Posts Tagged ‘Josh Hamilton’

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When you traditionally think of a leftfielder, the first though is most likely overwhelming power. The names of Bonds, Williams and more recently, Belle jump ahead of the pack, however, the today’s game features a more overall balance of producers at the position, more in the vein of Musial or Ramirez from days past. It is a position with some elite line drive hitters, and run creators that do so not just by hitting the ball over the fence, but by destroying outfield alleys as just as much as giving souvenirs away.

The grouping in left is also undergoing a change as well, with two perennials at the position in Ryan Braun and Carlos Gonzalez manning new positions for the upcoming season. Also, there is a new addition to the Rangers lineup that will impact the rankings as well. Regardless, it is a unique mix of producers, that is so balanced across the board that the same ten players could be picked again next season and for the most part, come across in a completely different order, yet still be justified in their standing.

Here are the top 10 players of the day in the outfield corner on the left corner of the field…

10. Mark Trumbo, Diamondbacks: GM Kevin Towers made it a point to add more non-Goldschmidt based pop to his lineup, and he made a solid choice. Trumbo has hit 29, 32 and 34 home runs his first three seasons, while continually climbing his RBI total each campaign as well.

9. Brett Gardner, Yankees: An elite defender and presence on the basepaths, he led the AL in triples a year ago and has stolen 40 bases in two of his last three full seasons. Another centerfielder playing left, he routinely makes the difficult look easy in the outfield.

8. Josh Hamilton, Angels: He had his worst season last summer, seeing his full-season numbers drop across the board. However, he hit 43 home runs just two years ago and in September of last year, the ice finally cracked, as he finished the year with a .323 average.

7. Starling Marte, Pirates: He’s a centerfielder forced into a left fielder’s role due to his MVP counterpart to the side of him. However, the rangy and athletic 25-year-old ran up 41 stolen bases and 10 triples in his first year as a full-time starter.

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6. Yoenis Cespedes, Athletics: He took the Home Run Derby by storm, rapping moonshot after moonshot out of Citi Field, showing the elite power that he uses to make even the massive o.Co Coliseum look small.

5. Justin Upton, Braves: He shot out of a cannon in 2013 like a ‘bat’ out of hell (literally). And while he slowed down considerably, he still finished with 27 home runs and 70 RBI in his Atlanta debut. The talent package keeps coming in flashes, but few are capable of more than he is.

4. Bryce Harper, Nationals: While he has to continue to reel in his effort some to preserve himself, when he’s is all the way there, few are more exciting than Harper. The 21-year-old already has  42 career homers and has topped 20 doubles, 20 home runs and 10 stolen bases in each of his first two seasons—and at ages when most players are in Single or Double A.

3. Shin-Soo Choo, Rangers: He will play his third outfield spot in as many years in his third home in just as many as well. In his one season visit to the National League, he finished second in on-base percentage, where he reached .423% of the time. He versatile Korean has career averages over the past two seasons of 38 doubles, 18 homers, 20 steals and 98 runs scored.

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2. Alex Gordon, Royals: He is by and far the best defensive left-fielder in the game, winner of the past two Gold Gloves for his field exploits, and sporting a gaudy 34 outfield assists since 2012. He is one year removed from an AL-best 51 doubles season and has topped 20 homers and 80 RBI two of the last three seasons.

1. Matt Holliday, Cardinals: He’s been one of the most consistent hitters in the game over his career, and is the hammer in the Cardinals balanced offering. While his defense is taking some noticeable steps back, he makes up for it has a line drive, run producing regular. 2013 marked the eighth straight year he offered at least a .295 average, 30 plus doubles and 20 plus home runs.

 

Just A Bit Outside: Domonic Brown, Curtis Granderson, Daniel Nava

 

For more on the upcoming season, follow me in real time on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan. For more content, head to The Sports Fan Journal and I-70 Baseball.

Matt_Kemp

Tonight, the best baseball players of the year thus far will be celebrated. However, there is also a group of players that have had just as much impact on the year, albeit in adverse way. They are the group of players that you would usually look to revere this time of the year, however they haven’t had the time of season that helps the cause. Rather, they are the reason why the summer hasn’t panned out the way it may have seemed in game 1. Yes, they are the Un-Stars; the players who have to do more, if it is not too late already.

So with no further delay, here is the squad that has left a lot to be imagined thus far on the year…

Catcher

Miguel Montero, Diamondbacks— He’s quietly been one of the most productive catchers in baseball over the past few years, and finished fifth in the NL in on-base percentage a year ago, and has driven in 87 runs on average over the past two years.

At the break, Montero’s average sits at a career-low .224. The rise of Paul Goldschmidt, along with the acquisition of Martin Prado has eased the blow of it, but D’Backs will not be able to hold off the Dodgers and Rockies without a much bigger second half from him.

First Base

Nick Swisher, Indians— The big money signing that was “most likely to not play up to contract level” has lived up to his billing. While he has shuffled between first and right field, his production has not picked up regardless of where his glove is filled out in the lineup. His average his pit stopped in the middle of the .240’s, and he’s on pace to hit only 15 home runs and drive in just over 50 runs. Not much bang for the $11 million bucks he’s bringing in.

Second Base

Dan Uggla, Braves— The great paradox continues. Uggla is leading all NL second basemen, well as the Braves, in home runs with 18, but is once again scraping by hitting .200 and reaching base only 31% of the time. Not to mention he’s still playing his tradition lead glove defense, and the reasons for the Braves offensive struggles become clear: they have many captains of industry in the All Feast or Famine squad, and Uggla’s the Admiral of it.

Third Base

Chase Headley, Padres— The Padres may have sat on him for too long, as one of the off season’s hottest commodity’s has come back to Earth, meteor style. A year after leading the NL in RBI with 115, hitting 31 home runs and snagging a Gold Glove, Headley sits with a .230 average and just 31 runs driven in at the break.

The bright side is that he only had 8 long balls at this point last season, before taking off with his huge second half, but there is also the stark truth that before 2012, he’d hit 36 homers, total. Whatever the numbers are, a quick trade of him would help the Padres save some of the top tier market value he built up last fall.

Shortstop

Starlin Castro, Cubs— The tendency in recent years has been to pay young guys early to lock up their pre-prime years at good price without any interruption from arbitration or agents. The Cubs gave Castro $60 million over eight years at the ripe young age of 22 so they could lock in what was supposed to be the cornerstone they would rebuild around.

Smart logic at the time, but so far in 2013 it has seemed like they may have fed the Baby Bear too soon. He’s struggled with his effort all year, which has also not so ironically impacted his results as well. He’s hitting a bleak .243 on the year and was even benched in mid-June for both lacking hustle on the bases and focus in the field. It’s too early to write him off, but some signs of life would be nice to see.

Hamilton has not delivered on the promise that he brought to the Angels line and the hopes for a turnaround season via the former MVP and division rival.

Hamilton has not delivered on the promise that he brought to the Angels line and the hopes for a turnaround season via the former MVP and division rival.

Outfield

Ryan Braun, Brewers— For the first time in his career, he has looked mortal, and the Brewers have suffered because of it. Braun hits the break coming off a first half where he took his first trip to the disabled list, then was brought back up on a second round of PED controversy with the Biogenesis investigation and ended the half on the bereavement list just a few games after returning from injury. Along the way, he’s still managed to hit .304 with nine home runs, but for a team that is without much of its offensive core already; it was the worst possible time for Braun’s fall to begin.

Matt Kemp, Dodgers— He was once baseball’s iron man, but in the last two years Kemp hasn’t been able to hold himself together. 2013 has been pinnacle of his ongoing struggle to rise back up, as even when he has been healthy, he’s been a shell of his true self. He hits the break with a .254 average, only 4 home runs and over a month of time missed already between two stints on the disabled list. Probably his greatest highlight of the season was his vendetta trip to track down Carlos Quentin after he broke Zack Greinke’s collarbone.

Even when he has been active, he’s been limited and the Dodgers struggled to get mobile until Yaisel Puig arrived and provided the spark that had previously been Kemp’s to light up. It remains to be seen if LA can reach its summit while its greatest asset is still down.

Josh Hamilton, Angels— Two years, two big offseason adds in Anaheim, and two questionable (at best) returns. Hamilton has been stuck in a summer-long slump since landing with the Halos, and is carrying a .224 average into the break. By the month on the season, he has hit .204 in April, then .237 in May, back down to .231 in June and thus far .233 in July. Perhaps for the Rangers less (as in player, contract and roster boulder) is more with Hamilton plugging up a spot in LA instead of Arlington.

Pitchers

Matt Cain, Giants— It is hard to say why the Giants’ ace is down in the dumps, but one thing is for certain, he’s been the biggest enigma in one of the least impressive championship defenses in many years. His ERA is just north of 5.00 across his first 19 starts. April was particularly brutal, seeing him post an 0-2 record, with a 6.49 ERA and the Giants lose his first five starts.

R.A. Dickey, Blue Jays— The biggest name addition to the Jays run for the pennant this season has failed to find the form that made him the story of last summer. At the halfway point, he has already taken 10 losses, which is four more than his total all year with the Mets and has an ERA at 4.69. He has had seven starts where he has surrendered at least six earned runs, and has been responsible for the decision in all but two of his 20 starts thus far.

For more on these potential turnaround stories, or the fallout that will continue to be, follow me on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim v Oakland Athletics

The American League West was the scene of a hijacking last year. Despite the Los Angeles Angels making the coup of all coups in landing Albert Pujols and the Texas Rangers once again returning as the powerhouse of the division, intact mostly from the year before, it was another Billy Beane crafted Oakland A’s team that prevailed in the end. After an August/September surge that saw them rise constantly through the standings, on the season’s final day the A’s took the division from the Rangers in game number 162. All in all, it was an incredibly balanced division; the last place Mariners would have finished third in American League Central. It was home to one of the greatest debut years in baseball history from Mike Trout, and hosted the top three finishers for Rookie of the Year, as well as a historic start for a particular (now former) Texas Rangers slugger.

2012 Finish

  1. A’s (94-68)
  2. Rangers (93-69)
  3. Angels (89-73)
  4. Mariners (75-87)

Moving forward a year later, and the scene has continued to shift. The Angels made the surprise splash of the offseason again, signing Josh Hamilton away from the aforementioned Rangers and pairing him with Pujols and Trout in a real-life Fantasy League lineup. The Athletics continued to add strartegic pieces to their core, to prove that last season was anything but a fluke. The Mariners were silently aggressive all winter, by adding a couple of much needed sluggers, while making Felix Hernandez the highest paid pitcher in baseball, all in an effort to continue to pull up their bootstraps from the bottom. Also, the Houston Astros swapped over leagues to join the American League, evening out the long four-team division. In the midst of all of this, where does this leave the Rangers? They have stayed steady in the league’s elite despite some critical losses over the last few years, but have they finally lost enough to lose their edge? Time to find out.

All Division Team

Catcher: AJ Pierzynski-Rangers

First Base: Albert Pujols-Angels

Second Base: Ian Kinsler-Rangers

Third Base: Adrian Beltre-Rangers

Shortstop: Elvis Andrus-Rangers

Left Field: Mike Trout-Angels

Center Field: Coco Crisp-A’s

Right Field: Josh Hamilton-Angels

Designated Hitter: Mark Trumbo-Angels

Felix Hernandez

Hernandez finished in the top 5 for the AL Cy Young for the third time in four years in 2012, with 3 years to go until he’s even 30.

Starting Pitcher: Felix Hernandez-Mariners

Starting Pitcher: Jered Weaver-Angels

Starting Pitcher: Yu Darvish-Rangers

Starting Pitcher: Brett Anderson-A’s

Righty Relief: Ryan Cook-A’s

Lefty Relief: Sean Burnett-Angels

Closer: Joe Nathan-Rangers

Top 10

  1. Mike Trout, Angels
  2. Albert Pujols, Angels
  3. Felix Hernandez, Mariners
  4. Josh Hamilton, Angels
  5. Jered Weaver, Angels
  6. Adrian Beltre, Rangers
  7. Elvis Andrus, Rangers
  8. Ian Kinsler, Rangers
  9. Nelson Cruz, Rangers
  10. Yoenis Cespedes, A’s

Lineup

  1. Angels
  2. Rangers
  3. A’s
  4. Mariners
  5. Astros

The top of the Angels lineup gets the headlines, but a core including Trumbo, Howie Kendrick and Erick Aybar doesn’t give many breaks either. The strength of the A’s is in numbers: Josh Reddick, Brandon Moss and Cespedes all topped 20 homers a year ago. The Rangers are hoping Pierzynski can have a similar follow up to his 27-home run breakout effort a year ago with the White Sox.

Adrian-Beltre

Beltre has averaged 34 home runs and 33 doubles a season, with a .310 average against only 68 strikeouts on average as well.

Heart of the Lineup

  1. Angels (Pujols/Hamilton/Trumbo)
  2. Rangers (Beltre/Cruz/Berkman)
  3. A’s (Cespedes/Moss/Reddick)
  4. Mariners (Seager/Morse/Morales)
  5. Astros (Pena/Carter/Castro)

Putting Josh Hamilton behind Pujols permanently is terrifying. It puts a total of four MVP seasons, and 73 2012 homers in the middle of the order. Add on Trumbo to the backend, and that power number surges past 100. Beltre has been a juggernaut in his two Texas seasons, smacking 36 homers in route to a top 5 MVP finish a year ago. The Mariners addition of Mike Morse and Kendrys Morales finally puts a pair of formidable bats in their lineup again.

Table Setters

  1. Rangers (Kinsler/Andrus)
  2. Angels (Trout/Aybar)
  3. Astros (Altuve/Wallace)
  4. A’s (Crisp/Lowrie)
  5. Mariners (Ackley/Gutierrez)

Trout is the most versatile offensive player in the game, and his impact out the leadoff spot is just the same as it would be hitting in the middle of the lineup. He hit 27 doubles and 8 triples in addition to leading the AL with 53 steals. Jose Altuve is the lone bright spot in the downtrodden Astros lineup, who topped 160 hits and 30 steals in his second season.

Bench

  1. A’s
  2. Angels
  3. Mariners
  4. Rangers
  5. Astros

Depth is the A’s greatest weapon, and the fact they can rotate in two former All-Stars in Chris Young and Daric Barton is just a small sign of how deep they truly are. Tag in Jemile Weeks, Seth Smith and Derek Norris, and the Oakland roster is one full of starter-caliber players.

J-Parker

Parker was one of three rookie hurlers to post either at least 13 wins or win percentage over .600% in Oakland a year ago.

Rotation

  1. A’s
  2. Rangers
  3. Angels
  4. Mariners
  5. Astros

It was pitching that launched Oakland along its improbable run up the standings last season. Behind group effort of Dan Straily, AJ Griffin, Tom Milone, Jarrod Parker and the return of Brett Anderson, they formed one of the best young rotations in baseball. The Angels added Jason Vargas, Tommy Hanson and Joe Blanton in an attempt to balance out their thin staff from a year ago, and replace Zack Greinke.

1-2 Punch

  1. Angels (Weaver/Wilson)
  2. Rangers (Darvish/Holland)
  3. A’s (Anderson/Parker)
  4. Mariners (Hernandez/Iwakuma)
  5. Astros (Norris/Harrell)

King Felix has been holding up what seems like the Mariners entire universe for years now. He posted his fourth consecutive 200 strikeout year in 2012. Jered Weaver posted his first no-hitter and 20 win season last season, while CJ Wilson struggled down the stretch but still is among the best southpaws in baseball. Darvish came in second in the AL Rookie of the Year vote a year ago, and along with Holland stands to be one the young arms with a chance to make the biggest leap forward this season.

Bullpen

  1. A’s
  2. Angels
  3. Rangers
  4. Mariners
  5. Astros

The backend of the A’s pitching staff is what completes them as the best collection of arms in either league, overall. Both Cook and Grant Balfour took on closing duties last year, and were just as effective in the setup role with Sean Doolittle as well. If Ryan Madson and Joakim Soria return to their previous form for the Angels and Rangers, respectively, it could change the entire direction of both teams’ seasons.

Defense

  1. Mariners
  2. Angels
  3. Rangers
  4. A’s
  5. Astros

Between Brendan Ryan, Franklin Gutierrez and Dustin Ackley, the M’s can go get it in the field. They had the best team fielding percentage in the AL a year ago, and are a huge reason why they have been able to stay somewhat afloat despite having an anemic offense. In Trout and Peter Bourjos, the Angels easily could have two Gold Glove outfielders for a long time. The Andrus/Kinsler middle infield combo in Texas is the best in the AL, and Beltre is the best defensive infielder in baseball.

St. Louis Cardinals v Houston Astros

Altuve is a diverse threat for the Astros, who led the team in nine different categories a year ago in his second season, and also made his All-Star debut.

Speed

  1. A’s
  2. Angels
  3. Mariners
  4. Rangers
  5. Astros

Between Crisp, Cespedes, Weeks and Young, the A’s can kill it around the bases. From both steals to the extra base, they are very capable of getting the extra base that is needed to survive in their spacious home ballpark. Not too far behind are Angels, who could very well see Trout and Aybar alone top 80 steals this season.

Manager

  1. Mike Scioscia, Angels
  2. Bob Melvin, A’s
  3. Ron Washington, Rangers
  4. Eric Wedge, Mariners
  5. Bo Porter, Astros

Bob Melvin did a masterful job of pulling the most out of the talent of his club a year ago. The AL Manager of the Year won the West, and finished a game away from the ALCS. Mike Scioscia is the longest tenured manager in the MLB, and for good reason.

Finances

  1. Angels
  2. Rangers
  3. Mariners
  4. Astros
  5. A’s

The Rangers have the money to improve their roster at any time, yet they are strategic about how they do so. Despite missing out on both Greinke and Hamilton this offseason, the money they haven’t spent yet may be their most valuable commodity throughout the season. The Mariners made a big statement ($175M to Felix), while the Astros made a big commitment to starting over (dropping team payroll to under $20 million…$5M less than Felix will pull down himself).

Josh Hamilton

The Angels made waves by handing Hamilton $123 million; both boost their lineup, and sink their long-time in-division rivals hopes some.

Impact Additions

  1. Josh Hamilton (Angels from Rangers)
  2. Ryan Madson (Angels from Phillies)
  3. Kendrys Morales (Mariners from Angels)
  4. Michael Morse (Mariners from Nationals)
  5. Lance Berkman (Rangers from Cardinals)

The Angels struck a devastating blow in snatching Hamilton away from their division rivals in Texas. There may be just as much value in paying him $125 million over the next five years to keep him away from Texas as there is to having him in their lineup. The Rangers are hoping for Berkman to have a similar renaissance this season as he did two years in St. Louis to help replace Hamilton and Michael Young’s departed impact.

Leap Forward Candidates

  1. Brett Anderson, A’s
  2. Jarrod Parker, A’s
  3. Yoenis Cespedes, A’s
  4. AJ Griffin, A’s
  5. Yu Darvish, Rangers

Notice a trend? The A’s honestly had the season that would be more likely this year, last summer, so what could come this year is truly special. Cespedes’ roof is still far away from him, while Parker and Griffin have the stuff to be top notch pitchers for years to come. Anderson is skilled the level of being an instant Cy Young contender if he can stay on the hill and off the DL.

J-Profar

Profar is the future in Texas, but finding room for the 20 year old now is proving to be a difficult task due to the All-Star presences on board.

Rookies/Prospects to Watch

  1. Jurickson Profar (Shortstop, Rangers-AAA)
  2. Mike Zunino (Catcher, Mariners-AAA)
  3. Taijuan Walker (Pitcher, Mariners-AA)
  4. Danny Hultzen (Pitcher, Mariners-AAA)
  5. Mike Olt-Rangers (Third Baseman, Rangers-AAA)

Profar is a Jeter-like talent that can impact the game in every way possible. His instincts are off the charts to be any age, but at only 20 years old, it’s a truly remarkable thing to see already. He’s good enough to force a trade of Elvis Andrus to make room for him this season. The group of Mariners prospects is impressive, but they are content with developing their young arms, and only Zunino could have a real impact on 2012’s MLB team.

2013 PREDICTIONS

  1. ANGELS
  2. A’S
  3. RANGERS
  4. MARINERS
  5. ASTROS

The West went through plenty of stages last season, and this one could prove to be no different. The Oakland A’s got as hot as they had since their hallowed 20-game win streak 10 years ago. But they did it with a solid core, and most importantly, good pitching. The will still be a potent player in the race this year, as will the Rangers. Texas has lost a lot, but keeps as balanced of a team as possible. In the same way that the St. Louis Cardinals stepped up their production after losing their franchise player, Texas has the same potential to do so with their mixture of veteran and maturing prospects. Both teams will be at the very top of the division, with most likely no more than five games separating them from the top by September.

Outside of the three elite teams, Seattle has made improvements to their club, and will be more equipped to support their very solid pitching staff, but does not have quite enough firepower to last out the entire year. However, a strong push through to make some noise is possible. As for the Astros, a third straight year at the top of the Draft in June 2014 is basically assured.

But all business will carry through Anaheim, a team that learned from its past sins. While they made another big splash signing in Hamilton, the attention to detail to the rest of their roster didn’t escape GM Jerry Dipoto this winter. They were among the worst at finishing games via the bullpen last year, and were plagued by a shallow starting staff as well. The additions of Madson, Sean Burnett, Joe Blanton, Tommy Hanson and Jason Vargas aren’t headline grabbers, but they are substantial upgrades to the foundation of the club. In the end, that’s the difference that sells it; in the West it’s all about the details. It’s what won it for the A’s last year, and now the Angels have taken that strength and added it to a rarely matched top-talent collection. This is their year.

 

 

For more on the run up to Spring Training and the rest of the upcoming year in real time, follow me on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan

Justin Verlander

A couple of weeks ago, I broke the Top 100 Players in Baseball coming into 2013. As to be expected, it cause several levels of debate, from the way that such a decision was arrived at, all the way down to the results in the end. As the course of it went along, the players were ranked as a large pool, not by position, and in the end, some players landed interesting places.

But what is does this say about the strength of each position in game? If you go back and take it apart to assess “who’s the best (fill in blank position) in baseball, what does my Top 100 say about that. Well to save the time on that, I’ve done it for you. Today we’ll rank the Top 5 players by position, as well as breakdown what the game looks like at each spot both today, and moving forward.

To refresh on the entire list, head to The Sports Fan Journal, where the full Five Part Series is listed here.

 

Catcher

13. Buster Posey

15. Yadier Molina

38. Joe Mauer

81. Matt Wieters

92. Brian McCann

Catcher was tough at the top, with the margin between Posey and Molina nearly requiring a daily check of the box score to decide who’s better on that day. Overall, only six catchers made the list, with Miguel Montero being the only one missing here.

First Base

8. Joey Votto

9. Albert Pujols

23. Prince Fielder

33. Adrian Gonzalez

39. Mark Teixeira

Votto and Pujols are another pair that can trade off by the day, but overall the entire first base position could be in a different place by next year. Fielder, Gonzalez and Teixeira all had career-low efforts in some of their signature categories last season, which an upswing could pull each of them back to the top 25.

dustin-pedroia

Second Base

5. Robinson Cano

36. Brandon Phillips

47. Dustin Pedroia

58. Ian Kinsler

98. Chase Utley

It’s Cano, and then everybody else. Robby is on the verge of pushing for the best in the game period, but everybody else isn’t so bad overall; but they pale in comparison. The 31 slot difference between Cano and Phillips is easily the largest of any other everyday position.

Third Base

1. Miguel Cabrera

16. Evan Longoria

18. David Wright

22. Adrian Beltre

42. Ryan Zimmerman

Quiet as kept, the current group of third baseman around the league could be the most impressive group of any era in baseball history. This group has multiple MVP-caliber competitors as well as the last two World Series MVPs in Pablo Sandoval and David Freese as well.

Shortstop

24. Troy Tulowitzki

28. Jose Reyes

53. Elvis Andrus

56. Starlin Castro

59. Hanley Ramirez

Shortstop as a whole is a position that’s steady across the board, but is in transition some. Andrus, Castro and Ian Desmond are emerging, and prospect Jurickson Profar could easily force his way into the mix. But Tulowitzki remains the best due to a mixture of potential, and few legit challengers to his class thus far.

Carlos_Gonzalez white classic

Left Field

3. Ryan Braun

4. Mike Trout

19. Carlos Gonzalez

29. Matt Holliday

45. Bryce Harper

With Trout moving over to the left corner, the position has taken a swing upward. The Harper/Trout era will now pit them against each other from the same position, so for comparison’s sake, this is a story that just keeps getting better.

Center Field

7. Matt Kemp

10. Andrew McCutchen

35. Adam Jones

41. Curtis Granderson

61. Jacoby Ellsbury

What fantastically deep group there is roaming the middle of the outfield there is in the game today. Kemp, McCutchen, Jones and Ellsbury have each been major players in each of the last two MVP races. It’s a deep position as well, with Michael Bourn, Austin Jackson and Shin-Soo Choo all representing the diversity that comprises the spot now.

Right Field

12. Josh Hamilton

20. Jose Bautista

32. Giancarlo Stanton

54. Jason Heyward

62. Jay Bruce

No position may have more raw power than right field right now. Stanton is a 50 home run season waiting to happen, and Bautista has already passed the mark. Heyward and Bruce are as well-rounded players as imaginable on the corner, and neither is close to their 30th birthday.

Starting Pitcher

2. Justin Verlander

5. Clayton Kershaw

11. Felix Hernandez

14. David Price

21. Stephen Strasberg

Picking the top 5 pitchers in baseball is a task at best. Especially in the current era of wide spread dominance, staying on top is truly an impressive feat, which Verlander has pulled off in 2011-12. Strasberg appears after giving a glimpse of what could be in only 159 innings last year, but a case could be made for no less than 10 other arms to crack into the top 5 with no real arguments.

Relief Pitcher

17. Craig Kimbrel

37. Mariano Rivera

55. Jonathan Papelbon

78. Fernando Rodney

86. Jim Johnson

Considering that Aroldis Chapman will move to the starting rotation, Kimbrel’s position as the best ninth inning guy in the game is virtually untouched. Rivera and Papelbon have consistency on their side, but an emerging group of closers featuring Johnson, Jason Motte and Sergio Romo are all closing in on overall elite league status as well.

 

That’s what it is for now for the year in looking at the players, but coming up next week it’s time to look at the teams, with the third annual CSP divisional previews. Until then, follow me on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan for up the second info on everything I’m up to.

The Josh Hamilton deal sent the shock waves through an entire league, and the core of franchises in both Texas and California. However, while that took the big headlines, the reactions throughout the AL also made a big ripple. No deal after the fact said more than the Tigers’ urgency in resigning Anibal Sanchez, who could have become a target for the Angels as well. His return to the Detroit rotation gives them a benefit that LA, or very few other clubs, can boast this winter.

While the Tigers set up the future, handling the now continued in the AL East, with both the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox continuing to rapidly rebuild their cores. With the Toronto Blue Jays continuing to be the kings of the winter, and the Rays making changes to their core, the division mainstays have to stay active as well. Will any of their hired guns make a difference, and hold off the upstarts? We’ll see, but should they fall, it surely won’t be for lack of trying.

The Tigers may have made the best long-term signing of any AL team by re-enlisting Sanchez.

The Tigers may have made the best long-term signing of any AL team by re-enlisting Anibal Sanchez in the rotation.

Here’s the updated impact of the recent signings in the MLB, and who came out on top…as well as who reached too far.

 

2. Josh Hamilton—Outfield, Signed w/ the Los Angeles Angels: 5 yrs/$125 million

I broke the impact of this, both now and later, down in-depth at The Sports Fan Journal.

5. Anibal Sanchez—Pitcher, Resigned w/ Detroit Tigers: 5 yrs/$80 million

The Tigers ended up holding on to their big trade deadline acquisition from this summer, albeit after a competition for his services in the last second. After outbidding the Chicago Cubs by about $5 million, the Tigers landed a promising young arm who’s sub-.500 career record belies his real abilities. With a mid-90’s fastball and a power slider, Sanchez makes the Tigers rotation perhaps the most complete offering in the American League. He has the roof to grow into either a very high level #3 or legit #2 starter.

16. Kevin Youkilis—Third Baseman, Signed w/ New York Yankees: 1 yr/$12 million

The Yankees rent-a-team efforts continued with another one year deal. However, this signing may be their smartest addition of the winter yet, due to the security and versatility that Youk brings. With A-Rod out until at least June due to hip surgery, he become their everyday third baseman who can either stay there or move to DH when A-Rod returns. They paid more to land him, but it really was a must sign.

17. Stephen Drew—Shortstop, Signed w/ Boston Red Sox: 1 yr/$9.5 million

The Red Sox also paid more for Drew, who rode his status as the only true starting shortstop on the market well, however the same value is not here. Drew is an offense first SS, that hasn’t managed to hit over .270 in three years. This was an overpay for a guy that will hit in the bottom of the lineup, and probably a bit of a reaction to other moves happening in the AL East, which is a tendency the Red Sox have done well to remove themselves from, until now.

20. Ryan Dempster—Pitcher, Signed w/ Boston Red Sox: 2 yrs/$26 million

The Sox did however hit value in landing Dempster. Not only did they get a modest $13 million per season rate for the highly sought after veteran, they also got him to end his pursuit of a 3-year deal, which would have made this a bad move for the 35 year old. But now they have landed a solid top of the rotation arm that will keep their rotation competitive.

35. Ichiro—Right Fielder, Resigned w/ New York Yankees: 2 yrs/$13 million

There was a ton of positioning on both sides, but the Yankees ended up making a smart, and team friendly, commitment to Ichiro. It does leave the club with a definite lack of power in the corner outfield spots, but Ichiro reacted well to Yankee Stadium, hitting .322 in two months in pinstripes. If he can keep close to that for even a year of the deal, it’s a strong value for around $6 million per.

66. Ty Wigginton—First Baseman, Signed w/ St. Louis Cardinals: 2 yrs/$5 million

The Cardinals landed the versatile Wigginton to provide a right handed bat off the bench with some pop, one of the few things they needed. They came in the winter looking to plug bench holes, and this was their solid effort to do so on offense.

 

For more on the signing season around the MLB, and the impact after the fact in real time, follow me on Twitter

2013 Top 75 MLB Free Agents: Volume 4 Update

Posted: December 14, 2012 by The Cheap Seat Fan in MLB
Tags: , , , ,

The Greinke dice are in full tumble since our last update, and yesterday’s dealings on the other half of LA may just clear off the whole table soon. Not to be outdone, the Angels sent the second earthquake through LA baseball by inking Josh Hamilton yesterday, and now the only two candidates for massive deals are off the board.

The top of the CHEAP SEATS’ Free Agent board is cleared up, and now comes the class of where a mixture of teams that have lost out on the top targets, as well as teams who now have absolute price comparisons for the winter, will set in. The Texas Rangers are in scramble mode to steady themselves after taking three big blows in losing out on Greinke, Hamilton and losing a deal to land Justin Upton as well, as a result of the Reds/D’Backs/Indians trade earlier this week. They’ll be in the chase now for virtually every top free agent now, due to both need and financial freedom. Also, the Chicago Cubs, Philadelphia Phillies and even still, the Angels are all teams to watch.

It's now Michael Bourn's time to stand in the spotlight, leading the pack of an impressive group of compliment players.

It’s now Michael Bourn’s time to stand in the spotlight, leading the pack of an impressive group of compliment players with increased value.

Overall, it’s about to pick up, and here are the breakdown of the recent signings, before the next “Cut the Check” breakdown comes on Monday. The next update will be the top 25 free agents on Monday, which will run until the original Top 10 is all signed away.

  1. Josh Hamilton (OF)—Signed w/ Los Angeles Angels: 5 yrs/$125 million
  2. Michael Bourn (CF): Mariners, Cubs, Rangers
  3. Anibal Sanchez (RHP)–Resigned w/ Detroit Tigers: 5 yrs/$80 million
  4. Nick Swisher (RF/1B):  Rangers, Mariners, Phillies, Indians, Orioles
  5. Adam LaRoche (1B): Nationals, Red Sox, Rangers
  6. Kyle Lohse (RHP): Rangers, Angels, Tigers, Mets, Red Sox
  7. Rafael Soriano (RHR): Tigers, Blue Jays, Dodgers, Red Sox, Rockies
  8. Edwin Jackson (RHP): Angels, Rangers, Padres, Orioles
  9. Kevin Youkilis (3B)—Signed w/ New York Yankees: 1 yr/$13 million
  10. Stephen Drew (SS): Tigers, Athletics
  11. Brian Wilson (RHR): Angels, Dodgers, Red Sox, Giants
  12. AJ Pierzynski (C): White Sox, Rays, Yankees, Rangers
  13. Ryan Dempster (RHP)—Signed w/ Boston Red Sox: 2 yrs/$26 million
  14. Cody Ross (LF/RF): Yankees, Phillies, Giants
  15. Carlos Zambrano (RHP):
  16. Ichiro (CF)—Resigned w/ New York Yankees: 2 yrs/$12 million
  17. Kelly Johnson (2B):
  18. Scott Hairston (CF): Yankees, Cardinals, Indians, Mets, Giants
  19. Brett Myers (RHP): Twins, Indians, Angels, Padres, Brewers
  20. Mike Adams (RHP): Angels, Dodgers, Red Sox, Phillies, White Sox, Rockies, Blue Jays
  21. Kyle Farnsworth (RHR): Tigers, Rockies
  22. Lance Berkman (1B/DH): Astros, Phillies, Rays, Red Sox
  23. Shaun Marcum (RHP): Royals
  24. Luke Scott (1B/DH):
  25. Delmon Young (LF/DH): Mariners
  26. Colin Ballester (RHP):
  27. Casey Kotchman (1B):
  28. Carl Pavano (RHP): Red Sox, Twins, Marlins
  29. Francisco Liriano (LHP): Twins
  30. Matt Capps (RHR):
  31. Joe Saunders (LHP):
  32. Francisco Rodriguez (RHR):
  33. Ryan Theriot (2B/SS):
  34. Dallas Braden (LHP):
  35. Casey McGehee (3B):
  36. Derek Lowe (RHP):
  37. Jason Bartlett (SS): Cardinals
  38. Carlos Lee (1B):
  39. Jose Valverde (RHR):
  40. Ty Wigginton (1B/3B)–Signed w/ St. Louis Cardinals: 2 yrs/$5 million

 

Off The Board

1. Zack Greinke (RHP)—Signed w/ Los Angeles Dodgers: 6 yrs/$147 million

4. BJ Upton (CF)—Signed w/ Atlanta Braves: 5 yrs/$75 Million

8. Hiroki Kuroda (RHP), New York Yankees: 1 yr/$15 million

12. Mariano Rivera (RHR) –Resigned w/ New York Yankees: 1 yr/$10 Million

13. Torii Hunter (RF), Detroit Tigers: 2 yrs/$13 million

18. Mark Reynolds (1B)—Signed w/ Cleveland Indians: 1 yr/$6.5 million

20. Ryan Ludwick (LF)—Resigned w/ Cincinnati Reds: 2 yrs/$15 million

21. Melky Cabrera (LF), Toronto Blue Jays: 2 yrs/$16 million

24. Brandon McCarthy (RHP)—Signed w/ Arizona Diamondbacks: 2 yrs/$15 million

25. Andy Pettitte (LHP)—Resigned w/ New York Yankees: 1 yr/$12 Million

26. Russell Martin (C) –Signed w/ Pittsburgh Pirates: 2 yrs/$17 Million

28. Jeremy Guthrie (RHP), Kansas City Royals: 3 yrs/$25 million

29. Hisashi Iwakuma (RHP), Seattle Mariners: 2 yrs/$14 million

31. Jonathan Broxton (RHP), Cincinnati Reds: 3 yrs/$21 million

32. Jeremy Affeldt (LHP), San Francisco Giants: 3 yrs/$18 million

36. Ryan Madson (RHP), Los Angeles Angels: 3 yrs/$3.25 million

37. Sean Burnett (LHR)—Signed w/ Los Angeles Angels: 2 yrs/$8 million

46. Scott Baker (RHP), Chicago Cubs: 1 yr/$5 million

48. Randy Choate (LHR)—Signed w/ St. Louis Cardinals: 3 yrs/$7.5 million

51. Andruw Jones (OF)—Signed w/ Ratuken Eagles (Japan): 1 yr/ $3.5 million

52. Eric Chavez (3B)—Signed w/ Arizona Diamondbacks: 1 yr/$3 million

53. Jonny Gomes (LF), Boston Red Sox: 2 yrs/$10 million

56. Jeff Keppinger (3B/2B)—Signed w/ Chicago White Sox: 3 yrs/$12 million

57. Nate McLouth (CF)—Signed w/ Baltimore Orioles: 1 yr/$2 million

59. Joe Blanton (RHP)—Signed w/ Los Angeles Angels: 2 yrs/$15 million

60. Juan Pierre (LF), Miami Marlins: 1 yr/$1.6 million

For more on the free agent market as it comes together in real-time, as well as column at The Sports Fan Journal, follow me on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan

Maybe it’s the quiet before the storm or the set up of a masterful game of chess, because the majority of the last day and a half as been comprised of role player signings and big name trades, almost. The Texas Rangers, Cleveland Indians, Arizona Diamondbacks and Cleveland Indians have been swapping names for the next big mega deal, but the this may be the rumor mill spinning off it’s axis. But tis the season for such talk

But what is more than just talk is the top of the market coming together, and a few destinies aligning along the way. While the Zack Greinke and Josh Hamilton remain unsigned, the Texas Rangers could be bringing them together. In the last day, they have entered discussions with both of the top two stars on the market, that if coupled with dealing some of their stockpile of top prospects to move on Justin Upton as well. In other words, the Rangers are steadily moving along to become the juggernaut of the winter.

But it could also be just more talk, which is 90% of what’s happening right now really. But the smoke has to lead to fire eventually, and the time is coming. The LA Dodgers have money to end the Rangers designs on Greinke, but the decision is his. Not one for the spotlight, the developing star show in LA may not have the lure for him. Perhaps the proven quantity in Dallas takes the coup of the winter. At any rate, everything will fall into place in the coming hours….perhaps within the next 12.

The Rangers have taken center stage, and not only a return of Hamilton, but perhaps a coup of Greinke as well.

The power of Two: The Rangers have taken center stage, with not only a potential return of Hamilton, but perhaps a coup of Greinke as well.

But for now, here is what is: the top 50 free agents on the board as of this morning, with the closest teams pursuing them. Recent signings since the last Cut The Check update are in bold. Full signings, ranked by their original standing on the Top 75 Free Agents board are below.

 

  1. Zack Grienke (RHP): Dodgers, Rangers
  2. Josh Hamilton (OF): Rangers, Mariners, Red Sox
  3. Michael Bourn (CF): Mariners, Cubs, Phillies, Reds
  4. Anibal Sanchez (RHP): Dodgers, Red Sox, Angels, Royals, Tigers
  5. Nick Swisher (RF/1B): Orioles, Mariners
  6. Adam LaRoche (1B): Nationals, Red Sox
  7. Kyle Lohse (RHP): Dodgers, Angels, Red Sox, Orioles, Rockies, Tigers, Mets
  8. Rafael Soriano (RHR): Tigers, Blue Jays, Dodgers, Red Sox, Rockies
  9. Edwin Jackson (RHP): Angels, Brewers, Royals, Orioles
  10. Kevin Youkilis (3B/1B): White Sox, Indians, Yankees
  11. Stephen Drew (SS): Tigers, Athletics
  12. Brian Wilson (RHR): Red Sox, Giants
  13. AJ Pierzynski (C): White Sox
  14. Ryan Dempster (RHP): Brewers, Angels, Red Sox, Royals, Cubs
  15. Cody Ross (LF/RF): Yankees, Phillies, Giants, Indians
  16. Ryan Ludwick (LF/RF): Reds, Yankees, Mariners, Mets
  17. Brandon McCarthy (RHP): Twins, Diamondbacks, Red Sox, Cubs, Royals, White Sox
  18. Mark Reynolds (1B/3B): Cubs, Marlins, Yankees, Indians, Mariners, Orioles, Rays
  19. Carlos Zambrano (RHP):
  20. Ichiro (CF): Yankees, Phillies
  21. Sean Burnett (LHR)—Signed w/ Los Angeles Angels: 2 yrs/$8 million
  22.  Kelly Johnson (2B):
  23. Scott Hairston (CF): Yankees, Cardinals, Indians, Mets, Giants
  24. Brett Myers (RHP): Twins, Indians, Angels, Padres, Brewers
  25. Mike Adams (RHP): Angels, Dodgers, Red Sox, Phillies, White Sox, Rockies, Blue Jays
  26. Kyle Farnsworth (RHR): Tigers, Rockies
  27. Lance Berkman (1B/DH): Astros, Phillies, Rays, Red Sox
  28. Shaun Marcum (RHP): Royals
  29. Luke Scott (1B/DH):
  30. Delmon Young (LF/DH): Mariners
  31. Colin Balester (RHP):
  32. Casey Kotchman (1B):
  33. Randy Choate (LHR)—Signed w/ St. Louis Cardinals: 3 yrs/$7.5 million
  34. Carl Pavano (RHP): Red Sox
  35. Francisco Liriano (LHP):
  36. Andruw Jones (OF):
  37. Eric Chavez (3B)—Signed w/ Arizona Diamondbacks: 1 yr/$3 million
  38. Matt Capps (RHR):
  39. Jeff Keppinger (SS/2B)—Signed w/ Chicago White Sox: 3 yr/$12 million
  40. Nate McLouth (CF)—Signed w/ Baltimore Orioles: 1 yr/$2 million
  41. Joe Saunders (LHP):
  42. Joe Blanton (RHP)—Signed w/ Los Angeles Angels: 2 yrs/$15 million
  43. Francisco Rodriguez (RHR):
  44. Ryan Theriot (2B/SS):
  45. Dallas Braden (LHP):
  46. Casey McGehee (3B):
  47. Derek Lowe (RHP):
  48. Jason Bartlett (SS): Cardinals
  49. Carlos Lee (1B):
  50. Jose Valverde (RHR):

On Deck: Ty Wigginton, Aubrey Huff, Yuniesky Betancourt, Juan Carlos Oviedo

 

Off The Board

4. BJ Upton (CF)—Signed w/ Atlanta Braves: 5 yrs/$75 Million

8. Hiroki Kuroda (RHP), New York Yankees: 1 yr/$15 million

10. Dan Haren-Pitcher: Signed with Washington Nationals, 1 year/$13 million

12. Mike Napoli-Catcher/First base: Signed with Boston Red Sox, 3 years/$39 million

13. Torii Hunter (RF), Detroit Tigers: 2 yrs/$13 million

15. Mariano Rivera (RHR) –Resigned w/ New York Yankees: 1 yr/$10 Million

18. Angel Pagan-Centerfield: Resigned with San Francisco Giants, 4 years/$40 million

21. Melky Cabrera (LF), Toronto Blue Jays: 2 yrs/$16 million

24. Joakim Soria-Pitcher: Signed with Texas Rangers, 2 years/$8 million

25. Marco Scutaro—Second Base: Resigned w/ San Francisco Giants: 3 yrs/$20 million

26. Shane Victorino-Outfield: Signed with Boston Red Sox, 3 years/$39 million

30. Andy Pettitte (LHP)—Resigned w/ New York Yankees: 1 yr/$12 Million

33. Russell Martin (C) –Signed w/ Pittsburgh Pirates: 2 yrs/$17 Million

28. Jeremy Guthrie (RHP), Kansas City Royals: 3 yrs/$25 million

29. Hisashi Iwakuma (RHP), Seattle Mariners: 2 yrs/$14 million

31. Jonathan Broxton (RHP), Cincinnati Reds: 3 yrs/$21 million

32. Jeremy Affeldt (LHP), San Francisco Giants: 3 yrs/$18 million

36. Ryan Madson (RHP), Los Angeles Angels: 3 yrs/$3.25 million

46. Scott Baker (RHP), Chicago Cubs: 1 yr/$5 million

53. Jonny Gomes (LF), Boston Red Sox: 2 yrs/$10 million

60. Juan Pierre (LF), Miami Marlins: 1 yr/$1.6 million

61. James Loney-First Base: Signed with Tampa Bay Rays, 1 year/$2 million

69. Scott Feldman-Pitcher: Signed with Chicago Cubs, 1 year/$6 million

 

For more on the day’s happenings as baseball’s winter meetings conclude, follow me on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan.