Archive for the ‘MLB’ Category

This week marked the announcement of the latest inductees to the baseball’s Hall Of Fame and Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and Frank Thomas all received enough votes to be honored in Cooperstown. While these players certainly earned their way into the Hall Of Fame, there was quite a bit of controversy surrounding those who were not voted in. From the unfortunate fate of Craig Biggio to the unsolved question regarding the superstars of the steroid era, a lot of questions have been left unanswered by the senior members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.  (more…)

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The MLB winter meetings are not until next week, but no one in any front office has gotten the memo as the past few days have resulted in a frenzy of signings and trades. The memorable events of the off-season started early this year with the blockbuster trade involving Prince Fielder and Ian Kinsler, and now it seems things are picking up again this holiday season. It is tough to start grading winners/losers of the off-season so early on, but let’s evaluate the biggest moves of this week and try to make sense of what is going on behind the scenes.

  • Yankees Sign Jacoby Ellsbury to 7-yr, $153 Million Deal: This signing was by far the biggest splash in the market and has made the most headlines in the baseball world this week. The Yankees missed the postseason once again last year and New York has been in a rare funk recently, especially with the circus controversy that is A-Rod constantly being a distraction. Coming from Boston personally, we all knew that it was very unlikely Jacoby would be returning to Fenway next year. But it came as a huge shock that Ellsbury landed in pinstripes, especially with that monster contract! The All-Star center-fielder is a dynamic player who plays great defense and steals tons of bases as he played a big part in the Red Sox winning the World Series last year. However, it cannot be ignored that Ellsbury has been plagued by injuries throughout his career. This must come as a concern to the Yankees but, nevertheless, they dished out the dough to Scott Boras and Jacoby to bring him to New York. With this signing, it seems unlikely that the Yankees will be able to bring back Robinson Cano. It is an interesting choice seeing them bring out the checkbook for Ellsbury and not Cano…only time will tell if it proves to be a genus or misguided move.
  • Tigers Agree to 2 yr Deal with Joe Nathan: The essential thing the Tigers were missing in the postseason last year was consistency in the bullpen. Detroit made sure to address that need as they signed veteran closer Joe Nathan to a two-year deal this week. Nathan is 39 years old, but has still proven his worth as he racked up 43 saves in 46 chances for the Texas Rangers last year. Nathan also posted a 1.39 ERA with the Rangers, but it seems pretty clear he made the move to the Tigers thinking they are a team that can win a World Series sooner than later. Now that Mariano Rivera has retired, Nathan is now the active saves leader in the MLB with 341 saves. He should be a key piece for Detroit next year.
  • Heath Bell Apart of Three-Team Trade: The Tampa Bay Rays made a strong move this week and acquired closer Heath Bell and catcher Ryan Hanigan in a three-team trade involving the Cincinnati Reds and Arizona Diamondbacks. The Rays signed Hanigan to a three-year, $11.75 million extension as part of the deal, and accepted Bell and will pay $5.5 million of his $9 million contract. The Diamondbacks save some money in the deal, but the key piece in the trade is Heath Bell, who has struggled since signing a big contract with the Miami Marlins two years ago. Tampa Bay is hoping he will be rejuvenated next season and bring some stability to their bullpen.
  • Red Sox Sign AJ Pierzynski to 1 yr Deal: Folks in Beantown were wondering if catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia would be returning to the club next season and this provides a swift answer to that question. Salty signed a three-year deal with the Marlins and the Red Sox have replaced him with the veteran catcher Pierzynksi, who is often labeled as a “hot-head” and an intense character in the clubhouse. I think this is a smart, low-risk move for the Sox as they have a few young prospects on the rise at catcher with high potential. AJ realizes this is a team that has the talent to repeat as champions, so he will be on his best behavior and will even provide some veteran leadership when working with his pitching staff. Just one of those guys you hate…unless he is on your side.

As first reported by FOX Sports writer Ken Rosenthal, the Yankees and catcher Brian McCann have agreed on five-year, $85 million deal pending a physical. The contract will be end up being the highest-ever for a catcher signed via free agency, but as always the Yankees do not mind bringing out the checkbook. This is especially the case this off-season as New York once again missed the playoffs in the 2013 season. Although other teams such as the Rangers, Rockies, and Red Sox were rumored to be in the running for McCann, the former Brave catcher will be an ideal fit for a Yankee team that has been lacking at the catcher position since they let go Russell Martin as well as the inevitable retirement of Jorge Posada. McCann has hit 20 home runs the last six seasons and his power from the left side of the plate should work well in Yankee Stadium with its short porch in right field. McCann is 30 years old which is relatively old in catcher years, but his leadership will be needed in a clubhouse that no longer has Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte to rely on (and soon Derek Jeter).

Final Consensus: This is not a surprising move by New York. Since the team has been reluctant to cave into Robinson Cano and his ridiculous contract demands, the team had to start looking elsewhere and McCann was a good place to start. Only time will tell if McCann’s age will start to affect his play and how he will fit into the New York atmosphere, but we all knew the Yankees weren’t going to let the Red Sox or Rangers get to him first. They certainly paid a hefty price for a player at the catcher position, but the team will do whatever it takes in the attempt to get back to the playoffs next season.

In by far the biggest trade early in baseball’s off-season, the Tigers and Rangers swapped superstars Prince Fielder and Ian Kinsler respectively. While Fielder is the bigger name (and bigger person for that matter), Detroit was very disappointed in how he ended his season for the team with an extremely sub-par performance in the playoffs as they fell to the Red Sox in the ALCS. The team will benefit from letting loose of Fielder’s huge contract and perhaps may use the saved money to resign AL Cy Young award winner Max Scherzer, who has been tossed around in trade rumors recently. The move will also allow MVP award winner Miguel Cabrera to move back to his natural first-base position. The Tigers would also no doubt want to secure a long-term deal for Miggy, who is proving himself to be the best hitter in the game the past couple of years.

Fielder’s time was up in Detroit as he waived his no-trade clause to allow the deal to happen. The Tiger faithful, who booed Prince from time to time at the end of last season, will welcome Ian Kinsler with open arms as he fills a void at second base for the club. While Kinsler is coming off a down year in 2013, his presence will complete an infield defense that looks to be much improved next year.

On the Rangers side of things, Texas will gladly add Fielder’s big bat to their roster which lacked power last year after losing players such as Josh Hamilton and Mike Napoli. Texas is known to be a hitters park, so the left-handed Fielder should fit in well and provide some variety to the heavily right-handed line-up. The loss of Kinsler won’t be as impactful due to the fact that the team is loaded with young middle-infielders such as Elvis Andrus and highly-touted prospect Jurickson Profar. While the Rangers take on most of Fielder’s huge salary, the hope is that Prince will be rejuvenated in Texas and more than make up for it.

Final Consensus: First impression is that this trade is a win for both teams. I think the Tigers are glad to get rid of Fielder and although they may have been hasty to send him packing already, finding a team to take on his contract so quickly must have been a strong incentive for upper management. Fielder should excel in Texas and my fearless prediction is that he will clean up for fantasy teams next year. Final side note would be to watch the YouTube clip below that predicted this trade in an ESPN baseball commercial…can’t make this stuff up.