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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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San Francisco Giants: Bruce Bochy Hello Hall-of-Fame

Following a Kick return for a Touchdown by Desmond Howard in a game between Michigan and Ohio State during the 1991 season, notable commentator Keith Jackson uttered the words “Hello Heisman” as Howard did the Heisman pose in the Michigan Stadium end zone. With that in mind, I wanted to use a similar variation of that line for current San Francisco Giants Manager Bruce Bochy “Hello Hall-of-Fame. With the Giants winning their second championship in the past 3 years, manager Bruce Bochy has proven to be one of the best postseason in-game managers in baseball since he started managing during the 1995.

Bochy, a former catcher, started his managerial career during the 1995 season with the San Diego Padres where he spent the last 4 seasons of his playing career. During his tenure as manager of the Padres, Bochy finished in first place 4 times and in 1998 he led the Padres to the World Series for the first time since 1984 when Bochy was a player on that team. However, following the 2006 season, with new management taking over their front office, San Diego decided they wanted to go in another direction so Bochy decided to move up the California coast to another member of the NL West; the San Francisco Giants. In San Francisco, Bochy’s first season was surrounded by a number of significant events in the 2007 All-Star Game being played in San Francisco along with Barry Bonds quest for Hank Aaron’s Home Run record of 755. Following the 2007 season, the Giants decided to go in a different direction as they allowed Bonds to move on and instead decided to build their roster around pitching and defense. The new direction seemed to fit more of Bochy’s style that he managed with in San Diego.

So with that, the Giants decided to build through the draft, (Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, Madison Bumgarner, Buster Posey were all former 1st Round Picks) add a few under the radar free agents, (Aubry Huff, Gregor Blanco, and Ryan Vogelsong), along with making a couple of quiet, but effective trades (Pat Burrell, Cody Ross, Angel Pagan, Hunter Pence, Marco Scutaro, ) to help add to the depth on their roster.

So what make’s Bruce Bochy such a great manager? Two Reasons:

1. Unlike other teams, the Giants don’t have a great deal of offensive star-power: The Giants have won 2 of the last 3 World Series, and during both Championship runs had to go through 6 different teams that featured a number of elite offensive players in their lineups. Going back to the 2010 Playoffs, the Giants faced the Braves (Chipper Jones (1999 MVP), Brian McCann (2010 All-Star Game MVP), Martin Prado) Phillies (Ryan Howard (2006 MVP), Jimmy Rollins (2007 MVP), Chase Utley, Shane Victoriano, Jayson Werth), and Rangers (Nelson Cruz, Josh Hamilton (2010 MVP), Michael Young, Elvis Andrus, Ian Kinsler) and during the 2012 Playoffs they faced the Reds (Joey Votto (2010 MVP), Brandon Phillips, Jay Bruce, Scott Rolen, Drew Stubbs), Cardinals (Carlos Beltran (9th Most Postseason Home Runs), David Freese (2011 NLCS and World Series MVP), Yadier Molina, Matt Holliday), and the Tigers (Miguel Cabrera (2012 Triple Crown Winner), Prince Fielder (2011 All-Star Game MVP), Austin Jackson, Jhonny Peralta). Not that the Giants didn’t trot out a number of solid hitters (Posey, Pablo Sandoval, Scutaro, Pence) but the Giants hitters don’t have the star power that the other teams they faced feature.

2. Bochy and the Giants aren’t afraid to make bold moves in the Playoffs: The majority of managers wouldn’t ever think of ever making some of the moves that the Bochy and the Giants front office made over the past 3 seasons. Once again, I want to go back and look at the Giants 2010 Season and then move forward to some of the decisions they made during the 2012 season. During their 2010 Playoff Run, the Giants decided to trade starting catcher (and former World Series Champion (2002)) Bengie Molina to the Rangers for a minor prospects. This move was made so the Giants could have top prospect (at that time) Buster Posey start at catcher and Aubry Huff move to first base. Posey went onto win the 2010 Rookie of the Year Award and became the face of the Giants offense. An additional key move the Giants decided to make during their first World Series run was putting Pablo Sandoval and Aaron Rowand on the bench during the Playoffs along with having former Cy-Young Award winner Barry Zito (the highest paid player on their roster) not apart Playoff roster. Finally, following a game 3 loss to the Rangers, Manager Bruce Bochy decided to change-up his lineup by moving Aubry Huff to DH and added Travis Ishikawa and Nate Schierholtz to their lineup. It seemed that at every significant time during the 2010 Playoffs, Bruce Bochy was making all the correct calls throughout these crucial moments.

As for the 2012 Playoffs, Bruce Bochy and the Giants once again showed why they are on top of and prepared for any situation that comes their way. Bochy’s problems started at the beginning of the season when on April 15th, 3-Time All-Star Closer Brian Wilson was forced to miss the remainder of the season with Tommy John Surgery. With Wilson on the shelf for the remainder of the season, the Giants were forced to go with a closer by committee situation which included Santiago Casilla (25), Sergio Romo (14) , and Javier Lopez (7). In addition to that, San Francisco also saw the division rival Dodgers acquiring a number of significant players throughout June, July and August to help bolster their lineup and rotation. To the Giants credit, they didn’t panic and instead made a few key under the radar trades in acquiring Colorado Rockies infielder Marco Scutaro and Phillies outfielder Hunter Pence. Just 15 days after the MLB Trade Deadline, All-Star Game MVP (and at the time NL Batting Leader) Melky Cabrera was suspended 50 games for testing positive for a banned substance. The Giants already featured a lack of depth in their outfield and with this occurring. it made it that much more important that the Giants traded for Pence at the deadline.

Once the Playoffs started, even with all his struggles throughout the 2012 season, most people felt that 2-Time Cy-Young Award Winner Tim Lincecum (2008 and 2009) would stay in the rotation for the entirety of the MLB Playoffs. That wasn’t the case as Lincecum only started 1 game during the 2012 MLB Playoffs (NLCS Game 4) and instead the Giants decided to use him out of the bullpen where he worked 13 innings while only giving up 1 run. With Lincecum out of the rotation, and 2010 Postseason hero Cody Ross in Boston, the Giants needed for two people to step up and fill their spots. Ironically it was the 2 players that were little used during the Giants 2010 Championship run: Pablo Sandoval and Barry Zito. During the 2012 NLCS, the Giants need Zito to step up and win a crucial game 5 so the series would be sent back to San Francisco. Fortunately for the Giants, Zito delivered as he threw 7 2/3 innings of scoreless baseball sending the series back to the Bay Area. So what about the hitter that stepped up, it was Pablo “the Panda” Sandoval who had the second most hits in a single Post Season (24) and joined Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson, and Albert Pujols in hitting 3 Home Runs in a World Series Game. With Zito’s dominant pitching, Sandoval’s hot bat, and a team that refused to give up (down 2-0 to the Reds; won 3 straight in Cincinnati and down 3-1 to the Cardinals; won 3 straight games vs he defending World Champs), the Giants used these three aspects to bring another Championship to the City by the Bay. In my opinion, both the 2010 and 2012 MLB Playoffs showed why Bruce Bochy is one of the best in-game managers of all time and why he’s deserves to be considered a future Hall-of-Fame Manager.

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National League West Spring Training Preview

The 2011 NL West title was won by the team who had the 6th lowest payroll ($53,639,833) in the MLB: the Arizona Diamondbacks. The 2011 Diamondbacks featured a lot of young players to go along with veterans that other teams didn’t want on their roster. Besides the Dbacks, the rest of the division was far less than spectacular with Arizona being the only team that finished with more than 87 wins.  Outside of the Dbacks, the other teams in the division had either multiple health problem on their team or a significant off the field distraction.

Arizona Diamondbacks: What a magical season last season was by the young and exciting Arizona Diamondbacks. Before the 2011 season started, the Diamondbacks were picked by the prognosticators to finish in last place and receive a high draft-pick in the following year’s draft. At the start of the season it looked like the prognosticators would be correct as the Dbacks had a 11-15 April. However, after the month of April, Arizona went 83-53 the rest of the season and in fact finished every other month with a record of better than .500. Manager of the year award winner Kirk Gibson built a staff that featured a great deal of successful former players that included former Cubs manager Don Baylor, former Cub infielder Eric Young, and former Indians Ace Charles Nagy. As for the players, they were led by MVP candidate Justin Upton, and even though the Diamondbacks didn’t feature the greatest offense (hitting .250 as a team), they always seemed to get a key hit when they neded it most last year. As for this year’s lineup, Arizona should have shortstop Steven Drew back from his injury to go alongside Upton, Chris Young, Ryan Roberts, Aaron Hill, Paul Goldschmidt, Miguel Montero, and former Twins outfielder Jason Kubel. As for the pitching staff, the Diamondbacks finished in the top-half of the league last year with a 3.80 team ERA. Led by Ace Ian Kennedy, (who finished fourth in the Cy-Young voting with a 21-4 record and a 2.88 ERA), Arizona also features other young pitchers Daniel Hudson, Joe Saunders, and Josh Collmenter to go along with former A’s All-Star Trever Cahill. On paper, Arizona should be an even more improved team this year and once again compete for a division title.

San Francisco Giants: The 2010 World Series Champs had a difficult 2011 season that started off on the wrong foot when star catcher Buster Posey was apart of a collision at the plate and unfortunately needed surgery for torn ligaments in his left ankle and a broken bone in his lower left leg. Once Posey went down for the year, the Giants season started to unravel and the team never recovered. As the season progressed on, it seemed like the entire season the Giants were trying to find the chemistry they had from the year before but never could find it. As for this year, if Posey is healthy, the Giants once again should compete for a division title or at the minimum a playoff spot. San Francisco is fractionate that they have two of the top National League pitchers in their rotation with 2-time Cy-Young Award winner Tim Lincecum and All-Star Matt Cain along with young up-and-comer Madison Bumgarner and 2011 All-Star Ryan Vogelsong. The Giants also feature one of the best bullpen’s in baseball led by Brian “The Beard” Wilson, along with veteran relievers Sergio Romo and Javier Lopez. As for the Giants offense, it showed a few holes that were exposed last year which led to the Giants finishing with the 3rd worst team average in baseball last year. For the Giants to be successful this year, they need Pablo Sandoval to continue his play from last year, Buster Posey to come back fully healthy, newcomers Melky Cabrera and Angel Pagan to hit at least .280 this year, and Aubrey Huff to return to his career averages and not last years stats. If the Giants offense returns and the pitching stays healthy, the Giants will be close to the top of the NL West Division the entire year.

Los Angeles Dodgers: Throughout entire 2011 season, the Dodgers were surrounded with a Hollywood Drama as they featured questions about the teams future with Dodgers ownership in such chaos. At the start of the season, the Dodgers and first year manager Don Mattingly looked distracted by the situation as they had a losing recorded in each of the first four months. As August started, the Dodgers finally started playing good baseball and as they finished with a record above the .500 mark (82-79). As tough a season as it was for Los Angeles, outfielder Matt Kemp almost hit for the triple crown (.324 average, 39 Home Runs, and 126 RBI) and pitcher Clayton Kershaw won the Cy Young Award last year (21-5 record with a 2.28 ERA). For the Dodgers to be successful in 2012, they need pitcher Chad Billingsley to take the next step and become a All-Star caliber pitcher, the rest of the rotation to become capable 3-5 starters, and have Andre Ethier return to the player he was in 2010. If this occurs, Los Angeles should become a contender in the NL West. On the other hand, if the Dodgers don’t get off to a good start, they should look to trade star outfielder Andre Ethier (his contract is up after this year), and add more depth to their minor league system.

Colorado Rockies: With Prince Fielder signing with the Detroit Tigers, the Rockies now  feature the best 3-4 under 27 years and under combination in baseball with Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez. The 2011 Rockies were surrounded all season by the question of wither they would trade Ubaldo Jimenez or not. In the end, just a few days before the trade deadline the Rockies decided to trade Jimenez to Cleveland for former first round picks Alex White and Drew Pomeranz. I feel that Ubaldo is a very good pitcher, but White and Pomeranz have the potential to become two of the key fixtures in the Rockies rotation in 2012 and beyond. As for 2012, the Rockies once again will feature one of the best lineups in baseball highlighted by Tulowitzki and Gonzalez to go along with Dexter Fowler, Todd Helton, former Twins right fielder Michael Cuddyer, and veteran catcher Ramon Hernandez. Like many other Rockies teams, this teams ceiling will be determined by their rotation. The rotation features young starters Jhoulys Chacin, Tyler Chatwood, Guillermo Moscoso, and Drew Pomeranz along with veteran and former Orioles starter, Jeremy Guthrie. If the pitching of the Rockies is holds up and is consistent, the Rockies just might be October baseball once again, however, if the pitching is inconsistent and not reliable, the Rockies season will be over before the trade deadline.

San Diego Padres: After having a great 2010 season, slugger and San Diego native Adrian Gonzalez was traded to Boston for a package that included prospects Casey Kelly and Anthony Rizzo (whose name will be brought up in a few sentences). The 2011 Padres never recovered from the loss of Gonzalez and finished the 2011 season 20 games below .500 (71-91). After the season, the Padres decided to trade Ace Mat Latos to Cincinnati for top prospects Yonder Alonso and Yasmani Grandal along with former All-Star pitcher Edinson Volquez. With the Padres holding onto two of the best first base prospects in baseball, the Padres decided to trade Anthony Rizzo (see, I told you I would address him again) to the Cubs for pitcher Andrew Cashner. In the offseason, the Padres also added all-star closer Huston Street along with former White Sox outfielder Carlos Quentin to improve their offense. The 2012 Padres will feature an interesting lineup which includes: Quentin, Cameron Maybin, Orlando Hudson  and Chase Headley to along with pitchers Tim Stauffer, Clayton Richard, Edinson Volquez, and Cory Luebke. As for the 2012 San Diego Padres, I don’t see this Padres team becoming a contender this season, at the same time, former GM Jed Hoyer (now the Cubs GM) has left the Padres with a wealth of prospects in their minor league system. The Padres future looks bright, but the 2012 Padres season might be tough on Padres fans.

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Posted by on March 2, 2012 in MLB, Sports


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