Posts Tagged ‘Adam Dunn’

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In no other sport do “magic numbers” mean more than in baseball. And while if the validity of such automatic qualifier numbers is still current, or needs to be revised for today’s game is another debate completely, there are still round numbers that prove excellence has been met for a long enough time to take note.

Each new summer brings a chance for a new chance for certain career mile-markers to be met each summer. This summer is no exception, as a few standout marks will be met. On the heels of his recent announcement to retire following the season, Derek Jeter will put the finishing touches on his legacy, which will see him move through the top 10 all-time in hits—and potential reach an awe inspiring cap.

Likewise, Albert Pujols will begin to touch some of the hallowed marks that his effort has long forecasted, as will Miguel Cabrera. More surprisingly however, is what the summer could represent for Adrian Beltre, who is on the cusp of several numbers that will begin to create a completely different connotation for his body of work.

Here are the major career milestones that stand to be met in the 2014 MLB campaign.

HITS

3,500 Hits

3,316—Derek Jeter is 184 hits short of becoming the sixth player ever to reach 3,500 hits. He is 199 hits away from moving ahead of Tris Speaker for fifth place all-time (3,514).

2,500 Hits

2,426—Adrian Beltre will easily surpass the 2,500 level and enters an important year towards making a decisive push towards getting aligned for a shot at 3,000 in his late prime at age 35.

2,000 Hits

1,996—Miguel Cabrera is four hits (or a game and a half for him) away.

1,993—Raul Ibanez is seven hits short of the mark at age 41.

HOME RUNS

500 Home Runs

492—Albert Pujols has hit a home run one per every 14.9 per at-bats in his career, and enters the season eight shy. Not that there was any doubt about his legacy, but this is the first in a line of major posts to be met by the three-time MVP.

450 Home Runs

440—Adam Dunn is ten way, and has hit one per every 14.7 at-bats in his career. It is not certain if he’ll continue after 2014, but he would be safely in range of 500 if he plays through 2015.

438—Paul Konerko is 12 short, and has homered once per every 18.9 at-bats in his career, but will be in a part-time role.

431—David Ortiz is 19 short, and has not had a season with less than 20 in a year since 2001.

400 Home Runs

376—Adrian Beltre, and he has averaged 32 per season over the past four years.

365—Miguel Cabrera is 35 away and has hit not had season total below 44 since 2011.

RUNS BATTED IN

1,500 RBI

1,498—Albert Pujols will meet the mark easily.

1,000 RBI

966—Matt Holliday should meet the mark by the All-Star Break at the latest.

963—Ryan Howard (health abiding) should move past the 1,000 mark. He’s never had a season with fewer than 43 RBI.

500 DOUBLES

495—Adrian Beltre will easily surpass the next milestone in his signature hit in the first month of the year.

200 WINS

189—Bartolo Colon is 11 shy of hitting the 200 mark, due to his late career resurgence in Oakland.

186—Mark Buehrle enters the year 14 victories short of the level. However, if history speaks for the future, he’ll have to wait until next summer—he has won 13 in four of the past five years, and has not topped 13 since 2008.

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2,500 STRIKEOUTS

2,389—CC Sabathia will become the ninth left-hander ever to surpass 2,500 strikeouts this summer, joining Randy Johnson, Steve Carlton, Mickey Lolich, Frank Tanana, Chuck Finley, Tom Glavine, Warren Spahn and Jerry Koosman.

SAVES

350 Saves

341—Joe Nathan enters the year nine saves shy of becoming the ninth player to ever accumulate 350, and has a shot to reach as high as seventh all-time this summer.

300 Saves

286—Jonathan Papelbon stands to shoot up past the middle-tier of closers historically and into near elite standing this year. With his standard 30+ saves he not only passes 300, but to pass into the top 10 next year.

286—Jose Valverde he was signed by the Mets last week to provide bullpen depth, so there’s no clear road to 300, but if he somehow ends up in the role due to an injury to Bobby Parnell he could meet it.

 

For the moments as they inevitably happen in real-time, follow me on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan. For more content, head to I70 Baseball and The Sports Fan Journal.

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The American League Central went a little differently than expected last year. Yeah, the bad teams were that and the good teams were that, but it took a lot longer road to figure it. The Chicago White Sox were legit for much of the season, behind an MVP-caliber early effort from Paul Konerko, Chris Sale’s emergence and bounce back campaigns from Alex Rios and Adam Dunn. In a division that was supposed to clearly belong to the Detroit Tigers, it seemed like a coup was on deck.

That was until Miguel Cabrera went into overdrive. The Tigers third baseman went on a second-half tear, and finished up the season by pulling his club to not only a division title, but to the World Series, and secured a first in 45 years Triple Crown for himself as well.

2012 Finish

1.                   Tigers (88-74)
2.                   White Sox (85-77)
3.                   Royals (72-90)
4.                   Indians (68-94)
5.                   Twins (66-96)

A year later, and the Tigers are perhaps better equipped than they left off, but it is not the same AL Central either. The Royals made a big, gamblers splash in the offseason, and are rounding into shape as legit competitors. Meanwhile the Cleveland Indians were a surprise aggressor on the open market, and have handed new manager Terry Francona a lot of weapons to utilize. For the first time in years, former MVP Justin Morneau is back to join Joe Mauer at the core of the Twins attack, and the White Sox are still in the fray as well. The Tigers had to fight their way to top last season, and if a similar bumpy road comes in front of them this time around, will a third consecutive division title be there for the taking this year?

All Division Team

Catcher: Joe Mauer-Twins

First Base: Prince Fielder-Tigers

Second Base: Jason Kipnis-Indians

Third Base: Miguel Cabrera-Tigers

Shortstop: Alcides Escobar-Royals

Left Field: Alex Gordon-Royals

Center Field: Austin Jackson-Tigers

Right Field: Josh Willingham-Twins

Designated Hitter: Billy Butler-Royals

In regaining his health, Mauer regained his bat as well. His .416 on-base percentage led the AL.

In regaining his health, Mauer regained his bat as well. His .416 on-base percentage led the AL.

Starting Pitcher: Justin Verlander-Tigers

Starting Pitcher: James Shields-Royals

Starting Pitcher: Chris Sale-White Sox

Starting Pitcher: Jake Peavy-White Sox

Righty Relief: Vinnie Pestano-Indians

Lefty Relief: Tim Collins-Royals

Closer: Chris Perez-Indians

Top 10

  1. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
  2. Justin Verlander, Tigers
  3. Prince Fielder, Tigers
  4. Joe Mauer, Twins
  5. Alex Gordon, Royals
  6. James Shields, Royals
  7. Paul Konerko, White Sox
  8. Billy Butler, Royals
  9. Chris Sale, White Sox
  10. Austin Jackson, Tigers

Lineup

  1. Tigers
  2. Royals
  3. Indians
  4. White Sox
  5. Twins

The Tigers already could do serious damage with Cabrera and Fielder coming in behind Austin Jackson. Yet now the rich will get richer with Victor Martinez back from injury and Torii Hunter taking swings from the two spot, the Tigers 1-5 everyday lineup is ridiculous. Don’t sleep on the Royals either, with Salvador Perez, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Alcides Escobar all primed for breakthrough seasons.

Dunn and Konerko combined for 67 homers at the heart of the White Sox lineup.

Dunn and Konerko combined for 67 homers at the heart of the White Sox lineup.

Heart of the Lineup

  1. Tigers (Cabrera/Fielder/Martinez)
  2. White Sox (Konerko/Dunn/Rios)
  3. Twins (Mauer/Willingham/Morneau)
  4. Royals (Butler/Perez/Moustakas)
  5. Indians (Kipnis/Swisher/Santana)

There may not be a better 3-4-5 in baseball, depending on how well Martinez rehabs. However, the rest of the division is in good shape in the midst of their orders as well. The Indians are the relative worst in the division, with Nick Swisher, who hit 24 home runs last season, at the core of it. The entire fortune of the Twins rests on what Mauer, Willingham and Morneau are capable of pulling off each day.

Table Setters

  1. Tigers (Jackson/Hunter)
  2. Royals (Gordon/Escobar)
  3. Indians (Bourn/Cabrera)
  4. White Sox (De Aza/Keppinger)
  5. Twins (Mastroianni/Carroll)

Once again, the Tigers rule. Jackson was a terror last season, hitting double digits in doubles, triples and home runs, and topped 100 runs scored for second time in three years. By adding Bourn, the Indians add the most dynamic stolen base threat in baseball over the past five years. Alejandro De Aza is coming into his own as well, getting on-base at .329% clip.

Bench

  1. Indians
  2. Tigers
  3. Royals
  4. White Sox
  5. Twins

Quintin Berry is capable of producing anywhere in the Detroit outfield, and Ramon Santiago is capable at every position in the infield. In Cleveland, Terry Francona will be able to split time in multiple areas, with a very diverse bench of Mike Aviles, Ryan Rayburn and Lou Marson.

Rotation

  1. Tigers
  2. White Sox
  3. Royals
  4. Indians
  5. Twins

Justin Verlander, winning of 41 games since 2011, is a great start, but Max Scherzer, Doug Fister and the resigning of Anibal Sanchez gives them a glutton on riches. A bounce back effort from John Danks would go a long way towards giving the Sox one of the better AL rotations. The addition of James Shields, Ervin Santana and Wade Davis has completely revamped the Royals attack as a team.

The durable Shields was brought in to be both an example and stabilizer atop the Royals rotation.

The durable Shields was brought in to be both an example and stabilizer atop the Royals rotation.

1-2 Punch

  1. Tigers (Verlander/Scherzer)
  2. White Sox (Sale/Peavy)
  3. Royals (Shields/Guthrie)
  4. Indians (Masterson/Jimenez)
  5. Twins (Worley/Correia)

While there’s no question who’s the top dog in the D, Sale and Peavy are both capable of anchoring a very competitive club, as they proved last season in combining for 28 Chicago W’s. The Twins see a lot of potential in Vance Worley, as he inherited the top spot in their rotation from the second he was acquired. The Indians have a ton of potential, which has struggled to move past being only that in the inconsistent Ubaldo Jimenez and Justin Masterson

Bullpen

  1. Royals
  2. Indians
  3. Tigers
  4. Twins
  5. White Sox

One of the quietest, dominant units in baseball is the KC pen. They have 4 hurlers in Greg Holland, Tim Collins, Aaron Crow and Kelvin Herrera that can throw pure smoke. They are very versatile, and can be deployed in a variety of situations. Vinnie Pestano finished second in the AL in holds last season for Cleveland, while Glen Perkins limited left-handed hitters to a .192 average in Minnesota.

Defense

  1. Royals
  2. White Sox
  3. Indians
  4. Twins
  5. Tigers

The biggest Achilles for the Tigers is the fact their defensive often makes their potent lineup and pitching staff work too hard for wins. That’s not a problem that the Royals, as Gordon and Francouer are arguably the best defensive corner outfielders in baseball, while Escober, Hosmer, Moustakas and Getz are the best defensive infield in the game. The White Sox 70 errors were the fewest in MLB as a team.

Bourn pushes both the Indians extra base (42 steals) and defensive potential (2 Gold Gloves) to a new level.

Bourn pushes both the Indians extra base (42 steals) and defensive potential (2 Gold Gloves) to a new level.

Speed

  1. Royals
  2. Indians
  3. White Sox
  4. Tigers
  5. Twins

There’s not a bad runner on the team in KC, save for Billy Butler, but he’s not paid for that gig. In Cleveland, Bourn and Stubbs are fast enough to play a two-man outfield if needed (I’m sure of it). Between Alex Rios, Alexei Ramirez, DeWayne Wise and DeAza combined for 81 steals a year ago, and the best team defensive percentage .

Manager

  1. Jim Leyland, Tigers
  2. Ron Gardenhire, Twins
  3. Terry Francona, Indians
  4. Robin Ventura, White Sox
  5. Ned Yost, Royals

Leyland and Francona have a combined four World Series wins, and are two of the greatest motivators in the game…albeit in very different fashions. Ventura jumped from college baseball analyst to an 85-win MLB rookie manager last year. Also, there’s a reason why there’s no talk of trouble around Gardenhire despite two consecutive 90-loss seasons; it’s scary to think how bad it could be WITHOUT him.

Finances

  1. Tigers
  2. White Sox
  3. Indians
  4. Royals
  5. Twins

The Tigers played it cool for the most part on the market, outside of keeping their club intact for another run. They’ll need to hold funds back for the always needed in-season addition mid pennant chase most likely, especially with their current bullpen condition. The Indians had a surprisingly aggressive spending run this offseason, which could see them as sellers if it doesn’t payout by mid-summer.

Impact Additions

  1. James Shields (Royals from Rays)
  2. Michael Bourn (Indians from Braves)
  3. Nick Swisher (Indians from Yankees)
  4. Torii Hunter (Tigers from Angels)
  5. Wade Davis (Royals via trade)

The Royals made the ballsy move of the winter in trading everybody’s top prospect in Wil Myers to the Rays for Shields and Davis. It is a huge “win now” move from a franchise that hasn’t been in a position to do that in some time. The Indians core was rebuilt starting with Swisher, and later Bourn. Add in Trevor Bauer and Mark Reynolds, and it was an interesting winter in AL Ohio.

The continued growth and experience of Hosmer and Perez is at the heart of the Royals rise this summer.

The continued growth and experience of Hosmer and Perez is at the heart of the Royals rise this summer.

Leap Forward Candidates

  1. Salvador Perez,Royals
  2. Eric Hosmer, Royals
  3. Jason Kipnis, Indians
  4. Anibal Sanchez, Tigers
  5. Greg Holland, Royals

The time is finally here for the Royals window of competition to open. A key component will be Perez rising up to the elite producers at catcher this summer. He’s hit .311 in first 115 games, and should rise over 20 homers as well. If Hosmer can rebound from his down sophomore effort, the everyday lineup will have a lot more punch. Kipnis has a chance to ascend into the upper tier of second basemen in baseball this season.

Rookies/Prospects to Watch

  1. Trevor Bauer (Pitcher, Indians-MLB)
  2. Bruce Rondon (Pitcher, Tigers-MLB)
  3. Nick Castellanos (Third Base, Tigers-AAA)
  4. Aaron Hicks (Center Field, Twins-MLB)
  5. Francisco Lindor (Shortstop, Indians-A)

The biggest question mark for any serious competitor may be the Tigers’ closer situation. Rondon blew through the minors, and has been in the mix for the final frame in the Majors as well. If he takes on the role this year, he could be in the mix for AL Rookie of the Year. Hicks has blown up on the scene this spring and looks ready to step in and live up to his former Top 10 prospect potential.

2013 PREDICTIONS

  1. Tigers
  2. Royals
  3. Indians
  4. White Sox
  5. Twins

The Central is a division in transition…in the middle. Kansas City has improved each of the last three seasons, and is primed to make a major leap to league-wide respectability. This is due in part to the focus of management to add impact players to their maturing core, as well as a very balanced development of young talent both developed and acquired over the past few years. A run into the Wild Card picture should be expected, and a surge similar to last year’s Oakland Athletics should shock nobody.

Behind them, the margin between the Chicago White Sox and Cleveland Indians is close. Where Cleveland is strong at the plate, Chicago is tough one the mound. The margin of difference could come down to the better equipped system of the Indians vs. the barren Sox farm. The Indians have the pieces to add to their push from within, while the Sox do not. Cleveland’s lack of pitching will keep them from truly pushing the Tigers, but a rise 10 game improvement or should be in the cards.

The Twins are in the midst of a long and drawn out rebuilding phase that has finally hit its bottom floor, and is ready to look up again. An influx of youngsters around their lineup should make things exciting occasionally, but frustrating more often than not. Another 90-loss year is on deck.

That just leaves the Tigers in the end, and the question is more not where they’ll finish in the first 162, but if they finally have the legs to win the last four of the last series of the season. They are a study in extremes: huge bats/terrible defense, great starters/questionable bullpen end. These are the type of issues that separate a club from the other elite teams in the league in the end, not so much the division. They will win the Central by more games than any other divisional champ, and could produce both an MVP, Cy Young winner, Comeback Player of the Year and maybe even a Rookie of the Year. Those would-be accolades aside, the difference is in the details for Leyland’s club. And it will take the full stretch of games to see if this “win now” club gets over itself, to rise above everyone else.

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

 

With awards season underway now and the winter meetings looming, it means that the free agent courting season is also underway. This season’s crop isn’t as deep with top-tier talent as many other years have been, but to say that this is a thin group is slight to what’s out there, in my opinion.

 

Cliff Lee is clearly on top of the list, and it seems the Yankees are ready to break the bank for him.

 

This is a big season for both quick fixes and role players being on the market, and if any season proved the value of such acquisitions, it was this year, with the San Francisco Giants strategically piecing together the right mix and adding some hardware because of it. While the mega rich will be chasing a very small handful of players this year, the pitching crop for #3 and #4 starters is tremendous. For the AL side, there are one to two-year DH candidates everywhere. The first base position is loaded and there’s a fine chance to upgrade at catcher as well.

This list is based on both the talent and value projection of the current market. It doesn’t factor in potential trades or foregone conclusions of some guys staying put. For now it is just a ranking of what’s out there, but soon a second edition will be coming with some projections and info on potential landing spots and best fit scenarios. Take a look and see what your club needs and could land.

1. Cliff Lee-LHP-2009: Seattle Mariners/Texas Rangers

2. Carl Crawford-LF-2009: Tampa Bay Rays

 

The game's greatest speedster is just entering his prime, and will have the world bidding for his services.

 

3. Jason Werth-RF/CF-2009: Philadelphia Phillies

4. Adrian Beltre-3B-2009: Boston Red Sox

5. Rafeal Soriano-RHP-2009: Tampa Bay Rays

6. Victor Martinez-C/1B-2009: Boston Red Sox

7. Adam Dunn-1B/DH-2009: Washington Nationals

8. Paul Konerko-1B-2009: Chicago White Sox

9. Derek Jeter-SS-2009: New York Yankees

10. Mariano Rivera-RHP-2009: New York Yankees

11. Jorge De La Rosa-RHP-2009: Colorado Rockies

12. Carl Pavano-RHP-2009: Minnesota Twins

13. Juan Uribe-SS/3B-2009: San Francisco Giants

14. Carlos Pena-1B/DH-2009: Tampa Bay Rays

15. Javier Vazquez-RHP-2009: New York Yankees

16. Jake Westbrook-RHP-2009: Cleveland Indians/St. Louis Cardinals (RESIGNED-ST. LOUIS, 2 yrs/ $16.5 million. Option on 3rd year)

Locking up Westbrook solidifies the Cardinals rotation and justifies trading Ryan Ludwick this past summer.

 

17. Vladimir Guerrero-DH-2009: Texas Rangers

18. Magglio Ordonez-OF-2009: Detroit Tigers

19. Bengie Molina-C-2009: San Francisco Giants/Texas Rangers

20. Aubrey Huff-1B/LF-2009: San Francisco Giants

21. Manny Ramirez-DH-2009: Los Angeles Dodgers/Chicago White Sox

22. Orlando Hudson-2B-2009: Minnesota Twins

23. A.J. Pierzynski-C-2009: Chicago White Sox

24. Brian Fuentes-LHP-2009: Los Angeles Angels/Minnesota Twins

25. Andy Pettitte-LHP-2009: New York Yankees

26. Jim Thome-DH-2009: Minnesota Twins

27. Derrek Lee-1B-2009: Chicago Cubs/Atlanta Braves

28. Kevin Gregg-RHP-2009: Toronto Blue Jays

29. Lance Berkman-1B/DH-2009: Houston Astros/New York Yankees

30. John Buck-C-2009: Toronto Blue Jays (SIGNED FLORIDA 3 yrs/$18 million)

 

The Marlins made a smart buy on an affordable All-Star talent in Buck that fits their price range perfectly.

 

31. Jon Garland-RHP-2009: San Diego Padres

32. Pat Burrell-LF/DH-2009: Tampa Bay Rays/San Francisco Giants

33. Ty Wigginton-3B/2B/1B-2009: Baltimore Orioles

34. Kevin Millwood-RHP-2009: Baltimore Orioles

35. Matt Guerrier-RHP-2009: Minnesota Twins

36. Miguel Olivo-C-2009: Colorado Rockies

37. Joaquin Benoit-RHP-2009: Tampa Bay Rays (SIGNED-DETROIT, 3 yrs/$16.5 million)

38. Arthur Rhodes-LHP-2009: Cincinnati Reds

39. JJ Putz-RHP-2009: Chicago White Sox

40. Adam LaRoche-1B-2009: Arizona Diamondbacks

41. Scott Downs-LHP-2009: Toronto Blue Jays

42. Scott Podsednik-OF-2009: Kansas City Royals/Los Angeles Dodgers

43. Hideki Matsui-DH/LF-2009: Los Angeles Angels

44. Kerry Wood-RHP-2009: Cleveland Indians/New York Yankees

45. Jon Rauch-RHP-2009: Minnesota Twins

46. Johnny Damon-LF-2009: Detroit Tigers

47. Kevin Correira-RHP-2009: San Diego Padres

48. Brandon Webb-RHP-2009: Arizona Diamondbacks

49. Miguel Tejada-3B/SS-2009: Baltimore Orioles/San Diego Padres

50. Hiroki Kuroda-RHP-2009: Los Angeles Dodgers (SIGNED DODGERS, 1 yr/$12 million)