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MLB Trade Speculation: 10 Former All-Stars Who Could Be Dealt by the Deadline

Every baseball season, at least a few “name” players switch teams via trade.

These players are known to even the most casual of fans because they have appeared in All-Star Games and competed for major awards in the past.

At the time of the trade, their level of skill can fall into any number of categories.  

Many are former stars and heroes who now find themselves in the fading light of their careers; still in search of that elusive World Series ring. Lance Berkman and Kerry Wood were dealt separately to the Yankees last year in an attempt to reach that goal.

Some are players still in the primes of their careers whom rebuilding or poor teams can no longer afford to hold onto. Dan Haren, Roy Halladay, Matt Holliday and Victor Martinez have been traded recently for similar reasons. 

Fewer are rising stars who likely have their best years in front of them, but are players that generate polarizing opinions and are valued differently by different clubs.

Still, what all of these players have in common is that, through some combination of talent and experience, they are expected to make their new teams better.

After the jump is a list of 10 former All-Stars, each more talented than the last. Look for any number of these players to make a midseason switch and help a contending club in their chase for a pennant. 


Cot’s Baseball Contracts:

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Fantasy Baseball 2011: Ranking the Second Tier First Basemen

In auctions, Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera and Joey Votto are all going to cost you a pretty penny.

Pujols has averaged a price tag of $58.2 throughout the Yahoo! universe, while Cabrera and Votto have found themselves on either side of $50. 

The following are a group of players who pack a solid and consistent power punch in the middle of their respective lineups: Adrian Gonzalez, Ryan Howard, Marx Teixeira and Prince Fielder.

Depending on the auction, these four go anywhere from the low $40 range, to as high as $50.

For the cost, you’re paying for some of the few players in baseball who consistently generate 35+ home run, 100+ run and 110+ RBI seasons. Batting average potential and slight counting stat variances account for their minute price differentials.

Solid production out of your first base slot is almost a necessity for winning a fantasy title.

Other than sacrificing batting average and taking Adam Dunn, going after a first baseman below the top seven is a risky proposition. 

What follows is a breakdown of these so-called “second tier” first basemen. 

Data Courtesy Of:

Ron Shandler’s 2011 Baseball Forecaster

Yahoo Fantasy Draft Analysis


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Major Leage Baseball: The Best and Worst Fan Bases

The opening of Target field had a dramatic impact on the Twins attendance figures in 2010. 

The organization that finished 23rd in 2008 and 15th in 2009 sold out for the season this past year. 

All told, they sold 3,223,640 tickets in 2010, an average of 39,798 per game (100.7 percent attendance).

This is a dramatic increase, especially considering the fact that the team moved from the climate controlled indoors of the Metrodome’s to the sometimes frigid environment (at the beginning and end of the season) of Minnesota’s outdoors. 

Eventually, heavy snow fall will disrupt a Twins playoff series.

But Minnesota sports fans certainly don’t mind the snow. 

The Twins are among the most successful smaller market franchises in sports. 

Some of that comes from having a patient, but reliable fan base. 

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MLB Predictions: 10 Players Who Could Make Their All-Star Debuts in 2011

Getting elected to an All-Star team in Major League Baseball means one thing: You had a stellar first half of the season.

Having good timing is everything for potential All-Stars. 

Fast starters are rewarded for their spring preparation. Those slower to come around are unfairly judged at midseason, likely costing themselves extra money in future negotiations and potentially hindering part of their hall of fame candidacy in the process.

A gigantic second half can go a long way towards awards balloting. After all, Jimmy Rollins won the MVP in 2007 despite not making the All-Star team.  

But other than adding brownie points to your reputation for the next season, second half stats have no impact on All-Star consideration.

You’d be surprised to find out that Mark Teixeira, the Yankees first baseman with five different 30+ home run, 100+ RBI seasons has made just two All-Star teams. 

Big Tex owns a career .874 OPS prior to the All-Star break. Post break that number climbs to .957. He’s also hit 11 more second-half homers in 76 less games played. 

Making an appearance in the All-Star game does not necessitate that a player is even that good; just ask stat heads about Omar Infante’s selection last year.

A player who makes at least two appearances, however, has probably solidified his status among the best in the game. 

What follows is a list of 10 players who will each be vying for their first all-star appearance in 2011. 

Though they haven’t yet made the Midsummer classic, each of these players is talented enough to get there on multiple occasions. 

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Bryce Harper and Each Team’s Player We Can’t Wait to See This Spring

Spring training is a rite of passage for all of the greats. 

Some experience it when they’re young, while others can take a while to break with the big league camp.

In 2011, as an 18-year-old, Bryce Harper is experiencing spring training for the first time.

Baseball’s top prospect (or second best, depending on who you ask) is a transcendent talent. His ceiling is as high as any player throughout baseball. 

No matter their skill level, however, every player goes into spring training with certain expectations for the upcoming season.

The individual teams only expect spring training to provide hope. 

What follows is a list of 30 players, each of whom provide hope for their respective clubs either now or for the future.

Some are prospects near the top of their organization’s young player rankings. Some are post-hype talents giving it one last go with their current team.

Fewer are players who merely have interesting storylines as we move through March. 

Combined, their stories help to make up the convoluted world that is talent evaluation in Major League Baseball. 


Data Courtesy Of:

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MLB Trade Rumors: 10 Moves the San Francisco Giants Can Make to Win It All Again

As defending World Series champions, the San Francisco Giants had a relatively quiet offseason. 

General Manager Brian Sabean felt little need to shake up an intriguing roster filled with castoffs, journeyman and young talents starting to reach their potential. 

Sabean let World Series MVP Edgar Renteria leave for a one-year, $3 million deal with the defending NL Central champion Cincinnati Reds.

At this point in his career Renteria is little more than an average fielder and below average hitter who will have trouble staying on the field due to various ailments. The Reds plan to use him as a backup to both incumbent shortstop Paul Janish and All-Star second baseman Brandon Phillips.

Juan Uribe also skipped town, striking a three-year, $21 million deal with the rival Los Angeles Dodgers. The free swinger hit a career high 24 homers in 2010, but he was still barely a league average bat, generating a .749 OPS. 

Uribe gains most of his value from his versatility however. In 2010, he started 103 games at shortstop, 26 games at third base and 24 games at second base and is an above average fielder at all three positions.

To replace this middle infield production the Giants will turn to Miguel Tejada, whom they signed to a one-year, $6.5 million agreement. The shortstop will return to the Bay area for the first time since leaving the Oakland Athletics following the 2003 season.

But at the age of 37, the Giants shouldn’t expect too much from Tejada. Although he is a liability as a defender, the Giants will see if they can get his bat going one last time. For all intents and purposes, Tejada is this year’s reclamation project (see: Burrell, Pat and Huff, Aubrey).

The Giants made no major moves this offseason, but going stagnant isn’t usually a good thing when trying to repeat as a champion. The rest of the league, particularly the teams in your division, adapts to beat you.

The Rockies and Dodgers are already talented enough to overtake the Giants, and the Diamondbacks and Padres are rebuilding more quickly than even they had expected. The 2011 NL West race should be an exciting one. 

What follows are 10 moves the San Francisco Giants can make to shake up their roster, overtake their division rivals and put themselves in the hunt for the NL pennant once again.  

Data Courtesy Of (Cot’s Baseball Contracts)

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MLB Hot Stove: Oakland Athletics Quietly Building Dominant Bullpen

Nobody is talking about Billy Beane anymore.

Moneyball hit its talking peak five years ago; the last time the Oakland Athletics managed to make the playoffs, in 2006, after winning the AL West with a 93-69 mark.

Their record dropped to 76-86 in 2007 but held steady at 75-86 and 75-87 in the next two years, respectively. In 2010, the A’s returned to .500 after finishing 81-81, nine games behind the eventual World Series runner-up Texas Rangers. 

Their consistency and moderate progression in wins masks Oakland’s transition from a middling club filled with stopgap starters and power hitting health risks on one-year deals to a franchise with reason to be excited about its future after its spoils of struggle (and free agency departure) have finally begun to show.  

Brett Anderson (22), Trevor Cahill (22), and Gio Gonzalez (25) are a trio of young starting pitchers who have reminded A’s fans of the Hudson-Zito-Mulder combination from the early part of last decade in more ways than just their handedness (oddly, two left-handers and one right-hander; Cahill, Hudson).

Cliff Pennington and Daric Barton are good young defenders, who both hit just enough to keep themselves in the lineup. Kurt Suzuki is now an experienced and solid starting catcher, going into his fifth year, who looks poised to improve his power (if you don’t believe me, watch the video on the right). 

Additionally, Hideki Matsui and Josh Willingham were acquired via free agency and trade to boost the power of the third weakest offense in baseball last year (.122 Isolated power, in front of only Houston, .115, and Seattle, .104).

Billy Beane also traded for David Dejesus of the Royals, who should play stellar defense in right field, and combine for a pest-like one-two on-base combination with center fielder Coco Crisp at the top of the lineup. 

With the No. 4 and No. 5 slots in the rotation filled by some (likely productive, and advantageous) combination of Dallas Braden, Rich Harden and Josh Outman, Beane’s next logical focus was the bullpen; a unit that finished 22nd in the league in 2010 in Fielding Independent ERA (4.19) after finishing first in the same category a year earlier (3.35).

If the A’s plan to return their bullpen to elite status, their blueprints will require the health of closer Andrew Bailey, who has a 133:37 strikeout to walk ratio in 132.1 MLB innings, but is coming off of elbow surgery during the offseason. 

The next in line behind Bailey is likely Brian Fuentes, the former Angel who was signed this offseason as insurance (or surplus in the event Bailey is full-go). Fuentes has lost effectiveness the past few seasons, but along with the very underrated Jerry Blevins, the Athletics bullpen should be death to left-handed hitters in the late innings.  

Grant Balfour, the hard-throwing Australian with the ironic last name who was yet another of the Rays’ offseason losses, will combine with Michael Wuertz and his nasty slider as the primary setup men from the right side. B

oth are strikeout pitchers, and Balfour might be the best setup man in Oakland since Chad Bradford. Wuertz’s peripherals declined towards the end of last year, but if he rebounds, he would make for a ridiculously good fifth man out of the gate. 

Brad Ziegler, while unspectacular, is a more than serviceable middle reliever with his ability to churn groundballs and keep crooked numbers off the board. Joey Devine, the former first round pick out of NC State, is also an intriguing name. Devine is in his second year of recovery from Tommy John surgery. If he is able to return to full strength, he has closer potential, and the minor league numbers to back it up.

This collection of arms is among the most talented I have ever seen in one bullpen before the start of a season. 

Combined with an above average rotation that may soon be among the best in baseball, and a lineup capable of playing defense and hitting just enough to let their pitching win, the 2011 Oakland Athletics are the bizarro Texas Rangers. With loads of young pitching, there’s a lot to be excited about in Oakland, for both this year and the future.

Nobody is talking about Billy Beane anymore. But they will be soon. 

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With Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez, Tampa Bay Rays Have Idiot’s Chance in East

It may seem odd that an organization loaded with two of baseball’s top under-25 superstars, a young but effective starting rotation, an everyday lineup capable of wearing down opposing pitchers while playing stellar defense and a minor league system teeming with elite prospects would receive so little positive press during the offseason.

Due to free agency losses of stars Carl Crawford and Carlos Pena and two elite bullpen arms in Joaquin Benoit and Rafael Soriano, along with the trades of popular starting pitcher Matt Garza and defensive wiz Jason Bartlett, this is the exact position Tampa Bay Rays general manager Andrew Friedman has found his club heading into the 2011 season.

Surely only an idiot could believe the Rays have a chance to compete in the AL East, what with their payroll about one-tenth of the combined salaries of their rivals, the Yankees and Red Sox.

The Rays lost a lot of talent this offseason, but Friedman, the former investment banker, is a genius when it comes to acquiring assets on the cheap and shoring up holes in cost-effective but competitive ways.

The package signing of two of Boston’s former self-proclaimed idiots (and Scott Boras clients) Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon, for a combined $7.25 million over one year, is just the latest in Friedman’s assembly line of efficient moves.

Most projections have Ramirez, who is coming off a hernia injury, valued anywhere from 1.5 to 2.5 WAR next season (1.6 WAR in 2010 over 320-plus at-bats, a career worst) as a full-time DH and hopefully not a clubhouse cancer.

With a contract for only $2 million (he’s still owned $15 million in deferred payments by the Dodgers over the next three seasons) and using the base value of $4 million = one win, a healthy Manny Ramirez could be one of the best bargains/steals in baseball by the end of the season. 

Johnny Damon is perceived to be a much safer bet, but to have a much lower upside than Ramirez. His contract will pay him $5.25 million during the season, which is also a bargain at his projected 2.0 WAR (1.9 in 2010, second worst season of career).

Additionally, Damon provides manager Joe Maddon with more flexibility due to his ability to play first base and left field, though his arm/defense will prove to be a major liability in comparison to the otherworldly defensive talents of Carl Crawford. 

Should either player continue to decline, their contracts will still likely break even at worst. An added plus with the one-year deals is that should the Rays find themselves lagging in the AL East come the end of July, either one or both players could provide a net gain in the form of prospects coming back via trade.

I doubt, however, that Tampa Bay will find itself lagging much at all.

The Rays’ starting rotation is above average and, as I mentioned earlier, very young. It will only continue to improve. David Price (25), Jeff Niemann (27), James Shields (29), Wade Davis (25), Andy Sonnanstine (27) and top MLB pitching prospect Jeremy Hellickson (23) need to take over the bullpen’s previous role as the backbone if this team has a chance to compete.

The lineup could be fierce, but likely not as potent as the everyday nine that the Red Sox and Yankees will send out. B.J. Upton and Ben Zobrist need to bounce back after disappointing seasons, and Evan Longoria needs to assert himself as an elite power threat, not just a defender. Should anyone get hurt, the first player called up will likely be Desmond Jennings, the top outfield prospect in all of baseball.

In the bullpen, the addition of Kyle Farnsworth, who has been hated on for so long that he’s become underrated, and the return of J.P. Howell from labrum surgery should help deflect some of the negative attention surrounding the losses of Rafael Soriano, Grant Balfour, Joaquin Benoit and Dan Wheeler.

By saving money on cheap deals for players like Damon and Ramirez, Friedman has provided himself with flexibility to add relievers and continue to strengthen the bullpen—the area that has given the Rays an advantage over most opponents since their 2008 turnaround.

With Friedman having room to add payroll, personnel flexibility for manager Joe Maddon, a stockpiled farm system and 12 picks in the first three rounds of the 2011 draft, the Tampa Bay Rays will be competitive for the foreseeable future.

For 2011, with Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon on board, the Rays will have a new attitude and a different swagger.

Go ahead, be an idiot and give the Rays a chance. I’ll bet they can’t wait to prove you right.

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Searching for Jeff Nelson: Why David Robertson’s Turn Has Come

Standing at a height of 6’8″ and weighing in at a listed 225 pounds, Jeff Nelson was an imposing figure and the primary setup man on the Yankees’ World Series teams of 1996, 1998, 1999, and 2000.

Since Nelson left for Seattle prior to the 2001 season, the Yankees have been actively searching for his replacement as the bridge to Mariano Rivera. Thus far, from a stability standpoint, the Yanks have failed. 

Over the past 10 years, Ramiro Mendoza, Steve Karsay, Chris Hammond, Armando Benitez, Paul Quantrill, Flash Gordon, Tanyon Sturtze, Scott Proctor, Kyle Farnsworth, Luis Vizcaino, Edwar Ramirez, and Joba Chamberlain all, in one way or another, have fallen shy of the Yankees’ expectations in a big situation.

In 2003 the Yankees even brought back Nelson at the trading deadline to try to recapture his magic. By this point, however, he was too old.   

Phil Hughes finally filled the eighth inning void in 2009, turning into an executioner out of the bullpen and helping the Yankees to title No. 27—their first in nearly a decade. This solution was only temporary though, and Hughes’ success has translated into the rotation in 2010. 

Compared to Jeff Nelson, the 25-year-old David Robertson would appear to be a pretty unassuming guy. Listed at only 5’11”, 190 pounds, it’s easy to write off Robertson as another meek MLB middle reliever. His stats say otherwise. 

Since arriving in the Yankee organization as a draft-eligible sophomore out of Alabama in 2007, David Robertson has posted impressive strikeout totals. Over 152 minor league innings, all in relief, Robertson rang up 215 batters, good for an otherworldly 12.7 K/9 rate. It may surprise you to discover that in 110 major league innings Robertson has struck out 142 batters (good for a 11.5 K/9 rate). 

Over the past three seasons, of relievers who have thrown at least 100 innings, David Robertson has the fourth best strikeout per nine innings rate in baseball.   He sits only behind Carlos Marmol, Jonathan Broxton, and Billy Wagner, three of baseball’s elite closers. 

Where David Robertson struggles is with his control. After walking only 61 batters in his minor league career (for a respectable 3.6 BB/9), he has issued 56 free passes in the major leagues for a BB/9 of 4.6. In 2010, his K/9 rate is only 10.55, but the walks have come down slightly to 4.42 per nine innings. 

Robertson’s arsenal consists of a slightly above average low 90s (usually 92 MPH) cutter, which he throws around 80 percent of the time. The other 20 percent of his offerings come in the form of a league average 79 MPH curveball. 

In terms of batted ball data, Robertson’s rate of groundballs has always been around 40 percent, which is also about league average. This year, however, his line-drive rate has jumped to an absurdly high 26 percent, which may either be random noise or a real cause for concern.

It would seem odd that a pitcher who has one of the league’s highest strikeout rates would also rank fifth in the league in line-drive percentage against, although he is in familiar company with relievers such as Matt Thornton, Carlos Marmol, and Jon Axford, all of whom rank highly in both categories. 

Whatever the case, David Robertson’s .373 Batting Average on Balls in Play is due to regress. Though his ERA sits at 4.42, it’s reasonable to suggest that Robertson currently possesses the ability of a pitcher with an ERA of around 3.50. Since the All-Star break, in seven innings of work, Robertson has struck out 11 batters and only walked one.

Whether or not this is merely the impact of a small data sample (likely) remains to be seen. For the optimists, it could mean that Robertson has taken that next step towards stardom. 

What is clear, even if he hasn’t, is that despite doubts about his size, David Robertson deserves a shot to become Mariano Rivera’s successor. 


Data courtesy of: 

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