I’m Ray Flowers, co-host of The Drive on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio. Each week I’ll be here answering questions that have been sent to me at the BaseballGuys’ Twitter account.
I have Neil Walker at 2b & Jemile Weeks at MI. Omar Infante still available on the waiver-wire. Do I grab Omar over NW or JW?
Walker is hitting only .224 with no homers and five RBI through 17 games, a dreadful start for a guy who came into the season with a fair amount of hype. To be fair we’re only talking about 58 at-bats, and Walker does have 12 hits in his last 10 games, but disappointing is certainly a word I would use to describe a guy coming off a 83 RBI, 76 run campaign who has started like this. Weeks has been just as bad hitting a mere .200 with a pathetic .253 OBP, but he does have two homers, three steals and nine runs scored, so he hasn’t been an unmitigated disaster (Week’s brother, Rickie, has been pretty unimpressive since the start of last season. For more see Fact of the Day, April 25thBaseballGuys.com). At the same time, I always felt that Jemile was getting too much love in fantasy circles heading into the 2012 season.
Infante continues to act like he thinks he is Robinson Cano. Through a mere 13 games Infante is hitting .313 with five home runs. Infante is a .275 career hitter, and he hit .305 in 2009 and .321 in 2010, so it’s possible he could bat .300 this season, though I still consider it unlikely. As for the power, there is no, none, nada, chance that the power display will continue. This is not a Jose Bautista breakout we are witnessing. Infante has one season, and he started playing in the majors in 2002, with more than nine homers (he hit 16 back in 2004). Per 162 games in his career, a career that has lasted long enough for him to accrue over 3,200 big league at-bats, Infante has averaged 10 homers. He’s already halfway to that average — in 13 games thanks to a four times increase in his HR/F rate (it’s currently at 20.8 percent versus a career mark of 5.2 percent).
Given how hot he has been, there are very few fantasy baseball leagues out there in which Infante should be on waivers considering he has been the third most productive second base eligible player per contest according to Fleaflicker. That said, he’s got no shot at ll of sustaining his unbelievable start. If you wanted to move on from either of your current players I would suggest dropping Walker because his skill set more closely matches that of Infante (Weeks has game changing speed). I’m not saying I’d rather have Infante for the course of the season over Walker, but there is no denying that right now Infante is the more appealing option.
Drop Bud Norris for Chad Billingsley or Chris Capuano? Or keep the faith?
Norris is being bailed on by a lot of people who see a 5.84 ERA and a 1.50 WHIP. You should look beyond those numbers to see the following. (1) His 8.03 K/9 rate is impressive. (2) His 2.92 BB/9 mark is a batter below his career level. (3) His 0.97 GB/FB ratio is just off his career rate of 1.02. Still, his HR/FB ratio is way up leading to 1.82 homers per nine innings. That number will not continue (just look at his mark the past two seasons – 1.05 and 1.16). The truth of the matter is that Norris has pitched way better than his fantasy ratios would suggest.
Billingsley came out on fire, and it appears that he is well on his way to putting behind him that down 2011 campaign (11-11, 4.21 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 152 Ks). The biggest key for Billingsley in the early going, the main reason he has a 3.04 ERA and 0.93 WHIP through four starts, is the fact that he just isn’t beating himself. A guy who walks about 3.9 batters per nine innings for his career, that mark currently sits at 1.90. Guys just don’t drop two batters off their BB/9 mark after being at another level for five years, but it’s still encouraging to see him throwing more strikes. At the same time, Billingsley’s current 7.23 K/9 mark would actually be a six year low, so maybe he’s changed his approach a wee bit. It’s also a pretty good bet that Chad won’t be able to keep batters to a .195 average (.249 for his career) once the innings start to pile up.
Capuano is slowly starting to get some love in the fantasy game. A huge injury risk since the virtually the day he was drafted, here are Capuano’s innings pitched totals the past five years: 150, zero, zero, 66 and 186. Yeah, he’s one risky cat to own. Capuano does have solid K potential (7.83 per nine this year, 8.13 last season), pitches in a solid pitchers park in Los Angeles (he also gets to make starts in pitcher havens such as San Diego and San Francisco), and he’s a cheap option that is likely still on many a waiver-wire even with his solid start (2-0, 3.52 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 20 Ks in 23 IP).
I’m taking Billingsley knowing full well that he has no chance of keeping up his current pace. So why suggest adding the Dodgers’ righty then? Consistency (something Capuano certainly can’t offer). Billingsley takes the ball every five days and gives his team a chance to win more times than not. Norris has a “bigger” arm, but he’s also inconsistent and pitches for a team that might struggle to provide him with enough run support for him to reach double-digits in victories.
Should I drop Kelly Johnson to sign Jose Altuve?
Johnson hit .222 last year and has started out this year with a .231 average through 17 games so I get the concern. At the same time, Johnson has hit 20 homers with 75 runs scored and 13 steals each of the past two years. Those aren’t fantastic numbers but they are still numbers that only one second sacker have reached each of the past two years. A guy like that, even with a potential batting average deficiency, shouldn’t be given up on lightly (it should be pointed out that Johnson does have a .259 career average and that he hit .284 as recently as 2010).
Altuve has been hot with the twig hitting .377 through 69 at-bats. However, let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. First, Altuve isn’t going to hit the ball into the seats (three homers in 290 career at-bats), which also will likely lead to a poor RBI total for an every week starter in most mixed leagues. Second, though speedy, he’s only had one effort of 30 steals and he has 11 in 75 big league games. He could easily steal 20 bases this year, he already has four, but his not going to light up the steals category. Third, and I hate to break it to you all, but he’s not a great hitter. Having completely skipped Triple-A, Altuve has only 290 at-bats above Double-A, and that concerns me a bit given that he isn’t exactly the most patient hitter in the world, and that could drain his batting average a bit when he gets into a funk. It’s also a pretty fair guess that his current .431 BABIP will likely regress by a .100 or so points, and that will cause his batting average to dip accordingly.
Give me Johnson over the slap it and run Altuve, but make sure you have other hitters on your club who can cover the poor average you are likely to receive from Johnson.
I trade Adrian Gonzalez and Nelson Cruz for Albert Pujols and Hanley Ramirez. Do it?
Everyone, let’s stop the panic with Pujols. Some facts. In every season of his career he’s finished the year hitting at least .299 with 34 homers, 99 RBI and 99 runs scored. Right now he’s hitting .222-0-4-6. Assuming he reaches his “worst” totals, numbers he has reached in each of the past 11 seasons, that means from this point forward that he is going to blast 34 homer with 94 RBI and 93 runs scored. And those numbers would merely equal his career worsts. As for the batting average, assuming 574 at-bats (his seasonal average the first nine years), Pujols would hit .311 the rest of the season. Despite the slow start, I think all of those targets are fair which leads me to the position that I would still prefer Pujols to AGone (.303-2-13-9).
Cruz can be a beast, but he’s always seemingly hurt (the last three seasons he has averaged just 120 games a season which dings his value substantially). He’s also hit under .265 in two of his last three seasons. There are also questions about just how much running he will be allowed to do given his continued issues with his wheels (he’s stolen 10 bases in his last 143 games after stealing 37 bases in 2009-10). Hanley is hitting just .238, and coming off shoulder surgery, but he qualifies at shortstop and second base, and that’s huge. He’s also gone deep four times while stealing four bases, a pace that would lead to a 35/35 season if he were to maintain it (obviously that’s doubtful).
Get Pujols and HanRam. AGone and Cruz should not be dealt to anyone lightly, but this is a pretty impressive return.
Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87 from 5-8 PM EDT, Monday through Friday.
Justin Fensterman and Trevor Ray talk about the new players to the AL. Whether they are new to the AL coming from the NL or whether they are rookies, every year AL-Only Keepers leagues are stuck with the tough decisions in ranking the new additions.
How are these players being valued? Check out what Fleaflicker thinks.
If you haven’t heard, I’ve written a 2012 Fantasy Draft Guide that is now available at BaseballGuys.com. If you’re wondering what type of analysis awaits you in the over 50-page Guide, here is an inkling of the type of material you can expect to find there (in addition to the Player Rankings, more than 600 of them actually, that are the heart of The Guide, there are a ton of articles breaking down various aspects of the fantasy game).
People ask me all the time about projections. As I’ve written previously, the best one can hope for with projections is 70 or so percent accuracy. The point being, most projection systems aren’t very good, and in truth, a rolling three year average of numbers is likely to be about as accurate in the long run as any projection system that you use. That’s why I hesitate to give number projections each year (I also hesitate to employ a top-300 list, and you can read more about that at the link). However, there’s no way around it, people love to see “Albert Pujols .315-38-118-112-8” when they go about trying to put together a championship caliber roster, even if the projector has no real way of knowing if his projection will be accurate (think Adam Dunn last year who everyone thought would hit 40 homers with 100 RBI. More on Dunn can be found in his Player Profile).
Nowadays, with the advent of this thing called a computer, and the myriad of software one can use to track a fantasy draft, people often try to reach “category targets” on draft day. What do I mean by that? I mean what numbers, in each of the fantasy categories that your league employs, do you need to attain to win a category? What number do you need to reach a top-3 finish in category? That’s what targeting tries to help you to do – understand the numbers that you need to reach in each category to have a shot at your league championship. Here are the issues with this line of thought.
1- You have to be able to access historical data for your setup. If it’s a standard situation like a 5×5, 12 team league, an I’ll give some numbers for that setup in a minute, you’re in good shape. However, if you’re in a 7×7 league, or a points league, or anything non-traditional, the numbers you will need to target are different, so having access to the league standings for the past few years can help you to gauge where you need to be. The numbers also obviously change if you are in a 10-team league versus a 15-team league.
2- Just because you have the “target numbers” prior to your draft does not mean you’re home free. Again, you have to depend on your projections being accurate, and that’s a whole other level of uncertainty. If you have Pujols projected at 30 homers you might be 10 short of your target when your team is assembled. If you have Pujols at 40 homers in your projections maybe you hit your target number exactly. Will Pujols hit 30 and leave you wanting? Will he hit 40 and give you exactly what you expected? Will he hit 45 homers and exceed your expectations? Remember, your ability to reach your “targets” is completely dependent on the accuracy of your projections.
3- Given my statement at the start of this piece, that projections are only 70 or so percent accurate, you have to be very careful with using targets as your only guide. If you think you need 280 homers to reach your target, and your projections have you at 295 with your assembled team, you clearly don’t need to go looking for homers anymore, right? What if your projections for your hitters though end up being only 75 percent right? That would leave you with around 220 homers, well below your needed target number. And that is my main point here, and why I don’t slavishly use”target” numbers on draft day (in fact, I’m one of a rare breed anymore – I do not use a computer to track numbers on draft day. Maybe I’m missing out, but at the same time my track record is plenty good enough to show that what I’m doing works for me). If you only look at target numbers you may make decisions at the draft table, or on early season waivers, that ultimately hurt your team (maybe you should have been adding power instead of going for speed to hit your targets). As I’ve said before, drafting is much more an art than it is a science.
With that, here are some simple target numbers for 5×5, 12 team leagues.
100 Wins, 3.50 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 1250 Ks, 100 saves
In the end, like any other bit of analysis, “targets” are just part of the puzzle. They can certainly be helpful when you’re trying to get a handle on how your team should perform so there’s no reason not to use them, but don’t get so tied into those targets, and your projections, that you make bad decisions on draft day because you are only looking at some predetermined set of numbers.
By Ray Flowers
I bemoan the Yankees and Red Sox all the time, and with good reason I believe. Not only does the national media seem to think that they are the only two teams in baseball, they routinely spend money like they are printing it in the basement. So far this offseason those two teams get a pass as it’s the Angels and the Marlins who are playing with Monopoly money.
The Marlins have a new stadium that cost $640 million, and for some reason that has led them to think that they are going to be able to sell it out for the next decade. Good luck with that. The fact of the matter is that the Marlins have had some great teams over the years but the fans just haven’t consistently come to the park (with so much to do in Florida, I can understand why that is the case). Will that change after the moves the team is making? It had better or this will be a disastrous situation in a few years (a cycle that they have unfortunately been through multiple times).
The Marlins fired off the first huge salvo of the the offseason when they made Jose Reyes their new shortstop. Of course, we’re now getting this back and forth from Hanley Ramirez who apparently feels disrespected that the Fish would bring in someone to play his position. Get over yourself Hanley. Reyes is a better defensive shortstop, that’s just the fact, and his addition to the lineup is a huge infusion of talent and skill. Suck it up, get back to full health, and cause some serious damage with your new running mate homie.
Cost: 6 years, $108 million
The Marlins also signed two hurlers to bolster the staff. They added Heath Bell to lock down the ninth inning on a 3-year deal with a fourth year option. They then went out and surprised everyone by adding Mark Buehrle on a four year contract when most didn’t think they were truly in on the lefty until late in the game (I will have write ups on both players in the near future in the ever popular Player Profile series). Bell is a top-10 closer, and while Buehrle has never been an elite arm, he has 11-straight seasons of 200-innings and 10 wins, and no pitcher in the game can match that feat.
Cost: Bell – 3 years, $27 million ($9 million option)
Buehrle – 4 years, $58 million
TOTAL COST: $193 million (plus $9 million option on Bell)
You ain’t seen nothing yet.
The Angels, apparently frustrated that they didn’t get to blow their wad last year on Adrian Gonzalez, Adrian Beltre or Carl Crawford, have gone totally bonkers. Not only did they grab the greatest hitter of our generation, they also added the best starting pitcher on the market for good measure.
Out of nowhere, an I’m talking something akin to the admission by Darth Vader that he was Luke Skywalker’s father, the Angels swooped in and signed Albert Pujols after everyone in the media had him going to the Marlins or Cardinals. The Angels offer was $40 or so million more than the other two teams were reportedly willing to spend. The result is that Pujols will receive the second largest contract in baseball history behind only the 10 year, $275 million deal Alex Rodriguez signed with the Yankees. Already 31 years old, I think it’s foolish to give Pujols a 10 year deal, but that’s what it took to obtain his services and Angels’ owner Arte Moreno would not be denied his prize this offseason.
Cost: 10 years, $250-260 million
Needing a compliment for their new toy on offense, the Angels also signed the best pitcher on the free agent market, C.J. Wilson (for my thoughts on what Wilson brings to the table, give his Player Profile a read). Given that estimates all offseason penned Wilson as a pitcher who wanted, and was likely to receive, $100 million, can it be said that the Angels actually got a bargain here? A rotation of Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, Wilson and Ervin Santana sounds mighty impressive and should cause plenty of AL teams to be Nervous Nancies heading into the 2012 season.
Cost: 5 years, $75 to $77.5 million
TOTAL COST: $325 to 337.5 million
Can money by a championship? We’ll find out as money is flying around this offseason with no regard to the fact that the United States economy is not exactly booming right now. Time will tell, but as we’ve seen many times in sports, throwing money around isn’t always the answer.
By Ray Flowers
Huston Street was believed to have been dealt to the Padres as the club from southern California was thought to have done a great job covering up for the loss of Heath Bell to the Marlins. However, reports are now circulating that not only is the deal not complete but the Rockies are still in active negotiations with at least one other team about Street. We’ll wait an see how this plays out, but it’s a certainty that Street will be dealt as the Rockies feel confident that Rafael Betancourt can handle the 9th inning.
*UPDATE: The deal sending Street to the Padres was finally ratified. Street will serve as the closer for the Padres in 2012.
Erik Bedard is an impressive hurler when he is capable of dragging his weary bones onto the field. Last season he may have gone 5-9 but he also posted a 3.62 ERA, 1.28 WHIP and an 8.70 K/9 mark proving how effective he could be. However, the downside is that he only made 24 starts covering 129.1 innings (his biggest innings pitched mark in four seasons). The Pirates have decided to look past the litany of injuries to sign Bedard to relatively painless 1-year deal for $4.5 million. It’s a nice signing if he can stay healthy.
Frank Francisco has agreed to a 2-year deal with the Mets with reports suggesting he will be paid about $12 million. The Mets also signed Jon Rauch to help to bolster their bullpen, but the arm to target in the fantasy game is Francisco. The projected closer in 2012, Francisco owns an electric arm but he’s struggled to stay healthy and consistent when on the mound. Still, the guy has 368 Ks in 334 career innings, and the past three years he’s brought his walk total down to the major league average (3.01 per nine). He’s got a chance to be a solid closer for the Metropolitans.
Nate McLouth signed a 1-year deal with the Pirates for a reported $1.75 million. McLouth had his greatest success as a Pirate before a couple of somewhat troubled seasons in Atlanta where his production was terrible and he struggled to stay healthy. Still just 30 years old, McLouth was a fantasy standout just a few seasons ago as he averaged 23 homers, 99 runs scored, 82 RBI and 21 steals over the 2008-09 campaigns.
The Giants and Mets made a deal that saw them exchange outfielders that have followed similar paths. The deal is this: the Giants receive Angel Pagan while the Mets pick up Andres Torres and Ramon Ramirez. The reliever, Ramirez, is a solid NL-only arm in the fantasy game, but this deal is all about the outfielders. In 2010 both were fantasy all-stars, but both slumped in 2011. Torres has more power than Pagan, but his OPS dropped to .643 last season as he looked lost for long stretches of time. Pagan, who hit .290 and stole 37 bags in 2010, fell to .262 with 32 steals last season. Given the dearth of athleticism in the Giants’ lockeroom Pagan figures to hit at the top of the order for the G-Men. For the Giants sake, I certainly hope they don’t think that adding Pagan and Melky Cabrera gives them enough offense to compliment their wonderful pitching.
Albert Pujols is apparently leaning toward returning to St. Louis as reports suggest that the Cards and Marlins both offered him very similar contracts.
Prince Fielder is the bat that teams will focus on adding when the Pujols situation is resolved. I’ve been hearing that the Blue Jays, Mariners and Marlins (if they lose out on Pujols) might be the two most aggressive teams to add the portly slugger.
Andrew Bailey and Gio Gonzalez are said to be available, but teams will have to “overpay” the Athletics to add their services. At the moment, it looks like the market for Gonzalez is more active.
Aramis Ramirez to the Brewers is the hot rumor right now. It makes a lot of sense given that Prince Fielder will not be back and that the Brew Crew do not want to have to count on Casey McGehee rebounding in 2012.
By Ray Flowers
Things are really heating up at the Winter Meetings, and it appears that the Marlins are plenty serious about being the story to emerge from the festivities. But before I get to that, we had a couple of deals take place in the last 24 hours as pitchers are the target of seemingly every team.
Sergio Santos was an excellent bullpen arm for the White Sox last year. After every other White Sox bullpen arm was seemingly given a shot to handle 9th ining duties, Santos stepped up and solidified the role on his way to 30 saves in 36 chances. He walks too many batters, 4.12 per nine innings last year, but it’s easy to forgive that when you look over at the K/9 column and see 13.07. Santos signed a deal with the White Sox that will pay him only $8.25 million the next three years, though there are three other team options after that for $6 million, $8 million and $8.75 million (basically his team has him under control for 6-years at a cost of about $31 million). That “cheap” cost made him an excellent option to deal for the White Sox, and they did just that Tuesday sending him to the Blue Jays for minor leaguer Nestor Molina (there is no truth to the rumor that he is related to Nestor The Long Eared Christmas Donkey). White Sox fans will be furious at this deal since Molina is likely a couple of years away from being a major player, but after a year at Single and Double-A in which he posted a 12-3 record, 2.21 ERA 10.22 K/9 an a stupendous 9.25 K/BB mark, the future is bright for the 22 year old righty.
Kevin Slowey is someone I’ve long been in the corner of (check out the Player Profile I wrote back on March 28th, 2011). However, two issues have precluded him from reaching the heights that I think he can. (1) The guy just can’t stay healthy. In two of the last three seasons he’s failed to reach 100-innings. (2) He gives up way too many fly balls (48 percent of batted balls in his career), and they leave the yard at a near crippling rate (1.42 homers per nine innings). Therefore, the Rockies move to deal for him makes little sense to me. The Rockies think he can be a solid #4 or #5 starter, but given the enviornment in Colorado Slowey seems like a horrible addition given his long ball woes.
Aaron Harang had a decent season with the Padres going 14-7 with a 3.64 ERA and 1.37 WHIP. However, the San Diego born righty, who also went to San Diego State, wasn’t able to work out a deal with the Padres. No matter, He’ll end up merely needing to rent a U-Haul truck to move his stuff to Los Angeles after he agreed to a 2-year deal with the Dodgers ($12 million).
Albert Pujols is the best hitter in baseball, and the Marlins and the Cardinals are the two teams bidding most heavily for his services. Reports are circulating, including one by Bob Nightingale, that the Marlins have extended an offer to Pujols worth more than $200 million. The Cardinals are still in the mix, but it’s growing more likely by the minute that Pujols’ decision won’t have to be about one team outspending the other, it will be about where he wants to play for the next decade.
Andrew Bailey is on the market, though the Athletics asking price is apparently so high that Bailey may as well not be available. So far it seems like one of those situation where the A’s are saying ‘if you overpay we’ll give him to you’ but few teams seems willing to meet the exorbinant price the A’s are asking for in return for their often dominating closer who is under their control through 2014.
Jimmy Rollins was thought to be almost as good as gone from the Phillies 36 hours ago. There is now some growing optimism that he could return, though it still seems like the club is unwilling to go 5-years on a deal like Rollins wants. If the Phils are unable to come to an agreement they will look to add Aramis Ramirez while at the same time moving Placido Polanco to free up some cash. If Rollins returns, look for the Phils to go with Polanco as their third baseman and pass on Ramirez.
By Ray Flowers
I intended to do a video today but for some reason, likely the incessant partying I’ve been doing at bars of late, my voice decided to rebel leaving me sounding like Peter Brady of the Brady Bunch.
Jose Reyes and the Marlins have agreed to a 6-year, $106 million deal. He’ll likely bat leadoff for the Mets, an it appears almost certain that he will play shortstop for the Marlins moving Hanley Ramirez to third base. Obviously adding third base eligibility for Hanley would substantially increase his value, especially in those leagues that use middle and corner infielders. Reports are good that Hanley’s rehab with his shoulder are going well. The real issue here is will he allow his feelings to be hurt and mope because he’s being asked to switch positions, or, will he come into camp healthy and with his head on straight, ready to team with Reyes as the most dynamic top of the order duo in the game?
Albert Pujols/Prince Fielder: Everyone is waiting for these two big fish to choose a home. I find it impossible to believe that the Marlins are still in on Pujols despite what reports say (are they really going to dish out more than $275 million in contracts this offseason? Don’t forget, they have already added Heath Bell). The Cubs might offer to make Pujols the highest paid player on a yearly basis, even if they aren’t willing to give him 8-10 years like he would like. Fielder, seems like he’s just laying in the weeds waiting for his $150 million.
C.J. Wilson wants $100 million. It’s looking like he could get it too. Reports suggest that the Marlins and Angels, and two other mystery clubs, already have offers on the table for Wilson. The best hurler on the market, I broke down his prospects for 2012 in his Player Profile.
Aramis Ramirez is the best third baseman in the market, and after the two first baseman I mentioned above, he’s the best bat available on the infield. The Angels, Brewers and Phillies are all believed to have serious interest in Aramis after the 33 year old hit 26 homers with 93 RBI last season for the Cubs.
Jimmy Rollins hit 16 homers, knocked in 63 runs, scored 87 times and stole 30 bases for the Phillies proving that he is far from washed up. At 33 years of age he realizes this will be his last big contract, and he’s looking at someone to give him five years on a deal. The Phils have repeatedly stated that they will not go five years to keep him.
Rafael Furcal had an appendectomy last week. He will be fine for the start of the season, now he just needs to find a place to play. He’s seeking at least a two year deal, not an unreasonable request for the 34 year old.
Josh Willingham has nine teams interested in his services if you believe the report by Jerry Crasnick (I have no reason whatsoever to doubt the veracity of the report). Why all the interest in a guy who hit .246 with just a .332 OBP in 2011? Because the guy can power the ball. Josh hit 29 homers with 98 RBI last season and figures to have a few more years of production near that level if he can stay healthy enough to remain on the field (he’s averaged just 121 games a season the past four years).
Hiroki Kuroda wanted to remain with the Dodgers, but with the Dodgers signing Chris Capuano to a 2-year deal the belief is that the Dodgers no longer have an interest in bringing back the righty. Rumors have long circulated that is was L.A. of bust for Kuroda – meaning he was would return to Japan if the Dodgers didn’t bring him back – but teams like the Angels, Cubs and Rockies are known to have an interest.
Nate McLouth might end up back where it all started. After failing miserably in his time in Atlanta, the oft injured outfielder apparently is drawing some interest from his former team in Pittsburgh. Just 31 years old an only two seasons removed from 20 homers, 19 steals, 70 RBI and 86 runs scored, McLouth is the ideal cheap signing that could yield an excellent return on investment.
By Ray Flowers
Bruce Chen and the Royals have some kind of love affair. Chen was rewarded for solid work with the Royals the last few years when he was given a 2-year deal for $9 million (there are also performance based incentives that could total a million dollars for the lefty). Chen has gone 24-15 for the Royals the past two years, an impressive record given that club’s issues, but his 3.96 ERA and 1.34 WHIP the past two years just aren’t that exciting. Toss in a poor 5.94 K/9 ratio, and another poor mark in the K/BB column (1.82), and I’m not remotely as excited about Chen as the Royals appear to be.
Freddy Garcia will make $4 million on his one year deal with the Yankees (there’s like another million in incentives in there as well). It’s a solid deal for both sides but just not something that should get you excited (Garcia is the right-handed version of Chen actually). Garcia won 12 games with a 3.62 ERA in 2011, and he could repeat those numbers in 2012, but his K/9 has been under 6.00 each of the past three years and there is just nothing, not a single thing, that points to any upside.
The Giants are going to lose two outfielders who played key roles in the teams’ World Championship run a couple of years ago (neither player was offered arbitration). Pat Burrell is likely going to have to retire because of ongoing foot woes. If he is done he’ll retire with a career OBP of .361, 292 homers and 976 RBIs. That’s a solid career to be sure, but for a guy who was drafted first overall in 1998, perhaps his career was slightly disappointing? Cody Ross was injured in 2011 and limited to 405 at-bats, and his productivity when on the field was less than inspiring as he hit 14 homers with 52 RBI, 54 runs scored and a mere .730 OPS. Someone might give him a chance to start, but he’s best served as a strong fourth outfielder.
According to reports, David Ortiz could get up to $16 million if he goes to arbitration with the Red Sox. He wants at least a two year deal so he’s unlikely to accept arbitration, but $16 million for one year? I know Ortiz had a great year hitting .309 with 29 homers, 96 RBI and an OPS of .952, but he’s 36 years old and lost his glove years ago. I wouldn’t pay him that much.
Albert Pujols and Jose Reyes will get theirs, but it’s not surprising that the market for both is slowly developing since both want huge money deals. Bank on this though. All those rumors about the Marlins signing all the big ticket free agents, such as these two, is sheer poppycock. I think it’s all a shell game to make the fans think they’re trying harder than they really are down in Florida.
Carlos Pena was offered arbitration by the Cubs but he really wants to sign a multi-year deal. Pena owns a career .239 batting average, and the last three years he hasn’t hit even .228 a single time. He does keep pounding the ball though. The last five years Pena has hit at least 28 homers with 80 RBI each season. Can’t argue with that though his pathetic average will cause that check to be smaller than he had hoped for.
Dan Wheeler was offered arbitration from the Red Sox. Wheeler posted a 4.38 ERA, but as usual, his performance was pretty darn solid. Wheeler walked only eight batters all year leading to a 1.46 BB/9 mark that led to a superb 4.88 K/BB ratio, the second time in two years that he’s posted a mark over 4.75. He’s nowhere near elite, but he’s one valuable bullpen arm.
By Ray Flowers
You remember back to March when I gave away all my position player rankings for free, right? For those of you who want to revisit my greatest hits, here’s where you would go to get all my rankings for hitters – 2011: BBGuys Hitter Capsules.
I’m nothing if not accountable, so I’ll review my top-10 predictions at each position as well as point out my biggest “hit” outside of the top-10 and my biggest “bust.” This should be fun.
2011 FIRST BASE Top-10
1 Albert Pujols
2 Joey Votto
3 Mark Teixeira
4 Miguel Cabrera
5 Prince Fielder
6 Adrian Gonzalez
7 Kevin Youkilis
8 Adam Dunn
9 Ryan Howard
10 Paul Konerko
Pujols‘ run at history, which I wrote about in On the Cusp, fell just short as he ended the year with a .299 batting average, 37 homers, 99 RBI and 105 runs scored. An impressive season for a mortal, but a disappointing effort for Pujols.
Votto wasn’t as good as he was during his MVP effort but it was pretty damn close. He posted a .324-37-113-106-16 line in 2010 and followed it up with .309-29-103-101-8 this season.
Teixeira blasted 39 homers and drove in 111 runs for the Yankees giving them the power they expected. Unfortunately he scored “only” 90 runs, and for the second straight season he hit under .260 as he limped home to a career worst .248 mark.
Cabrera was as he always is, fantastic. I admit it, my concerns over his drinking issues were apparently unfounded. I touched on that in Braun: Best of the Bunch.
Fielder was second in the NL in homers (38), RBI (120) and OBP (.415) while he was third in OPS (.994). Someone is going to get awfully rich this offseason.
Gonzalez proved me half right, and half wrong. You can learn more by reading Player Profiles: 2011 Review.
Youkilis was limited all year by injury and his final line looks pretty bad (.258-17-80-68-3). Still, he was on pace to hit more than 20 homers with 100 RBI while his OBP was .373, not bad for a down season. He should be at full health next season.
Dunn fell off more than virtually any player in recent memory (Andruw Jones was close a few years back). Dunn was unquestionably the biggest failure in the game in 2011 as he hit .159 with 11 homers over 415 at-bats. I literally felt a sickness in my stomach well up writing that sentence.
Howard hit his 33 homers and had 116 RBI, but he also hit a mere .253 and scored just 81 runs. He could easily miss the start of the 2012 season as well since he ruptured his Achilles tendon on the final play of the season for the Phillies.
Konerko was strong yet again hitting .300 with 31 homers and 105 RBI. He has no speed, it’s almost surprising that he stole a base, and despite playing 149 games with a .388 OBP he scored only 69 runs for the White Sox.
Hit: Freddie Freeman #25
Freeman took a while to get going, if we remove his .225 April he hit .293 the rest of the way, an in the end he batted .282 with 21 homers and 76 RBI for the Braves. Hey, it’s first base where everyone can hit. It was hard to find a guy who really stood out past the top-15.
By Ray Flowers