Posts Tagged ‘Matt Whitener’

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The MLB Winter Meetings are in full swing in Orlando as this is written and as you read it. And the moves are coming in quick, and the rumors are spreading like oxygen. There’s not much hype to bring, only what the rumor mill is spinning. And with that, here is the buzz on the streets from Florida as the sun is getting set this today.

  • While the free agent game is developing, the trade market has been the pot that every one is waiting to boil over on the stove. David Price is the hottest name, and the Mariners, Rangers and Dodgers are stated as being the hottest in pursuit of his services. The price in return for him is a wealth of young prospects, of the vein that the Rays build their team around, and the availability of Taijan Walker could either make or break the entire scene around him.
  • The Dodgers have reportedly had discussions about the availability of Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier as well.
  • Justin Masterson is reportedly being floated by the Indians, as he entering the last year of his contract.
  • As of last night, the Rangers and Shin-Soo Choo were engaged in talks that were moving in positive direction. The Diamondbacks also are showing interest, but are exploring a trade to acquire Mark Trumbo as well to amplify their corner outfield production.
  • The Orioles have said they will not pursue any of the high priced arms on the market, but are not opposed to giving out a multi-year contract for an arm.
  • The Brewers, who were stated as having interest in Logan Morrison, are instead working towards resigning Corey Hart
  • The relief pitcher market is starting to shake out, as teams with a ninth inning need are beginning to show themselves more clearly. The Cubs, Rockies, Indians, Astros, Orioles and potentially Yankees are all in the mix.
  • Bronson Arroyo has been one the most discussed names in the last few weeks, and is nearing a decision. His balance of carrying a short-term contract, along with no Draft Pick compensation makes him a perfect ad for both big and small market clubs looking to boost their rotation.

Here is the final rankings board of the winter of the free agent market. From here on out, I’ll continue to do ‘Cut The Check’ updates on signings and outcomes, but this is about as deep of a relevant board that remains. Here is where the kids in left in the pool stand:

  1. Shin-Soo Choo-RF: Rangers, Mariners, Tigers, Diamondbacks
  2. Matt Garza-RHP: Yankees, Twins, Angels,
  3. Ubaldo Jimenez-RHP: Yankees, Angels, Astros
  4. Nelson Cruz-RF/DH: Rangers, Mariners, Orioles, Royals
  5. Ervin Santana-RHP: Angels, Yankees, Astros
  6. Masahiro Tanaka-RHP: Yankees, Dodgers, Japan
  7. Stephen Drew-SS: Red Sox, Dodgers, Mets
  8. Grant Balfour-RHP: Indians, Yankees, Rockies, Tigers, Rays
  9. Kendrys Morales-1B: Mariners, Indians, Mets
  10. Fernando Rodney-RHP: Indians, Rays, Cubs
  11. Omar Infante-2B: Yankees, Royals
  12. Joaquin Benoit-RHP: Mariners, Phillies, Tigers, Orioles
  13. A.J. Burnett-RHP: Pirates, Orioles
  14. Bronson Arroyo-RHP: Angels, Pirates, Twins, Giants, Phillies
  15. Bartolo Colon-RHP: Marlins, Angels, Mets
  16. Jesse Crain-RHP: Rockies, Cubs
  17. Corey Hart-1B/RF: Brewers, Mariners, Mets, Pirates
  18. James Loney-1B: Rays, Rockies, Pirates
  19. Michael Morse-OF: Giants
  20. Chris Perez-RHP: Astros, Athletics, Mets
  21. Raul Ibanez-DH: Yankees, Orioles
  22. John Axford-RHP: Cubs, Orioles
  23. Boone Logan-LHP: Nationals, Yankees
  24. Gavin Floyd-RHP: Twins, Orioles
  25. Jason Kubel-OF/DH:
  26. Scott Downs-LHP: Nationals
  27. J.P. Howell-LHP: Nationals
  28. Scott Baker-RHP: Cubs
  29. Jose Veras-RHP: Rockies
  30. Garrett Jones-1B: Signed w/ Marlins (2 yrs, $7.25 million)
  31. Paul Maholm-LHP:
  32. Jason Hammel-RHP: Giants
  33. Juan Uribe-3B: Dodgers
  34. Chris Capuano-LHP: Twins
  35. Joba Chamberlain-RHP: Royals, Braves, Giants, Astros
  36. Francisco Rodriguez-RHP:
  37. Mark Ellis-2B: Orioles, Rays
  38. Eric O’Flaherty-LHP: Nationals, Dodgers, Phillies
  39. John Buck-C: Nationals
  40. Rajai Davis-OF: Twins, Orioles, Tigers

 

For what’s cookin’ on the stove in real-time, follow me on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan

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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Yesterday, Major League Baseball officially released the group of former players that will comprise the 2014 Baseball of Fame ballot. The class will be announced on January 8th, and while unlike last year, there are sure to be a few players that are inducted in this season, the ongoing saga of who deserves the honor and who does not will continue on, for a variety of reasons.

Ten players can be selected on each ballot, and from the looks of the available talent, there could be a wide range of reactions to what is offered. There are what could be considered the no-doubters, mixed with a few “no doubt second ballot” guys, the vote that goes ignores the controversy, as well as a few with stronger showings than would be guessed. Add all of that in with both the Expansion Era Committee members (which features maybe the finest group of eligible managers available in history), and this could be a one of the most diverse classes ever inducted into the Hall.

But while the manager group could be the frosting, its the players that are cake of a class, and this year’s ballot alone has some of the most premient names in not only their era, but across the history of the game, from its start to finish. Will the controversy of last year be buried? Or will the line to the Hall continue to get longer and longer? With Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz scheduled to join the mix next season, this could be the greatest era of legends waiting for their immortality ever.

But for now, here’s what’s to pick from over the next month, as the wait for to see what course history takes starts moving yet again.

THE PLAYERS

Jeff Bagwell—First Baseman: Houston Astros (1991-2005), 4th ballot (59.6%)

1994 MVP, 4-time All-Star, 449 home runs, 1529 RBI, 488 doubles, 2314 hits

Craig Biggio—Second Baseman: Houston Astros (1988-2007), 2nd ballot (68.2%)

3,060 hits, .281 career average, 668 doubles, 414 stolen bases, 7-time All-Star, 4-Gold Glover

Barry Bonds—Left Fielder: Pittsburgh Pirates, San Francisco Giants (1986-2007), 2nd ballot (36.2%)

7-time MVP, 14-time All-Star, 762 home runs, 2935 hits, 2227 runs, 2558 walks

Roger Clemens—Pitcher: Boston Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays, New York Yankees, Houston Astros (1984-2007), 2nd ballot (37.6%)

7-time Cy Young Winner, 1986 MVP, 354-184 record, 3.12 ERA, 4672 strikeouts

Tom Glavine—Pitcher: Atlanta Braves, New York Mets (1987-2008), 1st ballot

2-time Cy Young Winner, 305-203 record, 3.54 ERA, 10-time All-Star

Jeff Kent—Second Baseman: Toronto Blue Jays, New York Mets, Cleveland Indians, San Francisco Giants, Houston Astros, LA Dodgers (1992-2008), 1st ballot

2000 MVP, 5-time All-Star, 377 home runs, .290 average, 1518 RBI

Greg Maddux—Pitcher: Chicago Cubs, Atlanta Braves, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Diego Padres (1986-2008), 1st ballot

4-time Cy Young Winner, 355-227 record, 3.16 ERA, 3,371 strikeouts, 18-time Gold Glove Winner

Edgar Martinez—Designated Hitter: Seattle Mariners (1987-2004), 5th ballot (35.9%)

7-time All-Star, .312 career average, 2,247 hits, 2-time Batting Champ

Don Mattingly—First Baseman: New York Yankees (1982-1995), 14th ballot (13.2%)

1984 MVP, .307 career average, 442 doubles, 2153 hits, 9-time Gold Glove winner

Fred McGriff—First Baseman: Toronto Blue Jays, San Diego Padres, Atlanta Braves, Tampa Bay Rays, Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers (1986-2004), 5th ballot (20.7%)

493 home runs, 2490 hits, 5-time All-Star, 1550 RBI

Mark McGwire—First Baseman: Oakland Athletics, St. Louis Cardinals (1987-2001), 8th ballot (16.9%)

583 home runs, 12-time All-Star, four 50 home run seasons, 1987 Rookie of the Year

Jack Morris—Pitcher: Detroit Tigers, Minnesota Twins, Toronto Blue Jays, Cleveland Indians (1977-1994), 15th ballot (67.7%)

4-Time World Series Winner, 254-186 record, 2478 strikeouts, Most wins of 1980’s

Mike Mussina—Pitcher: Baltimore Orioles, New York Yankees (1991-2008), 1st ballot

270-153 record, 3.68 ERA, 7-time Gold Glove winner, AL-record 17 straight double digit win years

Rafael Palmeiro—First Baseman: Chicago Cubs, Texas Rangers, Baltimore Orioles (1986-2005), 4th ballot (8.8%)

569 home runs, 3020 hits, 1835 RBI, .288 career average, nine straight years of 38+ home runs

Mike Piazza—Catcher: Los Angeles Dodgers, Florida Marlins, New York Mets, San Diego Padres, Oakland Athletics (1992-2007), 2nd ballot (57.8%)

427 home runs, 2127 hits, .308 average, 1993 Rookie of the Year, 12-time All-Star

Tim Raines—Left Fielder: Montreal Expos, Chicago White Sox, New York Yankees, Oakland Athletics, Baltimore Orioles, Florida Marlins (1978-2002), 7th ballot (52.2%)

808 stolen bases, 2605 hits, 1571 runs scored, 7-time All-Star, 1986 NL Batting Champ

Curt Schilling-Pitcher: Baltimore Orioles, Houston Astros, Philadelphia Phillies, Arizona Diamondbacks, Boston Red Sox (1988-2007), 2nd ballot (38.8%)

216-146 record, 3.46 ERA, 3116 strikeouts, 6-time All-Star, 11-2 Postseason Record

Lee Smith-Pitcher: Chicago Cubs, Boston Red Sox, St. Louis Cardinals, New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles, California Angels, Cincinnati Reds, Montreal Expos (1980-1987), 12th ballot (47.8%)

478 saves, 802 games finished, 7-time All-Star, 3-time Rolaids Relief Man of the Year

Sammy Sosa—Right Fielder: Texas Rangers, Chicago White Sox, Chicago Cubs, Baltimore Orioles, Texas Rangers (1989-2005, 2007), 2nd ballot (12.5%)

1998 MVP, 609 home runs, 7-time All-Star, 1667 RBI, 2408 hits

Frank Thomas—First Baseman: Chicago White Sox, Oakland Athletics, Toronto Blue Jays (1990-2008), 1st ballot

2-Time MVP, 521 home runs, 2468 hits, .301 career average, 1997 Batting Champion

Alan Trammell—Shortstop: Detroit Tigers (1977-1996), 13th ballot (33.6%)

2365 hits, .285 average, 6-time All-Star, 4-time Gold Glove winner, 1984 World Series MVP

Larry Walker—Right Fielder: Montreal Expos, Colorado Rockies, St. Louis Cardinals (1989-2005), 4th ballot (21.6%)

1997 MVP, 3-time Batting Champ, .313 career average, 383 home runs, 7-time Gold Glove Winner

Other First Time Candidates: Moises Alou, Armando Benitez, Sean Casey, Ray Durham, Eric Gagne, Luis Gonzalez, Jacque Jones, Todd Jones, Paul Lo Duca, Hideo Nomo, Kenny Rogers, Richie Sexson, J.T. Snow, Mike Timlin

David_Freese

The St. Louis Cardinals and the Los Angeles Angels pulled off one of the more intriguing deals of the offseason on Friday afternoon, with the Cardinals sending third baseman David Freese and pitchers Fernando Salas to LA in return for outfielders Peter Bourjos and minor league outfielder Randal Grichuk. For both teams, the deal represented a pursuit to fill in positions in need of upgrade, yet both solutions come at the hope of an upside swing of two different varieties.

On the Angels End: Anaheim has long been in need of a steady answer at third base, as they have been chasing a solution at the position since Chone Figgins departed a few years back. Alberto Callaspo had manned the role over the past few seasons, but he was more of an over-extended utility man than anything else. In Freese, they make a move for a player who carries a career .286 average and never has a season with an on-base percentage south of .340, and is just a year removed from a .293/.372/.467 2012 split, all numbers that surpassed Callaspo’s best campaign substantially.

However, Freese comes with some risk, as he’s never completed a season without at least one disabled list stint. Also, he showed major regression in 2013, as he steadily struggled with the strike zone, in addition to limited range in the field. He is an absolute upgrade from a situation that was looking to be filled by Andrew Romine or Chris Nelson as of yesterday, and saw little to no full-time solutions on the free agent market. Freese is an immediate plug and play upgrade, whom can take some time at designated hitter.

Salas has a diverse history in the bullpen, manning nearly every role in the Cardinal bullpen over the past four years, but is likely to have to compete for a role in the LA pen in the spring.

On the Cardinals End: It is a deal that represented an opportunity to get a piece that was not an absolute necessity, but too good to pass on in Bourjos. A 27-year-old, low cost outfielder that covers as much ground as any player in baseball in the outfield, he is an absolute upgrade in the Cardinal outfield that has suffered from limited range for the majority of the past two years. Bourjos also presents a speed element that has been non-existent in the station-to-station Cardinal lineup for some time as well.

As well, the team the team acquired one of the Angels’ top prospects (in an organization devoid of much talent beneath the Majors) in Grichuk. He is projected to be a strong candidate for development and should remain in the Top 10 prospects within the substantially deeper Cardinal system.

The move creates even further financial freedom for the Cardinals, as Freese was due for a raise in the neighborhood of $4.4 million for his second time through arbitration this winter. Salas was a candidate to be non-tendered this offseason by St. Louis, so including him in the deal was likely a throw in. The Cardinals get a crucial extra year of club control in Bourjos, who is not scheduled to hit free agency until after the 2016 season and makes just over $1 million currently.

Bourjos creates a multitude of options in how the Cardinals will handle their 2013 roster.

Bourjos creates a multitude of options in how the Cardinals will handle their 2013 roster, as he has played every outfield position, and enables Jon Jay and Oscar Taveras more flexibility.

The Dominos: The aftermath of the deal is in an instant fill in for the Angels, but also the loss of a player that projected to be their top offseason trade chip in Bourjos. While Freese fills a need, the Angels greatest problem is their lack of starting pitching depth. No player on their team created more interest than the young, cost-controlled Bourjos, and by not getting a starting pitcher in return for him, they likely will be forced to spend (over overspend) even more in the free agent market to remedy this issue.

The theme of the trade continues to revolve around starting pitching for the Cardinals as well, who manage to avoid having to include anyone from their stockpile of quality starting pitching within the deal. That likely would have been a non-starter within the deal, unless shortstop Erick Aybar was included as well, which was discussed but could not be settled upon.

Also of importance for the Cardinals, is the trade cleared up the pending infield time jam between Freese, Matt Carpenter and Kolten Wong. Carpenter can now return to third base, while Wong can inherit the second base job freely.

The Winner:  It was a swap of expendable players for both sides, and ones with similarly questionable health histories as well as potential to have much greater seasons than they are coming off. But in the end the Cardinals win out as much for getting the plus tooled Bourjos as the Angels lose in trading him for a return less than he could have netted.

For more on the Cardinals evolving offseason in real-time, follow me on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan. For more Cardinal coverage, head to I70 Baseball and The Sports Fan Journal for the game, the culture and the events.

The Cheat Sheet: NFL Picks, Lines and Upsets – Week 12

Posted: November 21, 2013 by The Cheap Seat Fan in Gaming, NFL
Tags: , , , , , ,

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The playoff picture is beginning to take shape, as regular season NFL is nearly down its final quarter of the year. And with that, the levels of the league are sorting out as well. The elite are who they are, the bums are likewise. Yet as always, its the middle that complicates things, as well as collisions at the top, as there are the teams that have proven they are better than we thought they are.

Chief among those teams are the Panthers, who upset the pick sheet for the second week in a row. They’re the top of the list of risers in the league, and are looking like this season’s version of the Seahawks rise from late last year. The smart money is with them, in the same way that life is returning to the Giants and Steelers, who brought L’s to the Sheet last week.

Looking to Week 12, there a few blow outs that will likely take place (starting with tonight in Atlanta and carrying right through to Monday), but there are some tight games that wreak of upset as well.  The road team could rule the week as well, and its a good chance to place the smart money not on the records, but on the situation (look no further than New York and Green Bay for proof of this).

Oh, and if that wasn’t enough, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady have a date on Sunday Night. Hell of a week ahead, and after the worst week of the year on the picks sheet, it time to have one here too again.

RECAP

Free Money Picks: 5-6

Upset of the Week: 2-4

Record—Week 11: 7-8, Season: 94-52

 

 

THURSDAY

New Orleans Saints (8-2) at Atlanta Falcons (2-8): [NO -9, Over/Under: 53] **Free Money of the Week #1**

SATURDAY

Chicago Bears (6-4) at St. Louis Rams (4-6): [EVEN, Over/Under 45]

Pittsburgh Steelers (4-6) at Cleveland Browns (4-6): [CLE -1, Over/Under: 40]

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-8) at Detroit Lions (6-4) [DET -9.5, Over/Under: 48]

Minnesota Vikings (2-8) at Green Bay Packers (5-5): [GB -4.5, Over/Under: 43.5] **Upset of the Week**

San Diego Chargers (4-6) at Kansas City Chiefs (9-1): [KC -5, Over/Under: 41.5]

Carolina Panthers (7-3) at Miami Dolphins (5-5): [CAR -4.5, Over/Under: 41.5]

New York Jets (5-5) at Baltimore Ravens (4-6): [BAL -3.5, Over/Under: 39]

Jacksonville Jaguars (1-9) at Houston Texans (2-8): [HOU -10, Over/Under: 43.5]

Tennessee Titans (4-6) at Oakland Raiders (4-6): [EVEN, Over/Under: 41.5]

Indianapolis Colts (7-3) at Arizona Cardinals (6-4): [ARI: -2.5, Over/Under: 45]

Dallas Cowboys (5-5) at New York Giants (4-6): [NYG: -2.5, Over/Under: 44.5]

Denver Broncos (9-1) at New England Patriots (7-3): [DEN: -2.5, Over/Under: 54] **Free Money of the Week #2**

MONDAY

San Francisco 49ers (6-4) at Washington Redskins (3-7): [SF -6, Over/Under: 47]

 

 

fielder_prince6401

In a very sudden fashion, the first blockbuster move of the MLB offseason made its presence felt, when the Detroit Tigers and Texas Rangers agreed on a swap of Prince Fielder (and $30 million) for Ian Kinsler. According to Rangers GM Jon Daniels, it was a conversation that started on Tuesday afternoon, and took less than a day to agree on the parameters. What comes of it is a trade that is both a textbook marquee move, as well as a direction changer for both teams involved.

On the Rangers End: It solves one of their immediate problems that was of the utmost importance to fill: finding a middle of the order bat. Since Josh Hamilton and Mike Napoli left Arlington last winter, they had an order low on power and big on gaps to fill. Add in the potential loss of Nelson Cruz, who has topped 20 home runs each of the past five seasons, a possibility as well, the Rangers power down was hitting dangerous levels.

Picking up Fielder fixes that immediately. Despite a down year in 2013, until proven otherwise, it was simply just a down year, because his track record mandates this respect. He topped 30 home runs every year from 2007-2012 and does not turn 30 until next May. He instantly becomes the cleanup hitter to support Adrian Beltre, and is a reliable as they come (playing in every game since 2011). Also, the Rangers are receiving $30 million from the Tigers to offset the difference between Fielder and Kinsler’s contracts, which will be able to be actively applied towards keeping them in the free agent batter market.

On the Tigers’ End: For Detroit, the deal is not as much of a complete approach change as it is a chance to shift its focus. They were on the hook for another $168 million with Fielder over the next seven years, and had a definite need to cut tow on some financial luggage. Many of the Max Scherzer trade rumors came from the fact they did not believe they would be able to afford to resign the now Cy Young winner after next season, but now that will not be a problem.

Also, with Omar Infante testing the free agent waters, they had a clear need at second base, and acquiring Kinsler represents an upgrade at the position, as well as a chance to move Austin Jackson out of the leadoff spot and down the lineup where he would be a better fit.

Most importantly, the Tigers have an instant replacement for Fielder of the highest order, by moving Miguel Cabrera back to where he should be at first.

Kinsler_Andrus

Kinsler’s departure virtually insures Andrus stays in Texas for the long-term, and makes a clear path for Profar to fit in as well.

The Dominos: The aftermath of the deal finds the Rangers as grabbing a premier bat, as well as getting a few extra bucks to play the market with. Shin-Soo Choo, Carlos Beltran or Cruz all remain in play. Incumbent first baseman Mitch Moreland is coming off a good year, and with David Murphy off to Cleveland, could be in line for a move out to leftfield to replace him. But the most obvious benefit for the Rangers is the loosening of the tie around their collective infield neck, one that was on the verge of becoming a noose. Kinsler coming out of the mix allows for Jurickson Profar to take over at second, and ends any potential trade rumors of either him or Elvis Andrus.

In Detroit, the most obvious bonus is the freeing up of cash to give to Scherzer, potentially by Spring Training. There is also the freedom to more freely spend in the closer market among the solid class of Joe Nathan, Brian Wilson, Grant Balfour and Chris Perez, among others. They do have a void at third base now, but top prospect Nick Castellanos (.276, 18 HR, 76 RBI at Triple-A) is an immediate plug and play, as he is now unblocked at his natural position. Maybe the only worry point is that it does change the way that pitchers can approach Cabrera now, with the lessened protection behind him, but that with Cabrera there’s no such thing as an easy fix, so that’s not much to raise a flag against.

The Winner: Both teams come away with needs and concerns met, in a surprisingly even deal of All-Star talents. The Tigers make needed reshapes to their lineup, and get away from a burden-bearing contract early in the life of it and pre (serious) decline. The Rangers meanwhile inject a needed power source and big splash deal, on the heels of missing the postseason for the first time in three years.

There are no losers here, but the edge goes to the TIGERS, due to immediate gain of Kinsler, the lineup shakeup and both the long and short term financial flexibility.

For more in real-time, follow me on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan. For the rest of the works, head over to i70Baseball and The Sports Fan Journal.

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It’s late this week, so no intro and no recap. Just straight the straight dope…

RECAP

Free Money Picks: 4-5

Upset of the Week: 2-3

Record—Week 10: 8-6; Season: 87-44

THURSDAY

Indianapolis Colts (6-3) at Tennessee Titans (4-5) [IND -3.0, Over/Under: 42.5]

SUNDAY

New York Jets (5-4) at Buffalo Bills (3-7) [NYJ -1.5, Over/Under: 39]

Baltimore Ravens (4-5) at Chicago Bears (5-4) [CHI -3.0, Over/Under: 40.5]  **Upset of the Week**

Cleveland Brown (4-5) at Cincinnati Bengals (6-4) [CIN -4.5, Over/Under: 40.5] **Free Money Pick #1**

Washington Redskins (3-6) at Philadelphia Eagles (5-5) [PHI -4.5, Over/Under: 54.5]

Detroit Lions (6-3) at Pittsburgh Steelers (3-6) [DET -3.0, Over/Under: 45]

Atlanta Falcons (2-7) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-8) [TB -2.0, Over/Under: 43.5]

Arizona Cardinals (5-4) at Jacksonville Jaguars (1-8) [ARI -9.0, Over/Under: 40.5]

Oakland Raiders (3-6) at Houston Texans (2-7) [HOU -10.5, Over/Under: 40.5]

San Diego Chargers (4-5) at Miami Dolphins (4-5) [SD -2.5, Over/Under: 45] **Free Money Pick #2**

Green Bay Packers (5-4) at New York Giants (3-6) [NYG -3.0, Over/Under: 41]

Minnesota Vikings (2-7) at Seattle Seahawks (9-1) [SEA -13.0, Over/Under: 45.5] **

San Francisco 49ers (6-3) at New Orleans Saints (7-2) [NO -3.0, Over/Under: 50]

Kansas City Chiefs (9-0) at Denver Broncos (8-1) [DEN -2.5, Over/Under: 49]

MONDAY

New England Patriots (7-2) at Carolina Panthers (6-3) [CAR -2.5, Over/Under: 46]