Monday, November 20, 2006

Soriano Hits the Jackpot!

posted by Jon Williams
The free-agents seem to be coming off the board faster than in years past. Alfonzo Soriano has supposedly reached a huge deal (eight years, $135 million, can that be right?) with the Chicago Cubs to be their leadoff hitter. Can you imagine signing a forty homerun guy to hit first in the order? Probably part of the deal was that they let him leadoff, Soriano's preferred spot in the order. But the good news is Soriano could have a crazy fantasy year in Wrigley Field. The Crazy part is the Cubs are going to play him in center field. He has the speed and a nice arm but he isn't exactly a great outfielder yet. In Wrigley it shouldn't matter quite as much as long as the Cubs keep their strikeout pitchers, it could be worse I guess.



Frank Catalanotto has agreed to a three-year, $13M deal to return to the Texas Rangers. Interesting. I was hoping that Jason Botts would get a shot at the DH role. I suppose Catalanotto could play in the outfield but that is not even close to the kind of outfield upgrade I thought they wanted to make. He could be a leadoff option with Gary Matthews Jr. looking for big money elsewhere.



The Mets have apparently gone old for their left field spot. They have apparently reached a deal with Moises Alou on a one-year $8-9 million dollar deal to replace Cliff Floyd. That's not terrible, an upgrade in fact if Alou can stay healthy for the season. It also makes it pretty easy to move in one of the young guys should Lastings Milledge or Fernando Martinez prove themselves ready. I would bet on Endy Chavez and Ben Johnson being on the bench and Milledge being in triple-A (or on the Marlins) next season. I personally think Milledge is going to move on to another team and prove to be a disappointment.



The Dodgers have agreed to a two-year deal with Nomar Garciaparra to return as their first baseman. Garciaparra had a decent season and played well at first base. He had a couple of injury problems but nothing devestating. The big question is what happens to James Loney now. Loney could be included in a trade I suppose or moved to the outfield but I doubt the Dodgers are prepared to go into 2007 with essentially three rookies in Loney, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier in the outfield. I think the Dodgers are going to find a big power bat to play in the outfield and it might be Carlos Lee.



The Reds have agreed to a deal with left-handed reliever Mike Stanton on a two-year contract. I can not wait to see how money they game him. I'm betting on way too much. They also have signed shortstop Alex Gonzalez (the one with the Red Sox last season).



The Moves Made (officially)



The Los Angeles Angels signed Justin Speier to a four-year, $18M deal to join their bullpen. Why everyone in baseball suddenly thinks they need to spend big money to get middle relievers like this is a complete mystery to me. You can do a lot worse than Speier but you can also do a lot better for the money. Speier, to his credit has strung together three pretty solid seasons in a row. In 2006 he pitched 51.1 innnings with a 2.98 earned run average, 1.32 whip (0.95 whip in 2005), 8.24 H9, 0.88 HR9, 3.68 BB9 and 9.64 K9.



The Boston Red Sox re-signed their utility player, Alex Cora to a two-year, $4M deal. Eh, whatever Cora is okay but not worth much fantasy wise except in crazy deep leagues, I'm talking 40-plus man rosters. In 2006 he had 235 at-bats with 1 homerun and six stolen bases. He batted .238/.312/.298 for the season playing mostly shortstop.



The New York Mets signed infielder Damion Easley to a one-year contract worth $850,000. He's a better hitter than you might think but he probably won't get the at-bats to be worth much as a fantasy player. In 2006 he batted .234/.324/.420 with 9 homeruns and a stolen base in 188 at-bats with Arizona.



The Philadelphia Phillies decided that since they couldn't sign Alfonso Soriano to grab Wes Helms instead. They signed him to a two-year, $5.45M contract. I guess Brian Cashman tried to sign Helms to a slightly better deal for the New York Yankees to play first base. Probably a good move not everyone can handle playing in New York for the Yankees. But it would have been a decent move on the cheap for the Yankees and is a decent move for the Phillies.



definitely wanted to stay in the National League,I knew all the pitchers. I knew all the hitters. I know where to play them in the field. Everybody I know who has changed leagues, it's an adjustment period." Source: Philadelphia Daily News



In 2003 Helms played mostly full-time for the Milwaukee Brewers and in 476 at-bats batted .261/.330/.450 with 23 homeruns. In 2006 Helms has 236 at-bats with the Florida Marlins and batted .326/.386/.572 with 10 homeruns. His splits were pretty even last season batting .336/.414/.505 in 107 at-bats against lefties and .323/.368/.632 against righties in 133 at-bats. He could come cheap in leagues with less experienced players. Even in experienced leagues he probably won't get the respect he's earned the last few seasons. A lot of owners dismiss those that never seem to get many at-bats as lesser talents but that isn't always the case. That's why it is always worth doing the research.



The Texas Rangers also signed right-handed reliever Franklyn German and infielder Ramon Vazquez to minor league contracts and invited them to Spring Training. German was a closer of the future way back when he put up amazing K9 numbers in high-A and double-A with the Oakland Athletics. But he has never been able to get his walk-rate under control. Vazquez is pretty useless in fantasy. He batted .209/.267/.284 in 67 at-bats with the Cleveland Indians last season.



Okay, Closers article is still i progress maybe later tonight. Till next time... Peace.





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