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St. Louis Cardinals: Free Agent Albert Pujols Destined For Chicago Cubs?

If Albert Pujols and the St. Louis Cardinals stay true to their word of holding off any negotiating until after the season, then MLB could have its own episode of “The Decision.”

Pujols, 30, is a three time MVP winner and said to be seeking a contract that will make him the highest paid player in baseball history. If there is anyone who can make such a bold claim, it is “The Machine.”

However, as right now, the Cardinals are not prepared to offer Pujols the years of money that he is looking for in his next deal.

If he were to hit the market, then Pujols could be considered the greatest free agent in the history of baseball. After all, he has had the fastest start to any career in the history of baseball and shows no signs of slowing down.

Any team with the necessary funds would line up for a shot to sign the future Hall of Famer.

However, part of the problem is that many teams with big payrolls already have long term commitments at first base: The Yankees have just recently signed Mark Teixeira to a long term contract; meanwhile, the Red Sox are on the verge of signing new addition Adrian Gonzalez to a massive deal.

This is a significant reason why Pujols, if he becomes a free agent, could find himself playing in Chicago.

The Cubs are in dire need of creating a buzz after several disappointing season. Few things would create a bigger buzz then signing their rival’s all-time greatest player.

Landing Pujols would also send the Cubs versus Cardinals rivalry to new heights.

Pujols has terrorized the Cubs in his career, hitting more home runs against them then any other team in baseball. His 47 HR and 123 RBI in 574 at bats against the Cubs show his dominance when facing the division rival. Pujols has also finished in the top five of MVP voting in nine of his ten big league seasons.

This type of production could be the leading force behind the Cubs breaking their World Series curse.

On top of all of his offensive prowess, Pujols has also worked hard to become an excellent fielder. This past season, he was awarded with his second career Gold Glove award.

The ownership group has also shown in recent years that they are willing to spend money for a winning product on the field. In 2007, they signed Alfonso Soriano to an eight-year, $136 million contract.

The Cubs also have been shedding some money from their payroll in recent years. Last year, they decided to part ways with free agent in waiting Derek Lee. They signed Carlos Pena to replace Lee, but only to a one year contract. This upcoming season will be the end of a five year, $73 million contract for Aramis Ramirez.

Clearly, they seem capable at acquiring Pujols from a financial perspective.

More importantly, Pujols makes since if Chicago wants to build a World Series contender. He would immediately help progress some of the younger players in the organization. He also would make Chicago more attractive to other free agents.

If the Cardinals front office inexplicably lets Pujols hit free agency, then they may have to accept the fact that he could call Wrigley home in 2012.

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Boston Red Sox: Adrian Gonzalez and Their 10 Most Important Trades Since 2000

A big market city, such as Boston, comes with big payrolls and even bigger expectations.

Year after year the front office, coaches and fans expect a certain level of excellence from their players. If they do not live up to their potential then it’s the general manager’s job to find someone who can.

It used to be that most players, especially stars, would start and finish their careers in the same uniform. However, since the introduction of free agency that is now rarely the case.

Players on small market clubs are often the subject of trade rumors as their contract nears free agency to ensure their current teams gets value in return for their inevitable departure.

Such was the case this offseason when the Padres shipped Adrian Gonzalez to the Red Sox in exchange for a collection of prospects.

Other times general managers have to address team needs in an attempt to build a roster that has a realistic shot at a World Series Championship. Theo Epstein went this route in what many baseball minds would consider the most controversial and talked about trade in Red Sox history.

In an effort to originally reverse the curse, and since to remain a top power in baseball, the Red Sox have made several significant and brash deals since the turn of the millennium.

Here is how all those deals stack up in a ranking of the ten most important trades the Boston Red Sox have made since 2000.

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MLB Power Rankings: The Top 10 Fastballs in Baseball History

Baseball fans have long been enamored with pitchers who have the ability to rear back and throw blazing fastballs by helpless hitters. Power pitchers who hit top-notch speeds often tally huge strikeout totals and are sought-after commodities to lead a rotation.

As a pitcher in Major League Baseball, it can be difficult to survive without an above-average fastball. Of course there are exceptions, such as plus-40-year-old hurlers Tim Wakefield and Jamie Moyer, but for most pitchers the fastball serves as the base for every repertoire.

However, these fireballers also come with considerable risk due to the wear and tear put on their arms. Just in the past few seasons we have seen players with 100 mph-plus velocity, like Joel Zumaya and Stephen Strasburg, feel the wrath of the injury bug.

To make this list a pitcher does not necessarily have to throw the fastest, but rather have the most effective fastball. Obviously pitchers from older eras were not able to dial up and hit triple digits like Aroldis Chapman. However, that does not mean that their fastballs were not among the greatest of all time.

In the end, it is all relative, and there is something to be said for any player who uses a fastball to dominate hitters during his playing days.

Without further delay, here is a list of the top 10 fastball pitchers in Major League Baseball history.

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MLB Power Rankings: Rating the 10 Most Important Boston Red Sox in 2011

The 2010 season for the Boston Red Sox was riddled with injuries and inconsistency. The club struggled to an 89-73 record and a third place finish in the competitive American League East. 

The Sox front office looked to revamp their rosters, and create a buzz around Boston, with an offseason spending spree. With the additions of Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford the Red Sox will enter 2011 with the highest payroll in all of Major League Baseball.

It is only natural that a payroll of that magnitude comes with serious expectations. By many peoples count the Sox are the pre-season favorite to with the American League pennant. But pennants aren’t won on paper and they certainly arent won in the off-season.

If the Red Sox expect to make a run at a World Series in 2011 then they will need a lot of production and even more luck. However, if they are able to mesh everything together then they could stand to be the most dangerous team in the entire league.

This list is not to say these players are the best players on the Red Sox. Rather it is a realization that if the Sox are to win the World Series then these players are going to have to play a prominent role.

Without further delay here are the ten most important Boston Red Sox for the 2011 World Championship run.

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Boston Red Sox: Why Ryan Kalish Could Be Their 2011 Unsung Hero

The Boston Red Sox were ravged with injuries in 2010 and struggled to keep pace in the competitive American League East.

Previously unknown players such as Ryan Kalish, Darnell McDonald and Daniel Nava became household names in Boston.

The Sox revamped their offense in the offseason in an effort to prevent this from happening again. In particular, they signed superstar Carl Crawford to bolster their outfield.

That being said, baseball is unpredictable and injuries can occur at any time. Last year, Ryan Kalish was able to showcase his skills on the big stage.

Red Sox fans hope their season does not fall on the shoulders of Kalish. However, here are some reasons why Ryan Kalish could play a major factor in the Sox success in the coming season.

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MLB Predictions: 10 Reasons the Red Sox’ Jon Lester Will Win 2011 Cy Young Award

Jon Lester is a name known throughout Major League Baseball as much for his battle with cancer as his pitching ability.

Lester had solid 2008 and 2009 seasons for the Red Sox before a serious coming out party in 2010. With a 19-9 record and a 3.25 ERA, Lester attended his first All Star Game and finished fourth in Cy Young voting.

All signs point to Lester, 27, continuing to improve in 2011. With a revamped roster and loftier expectations he is due for a stellar season.

Here are ten reasons that Jon Lester will add some hardware to his name as the 2011 American League Cy Young Award Winner.

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MLB Trade Rumors: 10 Jonathan Papelbon Trades That Make Sense For the Red Sox

Entering his final year of salary arbitration, Jonathan Papelbon will likely cash in on a big pay day following the 2011 season. 

However, with a declining skill set and Daniel Bard as the closer of the future, there is next to no chance he signs a long term deal with the Boston Red Sox.

Papelbon is due to make roughly $11 million for the coming season.

The presence of Bard and the acquisition of Bobby Jenks makes the possibility that Papelbon does not finish the year with the Red Sox all the more likely.

Without further delay here are 10 Jonathan Papelbon trades that make sense for the Boston Red Sox.

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Fantasy Baseball Sleepers: Undervalued Players That Lead Fantasy Championships

Any average fantasy player can rattle off the names of the top-tier first round picks.  But you didn’t come to this site to be an average fantasy player.  It’s the late-round sleepers that can push your team from average to championship caliber.  Without further delay, here is an early list of sleepers that could make your 2011 Fantasy Baseball season a memorable one.

Jeremy Hellickson Hellickson’s talent was showcased with a brief stint on the big stage for the Rays in 2010.  After dominating in AAA with a 2.45 ERA and 9.4 K/9, he finally was rewarded with a chance to pitch in the bigs and he certainly took full advantage.  He gave up no more than three earned runs in any of starts and won three of his first four starts. 

Hellickson did not fare as well as a reliever upon his September call up, but with a possible trade of Garza, all signs point to him having a spot in the rotation. An ADP of 217 (Mockdraftcentral) leaves him in the 18th round, which is well worth the risk for this kind of talent.

Mike Stanton Nobody can doubt that Stanton’s power gives him home run upside that few outfielders can match.  His mammoth blasts have even made him a YouTube  sensation.  But his batting average and alarming strikeout rates make Stanton a player some fantasy owners might avoid. Don’t be one of them. A .316/8/19 September shows a player who started to figure out pitching at the big league level. Don’t rule out a 40-homer campaign. 

JP Arencibia As a catcher of just 24 years of age, some might think Arencibia is not ready for the big leagues.  But in a short stint with the Jays he in 2010 he showcased the tools that made him the 21st overall pick.  He homered twice in his debut alone and collected four hits. 

While it was certainly a small sample size he will likely get the chance to build on those numbers with Toronto clearly in rebuilding mode.  Arencibia posted a more than respectable .301/32/85 in AAA last year and as a catcher anything close to that production will give him significant fantasy value.

Domonic Brown Much has been made about Philadelphia’s pitching acquisition this offseason and rightfully so.  But if the Phillies want to win they are going to have to account for the loss of Jayson Werth. Part of the reason Werth was allowed to walk was the undeniable talent of Brown.  Brown under whelmed in his brief stint with the Phillies but they still thought highly enough of him to place him on the post season roster.  Batting in a potent lineup, Brown could prove to be a steal as a late round flier.  At the very least his speed, 17 SB in under 400 AB, make Brown a likely candidate to run and score plenty.

Aaron Hill Hill will be atop many Don’t Draft Lists after blowing up in the face of owners who deemed it wise to spend an early round pick on the breakthrough second baseman.  However, by many accounts he was unlucky, as he was bad in 2010.  Hill was consistently a player that was said to be a good add after unhappy owners cut bait. 

This was in large part due to his unusually low BABIP.  It was something that most fantasy analyst thought was due for a turnaround in the later half of the season.  The brighter days never came for Hill in 2010.  But 2011 could be a different season and he could come at a very reduced price. 

Johan Santana Seems strange to call a two-time Cy Young Award winner and former fantasy ace a sleeper, but based on rankings that’s exactly what he is. Clearly Santana’s skills are slowly eroding as evident by his falling strikeout total for the fourth consecutive year. 

But his ERA actually dropped under 3.00 and his WHIP fell to 1.17.  Santana’s ranks among starting pitchers of 85 (CBS), 68 (ESPN-Cockcroft) puts him among Bronson Arroyo and the consistently inconsistent James Shields. Take your chances with the future hall of famer.

Jordan Zimmerman As a second round pick the Nationals had delusions of grandeur of Strasburg and Zimmerman as a formidable 1-2 punch.  Half of that tandem certainly will not be ready to go to start the 2011 season.  But Zimmerman has shown promise in all of his major league stints.  His ERA/WHIP leave much to be desired but the 119 K’s in 122 IP in the big leagues show a pitcher with big time capability.  Zimmerman’s is a classic post hype sleeper that could prove big dividends as a late round starter for your team.

Ted Lilly Obviously Lilly has little upside yet to be uncovered at the age of 34.  But he has resigned with the Los Angeles, which proved to be a kind city to Lilly after a mid-season trade.  He is a pitcher that rarely issues a walk and is huge plus for any teams WHIP. On top of that his ERA/WHIP/BAA all dropped after the move to the Dodgers.  Look for Lilly when others don’t if you need a reliable third or fourth starter.

B.J. Upton THIS IS FINALLY THE YEAR…no not really. Bossman Junior has solidified himself atop my Do Not Draft list and I recommend him to be on yours too.  Don’t get fooled by potential again. No passion, no hustle…no thanks.

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