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MLB Offseason

The Winter Meetings have now come to an end and were just about half way through the MLB Offseason. With that in mind, I feel now’s a good opportunity for me to examine what has occurred the past few weeks and see who has/has not improved their roster this offseason.

Winners:

Boston Red Sox: The previous two seasons has seen the Red Sox lose a 9 Game September lead, change General Managershire a Manager that had  numerous problems with his players, trade 3 of the teams highest paid players, and then fire Bobby Valentine. With all those problems the past 2 seasons, the Red Sox decided to start over and go back to the old Red Sox formula which helped them win 2 World Series Titles in a 4 years span. The start of the offseason saw the Red Sox bring a familiar face back in former Red Sox pitching coach (and 2009-2011 Manager of the Toronto Blue Jays) John Farrell. With Farrell on board, the Red Sox decided to sign a number of quality “Clubhouse Players” and instead of spending 20 million per year on one player they signed 3 quality players for the same price in David Ross, Mike Napoli, and Shane Victorino. A number of people might criticize the Red Sox for some of the contracts they handed out but they needed to change their Locker Room and one of these players in particular (Mike Napoli) will put up great stats next season. Napoli has fantastic career stats at Fenway Park (.306 Average, 7 HR, and 17 RBI in 19 games) and with him not being an everyday catcher anyone (Boston already features David Ross, Ryan Lavarnway, and Jarred Saltalamacchia), I feel Napoli will get back to his 2011 Season.

The Red Sox still have two questions they have to address this offseason:

1.  With three catchers already under contract, when will Boston trade Jarred Saltalamacchia?

2. Will the Red Sox trade Jacoby Ellsbury?

Texas Rangers: The Rangers haven’t made any significant moves during the 2012 offseason, so why are they listed under the winners for the offseason? I decided to list Texas under the winners category because they’ve been mentioned in all the key players (Trade and Free Agency) this offseason. The biggest question surrounding the Rangers this offseason has been with 2010 MVP Josh Hamilton whose a Free Agent for the first time in his career. At 31, Hamilton is still an elite hitter but has had to deal with a number of injuries which have forced him to miss a number of game in his career (Hamilton has only played in 135 games only twice in his MLB career). So why have they done such a good job with handling the Hamilton situation? Because Texas allowed for other teams to set the market for him and see what his value was in Free Agency. As that was going on, the Rangers decided to look at Free Agents Zack Greinke and Michael Bourn along with DBacks Outfielder Justin Upton and Rays Pitcher James Shields. With Greinke signing with the Dodgers (and hurting their biggest rival) and Shields being traded to Kansas City, look for the Rangers to now turn their attention to Upton, Anibal Sanchez, R.A. Dickey, and of course Josh Hamilton.

With the Rangers linked to all these teams, this shows that the team that holds all the cards are the Texas Rangers. The Rangers can resign Hamilton or trade one of their young prospects for a veteran hitter/pitcher. With the money the Rangers will save from the Michael Young trade, look for them to make a significant signing or trade this offseason.

San Francisco Giants: Following San Francisco’s first World Series since the Franchise moved to the Bay Area, the Giants decided to bring back a number of players from their former roster that won the World Series. Unfortunately for the Giants, 2010 Rookie of the Year Buster Posey went down with a season ending injury but had Posey not gone down with the injury in April 2011, the Giants might have found themselves back in the playoffs the next season. With that said, the Giants didn’t make the 2011 Playoffs, brought in a number of new faces via trades and free agency (Angel Pagan, Melky Cabrera Hunter Pence and Marco Scutaro) which helped the Giants return to the top of the baseball world in 2012. Following their Championship Parade, the Giants decided to resign all of their key free agents (Jeremy Affeldt, Pagan, and  Scutaro) and go with almost the exact same roster that helped them win the 2012 World Series. With that said, a number of people have been surprised the Giants decided to go in another direction with Brian Wilson as they decided to Non-Tender his contract making him a Free Agent.

I feel this was the correct decision for two reasons:

1. With the Money they saved from not having Wilson on their roster anymore, there now able to sign their key Free Agents this offseason.

2. Romo has the potential of becoming one of the best closers in baseball.

Clark Street Sports: Where Real Fans Shop

Clark Street Sports: Where Real Fans Shop

Losers:

Los Angeles Angels: The winners of last years offseason might be the losers to this years offseason. The Angels decided to revamp their team by letting Torii Hunter, Dan Haren, and Zack Greinke leave via free agency in addition to trading Ervin Santana away to the Royals.

So what have the Angels done so far to account for all these departures:

1. The Angels traded 2010 All-Star Jordan Walden to the Atlanta Braves for Tommy Hanson who had an up and down career in Atlanta that ended with him going 12-5 with a 4.29 ERA during the 2012 season.

2. Following that, the Angels signed Joe Blanton (for the backend of their rotation) and Sean Burnett (to add the lefty reliever they needed) each to a 2 year deal.

These three moves showed that the Angels were preparing to move on from Greinke and go in another direction. With Greinke, Haren, and Santana out of their rotation, I feel the Angels took a step back this offseason and still need another quality pitcher if they want to compete with the A’s and Rangers in the American League West. If this is the Angels 2012 pitching staff (both starting and relief), then I feel the Rangers are the clear cut favorites in the AL West.

Seattle Mariners: The Mariners have a solid pitching rotation highlighted by Felix Hernandez and also includes Jason Vargas, Hisashi Iwakuma, Erasmo Ramirez, in addition to top pitching prospects Taijuan Walker and Danny Hultzen. This shows that the Mariners have a number of quality pitchers, however, if they want to be a contender they need to address their lineup. Currently, the best players in the Mariners lineup are Jesus Montero, Dustin Ackley, and Kyle Seager which shows that their’s not much power in their lineup. With that in mind, I feel the Mariners should look to add two names: Josh Hamilton and Billy Butler. If the Mariners are able to add these two bats to their lineup, then the Mariners would become a legitimate contender in the American League West.

New York Mets:Mets fans were dreaming of a Wil Myers for R.A. Dickey trade but instead the Royals decided to trade their top prospect to Tampa for James Shields. With Greinke and Shields off the board, the Mets now need to look to trade with the Angels, Rangers, or Tigers and see what they would give up for 2012 CY-Young Award Winner. The Mets already have a solid rotation filled with a combination of veterans (Johan Santana and Jon Niese) and youngsters (Dillion Gee, Matt Harvey, and Zack Wheeler) and because of that the Mets are fortunate enough to have the space to trade Dickey so they can add power bat to their lineup. A few of the prospects the Mets should look to trade for include Mike Olt, Elvis Andrus, C.J. Cron, or another power hitting/middle of the infield player to their roster. If the Mets are able to do this, then the Mets would show a solid core of talent in both their lineup and rotation.

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MLB: MLB Players Who Could be Traded During the 2012 Offseason:

With Free Agents Jake Peavy (Chicago White Sox) and David Ortiz (Boston Red Sox) resigning with their respected teams, the MLB Free Agency pool seems quite limited but there’s still a few significant players to watch this offseason as the Free Agency period gets underway. Below are a list of the top free-agents and which team I feel they will sign with during the offseason:

1. Zach Greinke: (Los Angeles Angles): With Zack Greinke being the only elite level pitcher on the Free Agent Market, there’s no question that he will be the most sought after free agent this winter. The 2009 Cy-Young Award winner will have numerous teams interested in signing him during the offseason and that list will start with Greinke’s 2012 Team: the Los Angeles Angeles. With Bobby Abreu, Dan Haren, Torii Hunter, and Ervin Santana off their payroll, I feel the Angels will have the necessary money they need to resign Zack Greinke to the biggest Pitcher contract this offseason. The other teams that would be interested in signing Zack Greinke this offseason are the Texas Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals.

2. Josh Hamilton: (Washington Nationals): The Nationals already feature a sold core of hitters (Ian Desmond, Bryce Harper, Michael Morse, Jayson Werth, and Ryan Zimmerman) but have been looking for an additional left-handed impact bat to add to their lineup so they can be that much more deeper from both sides of the plate. If the Nationals were able to sign Hamilton, then they could move Morse from the outfield to First Base and feature one of the best offensive and defensive outfields in Hamilton, Harper, and Werth. In addition to the Nationals, I feel the Baltimore Orioles and Hamilton’s current team, the Texas Rangers, would still be interested in bringing him back to Texas.

3. Michael Bourn: (Philadelphia Phillies): The Braves would love to bring back the 2-Time All-Star and Gold-Glove winner however it seems unlikely they would be able to afford his reported asking price. With the Phillies dropping almost 40 million dollars from

last years and in addition to trading 2 of the teams 3 starting outfielder from last years team, I feel Philly will be one of the most active teams during

the offseason. Other teams that will look to sign Michael Bourn are his former team, Atlanta Braves along with the Washington Nationals if there unable to sign Josh Hamilton.

4.  AJ Pierzynski: (Texas Rangers): At 35 (and soon to be 36 years old) the 2-Time All-Star Catcher had his best statistical season of his career winning his first silver slugger award and still looked to be at the top of his game. With that said, as much as Pierzynski has ment to the White Sox organization, it seems like the White Sox have decided to go younger and start last year backup catcher Tyler Flowers. Flowers proved last season that he can do a solid job at calling a game in addition to having a great deal of power from the catcher position. I feel the Rangers will sign Pierzynski who has proven to be a much more durable catcher behind the plate than 2011 Ranger Mike Napoli (Napoli has never caught 760 innings in a season while Pierzynski has caught 1,000 Plus innings 11 times in his career). The other teams that also might look to sign Pierzynski this offseason are the Chicago White Sox, Tampa Bay Rays, and Los Angeles Dodgers.

In addition to the Free Agency Process, there’s 5 other significant players that I feel will be mentioned in a number of trade rumors this offseason.

Alex Rodriguez: (New York Yankees): The Yankees expensive 3rd Baseman had another injury plagued season and showed that he’s still having some durability issues as A-Rod hasn’t played in 140 games in season since the 2007 season and in three of those season he played in under 125 games. Even with all his injuries and problems throughout the MLB Playoffs, I still feel A-Rod will be a Yankee when the 2013 season starts. On the other hand, will the Yankees at-least test the Trade Market… absolutely. So which teams will the Yankees talk with A-Rod about: before the Blockbuster Trade on Tuesday I would have said the Miami Marlins, but now I feel there’s only two teams that would consider trading for the former 3-Time AL MVP Winner: Chicago White Sox (however, with Rick Hahn now the GM, the White Sox might have a new perspective on A-Rod) and drs. In the end, I feel Rodriguez will once again be in Yankee Pinstripes when the 2013 Baseball season begins.

Chase Headley: (San Diego Padres): The Padres have a ton of solid prospects in their organization and with the Giants, Dodgers, and Diamondbacks in their division, I’m not sure there ready to win now so I feel they should look to trade their best asset; Chase Headley. Headley had by far his best season, Hitting .286, to go along with 31 Home Runs and an NL High 115 RBI’s while playing in arguably the toughest hitting ballpark in all of baseball and because of this he’s a finalist for the 2012 NL MVP Award. In addition to having such a great season, Headley is just hitting his prime (28 years old) and has 3 more Arbitration Eligible Seasons left on his contract. Because of his age, contract status, the chances of him replicating this season and the state of this franchise, I feel the Padres should look to trade Chase Headley this offseason. Some of the places that have enough assets to acquire Headley and look to trade for him are the Tampa Bay Rays, Texas Rangers, and the Oakland Athletics. In the end, I feel the Padres will ask for too much and not trade the 28 year old 3rd Baseman whose also proven he can play First Base and Left Field.

Gavin Floyd: (Milwaukee BrewersWith White Sox 2012 Third Baseman Kevin Youkilis most likely departing from the South Side of Chicago this offseason, its very clear that the Chicago White Sox have a significant void to fill at the hot corner that they’ll look fill via a Trade (the Free-Agent Market is quite thin). With that said, a number of teams are looking for veteran pitchers that haven’t had any significant injuries in the past. Fortunately, Floyd fits the criteria as he’s thrown over 180 innings for of the past 5 seasons showing that he can take the ball at any time. Because of this, I feel the White Sox will either trade Floyd straight up for a 3rd Baseman or trade Floyd for a number of prospects that they can then flip the prospects for a third baseman. I feel the White Sox number one option would be moving Floyd and a few other prospects for either top prospects Anthony Rendon (Washington Nationals) or Mike Olt (Texas Rangers). So why would Texas or Washington be in such a hurry to trade one of their top prospects? Because both teams have a log jam at third base in Ryan Zimmerman (Nationals) and Adrian Beltre (Ranges). Zimmerman, (who agreed to a new contract last offseason), and Beltre, (who hit .321 to along with 36 Homers and 102 RBI and has 4 more years left on his contract) might feel they don’t need one of these elite level prospects and instead might look to acquire a quality veteran pitcher. Both teams have the two different options for these two players: either move one of the top prospects in baseball so they can fill other holes on their roster or have them change positions because nethor will be playing 3rd Base in the near future. In the end, do I foresee the White Sox acquiring one of these two young 3rd Base prospects…no and because of this I feel they will trade Floyd to the Milwaukee Brewers for a number of prospects to help improve their farm system. With that in mind, I also feel the Colorado Rockies, Los Angeles Dodgers, St. Louis Cardinals, and Texas Rangers will also make a run at Floyd.

Matt Garza: (Chicago Cubs): The Cubs 28 year old right hander had an up and 2012 season that unfortunately ended with him on the DL from July 21st until the completion of the Season. With Garza being in the prime of his career, a proven winner, and having no significant injuries in the past, its a forgone conclusion that a number of teams will look to trade for Garza this offseason. So what teams will look to trade for Garza? I feel the list for Garza will include the Baltimore Orioles, AL Champion Detroit TigersKansas City Royals (who feature a great Bullpen and Offense but need to upgrade their starting rotation), New York Yankees, and Texas Rangers. In the end, I think Garza will start the season with the Cubs so they can show he’s recovered from his triceps injury and then decide wither or not to trade him depending on where the Cubs are in the standings around the July 31st Trade Deadline.

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