The pull of Christmas continues to strengthen with each passing day as it becomes harder and harder to actually focus on your tasks at work (don’t tell me you don’t feel it’s pull). That doesn’t mean that the world of baseball is off for the holidays. In fact, it’s just the opposite as there are quite a few pertinent news stories making the rounds on this day.
Adrian Beltre: Backed by the evil Scott Boras, Beltre is apparently turning his nose up slightly at the 5-year, $70 million deal the Angels have extended the third baseman. Why? Because he’d like a sixth year of course. Beltre is a consistent run producer who also plays fine defense, but he isn’t a .300 hitting 30 homer guy, so he should be plenty happy with what the Angels are offering, especially since there doesn’t appear to be another team willing to offer that much money. Beltre would also be wise to realize that he will 37 years old at the end of a five year deal, so I don’t know how many organizations are going to be clamoring to give him a sixth season when he will be 38 years old. The Angels are pretty desperate to add him after losing Hideki Matsui to free agency and losing out on guys like Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford, but let’s hope they do the smart thing and hold fast on their current offer which is, in my opinion, too high already.
LATE ADDITION: Seems like the Angels came to the same conclusion that I did. With the ink barely dry on this article, a report surfaced in the Los Angeles Times that the Angels have withdrawn their offer to Beltre (Angels Pull Offer). Seems like they called Scott Boras’ bluff and have flat out dared him to find another team willing to give his client $70 million. Who will blink first?
David Freese: A total wild card this season since he is coming off surgeries to both ankles. Freese is said to be progressing well, but he still hasn’t even been cleared to run yet. He has hit .299 in 271 big league at-bats, but at this point he should be restricted to merely being a late round flier in NL-only leagues.
Brett Gardner: The fleet of foot outfielder had offseason surgery on his wrist, and like Freese, everything is heading in the right direction with his recovery and Gardner expects to be 100 percent by Spring Training. (Brett said he was only a couple of weeks behind his “normal” offseason workout schedule). While somewhat overlooked because of the juggernaut around him, Gardner had a hell of a fantasy season last year which included being one of just three players in baseball who stole 45 bases, knocked in 45 runs, and scored at least 95 times (the others were Juan Pierre and Carl Crawford). Depending on what region of the country you live in, Gardner might be a relative bargain on draft day, especially if he was able to secure a spot at the top of the Yankees’ lineup.
Scott Podsednik: The Angels missed out on their top offseason target when Carl Crawford signed with the Red Sox. So their reaction is to try and sign Scott Podsednik? Pods can still motor, he had 35 steals last season while hitting .297, but come on now. He’s 35 years old and he shouldn’t be anything more than a fourth outfield option on an upper division club. He’s really nothing more than a replacement level player at this point of his career, even with the gaudy steal total. That doesn’t mean he has no fantasy value, the guy does have 65 thefts the past two years while hitting .300, and he could score a bunch of runs if he was signed by the Angels and inserted at the top of their run and gun batting order. All I’m saying is that he really isn’t that valuable a real world player.
David Price: I had a debate at the BaseballGuys’ Twitter account this week about why I wouldn’t have David Price ranked in my top-10 starting pitchers this season. To me the answer is simple – he doesn’t belong there. I know he was second in the AL in wins (19) and third in ERA (2.72), but his peripheral numbers simply don’t support that level of performance. (1) His walk rate of 3.41 per nine was worse than the big league average (3.28). He did offset that fact a bit with his solid 8.11 K/9 mark, but his resulting 2.38 K/BB ratio is only barely better than the 2010 big league average of 2.17. (2) Price posted a 1.10 GB/FB ratio which was, again, big league average. It also wasn’t any different from his 1.05 mark of 2009 when he posted a 4.42 ERA. (3) Price had a left on base percentage of 78.5 percent in ’10. Given that the big league average is 70 percent, that’s a pretty darn high total (to compare Price with another great lefty, Cliff Lee’s mark was 67.9 percent). It’s almost impossible to posit another run at 80 percent from Price. (4) His ERA was lucky. There, I said it. Price’s FIP mark was 3.42, well above his raw ERA mark of 2.72. In addition, his DIPS ERA was 3.55 while his Component ERA was 2.92. You don’t have to know how those numbers are computed to understand that all three of those measures point to his actual ERA of 2.72 being far too low based on his overall level of performance. Price will not fail, he is too talented for that, and his one batter improvement in his K/9 rate last season is exciting, but I would be pretty shocked if he was able to once again keep his ERA under 3.00 this season, and few pitchers win 19 games in back-to-back seasons (Adam Wainwright and CC Sabathia are the only two hurlers that have done it the past two years).
Brandon Webb: The injured righty continues to receive lots of love from teams around the league that are hoping to strike it rich with the former ace. Teams that appears to be heavily in on Webb include the Cubs, Nationals and Rangers, though at one point or another he has been linked to about half the teams in baseball. I know he was a star from 2005-08, but the guy had major shoulder surgery, looked terrible late in the year according to some scouting reports, and he has thrown all of four innings the past two seasons. Hopefully everyone learned from the Ben Sheets debacle of last season (1-year, $10 million for 20 starts) that Webb’s contract should be something like 90 percent incentive driven.
By Ray Flowers