Archive for December, 2010

The end of the year is upon us. In some places it’s already underway. However, in the world of sports, 2010 ended before it even started, and here in THE CHEAP SEATS, sometimes I too missed the memo on that, and gave those unfortunate souls too much of the benefit, while giving nowhere near enough doubt.

On the other hand, sometimes I flat-out underestimated what would come to be (see my #1 flub of the year below for that…). While still in other areas, I got Superbad-level blindsided by a breakout year from a team or player. For some casual-to-serious sports talkers, this is fine. But since I release a good number of my opinions for public consumption, I end up with a Mike Tyson from ’87 level blow to my ego/conscious when these things go bad.

At any rate, my first year (or 8 months actually) writing this site has been full of some decent writing and solid observations, if I do say some myself (yet luckily, I’m not alone. Thanks Mom). I’ll be putting up my “Best of 2010” links on my Twitter feed all day, so check out @CheapSeatFan for that countdown all day to round out the first year of the decade. That frees me up to “celebrate” my fumbles, errors and self-inflicted tragedies of over projection here today with this column. Happy New Year and happy finger-pointing….

10. Arian Foster-Nowhere Man (August 11th): I figured Houston would just throw a million times to Andre Johnson and company, while only running the ball when they really needed to, if then. So it made perfect sense to me to leave an undrafted free agent, who only had ONE good week the year before, outside my top 20 running back for fantasy football in 2010. Little did I know that he’s have 16 GREAT weeks in his this year. I won’t be caught sleeping again in ’11 (And you probably won’t catch Foster in next year’s draft with a pick lower than four).

9. The F*cks & Sprockets (7/27, 10/28 & 10/29): I had a lot of good things to say about the outstanding summer prep of both the Milwaukee Bucks and Houston Rockets. You couldn’t tell me that they wouldn’t be mainstays as competitors this year. While there is a lot of season to go, I think its safe to say I overestimated the addition of Corey Maggette & John Salmons, and the return of Yao Ming (who has since returned to his real home, the injured list).

Yeah man, I know that feeling...keep on reading.

8. This isn’t my idea of a “Fantasy”: This isn’t about an article, more or less, this is a personal matter. I’d like to publicly say I was off base by calling my fantasy football team a “juggernaut”. My receiving corps of Larry Fitzgerald, Steve Smith and Brent Celek didn’t quite click, and I’m still waiting on “the ultimate up and comer” Shonn Greene to report to work, even though the season is over. Lets just say my record looked a lot sexier backwards than forwards, but that’s the case about many things in life.

7. Wingless Redbirds (9/3): While I didn’t write about this prediction in advance, because the site wasn’t up yet, if I had, I would’ve called you crazy if you would’ve told me I’d have to write a concession letter like this before September even started on behalf of MY St. Louis Cardinals. I’d have definitely called the white coats if you said the that the Cincinnati Reds, led by a reborn Scott Rolen & NL MVP *sigh* Joey Votto, would be the reason. Here’s to sanity returning to both me and the NL Central by April.

6. The Passion of the NFC (10/6): I mean come on!!! I’m not alone on this one, and if anybody says they knew it,  show them section 16 of the Ten Commandments. I mean the only prophets worthy of speaking on this are Wade Phillips, Brad Childress and Mike Singletary. But I’d be a little more careful about approaching the last one than the first two. At least I’ve still got the Saints for now.

5. Locked Down (7/15): Back in July, I bought into the hype of a can’t miss kid by the name of Jake Locker, who foolishly passed on millions of dollars and guaranteed NFL stardom. Then he had a game that read like this against some legit talent

20 attempts, 4 completions, 71 yards (45 of which were on 1 pass), 1 TD & 2 interceptions

Thanks a lot Nebraska for blowing that up in my face. At least Mel Kiper and Todd McShay are here with me in the ER too.

4. His Beautiful Dark Twisted Year (8/13): I’ll let the numbers address this one as well.

– Randy Moss in 2009: 1 team, 83 catches, 1264 yards & 13 (league leading) touchdowns

– Randy Moss in 2010: 3 teams, 27 catches, 375 yards, 6 TD….through 15 games, and 3 attempted releases (only 2 of which worked)

My bad on recommending him in the same breath as Andre Johnson for your ensured fantasy success.

That angry mob with the torches and pitchforks are the folks that took Moss in their drafts. Sorry people.

3. Three The Hard Way: Few months back in the midst of the NBA’s free agent circus of the summer, I made a real big case about why the Miami Heat assembling a super trio wouldn’t work strategically or financially….yeah. And this is why Pat Riley is who he is and not who I am.

2. The Return of the Bungles (8/28 & 10/6): Maybe I got caught up in the hype, or maybe it actually was just karma visiting Cincinnati for the first time since 2008. Whatever it was, it made perfect sense to me that the Bengals would take a step forward after sweeping the AFC North in 2009. Well chose them to take far too many steps forward here, and I look my greatest loss of the year here, having the Bengals rep the AFC in the Super Bowl in my NFL prediction article.

Apparently adding Terrell Owens, drafting an amazing group of college guys and returning all of a core that went 10-6 the year before has a reverse effect in the Bizarro Land of Marvin Lewis & Carson Palmer. The bright side? I learned to NEVER go with a team that features two grown men that wear tights and call themselves “Batman and Robin”, unless its I’m in a movie theater (and maybe not then either).

1. Lamb Chops No More (8/24): I’m a man, a grown one at that. I can fess up and admit my mistakes and biases, and often times in discussion, I am against all things Rams. But on both a logical and fan level, this was both a tremendous defeat and huge upset. The St. Louis Rams took home a six-pack of wins from 2007 to 2009, and languished among the worst of the worst in all of sports.

Finally, for all of their losing, they “earned” the top pick in the 2010 NFL Draft. With that choice they took a former Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback, that had not played for basically an entire season after injuring his throwing arm no less, in Sam Bradford. With all of those time tested elements for professional disaster mixed into one guy, it seemed assured that they would continue on the same track. Instead, what did they do? They won more games in 4 MONTHS than they did in three years and are a game away from starting the new year in the PLAYOFFS!!!

It's been all downhill for my Rams predictions from this moment on. Go ahead...enjoy it "friends" and "family".

It’s safe to say I picked them to do far, far less than this a few months back, and to the satisfaction of virtually everybody I know in my hometown, I have eaten every word of it weekly. Now for the final twist of fate, I am actually rooting for them to win and make the playoffs (only because I am the president of the Missouri chapter of the “Pete Carroll Anti-Fan Club”).

These are indeed strange, wacky times here in THE CHEAP SEATS.

The quarterback position is the most hyped, dissected and scrutinized position in all of sports. None more so than during the NFL Draft and its lead up stages. From the time that some QB’s are sophomores in college, how they can relate to the NFL game is heavily discussed. This is a necessary process of sorts, because having a solid QB is everything in the NFL game. Very few, if any, teams make any noise in January without a solid QB. Virtually none make it to Super Bowl Sunday without an exceptional one (the 2001 Ravens with Trent Dilfer at the helm are the last victors to have a questionable QB by my evaluation, but that team had one of the great defenses of all-time).

Newton has all the skills for both the National Championship Game and Heisman, but are they enough to make him an elite NFL QB too?

Also, no position is paid more before even taking a snap than the QB position, especially at the top spot. 2010 top pick Sam Bradford, despite having proved his worth now, was automatically one of the top five highest paid players in the league due to this phenomena. All of these factors make understanding both what a young signal caller is, and can become, crucial, for both on-field and payroll successes.

Here is a look at the newest crop of youngsters being looked at as the next answer for some QB, and win, hungry NFL franchises. The 2011 class has been heralded as one of the deepest classes in sometime. While that sometimes proves to be a disastrous proclamation (see the 1999 NFL Draft), it sometimes pays off greatly, with multiple Super Bowl winning and Pro Bowl attending QBs (see both the 1983 and 2004 Drafts).

It’s a crap shoot of the highest order in the sporting universe, but if you’re going to gamble, go big or go home.

ANDREW LUCK-Sophomore-Stanford Cardinal

Measures: 6’4/245 lbs

Stats: 3,051 pass yards, 28 TDs/7 Interceptions, 70% completions; 438 rush yards

Should be picked….: As the #1 pick, no lower than 2.

Compares to: Ben Roethlisberger

Breakdown: Big time playmaker who is a horse that can deliver the ball anywhere. He’s the clear-cut choice as top QB on the board, and also top player in the draft. While he’s not a runner in the Tebow style, he can make plays with his feet and is hard to bring down. Like Bradford, he’s the type of guy a struggling franchise can rebuild around. Carolina currently has the top pick, and it will stay that way unless they trade it, but their selection of Jimmy Clausen in 2010 should not be a deteriment to taking Luck, who has the ability, like Sam Bradford before him, to turn a franchise around in short order.

RYAN MALLETT-Junior-Arkansas Razorback

Measures: 6’6/240 lbs

Stats: 3,592 pass yards, 30 TD/11 interceptions, 66.5% completions

Should be picked….: In the top 20, potentially top 10

Compares to: Joe Flacco or Carson Palmer before the knee injury.

Breakdown: A big tosser with easily the strongest arm in college football, that would already be a top 5 arm in the NFL. He can make any throw down field and would create a virtual game for many teams such as the Cardinals and Niners who have none right now. He may benefit from sitting for a little while to gain some touch on his passes and increase his awareness, but he’s the type that will be able to pick up some big yardage numbers over the course of his career.

CAM NEWTON-Junior-Auburn Tigers

Measures: 6’6/250 lbs

Stats: 2,589 pass yards, 28 TDs/6 interceptions; 1,409 rush yards, 20 TD

Should be picked….: Hard to say. Could be anywhere in round 1, but no later.

Compares to: Vince Young or Josh Freeman

Breakdown: His numbers are amazing and he seems to always find a way to make it work, with either his arm or feet, evenly. In the NFL he won’t be able to run the ball in the same order, because he’s not flat-out fast like a Michael Vick. However, he will be able to make plays on the move, and if he develops a solid intermediate passing game and puts a bit more zip on his outside ball (which he currently lacks), he will be a problem of the highest order, because on short yardage gains he will still be able to run the ball well and will force defenses to stay honest, which opens up deep options. However, he will definitely benefit from sitting for a while to gain some polish, which is why he may not be the answer for a team that is on the verge of competing right now, such as Minnesota or San Francisco.

BLAINE GABBERT-Junior-Missouri Tigers

Measures: 6’5/240 lbs

Stats: 3,186 pass yards, 16 TD/9 interceptions, 63% completions; 5 rushing TDs

Should be picked….: Late first round, perhaps to a team trading up.

Compares to: Aaron Rodgers or Tony Romo

Breakdown: He has a world of talent, and has played in a wide open system to showcase everything he can do. He isn’t a running QB, but has the mobility to make plays on the run and pick up extra yardage in the open field. With better coaching on his footwork in the pocket, he could become a very good pocket playmaker. His biggest issue is his lapses in judgement with the ball, which could become detrimental in the NFL, where he won’t be able to just lean of his natural talent. He has all the tools, but needs to be reeled in some to maximize them. Good player for a team that doesn’t need a starter right now or next year.

JAKE LOCKER-Senior-Washington Huskies

Measures: 6’3/230 lbs

Stats: 2,209 pass yards, 17 TD/9 interceptions, 56% completions; 302 rush yards, 5 TD

Should be picked….: Second round for now.

Compares to: Mark Sanchez or Matt Cassell

Breakdown: Despite being a senior, Locker is the oldest prospect here, Locker is by and far the rawest. He has all the skills to be a multi-threat trouble behind center, but he has far too many lapses in judgement still and seems to be struggling to make the transition from run first (and second) QB, to a pro style, versatile threat, which his skill set suggests he could be. He has played in a sub par program and has been leaned on quite heavily, and many scouts feel the best is yet to come when he plays with a higher standard of talent. While this could be true, and his skill set is undeniable, it’s too late in the game to commit either the future of your franchise or a huge sum of money to his continued development on potential only. He could pan out to be a true late bloomer, but it would be better served on a team where he can back up indefinitely.

Others to watch: Christian Ponder-Florida State, Pat Devlin-Delaware, Terrelle Pryor-Ohio State, Nick Foles-Arizona

 

Major League executives have been very busy the last few weeks, and more than a few teams have radically reshaped their structure as a result, for better or for worse. A few stories have played out as they were predicted too, but a few other big pictures took some very surprising turns. Lets cut the setup short and get straight into it here with the Top 5 December stories so far.

1. CLIFF LEE TO PHILADELPHIA: This deal speaks for itself in terms of shock, surprise and impact. Cliff Lee was all but sold off to either Texas and to the Yankees, as one week he was rumored to be weighing offers from both clubs of around $23 million per year over seven years. However, Lee threw a change at the  entire market and returned to Philadelphia, who he pushed into the 2009 World Series,  for “only” $14 million per year. This move gives Philly the most dominant pitching staff in the game with Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels, and potentially the most dominant rotation since the Maddux/Glavine/Smoltz/Neagle Atlanta rotation of the mid 90’s. However, the domino effect of Lee’s signing on made arguably just as big of an impact as his actual rejoining of the Phillies….

 

Lee's return to Philly set the fates of three teams in motion at once, the of which being his own perhaps.

 

2. CLIFF LEE NOT GOING TO THE BRONX: The Yanks were shallow in pitching all year, and crippled them in the end. So they made it no secret that landing Lee was by far their top priority headed into the winter, and usually when the Yanks take aim, it’s just a matter of time before  they hit their target and drapes him in pinstripes. However, Lee’s denial of the lure and riches of Yankee membership shattered the plans, and maybe immediate future, of the “Evil Empire”. When the Red Sox landed both Carl Crawford AND Adrian Gonzalez, it became even more imperative that they land Lee. However, now the Yanks are clearly at least a notch or two behind the Sox, and since they bet the house on landing Cliff, they have next to nothing left available to counter the Sox new guns. For once, the Yanks crapped out in the free agent rat race.

3. JUSTICE LEAGUE OF MASSACHUSETTS: Lets be clear, within the last two weeks, the Boston Red Sox became the best team in baseball. They aggressive eliminated every weakness (hitting, depth and speed) with two blockbuster moves. By signing and trading for, respectively, Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez, they not only solved their weakness by landing two of the premier players on the market, but they also boosted one of their strengths: defense. Both are Gold Glove winners in addition to terrors at the plate. Their presence gives the Sox the most versatile lineup in either league. Add in the presence of Bobby Jenks as an 8th inning bridge (and potential closer in the wings) to Jonathan Papelbon, and you’ve got a club that is a solid bet to add another World Series trophy to their resume.

 

The additions of Crawford's speed and Gonzalez's power make Boston the leaders out the gate in 2011.

 

4. GREINKE TO BEER TOWN: The Royals moved their franchise cornerstone to the Brewers in a not some surprising move, but to a surprising location. Zack Grienke had stated a desire to get out of Kansas City for a while now, as he didn’t want to sit through the rest of their rebuilding process, and the 2009 AL Cy Young winner got his wish and was shipped out-of-town. However, his desired destination was a surprise, as he lands in Milwaukee, a club who has struggled with consistency in recent years and is on the verge of having to move one of their best players already in Prince Fielder. However, Grienke’s presence alone could fix some woes in Milwaukee, as he will switch to the lighter hitting NL and be paired with another All-Star caliber arm in Yovani Gallardo. The Royals received a package of prospects in return for their ace, including promising shortstop Alcides Escobar. Now that KC has finally moved their biggest value, they have to hope they got enough in return to ensure that their impending youth movement got the rest of what it needs to pay off.

 

The Royals traded their prize possession in Greinke and now have to hope it fueled the drive for the push they need.

 

5. STEADY SOUTHSIDE: The White Sox’s aggressiveness in both adding to their core and retaining their key pieces, and were wildly successful in both areas. Adding Adam Dunn to the heart of the lineup grabbed the biggest headlines, but retaining both Paul Konerko and A.J. Pierzynski were huge moves too for this club and keeps their depth in intact. These moves may finally be what it takes for them to overtake the Twins in the AL Central, especially if they can get a full strength Jake Peavy at some point next summer. Between the retooled Tigers and the always tough Twins, the top of the AL Central may be the completed harder than any other division in the game.

Other moves of note: Dodgers retooling, Washington’s fortune to Jason Werth, Yanks retain icons, Rockies big outs, Padres rebuild and retool.

BEST AVAILABLE

1. Adrian Beltre-3B: Athletics, Rangers

2. Rafael Soriano-RHP: Angels, Nationals, Rays, Orioles, Yankees

3. Carl Pavano-RHP: Twins, Nationals, Pirates, Rangers

4. Vladimir Guerrero-DH/OF: Rangers

5. Manny Ramirez-DH/OF: Mars maybe???, Jupiter?, China

 

HOT NAMES CURRENTLY

– Adrian Beltre-3B: Maybe it’s just me (but I’m sure it isn’t), but doesn’t it seem like Adrian Beltre is shooting himself in the foot right now? It doesn’t seem like he had any plan in place except returning to Boston, and playing open market offers against them. Jokes on him for that. He should have just taken the Angels offer, rumored to be around 5 years and $70 million, & joined a solid club, now he’ll probably land in a much tougher spot with less money. Oakland is seeming like the only spot that’s really able to pay him now that he hasn’t rejected totally. Nobody else with 3B need has the money, but Texas could make a play is Michael Young is willing to move to DH and they don’t prefer to bring Vladimir Guerrero back.

 

Beltre's refusal to join the Angels may have played him into too hot of a corner.

 

– Brandon Webb-RHP: As he continues his relocation from Arizona after missing most of the last two years with multiple shoulder surgeries, the 2006 NL Cy Young winner has found his health again, but is still high risk due to his numerous setbacks. However currently the Rangers and Cubs are believed to be in pursuit of him for what will probably be a low base salary/high incentive deal. There’s another NL Central team in the bidding, which could be Pittsburgh who is in need of a few arms to round out their rotation. The Cardinals could be a dark horse, but they have $10 million dollars tied up in their #5 pitcher Kyle Lohse already.

– Adam LaRoche & Derrek Lee-1B: Both are mentioned in every remaining first base opening, which seems to be a cause and effect market at this point. Baltimore, Washington, Arizona, San Diego and Atlanta have openings, and either of the two could land in these spots. Lee will cost more per year, so he may be limited to Baltimore or Washington as realistic landing spots. The D’Backs won’t bring LaRoche back most likely, due to their desire to reduce strikeouts, so San Diego, who needs some more power in the post-Adrian Gonzalez days, could be a possibility.

– Andy Pettitte-LHP: This one’s pretty clear-cut: he’s either going back to the Yankees or going home for good. Since they missed out on Lee, the Yanks may make a big one year play to bring back Pettitte just for some security for their thin rotation, but it’s all on if he even wants to suit up. It seems that retirement is most likely here, as he has stated this desire several times over the last few years and reportedly isn’t even doing conditioning yet.

After yesterday’s post there was a lot of afternoon action around the league and more than a few signings took place, including several of the my top 10 available free agents. A few teams brought back a few established stars, while one big bat switched both teams and leagues. Here’s a quick update on those moves, in addition to a few players that became complete free agents after not being offer arbitration from their previous club.

The Tigers started off the offseason making same big waves with the Victor Martinez signing, and now the spotlight is back on the AL Central with the White Sox making several moves to make a push to close the gap on the Twins and make a push to move to the top of the division. With both a big new addition and bringing back a mainstay yesterday, they are the most aggressive team in the market right now outside of the usual Yankee moving and shaking. Here’s how both the South Side of the Chi and the Bronx spent their recent time and money.

NEW MOVES

6. Adam Dunn-1B/DH: Signed-CHICAGO WHITE SOX: 4 yrs/$56 million

The Sox had been in pursuit of Dunn since the trade deadline, and now they grab him without giving up anything except a draft pick. This is a great signing because it boosts a rather bland DH spot for the Chi Sox, and gives a potential replacement at first base if they fail to bring Paul Konerko back. This gives them a legit high impact bat that is both one of the most durable players and most consistent power bats in the game. For as big of a win as this is for Chicago, it is that big of a loss for the Nationals, who fail to get anything in return for their one the best players. Not exactly the type of management that helps rebuilding franchises help their foundation.

The Sox add one of the most consistent power threats in the game in Dunn, who has surpassed 38 home runs seven consecutive years.

9. Mariano Rivera-RHP: Re-signed-NEW YORK YANKEES: 2yrs/$30 million

While there never seemed to be a real threat to Rivera leaving the Bronx, apparently this deal gained some quick momentum when a few other teams made some legit offers to the greatest closer of all-time, rumored to be the LA Angels and, more critically, the Boston Red Sox. In the end, Mo returns for his 16th year in pinstripes with what is most likely his last contract and Championship push.

17. A.J. Pierzynski-C: Re-signed-CHICAGO WHITE SOX: 2 yrs/$8 million

While he had offers from a few different clubs while some catcher needs, as a few of those spots closed up in Boston and with the Dodgers among others, it became more and more apparent he end up back in Chicago. This steadies what could have been another potential radical change to the Sox structure and sets them up with both a catcher familiar with their staff and an attitude that boosts Ozzie Guillen’s style of play.

Other Recent Business and Chatter

A few notable players hit the free agent market last night after not being extended arbitration to return to their clubs. Chief among these players are Bobby Jenks and Russell Martin, formerly of the White Sox and Dodgers respectively. Both add value to the free agent market, but more so for Jenks, who becomes the best closer available after Rafeal Soriano. He is good enough to alter the value of Soriano on the market, as he will come at a cheaper rate. The Diamondbacks, Brewers, Reds and Braves could have some interest in him for the ninth inning role, while the Cardinals and Rockies could be interested in him as setup man.

 

Jenks addition to the market adds a second legit closer, who could shake up the previously uncontested saves market for Rafeal Soriano

For Russell Martin the market will be a bit different. A few years ago he was a regular at All-Star games and one of the game’s most athletic catchers, but a series of injuries slowed him down and even ended his 2009 in August. While many of the starting catching positions being filled currently, Martin may be looking at a rotation gig with whoever he signs with. His upside still has several suitors interested in him, including a return to the Dodgers, albeit at much lower price tag. The Yankees, Rangers, Marlins, Blue Jays and Pirates could have some usage for him as well.

Others that have entered the market now are Edwin Encarnacion from the Athletics, David Eckstein from the Padres. Their releases are more interesting for what it could mean for their former employers intentions for the future. With Encarnacion moved out, the A’s could be setting themselves up for a big push at Adrian Beltre, which could mean a huge offer being sent his way, despite the fact he has stated he would like to return to Boston. Oakland could be about to make him an offer he can’t refuse.

As far as the Padres go after moving Eckstein out the mix, this could make room for a serious push for Jason Bartlett from Tampa Bay to fill in at shortstop. They have been one of the most consistent club in the pursuit of him and this opens up a middle infield spot to make the move a reality. It could also bring a move for Orlando Hudson into the picture.

As for the Derek Jeter situation, the Yankees have made a concession in their showdown with their local icon, and have said that they are willing to add more money to the deal, but not more years. This seems to be a pointless gesture, because more years would still be offered if Jeter decides he wants to play past the age of 39, which is how old the shortstop would be at the end of the current 3 year offer on the table.

Give him four, or even five years and make him “a Yankee for life” (as if there is any doubt about that), front load the contract to concede to him now and move on so this situation doesn’t re-emerge again.

It’s only two weeks into Major League Baseball’s free agent pageant and rumor bonanza, but there has been no shortage of activity around the market. Thus far, none of the top 3 guys on the market have signed, as they are taking their time and waiting out the usual triple threat showdowns between GM’s, agents and owners to best setup the market for them. Some guys are guaranteed to move on, while other notable local legends are at war to reach an inevitable ending with their clubs.

 

The drama with Jeter and the Yankees is not new, but never before has it pitted one versus the other. Something's gotta give.

 

 

The trade market, arbitration showdowns and even a few signings have been moving along full speed. Some big names, such as Zach Grienke and Justin Upton are rumored to be fully available for competitors with a few extra prospects that are either losers in the free agent race or ready to make a definite move to add a young, proven player to their mix.

At any rate some signings are in play already and I be updating my November 17th Top 50 Free Agent list by pulling out those who have signed and showing their new homes and terms, while updating the original list and condensing it into a top 30 with a few clubs the are in the chase for them. Today is the deadline for teams to offer arbitration to their incumbent players, so the free agent market can potentially reshape itself by tomorrow, so the top 50 list will be updated tomorrow with the full list of available guys.

In the mean time, here’s the current movers and shakers (with their original Top 50 rank in parentheses).

6. Victor Martinez-C/1B: Signed-DETROIT TIGERS: 4 yrs/$50 million

The Tigers have been one of the most active teams early on in the FA market, and bring in Martinez who can not only be an offensive upgrade at catcher, but a DH candidate and can spell Miguel Cabrera at first base as well. Versatile signing.

 

Martinez jumped ship from Boston to form one of the best 1-2 punches in the AL with Miguel Tejada in Detroit.

 

11. Jorge De La Roaa-LHP: Re-signed-COLORADO ROCKIES: 3 yrs/$32.5 million

Surprise that he returned to Colorado so when he did, as he was regarded as one of the top starter options on the market after Cliff Lee and potentially could have inked a longer deal on the open market with a team in need of a top of the rotation starter. However, his return to Colorado shows the Rockies dedication to locking down their core this offseason.

13. Juan Uribe-SS/3B: LOS ANGELES DODGERS: 3 yrs/$21 million

Uribe had one of the largest markets any player available due to his ability to play 3 positions in a thin infield market and his reasonable price tag. In the end, LA snags him from a in-division foe to help even out the West and he will settle in at second base regularly, but can also be available to fill in for the oft-injured Rafeal Furcal.

 

Uribe was one of the hottest prospects on the market, and chose to stay in the NL West in LA, his former club's long time rivals.

 

15. Javier Vazquez-RHP: Signed FLORIDA MARLINS: 1 yr/$7 million

I still feel Vazquez is a big sleeper and a steal for Marlins here. He’s proven to be a dominant National League pitcher and he rounds out the Marlins rotation with a veteran presence that should easily make his $7 million dollar price tag a bargain if his shoulder is healed sufficiently.

20. Aubrey Huff-1B/LF: Re-signed SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS: 2 yr/$22 million

Huff played his cards right and cashed in on his postseason hero status in San Francisco. He’s a fine player that fits in well with the Giants mix, but he’s not worth $11 million per season either at bat or as a first baseman.

31. Jon Garland-RHP: Signed LOS ANGELES DODGERS: 1 yr/$5 million

The Dodgers rounded out a great rotation by landing Garland, who is a near guarantee to throw 200 innings and 30 starts. He’s a good buy at $5 million per season, and becomes one of the best fifth starters in the league in very good Dodgers rotation.

32. Pat Burrell-LF: Re-signed SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS: 1 yr/Undisclosed amount

The Giants bring back Burrell at what seems to be a bargain price, due to his solid play after coming over from Tampa Bay in mid 2009, but damaged stock in a 11 strikeout World Series “performance”. Despite this, Burrell still has a solid bat and can be nice power threat in the middle of a Giants lineup that needs it, at an apparent low risk price and contract length.

49. Miguel Tejada-SS/3B: Signed SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS: 1 yr/$6.5 million

The Giants wheeling and dealing continues by bringing in Miguel Tejada to take the place of both Juan Uribe and perhaps Edgar Renteria. Despite being on his decline overall, Tejada is another great veteran bat on a team whose identity is piecing together low-demand journeymen while high ceilings. Tejada fits that role perfectly.

 

Tejada becomes a full-time shortstop again in San Francisco, while adding another well-traveled presence to the World Champions lineup.

 

 

Current Top 30 Free Agents

– Updated list with already signed players removed and rumored teams in pursuit

Cliff Lee is rumored to be guaranteed at least $23 million per season, regardless of whether he suits up in Texas or New York.

 

  1. Cliff Lee-LHP: Yankees, Rangers, Nationals
  2. Carl Crawford-LF: Red Sox, Angels, Yankees, Tigers, Nationals, Phillies
  3. Jason Werth-RF/CF: Red Sox, Phillies, Angels
  4. Adrian Beltre-3B: Red Sox, Athletics, Orioles, Angels, Pirates
  5. Rafeal Soriano-RHP: Angels, Diamondbacks
  6. Adam Dunn-1B/DH: White Sox, Athletics, Rangers, Cubs, Nationals
  7. Paul Konerko-1B: Orioles, White Sox, Diamondbacks, Rangers
  8. Derek Jeter-SS:Yankees
  9. Mariano Rivera-RHP: Yankees
  10. Carl Pavano-RHP: Twins, Rockies, Nationals, Rangers, Pirates
  11. Carlos Pena-1B: Cubs, Nationals, Braves, Rays
  12. Vladimir Guerrero-DH: Rangers, Rays
  13. Magglio Ordonez-OF/DH: Blue Jays, Tigers, Angels, Rays, Rangers
  14. Bengie Molina-C: Red Sox, Rangers, Dodgers
  15. Manny Ramirez-DH: Blue Jays, ??? (Mars maybe)
  16. Orlando Hudson-2B: Twins, Cardinals, Padres
  17. A.J. Pierzynski-C: White Sox, Padres, Red Sox, Rays, Rangers, Dodgers
  18. Brian Fuentes-LHP: Diamondbacks, Pirates
  19. Andy Pettitte-LHP: Yankees, Rangers
  20. Jim Thome-DH: Rays, Athletics, Rangers, Tigers
  21. Derrek Lee-1B: Orioles, Brewers, Red Sox
  22. Kevin Gregg-RHP: Blue Jays, Pirates, Braves
  23. Lance Berkman-1B/DH: Athletics, Rockies
  24. Ty Wigginton-3B/2B/1B: Orioles, Rockies
  25. Kevin Millwood-RHP: Rockies, Pirates
  26. Matt Guerrier-RHP: Dodgers, Blue Jays
  27. Miguel Olivo-C: Blue Jays, Rangers, White Sox, Red Sox
  28. Scott Downs-LHP: Yankees, Blue Jays, Phillies
  29. Arthur Rhodes-LHP: Reds, Dodgers, Yankees, Red Sox, Twins
  30. JJ Putz-RHP: Tigers, Diamondbacks