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Major League Baseball: 10 Biggest Names Of Decade To Change Teams

The likelihood that Albert Pujols, who has played his entire 10-year career in St. Louis, will be leaving the Cardinals following the 2011 is increasing daily.

If Pujols were to switch teams, the balance of power in the MLB would be significantly altered. Regardless of where Pujols lands (assuming he leaves St. Louis), the ramifications will be tremendous. 

There is no doubt that Pujols changing teams would surpass nearly every transaction of the decade in terms of significance.

However, where would Pujols’ move rank among all team changes of the decade? Would he affect the power structure of the MLB more than Alex Rodriguez or Manny Ramirez did?

In this article, I will identify the ten trades of the past decade that sparked the most attention. It is by no means guaranteed that Pujols will be leaving St. Louis and his potential suitors are not fully known; therefore, it is not possible to predict Pujols’ effect on the MLB well enough to rank him on this list. 

Keep in mind that this article will be not be ranking the 10 most significant moves. For example, the Marlins/Red Sox deal which sent Hanley Ramirez to the Marlins and Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell to the Red Sox will not make this list despite its significance.

Signings or trades in which the moving player was recognized as one of the best in the game will be. 

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Spring Training Preview: 10 Players You’ve Never Heard of Who Could Bust Out

Every year, there are a bunch of players who break out during Spring Training and blossom into special talents seemingly out of nowhere to the ordinary baseball fan. Last year’s example was Chris Johnson, who dominated during Spring Training, and went on to establish himself as a threat at third base throughout the regular season.

Who will be this year’s breakout player? It is impossible to know at this point, however in this article I will provide ten players who I see breaking out to borderline All-Stars in 2011 and beyond. Spring Training may be meaningless in some regards, however it gives baseball fans an opportunity to watch their team’s prospects and potential All-Stars. If you are looking for something to watch this spring, keep an eye on these ten players. 

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Boston Red Sox Shortstop Battle: An In-Depth Look

When the Red Sox traded one of their all-time best players, Nomar Garciaparra, they entered a state of turmoil with regard to the shortstop position.

The Red Sox acquired Orlando Cabrera in 2004, followed quickly by Edgar Renteria and Julio Lugo. A combination of Lugo, Jed Lowrie, Alex Cora, Nick Green and Alex Gonzalez were used between 2007 and 2009.

Finally, the Red Sox signed Marco Scutaro, who started for the Red Sox in 2010. All in all, nine Red Sox started at least 50 games for the Red Sox since 2004.

Entering 2011, the Red Sox have two main options at shortstop. They can opt to continue starting Marco Scutaro, who was mediocre in 2010; or move on to Jed Lowrie, whose three stints on the disabled list since 2009 have limited his opportunities.

The Red Sox do have Jose Iglesias waiting in the minor leagues. Iglesias was ranked the 42nd best prospect in the league earlier this winter by Major League Baseball. However, he does not appear to be ready to move up to the majors, at least as a starter. It appears that 2012 is the most likely debut time for Iglesias.

Many have debated on whether to start Lowrie or Scutaro in 2011. Keep in mind that a combination of the two is certainly possible, due to Lowrie’s extreme split statistics. To compare the two, I will compare the two in each aspect of the game: ability to score runs, ability to drive runs in, and fielding. Let us begin with each player’s ability to score runs. 

Ability to Score Runs:

Marco Scutaro: Scutaro is not a particularly great on-base hitter. He has a career on-base percentage of just .336. In 2009, his on-base percentage was very respectable, reaching .379, though that appears to be somewhat of a fluke when compared to his other seasons.

Scutaro also has a poor slugging percentage; in his career he has slugged just .385, and .388 in 2010. The reason this relates to his ability to score runs is because it shows his inability to get in scoring position. He has mediocre at best speed to make matters worse. The 2009 campaign was the only season Scutaro stole more than seven bases, and he reverted back to his norm in 2010 by stealing just five bases on nine attempts.

All in all, Scutaro is not strong in this category, which is not a good sign for his 2011 prospects as the Red Sox have a sufficient amount of power hitters, they simply need players to get on base and in scoring position.

Jed Lowrie: While Lowrie does not have phenomenal major league statistics, that is likely due to his injuries and lack of playing time. In 2010 though, Lowrie did post a .381 on-base percentage in 171 at-bats, which is very encouraging.  

In the minors, Lowrie has demonstrated above average on-base potential. His last full season was 2007, during which his on-base percentage reached .393.

In 2008, his on-base percentage in the minors was .359, which is still respectable. Injuries limited Lowrie to just 114 minor league at-bats and 239 major league at-bats, so Lowrie is a bit of a wild card entering 2011. For that reason, he is a player to watch during spring training.

With regards to Lowrie’s ability to reach scoring position, he does have an advantage over Scutaro. In his major league career (499 at-bats), Lowrie has a .425 slugging percentage. That number is not phenomenal, though it trumps Scutaro’s .385 slugging percentage by a lot.

In his minor league career, Lowrie’s slugging percentage has fluctuated between .374 and .503 in seasons with 200+ at-bats. Lowrie is not known for stealing bases; he is two for three in 499 career major league at-bats. 

If Lowrie had continued his pace in 2010 for the same number of at-bats as Scutaro, he would have scored 114 runs to Scutaro’s 92. In conclusion, Lowrie gets the edge in ability to get into scoring position and reach home plate.

Ability to Drive Runs In:

Marco Scutaro: Scutaro has never been known as a power hitter, mostly due to the fact that he has never been a power hitter. In 2009, he hit a career high 12 home runs, followed by a second best of his career 11 home runs in 2010. For a shortstop, these totals are very mediocre.

Scutaro’s career ISO (Isolated Power) is .118. For comparison’s sake, Derek Jeter has a career .139 ISO and Dustin Pedroia has a career .156 ISO. Clearly, Scutaro lacks in this category.

Scutaro, like most MLB players, is much better with runners in scoring position. He had a .297 batting average in these situations with 45 RBI in 128 at-bats. These stats are not head-turning by any standard, though they show Scutaro will not be a liability when he has opportunities to drive in runs. 

Again, Scutaro is nothing to be ecstatic about in this category.

Jed Lowrie: Despite hitting nine home runs in just 171 at-bats in 2010, Lowrie is not truly a power hitter. In the minors, he hit double digit home runs in just one season, though his at-bats were very limited just about every year. Lowrie has 13 to 18 home run potential, though it is likely that he will fall short of that range given 500 at-bats in 2011. 

However, Lowrie’s ISO has been much higher than that of Scutaro. In his 499 major league at-bats, his ISO has been .172, though that is heavily influenced by his surprising 2010 power which can not be expected in 2011.

In the minors, Lowrie’s ISO has varied between the low .110s to the low .200s. He has the potential to be a relatively strong run producer among shortstops, though he is not a guarantee, especially coming off of an injury.

Scutaro is the safer choice, though Lowrie has the potential to be a bigger threat.

Defensive Prowess:

Marco Scutaro: Among qualified shortstops in 2010, Scutaro ranked 14th out of 21 in UZR with a -2.9 showing. He fared no better in terms of fielding percentage, as he ranked 17th among qualified shortstops with a poor .965 fielding percentage. Scutaro has never been an elite defender, and if his age gives him problems in 2011, he may become a liability for the Red Sox.

Jed Lowrie: Lowrie does not have a sufficient amount of major league statistics to have a sense of where he stands as a fielder relative to other major leagues. However, he has been touted in this regard.

In 2008, when Lowrie was just 24, Francona said about Lowrie playing third and shortstop, “We’re talking about a kid making his debut in the major leagues and he’s going back and forth between third and short. And he’s really handled it quite well. He’s done it not only in different games, but in the middle of games.”

Based on his little major league experience, it appears that Lowrie will develop into an above average fielder.

The Verdict:

If I had to choose one of the two shortstops to start all 162 games in 2011, I would likely choose Scutaro due to his consistency. However, I am not restricted to this, and truthfully the best option is a platoon based on the opposing pitchers.

In his career, Lowrie has been dominant against right-handed pitching and miserable against lefties. Here are his career splits:

Versus lefties (170 at-bats): .324 batting average/30 runs/7 home runs/36 RBI/1 stolen base

Versus righties (324 at-bats): .216 batting average/40 runs/6 home runs/45 RBI/1 stolen base

Clearly, he should be the starter against opposing left-handed pitchers. On the other hand, he should sit every game against righties.

Entering the 2011 season, the best plan for the Red Sox is for Scutaro to be the main starter, with Lowrie playing the majority of the games against left-handed pitchers, and also pinch-hitting versus lefties. This way, the two will complement each other’s skill sets and lower their injury risk by reducing their number of games played. 

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American League East 2011: 15 Players to Watch During Spring Training

Spring training is a great opportunity to get a sense of how a player’s offseason went, and what to expect in terms of improvement or regression. How a player performs during spring training often helps scouts see how players are recovering from injury or whether or not to expect a player who disappointed the previous season to bounce back.

An example of a player’s spring training being indicative of a player’s regular season performance is Chris Johnson. In 2010, his spring training stat line was: .323/8/22 in just 63 at-bats. While he did not continue this 65-75 home run pace, he did have a strong season. The same idea goes for Jose Bautista, who had a phenomenal spring training.

Spring training is not always accurate, however, it is the best way to get an idea of a player before the season starts. So, in this article, I will examine the 15 most important players to watch this spring training in the American League East.

This list includes prospects, bounce back candidates, new acquisitions and more. The rank is based on a combination of how important the player’s return is to his respective team and how controversial the player’s 2011 projections are. 

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MLB Power Rankings: The Most Underpaid Player On Each Franchise

Often, it is not the most talented player who ends up being the most valuable player for his respective team. A player making $1 million can be much more valuable than a player making $10 million if they produce similar results

A great example of this is Adrian Gonzalez of 2010. With the Padres, he was playing for a very low sum of money despite being among the league’s best first basemen. While Albert Pujols may have out-produced Gonzalez in 2010, he was far more costly. Thus, Gonzalez was more valuable to his team than Pujols.

Every team has at least one player who they know they are underpaying. In this article, I will examine the most underpaid player on each team. 

One important note is that players who are not yet arbitration eligible, i.e. Buster Posey, Evan Longoria, will not be included in this list. Also, I will be using the player’s 2011 salary, not the aggregate of his current contract. For example, Adrian Gonzalez will still be considered cheap, despite the fact that he will receive his fair share of money when the Red Sox release his contract. With that, let us begin. 

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Major League Baseball 2011: Constructing The Boston Red Sox Batting Order

The Red Sox have all the pieces necessary in order to boast the league’s best offense. They have the speed demons in Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford, they have the guys who seemingly always get on base in J.D. Drew and Dustin Pedroia and they have the guys to drive in these base runners in David Ortiz and Adrian Gonzalez.

The next step for the Sox is to strategically place these players in an order in which they will thrive. Before getting into the specifics of who should bat where, let us begin by establishing the ‘definition’ of a batting order.

A batting order should be a cycle, not a list. What this means is that there should be a continuous flow from not only the lead off hitter to the ninth hitter, but from the fifth hitter to the second hitter, and the fourth hitter to the eighth hitter. The reason for this is because in reality, the majority of innings will not begin with the lead off hitter. Therefore, one can not construct a lineup with a one-to-nine mindset. To construct the proper lineup, it is necessary to look at the lineup as a continuous flow.

With that in mind, let me lay out what I think would be the most successful way to position the Red Sox hitters. For the purposes of this article, we will assume that Jarrod Saltalamacchia will be starting over Jason Varitek. 

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Fantasy Baseball 2011: Examining Players’ Split Statistics

One of the keys to winning your fantasy baseball league is maximizing your players’ potentials by playing them only in their most ideal circumstances. What do I mean by that?

Many Major League Baseball hitters have strengths and weaknesses, most notably hitting versus right or left-handed pitchers. For a pitcher, an example might be that your pitcher only pitches well at home or on the road. So how can you use this on draft day to your advantage? 

When most people create their rankings, they look at a players overall statistics rather than their splits. So somebody might conclude that a .290 hitter is most valuable than a .285 hitter. However, if the .285 hitter hits .310 against righties, that player can be more valuable if you play him only against righties. 

These rules do not apply to all players. For example, Albert Pujols should be in your lineup every day regardless of his splits. 

In this article, I will provide you with some players who may be overlooked due to their mediocre overall statistics. If you can take advantage of their value on draft day and play them to your advantage throughout the season, you will have a much greater chance of winning. 

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Albert Pujols: 3 Potential Landing Spots for the St. Louis Cardinals Slugger

Albert Pujols has won the National League Most Valuable Player Award three times, the Silver Slugger Award six times and the first base Gold Glove Award twice. He has a .331 career batting average along with 408 big league home runs.

You would think that the Cardinals would pay the man his dues, wouldn’t you?

There has been speculation over the past few weeks that the Cardinals may not end up re-signing Pujols, thus potentially making Pujols a free agent next winter. What an event that would be.

Remember the media attention given to LeBron James? Imagine that with a lot more money, though with a much more humble athlete. 

While there are probably 30 teams in MLB who would be interested in signing Pujols, his potential contract will likely frighten off the majority of those teams. So let’s assume that Pujols will not re-sign with the Cardinals. Who would be able to take on Pujols’ contract? Which lucky team has a shot at landing baseball’s best active hitter?


1. Chicago Cubs

Believe it or not, the Cardinals’ divisional rival, the Cubs, may be in the running for Pujols. Let’s start by examining Chicago’s need for Pujols.

This winter, the Cubs’ current first baseman, Carlos Pena, will be coming off the books, taking his $10 million contract with him. As a result, the Cubs will have an open spot for Pujols. After 2011, Aramis Ramirez will also have finished his current contract. Thus, the Cubs will have a serious need in the power department.

Signing Pujols would certainly make sense for the Cubs. However, the real question is whether or not they can afford him.

Conveniently, the Cubs have a lot of horrible contracts ending this season. As I mentioned earlier, Ramirez will be finishing his current contract in 2011, which will free up approximately $15 million for the Cubs. Also, Pena will no longer be under contract, giving the Cubs an extra $10 million to spend. Another notable contract that will no longer restrict the Cubs is that of Kosuke Fukudome. His $13.5 million will be happily released. 

So there it is: The Cubs have the money for Pujols, and they are in desperate need of a foundational player. Just imagine an infield consisting of Pujols and rising star Starlin Castro. 

2. New York Mets

If the Mets are able to bait Pujols, there would be a vast number of implications. Imagine a lineup consisting of Pujols, Jose Reyes, Jason Bay and David Wright hitting against the Phillies’ rotation throughout the season. What a rivalry that would be. 

With regards to the Mets’ need for Pujols, let’s be frank: The Mets could use some offensive help. While their lineup looks solid on paper, they have encountered many obstacles that have slowed this team down in the past. A Pujols signing would send this team soaring into the playoffs. 

Can the Mets do it? Let’s examine some of the players who have contracts running up following this season.

First and foremost is Carlos Beltran. The seven-year, $119 million contract Beltran signed back in 2005 is finally coming to an end, which will free up around $18.5 million for the Mets. The dreaded Oliver Perez contract will also give the Mets some wiggle room economically. Finally, Luis Castillo is unlikely to remain with New York after 2011, which gives the Mets $six million to work with.

The departure of Beltran will be easy to accommodate, as rising star Ike Davis can be moved to the outfield. 

This feels like deja vu for New York. Don’t get your expectations up unless you are prepared for another LeBron James-esque disappointment. 


3. Long Shot: Detroit Tigers

This one might seem a little bit odd due to the presence of Miguel Cabrera on the Tigers. However, Cabrera has played third base in his career and could potentially return there if Pujols were to sign with Detroit. 

Let’s take a look at the contracts Detroit will be losing after this upcoming season. Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Guillen are the two big ones. The aggregate of their contracts would give Detroit $23 million to work with. Jose Valverde also has a $nine million club option for 2012, which the Tigers might be willing to sacrifice as a means of signing Pujols.

So imagine this: The Tigers have about $32 million to work with this offseason. They could sign some cost-efficient replacements for their departing contracts, leaving them with approximately $25 million to work with. With players such as Brandon Inge, Jhonny Peralta and Victor Martinez all leaving by 2014, why not sign Pujols to a backloaded contract starting in the neighborhood of $25 million per year? 

Imagine a lineup containing Brennan Boesch, Ryan Raburn, Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez until 2014. It would be nearly impossible to stop this team from scoring five-plus runs per game. 

Is it likely? Certainly not. In all reality, this scenario has maybe a two percent chance of happening. But you never know.


In conclusion, the race to sign Albert Pujols may not feature some of the familiar names. Mark Teixeira and Adrian Gonzalez are likely stuck in New York and Boston, respectively, which puts those two out of the running, logically. Vernon Wells’ contract will likely prevent the Angels from participating in this event, and Philadelphia already owns Ryan Howard’s ridiculous contract.

Can you imagine this? The best player in baseball will be a free agent in 2012, and most of the usual suspects will not be the favorites. 

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Major League Baseball’s 40 Most Respected Current Athletes

How often have you turned on the television and seen another breaking news story informing the world that another athlete has been accused of taking illegal drugs?

One of my all-time heroes has been Lance Armstrong, however recent accusations of Armstrong taking performance enhancing drugs has tainted my view of him. 

Baseball is becoming more and more contaminated with cheaters and liars. Whether it be through drugs or explicit media sessions, many Major League Baseball players are developing reputations as bad influences.

However, there are still, thankfully, many players who have refrained from such corrupt acts. 

While it often the case that the dirty, flawed players attract the most attention from the media, it is important to recognize the players who are clean, respectable people.

We are in an era where the crop of players who are willing to give their all to the game while still following the rules is growing thin. Therefore, in an attempt to promote a wave of good-intentioned athletes, this article will congratulate the most respected athletes in the MLB today. 

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Major League Baseball 2011: Best Players To Build a Franchise Around

The saying goes, “There is no ‘I’ in team”, and it is certainly true that no team can succeed relying on one superstar. However, there are players who act like glue for many MLB teams; these players are the foundation of their team from which everything else builds.

These are not necessarily the best hitters in the game nor the power pitchers, but the players who are truly the most valuable to their team. These players are the guys who steal bases at just the right time, make crucial plays in the field, and thrive under pressure. Foundation players are the ones who win games and produce championships for franchises.

Indispensable players are the ones who you can tell when their presence is missing. When this player is out of the lineup, his team just doesn’t play with the same fire. For example, the Cardinals’ lineup looks a lot less daunting without Albert Pujols.

When building an MLB team, general managers look for these types of players as a starting point. So, in this article, I will list the top players, by position, who I would look to first if I were building a Major League Baseball team from scratch. Age, health, talent, and both offensive and defensive statistics are the major categories I will examine. 

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