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So much for AL East parity


The bulk of this year’s winter meetings were pretty
uneventful, but it was certainly bookended by some craziness out of Beantown.

After officially acquiring superstar first baseman Adrian Gonzalez from the San Diego
Padres on Monday in a blockbuster deal, the Boston Red Sox again turn heads by
unexpectedly signing
one of the preeminent five-tool players in the game in outfielder Carl Crawford
.  The deal is worth a staggering $142-million
over the next 7 years and when combined with the expected extension for
Gonzalez, the Red Sox have unofficially committed around $300-million to two
players.  I guess John Henry isn’t
hurting from purchasing Liverpool.

Crawf.jpgThe surprising part of this deal is not that Boston signed
Crawford, nor is it that he was signed to the second richest contract ever to
be awarded to an outfielder.  The
surprising part is the timing.

<– “Look what I caught,  $142-million, BITCH!!”

While most teams interested in Crawford (such as the Angels,
Yankees and Rangers) were waiting for Cliff
to make his decision before committing funds to Crawford, the Red Sox
stepped in and made the deal happen. 
They were the only team said to have real interest in the athletic
leftfielder who did not have interest
in Lee, allowing them to swoop in a steal Crawford from under their noses.  Something Crawford will be doing a lot of in
Boston.  Oh yes, I made a pun.

But this was supposed to be the year that the AL East evened
out a little.  The Rays were/are expected
to take a giant step back and both the Orioles and Jays were supposed to be
rising teams ready to take the next step toward contention.  Reality has set in quickly.

The Red Sox, at least right now, have to be considered the
favourite while the Yankees will become co-favourites if they’re able to sign
Lee.  If the Yankees don’t sign Lee,
there could be an opening for one of the other three teams to jump into Wildcard
contention (probably not Baltimore), but they still have to be considered at
least the second favourite team even if they lose out on him.

By the way, the Red Sox projected lineup as of right now:

  • ·        
    CF  Jacoby
  • ·        
    LF  Carl
  • ·        
    1B  Adrian
  • ·        
    3B  Kevin Youkilis
  • ·        
    DH  David
  • ·        
    2B  Dustin
  • ·        
    RF  J.D.
  • ·        
  • ·        
    SS  Marco

Not to mention that they still have Clay Buchholz, Jon
Lester, Josh Beckett, John Lackey, and Daisuke Matsuzaka as their projected
5-man rotation.

That’s just not fair, dammit!

There’s one more negative aspect of the Crawford deal from
the perspective of the Jays; the Red Sox are still interested in lefty reliever
Scott Downs, who is, like Crawford,
a Type-A free agent.  If he signs in
Boston, the Jays will not get the Red Sox first round pick as compensation as
that now goes to the Rays.  And, oh yeah,
the Jays STILL have to face Crawford 18 times this upcoming season.  Bad day.

This by no means tempers my excitement for the 2011 season,
it just seems to signal another 3rd or worse season for Toronto.

Apparently the Angels made an offer to Crawford of 7 years and $108-million
according to a Tweet by Mark
of the New York Daily News.  Werth definitely
drove up that market.  Way to go Rizzo.

Apparently Ken Rosenthal
that Lee received a 7 year offer from the Red Sox.  Signing Crawford does make that unlikely, but
apparently I was wrong about their interest in Lee.

On Major League Baseball’s latest cash grab: Playoff Expansion

selig83458409.jpgMajor League
Baseball never ceases to surprise me with the things they do for quick and easy
cash.  You know, ignoring the now quite
obvious influx of steroids in the game throughout the 90s and early 2000s,
making the All-Star game “count” by establishing which league gets home field advantage
in the World Series; that kind of thing.

Next on the
list of obvious cash grabs is MLB’s discussion of an expanded playoff
system.  Let me explain:

Commissioner Bug Selig wants to
expand the MLB playoffs to include an additional wild card team from each
league.  The three division winners from
each league will get a bye to the ALDS, while the wild card teams will duke it
out in a one game or best-of-three playoff.

Teams get
more money through television revenue, as does the league.  Teams also get more money from ticket sales
from the added playoff games.  MLB
recognizes how well the NFL, NBA and NHL do from a large and drawn out playoff
system, but here’s why baseball is
and should be considered different.

First off,
baseball is already nearly an all-year-round thing.  This is great, because I love baseball, but
the fact is that Spring Training starts in early February with games starting a
month later, and games continue until late October.  Adding any
kind of additional playoff games, however small they may be, adds to this.

But the major
reason this is a bad idea is the inherent parity in baseball.  It is nearly impossible on any given night to
predict who will win a game, even if you have the Yankees playing the Orioles,
there is a good chance that the O’s will come away with a win.  Baseball is more parodied than any other
sport.  This is why there are 162 games in a season.

The NFL has
16 games because after 16 games, the best teams are the best teams.  In other words, there are no flukes.  Generally by that time, the cream of the crop
has established itself.  The NBA and NHL
need 82 games to establish this, but it’s still only half the season MLB puts

why:  In 2009, the NFL had no less than
10 teams with 10 or more wins, or a .625 winning percentage.  That’s nearly a third of the league.  By comparison, a .625 winning percentage in
MLB gets you 101 wins.  That’s not just a
good team, that’s an elite one.  In 2010,
MLB produced ZERO teams with that
many wins.  In fact, there have been ten
101-game winners since 2001.

The NBA had 12
teams with a winning percentage of more than .610 in 2009-10.  That would be like having 12 99-win teams in
one season in MLB.  The NHL had 11 teams
with that winning percentage.

Up until
1994, MLB had just four of its teams
make the playoffs.  After a grueling 162
game schedule to determine who the best teams were, it was important to allow
only select few of them to compete for the ultimate prize of the World
Series.  It gave some validity to playing
so many regular season games.  There was
no such thing as a fluke.  You had to be
among the game’s elite to even stand a chance.

In 1994, the
league expanded to 8 teams making the playoffs. 
Still not as many as the NFL’s 12, or the NBA’s and NHL’s 16, but twice
as many as it had previously had.  Even
with all those teams making the playoffs in other leagues, there is rarely a
fluke winner.  The good teams are
generally so much better than the mediocre ones, that it is rare to see a low
playoff seed win it all.  When they do,
it’s a Cinderella-story where all the stars had to align perfectly to give the
struggling team a chance.

In baseball,
even under the current 8-team playoff format, any team that makes the playoffs
could win.  Which isn’t so bad; for the
most part, those 8 teams are pretty good. 
Only the 2006 Cardinals could be considered a “fluke” winner with an
83-win regular season, which was still good enough to win their division.

If you expand
baseball’s playoffs any further, it will give more mediocre teams a chance at
winning it all, and therefore will further devalue the already borderline
arduous 162-game regular season.

Not only
that, but the idea of having the wild card teams play in a one-game or
best-of-three playoff series is also awful. 
Teams with one good ace pitcher and an otherwise mediocre or bad team
will win those almost every time.  Horrid
idea.  Baseball is a team game, not a
tennis match.

Don’t get me
wrong, there is a massive positive to
this that I’m leaving out.  A 10-team
playoff format would give the Jays a solid chance at making it; and for that
matter, a lot of small market teams would have a similar chance, and that’s
great for the fans of those teams who have suffered too long.  But there has to be a way of giving those
teams a better chance, without devaluing the regular season.  I won’t say salary cap because I’ve long been
against that in baseball (even though I’m a socialist), but that’s a post for
another day.

This will never
happen, but my approach has been to abolish the division format.  Bring back the balanced schedule and get rid
of the divisions.  Just have the AL and the
NL.  Like the good old days.  The top four teams in each league make the
playoffs.  Simple.  This will allow good teams who languish in
tough division (i.e. The Jays) to have a better chance at competing with the
big boys.  Will this solve all the
problems?  No.  In fact, it will create new ones, but it’s
better than expanding the playoffs to 10 teams and rendering most of the
regular season useless.

Hot Stove log, November 19th: Jays make strong push for Upton

Isn’t this just
the cat’s *** (not sure what that means; kind of disturbs me).  When new first broke that the Diamondbacks were shopping young
superstar outfielder Justin Upton,
all I kept hearing was Red Sox, Yankees and maybe Marlins, Rockies.  I said to myself, “Self, why aren’t the Jays
dipping their toes in these proverbially bluest of blue waters?”

Turns out, Alex Anthopoulos was way ahead of me. 

Just before
writing my update yesterday, there were rumours that a ‘mystery team’ had
stepped forward with interest in Upton that pushed the Red Sox to the ‘back-burner’.  I thought, “Self, it couldn’t be the Jays,
could it?”

It was the
Jays.  Anthopoulos continues his
aggressive nature this offseason (which I love
by the way, it’s been a long time since the city of Toronto has seen a gutsy
and savvy GM for any of its major
sports teams) and has stepped forward with interest in one of the game’s
brightest young stars that has knocked the financial pantheons of the game off
the trail.  Even if he doesn’t pull off a
deal, well done, sir, well done.

So, let the speculation begin: Who would the Jays have to part with to land
Upton.  Dave Parkes over at has a great piece wherein the
comments throw some things back and forth.

For my part,
knowing the D’Backs want the farm in return for Upton, the Jays will likely
have to give up prized young outfielder Travis
in the deal.  Parkes
speculates that they Jays would also have to include one of their three
prospect catchers in the deal, either J.P.
, Travis D’Arnaud or Carlos Perez and then they would likely
have to round out the deal with pitching; one major-league ready starter and
one prospect.

That is an
awful lot to surrender, but let’s consider just how much Upton would mean to
the Jays.  He’s signed through 2015 at
just under $50-million.  Reasonable for a
guy who most think is about to step up into superstardom and is already
considered one of the better five-tool players around.  23-year-olds with his pedigree, talent, and
resume never become available.

The Jays have
serious depth in pitching and could afford to give up some pieces to get
Upton.  Snider is the piece that would
admittedly be hardest to give up, but really, if you could start Snider or
Upton at one of your corner outfield spots, I think the choice is obvious.

People say
that Arencibia is untouchable, but here’s something to chew on:  The Jays are reportedly still very interested
in signing catcher Miguel Olivo, who
would likely receive a 2 year deal with an option.  The fact that the Jays are considering
signing Olivo shows me that they could consider moving Arencibia.  They would have Olivo and Jose Molina in the fold for next year
with promising prospects Travis D’Arnaud
and Carlos Perez on their way.  Arencibia becomes expendable if Olivo is

If the Jays
were to offer a deal centered around Snider and Arencibia, they might not have
to give up as much pitching.  Throw in Shaun Marcum (easily the most tradable
of the big four, not that I like saying that) and either Josh Roenicke or Zach
and I can see the D’Backs seriously considering a deal.

Having said all that, I still think it’s a very
small possibility that Arizona deals Upton at all and we’re all ignoring that
Upton does have a four-team trade veto list. 
If I was a betting man, I would suggest T.O. is on that list.  American players tend to not want to come
here when they’ve had no real experience in Canada.

Like I said
at the outset, the fact that Anthopoulos is being so aggressive for top-tier
(but still financially-feasible and young) players shows me that this guy knows
what he’s doing.  He rebuilt the Jays
sorry farm system in less than a year and is using it to entice teams to trade
their superstars.  Upton, Uggla, Greinke,
the list goes on and will likely get bigger.

There were
also a couple small trades yesterday and some minor moves today…


The New York
trade 1B Juan Miranda to
the Arizona Diamondbacks for RHP Scott Allen.

Miranda isn’t
exactly a bonafide everyday player, but there is some talent there.  He was being blocked at first base in New
York by Mark Teixeira and with Jorge Posada moving to DH, there was
literally no room for him in the Bronx. 
In Arizona, he’ll potentially have a spot playing first if the D’Backs
can’t fill the hole.  If not, he could be
a quality bench player.

Allen is a
19-year-old who was drafted by the D’Backs in the 11th Round in 2009
draft and has some upside, but he’s a long way from the majors.

Colorado Rockies trade INF Clint Barmes to the Houston Astros for RHP Felipe Paulino.

Barmes was a
long-time Rocky who had earned the respect of his teammates and is considered
one of the “good guys” in baseball.  He
was likely going to be non-tendered by Colorado with their crowded infield
situation so the deal made sense for the Rockies who turn it into a quality
young starter.  Barmes will likely get
the chance to play every day at short for the ‘Stros and shouldn’t see his
number drop off because of leaving Coors Field. 
Houston’s band-box may be more hitter-friendly.

27-year-old Paulino owns a career 6-21 record with a 5.83 ERA over parts of
three seasons in Houston, but has always had talent.  His biggest problem could be his conditioning
at 6’2″ and 270lbs.  The Rockies will
wait and see if his talent develops and he’ll likely get a shot at the rotation
in the spring.


& Ends

is not the only big name potentially on the move away from the desert; The D’Backs
have reportedly receive a lot of interest for slugging 3B Mark Reynolds.  The A’s have
been linked, but Reynolds has the right to reject trades to Oakland.

Twins are reportedly interested in retaining Carl Pavano and one of his former teams, the Marlins, are also
interested, as are the Rockies.  Pavano
reportedly wants “Lilly money”, i.e. 3yr/$33-million, which likely prices out
the Fish.  I find it hard to believe he’ll
get that money and if I were a GM, I’d be running away as fast as I could.  Talk to the Yankees if you need confirmation
on that.

President Nolan Ryan expects the
Yankees to outbid them on Cliff Lee.  It’s looking more and more like he’ll be
wearing pin-stripes next season.

the Yankees and Phillies are interested in the bevy of left-handed relievers on
the market: Pedro Feliciano, Scott Downs, J.C. Romero, Brian Fuentes,
Hisanori Takahashi, and Arthur Rhodes.

Jayson Werth is pretty certainly not coming back
to Philadelphia.

Nationals will likely trade OF Josh
before next year.

teams are said to be interested in trading with the Red Sox for Marco Scutaro and they are looking for
bullpen help in return.  The teams right
now are the Cardinals, Reds, Padres, and Giants if they can’t bring back Juan Uribe.


More tomorrow
on Derek Jeter who is about to
receive a low-ball offer from the Yankees of 3yr/$45-million.  I’m going to wait for this one to develop
more before I comment.

Also tomorrow, I’ll
try to fit in some talk on Zack Greinke
and the trade talks with him.  Do the
Jays have a chance?  Should they want

Hot Stove log: November 18th

Only one
major move to speak of yesterday in terms of transactions, and it involved the
Jays.  We’ll get to that in a
second.  First off, I’d like to
congratulate Ron Gardenhire on
finally winning the AL Manager of the Year. 
He’s been the runner up for the award five times in eight years and could have won the award any one of
those years in my opinion.  He routinely
takes a Twins team with moderate
talent on paper and makes them into perennial contenders.  The things he gets out of his teams are
nothing short of amazing. 

Bud Black took home the honours in the NL for
leading the Padres to a completely
unexpected season and but for a late season swoon, could have won the NL West
title over the eventual champs.

Now on to the

Toronto Blue Jays acquire OF Rajai Davis from the Oakland Athletics for RHP Trystan Magnuson and RHP Danny Farquhar.

The Jays add
some outfield depth by acquiring speedster Rajai
from the A’s for two Double-A relievers.  Acquiring Davis is likely more of a depth
move than anything else as he can effectively play all three outfield positions
and is easily the Jays’ biggest stolen base threat going forward. 

This does
mean that Fred Lewis‘ days in
Toronto are likely numbered as he does not appear willing to accept a fourth or
fifth outfielder role; don’t expect the Jays to tender him before next week.

If I were John Farrell (which I fairly certain I
am not) and the current Jays roster was my opening day roster, Davis would be
my starting centerfielder.  He’s much better there than Vernon Wells who if slotted in either
right or left field would become an above-average fielder again, something he
has not been in centerfield for a few years now. 

I’ve said all
along that Jose Bautista is more
valuable as a third baseman because quality defensive third basemen with formidable
bats are much harder to find than corner outfielders.  Playing Travis
, Wells and Davis in the outfield would give the Jays a legitimate
leadoff hitter in Davis who when combined at the top-of-the-order with Yunel Escobar could be just what the
Jays need for the power-heavy middle of the lineup.

If however,
the Jays acquire another infielder (they are apparently at least showing
interest in Adrian Beltre, although
the price tag is likely way too high
as I’ll explain soon), conceivably Bautista would stay in RF with Davis
becoming a viable fourth outfielder with speed off the bench.

The Jays gave
up two arms that both have realistic shots at being quality major-league
relievers in Canadian-born Trystan
and closer-type Danny
.  Chances are only one of
them will stay in the majors for any length of time so this deal is a solid one
for the Jays who have a wealth of quality relievers in their system.

Now on to the
rumours, and there are a lot…


Justin Upton
As I mentioned yesterday, D’Backs GM
Kevin Towers has floated the idea of
trading young future superstar Justin
.  If I were the GM of the D’Backs,
I would never consider such a brash move, but it’s clear that Towers wants to
shake things up in the desert.

surprisingly, there is interest from half
the league
.  The most serious four
teams from what I can tell are The Red
, Yankees, Rockies, and Marlins.

SI’s Jon Heyman tweeted yesterday that one
AL exec. told him, “what [the Diamondbacks] want is ridiculous”.  As Heyman acknowledged, it should be.  He’s a future superstar!

What the D’Backs
want is a package of four to five players that would include two young and
controllable major-leaguers and two to three high impact prospects.

According to
Heyman, although the Rockies and Yankees have both “kicked the tires” about
Upton, the Red Sox have the most logical shot at landing him.  The package would start with Jacoby Ellsbury
and Daniel Bard and would likely
also include Casey Kelly among

There were
rumours that the Marlins showed serious interest and were said to be considering
parting with Rickey Nolasco and Logan Morrison to get the talks
going.  I haven’t seen anything else that
would suggest the Fish are any closer to a deal with Arizona.

The Yankees
are unlikely to part with the talent Arizona is looking for, which is smart as
they would butcher their already mediocre (at best) farm system and likely
would also have to part with Phil Hughes.

As for the
Rockies, Arizona would likely have to receive even more compensation for Upton
to consider trading him within their division. 
Colorado has been persistent though, so maybe they’re willing and able
to make a deal.  Multiple sources have
confirmed that Colorado is still inquiring about the young outfielder.

Adrian Beltre
Yesterday started off with the A’s apparently formally making an offer to free
agent third baseman Adrian Beltre
reportedly worth $45-million over 5 years. 
However, the Red Sox are said to have a ceiling of 4 years and
$52-million on Beltre so that deal would fall short.  Later in the day, it was revealed that the A’s
would go as high as $60-million over 5 years for the slugger, but Beltre’s camp
is reportedly using Torii Hunter‘s
deal as a blueprint (i.e. $90-million over 5 years!!!).

Needless to
say, it’s doubtful that Beltre will get that kind of money, especially since
the only team interested in him that could offer that amount is the Red Sox, or
maybe the Angels.

The Jays were
reportedly interested in Beltre, but even at $9-million a season (which appears
to be the absolute lowest being
offered to him), the Jays will likely be out of the running, at least for a
deal lasting 4 to 5 years.

Here’s my
take on Beltre:  The guy only seems to
perform at a truly elite level in contract years (remember when he hit 48
homers with the Dodgers and then cashed in long-term with Seattle?) so I find it hard to believe that anyone would give him
the kind of money he’s asking for, nor should
they consider it.  More than likely,
Beltre’s numbers will fall slightly in the coming years.  Note to Alex
: STAY AWAY!!!!!

Other teams reportedly
interested in Beltre include Baltimore,
the Angels, Cleveland, San Francisco,
Colorado and Pittsburgh, but most if not all of those teams will be out of the
running for the kind of money that will land him.

Albert Pujols
Here’s an interesting tidbit:  Heyman
also talked to Cardinals President Bill DeWitt yesterday about the looming
contract talks with Albert Pujols.  DeWitt reportedly told Heyman that using Alex Rodriguez‘s 10yr/$275-million deal
as a blueprint was out of the question and apparently when Heyman asked about
an 8yr/$240-million offer, DeWitt questioned the $30-million salary that deal
would imply.

I would
suggest that any other team interested in acquiring Pujols (i.e. the BoSox,
Mets or another large market team with deep pockets) will be perfectly willing
to offer Pujols, the game’s best player by far, $30-million a season.  Allegedly, the Cards are not willing to spend that. 
This s**t’s about to get interesting.

Odds and Ends
In other news, the Rays appear
to be willing to part with shortstop Jason
but are less likely to move Matt
or B.J. Upton (Ken Rosenthal)

The Padres will likely tender arbitration-eligible
outfielder Ryan Ludwick who had been
pegged by MLBTR as
a non-tender candidate.  This means San
Diego has a lot of depth in the outfield, especially with the recent
acquisition of Cameron Maybin.  Expect more trades from SoCal.

The White Sox and Tigers appear to be leading the charge for free agent OF/1B/DH Adam Dunn.  The Sox are also pursuing Hideki Matsui.

The Phillies and free agent OF Jayson Werth are reportedly very far
apart on a deal.  So far apart that
Philadelphia is looking at short-term replacements in Carlos Quentin, Jeff
and even the exiled Jermaine
.  Also, the Red Sox, who are said
to be frontrunners for Werth, are apparently not willing to pay him his requested $100-million.

According to Troy Renck of the Denver Post, Colorado is looking to upgrade at third base.  Ty
, Jorge Cantu, Jose Lopez, Kevin Kouzmanoff and Beltre are all rumoured.  Also according to Renck, Washington, Pittsburgh and Baltimore are all aggressively pursuing Jorge de la Rosa.  It’s likely, however, that he will wait until
after Cliff Lee signs so that more
large market teams become interested.

The Yankees
are reportedly about to offer Derek
a 3-year contract somewhere between $45-million and $60-million.  They are willing to go over market value for
their captain, but only for three years. 
Jeter apparently want four or five years.

Danny Knobler of CBS Sports reprted that a baseball official (whatever the hell that
means) says he could see Texas, Milwaukee and Toronto becoming involved
in talks for Zack Greinke.

Finally, according to
Jayson Stark of ESPN, the Marlins intend to spend the money they saved on Dan Uggla on an established starting
pitcher such as Javier Vazquez or Carl Pavano who had his best year in
South Beach.

Hot Stove log, Part I

With the GMs
convening in Orlando this week for the annual Winter Meetings, the Hot Stove
season is in full swing.  For me, this is
as good as it gets.  I love the rumours
and speculation that come out of this time of year, so much so that I finally
signed up for a Twitter account just to follow the rumours as they happen.  I’ve never been a fan of twitter in the past,
but simply for this reason I think it’s a great utility.

So let’s get
to the happenings in the last few days. 
I’ve already gone over the David
trade so let’s start with the next major move from November 13th.


The Florida
trade OF Cameron Maybin
to the San Diego Padres for RHP Edward Mujica and RHP Ryan Webb.

I like this
deal a lot for the Padres.  They have a
ridiculous amount of depth in their stellar bullpen and giving up Mujica and
Webb doesn’t effect their expected performance in that department for 2011 all
that much.

People are
down on Maybin because he’s been around for a few years and has yet to live up
to the massive promise he once had in the Tigers’ system, but let’s not forget
that he’ll still only be 24 next year.  I
think the Marlins gave up on him for immediate bullpen help and that this deal
may bite them hard in the future.

Now on to yesterday…

Florida Marlins trade 2B Dan Uggla to the Atlanta Braves for UTIL Omar
and LHP Michael Dunn.

Trade rumours
began to surface for Uggla last season when the Marlins seemed to be dragging
their feet on a long term deal for their slugging second baseman and they
caught fire about a week ago when Uggla reportedly turned down a 4-yr/$48-million
offer from the team. 

Uggla was
reportedly seeking a 5 year deal with Chase
-type money (just under $15-million a year).  After he rejected the deal, Uggla came out
and said he wanted to stay with the Marlins long term, but that they had
stopped the negotiating process, leading to further speculation that Uggla was
on his way somewhere else.

The Blue Jays showed some serious interest
in acquiring Uggs with the idea of moving either him or Aaron Hill over to third base. 
According to Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal,
the Jays offered a package of prospects headed by relievers Josh Roenicke and Danny Farquhar with a third prospect (either SS Ryan Goins or OF Darin Mastroianni) also in the mix.

Although the
Fish were looking to upgrade their bullpen in the deal, they were looking for more
proven major league arms and were also looking for a major-league infielder in the
deal.  That’s where the Braves come in.  Reportedly, the Marlins wanted Martin Prado but settled instead for Omar Infante along with lefty reliever Michael Dunn. 

This deal
confuses me a little.  I understand that
the Marlins don’t have a lot of money to throw around and that Uggla likely had
to go, but let’s not forget that not only is Uggla probably the best and most
consistent offensive second baseman in the game (aside from maybe Robinson Cano), he’s one of the most consistent
sluggers at any position. 

Over the last
five years (after being selected in the Rule
draft) he’s averaged 31 HR, 93 RBI and a respectable .349 OBP.  He’s also coming off career-highs in almost
every category including batting average which he increased to a .287-mark.

deserves Chase Utley money and will no-doubt get it after this year if he has
another consistent campaign, but it seems to me the Marlins could have held out
for a lot more returns for the rare power-hitting two-bagger.

The Florida
sign C John Buck to a
3yr/$18-million deal, pending a physical.

The Marlins
are busy.  To replace some of the power they lost in
giving up Uggla and to bolster their backstop situation, the Fish ink Buck to a
3 year deal.  Buck spent last year with
my Jays and was an all-star, but didn’t figure into the team’s long term plans
with catching prospect J.P. Arencibia
appearing ready to take over next year. 

In Buck, the
Marlins get a dependable starting catcher with plus power and improving
defense.  He also proved very adept at
handling the Jays’ young pitching staff and should do the same on South
Beach.  I like this move for the Marlins
as I think last year’s version of Buck is the version you’ll see from now on.

The St. Louis
re-sign RHP Jake Westbrook
to a 2yr/$16.5-million deal.

The Cards
re-upped Westbrook for two more years after he pitched well for them down the
stretch posting a 3.48 ERA in 12 starts. 
Westbrook proved his long list of arm injuries were behind him in 2010
pitching in over 200 innings for the first time since ’06.

The Indians reportedly had interest in
bringing Westbrook back, but never formally made an offer.

I think
Westbrook is a quality middle-of-the-rotation arm when healthy so I like this
move for the Cards.  He has post-season
experience and should be an asset.  Any
more than two years would have been foolish given his injured past so I think
the Cards did the right thing.

And now on to

The Detroit Tigers
sign RHP Joaquin Benoit to a
3yr/$16.5-million deal.

The Tigers
remain busy early in this offseason.  After
re-upping infielders Brandon Inge
and Jhonny Peralta for two years
each, the Tigers go outside the organization to help bolster their bullpen with
Joaquin Benoit.

The second
happiest person in this deal besides Benoit is Rafael Soriano, who just saw his market-value sky-rocket as a
result of this deal.

I’m not sure
about this one, though.  My philosophy is
to never spend a lot of money on your bullpen as it’s so unpredictable what you’re
going to get from one season to the next.  Giving Benoit 3 years and $5.5-million a
season seems foolish, even if he steps into the closer role with the
Tigers.  Benoit had a terrific year last
year, but he probably won’t do it again. 
Anyone who has a breakout year at 33 terrifies me.  I don’t think this deal will work out for



the Red Sox are considering trading
former Jay Marco Scutaro after only
one season in Boston.  Scutaro’s OBP (his
main selling point for signing with the Red Sox) dropped back closer to his
career-average (shouldn’t have been a surprise) and the BoSox are weighing
their options. 

Scutaro is
set to make $5-million in 2011 and has a three-pronged option for 2012.  The Red Sox have a $6-million option, Scutaro
has a $3-million option and there’s a $1.5-million buyout.  This means that Boston is currently on the
hook for at least one year and $6.5-million and more likely two years and
$8-million given that Scutaro will likely enact his end of the option if he has
another disappointing season. 

This contract
could prove difficult to trade unless someone out there believes he can get
back to his ’09 form.

Jon Morosi reports that only the Cardinals have shown even mild interest
and that the Padres, Pirates, and Reds could use an upgrade at the position and could be potential suitors.

Finally, the Diamondbacks are said to be open to
trading Justin Upton and Stephen Drew.  Arizona’s new GM Kevin Towers has said he would have to be blown away to trade
either one, but reports indicate that Upton is becoming a stronger possibility
for a trade because of the high interest in him from other clubs. 

The Marlins are rumoured to be involved and
could possibly give up Rickey Nolasco
and Logan Morrison.  The Red
and Yankees are also testing
the waters and the Rays are expected
to weigh in soon.  This could get
interesting, stay tuned.

On Roy Halladay’s second Cy Young award


Roy Halladay‘s
performance this season was one of the most brilliant performances in the history
of the game.  On May 29th he threw the 20th
perfect game in Major League history and followed that up by throwing only the
second no-hitter in post-season history and the first since Don Larsen was
perfect in 1956.  Overall, he was 21-10
with a 2.44 ERA in 33 starts in 2010
in his first tour of the National League with the Phillies.

Halladay was awarded with the 2010 NL Cy Young award; his second such award and
first in the NL.  Halladay received the
AL version in 2003 when he won a club-record 22 games with the Jays.  He becomes only the 5th pitcher to win the
award in both leagues joining Gaylord
, Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson and Roger Clemens.

I couldn’t be
happier for Roy.  I’m sure most Jays’
fans are with me on this one.  He was one
of the few star players who actually wanted to stay in Toronto and did so for
12 seasons.  He did everything in his
power to bring a championship to Toronto and would have stayed if he had that
chance with the Jays.  Given that he’s
getting older, he deserved to be traded and given the opportunity to win it all
while still in his prime.  He didn’t get
there this year, but there’s no doubt he’ll get at least a few more chances
with a very good Phillies team.

The other two
main contenders for the NL Cy Young were Adam Wainwright of the Cardinals and
Ubaldo Jimenez of the Rockies.  Both had
terrific years, but I think the right decision was made here.  Halladay was the unanimous choice for the
award.  He was clearly the best of the
three and cemented himself as baseball’s best pitcher.  In a few years, we may be calling him the
best of his generation.









Halladay, PHI



Wainwright, STL



Jimenez, COL






Hudson, ATL





Johnson, FLA





Oswalt, HOU/PHI





Wilson, SF




Bell, SD




Latos, SD




Myers, HOU



Lincecum, SF



Arroyo, CIN



Cain, SF



Blue Jays inquire about Greinke, Gordon: Toronto Sun

Well, this is interesting.  According to Bob Elliot of the Toronto Sun, the Jays have inquired about Royals superstar pitcher Zach Greinke and former first overall pick Alex Gordon.

The Blue Jays have inquired about the availability of Kansas City right-hander Zack Greinke.

With Cliff Lee the top free agent on the market, Greinke would
appeal to also-rans in the Lee sweepstakes such as the Texas Rangers,
Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Angels.

The Royals are looking for two “can’t-miss prospects” as a starting
point in talks on the 2009 American League Cy Young award winner.

Grienke, 26, was 10-14 with a 4.17 ERA in 33 starts this season and will make $13 million US next year.

The Jays have also discussed obtaining Alex Gordon, a former No. 1
draft pick. Gordon started as the Royals third baseman before being
demoted to triple-A Omaha in May to play the outfield. A left-handed
hitter, Gordon batted .215 with eight homers and 20 RBIs in 74 games
with the Royals. He hit .315 with three homers and 44 RBIs in 68 games
at Omaha.

Although, I love the idea of the Jays acquiring Greinke, I think it’s important not to jump on this.  The Royals want at least two front-line prospects for Greinke which means the Jays would likely have to part with Kyle Drabek who would be under control of the Jays until at least 2016.  Greinke, on the other hand, is owed $27-million over the next two years and then is a free agent.  I also find it hard to believe that the Royals would part with Greinke at any point this offseason.  If he’s traded, it will likely be some point during the season or next offseason, depending on how the Royals play this year.  Since the Jays probably won’t realistically be contenders in the next two years, i feel like it would be a bad move, unless Alex Anthopoulous plans to acquire him and then flip him before the deadline if the Jays aren’t contending.

Now Alex Gordon is a different story.  Gordon is a former 1st overall pick who has not panned out, but he has shown flashes of brilliance at times.  Alex Anthopolous could probably wrestle him out of KC for very little.  I have a feeling Gordon could be a very good defensive first-basemen and I believe that’s where he’d play if the Jays got him.  I don’t know what evidence I have to go on, but I really think Gordon is a prime late-bloomer candidate who could do well from a change of scenery.

On the DeJesus-Mazzaro trade


The other day, the Oakland
and Kansas City Royals
pulled off the first major trade of the 2010-11 offseason.  Headed to Oakland is long-time Royals
outfielder David DeJesus, who was in
the midst of a career year before a thumb injury stopped his season in its
tracks.  The Royals snag two pitchers in
highly-touted Vin Mazzaro and minor-league
lefty Justin Marks.


On the surface, this looks like a trade of necessity for
both clubs.  The Royals exercised their
2011 option on DeJesus on October 2nd and will make
$6.0-million.  Given that this is a
reasonable amount for a potentially above-average outfielder, the Royals likely
thought it was better to exercise the option and try to get something in a
trade, than let Dejesus go via free agency.


The A’s seem quite focused on playing to their spacious park
and instead of spending money on big, cumbersome slugging outfielders; they are
attempting to create an athletic core of players with moderate power and
above-average range.  Ryan Sweeney, Dejesus, Coco Crisp, Rajai Davis, and Conor
are all under contract or in control for next year and are all very
similar players; athletic fielders, solid contact hitters, average to below
average power.  Overall, DeJesus is
definitely a player who’ll fit in nicely in Oakland for 2011.  He’ll likely jet via free agency after next


That’s what makes this deal perplexing.  Clearly the A’s are a team that sees
themselves contending next year, and certainly they could in the unpredictable
AL West, but DeJesus is a 31-year-old injury-plagued player with one year left
on a deal.  Mazzaro, on the other hand is
a potential stud.


His numbers in the majors aren’t terrifically impressive,
but they aren’t bad either; he got significantly better last year over his ’09
rookie performance.  His minor-league
number were solid and has all the makeup of a pitcher who could eventually be a
top-of-the-rotation talent.


Marks, like Mazzaro, is a former third-round pick, however
he has yet to show anything at the minor-league level that would lead me to
believe he’s a major-league player.


Overall, I think the A’s didn’t need DeJesus enough to give
up a pitcher like Mazzaro.  On the other
hand, they are probably the best equipped organization to give up some pitching
talent given the wealth of it they possess.

2010 American League East Review


AL East

2010 Final Standings


Tampa Bay Rays


New York Yankees



Boston Red Sox



Toronto Blue Jays



Baltimore Orioles




The Tampa Bay Rays eked
out their second division title in the last three seasons by one game over the New York Yankees whom they battled with
all season long.  The Yankees took home
the wildcard, qualifying for the post-season for the 15th time in
the last 16 years.  The toughest division
in baseball saw four winning teams again in 2010 with the third-place Boston Red Sox finishing with 89
victories and the upstart Toronto Blue
finishing with 85 victories despite everybody predicting their demise
after the trading of franchise pitcher Roy
last December.


Here’s what I predicted at the beginning of the season:

AL East



Red Sox


York Yankees



Bay Rays






Blue Jays




So, as you can see, I was a bit off.  I had the top two teams finishing with 96 and
95 wins respectively, which happened, and the Yankees did finish second with 95 wins, taking home the wildcard, but I had
the BoSox finishing first.  Swap the Rays
and BoSox, and I would have been DAMN close, one game off in fact.  But alas.


I keep expecting the O’s to get better and they never do,
maybe next year I won’t be so naive.  I
was still only 7 games off with their prediction, but I also had them finishing
fourth, ahead of my Jays.  I was 17 games off with Toronto, but I was
definitely not alone there.  Trust me; I
would rather have the Jays as a winning team than be right.


I’m going to give slightly longer reviews for playoff teams
than for non-playoff ones.


Tampa Bay Rays (Mng,
Joe Maddon)

Final Record: 96-66,
1st AL East

Prediction: 90-72,
3rd AL East

Diff: 6

Playoffs:  Lost to Texas in the ALDS


How do you define a clutch lineup?  The 2010 Rays.  6th in the AL in homeruns, 6th
in OBP, and 13th in
batting average, yet somehow finished
3rd in the AL in runs scored. 
Carl Crawford had another
typical Crawford season raking at a .304 clip with 19 homeruns and 90 RBI, he
also stole 47 bases to finish 3rd in the junior circuit.  The Rays will have a tough time replacing him
as it’s expected they will let him walk via free agency.  The Red Sox and Yankees already appear to the
frontrunners for his services, but the Reds, Dodgers, Phillies and Mets have
also been mentioned.  Evan Longoria had 104 RBI to lead the
team and has stepped up as the emotional leader of the club.  The Rays had 96 wins in spite of three of
their best players having horrid season. 
Carlos Pena had 28 homeruns,
but hit just .196; B.J. Upton stole 42 bases and had 18
HR, but hit only .237 and had just a .322 OBP; and Ben Zobrist had a predictable fall from grace hitting just .238
with 10 HR a year after clubbing a career-high 27.


All five of the Rays main starting pitchers made at least 29
starts.  Only 8 starts all year went to
pitchers outside of those five.  The health of the Rays’ starters was huge in their success.  Of course it helps that all five starters had
solid seasons.  They all won at least 12
games and David Price could wrap up
the Cy Young after a 19-6 season and a 2.72 ERA.  He has emerged as the ace they thought he’d
be.  Matt
won 15 games and threw a no-hitter in July.  James
was only 13-15 with an ERA over 5, but still threw over 200
innings, while Jeff Niemann and Wade Davis won 12 games each.  Rafael
gave the Rays their best season by a closer in franchise history
finishing with an AL best 45 saves and a terrific 1.73 ERA.  He had a ridiculous 0.80 WHIP.  Joaquin
emerged as a top-flight middle relief option and Grant Balfour returned to his 2008
form.  Overall the Rays had the 2nd
best ERA in the AL.



In October, the Rays were bounced by the Texas Rangers in the maximum 5 games in
the ALDS.  The heavily favoured Rays were
expected the breeze through the Rangers who had never won a series, but Texas,
led by playoff stud Cliff Lee
bounced the Rays by outpitching them. 
Yeah, I know, the Rangers outpitched the Rays?  I was surprised too.  3 home losses in the ALDS killed their hopes
of a World Series title.


Grade (Based on
prediction): A




Carl Crawford (.307)

Evan Longoria (.294)


Carlos Pena (28)

Evan Longoria (22)


Evan Longoria (104)

Carl Crawford (90)


Carl Crawford (47)

B.J. Upton (42)


David Price (19)

Matt Garza (15)


David Price (2.72)

Matt Garza (3.91)

Bullpen ERA

Joaquin Benoit (1.34)

Rafael Soriano (1.73)


David Price (188)

James Shields (187)


Rafael Soriano (45)

Dan Wheeler (3)







New York Yankees
(Mng, Joe Girardi)

Final Record: 95-67,
2nd AL East, Wilcard Champs

Prediction: 95-67,
2nd  AL East, Wildcard Champs

Diff: 0

Playoffs:  Lost to Texas in the ALCS


I nailed this one. 
Just sayin’.  The Yankees led the
AL in runs, which should not have been surprising.  What was surprising was captain Derek Jeter had the worst statistical
season of his career hitting just .270 with 10 HR and 67 RBI.  Career years from Robinson Cano and Nick
, solid campaigns from Mark
and Alex Rodriguez and
a breakout year from Brett Gardner
helped shoulder the load.  As usual, the
Yankees achieved their run-scoring prowess with patience (1st in the
AL in walks) and power (3rd in HR).


The Yankees had some troubles in the pitching department
this season, outside of the front and back of the staff.  C.C.
is the favourite for the Cy Young after a 21-7 record with a 3.18
ERA, once again justifying his huge contract; Phil Hughes emerged as a true front-line starter with 18 wins, but
he struggled down the stretch and in the playoffs having never pitched anywhere
near the innings he logged this season.  Andy Pettitte was on his way to one of
his best seasons before an injury kept him out from mid-season until the
playoffs.  A.J. Burnett was wildly inconsistent all season and awful at the end of the year (hate to
say I told you so, Yankees’ fans) and Javier
never found his footing.  Mariano Rivera was terrific again with
a 1.80 ERA and 33 saves, but the rest of the bullpen was inconsistent at best.


Final Word

In the end, the Yankees’ inconsistent pitching got to them
as they were completely outclassed by the Rangers and the utterly dominant Cliff Lee in the ALCS.  As he did with the Rays, Lee carved up the
Bronx Bombers with one of the most dominant post-season pitching performances
ever in game 3 of the CS.  The Yankees
did dispose of the Twins in the ALDS, but that’s nothing new.  A successful season for the Yankees can only
end one way, so it’s back to the drawing board for New York as they attempt to
land Lee, the pitcher that has caused them more than a few headaches in the
past two post-seasons.


Grade (based on
prediction): B +




Robinson Cano (.319)

Nick Swisher (.288)


Mark Teixeira (33)

Robinson Cano/Nick Swisher (29)


Alex Rodriguez (125)

Robinson Cano (109)


Brett Gardner (47)

Derek Jeter (18)


C.C. Sabathia (21)

Phil Hughes (18)


C.C. Sabathia (3.18)

Andy Pettitte (3.28)

Bullpen ERA

Mariano Rivera (1.80)

Boone Logan (2.93)


C.C. Sabathia (197)

Phil Hughes (146)


Mariano Rivera (33)

Joba Chamberlain (3)






Boston Red Sox (Mng,
Terry Francona)

Final Record: 89-73,
3rd AL East,

Prediction: 96-66,
1st  AL East, AL Champs

Diff: 7

Playoffs:  Failed to qualify


Like the Yankees, any season the Red Sox don’t win a world
title at this point in their history is a disappointment.  Not only did the BoSox fail to win it all,
but they failed to make the post-season, finishing only four games ahead of the
4th place Jays.  It was the
first time since 2006 and only the second time since 2002 that the BoSox missed
the post-season and that surely doesn’t sit well with the Boston faithful.  I suppose you’re a lucky fan is an 89-win
season is considered a complete bomb.


The Red Sox did have a good year offensively, finishing
second in runs, homeruns and slugging in the AL, while finishing third in OBP,
and first in OPS, doubles and at-bats. 
Four players finished with more than 20 HR including David Ortiz who had a great rebound
year hitting .270 with 32 HR and 102 RBI, and Adrian Beltre who was healthy for the first time in a while and
smashed 28 dingers while driving in over 100 and hitting .321.  It was his best year since his 48 homer-year
in his free agent year in LA.  Oh yeah,
he’s a free agent again this off-season; coincidence?  The BoSox battled through a number of tough
injuries to key players with Jacoby
, Mike Cameron, Dustin Pedroia, and Kevin Youkilis all missing significant
time, but veterans such as Bill Hall
and Darnell MalincDonald stepped in
along with some young talent including Daniel
, Ryan Kalish, and Jed Lowrie to help effectively fill the


The problem with Boston this year was their pitching.  Outside of Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz
and Daniel Bard who are going to be
staples of this staff for years to come, the rest of the Red Sox pitchers had
mediocre to awful seasons.  Josh Beckett, Tim Wakefield, and Daisuke
combined to post a 5.25 ERA and only a 19-22 record, while the
bullpen, outside of Bard, struggled all season long leading to the ouster of Manny Delcarmen and Ramon Ramirez during
the year to try and fix the problem


Grade (based on
prediction): C +




Adrian Beltre (.321)

Kevin Youkilis (.307)


David Ortiz (32)

Adrian Beltre (28)


David Ortiz (102)

Adrian Beltre (102)


Ryan Kalish (10)

Dustin Pedroia/Bill Hall (9)


Jon Lester (19)

Clay Buchholz (17)


Clay Buchholz (2.33)

Jon Lester (3.25)

Bullpen ERA

Daniel Bard (1.93)

Jonathan Papelbon (3.90)


Jon Lester (225)

John Lackey (156)


Jonathan Papelbon (37)

Daniel Bard (3)





Toronto Blue Jays
(Mng. Cito Gaston)

Final Record: 85-77,
4th AL East,

Prediction: 68-94,
5th AL East

Diff: 17

Playoffs:  Failed to qualify


If there were to be any situation where being off by 17
games in my prediction was okay, this is it. 
I, like most people, thought the Jays would stumble in a big way this
year.  They traded their franchise player
and the best pitcher in their history in Roy
last December in a deal that brought a package of prospects who
will not make a major impact for a couple more years.  They were coming off a rather rare losing
season and on paper, things appeared to be worse for 2010.  But they Jays were one of the biggest
surprises in baseball.


The biggest
surprise in baseball by far was Jose
.  Bautista led the majors
with a ridiculous 54 homeruns.  A
journeyman utility player who’s bounced around the league his entire  career shocked everybody with this
performance.  Aside from that, Bautista
led the AL in outfield assists with 12 despite not being an everyday outfielder
(he split time at third base) and displayed an all-around game that mirrors
anyone’s.  Aside from the Jays hit more
homeruns than anyone else in the majors and in fact, their 257 total dingers
ranked among the best of all time, by any team.  Vernon
had a rebound season and slugged 31 homeruns and even though Aaron Hill and Adam Lind had regression seasons, they still hit 26 and 23
respectively.  In total, 7 Jays hit more
than 20 homeruns.


The Jays young starters are emerging as one of the best
young staffs in the game led by Rickey
, Shaun Marcum, Brett Cecil, and Brandon Morrow.  Morrow may
have the highest ceiling judging by some of his dominating performances.  He also got better as the season went
on.  The bullpen was consistently good
led by closer Kevin Gregg who had 37
saves and Scott Downs who continued
his stretch of being one of the best lefty relievers in baseball.  However both, along with Jason Frasor will likely land elsewhere via free agency this
offseason which could open the door for younger relievers such as converted
starter David Purcey and several
other minor-league arms such as Josh
, Zach Stewart, Rommie Lewis, and Danny Farquhar.


Grade (based on
prediction): A +




John Buck (.281)

Vernon Wells (.273)


Jose Bautista (54)

Vernon Wells (31)


Jose Bautista (124)

Vernon Wells (88)


Fred Lewis (17)

Jose Bautista (9)


Brett Cecil (15)

Ricky Romero (14)


Shaun Marcum (3.64)

Rickey Romero (3.73)

Bullpen ERA

Scott Downs (2.64)

Shawn Camp (2.99)


Brandon Morrow (178)

Rickey Romero (174)


Kevin Gregg (37)

Jason Frasor (4)





Baltimore Orioles
(Mng. Dave Trembley, Juan Samuel, and Buck Showalter)

Final Record: 66-96,
5th AL East,

Prediction: 73-89,
4th AL East

Diff: 7

Playoffs:  Failed to qualify


I keep waiting for the Orioles to start winning more
games.  Every year I think, ‘this is the
year that they win about 73-78 games and start turning the corner’ and every
year, much to the chagrin of O’s fans, they continue to lose at a catastrophic rate.  The Orioles were on pace for their worst
season ever when they fired manager Dave
 and replaced him with
interim manager Juan Samuel.  Under those two the Orioles were a desolate
32-73 when the O’s removed Samuel and replaced him with rebuild specialist Buck Showalter who proceeded to win
more games (34-23) with the team than the other two combined in just over half
the games.  The O’s were among the worst
offensive teams in the AL in 2010 finishing second-to-last in runs scored.  They were led by DH Luke Scott who led the team with 27 homeruns and hit a solid
.284.  Nick Markakis probably doesn’t have as much power as people thought
he would, but he’s still a great hitter and a terrific rightfielder.  There is a surprising lack of young talented
position players in this organization with only 3 regulars 25 years of age or
younger.  This seems unacceptable on a
team that should by now have a stockpile of young talent built up from all the
years of losing.


The O’s were also second-to-last in the AL in team ERA, but
at least on the pitching side there are some talented young arms to build
on.  Jeremy
was the team’s best starter finishing with 11 wins and a 3.83 ERA,
but veteran Kevin Millwood has his
worst season as a pro going 4-16 with an ERA over 5.  A host of young hurlers such as Brian Matusz, Brad Bergesen, Jake Arrieta,
Chris Tillman, David Hernandez, and Troy
do give the organization some hope. 
Outside of former starter Koji
and Jason Berken, the
bullpen was extremely shaky which wasn’t helped by the fact that both Jim Johnson and Mike Gonzalez spent much of the year injured.  Gonzalez was supposed to be the high-paid closer,
but he finished with only one save on the season.


Grade (based on
prediction): D




Nick Markakis (.297)

Luke Scott/Adam Jones (.284)


Luke Scott (27)

Ty Wigginton (22)


Ty Wigginton (76)

Luke Scott (72)


Corey Patterson (21)

Brian Roberts (12)


Jeremy Guthrie (11)

Brian Matusz (10)


Jeremy Guthrie (3.83)

Brian Matusz (4.30)

Bullpen ERA

Koji Uehara (2.86)

Jason Berken (3.03)


Brian Matusz (143)

Kevin Millwood (132)


Alfredo Simon (17)

Koji Uehara (13)