Monday, August 31, 2009

Free Agent at the End of the Season: Adrian Beltre

When the Mariners signed Adrian Beltre after the 2004 season to a 5 year/$65 million dollar contract, expectations were sky high. Beltre's 2004 campaign was his best to date as he mashed 48 home runs, hit .334, scored 104 runs, and drove in 121 runs. After so many mediocre seasons, it finally looked like Beltre had evolved into the star and franchise player that so many in the Dodgers organization thought he'd be.

However, in the five years since the Mariners signed Beltre, one thing has become clear: Beltre is not a franchise player. During his tenure with the Mariners, Beltre never hit more than 26 home runs, drove in 100 runs, or hit anywhere close to .300.

With that said, Beltre can still be a very productive player on a good team. He does certain things pretty well and even with his diminished numbers, he can still handle the bat pretty well. What kind of deal can Beltre expect on the open market? Let's dive in:

The Case for Beltre


According to fangraphs, Beltre is one of the best defensive third basemen in baseball. His UZR/150 this season is a impressive 12.6, which is actually down from his UZR/150 of 15.7 last season! Those are some incredible numbers for a third baseman. And by the way, Beltre is a two time gold glove award winner....not too shabby.


While Beltre may never come close to hitting 40+ home runs again, there is no denying that he's still got some power in his bat. In each of the three previous seasons before this one, Beltre hit at least 25 home runs, which is some nice production at the hot corner.

However, this season Beltre has only hit 5 home runs in 338 at bats. Did the injuries eliminate a majority of Beltre's power? One has to wonder...


Even though it feels like Beltre has been around forever, he is only 30 years old. Beltre still should have a number of productive seasons left.

The Case against Beltre


What holds Beltre back from becoming a dangerous power hitter is his lack of discipline at the plate. Beltre has never had an OBP higher than .330 or walked more than 50 times in any of the past five seasons. At this point in his career, Beltre is what he is...for better or for worse.


Even though Beltre has always been healthy, we have to ask the health question simply because Beltre has missed lots of time this season. While we understand that the testicle injury was a freak accident, it'd be nice to see how productive Beltre is post shoulder surgery.


The group of free agent third basemen (outside of Chone Figgins) can be aptly described as injury prone. Just take a look at this group: Troy Glaus, Hank Blalock (first baseman at this stage in his career), Joe Crede, and Troy Glaus. So even with all his injuries in 2009, you can make a very strong case that Beltre is the 2nd best third baseman on the market.

Elias Ranking: Type B

Nothing to see here, folks. There's little/no chance that the Mariners would offer Beltre arbitration and risk owing Beltre between $12-$15 million in 2010.

(rankings courtesy of MLBTR)



Your guess is as good as mine on this one. Beltre missed a good portion of the 2009 season because of shoulder surgery and the now famous testicle injury (wear a cup!). If Beltre can come back healthy and productive in September, then I'm sure teams would be more likely to give him a multi year deal.


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Random Afternoon Video: Stay Away from Cocaine! Mike Schmidt Said So.

Very informative yet creepy message from Phillies great Mike Schmidt.

If the Twins Miss the Playoffs....Should Bill Smith be Fired?

The 2009 Twins have been disappointing (so far). They are a team with three of the best players at their respective positions (Mauer, Morneau, Nathan), but they simply cannot seem to surround these guys with the proper supporting cast. What a shame. Should GM Bill Smith get the ax this season if the Twins miss the playoffs? Let's take a look at both sides of the debate:

YES (fire Smith!)

-"botching" the Johan Santana trade was a huge blunder. Even though it's still too early to tell, the Twins package for Santana does not look impressive at the moment. In return for one of the best pitchers in baseball, the Twins got a young, struggling outfielder with tools (Carlos Gomez), a solid AAA starter (Kevin Mulvey), a AAAA player (Phil Humber), and a pitcher with a big arm, who has struggled in AA (Deolis Guerra). Needless to say that package is not looking good.

-When the Twins traded Matt Garza and Jason Bartlett for Delmon Young and Brendan Harris, Smith thought that he was giving the Twins' offense the significant boost it needed. However, two years after the trade, Young has shown no signs of improvement while Brendan Harris has proven to be nothing more than a utility infielder. On the other side, Garza has developed into a front line starting pitcher and Jason Bartlett has statistically been one of the top 5 shortstops in baseball this season.

-As a result, Smith has failed to surround Mauer and Morneau, two of the best hitters in baseball, with productive hitters.

-The bullpen has been very shaky this season, outside of Joe Nathan

-The middle infield has been a disaster

-As much as I love Joe Nathan, giving a closer a 4 year/$47 million dollar extension is something that will handicap the Twins payroll flexibility in future years.

NO (Keep Smith)

-3/5ths of the starting rotation (Liriano, Perkins, Slowey) has spent time on the DL

-He's shown a knack for trying to plug holes. You have to give him credit for not totally falling asleep at the wheel, right? Smith acquired Ron Mahay and Jon Rauch on Friday, acquired Carl Pavano in early August, and swung a deal for Orlando Cabrera at the trading deadline. So at least we know that Smith is trying, even with his limited resources and funds.

-Extensions given out to Justin Morneau, Jason Kubel and Scott Baker are looking like very efficient, team friendly deals at the moment.

-Smith is only two years into his tenure as GM. For a team with the Twins' payroll and resources, people are going to have to be patient (I hate this argument).


I think people are rough on Smith because they see a team with some amazing players (Mauer, Morneau, and Nathan), but their surrounded by a far less talented supporting cast. At what point does the GM become responsible for not being able to provide his young stars with a suitable supporting cast that can bring a winner to Minnesota?

As frustrating as this must be for Twins fans, I'm still inclined to give Smith more time. It'll be a massive disappointment if the Twins miss out on the playoffs given what Joe Mauer has been able to accomplish this season, but this club barely missed out on the playoffs last season and has been right in the thick of things this season even with all their injuries/bad play.


Pat Burrell and the Scott Kazmir Trade

The general theme that has lingered from the Scott Kazmir trade is that the Rays simply could not afford to keep him beyond this season because of financial constraints. When we say "financial restraints", there have been two schools of thought:

1. If the Rays want to keep Carl Crawford beyond this season, they needed to shed payroll. With more than $20 million owed to him over the next 2+ years, Kazmir was the logical choice for the Rays to move.

2. As Buster Olney, Keith Law, and a handful of other writers have noted, Kazmir's performance and stuff has been on the decline for more than a year now. The Rays simply could not afford to keep Kazmir around given his risk of decline and the amount of money he was owed.

So in a sense, Scott Kazmir was the perfectly logical choice to go. I'm not a fan of the timing, but the Rays got a good what can ya do?

One final question: who is to blame for the Rays trading away Scott Kazmir?

Answer: Pat Burrell.

To me, the answer has to be Burrell. The Rays signed Burrell because they knew that as a small market team, their window of opportunity to compete with the Yankees and Red Sox was dwindling. Even though they had a young group of mainly cheap and affordable players, eventually all those guys had to be paid and would someday fall out of the Rays price range.

So Friedman did what most GMs would do in his situation, he went for it. Friedman went out this offseason and signed Burrell to a 2 year/$16 million dollar contract that was praised throughout baseball for supposedly making the Rays lineup deeper and more potent.

Unfortunately for the Rays, the Burrell contract has not worked out so far. Burrell has dealt with his fair share of injuries this season and his numbers are down all across the board. So instead of running away with the division and having the best offense in baseball, the Rays have remained behind in both the race for the AL East and the AL wild card.

So as the Rays looked towards the future this summer, I bet all they saw was a rough bunch of clouds economically. They had three guys taking up more than 35% of their payroll (Pena, Burrell, Kazmir) and they knew that in order to keep Carl Crawford around, they needed get payroll flexibility from some spot. There was no chance that the Rays would move the productive Pena and no market out there for the injury prone Burrell. Thus, Kazmir was the only candidate to be moved. The Rays took a great offer and the rest is history.

In the end, Friedman took his shot at a 2009 title and wound up hamstringing the Rays payroll. In my opinion, this risk was plenty worthwhile because if the Rays were playing better baseball, there'd be no way any deal for Kazmir would be on the table right now.


Saturday, August 29, 2009

Free Agent at the End of the Season: Marco Scutaro

Marco Scuataro has always been thought of as a nice player. Before this year, Scutaro was thought of as nothing more than a backup middle infielder, who could play some solid defense, hit for some power, and come up with the occasional clutch hit.

But this season, Scutaro was given the chance to play everyday at short for the Blue Jays and he's taken the opportunity and run with it. Scutaro has emerged as a tremendous shortstop and leadoff hitter and he's set new career highs (so far) in batting average, runs, OBP, walks, OPS, and more.

So what will Scutaro's big 2009 campaign mean for his potential free agent earnings? Let's take a look:

The Case for Scutaro

-He can hit

Scutaro's numbers this season don't lie; this guy can hit. A .293 batting average, .388 OBP, 11 homers, .818 OPS, and 89 runs scored is the recipe for a very effective leadoff hitter. I'm sure there are plenty of teams around baseball that would love to have that kind of production from their shortstop.


According to fangraphs, Scutaro has been fantastic defensively this season at shortstop. His UZR/150 is an impressive 9.5 in large part because of his improved range (4.0 in '09). Scutaro is far from a liability as shortstop and can be counted on to play solid defense.

The Case against Scutaro


Even though Scutaro was one of 2009's breakout stars, it's important to remember that Scutaro has been around baseball for awhile and is going to be 34 years old when the 2010 season begins. By no means should Scutaro be considered a long term building block.


The question has to be asked when evaluating Scuatro: was his 2009 season a fluke? There aren't too many players, who put up the best numbers of their career at 33 years old.


The crop of free agent shortstops this offseason is pretty weak. Unless your a huge fan of Orlando Cabrera or you really want to give Khalil Greene/Bobby Crosby another chance, then this group really comes down to Miguel Tejada and Scutaro. While Tejada will probably hit for a higher average with more doubles and HRs, Scutaro is younger (33), has a much better OBP, and has shown the ability to play some pretty solid defense. Who would you go with?


(2 years/$10 million)

Here are some comparable contracts:
Kaz Masui (3 years/$15.5 million)
Mark Ellis (2 years/$11 million)
Akinori Iwamura (3 years/$7.7 million)

I think Scutaro's 2009 campaign has established him as a legitimate starting shortstop so obviously, he should receive a nice raise from the $1.1 million that he earned this year. However, I have a tough time believing that he would get anything more than a 2 year deal on the open market. When you combine his age (33) with the fact that the 2009 season was his only as a starter, I find it hard to think that a team would commit to him for more than 2 years.


Friday, August 28, 2009

Free Agent Previews!

Update #2: Still very under the weather, so probably nothing new once again today. Hopefully I'll be back around these parts by the weekend.

In the mean time, please check out the 2009 Free Agent Previews/Predictions that we have so far. Feel free to chime in with a comment as well.

Chone Figgins (4 years/$44 million)

Felipe Lopez (4 years/$30 million)

Jim Thome (1 year/$8.5 million)

Mark DeRosa (3 years/$24 million)

Miguel Tejada (2 years/$12 millIon)

Nick Johnson (3 years/$18 million)

Orlando Hudson (3 years/$20 million)

Russell Branyan (2 years/$15 million)

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Hypothetically Speaking: Who would be the Highest Paid Player?

****Update: I will probably be gone for most of the day due to illness. But in the meantime, enjoy this piece from yesterday, and leave a comment!****

Scenario time: let's assume for a second that after the 2009 season, for whatever reason, every player currently on a major league roster would be granted free agency with no strings attached (no options, arbitration, service time, etc.). No matter what their contract status was after the 2009 season, all contracts have been abolished. This would create the most amazing spending spree in sports history, as every player would have the freedom to pick and choose where they want to go.

But here's where I'm looking for your input. Under this scenario, what player would become the highest paid player in the game?

-Would it be Joe Mauer, who has established himself as the best hitting catcher in baseball?

-Would it be Albert Pujols, who is one of the best hitters on the planet and almost a virtual lock every year for a .300+, 30 HR, 100+ RBI?

-Would it be Evan Longoria, who is on his way towards becoming the best third baseman in baseball even though he only reached the majors last season?

-Would it be Tim Lincecum, who despite his diminutive stature, is widely considered to be the premier pitcher in the National League?

-Would it be Hanley Ramirez, who has developed into the best hitter in baseball that nobody knows about (thanks, Florida)?

-There are many other viable options here that I have not mentioned: Miguel Cabrera, Felix Hernandez, Alex Rodriguez, etc.

My pick: Albert Pujols.

Pujols is my pick simply because he has been this good for so long. His consistency is off the charts. Even though I feel like Pujols has been around forever, he is only 29 years old, which means that he should have many great years ahead of him. I picked Pujols over Joe Mauer because I worry about Mauer wearing down because of the grind of catching every day. The risk of Mauer getting hurt or declining is much higher than it is with Pujols simply because of the position he plays. Don't get me wrong, Mauer is the total package behind the plate and he can do just about everything offensively and defensively, but I'd rather invest $140+ million bucks in the sure thing.

Who do you think would become the highest paid player? Feel free to throw in the contract that you think he would receive on the open market.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Would the Athletics Ever Fire Billy Beane?

In case you haven't noticed, the Oakland Athletics are on pace to have their third consecutive sub .500 season. Since they were eliminated from the ALCS in 2006, the Athletics have been unable to capture their previous glory, despite the supposed genius of GM Billy Beane.

For years, Beane was thought of as the premier GM in baseball. He took a struggling, small market franchise and transformed them into a perennial powerhouse led by emerging young stars. Beane was a master at getting the most out of his limited payroll, in large part because of his "moneyball" approach, which valued OBP and power at the expense of stolen bases and defense.

In many ways, the Athletics decline over the past three years is somewhat expected. For a small market team like the Athletics, there is no way for the team to be able to keep all their young talent because at a certain point, all of these guys will become too expensive for the Athletics limited budget. The Athletics have lost so much premier talent simply because of the economics of baseball: Miguel Tejada, Jason Giambi, Barry Zito, Johnny Damon, Tim Hudson (traded), Mark Mulder (traded), Rich Harden (traded), Keith Foulke, Jermaine Dye, and more. No matter how brilliant Beane is, the odds of replacing all the talent is a very daunting task.

However, at what (if any) point would the Athletics consider firing Billy Beane? I know he's beloved by ownership and that he has done more with less than any GM on the planet, but there aren't too many GMs that can survive three consecutive losing seasons without even a whisper of being fired.

But in my opinion, Beane is one of them. For starters, when we talk about Athletics ownership, you have to remember that Beane owns a 4% stake in the team. Not a huge amount, but substantial. In addition, Beane is signed through 2014 as GM and I'm positive that the small market A's have no intention of relieving Beane of his duties anytime soon and paying him for multiple seasons.

And finally, to steal a line (sort of) from John McCain, the fundamentals of the Athletics are strong. Even though the major league team is struggling, the Athletics have a bundle of young and very talented players that are either impressing in the minors (Wallace, Weeks, Cardenas, etc.) or beginning to impact the major league team (Mazzaro, Anderson, Cahill, etc). In addition, Eric Chavez's horrific contract finally expires after next season, which will give the Athletics some payroll flexibility. You have to think that will all this talent on the horizon, the Athletics will get their act together in the next few seasons.

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RIP Ted Kennedy

"For me, a few hours ago, this campaign came to an end. For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die."

-Ted Kennedy, 1980

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Coco Crisp: Will the Royals Pick Up his Option?

Despite missing a good chunk of the season with shoulder issues, Coco Crisp would like the Royals to pick up his $8 million dollar option for next season:

There's no guarantee that Crisp will return for a second season with the Royals. The club holds an $8 million option for 2010 with a $500,000 buyout.

"I have no control over that," Crisp said. "If it was my option, well then I'd probably exercise it and stay here. But it's not. Most of the big names, like Manny [Ramirez] and so forth, because they have proven themselves over the years -- Hall of Fame caliber -- have that. But I don't have that luxury."

The reality is that the Royals should not be investing $8 million bucks in a injured centerfielder, when they have no chance of competing in 2010. There is no way the Royals should pick up his option, especially after Crisp endured such a injury plagued season.

But with Dayton Moore at the helm, how can any Royals fan be confident that the right decision will be made?

As much as I want to believe that the Royals will make the logical choice and decline the option, in a sad way it would not shock me to see them pick up Coco's option.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Free Agent at the End of the Season: Miguel Tejada

Make no mistake about it: even though Miguel Tejada is a name player, he is far from the MVP caliber player he was seven or eight years ago. Tejada is no longer a potent power threat, who will drive in 120+ runs and carry an offense. Those days are long gone.

But make no mistake about it: even though Miguel Tejada is not the player he once was, he's still an asset. Tejada has transformed himself into a shortstop, who's game centers around his ability to play everyday, hit for a high average, and hit lots of doubles.

What's that combination worth on the open market? Let's take a look:

The Case for Tejada

-He can still hit

Once you get past the idea that Tejada can no longer hit for power, what you see is a hitter, who can still be very productive. His .309 batting average ranks 12th in the NL, he's 2nd in the NL in doubles, and his 154 hits ranks 2nd in the National league. In addition, Tejada hits well against both lefties (.292) and righties (.314). The bottom line is simple: Tejada is still an asset at the dish.

-Everyday Miggy

Since 1999, Miguel Tejada has played in at least 158 games in every season with the exception of 2007. That consistency is remarkable. And this season, Tejada has played in 122 of the Astros' 124 games, which is a very impressive feat when you consider that Tejada is 35 years old. At some point, the wear and tear will take its full effect on Tejada, but for now, the idea that Tejada will be in the lineup everyday has to be reassuring for prospective suitors.

The Case against Tejada


According to fangraphs, Tejada's UZR/150 this season is an abyssal -9.8. Why has Tejada's defense been so bad this season? Fangraphs also notes that Tejada's range has massively declined this season to the tune of a -10.3 ranking, which is a huge drop from last season. Can a contending team survive with Miguel Tejada playing shortstop? Debatable. Could it finally be time to move Tejada away from shortstop???


The most telling sign that Tejada's power is evaporating lies directly in the stats. Tejada only has 10 home runs in 2009, even though he's playing in one of the most hitter friendly stadiums for a right handed power hitter. Any team that decides to go after Tejada needs to avoid paying him like he's a middle of the order power hitter that he once was and gauge his value on the open market accordingly.


The free agent class of shortstops is a weak group. Aside from Tejada, the only other free agent shortstop, who could make noise on the open market is Marco Scutaro. True, Scutaro is younger than Tejada and is having a career year in 2009, but the advantage to signing Tejada is that he has a consistent track record of production and success. Who would you prefer?

(2 years/$12 million)

Here are some comparable contracts:

Edgar Renteria (2 years/$18 million)
Orlando Cabrera (1 year/$4 million)

Alex Gonzalez (3 years/$14 million)
Julio Lugo (4 years/$36 million)

There is a very realistic possibility that Tejada will only get a one year pact on the open market, especially if the market plays out like it did last year. However, he is still a productive player and I feel that in the right setting, Tejada could be a very valuable piece to have around. While I would be hesitant to give a multi-year contract to a player over 35, Tejada has shown plenty of life over the past two years to make me at least think about it. In the end, I think Tejada will get something along the lines of a one year deal with a option or a two year contract, simply because he still brings a lot to the table.

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Adrian Beltre is Ballsy

Adrian Beltre doesn't have a solid answer for the question everyone wants answered: Will he wear a cup in the future?

"I might be lying if I said [I would]," the Seattle Mariners third baseman said on Monday. "I tried it before, it's uncomfortable, I hate it and if it happens every 11 years of my career I'll probably take my chances."


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Johan Santana: Uh Oh

For all those people that said the Mets season couldn't get any worse, well, it just did:
"He has not been throwing between starts for quite awhile. I would say since before the All-Star break. He has been pitching with this problem, but not with the level of discomfort he has now," New York manager Jerry Manuel said Monday after his team's 6-2 loss to Philadelphia.

"I'm terribly concerned," Manuel told Newsday. "No question about it."

Francoeur told that he spoke with Santana about the likelihood of surgery. He told the Web site Santana "can get it looked at now and be two months ahead by Spring Training," indicating a need for surgery in the immediate future.

Mike Pelfrey, Santana's fellow starter, added, "I don't think anyone expects good news.

For the life of me, I'll never understand why/how the Mets let Johan Santana continue to go out there every fifth day even though the season was lost and Santana clearly wasn't 100% right. Where's the logic in that? Yeah, I know, if Johan Santana is 50% of himself on the mound then he's still better than most of the pitchers the Mets have right now. But what are we playing for here? Nothing in 2009, that's for sure.

Santana is the most important player that the Mets have and the player, who the Mets have invested the most money in. At the first sign that Santana's body was breaking down, the Mets should have played it very safe with Santana in the hopes of protecting their investment and the team's future. The fact that Santana is hurt this late into a hopeless season tells me that the Mets did not do a good job protecting their asset.

Santana is known as a gamer and a very prideful guy, who takes pride in his pitching ability. On one hand, it's admirable that he kept competing during a lost season when the Mets playing so poorly and were so far out of the race. But on the other hand, as a fan, you have to hope that Johan can recognize that when something is obviously not right with his health, that he has to tone it down or else he could be risking injury. But once those competitive juices get flowing, you never know, I guess.

With all that said, the panic level is rising in Mets land. With all the injuries this season, you can make a strong case that the panic level was code orange. But if the Mets lose Johan Santana for a extended period of time, the terror level will be a painfully high code red.

Say your prayers for good news, Met fans. I sure as hell will.

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Random Afternoon Video: Trent Edwards Cannot Throw a Baseball

This does not bode well for you, Bills fans.

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The Race for Bryce Harper, Week 2

Well another week has passed by, which means that the race for Bryce Harper is heatin' up! What team will lose enough games in 2009, and in turn, receive the privilege to draft one of the most hyped up young talents in the past decade? Let's take a look at the "other important race" going on in baseball, one that has nothing to do with the playoffs or pennants.

1. Washington Nationals

-Maybe the acquisition of Stephen Strasburg motivated the Nationals to lose for Bryce? Since the Nationals signed Strasburg on Monday, the Nationals are 1-5, which has helped them maintain the top spot in the Bryce Harper standings. Nationals fans should be salivating at the thought of Strasburg and Harper in Washington for years to come.

Memo to 2009 Nationals: lose, lose, lose, lose, lose, lose!

2. Kansas City Royals

-The Royals stink. But right now, amazingly, they don't stink ENOUGH. The Royals went 1-5 last week, but did not gain ANY GROUND on the Nationals in the race for Bryce. The Royals have been horrible this season, but if they are going to land Harper, then they have to continue losing and hope that the far more talented Nationals pull together another winning streak or two. If there is a team that needs Harper right now, it's the Royals.

3. Baltimore Orioles, 7 GB

-The dream of Bryce Harper joining forces with Matt Wieters, Brian Matusz, Chris Tillman, Adam Jones, and all the Orioles young talent became far less realistic this week. The Orioles went 3-4 last week, which means that they actually lost 1.5 in the standings for Bryce Harper.

However, the Orioles still have 6 games left with the Yankees, 5 games left with the Red Sox, and 8 games left with the Rays so maybe, just maybe, the Orioles aren't out of the Harper sweepstakes just yet.

4. San Diego Padres, 7 GB

-Like the Orioles, the Padres lost 1.5 games in the Harper standings this week. If the Padres want any chance at landing Harper, it's imperative that their pitching come down to the level of their hitting, which is by far the worst in the league. Even though the Padres offense has been anemic, they can still grind out some games if their pitching continues to perform adequately. This team needs a total meltdown if they are going to land Harper.

5. Pittsburgh Pirates, 8 GB

-Last week, the Pirates seemed to be the dark horse in the Bryce Harper derby. The Buccos were only 4 GB of the Nationals and after GM Neal Huntington purged the roster, they seemed to have a decent chance of playing horrific baseball down the stretch and putting themselves into position for the #1 overall pick.

But during this past week, a funny thing happened: the Pirates started winning games! The team went 5-1 this past week, which is great for Pirates fans hoping that their team avoids losing 100 games this season, but terrible for the franchise as a whole. The Pirates are now slipping out of the Harper derby and will need to lose at a torrid pace down the stretch if they are to make a serious run at Harper.

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Fun With Performance Incentives (Part I)

I dunno about you, but one of my favorite baseball sites out there right now is Cot's Baseball Contracts. The site has all the nuggets and nuances that come with baseball contracts and gives people like myself the opportunity to see how big money baseball contracts work.

One of the projects that I've been working on for some time now is ranking the performance clauses in current baseball contracts. In most big money contracts, teams insert certain performance clauses that reward the player for achieving a certain goal or statistic.

I've always been interested in performance bonuses for some strange reason. I've always been fascinated to know who makes the most for winning a award and how teams structure their performance bonus system. And because of the amazing Cot's Baseball Contracts, these numbers were right at my fingertips, just waiting to be organized and sorted.

My plan moving forward is to have two installments of the performance incentive rankings. The first one will consist of seven awards and any other nuggets and oddities that I fit in. Enjoy....this should make some good banter in the comments.

(Note: All the contracts and player bonuses listed are current and valid in the 2009 season. In addition, all contract information is from Cot's Baseball Contracts)

****** *******

1. What player earns the most money for winning a gold glove?

Answer: Lots. By my unofficial count, there are 15 guys out there that earn exactly $100,000 for winning a gold glove. Here is my unofficial list:

Magglio Ordonez, Mike Lowell, JD Drew, Ryan Howard, Johan Santana, Carlos Beltran, Grady Sizemore, Benjie Molina, Eric Chavez, Mark Ellis, Torii Hunter, Bobby Abreu, Vladimir Guerrero, Gary Mathews Jr., and my personal favorite Russ Springer are all members of the $100,000 gold glove club.
2. What player earns the most money for winning a silver slugger?

Answer: Once again, lots. By my unofficial count, there are 16 hitters out there that earn exactly $100,000 for winning a silver slugger. Here is my unofficial list:

Vladimir Guerrero, Torii Hunter, Bobby Abreu, Gary Matthews Jr, Mark Ellis, Jack Cust, Eric Chavez, Nomar Garciaparra, Orlando Cabrera, Kosuke Fukudome, Grady Sizemore, Carlos Beltran, Ryan Howard, David Ortiz, Mike Lowell, JD Drew, Magglio Ordonez
Oh yeah, there are two pitchers, who earn $100,000 for winning a silver slugger:

-The Mets Johan Santana

-And ANOTHER personal favorite, the Rangers (at the time) Vincente Padilla.......WHAT!?

3. What player earns the most money for making the all-star game?

Answer: Blue Jays SP Roy Halladay

Yes, the Blue Jays ace earns a cool $125,000 every time he's named to the all-star team.

4. What player earns the most money for receiving the most all-star votes?

Answer: Cubs OF Alfonso Soriano

Can you believe it? If Soriano is receives the most votes for the all-star game, then he's due for a ridiculous $250,000. That's a lot of dough just for winning a popularity contest.

In case you were wondering, there are three other players, who have such a clause in their contracts. Carlos Beltran and Vernon Wells would each earn $100,000 for receiving the most votes, while the Mariners Adrian Beltre (and his injured testicle) would have earned $75,000.

5. What player would earn the most money for winning the MVP?

Answer: Lots. Here is my unofficial list:

Astros 1B Lance Berkman, Tigers OF Magglio Ordonez, Angels OF's Torii Hunter, Vladimir Guerrero, Bobby Abreu, Gary Matthews Jr, Cubs OF Milton Bradley, Red Sox SP Daisuke Matsuzaka, and Mets OF Carlos Beltran
All of the following players would earn $500,000 for winning the MVP in their respective league.

But here is my favorite nugget with regards to MVP bonuses: if Jeff Suppan or Barry Zito won the MVP, they would each receive $250,000, but if/when Albert Pujols wins the MVP, he would only receive $200,000.

6. What player would receive the most money for winning the CY Young?

Answer: Mets SP Johan Santana (sort of.)

What do I mean by sort of? Well according to Cot's, Johan Santana would earn "$0.5M-$1.5M for Cy Young, but the number varies based on number won"

And check out this list of players, who would all receive $500,000 for winning a CY Young award:

-Dontrelle Willis
-Nate Robertson
-Vincente Padilla
-Jeff Suppan
-Barry Zito

I can't make this stuff up. That's quite a group of busts.

7. What player would receive the most money for winning comeback player of the year?

Rangers OF Andruw Jones

Coming off a terrible 2008 season, it's no surprise to see that Jones had this clause inserted into his contract. If Jones does indeed win the award, he will earn $200,000.

In addition, both Pedro Martinez and Nomar Garciaparra would earn $100,000 if either was to win the award this season.

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Friday, August 21, 2009

Random Afternoon Video: Do the El Duque!

For any Yankee fan in 1998, this commercial was THE BEST.

Plus, there's a cameo from Luis Sojo. What's not to love?

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Gary Sheffield is Ridiculous

Gary Sheffield causing choas! What else is new?

"Gary Sheffield's future with the Mets is up in the air.

The veteran slugger was a late scratch from tonight's lineup, and a high-ranking club source confirmed that Sheffield was threatening to leave the team after the Mets
rejected his request for a contract extension."
The biggest problem that I have with the idea of giving Sheffield a extension is not that he can't hit anymore...because obviously he can. His numbers this season (.285, 10 HR, 43 RBI) clearly show that he still has juice (pun intended) left in the tank at the dish.

However, Sheffield is not a fit for the Mets moving forward, and I'm not just talking about his age (he's 40). The bottom line is that Sheffield can no longer chase after a baseball effectively or play left field for that matter, which would be a huge problem for the Mets because they play in the spacious Citi Field, where it's vital to have athletic outfielders, who can cover ground. At this stage in his career, Sheffield is not athletic enough to cover ground in the outfield.

In short, he's a liability. If Sheffield ever thought that the Mets would seriously consider giving him a extension, then he's truly out of his mind. Why would he be in the Mets' future plans? The Mets need to get younger, quicker, and more athletic; all of which he cannot bring to the table at this stage in his career.

So if Sheffield is going to bitch and moan about not getting an extension, the Mets should just release him. At this point, what good is it having Sheffield on the roster anyway? Sure he's the only "power threat" in the lineup, but the Mets are going nowhere this season and need to see what they got in guys like Corey Sullivan, Jeremy Reed, Angel Pagan, and Jeff Francoeur. Giving more playing time to an aging and annoying player like Sheffield does nothing for the Mets future, which is what management needs to be focused on.

Are the Blue Jays on the "Right Track?"

Hidden in this article about Jays Prez Paul Beeston is this gem from Commissioner Bud Selig about the future of the Blue Jays:

Plenty of questions have been raised locally about where the team is headed, and Selig feels Beeston is the right man to set the course.
"I have a lot of faith in Paul Beeston, he was very successful there the first time around, he'll be successful again, I wish he'd stay there a long time, that's how much faith I have in him," Selig said Thursday from his office in Milwaukee. "Having said all that, I think they're doing things the right way.

"Look, they've traded some players, they've signed a fair amount of their draft choices, but they clearly are building for the future. ... It may take some time, but do I believe they're on the right track? You bet I do."
Hmmm...interesting. Are the Blue Jays on the right track? Maybe....

If by right track the commish means that the Jays can be mediocre and somewhat competitive, then sure, the Blue Jays are on the right track. Pitcher Shaun Marcum and Dustin McGowan hopefully will return alongside Roy Halladay and Ricky Romero in 2010 and the rest of the Jays
of the Jays pitching staff has the chance to be solid in the future. And hey, who knows, maybe Aaron Hill, Travis Snider, and Adam Lind will continue to develop into the core of the Blue Jays offense for years to come.

I'll admit, there are some very nice pieces in place in Toronto. There has been so much that has gone wrong in Toronto over the past few years that I believe people have a tendency to look past the Blue Jays positives.

At the same time, my enthusiasm for Blue Jays baseball is beaten by two things:

1. They play in the AL East

-hands down the toughest division in baseball year after year....teams cannot simply be good to compete in this division, they have to be great. Can the Blue Jays build a great team given their current economic situation?

2. Vernon Wells

-and by "current economic situation" I am clearly referring to Vernon Wells, who in 2011 will probably take up more than 1/4th of the Blue Jays payroll. From 2011-2014, the Jays owe Wells more than $80 million bucks. And unless Wells turns it around, he probably will not only take up 1/4 of their payroll, but he could very well be a below average player to boot. That combination is absolutely frightening.

So I would say that there are plenty of reasons for Jays fans to be optimistic about the future. However, their ability to compete in the AL East is probably directly tied to Vernon Wells' performance. If Wells can turn it around, then the Jays could be a dangerous group in the future.

However, I can't help but feel that if the Jays don't get a substantial contribution from Vernon Wells in the future, that this team that could potentially be on the "right track", will be taken off course and left in the land of mediocrity.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Random Afternoon Video: Ya Gotta Back Him Off!

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Away for the Day!

Packing and moving will unfortunately dominate my life for the next day or so, but hopefully I'll be back with more tomorrow.

But in the mean time, please check out the 2009 Free Agent Previews/Predictions that we have so far. Feel free to chime in as well.

-Be sure to follow us on Twitter or follow us on Facebook

Free Agent at the End of the Season: Felipe Lopez

During his tenure with the Washington Nationals, Felipe Lopez looked lost. He was a massive disappointment with the Nationals and looked like a shell of his former self. While Lopez could still run and steal the occasional base, he demonstrated no ability to get on base, hit for significant power, or hit for a high enough average to justify the playing time he was given.

But luckily for Lopez, the Nationals eventually released Lopez and he got a fresh start with the St. Louis Cardinals. Since that point, Lopez has become one of the most consistent second basemen in the National League. In doing so, Lopez has set himself up nicely for the offseason, when he will be one of the most coveted second basemen on the market because of his age and ability level.

The Case for Lopez


As a shortstop, Lopez was pretty terrible statistically. In addition, Lopez was a pretty bad defensive second baseman entering this season. However, in 2009, Lopez's defense has been stellar at second base in large part because his tremendous range. Lopez's UZR/150 of 5.3 signifies just how solid Lopez has been so far this season.


The great thing about Felipe Lopez for whatever team signs him is that you have to think that his best years are ahead of him. Lopez will only turn 30 years old next year and he seems to have finally put it all together.


At 29 years old, Lopez is the youngest second baseman available on the market, which in turn makes him a more attractive option for teams.

-Both sides

I'm a big fan of switch hitters, who can hit from both sides of the plate. Too many times in my life, I was forced to watch Todd Hundley hit from the right side, and wow was that an ugly scene. So it's refreshing to see stats like Lopez is putting up this season. From the left side, Lopez is hitting .311 and from the right side, Lopez is hitting .304. Those numbers suggest that Lopez is not a liability from one side of the plate, which increases his value.

The Case against Lopez

-Which Felipe?

The major downside to signing Lopez has to be his inconsistent history. There is always a risk that Lopez could revert back to playing the way he did with the Nationals, which would make him a liability and a frustration. The team that signs Lopez better pray to the baseball Gods that they sign the post Nationals Felipe Lopez.

The talent is there with Lopez. But can he keep it together for a extended period of time after he signs a lucrative contract? I'm very skeptical.


The biggest thing that seperates Lopez from his competition is his age. While the other 2b free agents out there are quite intreguing (Orlando Hudson, Placido Polanco, Mark DeRosa), they all will be above the age of 33. Lopez will turn 30 next year and can be viewed as not just a short term option, but a long term option as well.

(4 years/$30 million)

Here are some comarable contracts:
Kaz Matsui: 3 years/$16.5 million
Mark Ellis: 2 years/$11 million
Brian Roberts: 4 years/$40 million

Robinson Cano: 4 years/$30 million
Brandon Phillips: 4 years/$27 million

I would be VERY hesistant to give Lopez a multi year contract, but I have a feeling that Lopez will get the big money on the open market. His talent coupled with his 2009 performance has put him into a great position for this offseason.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Does Johnny Damon Belong in the Hall of Fame?

A recent feature in the New York Times about Yankees OF Johnny Damon made headlines all over the net because it appears likely that Damon has a good chance to remain a Yankee beyond 2009. However, one section of the piece really stood out to me and made me Johnny Damon a hall of famer?
"Damon has fewer steals this season, just eight, because he usually bats second instead of first. But he still makes a difference with his speed, part of a set of skills that is rare in baseball history.

Only three players have matched Damon’s career totals for hits (2,389), runs (1,459), stolen bases (370), doubles (443), homers (205), runs batted in (981) and batting average (.289). They are the Hall of Famer Paul Molitor and Roberto Alomar and Barry Bonds, who are not yet eligible for Cooperstown.

Damon has only one season with 200 hits — for Kansas City in 2000 — but he has an outside chance at 3,000 for his career. He is 10th in hits among active players, but only two players ahead of him are younger: his teammates Jeter (2,688) and Rodriguez (2,483).

Damon, who has four children, said he would like to play three or four more years before retiring to help his 10-year-old son, Jackson, concentrate on baseball. Whether or not he reaches 3,000 hits, Damon said his other numbers could get him to the Hall of Fame, anyway. He would like to keep compiling while playing for the Yankees."
Johnny Damon...hall of famer? Not in my eyes. This guy has always been a very good player, but can we honestly say that Damon was a great player? I say no.

But in order to dive deeper into Johnny Damon's hall of fame candidacy, I decided to fill out a mini Keltner List. For those of you who don't know, the Keltner List is a series of objective questions used to evaluate a player's hall of fame candidacy. It's my hope that a Keltner List of Johnny Damon would help clear up this idea that Damon is a hall of famer, but I also acknowledge that it's difficult to fully evaluate his HOF candidacy because Damon is not retired yet. But nevertheless, I decided to give it shot.

********* ***********

1. Was he ever regarded as the best player in baseball? Did anybody, while he was active, ever suggest that he was the best player in baseball?

-No. Damon was always a very good player, but he was never that caliber of player.

2. Was he the best player on his team?

-No. Even though Damon played for some terrible teams in Kansas City, but I can't say that he was the best player on any of those teams. Damon has been a very good player player for both the Red Sox and the Yankees, but he's never been the best player on either team.

3. Was he the best player in baseball at his position? Was he the best player in the league at his position?

-No. Once again, Damon has always been a very good player, but I can't say that he was the best player at his position. There have always been a handful of guys that I considered to be better ball players than Damon.

4. Did he have an impact on a number of pennant races?

-Yes. Damon played a big role in the World Series winning 2004 Red Sox, especially with his game 7 home run off Javier Vazquez. But we have to remember how much Damon struggled in the 2003 and 2004 ALCS, when the Red Sox needed him most.

5. Was he a good enough player that he could continue to play regularly after passing his prime?

-I guess at 35 years old, Damon should be considered "past his prime." However, Damon's performance suggests that he is not past his prime...yet.

6. Is he the very best player in baseball history who is not in the Hall of Fame?


7. Are most players who have comparable career statistics in the Hall of Fame?

-Here are list of players, who are comparable to Damon's stats through age 34 according to baseball reference:
  1. Cesar Cedeno (897)
  2. Willie Davis (889)
  3. Tim Raines (868)
  4. Pete Rose (866)
  5. Buddy Bell (859)
  6. Lou Brock (855) *
  7. Vada Pinson (852)
  8. Al Oliver (849)
  9. Sherry Magee (841)
  10. Keith Hernandez (840)
Any list with Pete Rose, Tim Raines, Lou Brock and Keith Hernandez is pretty good in my eyes. However, that list does not really help us determine if Damon belong in the HOF.

8. Do the player's numbers meet Hall of Fame standards?

-Right now, no. But if Damon is able to get 3,000 hits, then he'll have a very strong argument for the hall. Another World Series championship or two can only help Damon's candidacy, as well.

9. Is there any evidence to suggest that the player was significantly better or worse than is suggested by his statistics?


10. Is he the best player at his position who is eligible for the Hall of Fame but not in?


11. How many MVP-type seasons did he have? Did he ever win an MVP award? If not, how many times was he close?

-Damon has never won an MVP award and as never come close to winning one. The closest Damon has come to winning the award is 13th in 2005. There have been several seasons in Damon's career that we could say were all star worthy, but there isn't one that sticks out as "MVP caliber."

12. How many All-Star-type seasons did he have? How many All-Star games did he play in? Did most of the other players who played in this many go to the Hall of Fame?

-Two all star games, so far. Most hall of famers have been to more all star games than Damon.

13. If this man were the best player on his team, would it be likely that the team could win the pennant?

-I would have to say no. The closest Damon ever was to being the best player on his team was during his tenure with the Royals, and those teams were absolutely horrible.

14. What impact did the player have on baseball history? Was he responsible for any rule changes? Did he introduce any new equipment? Did he change the game in any way?

-Damon's biggest impact in baseball was breaking the curse with the 2004 Red Sox. My generation will remember Damon as the guy on the Red Sox, who looked like Jesus patrolling center field.

15. Did the player uphold the standards of sportsmanship and character that the Hall of Fame, in its written guidelines, instructs us to consider?

-Yes, by all accounts, Damon has been a great guy and a very good teammate over the course of his career. Does that help his HOF candidacy? Probably not.

********** **********

So in conclusion, is Johnny Damon a hall of famer? Right now, not in my eyes. Damon has a very realistic chance to get 3,000 hits in the next few years (2,391 hits right now), which should all but guarantee his entry into the hall of fame, even if he was never a "great player." In my opinion, Damon is not even a borderline HOF at this point, even though his performance has been consistently good over the course of his career.

What do you think? Is Johnny Damon a hall of famer?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Free Agent at the End of the Season: Mark DeRosa

Mark DeRosa is a rare talent. Not only does DeRosa swing a big stick, but DeRosa is especially valuable because of his ability to play several different positions on the baseball diamond. And as we inch closer towards free agency, it will be fascinating to see how DeRosa will benefit from his versatility. Back in 2006, DeRosa inked a nice 3 year deal with the Chicago Cubs, but make no mistake about it, Mark DeRosa is an established commodity now. Will he be paid like it? Let's take a look.

The Case for DeRosa


Mark DeRosa can play all over the field. This is what makes him unique as a player. DeRosa has experience playing every infield position and both corner outfield spots. That versatility makes him very, very valuable to teams that are looking to take advantage of matchups or teams that are looking to rest aging players. DeRosa gives a manager options, which is very valuable in today's MLB.

-Hits for Power

One aspect of DeRosa's game that has really evolved over the years is his ability to hit for power. Before 2008, DeRosa had never hit more than 15 home runs in any season before. However, in 2008, DeRosa exploded for 21 home runs to go along with 30 doubles. And already in 2009, DeRosa has tied his career high with 21 homers and has a legitimate chance to hit 30+ home runs this season.

The Case against DeRosa

Can he defend?

DeRosa can play multiple positions, but can he actually play any of them well defensively? Not really.

Entering the 2009 season, DeRosa was thought of as an above average third baseman, but his defensive stats this season suggest that DeRosa is well below average at the hot corner. His UZR/150 is -11.1 and his range has been unimpressive (-5.0). At 2B last season with the Cubs, DeRosa's UZR/150 was a pathetic -15.9. And DeRosa has not played a significant amount of time at 1B or SS in a few seasons.

At this point in his career, DeRosa should probably be placed in the OF because that's where his defense has been solid over the past two seasons (UZR/150 above 10 in both years). But are there actually any teams out there that think of DeRosa as an OF at this point? That fact remains to be seen.

-Batting Average

One stat that concerns me about DeRosa is his decline in batting average over the years. As his power has gone up, his batting average has gone down from the .290 range down to .260 this year.


-No other free agent out there brings the versatility to the table like DeRosa. That alone puts him in a separate category from most of the other free agents. It's tough to judge exactly who DeRosa will be competing against on the market because it all depends on what position he wants to play....primarily. If he's going to be a third baseman, then he'll have some strong competition from Chone Figgins and the legion of injured free agents at the hot corner. If he's going to play second, then DeRosa immediately becomes one of the best 2b on the market.

Elias Ranking: Type B

Now, if DeRosa stays as a type B free agent, he could become a much more attractive on the market. Teams would not have to surrender two high draft picks for DeRosa's services, which means that the possible cost of signing DeRosa would be less than signing a player like Chone Figgins. We'll see if DeRosa moves up to a type A during the final weeks of the season.

(rankings courtesy of MLBTR)

(3 years/$24 million)

Here are some comparable contracts:
Casey Blake (3 years/$17.5 million)
Mike Lowell (3 years/$37.5 million)
Kaz Matsui (3 years/$15.5 million)

Again, how much DeRosa makes and the amount of years he gets will come down to where he will play primarily on the diamond. I would expect DeRosa to get an upgrade from the contract he received from the Cubs in 2006, but three years seems about right given his age (34) and ability level.

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Random Afternoon Video: Mr. Met and Josh Hamilton Do Not Get Along

This is too funny.

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Francisco Cordero and the Cubs are a Great Fit

The Cubs need a closer....a competent closer that is. Closer Kevin Gregg has been erratic at best this season. Gregg has a pedestrian 4.47 ERA, has blown six saves, and has given up a whopping 12 home runs in 56 innings. After last night's debacle in San Diego, it looks like Cubs manager Lou Piniella has had it with Gregg as the closer.

"I think we're going to make some changes as far as what we're going to do in late innings," Piniella said. "We'll have some word [Tuesday]."
The Cubs can simply insert Carlos Marmol as closer for the remainder of the season. The right hander has dominant stuff that can overwhelm hitters, but Marmol has struggled with his control this season by walking 52 batters in 56 innings, which has helped produce a 1.47 WHIP. In my opinion, Marmol is far to erratic to be trusted as the closer.

So who should the Cubs turn to? I like their other in house options (John Grabow and Angel Guzman), but I'm not sold on either guy as the closer. The Cubs need someone great. The Cubs need someone, who they can count on.

All of this leads me to Cincinnati, where the hapless Reds currently sit in fifth place in the NL Central, 16.5 games out of first place. The Reds are stuck right now. They are/should be in a full rebuilding mode, but they have a number of high salaried players that make it very difficult for the team to fully rebuild.

One player who I think the Reds should at least consider moving in the next few weeks is their closer, Francisco Cordero, who has been incredible this season. As John Fay wrote:

"Look at the Cordero signing. He’s been terrific. He’s single-handedly upgraded the bullpen. But the club has lost big in his two years. Why? When one player takes up so much of your payroll, you scrimp elsewhere."
So in essence, moving Cordero, his 1.75 ERA, and the $24 million owed to Cordero would give the Reds more payroll flexibility in the future. Cordero is signed with the Reds for the next two years and let's be frank here, the team is going to have a tough time competing. It makes no sense to have your closer as the highest paid player on your team if there is little chance that the team will be able to compete.

That's why I think the Cubs and Cordero are a great fit. The Cubs need a great closer. Cordero is a great closer. Cordero needs to play in the place where the team will compete. The Cubs are right in the thick of the playoff picture this season.

That said, would the Cubs actually take on Cordero and the more than $24 million owed to him? Very debatable. Would they ask the Reds to take on some of the contract?

In addition, would Cordero accept a deal to the Cubs? He has a full no trade clause through this season and can, in theory, dictate where he'd go. Another debatable point.

If the Reds decide to move Cordero this season, he would have to either pass through waivers or be claimed by a club. It's tough to imagine any team outside of the Cubs or Angels putting in a claim for Cordero if he's put on waivers because of his salary. Can anyone else see Francisco Cordero being claimed by the Cubs and eventually traded to the team simply for salary relief a la Alex Rios? I think it could happen.

Should the Cubs make a play for Francisco Cordero?

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Bryce Harper: How Much Money Will He Get in 2010?

With word coming down late last night that the Nationals signed Stephen Strasburg to a 4 year/$15.7 million dollar deal, I can't help but think towards next year.

So without further ado, here's a simple question: how much money will Bryce Harper receive next year assuming he stays healthy and productive?

Considering the hype surrounding Harper already, I would assume that Harper's total package would be well north of the $15.7 million that Strasburg got from the Nationals.

What's your best guess?

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Monday, August 17, 2009

Free Agent at the End of the Season: Chone Figgins

Over the years, Chone Figgins has proven this: when he's healthy, he's a beast. And thankfully for Figgins, he has avoided the injuries that have plagued him in the past and he's been able to stay on the field.

And for Figgins, the 2009 season has been one of his best to date. So far in 2009, Figgins leads the AL in runs scored and triples, and ranks fourth in stolen bases. Figgins made his first all star team in 2009 and seems to have set himself up nicely for a free agent contract this offseason.

The Case for Figgins


Speed has always been the trademark of Figgins game. In every season since 2004, Figgins has stolen at least 30 bases and led the league in steals in 2005. In addition, Figgins stolen base total would have been higher over the years if not for a series of injuries that cut short his production.

-gets on base

Figgins is the stereotypical leadoff hitter. Not only does he have speed, but Figgins knows how to draw walks and produce a high on base percentage. Figgins is currently 5th in the AL in walks and has an impressive .401 OBP that has propelled the Angels offense this season. Figgins is a major reason why the Angels have played well even without Vladimir Guerrero and Torii Hunter for extended periods of time.


For so long, Figgins was thought of by the Angels as a super utility player, a guy who should be in the lineup, but without a set position. But since Figgins has become the Angels starting third baseman, his defense has been on the upswing. In 2007, Figgins UZR/150 at third base was a putrid -6.1, but just two years later, Figgins UZR/150 was an impressive 11.2. Whatever team that signs Figgins should be assured that Figgins will play a sparkling third base.

The Case against Figgins

-Can he stay healthy?

This is the question that has to be asked when talking about Chone Figgins simply because in '07 and '08, Figgins failed to play in more than 120 games in each season. It's a promising sign that Figgins has not missed time this year, but his past injury history has to at least be in the discussion.


In most cases, you would expect a good amount of power from your corner infielders. However, Chone Figgins should never be confused for a power hitter. If Figgins hits more than a handful of home runs every year, then that would be a lot. Whatever team signs Figgins will have to find power from other sources to compensate for the lack of power at third base.


The good news for Figgins is that he enters the free agent market in a year where there are no other stud third basemen out there. Aside from Figgins, the rest of the group consists mainly of injuries and question marks: Joe Crede, Hank Blalock, Adrian Beltre, and Troy Glaus.
In addition, there are no other players on the market that bring the speed dimension to the table like Figgins does. If the Rays decide to move Carl Crawford, then the market for Figgins might be cut into a bit. But on the surface, if a team is looking for speed and a leadoff hitter, then Figgins is the best guy out there.
Elias Ranking: Type A
Like Bobby Abreu, I would fully expect the Angels to offer Figgins arbitration given his 2009 salary and the high possibility that the Angels are compensated with 2 high draft picks.


4 years/$44 million

Here are some comparable contracts:
Mike Lowell (3 years/$37.5 million)
Ryan Zimmerman (5 years/$45 million)
Casey Blake (3 years/$17.5 million)
Brian Roberts (4 years/$40 million)

Chone Figgins brings so much to the table that it's hard to imagine him not getting at least 3 or 4 years. I will be interested to see what kind of dollar figure Figgins is able to get. Is he a $10 million dollar a year player? Well, according to fangraphs, Figgins has been worth $20.4 million this season. Wow...maybe Figgins would be a bargain.

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Random Afternoon Video: Mr. Met and the Radar Gun are a Match Made in Heaven

Like the 2009 Mets, Mr. Met keeps trying...and failing.

What can I say? It's a tough time to be a Met fan.

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Bryce Harper: Should the Pirates Tank?

Here we go....our first article talking about how a team should fold the rest of the '09 season to better position themselves for Bryce Harper.

Keep losing, Pirates.

Lose like your life depends on it.

Lose like you've been losing this month, which has begun with two wins in 14 games.

Does everybody realize what's at stake here, heading into the final quarter of the season? It's incredible that more people aren't talking about it: One of the most tantalizing prospects in recent baseball history is expected to be the first pick in next year's draft, and the Pirates might get him if they simply continue to do what they do best.


Lose, lose, lose.
On one hand, this makes all the sense in the world. The Pirates need a player like Bryce Harper. A player who could potentially transform the organization from laughingstock to contender.
And from a fan's perspective, sure, no one wants to watch the team fold. That sucks. But there will be absolutely nothing for a fan base to gain from the Pirates winning 70 games and missing out on Harper. Instead, the fan base will benefit down the road if the team wins only 66 games and lands a once in a generation player. And seriously, no one is going to remember how badly the Pirates sucked in 2009. People will remember that the team was terrible and that 2009 was a major transition, but landing Harper might actually make the season worth while.

But on the other hand, the Pirates roster consists of lots of young players and potential pieces for the future, so as a fan, you'd love to see these guys perform and make the team feel confident about them in the future. Guys like Milledge, Garret Jones, McCutchen, Ohlendorf, Andy LaRoche, Zach Duke, and Matt Capps still have lots to prove to the organization and the next month and a half could be crucial.

Should the Pirates tank the rest of the season to try and land Bryce Harper?

The Race for Bryce Harper, Week 1

Over the next few weeks, there will be a very important race going on that has nothing to do with the playoffs or the pennant race. Quite the contrary, actually. The worst teams in baseball will be competing to land teenage phenom Bryce Harper, who Sports illustrated dubbed as "The Chosen One" and is one of the most talented players in decades. Harper, who is a catcher, has the potential to be a franchise changer and is almost guaranteed at this point to be the #1 pick in 2010.

So the race is on. Whatever team finishes with the worst record in baseball will wind up with the #1 pick and probably Bryce Harper. So what teams have a realistic chance to land Harper? Let's take a look at the five worst teams in baseball, all of whom should be salivating over Harper, and how many games back they are from the coveted worst record in baseball.

The Race for Bryce Harper, Week One

1. Washington Nationals

-A few weeks back, I figured that the Nationals had the first pick all wrapped up. But since the calendar hit August, the Nationals are 11-4 and have played themselves out of '62 Mets territory. It would be great for DC if the Nationals keep playing well, but if they lose out on the first pick, then 2009 would be even more of a waste.

2. Kansas City Royals, 3.5 GB

-Since starting off the season at 12-10, the Royals played absolutely miserable baseball. The Royals record since May 1st sits at a pathetic 34-61, even with the amazing Zack Greinke. If the Royals continue to play this badly, then it's not inconceivable to think that they could land the top pick...probably at the expense of GM Dayton Moore and manager Trey Hillman.

3. Pittsburgh Pirates, 4 GB

-For the first three months of the season, the Pirates were actually playing decent baseball. However, management decided to purge the organization to acquire young talent so most of the Pirates talented players with experience were dealt elsewhere. As a result, the Pirates will play out the rest of the season with lots of young players, which could put them in a great position to land the top pick. Young players, no matter how talented they are, will go through ups and downs in the majors, especially in the beginning. This could bode well for the Pirates chances to land Harper.

4. Baltimore Orioles, 5.5 GB

-Orioles fans will tell you that the 2009 season has been vital for the Orioles rebuilding process. Adam Jones has established himself as a future star, Nolan Reimold has been productive, and Matt Wieters, David Hernandez, Chris Tillman, and Brian Matusz have all reached the majors. But could you imagine how excited Baltimore would be if they landed the 2010 top pick? I think the O's have too much talent here to land the top spot, but their struggles of late have put them in position to at least think about it.

5. San Diego Padres, 5.5 GB

-If the Padres want to land the #1 overall pick, they need to start playing like they did in June and July. Outside of those two months, the Padres are just one game under .500. However, during June and July, the Padres are a staggering 20 games under .500. If the Padres can play that badly over the remainder of the season, then they have a very realistic chance to land Harper.

What team do you think will land Harper?