Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Catching Up on Transactions: Part One

posted by Jon Williams
The Trades
The Toronto Blue Jays traded RHP Shaun Marcum to the Milwaukee Brewers for 2B Brett Lawrie.

We knew that the Blue Jays were planning to deal some of their surplus of starting pitching. Our mistake was believing they would deal prospects rather than arguably their best starter. Shawn Marcum may not qualify as an ace in the eyes of some but he was a great starter for Toronto when healthy in 2008 and 2010. The AL-East is where only the best pitchers can thrive and Marcum thrived. Now he heads to the NL-Central where instead of the Red Sox, Yankees and Rays he will see the Pirates, the Astros, and the newly weakened Cardinals. Pitchers almost automatically see a bump in performance moving from the American League to the National League, moving to the central should make Marcum look even better. Marcum is a prime target in NL-only leagues now.

Brett Lawrie is presently called a second base prospect but he actually shoulld be called a hitting prospect. The position is just a detail, Lawrie is a hitter. He should hit for average and power and steal a few bases from whatever position he ends up playing. There are rumors of a switch to third base, no doubt based on the huge hole the Blue Jays have on their major league roster.

The Milwaukee Brewers traded Carlos Villanueva to the Toronto Blue Jays.

The Chicago White Sox traded RHP Scott Linebrink to the Atlanta Braves for Kyle Cofield.

The Arizona Diamondbacks traded 3B Mark Reynolds to the Baltimore Orioles for RHPs David Hernandez and Kam Mickolio.

Mark Reynolds is an interesting player but not a great one in fantasy or otherwise. I doubt he'll hit worse than he did in 2010 again. But he will also be a threat to trash your batting average in exchange for 30 or so homeruns. The Orioles actually can use Reynolds as both a third base insurance plan until Josh Bell is ready and then move him into their (at least for now) gaping hole at first base. He should be a decent fantasy player just don't expect him to repeat 2009 again.

The Diamondbacks get two middle relievers. I actually like David Hernandez a lot and until they acquired J.J. Putz I thought he might fill their closer hole nicely. In deeper leagues he's still a decent reliever to fill a spot and could see some action in the ninth if Putz has problems staying healthy and effective.

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Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Royals Trade Zack Greinke to Milwaukee

posted by Jon Williams
This Hot Stove season has been everything a baseball fan could hope.

UPDATE: Word is that Jeremy Jeffress is not in the deal and that a PTBNL is the fourth part of the Royals' return package.

UPDATE 2: But that word is wrong and Jeffress is headed to Kansas City.

Last night the Kansas City Royals and Milwaukee Brewers agreed on a trade that will send ace starter Zack Greinke and much maligned shortstop Yuneisky Betancourt to Milwaukee for young center fielder Lorenzo Cain, speedy shortstop Alcides Escobar and two top pitching prospects: Jake Odorizzi and Jeremy Jeffress.

Wow, is the word that comes to mind. Though I imagine the few remaining Royals fans are thinking in less family friendly terms. The deal actually isn't too bad. It may actually be the best deal Dayton Moore has made.

Lorenzo Cain was a favorite to unseat Carlos Gomez as the starting center fielder in Milwaukee in the upcoming season. Cain has above average, maybe even great speed. He is definitely a quality basestealer. He has very little homerun power right now. However, he has shown that he has the patience to draw walks and has shown signs that he knows what he is doing at the plate. If he continues to develop he should be the Royals' best option as leadoff hitter.

Alcides Escobar was supposed to become one of the stolen base leaders in the National League. Unfortunately he failed to hit as expected in 2010 and found himself with a manager who was not a fan of the stolen base. I was actually looking forward to watching Escobar rebound this season under new manager Ron Roenicke. Escobar doesn't walk much which hurts his on-base percentage and he swings at a ton of pitches out of the strike zone. He does make good contact and has fantastic speed so he still has a great chance to contribute to a fantasy team.

Jake Odorizzi and Jeremy Jeffress were the Brewers best pitching prospects. Ordorizzi is a potential ace starter which awesome stuff. He has a great fastball and a variety of quality pitches to complement it. He had a nice 10.07 K9 last season in the minors and a very decent 46 percent groundball rate. He is the real deal. Jeffress throws the ball with triple digit velocity and has been compared to Dwight Gooden very frequently. He has an other worldly strikeout rate but struggles to gain even decent control. Many analyst believe that he will eventually move to the bullpen and become a top closer.

The Brewers have just about emptied their farm system between the Greinke and Marcum deals but have put together what is likely a top five starting rotation. The Brewers had one of the better offenses in the National League last season so they should be a much improved team. Greinke will love pitching in the National League because he will get to hit (something he never wanted to stop doing) and he will finally get to pitch in meaningful games. Greinke joins Marcum at the top of NL-only wish lists.

The 2011 season is going to be a ton of fun.

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Keeper Advice By Request

posted by Jon Williams
Jon,


I am in need of deciding who to keep for the upcoming year. I am in a 10 man H2H points based keeper league. Pretty standard league, we start 4sp, utility, C,1b,2b,ss,3b, and 3 OF spots. We keep 6 guys. The players i am considering are Miguel Cabera, Dustin Pedroia, Jose Reyes, Ryan Zimmerman, Ryan Braun, Ryan Howard, Kershaw, Wainwright, and cliff lee. I do not have a rd1 (rd6 in normal drafts) because i delt it to obtain ryan howard. Who should i keep/trade/let go.

I was thinking of keeing, miggy, ped, zimmerman, reyes, braun, cliff lee. Trading howard and wain. However i love kershaw and think hes a future superstar and would love to keep him. I dont know let me know what you think. thanks

Rob

Hey Rob,

Apologies for taking so long to get back to you. I just started a new job and I'm still adjusting to it.

You have a loaded to group to choose from, that's always great news. You have tough decisions to make, but I think you have it right.

Miguel Cabrera
is and an easy KEEP. He is one of the top ten players in any league and probably deserves to be top five. He will provide you with huge stats in almost every category. He hits for average, smashes 40 homers a season, and even on the Tigers should be close to the century mark in both runs and RBI.

Ryan Braun is probably the player most analysts would rank second on this list. Unfortunately, Braun has seen his groundball rate drop for two consecutive seasons which has hurt his homerun totals. Still, I'm not ready to dump him. He should be a $30-plus player even if the power stays at its current level. Just be careful not to depend on his former reputation for power. KEEP

Ryan Zimmerman has been underrated in a lot of leagues but is one of the best players in baseball. He's actually better than the more popular David Wright. The Nationals lineup should be improved this season with stronger hitters in the infield and Jayson Werth filling in for Adam Dunn. He's in the prime of his career he could take a nice step up with better players around him. KEEP

Jose Reyes is coming off another injury plagued season. He is likely to be a free agent after the 2011 season which should provide him with some motivation to play at his best. The Mets should be a lot better than most expect. If everyone is healthy (the big question) their lineup should be stacked. All that is good news for Reyes. KEEP

Dustin Pedroia also struggled with injuries but he won't be had for a discount. Hitting second in the stacked lineup in Boston, Pedroia could score 120 runs easy. Even if the sox move him further down in the lineup he should still be extremely productive and one of the better second base options. KEEP

Cliff Lee has been dominate and after signing with the Phillies he will not only be a productive player but an exciting one to own. If you chose to trade him you could probably get whatever you liked right now. KEEP

Clayton Kershaw is awesome. You could easily decide to stick with Kershaw over Cliff Lee. But I think Kershaw was pitching slightly over his head and his control can still stand some improvement. Still I would trade him unless you can get max value for him. I would rather have him back in the draft than take a lesser deal and eliminate your chances of keeping him again. BACK IN THE DRAFT

Ryan Howard
is still a very nice fantasy player. He is extremely streaky and that hurts him sometimes but at the end of every season he is a great asset to a fantasy team. Someone will want him. TRADE

Adam Wainwright
is a great pitcher he just isn't going to bump any of the players in your top six unless there is some reason to believe pitching will be scarce. TRADE

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Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Hot Stove Update: Ooddles and Ooddles of O's

posted by Jon Williams
Note: This article has been through a few revisions, and I even managed to lose half of it. I'll update the rest of the transactions including all the trades tonight.

Baseball's Winter Meetings are all wrapped up and the Action has been almost non-stop. This has to have been the most entertaining Winter Meetings in years. The teams seems to have plenty of money to spend and the players are not waiting very long to grab it.

The Baltimore Orioles seem determined to move from also-ran to contender this season. They don't have the experienced high-end talent that the Red Sox and Yankees do, but they've found it incredibly difficult to convince the best free agents to take their money. They've turned to the trade market to fill their needs instead. The Mark Reynolds acquisition is covered below. They are also pretty close to completing a deal for shortstop J.J. Hardy for two middle relievers. They've also agreed on a new contract for Koji Uehara, who will probably act as their closer.

It looks like the Zack Greinke trade will have to wait until Cliff Lee makes a decision. He seems to be holding out for a seven-year contract but so far it doesn't look like anyone is biting. There was a rumor of a mystery team offering a seventh year but that looks like a story started to get the other teams thinking. The Yankees have been willing to go six years, the Rangers, five years. There are probably other bidders but they have not been revealed publicly.

The Justin Upton idea seems to have faded out of the news. But this too may be a second choice for teams that were hoping to sign Carl Crawford or Jayson Werth. With Crawford now off the market the Upton talks could heat up again, especially if the Yankees fail to acquire Lee.

Hisashi Iwakuma will not be joining the Oakland Athletics and they will get their posting fee back. This seemed like an odd move for the Athletics from the beginning. I think they severely underestimated what it would take to sign top Japanese talent.

Major Free Agent Signings

The San Diego Padres signed free agent RHP Aaron Harang.

The Padres filled the spot left vacant by Jon Garland by signing veteran starter and once upon a time Reds ace, Aaron Harang. Harang has decent control and though his strikeout rate has fallen in recent seasons he still maintains a respectable rate. His biggest problem seems to be elevated BABIP and homerun rates. These are problems that Petco Park will definitely lessen if not solve. Harang has also seen his groundball rate fall slightly over the years which hasn't helped his results. The change of scenery could (and should) do wonders.

Harang should come very cheaply in most leagues in 2011. I recommend him as a late round pick or single-digit bid, especially in NL-only leagues.

The Washington Nationals signed free agent RF Jayson Werth.

Many Stat Nerds are all worked up about this deal. They claim that Jayson Werth is too old, with not enough track record to deserve such a contract. They criticize the Washington Nationals for spending too much of their budget on one player. I have a few problems with this view.

First, no one outside of MLB has any idea what the Washington Nationals can spend and stay within the black. Washington D.C. is not a small market. The Nationals may have chosen to keep the payroll small while they built up the farm system, that does not mean that they could not have spent more. There is also a significant value to bringing in top tier talent that goes far beyond their field production matching their salary.

Also, Werth may not be in his twenties any longer but I find it ridiculous that so many analysts seem to believe that players will essentially drop dead when they reach 35-years old. Or that a player will decline at a nice regular, predictable rate.

Werth is a very good hitter and defensive outfielder. He has spent most of his time in right field but is capable of manning center field. He walks a ton, and makes pretty good contact for a power hitter. He has excellent plate discipline and should hit for good batting averages most years. He is an excellent fantasy player who hits homers and steals bases. The move to Washington should do very little to change that.

The Arizona Diamondbacks signed free agent 3B Melvin Mora.

Mora is fading fast. However, he still gets on base at a fairly decent rate. His power is nearly gone but is a fairly disciplined hitter who makes very good contact, which means he will usually hit for a decent batting average. For fantasy purposes he is not much of a Mark Reynolds replacement but he is likely a temporary fill-in (along with Geoff Blum) until a prospect like Matt Davidson or Bobby Borchering is ready to take over. I'd avoid Mora until the Dollar Dayz. but then happily throw him into a CI spot.

The Chicago Cubs signed free agent 1B Carlos Pena.

Carlos Pena has seen enough success in his career that he probably deserves the benefit of the doubt when it comes to bouncing back (at least a little) from his horid 2010 season. The Cubs showed some faith in Pena by signing him to a one-year, $10 million deal. Pena is actually on a three-year decline in BABIP which is pretty scary. He has never been much of a BABIP guy (career .279) but last season's .222 rate was a disaster and 2009's .250 was not much better. But even if bad luck played some part in the last two seasons, at 32 a major improvement is not a great bet. I suggest fantasy owners avoid Pena unless he comes with very little risk, I mean dirt cheap, and replaceable on a whim.

The Kansas City Royals signed free agent RF Jeff Francoeur.

What the hell s Dayton Moore thinking? The man makes it impossible to root for him. In the Royals write-up I've been composing in my head (for the Fantasy Guide I'll be offering to readers in February) I wanted to suggest that despite the horors of the major league roster, Moore was due some praise for re-building the farm system. But for every honor point he gains, there is a move like this.

Moore has drooling over Jeff Francoeur since the Braves first started to show signs of frustration with him. Moore of course came from the Braves system that raised Francoeur. There have been rumors of Frenchy joining the Royals forever. Now they've got him and given him the outfield spot they traded David DeJesus to open. Can you sense my head shaking?

Francoeur is a decent contact hitter but lacks patience and plate discipline. If he ever gained any real plate discipline we might see evidence of his once significant power potential . But since he will swing at anything and is now residing in a ballpark that robs homers, the chances have shrunk even further. Fantasy owners should avoid him completely unless he gets on an insanely good lucky streak. That means don't draft him.

The Colorado Rockies re-signed free agent LHP Jorge De La Rosa.

Jorge De La Rosa is durability, slightly better control and a nice pitcher's park away from having every thing you want in a starting pitcher. He collects strikeouts in bunches, induces groundballs about half the time, and consistently gives you that "this is the year he breaks out" feeling. Unfortunately, this will be the fourth season since he first gave us that feeling. Still, he should be an average starting pitcher in front of an above average offense which means he has a shot at wins. I would definitely take another shot at him, just don't break the bank thinking this is the year, again.

The Boston Red Sox signed free agent 2B Drew Sutton.

Buried under the avalanche the hype of the Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford moves was this smaller gem. The Red Sox picked up Sutton as a minor league free agent. Sutton is a player I've liked for a while. Obviously, he won't be stealing a starting spot from Dustin Pedroia, but he should be a very useful utility player. He can play all over the infield and outfield and is useful with the bat. He is very patient at the plate, and shows good discipline. He is also a better contact hitter than the evidence of his brief Major League appearances might suggest. He has 20 homer and 20 steal potential. I like him a lot, late, in AL-only leagues.

The St. Louis Cardinals signed free agent RF Lance Berkman.

There was a story going around that the Cardinals were going to move Matt Holiday to right field so that Lance Berkman could play left field. That isn't going to happen, according to Tony LaRussa, who told MLB Network that Berkman would be in right field. Many analysts seem to hate this move by the Cardinals because it puts Berkman back in the outfield. Berkman has not played the outfield since 2007, and has never been a good defensive outfielder. But they can hardly play him at first base, can they?

The Cardinals are obviously willing to sacrifice some outfield defense for offensive production. For that they need Berkman to rebound from his lousy 2010 season. Berkman is still a patient hitter, with solid plate discipline. Very little has changed in his game other than his BABIP and his ISO. If this was not the second consecutive year that Berkman's BABIP has dropped below .300, I'd call it bad luck. But that's probably not the whole story.

Berkman has battled through injuries the last few seasons and that may be the difference, but that just means that we also need to know that Berkman is actually going to significantly healthier than he was the last two seasons. This is extremely difficult considering he has averaged 522 at-bats the last two seasons despite the injuries. He plays through them and that is probably hurting his numbers.

I like the chances of Berkman bouncing back if he is healthy. I suggest potential fantasy owners pay special attention to Berkman in the spring. Watch for signs of pain, look for wincing, limping and sitting out consecutive home games. He is a decent sleeper but also a risky one.

The New York Yankees re-signed free agent SS Derek Jeter.

This has been covered so much, and Derek Jeter is so well known that it seems silly to spend much time with this transaction. Jeter is the same patient, disciplined hitter he has always been. A poor BABIP was the only real sign that he slipped last season. He will bounce back closer to his career levels. Also note how disturbed Jeter was by the negative rumors surrounding the negotiations. His feelings were hurt and that could be extra motivation for a guy that hasn't needed much in the past.

Other Significant Transactions

San Francisco Giants re-signed free agent LF Pat Burrell.

Los Angeles Dodgers signed free agent C Rod Barajas.

Boston Red Sox signed free agent RHP Brandon Duckworth.

Chicago White Sox re-signed free agent C A.J. Pierzynski.

Boston Red Sox signed free agent RHP Jason Bergmann.

RHP Joel Peralta elected free agency.

LHP Hideki Okajima elected free agency.

LHP Andrew Miller elected free agency.

RHP Chien-Ming Wang elected free agency.

San Diego Padres signed RHP Luis Perdomo.

Cleveland Indians signed free agent 3B Jack Hannahan.

Philadelphia Phillies released RHP Jesus Sanchez.

Cincinnati Reds signed free agent 3B Miguel Cairo.

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Hot Stove: The Red Sox Sign Carl Crawford

posted by Jon Williams
You may have tricked yourself into thinking that after acquiring and signing Adrian Gonzalez that the Red Sox had made their major move of the Winter. You would have been wrong. You're wrong because the Boston Red Sox signed Carl Crawford last night to a seven-year, $142 million deal. I know it messed up the Hot Stove Update I was writing last night.

Crawford makes the Red Sox lineup as tough as any lineup in the game. He is such a versatile player he can hit anywhere from first to fifth in the lineup and be a major asset. The most likely scenario has him batting first or second, and since he has been a reluctant leadoff hitter in the past I'm guessing he will bat second behind either Dustin Pedroia or Jacoby Ellsbury. Either way, every batter in the Boston lineup should get a boost to their personal stats.

Carl Crawford is a supreme athlete and one of the best defensive outfielders in the game. He does not walk a ton (career 5.4 percent walk rate) but has improved over the last three seasons (6.9 percent three-year average). Crawford is a groundball hitter averging just a 30.8 percent flyball rate. However, he can hit mistakes a long way. He has the power to hit 20 homers but is usually in mid-teens in homeruns. While Crawford swings at a few more pitches out of the strike zone than average, he also makes better than average contact. He is easily one of the best basestealers in the game and is a cinch to steal 40-plus bases if the Red Sox allow it. I think they will.

Carl Crawford is an easy first round pick in most fantasy leagues and should only benefit by moving into Fenway Park. The contract may be a bit extreme, but as I stated in the Hot Stove Update I now have to re-write, just because a contract is for a lot of money and takes a player into his 30's does not make it a bad or even an undesirable contract.

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Saturday, December 04, 2010

The Red Sox Go Crazy! Gonzalez Deal is Off, For Now...

posted by Jon Williams
There is a slight chance that you've already heard about Adrian Gonzalez coming to Boston. Well, there is a good chance the deal is off. It may or may not happen but it is probably is worth looking at. On Friday, the Red Sox and Padres agreed on a deal that would send three prospects and a PTBNL (Player To Be Named Later) to San Diego in exchange for first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and a small window to negotiate a contract extension with Gonzalez. The quality of the PTBNL is probably largely dependent on whether the Red Sox are able to sign Gonzalez within the window. However, there are conflicting reports about this and as of the negotiating deadline (2pm, Sunday) there was no extension agreement. It was originally believed that the Red Sox would take Gonzalez even without the extension but obviously that may not be the case.

The Red Sox are parting with at least three top ten prospects but this still looks like a great deal for the Boston Red Sox. The acquisition will move gold glove first baseman, Kevin Youkilis back to his old third base position. Youkilis was once a potential gold glove third baseman as well, but was moved to fit Mike Lowell into the lineup after the Red Sox received him in the Josh Beckett acquisition. Youkilis may not be quite the third baseman he was, but he should still be a solid defensive third baseman.

Gonzalez would be moving from Petco Park, one of the most extreme pitchers' parks into Fenway Park, one of the better parks for hitters. Fenway would provide a slight boost to Gonzalez's power numbers but it would do much more for his batting average. Gonzalez likes to send flyballs to the opposite field where they went to die in Petco, but would bounce off the Green Monster for singles and doubles.

Gonzalez is streaky but also a fairly disciplined hitter. He has a essentially equal distribution of flyballs and grounders, a consistent 20 percent of his batted balls are linedrives. He has a strong walk rate of 11.4 percent in his career and makes strong contact, especially for a power hitter. In Fenway Park I would confidently expect him to bat .300-plus with around 40 homeruns.

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Friday, December 03, 2010

Thinking About Jose Lopez as a Colorado Rockie

posted by Jon Williams
Last night, I didn't really understand why the Colorado Rockies traded for infielder Jose Lopez. This was based on his disappointing performance five of the seven seasons he was a Mariner. Even in the two seasons he wasn't exactly horrible, there was a lot of room for improvement. A poor track record combined with already having three middle infielders battling for one starting second base job already, made the decision seem ludicrous.

Eric Young, Jr is probably the favorite candidate of fantasy owners. He has hit for average, gotten on base and stolen a ton of bases in the minors. His first 250 at-bats in the majors have not been stellar and his defense is a little rough. However, he looks like a quality leadoff bat to me and if the Rockies would let him settle in a bit I'm certain he would produce.

Jonathan Herrera has been less consistent but has shown he can draw a walk when pressed and play decent defense. He performed better than Young for the major league team in 2010, but his ceiling is far lower and he does not have the same kind of physical tools.

Chris Nelson has the best power of the original candidates. He might best fit the profile of a Rockies hitter but that isn't always a good thing. He performed decently at shortstop when Troy Tulowitski was injured.

What I failed to mention yesterday is that Lopez has very good power. He is a dead pull hitter which did a lot to ruin his numbers playing in Safeco Field. However, the same type of hitter can thrive in Coors Field. But Lopez has been very inconsistent and that isn't all about the ballpark he's spent his career within. But if he wins the job he might reward a lucky fantasy owner with 30-plus homers.

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Thursday, December 02, 2010

Hot Stove Update: Adam Dunn Lands in Chicago

posted by Jon Williams
Brett Gardner is having surgery to fix a problem in his wrist, the problem has been described as tendinitis. Kind of weird to need surgery to fix tendinitis in my experience, but the Yankees expect him to be ready to go at the start of Spring Training. I'm just a little worried...

Lance Berkman is leaning towards Colorado as his new home. He would apparently do so as a part-time first baseman and ocassional outfielder. I'm not certain that Berkman needs to sign as a back-up. The Athletics are supposedly after him as a lineup regular...

Are you counting on Joe Nathan making a triumphant return in 2011? Maybe you invested in Nathan during his Tommy John Season to get him ultra cheap. Chances are you still wasted your money. As Parker Hageman of Over the Baggy (an excellent Twins Blog) explains, pitchers usually require 22-24 months before they can be effective after TJS. Though there have been some relevant exceptions as Parker points out.

Derek Jeter and the Yankees Brass met for the first time in three weeks on Wednesday, at Jeter's request. Supposedly, they needed to meet and remember how much they love each other. No one agrees with me that they should just pay him. But can we agree that the Yankees could just give him what he wants and not suffer for it?

Over at the Tao of Stieb (a most excellent Blue Jays Blog) they are losing sleep over Adam Lind. They worry that his awful splits against lefties will continue into the 2011 season. I'd be more worried that the Jays bench him against lefties without giving him another shot at them. He was that bad last season. That's probably just as senseless, but you never know what a new manager will do. Am I fear mongering? I feel like FOX News...

Key Free Agent Signings

The Chicago White Sox have agreed to a four-year contract with first baseman Adam Dunn.

Adam Dunn has agreed to a deal with the Chicago White Sox according to USA Today's Bob Nightengale. The deal won't be official until Dunn passes a physical scheduled for Friday, December 3rd, but it looks pretty solid. I usually wait until these things are locked in but no one else does so whatever. It's a four-year, $56 million deal, he'll become the regular designated hitter if they manage to re-sign Paul Konerko.

Dunn is an excellent power hitter. He has great plate discipline and patience at the plate. He is not a great contact hitter but more than makes up for that with his tremendous power. The White Sox have been an aggressive running team under Ozzie Guillen. We may see stolen bases return to Dunn's game. Obviously, big, slow, aging dudes shouldn't be counted on for their speed, but 5-10 steals would be nice for his fantasy value. Dunn also moves out of a neutral to slight pitcher's park into one of the premiere homerun parks. He should be a lock for 40-plus homers.

The Boston Red Sox have agreed on a one-year deal with catcher Jason Varitek.

Jason Varitek agreed to a one-year, $2 million deal to stay with the Boston Red Sox. At the moment the Red Sox have penciled Jarrod Saltalamacchia into the starting catcher role. That could easily be reversed or develop into a platoon.

The Seattle Mariners signed free agent LHP Erik Bedard.

The Seattle Mariners are desperately trying to get something out of the time, energy and players they spent on Erik Bedard. If he's healthy, he's a fantastic number two starter, if he's plowing through an injury he's rotation filler, and if he's truly injured, it will be typical Erik Bedard.

The Florida Marlins signed free agent RHP Javier Vazquez.

I like this move for the Marlins, especially after the series of poor moves they made to kick off the hot stove season. I think back in the National League, Javier Vazquez should rebound at least some. I doubt he'll be the pitcher he was in 2009 with the Braves but still a better than average pitcher. I think he hates pitching in the American League and especially in New York City. Just a hunch, that is...

Fantasy owners should be aware that Vazquez has seen his fastball velocity drop three consecutive seasons. During the 2009 season he claimed that he had worked on reducing his velocity to increase his command but who knows if that's what we're seeing here. I would bid up to $2o in my deep NL-only but not further than that. That's fairly confident he rebounds, isn't it?

The San Francisco Giants signed free agent SS Miguel Tejada.

Miguel Tejada agreed to a one-year, $6.5 million contract with the Giants on Tuesday. The Giants may still be in on shortstops Jason Bartlett and J.J. Hardy, but I'm sure what they were willing to deal for either player has now been drastically reduced.

Tejada is just barely hanging on at this point. His bat has been severely reduced and his fantasy value is mostly dependent on his position. Don't dig too deep to add him to your roster.

The Trades

The Seattle Mariners traded infielder Jose Lopez to the Colorado Rockies for right-hander Chaz Roe.

Jose Lopez is not a good player and I have absolutely no idea why the Rockies wanted him (if they even do). Maybe it's like one of those fantasy deals you make just to make, then you dump the guy you got.

Other Significant Transactions

RHP Bobby Jenks elected free agency.

LF Matt Diaz elected free agency.

DH Jack Cust elected free agency.

3B Edwin Encarnacion elected free agency.

LF Travis Buck elected free agency.

Atlanta Braves signed free agent LF Eric Hinske.

Los Angeles Angels signed free agent LHP Hisanori Takahashi.

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Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Hot Stove Update: The Dodgers Making Moves

posted by Jon Williams
Things are getting interesting around the ol' Hot Stove.

The Red Sox are Hot 'n Heavy for Carl Crawford.
This surprises me a little because I figured with Jacoby Ellsbury coming back they would be more interested in a power hitter. But only a little, Crawford is easily the best position player available and the Red Sox are one of the teams that have mounds of available cash and an outfield opening. Who plays center field? Ellsbury, I guess...

The Yankees and Derek Jeter are looking at each other funny. The Yankees are suddenly acting like cheapskates when it comes to the Captain. He deserves every penny he's asking for for being one of the few superstar players that did not let us down during the steroid era. He had a down 2010 season but he isn't done just yet. The Yankees may want to phase Jeter away from shortstop, and that's understandable, but they should not force Jeter to play for the Baltimore Orioles. The popularity hit they would take is a lot bigger than they seem to think.

Someone is flooding the internet with rumors of Zack Greinke and the Yankees being a better match than most have speculated. Greinke has suffered from anxiety and bouts of depression. Most think that the pressure of New York would be too much for him. I submit that the man was depressed playing for the Kansas City Royals, who wouldn't be? The Yankees are about as far from the Royals as an organization as you can get. Plus, the Yankees clubhouse is very protective of their younger players and Greinke would get a ton of support. That said, I still don't buy him coming to New York.

What is Adrian Beltre looking for? He turned down $64 million from the Athletics. For certain, the Athletics are not the ideal team for Beltre but other than re-signing with the Red Sox (still a possibility) teams like the Angels and Orioles seem like bad fits as well. The Rangers would be nice but are they really looking to add an expensive third baseman with Michael Young on the roster?

The Giants are hoping they don't need to shop for a third baseman. Pablo Sandoval in an effort to re-gain the starting position he lost in the playoffs has begun a rigorous off-season program to lose weight and get in better shape. He has hooked up with Triple Threat Performance, the experts that are famous for working with major leaguers like Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez and Gary Sheffield. Hey! No steroid jokes about Kung-Fu Panda.

Major Free Agent Signings

The Los Angeles Dodgers signed free agent infielder Juan Uribe.

The strangest thing about this signing is the report that Juan Uribe turned down essentially the same three-year, $21 million offer to stay with the World Series Champion, San Francisco Giants. The Dodgers plan to start Uribe at second base and to emphasize that plan they traded away infielder Ryan Theriot. It is not official yet, the Giants wasted no time signing Miguel Tejada to a one-year contract to be their starting shortstop in 2011. However, the Giants are supposedly still interested in acquiring Tampa Bay shortstop Jason Bartlett.

Uribe posted a career high walk rate and hit a career high 24 homers in 575 at-bats. Uribe has nice power for a shortstop. Although his BABIP was very low at .256 (career .282) fantasy owners should not expect much of a rebound in batting average. Uribe has a swing at everything approach that doesn't jive with his mediocre contact rates. He should continue to provide pretty much the same stats as a Dodger. Dodger Stadium is slightly better for homeruns but suppresses scoring at a rate similar to AT&T Park.

I find it interesting that the Dodgers have been fairly aggressive to start the off season. I guess I assumed that the divorce would be an impediment to progress. The Dodgers are one of the teams I want to root for to do well. Unfortunately they have lousy ownership and a GM in Ned Colletti that hasn't convinced me he knows what he's doing so far. So far so good for 2011.

Texas Rangers signed Japanese free agent right-hander, Yoshinori Tateyam.

The Rangers have signed Yoshinori Tateyam to a split contract that means he will be paid differently depending on whether or not he makes the major league club. Tateyam features a fastball that sits around 90 mph, a screwball that he features against left-handed batters and excellent control. He apparently has a very deceptive delivery that should at least make him effective the first time around the American League, assuming he makes the team. He isn't a threat to steal the closer job at this point so his fantasy value should be minimal.

The Trades

The Los Angeles Dodgers traded middle infielder Ryan Theriot to the St. Louis Cardinals for right-handed reliever, Blake Hawksworth.

The 2010 season was not a good one for Ryan Theriot. He pretty much had his worst season as a professional. He will play the 2011 season at age 31, so it isn't too hard to envision a bounce-back season. The Cardinals are apparently planning to move him back to shortstop, where Theriot claims he is more comfortable. What that means for the light-hitting Brendan Ryan is still a question to be answered.

Theriot usually provides a decent on-base percentage. His walk rate has been all over the place but his career 8.4 percent walk rate is probably about right for projecting. He has a good eye at the plate and a strong contact rate complemented by his above average speed on the bases. If his BABIP once again approaches his career level, Theriot should be able to hit for a batting average in the .275-.285 level and steal at least 20 bases. As a shortstop he has more fantasy value than some might expect.

Blake Hawksworth is a typical right-handed reliever. He had a very unfortunate 2010 season, but has the potential to be a solid middle reliever. His fantasy value should be minimal.

Other Significant Transactions

Texas Rangers signed free agent C Yorvit Torrealba.

Atlanta Braves signed free agent C Wilkin Castillo.

Pittsburgh Pirates outrighted Andy LaRoche to Indianapolis Indians.

LF Wilkin Ramirez assigned to Atlanta Braves.

St. Louis Cardinals signed free agent LHP Brian Tallet.

Pittsburgh Pirates signed free agent RHP Fernando Nieve.

Pittsburgh Pirates signed free agent 3B Andy Marte.

Pittsburgh Pirates signed free agent C Dusty Brown.

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