With Manny Ramirez and Orlando Cabrera officially signed, I take a look at what’s availible in the Unsigned Players Dept.
Top Remaining Free Agents
1. Ben Sheets
2. Ivan Rodriguez
3. Ray Durham
4. Jim Edmonds
5. Paul Byrd
6. Mark Grudzielanek
7. Joe Beimel
8. Pedro Martinez
9. Will Ohman
10. Kenny Rogers
11. Moises Alou
12. Frank Thomas
13. Emil Brown
14. Chad Cordero
15. Curt Schilling
16. Richie Sexson
17. Rudy Seanez
18. Luis Gonzalez
19. Keith Foulke
20. Sidney Ponson
21. Mark Mulder
22. Julian Tavarez
23. Damion Easily
24. Dave Roberts
25. Ben Brousard
Ben Sheets gets the top spot only because of his dominant 2008 season and I don’t think anyone else on this list deserves it. A torn flexor in his elbow will keep him out of action until at least July. If he signs on with a team before the June draft then the Brewers will receive a compensation pick so don’t expect any offers until then…Ivan Rodriguez will use the World Baseball Classic to showcase all he has left. The Mets, Astros and possibly Marlins have shown interest…There are reports that Moises Alou and Kenny Rogers may have unofficially retired…Paul Byrd will take at least early 2008 off to spend time with his family, but could get back into action by the All-Star break…Look for Mark Grudzielanek to get a look at third base in the Bronx should A-Rod need surgery…Pedro Martinez‘ velocity and stamina are both way down and he’s had trouble finding work for this season. The Cardinals may bring him on and try him in the closer’s role…Former All-Stars Chad Cordero and Curt Schilling are off injuries costing them both the 2008 seasons but are still trying to find work.
Dodgers offer in November 2008: 2 years, 45 million
Dodgers offer in March 2009: 2 years, 45 million
So why did the deal take so long to get done? Manny did nothing over the past few months other than illustrate a greedy, selfish picture of himself to fans and the media. Actually that representation was made years ago and rather just retraced from an image of him in a Boston uniform, but all in all it was an unnecessary PR hit that could’ve been avoided had he just taken the deal in the first place. Now the Manny-Boras party comes out looking like T.O.-Rosenhaus did in Philadelphia.
L.A. is a perfect fit for Manny and Manny is a perfect fit for L.A. The fans will still love him there, at least until he makes them think otherwise. Slot him in the clean-up spot right between Andre Ethier and James Loney and what you have is an argument for best line-up in the National League and surely the most complete top to bottom.
While it may have taken a while to get done, what’s important is that he is back. Fans, front office and Manny himself need to let bygones be bygones. Manny is happy and stepping to the plate once every nine batters and that’s all that matters. The Dodgers are now the favorites in the NL West.
The New York Yankees have certainly not had a quiet offseason by any means, dropping a near half billion dollars (441 million) in the winter months. What has now been established is a declaration that last year’s failure to make the play-offs will not be repeated. A huge splash was obviously not a surprise but no one knew it would be to quite this extent. After being handcuffed for years by busts and overpaid-underperformers such as Carl Pavano and Jason Giambi, the near 90 million dollars freed up from expiring contracts was obviously going to be spent somewhere. History may be repeating itself however. The three major signings–
Burnett, Sabathia, Teixeira– all look good now but what will we be saying in five years? You would have to be a complete moron if you can’t admit the Yankees will be a strong team with all the talent they have, but if these deals don’t work out, the Bronx Bombers could be in trouble for years to come.
Starting Rotation Questions
In his eight years since becoming a major league regular back in 2001, A.J. Burnett has made 30 starts only twice, coincidently both during contract seasons. Five-year contracts are a rarity for pitchers, especially one who has as many trips to the DL as he does major league seasons (10). He is clearly a dominant pitcher as he led the AL in strikeouts with 231 last season but the real question will be can he stay healthy over the length of the contract.
C.C. Sabathia got an even longer deal at seven years. Though he only has two brief stints on the DL over his career, you have to wonder how much stress an arm that has thrown 513 innings the past two seasons can take. He has a lot of guaranteed money coming for a long time and it will be scary to think what could happen if he has a major injury early on.
Chien-Ming Wang is another ace in himself as well and has proven himself to be a reliable pitcher but he too is coming off a major injury. The foot injury was a freak thing that happened while running the bases, but when opening day rolls around he will be nearly ten months removed from throwing a pitch in a major league game. In addition, Andy Pettitte will be 37 years old this year and Joba Chamberlain had arm issues last year as well.
A scary thought: If there is an injury, next in line is Phil Hughes, Alfredo Aceves and Ian Kennedy; all of whom are unproven. We’ve seen what 20-plus starts over a season from the likes of Sidney Ponson and Darrell Rasner can do and it certainly won’t be pretty if that were to happen this season.
Backup (Starting) Catcher
After Jorge Posada injured his right shoulder last season, he threw out only 3 of 35 runners before finally throwing in the towel and surrendering to surgery. Though he is supposed to be ready for opening day, it will remain a question as to weather he can still be an adequate major league catcher at 36 years old. Jose Molina is one of the elite defensive catchers in the game, throwing out more than 40% of runners last season, but that comes along with a .576 OPS. With the Yankees budget, it may be worth it to explore all options here or it could get there could be problems at an essential position..
.641, .582: What are these two numbers? They are the OPS’s of Melky Cabrera and Brett Gardner. Manny Ramirez had a 1.232 by himself last year and these two couldn’t do that combined. Speaking of which there is no chance Manny will come home to New York with either team. Derek Jeter’s been rumored to be moving out there but we all know that there’s more of a chance of us hearing kanYe West say “Barack Obama doesn’t care about black people” at the next hurricane benefit. Mike Cameron was nearly swapped for Melky but it fell through. I think a position battle is likely in spring training with Gardner winning the majority of the playing time due to the fact there’s nothing Melky can do that he can’t. Plus he has a .389 career OBP in the minors and is equipped with an 80 speed on the 20-80 scouting scale. A quick fix is all that is needed however with highly touted prospect Austin Jackson just one year away.
-This was my first blog post, comment me and let me know how I did.