Posts Tagged ‘Brian Wilson’

MLB: New York Yankees at Houston Astros

Baseball does not usually get much credit for moving very quickly. However this winter has been the equivalent of a Rickey Henderson wind sprint, as the movements around the game have come quick, early and often out of nowhere.

Last week provided a flurry of action on the 2014 season that saw the landscape of both leagues, but most intensely the American half, change tremendously. The New York Yankees both provided (and were victims of) major additions and loss, in making Jacoby Ellsbury the third highest paid outfielder ever, but also watching the Seattle Mariners go to a place they would not for their incumbent top star, Robinson Cano. What the impact is on the field in Seattle is yet to be seen, as is how much more New York is willing to do in order to reassure the potency of their team, but either way it goes, no less than everything changed in regards to the way the baseball winter was expected to play in just under 72 hours….and a week early.

Instead of being the base of operations for change, this week’s MLB Winter Meetings will see the finishing touches be put the majority of the major additions for the winter. Will the pitching scene finally start to clear up? And what will be the continued domino effects of the Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran deals? Whatever it is, the baseball windmill has began spinning, and isn’t showing signs of slowing up soon.

But as for what has been established thus far, here is the most recent effects and aftershocks of the newest deals handed out for these now former free agents. (All rankings are their original ranks on the full Top 75 Free Agent rankings)

1. Robinson Cano-Second Baseman-30 years old-2013 Team: New York Yankees

Signed: Seattle Mariners—10 years, $240 million

The Mariners made the splash of the offseason so far over the course of 24 hours, by luring Cano away from the spotlight of New York and into their now full-on rebuilding spree. The deal makes him the third-highest paid player paid player in baseball, and also instantly makes him the axis of a Mariner team that was not too long ago an afterthought on the competition scene.

For the Mariners, it was an opportunistic signing that provides a major starting point towards a push towards the postseason, however one man cannot change the entire course of a franchise, and it is still unlikely that they are in a position to overcome the Oakland and Texas teams that are far more complete staffs. It is an all-in deal, that looks good in the moment, but will be a failure of mass proportions if they cannot add more around him, due to his price tag. In New York, despite their rampant additions to their team, they will feel the loss of their best overall player, and most potent run producer. Yet, they still most likely make out better without another albatross of a contract to work around in years to come.

6. Carlos Beltran-Right Fielder-37 years old-2013 Team: St. Louis Cardinals

Signed: New York Yankees—3 years, $45 million

He’s become baseball’s equivalent of the ace bandage; after joining the Cardinals to be a replacement impact bat in the middle of the Cardinal lineup two years ago, he will go on to do the same thing for the post-Cano Yankees now. Due to the evolving St. Louis lineup, there was no more room for Beltran, and he will now play an important role as part-time outfielder/designated hitter in the Yankees’ quest to retake the AL East. Beltran was the most courted part of the free agent market, and now the Red Sox, Mariners, Rangers, Red Sox, Tigers, Indians and Royals, among others, all either will or have looked in different directions.

9. Mike Napoli-First Baseman-32 years old-2013 Team: Boston Red Sox

Resigned: Red Sox—2 years, $32 million

The complex year of Mike Napoli finally comes to an end where he wanted it to all along. After seeing the extra years on his original contract voided shortly after he signed it due to a hip injury, Napoli gets them back and at a larger sum to stay where he wanted. The Red Sox return the top power hitting infielder available to their mix for the next two years and return an invaluable part of their everyday balance.

14. Curtis Granderson-Left Fielder-33 years old-2013 Team: New York Yankees

Signed: New York Mets—4 years, $60 million

The Yankees addition of Jacoby Ellsbury and pursuit of Carlos Beltran made Granderson the odd man out, and the crosstown Mets pounced on the opportunity. They made a slightly out of character commitment to acquire the outfielder, due to their rebuilding financial situation, however the purpose and value are clear. Granderson provides an impact support bat behind David Wright and makes their competitive push over the next two years in a better place.

16. Hiroki Kuroda-Starting Pitcher-39 years old-2013 Team: New York Yankees

Resigned: Yankees—1 year, $16 million

Kuroda was either coming back to the Yankees or going all the way back to Japan for the next season. His decision to stay in the Bronx allows the Yankees most consistent pitcher over the past two years to remain at the heart of a rotation that is desperately in need of an upgrade. Keeping his consistency (a 3.31 ERA over 65 starts in two years) is essential to having the flexibility to add either a top notch free agent arm, or a lower cost/high value pair of contributors underneath him and CC Sabathia.

30. Brian Wilson-Relief Pitcher-32 years old-2013 Team: Los Angeles Dodgers

Resigned: Dodgers—1 year, $10 million

He went to the open market to find a job as a closer again, but instead took a high dollar deal to return to LA as a setup man. This gives him a chance to show his stuff to teams that could have had interest in him this season, but needed to see more than the 19.2 innings he pitched in 2013, albeit at a high level (0.42 ERA, 21 strikeouts to 4 walks).

31. Edward Mujica-Relief Pitcher-30 years old-2013 Team: St. Louis Cardinals

Signed: Boston Red Sox—2 years, $9.5 million

Mujica had an up and down year in 2013. After making the All-Star team after taking over the closer role in St. Louis, he lost his touch down the stretch and was relegated to extra part during their October run. He’ll switch World Series dugouts to return to his more familiar late inning role as a bridge/set up man to Koji Uehara, and is a very good value pickup for the Red Legs.

35. Nate McLouth-Outfielder-32 years old-2013 Team: Baltimore Orioles

Signed: Washington Nationals—2 years, $10.75 million

The Nationals offseason plan seems to be to add depth and round out a roster that was high on talent, but low on substance a year ago. McLouth is the perfect addition for that effort; a multi-tooled outfielder that can run, play every outfield position and provide an instant injury replacement if injury woes revisit the DC frontline outfield again.

54. Scott Feldman-Starting Pitcher-31 years old-2013 Teams: Chicago Cubs/Baltimore Orioles

Signed: Houston Astros—3 years, $30 million

This is probably the clearest case of an overpay to just get something, anything, of experienced substance into the Houston rotation. Feldman is a solid pitcher, but more along the lines of a bottom half of the rotation fourth-fifth starter. Instead, he’ll get a deal that rivals that of Dan Haren and Kyle Lohse to lead the Astros starters, despite only having two seasons in his career where he has topped 10 victories.

61. Rafael Furcal-Shortstop-36 years old-2013 Team: St. Louis Cardinals

Signed: Miami Marlins—1 year, $3 million

Furcal missed the end of 2012 and all of 2013 due to an elbow injury that necessitated Tommy John surgery. However, after showing in late season workouts he would likely be capable of returning to the field, the Marlins picked him up to be a much needed veteran presence. He is slated to play second base, which is a much easier and less varied throw for his maligned elbow.

For more on moves made in the moment, follow me on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan.

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In what has become an annual event in the CHEAP SEATS, the first entry of this year’s Top 100 players in baseball will be released this week. This season the location will be different, as it will debut in my column at The Sports Fan Journal, but there will still be links to each here. Other than that, everything will be the same: 100 players in total (obviously), released in five sections until the top 10 is revealed in an extended version in the final entry.

Last year, there wasn’t much mention of the players that missed, or why. While I’ll discuss the methodology of how I come to my selections in the first entry tomorrow, I can discuss why some of both the toughest omissions and subtractions from last year’s list were made.

First of all, there are at any time, 750 players on Major League rosters, so not being counted in the upper 7.5% of players isn’t exactly a defeat in the status of guy. If anything it speaks to how much talent there is spread around the game that explaining why a guy in the 7.6-8.0% range doesn’t make the proverbial cut. But a cutoff is a cutoff, and somebody has to miss. To speak to that ever evolving element of the fluctuating MLB/CSP elite, there are 26 players that won’t return from last season’s group. That is due to a variety of reasons, which…..is where we will move on to showcasing the “almost makes for this year”….

Crawford will have a chance to rejoin the game's elite this year in the midst of the stack Dodgers' lineup

Crawford will have a chance to rejoin the game’s elite this year in the midst of the stack Dodgers’ lineup

Group 1— Injury Issues: There are players that were either severely limited by injuries last season or will have their season limited this year due to them.

Alex Rodriguez (33): Between a downtown in his play, hip injuries, new steroid scandals and more postseason failures, A-Rod has hit an all-time low in his career. A reoccurrence of his hip injury, and recent surgery, has put his career into question.

Chris Carpenter (35): The Cardinals right-hander was limited to only five starts out of him last year due to a nerve injury in his shoulder that necessitated a rib being removed for him to be able to continue rehab. After the injury flared back up this spring, Carpenter’s career is likely over.

Carl Crawford (44): He opted for Tommy John surgery to heal his ailing elbow in August, but also still hadn’t completely turned around from a bad 2011, where his hit only hit .255.

Brian Wilson (45): He didn’t throw a pitch in 2012, as he also underwent Tommy John surgery. Questions regarding where his rehab is at have kept interest in him low on the open market this winter.

Lance Berkman (54): After his huge 2011, a series of leg and knee injuries limited him to only 32 games a year later.

Neftali Feliz (58): The switch from closer to starter wasn’t kind for Feliz, who was effective in seven starts, but his elbow wasn’t up to the workload. He will return as a reliever in the late part of 2013.

Joakim Soria (89): His second Tommy John procedure of his career shelved him for 2012, and saw his contract option not be picked up in Kansas City. He signed with the Texas Rangers, but will not be able to return until June.

Ichiro will make the longest slide from last year's list at #25, to off it entirely a year later.

Ichiro will make the longest slide from last year’s list at #25, to off it entirely a year later.

Group 2—Declines: The career arch of some players has taken a swing since the beginning of last season. This group won’t make a repeat appearance due to the either their downsides of their career setting in, or an extremely large swing from where they entered last year to 2013.

Ichiro (25): 2011 was a low mark in his career, but 2012 went even lower in Seattle, hitting only .261 at the time of his trade to the Yankees. He had a brief revival in pinstripes, but he’s clearly on his downside.

Michael Young (34): His hit total swung down by 44 from from 2012, and his lowered by 61 points. Now in his new home in Philadelphia, he’ll have to switch back to third base after two years as a majority DH.

Eric Hosmer (50): The sophomore slump hit hard, to the tone of a .232 average and 13 home runs.

Kevin Youkilis (60): A career-low batting average of .235 average hit Youk, who also failed to reach at least 125 games for third straight year.

Jose Valverde (66): He followed up a statistically perfect year as a closer, with a season that spiral out of control to the point of a 25.31 postseason ERA.

 Ubaldo Jimenez (67): His first season in Cleveland was a forgettable one: he led the AL in losses with 17 and his ERA sat at 5.40.

Dan Uggla (75): His traditionally poor glove work couldn’t be offset by his bat any longer. He hit only .220 and his home run total swung down to 19 from 36.

Heath Bell (91): His season imploded from the start. Throughout three demotions from the closer position in Miami, he blew eight saves and finished with ERA greater than 5.00.

Josh Beckett (96): A loser of 11 games in Boston before being dealt to the Dodgers, and finished with an ERA of 4.65.

Group 3—Come up short: Part of the game is that there’s always a guy on your heels, ready for his opportunity to breakthrough. It doesn’t always mean that one player had a bad effort, because none of the players in the group did. But either they didn’t have quite the same impact on 2012 as they did on 2011, or they were simply victims of other players moving into the elite.

Jeremy Hellickson (95): The 2011 Rookie of the Year still posted a top 10 ERA, but his wins (10) and innings (177) regressed.

Shane Victorino (68): He swiped a career high 39 bases, but his range in the field and his batting average lowered as well.

Alex Avila (72): He came down from the Silver Slugger-winning season in 2011, and was limited to 116 games due to injury.

Carlos Santana (73): His average picked up to .252, but his power numbers dropped across the board (27 doubles to 27, 27 homers to 18).

Mike Napoli (76):  Power numbers stayed strong, but his average dipped down to .227 and only nine doubles.

John Axford (79): A year after winning the Rolaids Reliever of the Year honor, his era rose nearly three runs, and he lost the closer job early in the season, but regained it later.

Jonny Venters (81): High usage over his first two seasons caught up with him last year, and he eventually landed on the disabled list. But had a strong second half (1.71 ERA) that shows promise for 2013.

Hunter Pence (83): His average fell from .314 in 2011 to .253 in 2012, including batting only .219 after a deadline trade to the San Francisco Giants.

Nick Markakis (97): Two stints on the DL kept him out for much of the Orioles run last year, but he still hit .298 and drove in 54.

Tyler Clippard (98): He had a solid year (32 saves), but perhaps was a bit over exposed due to injuries in the Nationals bullpen.

 

How’s it going to play out this year? Find out starting tomorrow, and talk it early and often with me on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan.

As soon as Tim Lincecum, Edgar Renteria and Brian Wilson ended the hopes of the Texas Rangers on Monday night, in a rather brisk five games, the 2010 baseball season came to a close. With that rather surprising outcome to the season concluded, it’s time to look back about a month and say who were the best of the best from March to October.

Many of the usual suspects did what they were supposed to, but also some guys came out of the blue and made their mark in the game. The Comeback Players of the Year were already announced as Tim Hudson and Francisco Liriano, so here who should be joining them as hardware carriers this winter…(results may vary).

National League MVP: Joey Votto-Cincinnati-.324/37 HR/113 RBI/.424 OBP

The MVP is different from the guy that makes the biggest statistical impact, whom in that regard Votto isn’t even the best firstbase man in his own division. This is for the player whose performance makes the biggest difference, and that is clearly Votto, who propelled the Reds to a relatively unchallenged, and unexpected, NL Central win. Plus, he outdid the game’s greatest player in Albert Pujols to do so, which also has to stand for something.

 

Votto's onslaught never stopped and it propelled the Reds back in the Postseason for the first time since 1995.

 

American League MVP: Josh Hamilton-Texas-.359/32 HR/100 RBI/.411 OBP

There were a few players who could make claim to this title in the AL this season, however none made the overall impact that Hamilton did, despite missing almost a month to injury. His impact was such that by the time he was injured, his Rangers the AL West in hand already. He won the batting title by 31 points, and potentially could have gone much higher in home runs and RBI. Tip of the cap to Miguel Cabrera and Robinson Cano.

 

Well known for his amazing power, Hamilton took home an easy batting title this season in addition to his usual power numbers.

 

NL Cy Young: Roy Halladay-Philadelphia: 21-10/2.44 ERA/219 strikeouts

It seemed like doomsday for the National League when Roy Halladay switched over last winter, and it came to be. Halladay was everything and more that was expected of him this year and consistently dominated his new league. His 219 strikeouts came against only 30 walks and his 21 wins topped all of baseball. Not to mention that one of those victories was a Perfect Game in May.

 

Although he was twice unhittable completely, on most other days Doc silenced NL lineups as well.

 

AL Cy Young: David Price-Tampa Bay: 19-6/2.72 ERA/188 strikeouts

In a very tight race, I give the slight nod to David Price here. Many people push for Felix Hernandez, who had a terrific year despite being on a horrid Mariners team. However, I give the nod to Price for two simple reasons, strikeouts aside, Felix doesn’t run away from Price in any one statistical area & Price pitched in the games toughest division and finished with 19 wins in the middle of a pennant race that went to the last weekend. Deservedly, Price takes the cake.

 

The Rays rode Price's blistering fastball/slider combo all the way to an AL East win. No easy feat.

 

NL Rookie of the Year: Buster Posey-San Francisco-.305/18 HR/67 RBI

This was a very strong year for rookies in general, but especially so in the NL. While Jason Hayward had a tremendous year, including an election to start in the All-Star game, Posey’s arrival meant everything to the Giants and was critical in winning the West for them. He finished up batting over .300 and had a 23 game hitting streak and a 10 game streak where he hit .514 with 19 hits and 6 home runs, the greatest streak of any rookie in history.

 

Although he got a late start, by September Posey was clearly the NL's best catcher, let alone rookie.

 

AL Rookie of the Year: Neftali Feliz-Texas: 40 saves, 93% saves finished

After starting the season as a setup man for the West Champs, Feliz was promoted to closer in short order and did not disappoint. His 40 saves set the MLB rookie record and he was named an All-Star in the process. He converted on 40 of his 43 save opportunities and entrenched himself as one of the premier closers in the game early in his career.

 

Feliz's nerve outweighed his age in route to setting the MLB rookie saves record for Texas.

 

NL Rolaids Reliever: Brian Wilson-San Francisco-48 Saves, 91% saves finished

Wilson doesn’t waste time with much else than his fastball, but 48 times this year it was all he needed. As the last punch in a dynamic Giant pitching staff, he led the NL in saves and was versatile when needed, as he also led the MLB in multiple inning saves as well.

Al Rolaids Reliever: Rafeal Soriano-Tampa Bay-45 Saves, 94% saves finished

In his first season as a solo closer, Soriano proved he was more than ready for the job. His 45 saves led the AL, and in the process he only allowed 50 baserunners all year, which led to 0.80 WHIP and anchored the AL East champion Rays into the postseason.

NL Manager of the Year: Dusty Baker

In a year of many spectacular managing jobs in the NL, including a run to the playoffs in Bobby Cox’s last hurrah and Bud Black pushing the Padres to the biggest upset season in all of baseball, the nod has to go to Dusty and his Reds. Not only did they go neck to neck with the heavily favored Cardinals all year, he rallied them back from a critical August 3-game sweep (in Cincy no less) at the hands of the Cardinals, to win the Central by a comfortable five games.

AL Manager of the Year: Ron Gardenhire

Playing against the odds and perceiving is what land Gardenhire this honor. While the Twins are no longer true small market underdogs, Gardenhire had to do one of his best managing jobs yet to bring a second consecutive AL Central title to the Twin Cities. With his top two stars Joe Mauer (foot) and Justin Morneau (concussion) on the sidelines for various stretches of the season, the Twins continued to command the Central and forced two very competitive teams in the White Sox and Tigers to fight for second place all year, whether they liked it or not.

NL Hank Aaron Award: Albert Pujols-St. Louis-.312/42 HR/118 RBI/.414 OBP

While the Cardinals as a whole underachieved in 2010, it can’t be said Albert didn’t do his part. Albert finished with the lowest batting average of his career,  but still led the NL in home runs and RBI and finished second in on-base percentage. He also surpassed .300/30 HR/100 RBI for the tenth consecutive season, with the home run mark extending his Major League record.

AL Hank Aaron Award: Miguel Cabrera-Detroit-.328/38 HR/126 RBI/.420 OBP

Mig Cap had the best overall statistical season of any hitter in baseball, leading the AL in on-base percentage and RBI. He also finished third in home runs, second in slugging percentage. The home run and RBI marks are career highs and if the Tigers could have gotten in the race, he would have easily had just as much claim to the MVP as Hamilton does.

NL Gold Glove Winners:

C: Yadier Molina, 1B: Albert Pujols, 2B: Brandon Phillips, 3B: Placido Polanco, SS: Orlando Cabrera, OF: Shane Victorino, Michael Bourn, Andre Either, P: Adam Wainwright

AL Gold Glove Winners:

C: Matt Wieters, 1B: Mark Teixeira, 2B: Robinson Cano, 3B: Evan Longoria, SS: Elvis Andrus, OF: Ichiro, Torri Hunter, Vernon Wells, P: Mark Buehrle

NL Silver Slugger Winners:

C: Brian McCann, 1B: Albert Pujols, 2B: Dan Uggla, 3B: David Wright, SS: Troy Tulowitzki, OF: Carlos Gonzalez, Matt Holliday, Ryan Braun

AL Silver Slugger Winners:

C: Joe Mauer, 1B: Miguel Cabrera, 2B: Robinson Cano, 3B: Adrian Beltre, SS: Derek Jeter, OF: Josh Hamilton, Jose Bautista, Carl Crawford DH: Vladimir Guerrero