- Players options are becoming limited by the day:
With the Yankees not flinging more and more money after players they don't need; the Mets not panicking; the Red Sox insisting they have budgetary concerns; the Angels laying low; the Phillies done with their big shopping; and the Dodgers having disappeared into the morass of the McCourt's divorce, there aren't any big money teams ready to spend to fill their holes.
In case anyone hadn't noticed, it's January, 2010 and there are still dozens of "name" free agents who should be worried that they're not going to get the big money deals they anticipated a few months ago. Of all the "names", the one player who's definitely going to get paid (although not as lucratively as he thought) is Matt Holliday and I discussed him the other day.
Aside from that, it's a frenzy. Teams can upgrade drastically for comparative pennies if they're smart. (That eliminates the Pirates from any discussion.)
Pitchers and catchers reporting dates will be here before we can blink, so let's take a look at the remaining free agents bats worth mentioning and speculate where they'll end up. (Pitchers will be discussed tomorrow.):
Rod Barajas: The Mets are considering Barajas if Bengie Molina continues his hard-line negotiating. He doesn't hit for average, but he does hit the ball out of the park; handle pitchers well; and most importantly, can throw. Surprisingly, he doesn't strike out much either. My guess is he ends up with the Giants.
Michael (The Right Hook) Barrett: Who knows? I just like saying Michael (The Right Hook) Barrett.
Bengie Molina: The Mets aren't giving Molina a third year; in fact, he'll be lucky to get the second year guaranteed. He's in no position to be taking such a stand. There are other options out there like Barajas and Ryan Doumit via trade. I'm getting the feeling the Mets are about to move on after they finish up the Jason Bay deal and press conference, so if this doesn't get done by the middle of the week, Molina's going to regret these demands if he has to settle for a one year deal elsewhere as he did in 2006. He might have to go back to the Giants on a one year deal or possibly the Mariners.
Yorvit Torrealba: It looks like the Rockies are about to sign Miguel Olivo after the Torrealba negotiations broke down. Olivo's a better hitter and thrower than Torrealba, whose main attributes are that he's a good guy, handles the pitchers and gets big hits in the playoffs. The Giants or Astros are a possible landing spots.
Russell Branyan: Branyan is a stat zombie's dream coming off his career year, so he has every right to try and cash in. He's also been a journeyman with injury problems and a history of streakiness and slumps that have gotten him shipped to the minors or outright released. I'd bet he ends up back with the Mariners or with the Athletics to replace Jack Cust.
Carlos Delgado: Delgado has yet to play a game in winter ball because of lingering injury issues. He'd better come out blistering if he wants a guaranteed contract and playing time wherever he signs. The Athletics or Mariners are a possibilities with Delgado to DH; maybe the Diamondbacks if they think he can play the field. I'm not sure the Mets are going to go down the Delgado road again.
Ryan Garko: Garko didn't hit after being traded to the Giants, so he might have to settle for a bad situation like the Pirates. Garko's fiery and has pop, so he might be a part-time option for the Mets if they don't completely trust Daniel Murphy, but want to give him a legit chance to play every day.
Mike Jacobs: Jacobs has "Pirates" written all over him. He fits in there perfectly because he doesn't do much of anything useful but hit the occasional homer, strut around looking like a big leaguer with the huge chaw in his cheek, and act like a hard guy when a bench clearing shoving match breaks out.
Adam LaRoche: LaRoche is a perfect guy for the Mets, Giants and Mariners, but he supposedly wants a three-year deal which, for him, isn't an outlandish request. I think he ultimately falls to the Giants and would be a great pickup for a bat the Giants need.
Orlando Hudson: For a good, well-liked player, Hudson sits out waiting for a deal every year. I'm not all that enamored of him for the Mets, but if they want him, they should sign him and worry about what to do with Luis Castillo later. He might fall to a team like the Twins, Cardinals, Tigers or Marlins on a short-term deal.
Ronnie Belliard: Belliard is an underrated player with pop. Joe Torre benched Hudson in the 2009 playoffs in favor of Belliard. Even going back to his days with the Nationals, Belliard was in the middle of all their spoiler rallies. The Tigers are a good idea for Belliard, short-term.
Felipe Lopez: Lopez might be a guy who's learned how to hit mid-career. The Cardinals are kicking the tires and Lopez is a good choice for them.
Adrian Beltre: He's represented by Scott Boras; the stat zombies love him for some reason; and he wants a lot of money. Beltre's a good guy and a great fielder and his power would return to a certain extent in a more reasonable ballpark. The Red Sox are talking to him, but they need a better bat than Beltre. Beltre may end up with the Cardinals.
Hank Blalock: Blalock's been injury-prone in recent years, but he can still hit a bit. He's another guy who may have to settle for the Pirates or some other dregs of society.
Melvin Mora: Mora can still play and would be a solid utility player who could fill in at third base, first base and the outfield----he's a very good outfielder. Mora would be a solid citizen option for the Mets to replace Fernando Tatis.
Orlando Cabrera: The Twins wanted him to shift to second base and he might not have a choice. The Tigers could use him in that capacity too.
Miguel Tejada: Tejada has expressed a willingness to shift to third base, but the 3-year contract signed by Placido Polanco has him requesting similar dollars (with good reason). Tejada would slide in neatly with the Cardinals or Brewers.
Johnny Damon: Damon goes too far with the "I'll let my agent handle the negotiations" in his dealings with Scott Boras. He priced himself out of Boston (where he didn't want to leave) and the Yankees (where he doesn't want to leave). As much as Yankee fans hold out hope that Damon comes to his senses and accepts a short-term deal to stay, it's not happening. If the Cardinals re-up with Holliday, Damon may have to go to San Francisco or Atlanta and he's not getting the money he expected or was promised by Boras. It's his own fault for not dictating to his agent rather than having his agent dictate to him.
Rick Ankiel: I don't know who'd want Ankiel after the rotten year he had with the Cardinals. He doesn't get on base and isn't all that great a center fielder. The pitchers appeared to have figured him out at the plate too. He can't do much of anything worthwhile, so he's a fit for the Pirates or Royals.
Ryan Church: As a part-timer on a short-term deal, Church is useful to have around. He's got a great arm and some pop. The Yankees might want to consider him for left field, but he supposedly wasn't all that thrilled with New York when he was with the Mets. Whether that was the Mets themselves that made him feel that way or the city is unknown. In fairness, the Mets weren't particularly happy with Church in his last days with the club. The Indians would be a good place for Church.
Jermaine Dye: Dye is a great guy and can still hit, but he's not getting a big money deal. If he wants to return to the Braves, he'll have to take short money; he's also expressed a willingness to play first base. The Giants have been linked with Dye.
Xavier Nady: Nady will get an incentive-laden deal and would be a good player for the Mets as a platoon first baseman/backup outfielder. The Braves have been considering him too. The Giants need a more guaranteed bat than Nady.
Vladimir Guerrero: Guerrero can't play the field aside from maybe----maybe----25 games with a ground ball pitcher on the mound. He can still hit and hitters like Guerrero could have a resurgence late in their careers, invigorated by a new uniform. The White Sox and Guerrero look like a match.
Jason Giambi: It's hard to picture a contender in the American League signing Giambi to be a semi-regular DH, but as a power bat who can walk coming off the bench, he'd be a Matt Stairs-type for a National League contender. The Dodgers have done absolutely nothing up to now, but a reunion with Joe Torre is something to consider for Giambi.
Aubrey Huff: Huff can hit and play first, third and the outfield. He's flown under the radar, but a team like the Mariners might want to consider him for first base on a cheap deal.
Jack Cust: The Mariners need a first baseman, but Cust is a rotten fielder and the Mariners have Ken Griffey Jr clogging up the DH spot. Cust might head back to Oakland on a cheaper deal than he would've gotten in arbitration. The "genius" Billy Beane should've traded Cust two years ago.
Jim Thome: Thome can still hit. The Angels would've been a good place before they signed Hideki Matsui; Matsui's talking about playing the outfield again, so maybe the Angels will look at Thome. He could end up back with the White Sox. Maybe the Twins are a good idea for a power DH.
- Viewer Mail 1.2.2010:
Joe at Statistican Magician writes RE Dave Cameron's comment about Jason Bay, Marlon Byrd and the Mets:
I felt the same way about Cameron's comment (found in the comment section of his post at Fangraphs). If the Mets *only* had $16 million to spend, they could have better used that money to address multiple issues. But they can sign Jason Bay AND a pitcher, and maybe a few other small pieces as well. Plus, Byrd would be playing left, not center, meaning that his value would decrease (more easily replaceable, doesn't have the opportunity to field as many balls, impacts the game a little less, etc)
This one comment has placed you back into my good graces, Joe. Why don't you sign onto Twitter?
It's as if the hard core stat zombies are trying to find ways to rip on anything and everything the Mets do. This wouldn't be that bad if Cameron and his brethren did that with everyone and without bias. Instead, they formulate ways to move the Moneyball goalposts and defend Billy Beane, Paul DePodesta, Theo Epstein and anyone and everyone who advances their agenda in some fashion.
To equate Marlon Byrd as anywhere close to an impact player on a level with Jason Bay is a farce.
Brandon Knight writes RE the Red Sox, the Mets and Jason Bay:
The Red Sox will spend that money on pitching or a comparable player in free agency. I think Bay's stats will decline for the Mets because of their ballpark doesnt yield as many home runs.
The Red Sox shopping for pitching is just about done. They're desperate for a bat. Whether they'll be willing to move forward with what they have now or wait until mid-season to make a trade is the question.
Bay won't hit 36 homers for the Mets, but the implication that Citi Field is such a disaster for the power hitter is based on David Wright's struggles with the place; and that has more to do with the way he hits. His power was to right and right center much of the time----splits. Wright will either have to accept that he's not going to hit as many homers as he did earlier in his career, or change his hitting style to try and pull the ball more; the ballpark was in his head in 2009 no matter how much he denies it; also the absence of the entire starting lineup affected him in that regard as well.
Objectively, Citi Field was around the bottom for homers hit in total, but was ahead of Turner Field, AT&T Park, Busch Stadium, Dodger Stadium and Petco Park----scroll to the very bottom of the linked page for the ballpark stats.
Before he got hurt, Carlos Delgado had no problem getting the ball out; nor did Jeff Francoeur; Chase Utley and Mark Reynolds. Bay will hit his homers there, no problem.
John Seal writes RE Coco Crisp and the Moneyball movie:
Prince, I'm as puzzled by the Covelli Crisp signing as you are. Hopefully the A's will flip him to a contender in June once they decide to start Michael Taylor's arbitration clock. And I'm stoked about Moneyball--I love zombie movies!
John, I burst out laughing when I read this comment, thereby making it the funniest comment I've ever received.
It's pretty lame if that's their intention with Crisp, and truthfully I'd have no problem with the signing if there weren't so many people exhibiting such zeal to find ways to justify it as if it's the last piece in Beane's long awaited A's championship puzzle. Crisp is useful if he's healthy, but not as the one maneuver made by a team with the issues of the A's.
The zombie movie line is classic!!!
I love zombie films too, but even I might not be able to handle the horrible carnage of such an event as the Moneyball movie. The calculators? Laptops? Spock-ears and pocket protectors would be too much for my admittedly calloused sensibilities. It'd make 28 Days Later look like the Muppets.
Then again, maybe I and my troops could get a role in the sequel as the Zombie Hunters. I'm more of a masculine sex symbol than that pretty boy dingus Robert Pattinson could ever be, anyway.