Posts Tagged ‘Omar Infante’

robinson-cano

Picking out the cream of the field at second base is always difficult, mainly because it is such a diverse position from a demands perspective. Some teams need pure defensive wizardry, while others lean for offense in a non-tradition place for it there. Some teams use it for a speed boost, while a select few get lucky enough to combine all of these factors into one.

The collection of second basemen around the MLB currently is a shining example of the hotbed for diverse talents that the position has become. And while the elite of years past are still firmly in their accustomed positions, there are more than a few up and comers that are pushing for their place within the ranks of the balanced and surprising deep talent collection.

As we continue to wait for two more voters to get a grasp on Craig Biggio, lets get a hold on the best in the game at his spot today. Here are the best at the second stop around the diamond…

10. Jose Altuve, Astros: The diminutive Houston leadoff hitter seems to be everywhere at once. He has topped both 30 doubles and stolen bases each of the past two seasons, and led all AL second basemen in double plays turned with 114.

9. Daniel Murphy, Mets: The steady Murphy has hit 78 doubles over the past two seasons, has hit below .285 only once in his career. His 188 2013 hits lead all NL second basemen returning to the position this year (Matt Carpenter is moving to third base in St. Louis).

8. Howie Kendrick, Angels: An owner of a .292 career average over 8 seasons, he’s a rightful member on the annual ‘All-Underrated’ squad, Kendrick hit .297 with 13 homers a year ago, which marks his highest power output in 3 years and top average in six.

Omar Infante, Chris Getz

7. Omar Infante, Royals: He’s does enough of everything to be a threat at all times. His .318 average lead all AL second basemen and a career-best slugging percentage (.450). A jack-of-all-trades, he can chip in at five different positions, and stands to be a very versatile weapon in Kansas City.

6. Ian Kinsler, Tigers: The odd man out in Texas is Motown’s gain. As unique a blend of second base features as the game boasts, he topped 70 RBI for the third consecutive year, stole at least 15 bags for the seventh and raised his average up to .277.

5. Ben Zobrist, Rays: The game’s top utility man found a pretty steady home back at second last year, and continues to produce a fine all-around product. He committed only four errors on the season, while topping 36 doubles, finished in the top 20 in on-base percentage and made his second All-Star game.

4. Jason Kipnis, Indians: He took the step ahead in year three, reaching career-best in nine categories, including home runs (17), doubles (36) and RBI (84), while reaching 30 stolen bases for the second consecutive year. He is the axis that the resurgent Indians will build around.

3. Brandon Phillips, Reds: His average slid some and he isn’t an active base stealer anymore, but the decline of Dat Dude is overplayed. He topped 100 RBI for the first time in his career, and remains the top glove in the game at his position.

MLB: Cleveland Indians at Boston Red Sox

2. Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox: With a healthy year on his side again, Pedroia once again showed why he’s one of the more indispensable players in the game. In addition to adding another Gold Glove to his trophy case, he sparked the World Champions with 193 hits, 42 doubles and 84 RBI, along with a .372 on-base percentage.

1. Robinson Cano, Mariners: Easily the position’s best and in the handful of the game’s best all-around talents as well. He topped 25 home runs, 190 hits, 40 doubles and a .300 average for the fifth straight year during his farewell tour in the Bronx. For much of the season, he held together a middling Yankee team and pushed them to a much more competitive effort than was to be expected. And he will be charged with the same task in his new home of Seattle—and should be well up to meeting and exceeding the challenge.

Just A Bit Outside: Marco Scutaro, Aaron Hill, Chase Utley

For more on the countdown series and the game in real-time, follow me on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan. For more content, head to  I70 Baseball and The Sports Fan Journal.

Omar-Infante-Detroit-Tigers

The Winter Meetings have come and gone, and while there have been a few fireworks made on the free agent market, by and large the heavily lifting was done before the sessions opened in Orlando and there is still plenty left to go now that they have closed. But that does not mean that meaningful moves were not made. To the contrary, several teams made the type of smaller headline, but key acquisitions that truly add substance to a team.

That is what this edition of the CTC will show: teams adding the players that do things in-between the lines to put a team over. The Mariners added two power bats to help add punch around Robinson Cano, while the Royals made a glue signing to fix one of the last remaining holes in their everyday offering. It saw a run on projects, that if they find their form can be major contributors, yet also saw a few leaps of faith that make a little less clear sense–but that’s why they are leaps in the first place.

All in all, it has been a run of strategy in recent days, before the final big money run is made in headed into January. This highly active, yet deliberate, MLB offseason continues to bring brand new intrigue, and here are the most recent pages to the story.

(All ranks are original from the first Top 75 Free Agent rankings. Ages are what each player’s 2014 playing age will be.)

25. Omar Infante-Second Baseman-32 years old-2013 Team: Kansas City Royals

Signed: Kansas City Royals—4 years, $30 million

The Royals addressed their biggest everyday need by ponying up and acquiring the top second baseman generally affordable by everybody this winter. Infante finished fifth at the position in pure runs generated, and has hit over .300 three times in the last five years. He can contribute at virtually every position and betters a young team on the verge in need of veteran presence. It is a signing that improves the best defense in the American League, yet also provides some intriguing lineup flexibility. Strong substance builder for a team that is on the verge of a make or break stretch.

37. Bartolo Colon-Starting Pitcher-41 years old-2013 Team: Oakland Athletics

Signed: New York Mets—2 years, $20 million

The Mets put forth the extra year that Colon was looking for, and land a steady bookmark arm to hold over the time of the growth of Zach Wheeler and the return of Matt Harvey. A year ago, Colon two-seam fastballed his way to an 18-win season at age 40.

40. Corey Hart-First Baseman/Outfielder-32 years old-2013 Team: Milwaukee Brewers

Signed: Seattle Mariners—1 year, $6 million

Hart missed 2013 with a knee injury, but returns to a new league and a likely return to the outfield in Seattle. At his best, Hart twice hit 30 home runs and finished with a .280 plus average from 2010-2012. He’ll provide versatility between right field, first base and the designated hitter spot for the rebuilding Mariners.

41. James Loney-First Baseman-30 years old-2013 Team: Tampa Bay Rays

Resigned: Rays—3 years, $21 million

It is a bit surprising that the Rays put the money and contract length into Loney that they did. A $7 million annual value is a bit high in Tampa, but even if Loney regresses back closer to the form he had in 2012, he solves what seemed to be a very big hole in the Rays regular offering at first.

44. Boone Logan-Relief Pitcher-29 years old-2013 Team: New York Yankees

Signed: Colorado Rockies—3 years, $16.5 million

The workhorse lefty is a coup for the Rockies, who are very focused on reworking their bullpen situation. Over the last two years, he has averaged over 11 strikeouts per nine innings, and along with Rex Brothers, gives the Rockies a formidable southpaw collection to win late matchup wars with.

45. Gavin Floyd-Starting Pitcher-31 years old-2013 Team: Chicago White Sox

Signed: Atlanta Braves—1 year, $4 million

Floyd is rehabbing from a torn UCL in his elbow, but is a buy low candidate with a chance to contribute to a rotation that lost Tim Hudson, and doesn’t appear to be in on spending big to replace him. It’s a wish and a prayer signing, with little loss if it doesn’t pan out.

46. Jason Kubel-Designated Hitter-32 years old-2013 Team: Arizona Diamondbacks/Cleveland Indians

Signed: Minnesota Twins—1 year, minor league terms

After a disappointing 2012, Kubel returns to the team that drafted him and he spent his first seven years with. Despite the down year, Minnesota may have landed a steal if he can recapture his form and make the team in the spring. In 2012, he hit 30 home runs in Arizona, and has topped 20 three other occasions.

47. Mike Morse-First Baseman/Outfielder-32 years old-2013 Team: Seattle Mariners

Signed: San Francisco Giants—1 year, $6 million

He could prove to be one of the best signings of the winter if he can recapture the stroke that saw him launch 64 homers for the Nationals from 2010-2012. For a lineup devoid of a true hammer, Morse changes the everyday potential in San Fran.

57. Mark Ellis-Second Baseman-37 years old-2013 Team: Los Angeles Dodgers

Signed: St. Louis Cardinals—1 year, TBA

A smart signing by the Cardinals which will keep them from being left exposed if rookie Kolten Wong does not adjust as quickly as hoped to as an everyday starter. Ellis had the second best defensive zone rating in the National League last season, and will be a very strong safety net.

59. J.P. Howell-Relief Pitcher-31 years old-2013 Team: Los Angeles Dodgers

Resigned: Dodgers—2 years, $11.25 million

The Dodgers came to a smart agreement with lefty J.P. Howell, which will keep their stated goal of having a shutdown end of the game lineup. In his first NL season, he posted an ERA just slightly north of 2.00 and comes at a bargain price due to the plethora of left-handed options on the market this winter.

65. Juan Uribe-Third Baseman-35 years old-2013 Team: Los Angeles Dodgers

Resigned: Dodgers—2 years, $15 million

The cat and mouse game between the Dodgers and Uribe finally came to an end with the agreement on the two year deal. Uribe became a superb defender last season, but the underrated portion of his return is keeping Yasiel Puig’s clubhouse mentor in tow as well.

71. Rajai Davis-Outfielder-33 years old-2013 Team: Toronto Blue Jays

Signed: Detroit Tigers—2 years, $10 million

Forced out of the regular lineup by the presence of Colby Rasmus and Melky Cabrera, Davis still managed to steal 45 bases despite playing in only 108 games. He will likely get a chance to display that speed more often in a time share with Andy Dirks in left field.

73. Joba Chamberlain-Relief Pitcher-28 years old-2013 Team: New York Yankees

Signed: Detroit Tigers—1 year, $2.5 million

The Tigers took a flier on Chamberlain to fill in the back end of their bullpen in the roles vacated by Jose Veras and Joaquin Benoit. But Chamberlain hasn’t been healthy in nearly four years, and is more of a bonus than anything that should be relied on too heavily very late in the game.

76. John Axford-Relief Pitcher-31 years old-2013 Team: Milwaukee Brewers/St. Louis Cardinals

Signed: Cleveland Indians—1 year, $4.5 million

While he likely will never return to the form that made him one of the top relievers in baseball in 2011, he still pumps the heat and should be in line for first crack at the ninth for Tito this year.

77. Garrett Jones-First Baseman-33 years old-2013 Team: Pittsburgh Pirates

Signed: Miami Marlins—2 years, $7.5 million

Just before they traded Logan Morrison, essentially they paid for a slightly more expensive (and older) version of him. Jones was being slowly forced out of Pittsburgh over the last two years, but will now get a chance for 600 at-bats in the far less talented Miami mix.

For more on the still developing MLB free agent scene, follow me in real-time on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan

Matt_Garza

The outside looking in can seem the furthest away the closer you are. And while it is impossible to build a team around just one addition, acquiring the right finishing touch can make all of the difference in the world from one year to the next. For the teams that finished either within firing range of a division title (or should have), the Winter Meetings provide a chance to go the extra mile towards winning the race.

But what’s left to do that with? Free agents have been flying off the shelf quicker than at any point in recent history. And while Robinson Cano, Jacoby Ellsbury and Joe Nathan are all gone does not mean that the opportunity to make an instant upgrade to what’s returning is. The slight move can be the right move, and here are a few options that a few competitors that finished on the brink of a title could make to close the ranks that eluded them last summer…

Washington Nationals—Omar Infante: For the Nats, it is about adding both depth and rounding out their lineup to secure it is in place for an immediate run. As they showed, in the last month of the season, they are capable of turning it on and playing as well as any team in the NL, but were caught too thin and injured to do so far too often. Infante represents an upgrade at one of their few questionable positions, and also provides depth all throughout the infield and in the outfield if needed.

Pittsburgh Pirates—Kendrys Morales: The general feel is that Morales will need to have the DH spot open to play from, but for the Pirates who have lost Justin Morneau, Marlon Byrd and Garrett Jones, adding the type of power bat that he represents in-between Andrew McCutchen and Pedro Alvarez upgrades them put them on par with the Cardinal club they are chasing. The price may be high, but the value would be worth it, and with Morales likely to last a while due to the draft pick compensation tied to him, they likely could get him at much more friendly rate within a month or so.

Arizona Diamondbacks—Jesse Crain/J.P. Howell: Shin-Soo Choo is the best fit for the club, but a bidding war with the Rangers could be looming for his services, which Arizona would surely loose. Instead, reallocating those resources towards two premier bullpen arms would both save money and support their emerging staff. The duo of Crain and Howell would give the Diamondbacks a very formidable late inning group to match the late-game units in LA and San Francisco.

Tampa Bay Rays—Corey Hart: They’ve said that they do not have interest in the rehabbing former Brewer, but revisiting him would be a smart move. He provides a power option to support Evan Longoria and Wil Myers in the heart of the order and can play both first base and right field, which gives Joe Maddon the type of lineup flexibility he loves to deploy. What’s more, he won’t be overly expensive due to injury concerns, so he fits right into the pocket where the Rays like to stay—the shallow part.

Cleveland Indians—Grant Balfour: The secret strength of the Indians last year was a deep bullpen, but with Chris Perez, Joe Smith and Matt Albers all departed, that stash is depleted. Balfour has been through the trials of the postseason the previous two seasons, and would provide a much needed (yet very ironic) calming presence to the Indians as they look to get over the hump and keep up with the Tigers.

Los Angeles Angels—Matt Garza: While the A’s and Rangers have been busy, the Angels have been waiting to find the right way to make an impact add to their starting pitching. Yesterday’s trade brought some young talent to the mix, but this is a team in need of a stragetic impact add. During the past two winters, they have only achieved half of that equation,  but bringing Garza aboard would give them one of the best #3 pitchers in baseball (finally back in the role that he made his name in with the Rays behind James Shields and David Price) and would give them a much needed boost in the match up department from the mound behind Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson. He won’t make an 18-game difference by himself, but at this point, the Angels have to either keep adding or blow it up…and option B isn’t in play.

For more on the free agent market (and where these guys likely do end up), follow me on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan