. The Royals have stated an interest in playing in the market and bringing in a starting pitcher -- that would mean Wilson. The Orioles have been linked to Fielder for years now; the Mariners may attempt to solve their offensive problems in one fell swoop; the Brewers could replace Fielder with Reyes; the list goes on -- and none of these teams are anyone's idea of a big-market power dominating year in, year out.

And this is a good thing. A's GM Billy Beane has said before that he sees baseball morphing into what soccer has become overseas, with a handful of "superfranchises" dominating the landscape, leaving other teams to pick up the scraps and the occasional joyful run in October that the superfranchises will consider their birthright.

But the more these players filter out to the clubs not synonymous with cash, the better off the sport will be. More fans in more locales will have heightened interest in their local teams, both due signing these players and the eventual (at least, one hopes) winning to follow. Hey, these clubs flush with cash have enough advantages, which shine through in player development and club personnel.

So as you log onto CBSSports.com this winter and see a headline of Wilson landing in Kansas City, Reyes in Milwaukee, Fielder in Baltimore and Pujols remaining with St. Louis, don't bemoan the Yankees or Red Sox missing out. Baseball's better for it.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 17, 2011 3:45 am
 

Fielder's time in Milwaukee likely over



By C. Trent Rosecrans

There was a Fielder crying in the clubhouse after the Brewers' season was ended on Sunday night in Game 6 of the NLCS, but it wasn't the biggest Fielder. No, Prince Fielder had a bemused smile on his face and was telling his son, Jadyn, that everything would be OK.

In the eyes of a 6-year-old, you can understand. His favorite team just lost and everyone tells him his dad is leaving the only home he's known. He's going to go to some different team, play in a different city and Jadyn will have to find new friends and live in a new world. That's big stuff when you're 6.

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Fielder comforted his son, keeping his own eyes dry -- something not all of his teammates could claim. This was more than likely Fielder's last game at Miller Park in a Brewers uniform. The 27-year-old will be one of the game's most sought-after free agents this season and will sign a contract that should make him an even richer young man.

Fielder, at times, has said he's "probably" going to play somewhere else next season and the Brewers are saying all the right things about trying to keep him ("We're planning on participating in the sweepstakes," principle owner Mark Attanasio said after the game). But nobody really expects Milwaukee, which has already ponied up $141.5 million through 2020 from Braun, to keep Fielder in Milwaukee.

The Brewer fans gave him a standing ovation when he came to the plate a final time at Miller Park in the eighth inning -- and Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols (who will receive a pay bump of his own after this season is done), called time out right before Lance Lynn's first pitch so that the fans could have a little longer to pay their respects for Fielder.

"It was awesome, just because… playing here was awesome," Fielder said. "I'm just glad I was able to have the amount of fun I had. It was cool. It was cool."

During his postgame news conference, a reporter did follow-up and ask him about his choice of tenses when talking about his time in Milwaukee.

"No, as far as this year, it's over," he clarified. "This year is over. Why are you trying to do that?"

He did add, on a subsequent question -- "Hopefully I'm here for more years to come, but if not, it's been cool."

His teammates -- or soon-to-be-former teammates -- know the score. The small-market Brewers can't afford the large-ticket price Prince. The Brewers picked their prince in Braun, so Fielder will need to move on and a squire will take his place.

"Everybody recognizes the situation, everybody understands circumstances and we'll see what happens," Braun said. "Regardless of what happens, what he's been able to accomplish here in the last six years is incredible. He's one of the greatest players in franchise history, one of the best teammates in the league, an incredible competitor and I'm proud to say I was able to be teammates with him for five years."

Fielder said all the right things -- he's thinking about returning, he loved Milwaukee -- all that. But free agency and big dollars speak other things, they'll likely lead the player the Brewers drafted in the first round of the 2002 draft to another organization. No matter what's said, actions mean more.

Haven, Fielder's other son, though, probably had the more fitting symbolic act than his older brother, as he took a giant stuffed Sully from the movie Monster's Inc. and the inspiration for the "Beast Mode" celebration decked out in a Brewers jersey out the clubhouse door.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 17, 2011 3:38 am
 

Overheard: NLCS Game 6



By C. Trent Rosecrans

MILWAUKEE -- You always see the images of the winning team's clubhouses at the end of a series, but never the losing side. What flows like the champagne on the other side is hugs. Players hug each other, at times going down a receiving line of hugs. Each of the Brewers on Sunday hugged it out as the team realized its 2011 season was over.

There were kids -- from Prince Fielder's sons, to Jerry Hairston's -- they got hugs too. There were tears, from players, from sons. And there were hugs.

But still, there are smiles. A group of players realize their season is done, but there are worse ways to end a season than in the playoffs. 

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"Ultimately we fell short of our goal, which is disappointing, but in due time we'll be able to look back and appreciate our accomplishments," Brewers right fielder Ryan Braun said.

There was little bitterness, just acceptance that defeat was earned and the other team will be moving on to the World Series.

"Really, no knock on our defense, no knock on our pitching, but they flat-out beat us -- period," Hairston said. "We ran into a hot team, a great team. They deserve to be in the World Series, no question about it. They deserve it, they won it. Once you get to the final four, just about anybody can kick in and win the whole thing. They deserved to represent the National League in the World Series."

Also overheard after Game 6:

• Robin Yount, Brewers Hall of Famer, on losing to the Cardinals: "I was hoping to get a little playback for '82, but we didn't get it. I'm still bitter about that series."

• Tony La Russa on allowing himself to digest this incredible run the Cardinals have put together: "No. Because one of the keys is you can never allow yourself to look back because that's a distraction. We remind ourselves, even today we went around different players, it's always about maintain your edge the next game you play. Even if you for a minute do either one, look ahead or look back, you lose an edge. The guys were just absolutely relentless about today, today, today, last game of our lives."

• Albert Pujols on advancing to the World Series:  "It's awesome but your goal is to win it. Nobody talks about second place. Everybody talks about who wins it. That's going to be our main goal."

• Cardinals closer Jason Motte on Adam Wainwright's injury this spring: "It was a terrible loss. But as a team, we knew someone had to step up and do the job, get us some innings. It was an up and down season, but it wasn't just when Adam went down. Albert was hurt, Berkman, Holliday ... you name it, guys have been hurt."

• Shaun Marcum in the team's pitching in the playoffs: "One of the things that got us here was consistency, we were able to be consistent almost all year long and hand the ball over to the bullpen all year long. And aside from the starts by Yovani (Gallardo) and the one by Randy (Wolf), we didn't do a very good job of that. But we've got to give those guys credit, they're not the top-scoring offense in the league for no reason."

• Nyjer Morgan on the postseason: "It sucks when you get down and then when we swing the bats and then they put more (runs) up. Sometimes the game's going to go like that. Dr. Freeze came along at the wrong time and started chilling people's bats out, man. We've just got to keep our heads up, but looking back at it all, 101 wins, a franchise record, and a bunch of men in here that went to battle every night for the last eight months, you can't say enough about that. Everybody did what they were supposed to do, but they fell short."

• Morgan on Prince Fielder returning: "I'm hoping so, mang. Plush can't spit on that one, I'll leave that for the agents and everybody else to talk about that one. Of course I want the big man to come back, but I hope he does, but that's not for me to speculate on that, but, you know, T Plush wants my boy back."

• Brewers owner Mark Attanasio: "You can see the way Tony La Russa managed against us with a lot of urgency, you know, I'm going to view that as a sign of respect. If he brings his closer in with a six-run lead, he realizes we've scored six runs against them before. I think he's showing us respect for that. It's bitter-sweet part -- the bitter part is it's very, very hard to lose when you get this far with a team this good, but as bitter as that is, I'm proud of these guys."

• Attanasio on the Cardinals: "We and the Cardinals compete very hard, there's a lot of extraneous commentary, but I think you saw a very toughly played series -- what did we play 24 times? I guess 13 times we were on the wrong side of it -- 13-11. You give them credit, they played great."

• Attanasio on missing their shot at a World Series: "(General manager) Doug (Melvin) and I don't look at it that way. My goal has always been to build a long-term winning tradition here. I think we're off to a great start, especially being in the playoffs two times in the last four years. I'm not looking at 1982, I'm looking at right now. We've been in the playoffs the last two years and that's what we're trying to build in Milwaukee. And importantly, the whole country, including other athletes, are seeing what we're trying to do here. This is a great place to play. I think this is going to help us recruit ballplayers and we're not looking at this as our last shot."

• Brewers utility man Craig Counsell on his future: "I want to get away from it a little bit and then we'll sit down and make a decision. I've always said I'll play until they say no. You question when you're hitting .170 and you're 41 years old, you question yourself, there's no doubt. There's still that tug that you've got a great job and you love coming to work every day, so we'll think about it a little more in the winter."

• Ryan Braun on watching the World Series: "I doubt it. I'll probably get away from baseball for a while."

• Braun on the being called out on a play at first in the fifth inning of Game 6: "I don't know if it was necessarily a turning point our not. It's a tough play for an umpire -- I was safe -- but I'm going to give Albert credit, he made a great play on that. I don't think it was a turning point, but it seemed indicative of everything that happened this series -- they clearly played better than us, but every play went their way, every call went their way and I think when you end up winning games and winning a series, you look back and there are always things that go your way. When you lose, you look back and feel like everything went against you. That's just how the game works sometimes."

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Posted on: October 17, 2011 2:21 am
Edited on: October 17, 2011 3:06 am
 

NLCS Grades: La Russa made all the right moves

Tony La Russa

By C. Trent Rosecrans


MILWAUKEE -- In a series that provided plenty of hits and seemingly as many pitching changes, the St. Louis Cardinals hit their way to their 18th National League pennant, defeating the Brewers four games to two onthe heels of a 12-6 victory in Game 6 on Sunday.

Tony La Russa: The Cardinals manager is sometimes maddening to watch and worse to listen to -- but he's darn good at his job, and that's not making bloggers happy. Seemingly every move he made in this series worked, especially working a trail from the dugout to the mound, using 28 pitching changes and getting 28 2/3 innings out of his bullpen while limiting his starters to 24 1/3 innings. La Russa carried eight relievers on his postseason roster to make sure he always had enough arms that he could play matchup with the right-handed Ryan Braun and left-handed Prince Fielder. La Russa gambled that the rest of the Brewers wouldn't hurt him as much as those two, so he tried to limit their effect on the series. The thinking being that the other Brewers could hurt him and cost him a game, but only Braun and Fielder would cost him the series.

Ryan Braun: Braun hit .333/.385/.583 in the series and knocked in five runs -- it's hard to say that's not good. He also got on base in the first inning in each of the first five games, something that's huge when you have a run producer like Fielder hitting behind you. However, Braun was held hitless in the final game and had just one homer in the series, making him a B player for the series. That's not exactly what anyone in Milwaukee was hoping for a guy that should collect an MVP trophy for his regular-season work.

St. Louis starters: The Cardinals' starters didn't do much -- but they weren't asked to do much. No starter went more than five innings -- the first time in postseason history a team has won a series with that bizarre statistic. Chris Carpenter's Game 2 start was the longest, at just five innings. The starters had a 7.06 ERA in the series, nothing to crow about -- but they were just good enough, especially with the potent Cardinal offense. That's why it's hard to give them anything but a passing grade, but it's not going to come without a talk to the teacher and a stern warning that they aren't living up to their potential.

Milwaukee starters: If it weren't for Randy Wolf, this would be an easy F. But Wolf pitched fantastically -- much better than any other starters in the series -- in Game 4, but the rest of his mates let him down. Zack Greinke, who whined his way out of Kansas City so he could pitch in the postseason, laid an egg -- twice. And then there's Shaun Marcum, who couldn't make it to the second inning in the season's biggest game. Marcum took the loss in Game 6, and amazingly he started half of all of the Brewers' home losses this season, including the postseason (13 of 26). Even Yovani Gallardo, who pitched so well in his two starts against the Diamondbacks was ineffective against the Cardinals, giving up four runs on eight hits in five innings in his one start. Overall, the team had a 7.24 ERA in the series.

Milwaukee's defense: Somehow, some way, Yuniesky Betancourt wasn't the Brewers' worst defensive player. And when you're saying that… well, you're saying quite a bit. The Brewers committed 10 errors in the NLCS, tying the record for an LCS set by the 1999 Red Sox. In Game 6, the Brewers committed three errors -- two of them by Jerry Hairston Jr. on the same play. He had a costly error in Game 5, as well. Rickie Weeks also had three errors in the series -- and four in the postseason. The rest of the postseason games featured just two errors by second basemen other than Weeks. The Brewers pitchers weren't great, but their fielding wasn't doing them any favors, either.

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


Posted on: October 17, 2011 12:46 am
Edited on: October 27, 2011 11:24 pm
 

R.I.P.: 2011 Milwaukee Brewers

By C. Trent Rosecrans

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: Milwaukee Brewers
Record: 96-66, 1st place in NL Central. Defeated Arizona 3-2 in NLDS, lost NLCS 4-2 to St. Louis.
Manager: Ron Roenicke
Best hitter: Ryan Braun -- .332/.397/.597 33 HR, 11 RBI, 33 SB, 38 2B, 6 3B
Best pitcher: Yovani Gallardo -- 17-10, 3.52 ERA, 1.215 WHIP, 207 K in 207 1/3 IP

2011 SEASON RECAP

The Brewers' offseason in 2010 was playoffs or bust -- and they made it. Despite early injuries to Zack Greinke and Corey Hart, the Brewers were able to stick around the top of the standings for the first half of the season and then took the lead for good after winning on July 27. From July 26 to Aug. 28, Milwaukee went 27-5 to go from a half-game back in the division to 10 1/2 games up. Braun and Prince Fielder both put up MVP-type numbers, and while their new starters, Greinke and Shaun Marcum, didn't challenge for the Cy Young, they were good enough and very good at times (at least in the regular season).

2012 AUDIT

Well, there's one big question mark. A really, really big question mark in Prince Fielder. Even though it's not much of a question, most expect him to leave Milwaukee, including Fielder. But Fielder's not the only free agent the Brewers have to deal with in the offseason. The team has seven free agents, plus a club option on Yuniesky Betancourt. That said, none of the others on the list come close to leaving a void anywhere near the one Fielder will leave. However, the team will have to seriously look at improving its infield.

FREE AGENTS

1B Prince Fielder
RHP Francisco Rodriguez
SS Yuniesky Betancourt ($6 million option)
RHP LaTroy Hawkins
UTIL Jerry Hairston Jr.
RHP Takashi Saito
UTIL Craig Counsell
OF/1B Mark Kotsay

OFFSEASON FOCUS

  • Sign Albert Pujols. No, I'm kidding. The Brewers are unlikely to be able to afford to keep Fielder around, much less sign Pujols. Make a goodwill offer to Fielder and let him turn it down to get every last dollar, that way you can tell your fans you tried and it wasn't up to you. If that's not enough to let you sleep at night, go see Moneyball and look into signing Scott Hatteberg -- it worked when the A's lost Jason Giambi. Mat Gamel is the internal option if you stand pat at first.
  • Decline Betancourt's option -- it costs you $2 million, but that's a small price to pay not to have Yuniesky Betancourt be your shortstop. Last offseason it cost the Royals Greinke, so consider yourself lucky. The replacement at shortstop doesn't need to be Jose Reyes or Jimmy Rollins, just someone who can field the position. If the Red Sox get rid of Marco Scutaro, he could be available for below sticker price -- see if he's interested in returning to the Brewers, who developed him.
  • How about signing Aramis Ramirez to play third base? He'll be costly, but nowhere in the Fielder-Pujols range. He also adds to the offense and helps give Ryan Braun some protection. Casey McGehee hasn't proven himself to be worthy of a spot in the everyday lineup. And if Ramirez regresses any more defensively, he can shift to first base. Ramirez has remarked about just how much he likes Chicago, and Milwaukee is close enough.
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Posted on: October 17, 2011 12:39 am
 

Eye on Photos: Cardinals take out Brewers in NLCS



By Matt Snyder


The St. Louis Cardinals have continued their Cinderella story, beating the Milwaukee Brewers in the NLCS, four games to two. Let's take a look at the series that was, in pictures.

Click on any photo below to enlarge.

Prince Fielder came through with a huge home run in Game 1, a Milwaukee victory. (Getty Images)
Despite the loss, Game 1 was when David Freese set the tone for a huge series, here with a three-run homer. (Getty Images)
After a lackluster Game 1, Albert Pujols broke through with a monster Game 2, pictured here with a two-run shot in the first inning. (Getty Images)
All kinds of awesome here, but my favorite part is that the umpire looks like he's shoving Yadier Molina out of the way. Pujols was safe, and the Cardinals went on to win 12-3. (Getty Images)
In Game 3, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke decided to go with Mark Kotsay in center. It did not go well in the first inning. (Getty Images)
In a matchup of aces, Yovani Gallardo coughed up four runs in the first inning of Game 3. The Brewers would lose 4-3. (Getty Images)
Chris Carpenter, on the other hand, did just enough to get the game to the bullpen with a lead. (Getty Images)
Yadier Molina with what appears to be his answer to the Brewers' "Beast Mode." (Getty Images)
Jerry Hairston's incredible slide helped propel the Brewers to victory in Game 4. (Getty Images)
St. Louis loves this one, right? (Getty Images)
Maybe they're talking about how much money combined they're gonna haul in this offseason. (Getty Images)
The Brewers' needed a huge performance out of starting pitcher Randy Wolf in Game 4 and he provided it, even gathering a double with his bat. (Getty Images)
Matt Holliday had struggled this postseason until this swing resulted in a wind-aided homer in Game 4. He'd start swinging the bat well after that. (Getty Images)
It wasn't necessarily why the Brewers lost the series, but there were far too many pictures like this. (Getty Images)
Octavio Dotel has been a major piece for the Cardinals this postseason. (Getty Images)
The squirrel. Nothing more needs to be said. (Getty Images)
An underrated piece for the Cardinals was Marc Rzepczynski, who twice came on to strikeout Prince Fielder in big spots, like here in Game 5. (Getty Images)
Jaime Garcia got what many thought was an early hook in Game 5, but the Cardinals bullpen would throw 4 1/3 shutout innings. (Getty Images)
Rough NLCS for Zack Greinke. (Getty Images)
Huge out here, as the Brewers had two on and nobody out for Ryan Braun, who grounded into this fielder's choice. It was close, too. (Getty Images)
This guy again? Freese's first-inning, three-run home run gave the Cardinals a big lead early in Game 6. (Getty Images)
Yes, that's Jonathan Lucroy on a home run trot. He cut the lead to 5-4 in the second. (Getty Images)
Things got so weird in Game 6, Lance Berkman made a diving catch. (Getty Images)
The Brewers had a big chance to carve into the Cardinals' lead in the bottom of the fourth, but Corey Hart struck out to end the threat. (Getty Images)
That sound you heard was a collective gasp from the entire city of St. Louis. Pujols did stay in the game, though. (Getty Images)
Rafael Furcal gets a beer shower from teammates after the win. (Getty Images)


Up next for the Cardinals: The Texas Rangers in the World Series. The Cardinals are playing for their 11th World Series title, while the Rangers are playing for their first. St. Louis has homefield advantage despite having a worse regular-season record by virtue of the NL winning the All-Star Game. It's funny, too, that the deciding play in that game was a three-run homer by Milwaukee's Prince Fielder.

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