Chris Beck was drafted by the White Sox in the 2nd round of the 2012 draft. Originally projected as a first round draft pick, a drop in velocity during his junior year of college led to a drop to late in the second round. But Beck has been able to prove his ability as a pitcher, posting good stats over his first two seasons of professional baseball.
After a good 2012, Beck had an even better 2013 season, going 13-10 with a 3.07 ERA in 26 starts. Beginning the year strong in High-A, Beck was selected to participate in the Carolina League/California League All-Star game, and was quickly promoted to Double-A afterwards, where he ended the year.
Beck is a player worth keeping a very close eye on. He should continue to post good stats, and could make it to the majors in the next year or two.
Chris Beck — top 10 prospect in the White Sox’ organization — took the time recently to answer some of my questions:
1.) At what age did you first become interested in baseball?
I’d say from the time I was able to walk. I always had my plastic ‘Fisher Price’ bat in my hands walking around the house.
2.) Who was your favorite baseball player growing up? Why?
Chipper Jones, hands down, because he was a Georgia boy right up the road in Atlanta.
3.) You were drafted by the White Sox in the 2nd round of the 2012 draft. What was that process like for you? Where were you when you first found out? Initial thoughts?
It was an amazing experience but stressful at the same time. I had upper first round buzz heading into my junior season, and I fell into the second round. So I had no idea when I was going to go, but [I'm] very lucky the White Sox took me when they did.
4.) Although you signed with the White Sox in 2012, you were originally drafted by the Indians in the 35th round of the 2009 draft. What made you decide to attend college instead of beginning your professional career?
Just my maturity situation. I had gone to a one-hallway high school in a small town, and [had] never really been away from home, ever. I knew I had some growing up to do before I could handle pro ball.
5.) You had a fairly successful first half to the year that earned you a spot in the 2013 Carolina League/California League All-Star game. What did it mean to you to be named to the team along with all the other great players in High-A baseball?
It was awesome just being able to be surrounded by that talent. You look now and most of the guys that played in the game moved to AA right after and continued their success. They could be in the big leagues at any point this next season, and that’ll be something cool to know I played beside them.
6.) After the All-Star game, you were promoted to Double-A. What kind of differences, if any, did you notice from the level of talent you began the first half of the year facing?
It’s just the margin of error is that much smaller. I’m very lucky that the Carolina league was loaded with great players and competition so I believe that helped with the transition. But back to AA, those guys are there for a reason and most are future or former big leaguers.
7.) Winning a World Series Championship is, obviously, every player’s dream, but while you haven’t yet had the opportunity to do so, you won the next best thing: The 2013 Southern League Championship, with the Birmingham Barons. What was that experience like, pitching in a Minor League playoff atmosphere? What did you take away from it?
I don’t think there’s one certain word that can describe that. It’s such a rush of emotions and adrenaline even when you’re not on the mound. You’re hanging on the rail during every pitch. And after playing for the love of the game, you play to win, and winning a championship is the ultimate prize.
8.) What do you feel went well in 2013? What are your goals for 2014?
2013 I gained loads of experience of it being my first full season. I learned a lot of how to treat your body (laying off Dunkin Donuts everyday) and when to push and when to let off in between starts. Staying healthy was my primary goal, and that happened. So into 2014 it’ll be a lot of the same — staying healthy and continuing to work on putting guys away. I walked a lot of guys in High-A this year and want to take what I did in AA into this coming Spring Training.
9.) Favorite TV show? Favorite food?
I really love ‘Duck Dynasty’ and, as mentioned before, donuts. Lol.
10.) Lastly, what advice would you give to kids who are just starting out that dream of playing professional baseball one day?
Biggest advice I could offer: Have fun! It’s a game, and it’s meant to be fun. When that stops happening something isn’t being done right, no matter what level you’re on.
Big thanks to Chris Beck for taking the time to answer my questions.
You can follow him on Twitter: @WatchurBeck
The 2013 Greatness In Baseball Yearly (GIBBY) award winners were announced Tuesday afternoon. The GIBBY awards — which began in 2002, but were referred to as the ’This Year In Baseball Awards’ until 2010 – are awarded annually for 23 different categories, including Rookie of the Year, Play of the Year, MVP of the Year, etc.
These awards are given to the players voted on by the fans at MLB.com, media, and front-office personnel, as the best for each category. I, as always, have my own opinions, and have included them below, along with the winners:
MVP OF THE YEAR
My original pick: Chris Davis
Winner: Miguel Cabrera
I originally picked Chris Davis for this award, however, I have no problem with Miguel Cabrera getting it instead. He was very deserving, batting .348 with 44 home runs and 137 RBI’s this season, coming up just short of a second straight Triple Crown award.
HITTER OF THE YEAR
My original pick: Miguel Cabrera
Winner: Miguel Cabrera
Though I didn’t necessarily deem him as the Most Valuable (the category above), I easily picked Miguel Cabrera as the best hitter of the 2013 season. Anytime you hit in the mid 300′s, launch over 40 home runs and drive in way over 100 runs, you have my vote.
STARTING PITCHER OF THE YEAR
My original pick: Clayton Kershaw
Winner: Clayton Kershaw
Clayton Kershaw had a career season; one of the best in MLB history for a pitcher. Kershaw is very deserving of this award, and there really wasn’t any competition, as no one could compete with his 1.83 ERA.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
My original pick: Wil Myers
Winner: Jose Fernandez
With three players having incredible rookie seasons — Wil Myers, Jose Fernandez and Yasiel Puig — it was difficult to pick just one. Therefore, while my original pick was Wil Myers, I feel Jose Fernandez is just as worthy. Fernandez’s 2.19 ERA over 28 starts is truly remarkable for a rookie.
CLOSER OF THE YEAR
My original pick: Craig Kimbrel
Winner: Craig Kimbrel
While Mariano Rivera was the most followed closer of the 2013 season, after announcing his retirement this year back in March, Craig Kimbrel continued to be the most dominant. Though there were a few other closers who had great seasons, Kimbrel stood above the rest, recording 50 saves with a 1.21 ERA.
SETUP MAN OF THE YEAR
My original pick: David Robertson
Winner: Mark Melancon
This was another difficult category to pick, but I feel the right player received the award. I didn’t originally pick him, however, Mark Melancon was truly remarkable this season as the setup man for the Pirates, with an ERA of 1.39. He should continue to help out the team moving forward.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
My original pick: Brandon Phillips
Winner: Yadier Molina
Though I don’t really agree with Yadier Molina winning this award, I do have to acknowledge his great defensive skills behind the plate, blocking pitches better than nearly any other catcher in the game. While I still think Brandon Phillips, or a few other players, should’ve received this award, Molina is still worthy of the honor.
BREAKOUT HITTER OF THE YEAR
My original pick: Matt Carpenter
Winner: Chris Davis
I really felt Matt Carpenter had a shot at this award, as he was a big part of the Cardinals’ success this season. But I suppose hitting 2o more home runs and 53 more RBI’s than 2012 stands out for Chris Davis deserving this award.
BREAKOUT PITCHER OF THE YEAR
My original pick: Koji Uehara
Winner: Matt Harvey
My original pick, Koji Uehara, had a great finish to the season, and a great postseason. I thought that would be enough, however, Matt Harvey ended up taking home the award. Harvey truly had a breakout year, lowering his ERA by nearly 50 points the year before, and I’m happy he received this award.
COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR
My original pick: Mariano Rivera
Winner: Francisco Liriano
I don’t think Francisco Liriano should’ve won this award, and I’m shocked that he did. Liriano had a come back year, no doubt, but Mariano Rivera had a better one, in my opinion. With the combination of coming of an injury in 2012, pitching another great season, and retiring after the year, I would’ve thought Rivera would’ve won easily.
MANAGER OF THE YEAR
My original pick: John Farrell
Winner: John Farrell
John Farrell took a Red Sox team that finished in last place the season before and led them to winning the World Series. This was an easy category to predict, and Farrell deserves it, no question about it.
EXECUTIVE OF THE YEAR
My original pick: Billy Beane
Winner: Ben Cherington
I’m a big fan of Billy Beane and the great work he does every year, but Ben Cherington, being the general manager of the Red Sox, had a few more accolades for the award than Beane. As with John Farrell, the Red Sox winning the World Series put Cherington over the top in this category.
My original pick: David Ortiz
Winner: David Ortiz
David Ortiz stood alone for this category as no other player came close to posting the stats he did. All throughout the postseason, Ortiz came up big, posting a batting average of .353 throughout October, and he truly earned this award.
PLAY OF THE YEAR
My original pick: Ben Revere’s diving catch in Cincinnati
Winner: Manny Machado’s offbalance throw in New York
The play with the biggest “wow” factor for me all season long was the catch Ben Revere made up in Cincinnati. Running back on the ball and diving at the last second to make an unbelievable catch that ended in doubling off the runner at first, Revere’s catch was one of the most amazing I’ve ever seen. But Manny Machado’s throw from foul territory to first base to nail the runner, after bobbling the ball, was remarkable as well.
MOMENT OF THE YEAR
My original pick: Mariano Rivera pitching in his final All-Star Game
Winner: David Ortiz’s speech in first Red So game after bombing
I guess I’m such a big fan of Mariano Rivera that I felt he should’ve won every award he was nominated for. But instead, the award winner was David Ortiz, for his speech he made before the first game played at Fenway Park after the Boston marathon bombings.
STORYLINE OF THE YEAR
My original pick: Mariano Rivera’s final season
Winner: Pirates making the postseason
Again, as I stated in the last category, I thought Mariano Rivera should’ve won this award as well. But the Pirates were voted the storyline of the year, finishing above .500, and making the postseason, for the first time since 1992.
HITTING PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR
My original pick: Alfonso Soriano’s 2-homer game with 7 RBI’s
Winner: Mike Trout’s cycle
Alfonso Soriano’s two home run game in which he notched seven RBI’s was impressive, and was the one I voted for, but I really didn’t have a favorite from this category. Mike Trout’s cycle at the age of 21 won the award, and I cant really argue with that.
PITCHING PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR
My original pick: Tim Lincecum’s no-hitter
Winner: Tim Lincecum’s no-hitter
This was a fairly simple choice, as while there were several no-hitters, Tim Lincecum’s stood out the most, with his 13 strikeouts. While Lincecum has had some ups and down over the past couple seasons, I feel he’ll have a bounce back season in 2014.
ODDITY OF THE YEAR
My original pick: Ball goes through padding for ground-rule double
Winner: ‘Hidden Ball Trick’ by Evan Longoria & Todd Helton
My original pick was a ground rule double in St. Louis that bounced between two pieces of padding in the outfield wall — I mean, what are the odds of that? But, instead, Evan Longoria and Todd Helton received the award for the “hidden ball trick” performed flawlessly by both during the season.
WALK-OFF OF THE YEAR
My original pick: Giancarlo Stanton scores on wild pitch to clinch no-hitter
Winner: Giancarlo Stanton scores on wild pitch to clinch no-hitter
Giancarlo Stanton scoring on a wild pitch in the bottom of the ninth to secure Henderson Alvarez a no-hitter, who hadn’t allowed a hit but didn’t have any run support, was hands down the best walk-off of the year. That’s something you may never see again.
CUT4 TOPIC OF THE YEAR
My original pick: Carly Rae Jepsen’s bad first pitch
Winner: Munenori Kawasaki’s Speech
Carly Rae Jepsen throwing one of the worst first pitches in baseball history down at Tropicana Field was the one I originally selected, but Munenori Kawasaki’s speech up in Toronto was the winner. I’m actually glad Kawasaki won, despite not picking him, as he is one of the funniest guys in baseball, and I still get a laugh by watching footage of his speech.
My original pick: Allen Craig scores on obstruction
Winner: Allen Craig scores on obstruction
This was one of the most unusual endings to a postseason game in baseball history. Allen Craig scored, tripping over third baseman, Will Middlebrooks, on an obstruction call to end game three of the 2013 World Series, and it was truly an incredible, and memorable, moment.
My original pick: Mariano Rivera
Winner: Mariano Rivera
Mariano Rivera is on his way to the Hall of Fame, after having one of the best careers for a pitcher in MLB history. The greatest closer in MLB history, with 652 career saves, Rivera won this award fairly easily, with the respect he has earned over the years and the stats he’s been able to put together for the Yankees.
With around a month remaining until the players’ portion of the 2014 Hall of Fame class is announced on January 8th, there’s still plenty of time left to debate which players deserve to make it in this time around. (I’ll give my take a few days before.)
But while we don’t yet know the players who will be elected in 2014, the baseball world found out on Monday that Joe Torre, Tony LaRussa and Bobby Cox will be among those inducted as part of the 2014 class.
Voted in by a unanimous vote of the Expansion Era Committee, Torre, LaRussa and Cox are all very deserving — each winning over 2,000 games in their managerial careers — but that doesn’t stop controversy from surrounding the vote. Not controversy that the three shouldn’t have gotten in, but that another name or two on the ballot should’ve been voted in.
The ballot, consisting of twelve of the games’ great players, managers, and other baseball figures, included Tommy John, Ted Simmons, Dave Parker, Dave Concepcion, Steve Garvey, Dan Quisenberry, George Steinbrenner, Marvin Miller and Billy Martin, as other candidates for the Hall of Fame besides Torre, LaRussa and Cox. But no one besides the three elected received more than six votes. (The necessary number for election is twelve.)
In my opinion, Marvin Miller and George Steinbrenner should’ve been elected, as they did a lot for the game of baseball, and were important figures of their time, but in the end, it is what it is. While I disagree with them not getting the votes to be elected, I’m not going to talk about them that much, because I want to spend time discussing the three managers that made it in.
Joe Torre managed a total of 29 seasons, spending time with the Mets, Braves, Cardinals and Dodgers, however, his most memorable years came with the New York Yankees. With the Yankees, Torre led his team to four World Series championships — three straight from 1998-2000. Torre was named Manager of the Year twice in his career, and finishes fifth all time in terms of wins, with 2,326.
Tony La Russa shared his time between the White Sox, Athletic’s and Cardinals, managing for a total of 33 seasons. LaRussa was voted Manager of the Year four times, leading his teams to three World Series titles — one with the A’s and two with the Cardinals. Winning 100 or more games in a season four times, LaRussa sits third all time in wins, with 2,728.
Bobby Cox managed for 29 seasons, between the Braves and Blue Jays. Cox took the Braves to 14 straight playoff seasons — the one thing that stands out most in my mind — and was a player favorite. Four-time Manager of the Year, Cox led the Braves to a 1995 World Series title — the only one of his career — and finished fourth all time in victories, with 2,504.
I was fortunate enough to have seen two of the three Hall of Fame mangers, manage — Bobby Cox four times, and Joe Torre twice. Though I never witnessed a game that Tony LaRussa managed, I saw him on the field during the 2012 All-Star workouts, before the Home Run Derby, in Kansas City, Missouri. Nearly everyone took the time to talk with LaRussa, who had retired the previous season, and it was an impressive sight to witness, with the obvious respect they had for him.
All three managers are well respected, and are deserving of the Hall of Fame.
Joe Torre, Tony LaRussa and Bobby Cox will be inducted on July 27th, in Cooperstown, NY.
Ten years, 240 million dollars.
That’s what it took to get Robinson Cano to the Pacific Northwest.
After a long period of guessing as to whether Cano going to Seattle was purely speculation, the baseball world found out on Friday that it was in fact a reality. The five time All-Star will certainly make an immediate impact for the Mariners, but how big of an overall impact is yet to be seen.
Even with the signing of Cano, who batted .317 with 25 home runs and 107 RBI’s in 2013, the Mariners are still a ways from becoming a competitive team in the talented American League West division, in the minds of many.
With the Rangers and Athletics turning their already good teams into even better teams this offseason (the Rangers trading for Prince Fielder and the A’s signing Jim Johnson, among others) it’s going to be interesting to see how the Mariners fare this coming season.
But locking up a player of Cano’s caliber for the next ten years is definitely a step in the right direction.
Cano has been a consistent player over the course of his career, hitting at least 25 home runs over the past five seasons, and racking up a minimum of 85 RBI’s over that same span. He’s also been able to stay healthy, playing in at least 159 games for the past seven seasons. Both combined make for a good signing, in my mind. The Mariners needed a player like Cano.
As far as the deal goes, I don’t really feel ten years is appropriate. Cano is 31 years old, meaning by the time all is said and done with his contract he’ll be 41. Who knows what type of player he’ll be by then? But if ten years and 240 million – the third largest contract in MLB history, and the largest ever for a second baseman – is what it took to get this deal done, then I guess the Mariners had to do what they had to do. We’ll see if it pays off.
But Cano isn’t the only 2013 Yankee who found a new home on Friday.
Curtis Granderson agreed to a four-year deal with the New York Mets worth a reported 60 million dollars.
I feel this is a great signing by the Mets, who have really struggled in recent history offensively. Granderson will provide some power to their lineup, in addition to being a great outfielder with great range. Though he was injured most of 2013, Granderson put together a couple of 40+ home run seasons the previous two years. It’s certainly possible that Granderson could do that for the Mets this coming season, but I see him as more of a 30 homer guy in that ballpark.
With or without the 40 bombs, Granderson will still be able serve as protection for David Wright in the lineup, who I could see having a career year in 2014. The Mets will be without Matt Harvey, who underwent Tommy John surgery in October, but they should still have a decent season, possibly finishing in third place, yet again, behind the Braves and Nationals.
As stated, while I still don’t think the Mets will have enough to beat out the Braves or the Nationals in their division, this move no doubt makes them an all around better team. A team that could surprise some people down the road, once they get all their pitching back together.
The good news of the day, if you’re a Yankees fan, is that Hiroki Kuroda agreed to a one-year, 16 million dollar contract to remain in New York for 2014.
Although this is little excitement after the loss of Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson, the Yankees need pitching, and were smart to let both of them, and the money that would’ve come along with them, go.
The Yankees just signed a good replacement for Granderson, in Jacoby Ellsbury, and while I think they overspent on Ellsbury, as I stated with the Mariners’ signing of Cano, I guess the Yankees ”had to do what they had to do” to lock him up. As far as losing Cano goes, they can use that money for what they really need — pitching. (And now, a second baseman).
With it uncertain whether or not Japenese phenom, Masahiro Tanaka, who went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA last season, will be available, the best starting pitcher still on the market, in my mind, is Ubaldo Jimenez.
Though Jimenez has had his share of ups and down over the course of his career, he had a decent season last year, going 13-9 with a 3.30 ERA, finishing out the season strong. Jimenez is ready for a breakout season, and would be a good fit for the Yankees, now that my original pick for Jimenez, the Twins, have signed former Yankee, Phil Hughes.
If you were a fan of the 2013 Yankees, this has been a bad week for you, as many of them have departed.
But as a baseball fan, this has been one of the most exciting weeks in Major League Baseball offseason history.
Monday was a busy day for Major League Baseball’s Hot Stove. Several players either signed or were traded, making an otherwise slow offseason pickup a bit. I won’t take the time to go over every single deal that has taken place recently, however, I do want to give my thoughts on the main deals that took place on Monday — and one from today.
The biggest deal, by far, was the Tigers trading Doug Fister to the Nationals, in exchange for Minor League player, Robbie Ray, along with Nat’s second baseman, Steve Lombardozzi, and rookie pitcher from 2013, Ian Krol. This deal helps out the Nationals most, as they have a young prospect, Anthony Rendon, who’s ready to take over at second full time, and Krol and Ray aren’t a lot to lose for a pitcher of Fister’s caliber. (Fister went 14-9 with a 3.67 ERA in 2013.)
On the Tigers’ side of things, while it doesn’t seem to make a ton of sense, they’re going to use the money saved by getting rid of Fister to sign Joe Nathan to fill their closer role. The Tigers are still left with a rotation of Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander and Annibal Sanchez, and the signing of Nathan will help them out tremendously.
Theoretically, this furthers the case for the Tigers hanging onto Scherzer, instead of trading the 2013 Cy Young award winner, but it’s still possible that they will. What the Tigers really needed was a closer, and they’re getting a good one in Joe Nathan, who recorded 43 saves in 2013.
As far as closers go, Jim Johnson is one of the games best at the moment, and he was part of a deal between the Athletics and Orioles that sent him out to Oakland for Jemile Weeks — a low-end player who only spent eight games in the Majors last season, batting .111 – and a player to be named later. Johnson, who posted a 2.94 ERA last season while recording 50 saves, has achieved at least 50 saves for the past two seasons. (His 101 saves over the past two years is the best in baseball.) He should improve the A’s bullpen drastically.
The Athletics also signed Scott Kazmir to a two-year deal, who was decent in 2013, having the best season of his career since 2008, and will join a pretty good rotation of players such as Sonny Gray and Jarrod Parker.
This signing likely ends their pursuit of Bartolo Colon, who was great last season, going 18-6 with a 2.65 ERA, but was asking for more money than the A’s were willing to give him. But even if Colon leaves, the signing of Kazmir and Johnson makes them a much better team, at least as far as their pitching goes.
After the great season he had with the Rangers in 2013, batting .272 with 17 home runs and 70 RBI’s, the Red Sox signed free agent A.J. Pierzynski to a one-year contract on Monday.
This more than likely means that the Sox’ catcher from this season, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, will be headed to another team, despite posting decent stats of 14 home runs and 65 RBI’s to go along with a .273 batting average in 2013. As I stated in a previous post, I feel the Rangers would be a good fit for Saltalamacchia, however, it all depends on what the Rangers are looking to do.
With four months remaining until the 2014 season, anything can happen.
It’s hard to believe, but 2013 is almost over. Just one more month — two and a half months until Spring Training! — remains until 2014 rolls around. It has been an exciting year, baseball-wise and just in general. I can’t complain all that much.
In the final month of the year, I hope to end with a bang by posting some blog posts that both entertain you and inform you. Other than a breaking news story that is impossible to foresee, my blogging schedule right now is fairly set. I don’t want to give everything away, but I will lay out a basic outline so you have an idea of what to expect.
Sometime next week, I plan to post a blog entry on a random baseball topic that presents itself as important at the time. From there, the 2013 MLB G.I.B.B.Y. (Greatness In Baseball Yearly) awards are going to be announced during the winter meetings in Orlando, and I’ll be publishing a blog post on those.
I also want to get two more interviews posted before the end of the year, with one of them being of Oakland Athletics’ top prospect, Addison Russell.
After that, I’m not sure.
I’ll probably do a post during the second half of the month, towards the final week, recapping the goals/resolutions I set for this blog in 2013 back on January 1st. I’m really thrilled with the progress this blog has made in the past year. Things have really come a long way.
So, with all of that said, get ready for what I plan to be a good finish to the 2013 blogging (and calendar) year . . . .
The 2013 Major League Baseball season ended nearly a month ago, but the team changing deals that take place every offseason are just now beginning. The biggest trade that has taken place so far is undoubtedly Prince Fielder going to the Rangers in exchange for Ian Kinsler, however, the Cardinals getting rid of David Freese in a trade for Peter Bourjos is up there on the list as well.
As far as free agent signings go — none of the previously named players were free agents — Brian McCann signing to play with the Yankees was a big time deal, with Jhonny Peralta’s agreement to play with the Cardinals (4 years, 53 million dollar) being the deal that has caused the most controversy, due to past his PED use. But I won’t get into that.
Not too many of the 184 free agent players have signed yet — just 27 are off the market, having signed with a team or retired — but there’s still plenty of time left for a lot of exciting deals to go down. (The trades that could be made are nearly impossible to predict, but every free agent has to find a home somewhere — either with their same team or a new one — so that’s what I’ll be talking about.)
Notable current free agents include Carlos Beltran, Robinson Cano and Jacoby Ellsbury, among others, but I’m only going to be discussing the top ranked (in my mind) player available at each position, and which team I feel they’d fit the best with.
Keep in mind, these are the teams I feel would be the best fit for each player, not necessarily a team that’s interested in them, or subsequently will sign them.
2013 MLB TOP FREE AGENTS
Catcher: Jarrod Saltalamacchia
Team I feel should sign him: Rangers
The Rangers were in the conversation for Brian McCann to take over their catcher role, but after the Yankees locked him up, I think Saltalamacchia would be the next best thing — a good fit for both the Rangers and Saltalamacchia. Having played for the Rangers from 2007 to 2010, Saltalamacchia would be returning to familiar territory. Though he never had much success in Arlington — never playing in more than 84 games in a season — Saltalamacchia proved this past season with the Sox that he can post good numbers, batting .273 with 14 home runs and 65 RBI’s. I think the Rangers would be a great team for Saltalamacchia, but he’ll likely remain in Boston.
Designated Hitter: Kendrys Morales
Team I feel should sign him: Tigers
Kendrys Morales had a great season for the Mariners in 2013, batting .277 with 23 home runs and 80 RBI’s. Being a switch hitter — a very consistent one at that — I feel the Tigers would be a good fit for Morales. The Tigers have a right-handed-heavy lineup, and a good hitter who can hit from the left side — there are talks they could also be interested in Shin-Soo Choo — when needed would be an important addition. Also, Morales could go a long way in replacing Prince Fielder’s bat in the lineup, though admittedly it wouldn’t replace his 30+ home run power. Nonetheless, Morales is a player the Tigers need to target, in my opinion.
First Base: Mike Napoli
Team I feel should sign him: Red Sox
A lot of teams would be interested in Mike Napoli, but I feel the Red Sox should resign him, as he is a great fit where he is. Playing first base, there are really no other fantastic first basemen on the market, and they’re not about to put David Ortiz there full time. Napoli’s 23 home runs and 92 RBI’s this past season is something that’s hard to replace. He was a big reason the Red Sox were so successful this season, helping to lead them to a World Series title. Napoli shouldn’t be going anywhere.
Second Base: Robinson Cano
Team I feel should sign him: Anyone but the Yankees
Because Robinson Cano is such a good player — a great fit for multiple teams — it’s hard to pick just one team that he should sign with. The top ranked free agent of the offseason, I feel Cano doesn’t need to be in pinstripes next season for both his sake and the sake of the Yankees. Not signing Cano to a deal worth, more than likely, nearly 200 million dollars, would allow them to use that extra cash to sign some lower-priced free agents and develop an all-around better team. With or without Cano, there’s no guarantee the Yankees will make the playoffs, but I feel they’re better off in the long run without him.
Third Base: Juan Uribe
Team I feel should sign him: Yankees
Tying into one of the reasons I feel the Yankees shouldn’t resign Cano, Juan Uribe is a player who would come at a relatively affordable price to the Yankees and would be a good fit at third base, where they are very weak. With no guarantees that A-Rod will ever return, signing Uribe would give them a better defensive player at third than what they currently have, and it would add a decent offensive player to their lineup. Uribe’s .278 batting average with 12 homers and 50 RBI’s last season wouldn’t be a team-changing move for the Yankees, but it would certainly improve their situation.
Shortstop: Stephen Drew
Team I feel should sign him: Astros
The only thing that is for sure with Stephen Drew is that he has a near 100 percent chance of not being with the Red Sox next season; other than that, not a lot is certain. Drew was an impact player for the Sox this past season, playing a good defense at shortstop and coming up big in big spots, especially in the postseason, but with Xander Bogaerts at shortstop and Will Middlebrooks at third base, there just isn’t room for Drew. The Yankees could use him down the road at short, but assuming Derek Jeter is healthy, there won’t be a spot for Drew next season, other than Jeter’s backup. For Drew’s sake, I feel he’d be a good fit with the Astros, who could use an everyday shortstop — one of their many weak spots.
Left Field: Quintin Berry
Team I feel should sign him: Diamondback’s
There really aren’t a lot of great left field free agents available, but of them, Quintin Berry is the best. The Diamondback’s have a left fielder, in Adam Eaton, but I feel the acquisition of Berry would be worth it, as they could move some players around to make room for him. Berry hasn’t had a great deal of opportunity to show off any consistency at the big league level, but his speed — he’s never been caught stealing in 24 major league stolen base attempts — alone is enough for the D-back’s to take a shot on Berry, in my mind.
Center Field: Jacoby Ellsbury & Shin-Soo Choo
Team I feel should sign them: Mariners (Ellsbury) and Reds (Choo)
I couldn’t pick just one player as the best available free agent at this position, as both Jacoby Ellsbury and Shin-Soo Choo have a high value in their own unique ways. Ellsbury hasn’t been able to stay very healthy so far during his career, but an unhealthy Ellsbury is more valuable than a lot of other players in baseball — he’s that great of an impact when healthy. Though Seattle has a difficult time attracting players, due to their location and recent subpar performances, I feel they are going to become a great team in the next year or two. Ellsbury needs to join before things take off. As far as Choo goes, he is very efficient at getting on base, with a .421 OBP this past season. The Reds need to keep him, in my opinion, as their leadoff man, if they want to be as successful next season as they were in 2013.
Right Field: Carlos Beltran
Team I feel should sign him: Yankees
If the Yankees decide not to keep Cano, as I believe they should do, they will likely make a run at Carlos Beltran, who they are reportedly interested in. A left handed hitter, Beltran would thrive at Yankee stadium and would be a big impact for the Yankees in 2014 and beyond. At 36 years old, Beltran isn’t a player you would want to lock up for any extended period of time, however, any time with Beltran on your team is worth it. Batting .296 with 24 home runs and 84 RBI’s last season, Beltran could have a great season should the Yankees sign him.
Starting Pitcher: Ubaldo Jimenez
Team I feel should sign him: Twins
A lot of teams need pitching, including the Blue Jays, Rockies, etc., but the Twins are a team I feel could use a guy like Ubaldo Jimenez the most. The Twins are an interesting team, as they don’t have a lot going for them now, but their farm system is one of the best in baseball and they will be a really good team down the road, similar with the Mariners. Should Jimenez sign with them, I could see him developing into the great pitcher he’s capable of being. He’s shown signs of it in the past, and next year could be a break out year for him. Jimenez could really help out the Twins in a big way.
Relief Pitcher: Brian Wilson
Team I feel should sign him: Tigers
While Joe Nathan and Fernando Rodney would be good fits for the Tigers, I feel Brian Wilson would be the best. Wilson has had a lot of ups and downs in his career, but when he’s healthy, he’s one of the most dominant relief pitchers in baseball — something the Tigers could use. Having undergone two Tommy John surgeries, many teams shy away from Wilson. But after the performance he had towards the end of last season, I feel Wilson could be the piece the Tigers need to clinch them a World Series title after coming up short recently.
So, there are my thoughts on which players are the best remaining free agents at each postion, and which team should sign them. Odds are that things won’t go exactly, if at all, how I feel they should, but this is just the way I see it working out best.
Besides Robinson Cano, who do you feel is the best remaining free agent? Cast your vote:
As always, feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts.
Several weeks ago I blogged about the through the mail (TTM) autograph requests I was planning to send of to players during the Arizona Fall League. At the end of the post I stated that I was going to be publishing a blog post every time I received back a couple autographs. Having received two more TTM autograph requests since my last update, I figured I’d post another update:
JORGE BONIFACIO — ROYALS’ ORGANIZATION
Jorge Bonifacio is the Royals’ number five prospect, and the number eighty-nine overall prospect in all of baseball. Batting .298 with 4 home runs and 57 RBI’s this past season, Bonifacio still has a ways to go before he’s big-league-ready, but at just 20 years old, he has a lot of promise. Bonifacio should become an everyday player for the Royals in the next couple of years.
ANDREW HEANEY — MARLINS’ ORGANIZATION
Andrew Heaney is the Marlins’ number two prospect, and the number fourty-eight overall prospect in all of baseball. Unfortunately, he smeared his last name of the autograph, but after going 9-3 with a 1.60 ERA this past season, this is an autograph (even though it’s smeared) I’m glad to have. Heaney is going to be a great pitcher for the Marlins fairly soon; joining their other young Ace, Jose Fernandez.
This might end up being the final autograph update post I do until Spring Training. (If I don’t get one back before the end of this year, it will be.) Things are slowing down, and the odds that I’ll get anymore autographs from players in the 2013 Arizona Fall League are getting slimmer. But you never know. I got an autograph from Kris Medlen thirteen months after I sent it during the 2011 Spring Training, so it’s always possible.
I still have autograph requests out for Corey Seager, Austin Hedges, Kyle Crick, Jorge Soler, Delino DeShields, Jorge Alfaro, Taylor Lindsey, Adalberto Mejia, Kyle Parker, James Ramsey, Kris Bryant and Colin Moran. When/if I get any of those back, assuming it’s before the end of the year, I’ll be sure to post another update. Though, there’s no guarantee I’ll get any more back at all.
Normally I don’t blog about trades around Major League Baseball, no matter how big they may be – even huge trades like the one that took place Wednesday evening. But this particular trade — though it only included two players — was so complex and intriguing that I couldn’t help but want to post my thoughts on it. It’s one of those blockbuster trades that doesn’t happen all that often.
The Detroit Tigers announced plans yesterday to send Prince Fielder, and thirty million dollars, to the Texas Rangers, in a trade for Ian Kinsler.
While at first glance it would seem that this is a one-sided trade — Fielder is undoubtedly the better hitter — when you take the time to consider every aspect, I see it as being a nearly even deal.
The Tigers were running into a dilemma, having too little money to afford resigning their Cy Young winner Max Scherzer, and it was going to take a deal such as this one to free up enough money to keep him around. (Trading Fielder saves them nearly 100 million dollars.)
While loosing Fielder, who hit 25 home runs and drove in 106 runs in 2013, in return for Kinsler, who hit 13 homers to go along with 71 RBI’s, is a big loss offensively, it gives the Tigers a lot of options defensively for their infield.
Those options include moving Miguel Cabrera back to first base, who doesn’t really have the range for third but had been moved there upon Fielder’s arrival in 2012. The move of Cabrera would free up the position for the Tigers’ number one prospect, Nick Castellanos, who was being converted into an outfielder, but will likely return to his origninal spot. Jose Iglesias will remain at short, with Kinsler taking over at second base.
On the Rangers side of things, they get a big time power hitter, and give up an average hitter who will be replaced by their highly regarded prospect, Jurickson Profar, who had nowhere to go with Kinsler and Elvis Andrus in the mix at second and short stop.
Though the Rangers take on a lot of money for Fielder’s contract — he’s still owed 138 million, after the Tigers paid 30 million of it — they get an everyday player (162 games for four out of the past five seasons) who will be an immediate impact; their first production at first base since Mark Teixeira left in 2007.
Many people still question whether or not the Rangers will attempt to make a run at Robinson Cano. I don’t see it happening, but you never know. They want another bat, but it will more than likely come from a guy such as Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann, etc., whom they are reportedly interested in. Cano may end up being a bit out of their comfort zone and price range, especially with it having to come at the cost of losing Andrus at short, where Profar would move, to free up money and space.
In the end, as far as I can see, the Tigers should easily be able to win their division, once again, with their improved infield arrangements. The Rangers, who have been the runner-up to the Athletic’s in the American League West Division the past two seasons, should now have the ability to make the jump to first place in 2014 with the addition of Fielder.
Only time will tell who truly “won” the deal, and how things will pan out.
But as far as I can see, neither team can go wrong moving forward.
Brandon Barnes was drafted by the Astros in the 6th round of the 2005 draft. Since the draft, Barnes has had his fair share of ups and downs, however, he was able to establish himself as a Major League Baseball player this past season. But his road to the big leagues wasn’t an easy one.
Playing both football and baseball in high school, Barnes received scholarship offers to play football, but they fell through, leading him to the decision to be a baseball walk on at junior college. Getting drafted in 2005, Barnes began his professional baseball career, but it would be 2012 before he would finally make it to the Majors, despite posting solid numbers in the minors.
Barnes had a good 2012 (partial) season with the Astros, playing in 43 games to end the year, however, it wasn’t until the 2013 season that he was fully given the opportunity to show off his ability to play on the big league level, and play well. In 136 games, Barnes hit 8 home runs and drove in 41 runs, batting .240, including a cycle in the middle part of the season, as well as making several outstanding catches in the outfield throughout the year.
If Barnes can continue to put together the same type of caliber seasons, both offensively and defensively, he should find himself roaming the outfield in Houston for many years to come.
Brandon Barnes — outfielder for the Astros — took the time recently to answer some of my question:
1.) At what age did you first become interested in baseball? Who was your biggest baseball influence growing up?
From the stories my parents have told me, I was swinging a bat and throwing a ball at the age of two, but I remember becoming interested when I was about four. I would say with no doubt that my grandfather was my biggest baseball influence growing up. He was always teaching me something new.
2.) Who was your favorite baseball player growing up? Why?
Growing up an Angels fan, I was always a huge fan of Jim Edmonds. I just loved the way he played. He was one of the best center fielders in the game, and he was always flying around the outfield.
3.) While in school, you played both football and baseball. What ultimately made you choose baseball?
My senior year of High School I actually quit baseball to concentrate more on football. I had some scholarship offers from some Division 1 schools, so I wanted to put all my time and effort into my school work and football. At the end of my senior year my scholarships were given to other players, and I was devastated, but I knew God had a plan. I decided to follow God’s path for me and walk on at Cypress Junior College to pursue baseball.
4.) You were drafted by the Astros in the 6th round of the 2005 draft. What was that process like for you? Where were you when you first found out? Initial thoughts?
I really did not know a whole lot about the draft and the draft process. I was just told to tune in on the computer and that I could possibly be drafted. I was at my Grandfather’s house listening on the computer. I just remember waiting and waiting, and just wanting to leave to go workout. I didn’t think I was getting drafted as high as I did. It was another blessing from God on his path for me. I was so happy, and at the same time had no idea what was going to happen next. I think I was a little overwhelmed.
5.) You spent eight seasons in the minors before finally making your MLB debut in the late part of 2012. Did it become discouraging at any point, wanting to get to the majors while being told that you never would? Did being told you wouldn’t ever make it add even more emotion to the experience during your debut?
Spending eight years in the minors was like a roller coaster for me. There were a lot of ups and downs, but with a little more downs than ups. There were a couple times where I just wanted to call it quits and go back and try to play football. My motivation was the people that told me I wasn’t going to make it. I was going to prove them all wrong and at the same time prove all the people that supported me right. There were a lot of emotions the day of my debut but no better feeling than seeing my wife and daughter in the stands. All the hard work and sacrifices that my wife had made so that I can play baseball had just overcome me, and I was so happy.
6.) This season, in addition to a fairly good offensive year, you made a lot of great plays in the outfield. Do you take more pride in your defensive game or your offensive game? What do you do to work on both?
I take a lot of pride in both parts of my game, [but] defense comes a lot more natural. I think I actually work harder on my offense. I work extremely hard on both making sure that I can help the team win on both sides. During the season I shag like it’s a real game, and I have a strict routine for my offense that I try and stick to.
7.) Back in July you hit for just the eighth cycle in Astros history. What was going through your head in your final at-bat, knowing you needed a double to complete the cycle? Would you consider that your most memorable moment of your career thus far?
Going into that at-bat, I was aware of what was going on; just not trying to put pressure on myself. I was singing my walk-up song trying to stay calm and trick my mind. I would have to say that is one of the most memorable moments of my career for sure.
8.) What do you feel went well in 2013? What are your goals for 2014?
In 2013 I was able to show all the aspects of my game and prove that I can play in the big leagues. My goals for 2014 are to come back a more complete player, to have a better approach at the plate and to be a little faster for the base paths and defense.
9.) Favorite TV show? Favorite food?
Favorite TV show is ‘Dexter’ and favorite food is fish and sushi.
10.) Lastly, what advice would you give to kids who are just starting out that dream of playing professional baseball one day?
My advice would be to practice as much as possible but have fun every second. This is a fun game, not a nine to five job. Try to learn something new about the game everyday and never give up. Don’t listen to the people that tell you that you will never make it.
Big thanks to Brandon Barnes for taking the time to answer my questions.
You can follow him on Twitter: @TheBarnyard15