Posts Tagged ‘Rafael Furcal’

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.

Originally & completely posted 12/10 at St. Louis Sports 360

 

On Saturday afternoon, the post Pujols-era gained it’s first “new” Bird on bat…albeit he was familiar face already.

The St. Louis  came to terms with   on a two-year, $7 million deal with the to return to the club. The 34 year old joined the team last August at the trade deadline from the Los Angeles Dodgers, and instantly made an impact with his glove for a team that struggled with middle infield defense the entire year. In 50 games for the Cardinals, he hit .255 and spent much of his time as the lead off hitter, a role he will very likely resume.

Furcal's signing both solves a group of problems and open up more possibilities all at once.

The signing is a winner on three levels for the team. Firstly, it answers a question that was running out of time, and options, to find an answer to: who will be the club’s shortstop. Last season, Ryan Theriot opened the year in the role, but his limited range became an issue, as well as an inconsistent bat. After him, Tyler Greene received a look, and brought speed and a glove to the equation, but was a further drop off at the plate. It wasn’t until Furcal that the club finally solved all of these issues in one player.

 

For the rest of  this article, including why Furcal’s return answers a group of questions that couldn’t have been any other way, read the rest of this piece at St. Louis Sports 360: http://stlouissports360.com/furcal-signing-is-a-win-three-times-over/

 

And for more on these moves, my moves and the sociology of moves in general, follow me on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan.

There’s even conversation under most rocks these days about what’s happening with Albert Pujols, the St. Louis Cardinals and free agency. However, although it feels like it, he’s not the only Cardinal that’s on the market and there are actually other free agents on the club as well. Whether El Hombre gets back to St. Louis or not, there are a few other currently former Birds on the market that need to have their future addressed as well.

Now whether that makes sense back here again…well, that’s a different case. But either way here are all of the other free agent Cardinals, and how they either do or don’t fit into the 2012 and beyond scene.

 

Really, Actually Free, Agents

Rafeal Furcal: The second big trade acquisition of the year came in and was crucial in changing the team’s terrible infield defense situation. However, he also carried a $12 million option for 2012 that wasn’t getting picked up regardless of how many runs he saved. The team’s biggest non-Albert hole is at shortstop, and finding a way to get Furcal back is a major priority for the club.

However, he’s a priority for more than a few other teams who have similar issues. He liked it in St. Louis, and is being patient for now due to….

 

For the rest of this, including which Cards can stay and which need to go, check out the rest of the article over at St. Louis Sports 360 at: http://stlouissports360.com/cardinal-winter-wish-list-part-2-the-other-guys/

 

For more on the Cardinals ramble through the winter, follow me on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan.

 

LEADING OFF – Getting to Know You: The trade deadline has come and gone, and if the Cards were anything, it was active. Coming in they had a fair amount of needs that had either been on the table or were beginning to emerge along the way. To the team’s credit, they were aggressive in addressing nearly all of them, and there are currently five new Redbirds in the dugout and bullpen that were not there this time last week. The Colby Rasmus trade was a shocker around the Major League horn, and since that’s already been addressed here critically, we won’t be going back down that lane again. Rather, let’s take a look at the first weekend in red for everything new here, and how they can alter the direction of the team going forward.

 

Both Jackson and Patterson enjoy strong first days on the job in Cardinal Red.

Pitcher Edwin Jackson was the centerpiece of the return for Rasmus, and he made a strong first impression in his Cardinal debut, which was the start of another rivalry weekend against the Chicago Cubs no less. He tossed seven innings of one run baseball and struck out seven, picking up a win in the end. The other two pitchers acquired, Octavio Dotel and Mark Rzepczynski have thrown five scoreless innings so far. Corey Patterson had an RBI in his first at-bat. In a second deal, former All-Star Rafeal Furcal was acquired late on Saturday to boost the struggling middle infield…

 

For the rest of this, another milestone courtesy of Albert Pujols and the gravity of this week’s first place showdown in Milwaukee, head over to St. Louis Sports 360. Also follow me on Twitter for updates on the run at @CheapSeatFan