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MLB Power Rankings: Carl Crawford and the Fastest Player on All 30 Teams

There is a plethora of speed on the base paths in Major League Baseball.

We all know Carl Crawford can swipe more bags in a single game than some might all season long, but is he the fastest player in the league?

While New York Mets fans will argue for Jose Reyes and Toronto Blue Jays fans will make the case for Rajai Davis, there are some other athletes in the league that may build quite an impressive resume in 2011 and beyond.

Beginning with the AL East, we’ll take a look at all the speed in the league by division as we break down who should be a valuable asset to his team in the upcoming campaign.

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MLB Hot Stove: Who Are the Philadelphia Phillies After?

Since signing Cliff Lee to a surprising five-year contract, the Philadelphia Phillies have been eerily quiet in the market this offseason.

The team certainly isn’t going to make any splashes quite as large as it did with the Lee signing, but by no means does that mean that the franchise isn’t going to build depth for another possible World Series run.

With GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. expressing an extreme desire to keep promising outfield prospect Domonic Brown in Triple-A to begin the 2011 regular season, incumbent Ben Francisco is expected to see a major increase in playing time given the departure of Jayson Werth to the Washington Nationals.

Although the team doesn’t have much too much left to spend, they have the best starting rotation in baseball with Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt in the fold. And with a still potent offense that is highlighted by slugger Ryan Howard and extraordinary second baseman Chase Utley, this Phillies team could be one of the better squads in recent history.

Let’s take a look at some possible names that the Phillies could still be targeting as Spring Training rapidly approaches.

John Maine, Starting Pitcher

Maine was non-tendered by the New York Mets after spending the majority of the 2010 season on the shelf following shoulder surgery.

Slated for a major role in the Mets rotation, Maine was a major disappointment and has never been quite as effective as he was during a magical 2007 season when he won 15 games.

Maine is primarily a fastball pitcher and perhaps repeated shoulder troubles have sapped the life on his fastball, because he’s not fooling anyone. For the Phillies, he would serve as depth for the rotation should the team be able to work out a deal for SP Joe Blanton to pitch elsewhere. 

If signed, he’s nowhere near a sure bet to make the final roster. He could pitch in relief, but that’s a long shot to happen.

Chad Durbin, Relief Pitcher

Durbin and the team have reportedly exchanged terms on a potential contract agreement, but it seems that the two sides are still a bit apart in negotiations for a new deal.

The journeyman reliever has spent the last three seasons in Philadelphia, and this last season was his best since 2008.

Although the Phils have a rather crowded bullpen, if Durbin reaches an agreement with the team he should carve out a role without any trouble at all.

His demands aren’t thought to be incredibly lucrative, but the Phillies may nonetheless be hesitant to shell out the type of dough that he’s in search for. 

Scott Podsednik, Outfielder

After finishing up the regular season with the Dodgers, Podsednik declined his player option with the team but has yet to find a job this offseason.

Despite being 34 years old, Podsednik managed to swipe 35 bags last season, the majority of which were accumulated before mid-August. Batting .297, it’s clear that he still has the tools to serve as an asset to a team looking for a leadoff hitter.

However, Pods doesn’t exactly offer up much in terms of anything outside of speed and average, and with most teams preferring increased offense in the outfield, he may be relegated to a backup role. 

If the team feels uncomfortable with Francisco, Pods could be a great left-handed option to platoon with and potentially even take over the full-time role before Brown is ready.

Justin Duchscherer, Starting Pitcher

After it’s been reported that both the Yankees and Red Sox have had interest in the former ace of the Oakland A’s, the interest in Duchscherer has been rather sparse of late.

Because he’s been rather injury prone over the last few seasons, it’s understandable that most teams would be hesitant to roll the dice. However, Duch is a very effective starter when healthy, and just one look at his impressive 2008 season will tell anyone exactly that.

He shouldn’t command much more than a $1 million base salary with built-in incentives in the contract, and the Phillies could have a potential steal and one of the best number five starters in the entire National League.

Jerry Hairston, Jr., Infielder/Outfielder

With his brother Scott recently signing a minor league accord with the New York Mets, Jerry is hoping to find a new home sooner rather than later.

After spending last season in San Diego and hitting .244 with 10 HR in just over 400 AB, Hairston should at least be able to find a spot at the end of the Phils’ bench if they can’t secure a more attractive option.

Hairston could serve as a nifty insurance policy to Chase Utley in the infield, as well as Placido Polanco at 3B given his history of health issues throughout the years. Hairston’s versatility would serve the team in a multitude of ways.

Manny Ramirez, Outfielder

Although this possibility is obviously a little far fetched, Ramirez would really be a great addition for the Phillies.

Rather than rolling out a platoon of Ben Francisco and another player (TBD), Ramirez could serve as the everyday right fielder in a Citizens Bank ballpark that would serve to inflate his stats coming off of a down season.

Although they may be the worst defensive outfield in quite some time with the aging Ibanez in left field, the offensive production would be enough to disregard the ineptitude on defense.

If the price drops enough where Philadelphia can make a serious offer, Ramirez would be hard pressed to say no as this would be his best chance to securing another World Series ring before retirement. 

Michael Young, 3B/DH

With the signing of Adrian Beltre, it’s clear that the Texas Rangers don’t view the overpaid Young as part of the long-term future.

Despite the team indicating that he’ll serve as the full time designated hitter, it’s no secret that the franchise would love to move his massive contract in the right deal.

In a rare situation where the trade could serve to benefit both sides, the Phillies could send Raul Ibanez to Texas as he has just a single year remaining on his deal, and take on Young and the remaining tenure of his deal.

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MLB Hall of Shame: Jose Canseco and the 25 Most Highly Suspected Juicers Ever

The sooner the mass public accepts the fact that steroids were ingrained into the fabric of baseball during the “Steroid Era,” the better.

There was no test for it. It was a part of the game.

Now every time someone hits a home run, eyebrows raise across the MLB and the same question runs through every expert’s mind: Is he juicing?

While steroid usage has certainly decreased dramatically in recent years, the success of these 25 guys make it pretty easy to assume that something was going on behind the scenes. Without further ado, here are the 25 most highly suspected juicers in baseball.

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Mark Prior and the Top 10 MLB Prospect Flame-Outs of All Time

When a player gets drafted by a Major League Baseball team, by no means does it ensure that he will ever play on the biggest stage.

In fact, many players never even get close.

These 10 guys were all supposed to be the next big thing for the franchises that drafted them, only to turn out to be bigger duds than the ones that were drafted 40 (or more) rounds later.

These guys got all the hype and plenty of attention though.

Unfortunately for them, it was because they all really stunk.

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MLB Sleepers: L.A. Dodgers and 10 Teams with Quiet, But Productive Offseasons

Teams just aren’t spending money like in previous times.

With several franchises hampered with lucrative long-term deals that create little financial flexibility, general managers are looking to get a little more creative these days about how they allocate payroll.

A lot of teams just don’t have the ability nor resources to spend lavishly, so every signing becomes critical in the pursuit of a World Series ring.

As the San Francisco Giants showed us in 2010, it doesn’t take a red-carpet list of athletes to take home the title, so let’s take a look at some under-the-radar squads that could be noticeably better by the end of the 2011 campaign.

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Adrian Beltre, Rafael Soriano, and the 10 Best Remaining MLB Free Agents

It’s been an eerily quiet offseason for most clubs.

While teams like the Red Sox, Yankees, and Dodgers have all been among the most active thus far, most have remained rather inactive in the early part of the free agent season.

With so many long-term contracts in the past that have proven to be a burden to clubs down the road, general managers aren’t spending lavishly like in previous times.

It’s a bad time to be a remaining free agent, because the amount of money left to spend is shrinking by the day. 

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MLB Rumors: Cliff Lee Agrees with Phillies, What’s Next for Texas Rangers?

We’ve all heard the same story since the World Series concluded.

Would Cliff Lee choose the money and sign with the Yankees, or would he stay in Texas, where he and his family felt comfortable? Nobody seemed certain about which way he was leaning, not even Lee himself.

After it was announced that there was a mystery team in the running for Lee, speculation ran rampant that it was Philadelphia, and sure enough it was.

Turning down both Texas and New York, Lee agreed to a five-year deal with the Phillies late on Monday night that sent everyone into utter shock.

A big swing and a miss for both the Yankees and Rangers, as neither team was able to haul in this offseason’s top free agent prize. Now with the Philadelphia rotation boasting Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels, it’s going to be awfully tough for anyone to knock off the Fightin’ Phils.

While the Yankees can just throw money at the remaining free agents, what are the Rangers going to do? With no clear-cut contingency plan in mind, the team has found itself in a rather precarious position.

While this certainly isn’t the ideal scenario for most Texas fans, it is the one that makes the most sense.


Sign 3B Adrian Beltre

After pulverizing the American League with both his Gold Glove defense and extraordinary offensive output, Beltre looks primed for a big payday in free agency. Beltre would do very well in a lineup that would provide him ample protection, and he would be a big upgrade at the hot corner over the incumbent Young.


Trade 3B Michael Young

Young, who is said to have been on the trade block for quite some time now, looks like the most likely candidate to get shipped out. Not only would his departure free up the spot for Beltre, but if GM Jon Daniels chooses to trade him for some young minor league talent, it would also create more spending room to add yet another additional piece, which they’ll certainly need to do.


Sign SP Brandon Webb or SP Chien-Ming Wang to a one-year deal

They might not have the package to pull off a Zack Greinke deal, but how about taking a one-year roll of the dice on either of the two mentioned above? Wang would be the better fit, but it’s been rumored that Texas could be a potential landing spot for Webb for a long time now.

Regardless, the Rangers are going to have to begin moving aggressively if they hope to have a chance to move in on anyone with the free agent crop beginning to thin quickly.


Sign CL Rafael Soriano

All those dollars they were going to hand Cliff Lee have to go somewhere, right? The Rangers have said time and time again that if they were unable to re-sign Lee, they’d have to give serious thought to implementing Neftali Feliz into the starting rotation. Well, here’s the perfect opportunity.

With Rafael Soriano coming off one of the most dominant years for a closer in recent memory, he’d fit perfectly at the back end of the Texas bullpen, allowing Feliz to slide into the rotation. Without a bona fide No. 1 starter, the Rangers are going to have to explore all avenues to fill the gaping hole left by Lee’s left arm, and Feliz’s excitement, youth and energy are a great way to begin revamping the rotation once again.

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Cliff Lee Rumors: Which Team Will The All-Star Pitcher Land With?

It’s been rumored that the Yankees are hot on his tail.

Lee reportedly told a Texas teammate that if the Rangers guaranteed him a seventh year, he’d be back.

If the Nationals throw $25 million (or more) per season at him, how can he say no?

While it certainly seems like a three-team race for the 32-year-old Lee at the moment, things can change at the blink of a lash on the MLB Hot Stove. Having said that, let’s take a look at how his addition would impact the three teams mentioned above.


New York Yankees

The odds-on favorite to land his services, it’s not like another team can actually outspend the Yankees. Proving to be the only pitcher in the postseason that the Yankees couldn’t beat, it only makes sense that they’d try to lure him to the Bronx on a lucrative free-agent contract.

Already with several massive long-term investments, Lee would form an insane duo with CC Sabathia atop the New York rotation that would undoubtedly be the best in baseball.

If Phil Hughes can repeat his 2010 success and/or AJ Burnett proves to be worth anything at all, the Yankees will have one of the most formidable rosters in MLB History. 


Texas Rangers

After acquiring Lee from the Mariners, he was invaluable to the rotation.

Posting a sparkling 1.00 WHIP and a K:BB ratio that would make just about anyone drop their jaw, his importance to the team cannot be understated. Should they fail to re-sign Lee, it’s probable that the team will turn their attention toward acquiring Zack Greinke from Kansas City via trade.

Frankly, that might be the better scenario.

Stocked with prospect depth in the minors, the Rangers have all of the tools necessary to pull the trigger on a mega-deal that would bring in Greinke. While he might not be quite the same pitcher that Lee is, the Rangers can save themselves a boatload of money and several years of commitment by going with the cheaper option in the talented Greinke. 


Washington Nationals

Did you really think any free agent would willingly go play for the lowly Nats? They had to give Jayson Werth that ridiculous mega-deal to put themselves at least on the radar.

Backed by a billionaire owner, the Nationals have far more to spend than most might think. Very serious about acquiring a front-line starter to give a face to the rotation, a seven-year offer worth upward of $25 million per season may be too attractive to turn down.

While he won’t single-handedly bring success to the Washington franchise, it’ll be a very positive step in the right direction.

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MLB Free Agency: Carl Crawford or Jayson Werth for the Boston Red Sox?

Is Carl Crawford really worth the eight-year deal that he’s demanding?

Will Jayson Werth turn into the next J.D. Drew if he signs with the club?

While there are undoubtedly pros and cons to signing each player for the club, it’s clear that they need to make an aggressive move fast. Already having lost catcher Victor Martinez to the Detroit Tigers (four years, $50 million) via free agency, the team appears very likely to also wave goodbye to one-year wonder 3B Adrian Beltre.

Those two players combined for 48 taters and an incredible 181 RBI last season, and those numbers certainly won’t be easy to replace. Additionally, both batted over .300 and provided very good protection to the lineup.

With Big Papi coming back on a $12.5 million price tag and near $35 million invested into two under-performing starting pitchers in John Lackey and Josh Beckett, GM Theo Epstein and the rest of the front office have to be very wise about how they go about allocating the remainder of the budget.

But one thing remains crystal clear: the Red Sox desperately need a marquee outfielder.

Notoriously unwilling to offer lengthy, lucrative deals to free agents, Crawford may very well be worth the investment. A unique player with an extraordinary skill set, the other CC enjoyed the best season of his career in 2010: .307/19/90 with 110 runs scored and 47 stolen bases. 

Although he’s not the middle-of-the-order big-bopper that many fans want, Crawford’s presence at the top of the lineup would provide the Sox with a critical element that they often lack: speed. Capable of getting to any ball that would come his way in left field at Fenway, the speedster would also be a menace to opposing teams that let him get on base.

At just 29 years old, this will likely be the one and only megadeal that Crawford signs in his career, so fans can bet that he’ll be looking to collect every last penny he can. With several other suitors hot on his tail as well, most notably the free-spending Angels, it will be interesting to see whether or not the Red Sox are indeed serious in their pursuit of the very talented outfielder.

The team reportedly met with Jayson Werth and his agent, Scott Boras, on Wednesday morning. At age 31, the bearded power hitter is looking to cash in on the success he enjoyed in Philadelphia. But there are two primary concerns regarding the veteran: his capability to produce long-term, and more importantly, his home/road split stats.

A .296 hitter last season (.296/27/85 106 runs scored and 13 stolen bases), Werth hit just .270 on the road. Many have suggested that playing in a very hitter-friendly park in Philly has attributed to his success, and while that may be true, he should have no problem banging doubles off the fence all day off of the Green Monster.

However, Werth hit only half the amount of homers, drove in 17 less runs, and even struck out more on the road than he did at home. While he’s certainly capable of contributing in other ways, he’s probably not going to eclipse the 30+ home run plateau.

Having said that, he is most definitely one of the top prizes in a very weak free agent class, and it’s almost certain that someone will overpay him, leaving the Red Sox in quite a conundrum.

Should the team overpay an aging (and probably declining) veteran for four years and hope that he can produce like he has shown over the last few seasons, or do they go all in on Crawford, greatly limiting their financial flexibility for the long-term?

The answer remains unclear at this point, but there is one thing that is certain.

They need to do something on the offensive side, as last year’s attempt to reach the postseason through pitching and defense clearly didn’t work out for them. Yes, there was significant bad luck along the way, but that’s all in the past.

As Dick Vitale would say, “Just win, baby!” and if the Red Sox want to take home a division title, either of these two would be a positive step in that direction. 

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Cliff Lee: 10 MLB Teams That Can Use Him Besides the New York Yankees

Although the Yankees are considered the current front-runner for Lee’s services based on their financial resources alone, there are sure to be plenty of other teams who make a run for the crafty lefty.

Measuring Lee’s worth is no small task, as his success has not stretched over the duration of his career; he’s been nothing short of amazing since 2008.

What teams could benefit from adding him to the staff?

Every team in the league, that’s for sure.

However, the following 10 teams are the most realistic suitors in addition to the Bronx Bombers.


1. New York Mets, NL East

With staff ace Johan Santana out until at least May at the very earliest, the Mets are slated to go with either R.A. Dickey or Mike Pelfrey as the 2011 Opening Day starter. If the team hopes to actually fill the seats in their beautiful stadium, that’s not a good look.

The Metropolitans will be hesitant to hand out another multi-year, lucrative deal to a starter after doing so with Santana, and new GM Sandy Alderson is not the type of guy to dole out huge dollars on a guy that only takes the field once every five days.


2. Washington Nationals, NL East

If the Nationals ever hope to compete in their division, the team is going to need a legitimate ace to do so, and there’s no better definition than Lee. Although some believe that the Nats don’t have the dollars necessary to make it happen, General Manager Mike Rizzo has indicated that they are looking at every and any way to improve the ballclub.

Should the Nationals be able to lure the lefty onto the squad, they’d finally have the beginnings of something special in the Washington rotation that could help bring future free agents to the re-building franchise.


3. Minnesota Twins, AL Central

The Twinnies seem to make a postseason appearance every season regardless of who is on the roster, so just imagine what Lee could do for this team. While Minnesota probably doesn’t have the money necessary to pull the trigger, Lee would flourish magnificently in Minny.

SP Francisco Liriano is still a bit of a question mark, and the depth behind him is mediocre, at best. A potent pairing of the killer L’s atop the Twins rotation could be awfully intimidating for opponents, and go a very long way toward the team finally being able to beat the Yanks.


4. Milwaukee Brewers, NL Central

Anyone who watched CC Sabathia pitch the Brewers into the playoffs, can imagine what Lee could do for the franchise. A rotation that seems to be constantly toiling in mediocrity, the Brewers would greatly benefit from adding a long-term anchor at the helm.

With a lineup that boasts both Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder, Lee could win well over 20 games in what is arguably baseball’s easiest division.


5. Los Angeles Dodgers, NL West

It’s too bad that the Dodgers are facing tough financial times in the wake of the McCourt family drama, because Los Angeles would be the perfect spotlight for Lee to shine.

The NL West is undoubtedly the worst offensive division in baseball, and Lee would have a field day facing the D-Backs and Padres on a regular basis.


6. Detroit Tigers, AL Central

Despite the Tigers having a very prolific offense last season, they failed to make it to the playoffs yet again. Already with blossoming starters Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer, the Tigers would have the best 1-2-3 in baseball if they added Cliff Lee.

With Detroit having around $50 million coming off the books, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that they decide to spend lavishly and go for the big free-agent splash. If they sign C Victor Martinez, Lee’s battery-mate for the good majority of his career, it bodes even better for their chances.


7. Toronto Blue Jays, AL East

After shocking the world with their success this season, the Blue Jays are clearly a team on the rise in a very competitive division. If they have any hope of ever finding themselves back in postseason play ahead of the Yankees and/or Red Sox, it starts with signing Lee.

With youngsters Brandon Morrow and Kyle Drabek looking to be a big (and cheap) part of the Jays’ rotation plans, adding the veteran Lee would provide an immense boost to the entire clubhouse.

Lee may want to have his passport at the ready.


8. Chicago White Sox, AL Central

GM Kenny Williams is known to be a big time gambler as evidenced by his track record, and who better to go all in with than Lee?

The Jake Peavy acquisition hasn’t gone exactly according to plan, and the team already has a solid offensive core to pair with rising starters John Danks and Gavin Floyd. If they can get Lee to man the top spot in the rotation, there could be bright times ahead for the South Side Sox.


9. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, AL West

The Angels would be higher up on this list if they weren’t rumored to already be heavily after free agents Carl Crawford and Adrian Beltre.

Having said that, should the Halos swing and miss on one or both of the aforementioned, the Angels have a legitimate chance to steal Lee off the market. With a ton of money to spend and owner Arte Moreno ready to sign his name, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Lee land in LA after all.


10. Baltimore Orioles, AL East

The Baltimore pitching staff has been so notoriously bad over past season’s that the 2009 staff ace was Kevin Milwood.

After missing out on adding Teixeira to the team, perhaps the O’s brass will once again be willing to open up their checkbooks for this extraordinary talent. Should Baltimore be able to somehow land Lee, it would not only boost team morale, but additionally would serve as the initial stepping stone toward re-building the pitching staff.

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