Lance Berkman – Early reports had him playing left field with Matt Holliday shifting to right field. Looks like that isn’t going to be happening. This is good news for Matt Holiday who has never played right field. It’s bad news for Berkman and the Cardinals’ pitching staff. Berkman has been a first basemen the past few years, hasn’t played in the outfield since 2007, and really hasn’t been a full-time outfielder since 2004. He better hit, a lot, because he’ll likely be a butcher in the field.
Jack Cust – Signed a 1-year deal for $2.5 million to join the Mariners. This is an example of a good and bad signing. First, the good. Cust joins a club that needs offense as the Mariners were last in the majors in runs, homers, OBP and OPS. It’s also a completely reasonable contract. The bad? They already have Milton Bradley set to DH and he is set to make $12 million dollars this year. How awful does that contract with Bradley look? About as awful as it did when it was signed – he was never going to be able to live up to that 3-year, $30 million deal that ends after this season.
DH Types – Manny Ramirez, Vlad Guerrero and Jim Thome are all in the market for an AL team looking for a designated hitter. All three still have value, and all three could legitimately hit 25 homers in 2011. At the same time all three are aging, and it’s pretty clear at this point that none of the three really belongs in the field at all. Teams in need of a bat would be advised to apply here though as these three old timers can still slug it (here are their OPS marks from 2010: Guerrero .841, Manny .870 and Thome at 1.039).
Matt Diaz – Signed a two year deal to join the Pirates (it is rumored to be for about $4.25 million). Diaz crushed lefties, always has, and his career splits are pretty pronounced.
vs. lefties: .335/.373/.533, one HR per 25.3 ABs
vs. nighties: .269/.327/.382, one HR per 54.9 ABs
Remember that if you plan on drafting him this season.
As a result of the deal, the Pirates are considering moving Ryan Doumit. They already have Chris Snyder to catch, and the original plan was for Doumit to play the outfield most of the time. Doumit is also scheduled to make $5.1 this year with club options for 2012 ($7.25 million) and 2013 ($8.25 million). It seems odd to me that the Pirates would want to get rid of a guy who could serve as their backup catcher and potential platoon mate with Diaz to form a nice combo in the outfield. I know the Pirates aren’t going to pay the guy over $15 million for 2012-13, but why not keep him for now?
Jeff Francoeur – Here is where major league teams could learn something from us “stat geeks” in the fantasy game. Simply put, Francoeur does not have an approach at the plate that will allow him to have long-term success at the dish, and all you have to do is to look at his career numbers. Apparently no one in Kansas City can operate a spreadsheet though, so the Royals went out and gave Francoeur a $2.5 million deal for 2011 with a $3 million mutual option for 2012. So let me get this straight. The Giants got Pat Burrell for one year and $1 million, and the Royals gave that amount of money to Frenchie? Burrell had a “down” 2010, but he still produced a .348 OBP and a .469 SLG. Francoeur has never posted an OBP of better than .338, and he has never posted a SLG of .450 in a season of more than 275 plate appearances. Simply put, Francoeur stinks. Of course, we are talking about the Royals who have brought in similar hitters the past few years in guys like Jose Guillen and Mike Jacobs. It’s no wonder this team never wins.
Doing it Right: The White Sox
The White Sox singed Adam Dunn to a 4-year, $56 million deal to serve as their designated hitter. That move looked even better when they were able to secure the services of Paul Konerko on a three year, $37.5 million deal (Konerko helped out the club as well by taking $30.5 million the next three years with $1 million dollars a year from 2014-2020 in deferred payments). So for $26 million in 2011 the White Sox should get themselves about 80 homers, 200 RBI and 180 runs. Would you rather get that or 15 wins, 220 innings and Cliff Lee for the same price? Seems like an obvious call to me. Furthermore, think about this:
The White Sox, if you add up the contracts of Dunn and Konerko, gave two deals that amount to 7-years and $93.5 million. Would you rather have Dunn AND Konerko at that rate or Jayson Werth and his 7-year, $126 million deal with the Nationals? Uh, yeah. Great move Nationals.
By Ray Flowers