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MLB Rumors: A Few Cliff Lee Consolation Prizes

Now that Cliff Lee has signed a huge contract with the Philadelphia Phillies, other teams that were in the sweepstakes for Lee are suddenly left scrambling for another pitcher to fill their need. 

That pitcher could come through a trade or free agency.  

Zack Greinke is being shopped by the Royals, and if a team is willing to give up some top prospects, they could use his arm next year. 

Still on the free agent market are plenty of pitchers, some better than others. Some carry risks but high rewards, while others will give you fairly predictable production. 

For the New York Yankees, Texas Rangers, Washington Nationals, Los Angeles Angels, and others who missed out on Lee, these are some of your options. 

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Philadelphia Phillies: Cliff Lee Signs, Hasn’t Won World Series Yet This Year

Cliff Lee agreed with the Philadelphia Phillies Monday night, leaving many people across the country to wake up to a piece of surprising news. Since when did the Yankees not get who they wanted? And when were the Phillies ever in the conversation?

The contract is said to be a five-year deal worth $120 million, $30 million less than he could have gotten from the Yankees. In all likelihood, Lee wanted to go back to a place where he felt like he’d be at home again. 

He wanted to rekindle the magic of his 2009 World Series run.

Lots of people are going to jump to hasty conclusions and claim that Lee makes the Phillies immediate World Series favorites this year and that it won’t even be close. 

While Lee gives the Phillies an incredible rotation, don’t be so quick to anoint them champions without even playing a game. 

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MLB Trade Rumors: Zack Greinke and Kansas City Royals Have 10 Options

Zack Greinke’s tenure with the Kansas City Royals could very well be coming to an abrupt end this week. 

Although two years still remain on the 2009 AL Cy Young’s contract, the Royals are trying to maximize his value by trading him now. They are of course counting on the fact that they likely won’t be competing for a playoff spot anytime soon. 

According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, the Royals would like to receive ”two young pitchers with Greinke-like potential in any trade for their ace.” While that request isn’t mandatory, it is what the Royals will be looking for.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the 10 teams that the ace could find himself on next year. 

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MLB Rumors: Paul Konerko, Chicago White Sox Staying Together

Paul Konerko is reportedly heading back to the Chicago White Sox for another few seasons.

The long-time White Sox player is said to have signed a three-year deal worth $37.5-million. 

Konerko had an incredible season last year and I’m all for loyalty, but this probably wasn’t the greatest deal that Chicago could have made. 

Read on to find out why. 

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MLB Rumors: Cliff Lee, Los Angeles Angels Not a Match Made in Heaven

Cliff Lee is the hottest player on the free agent market right now, but that doesn’t mean that he and the Los Angeles Angels would be a good fit. 

A “mystery team” is said to have made a seven-year offer last night for the starting pitcher, and speculation abounds as to who it was. ESPN that same night also wouldn’t disclose their source, but claimed that the Angels had entered the race for Lee.

Could those pieces of news be related?

Angels fans should probably hope not. As strange as it sounds to consider it better to not go after the best pitcher on the market, that’s exactly what Los Angeles should do.

Read on to learn why.

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MLB Rumors: Cliff Lee Better Than Derek Jeter for the New York Yankees

The New York Yankees‘ two biggest free agent targets this season are most definitely long-time shortstop Derek Jeter and star pitcher Cliff Lee

It seems unlikely that they’ll sign both, so in the hypothetical case that they only sign one, which will be more valuable to the team?

In my mind, there’s not even a question about this—Cliff Lee.

Lee is one of the best pitchers in all of baseball; he may even be the absolute best. 

The Yankees had a 4.06 team ERA last season, good enough to rank 15th in the MLB. For an elite team, that’s simply not going to get it done. Just for comparison’s sake, the Texas Rangers finished ninth and the San Francisco Giants were first last year. 

Anyone besides me think that Lee could help the Yankees in that department?

Who would want to play a team that had a one-two punch of CC Sabathia and Cliff Lee, although not necessarily in that particular order. 

Plus, we all know that Lee pitched dominantly in the playoffs. In the six playoff series of his career, Lee has compiled seven wins and a 2.13 ERA in his 10 games started. 

Now, let’s consider Derek Jeter. 

Yes, he’s a Yankees icon and will go down as one of the greatest of all time to wear the pinstriped jersey, but the contract he’s asking for is completely ridiculous. Baseball is still a business and Jeter needs to understand that. The Yankees just can’t pay him superstar money when he’s no longer a superstar. 

New York has made it quite clear to Jeter that they still want him on their team, yet Jeter, with his ridiculous demands, hasn’t made the same clear to New York. Until he does that, I consider the contract situation his fault. 

Last season, Jeter only hit .270 with 10 home runs and 67 RBI. His OPS+ (a sabermetric stat that compares a player’s OPS to the league average OPS with anything over 100 being better than average) was only 90. That’s the first time since 1991 that it was any lower than 102. 

Yes, Jeter won another Gold Glove and appeared in the All-Star game, but that was only because of his reputation, not his production. Jeter, as he’s done consistently throughout his career, actually hurt his team with his glove. 

Doesn’t that all make this situation pretty obvious?

Unless Jeter is willing to accept far less money and be paid what he’s actually worth, the Yankees need to make Lee their first priority. 

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Victor Martinez, Detroit Tigers Close to Deal: A Look Back at His Career

It appears as though Victor Martinez is ready to sign a four year deal with the Detroit Tigers worth $50 million.

A reporter from Venezuela, Ignacio Serrano, reported the deal on his blog. Serrano also notified his readers that Martinez was offered a four year, $48 million deal by the Baltimore Orioles and a three year, $48 million deal by the Chicago White Sox. 

That means that he’s passing up $16 million a year with the White Sox to be paid $12.5 million a year by the Tigers.

Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal has since confirmed that this deal will happen.

In honor of the new deal, let’s take a look back at Victor Martinez’s stellar career. 

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Tommy Hanson Will Be the Atlanta Brave’s Second-Half Ace

In the 2009-2010 season, Tommy Hanson looked to be the ace that Braves fans had desperately hoped he would be. With an 11-4 record and a miniscule 2.89 ERA, the flamethrowing young pitcher gave hope to the fan base that so desperately wanted another young stud in their rotation.

His sophomore season, as a result of the high standards that were created by his first year, has to be viewed as somewhat of a disappointment thus far. At least on the outside it must be.

Let’s dig a little bit deeper.

In this current season, Hanson’s strikeout rate is 9.14 per nine innings, the eighth best rate in the entire Major Leagues among qualified starters.

Conversely, his walk rate is a tiny 2.93 per nine innings.

Last year, Hanson’s strikeout rate was 8.18 per nine innings and his walk rate was 3.24. So he has improved a good deal in both of those ever-so-important categories.

This is a great sign for any young pitcher.

The third of the “three true results” is the home run. Hanson so far has stuck with the trend of improving each of these categories and has dropped his home run rate per nine innings from 0.70 to 0.67 this season.

As a result of these three statistics, Hanson’s FIP is down from last season’s mark of 3.50, quite a good number, to 3.34, an even more stellar one.

So the question remains: why is Hanson’s ERA so much worse this season than last?

Well, last season Hanson was the beneficiary of Lady Luck, and this season she has bitten him.

Now, for those of you who don’t understand BABIP and LOB%, please glance over my article titled “The Impending Tim Hudson Implosion: An Example of Luck in Baseball.”

In 2010, Hanson has been absolutely killed by the unluckiness of balls not finding the Atlanta Braves’ defenders’ gloves. This has led to a ridiculously high .349 BABIP, the third highest in the Major Leagues behind Francisco Liriano and Dan Haren. This number simply has to come down.

Additionally, Hanson’s LOB% has been 70.8 percent so far, and that number is below average. Not by too much, but still below average.

As these numbers normalize, so too will Hanson’s ERA and thus his perception around the fan communities.

Unfortunately, the media has made ERA the ultimate measure of a pitcher’s performance instead of a more accurate measure like FIP. As the season wears on and Hanson has better luck, his ERA will start to become more like his FIP.

ZIPS (a baseball stat predictor based on performance up to date in a season) projects Hanson to have a 3.08 ERA in the second half of the season and finish with a 3.72 ERA, which would still be quite a bit higher than his projected end of the season 3.16 FIP.

Hanson is an ace despite what the more mainstream stats show.

Soon everyone will begin to realize that as he pushes the Braves towards a playoff berth.


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