I’m a sucker for any fantasy game on MLB.com.
I have been playing Beat the Streak, Beat the Streak HR Edition, and Survivor for the past three or four years. So when the new Free Agent Frenzy game was released last week, I jumped in instantly.
It has been well documented on this site how terrible I am at baseball predictions, so the odds of me winning the grand prize aren’t slim-to-none. They’re just none.
But other than being fun and killing a few minutes of my work day, it also gave me an idea for a blog post. Where will 12 key free agents sign this offseason?
Keep in mind the 12 players listed below were chosen by MLB.com, not me. Scott Downs, Jason Frasor, and John Buck were not left out on purpose.
The No-Brainer Division
Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter
2010: New York Yankees, 2011: New York Yankees
Yes I’ve heard the rumours that the Jeter re-signing process will be longer and more difficult than expected. But come on – is there actually any chance the Yankees let two icons, two of the most recognized Yankees in franchise history, end their careers elsewhere? Not a chance.
The Logical Train of Thought Division
2010: Rays, 2011: Angels
Logic: The Angels have money, they missed the playoffs last year for the first time since 2006, and they want to be aggressive this offseason. Torii Hunter has already been pushing for Crawford, and seeing how fragile Crawford looked after being heckled in Toronto last year, I think he is afraid of the traditional big East-coast markets.
2010: Red Sox, 2011: Angels
Logic: See the first sentence about Crawford. Then consider this: incumbent 3B Brandon Wood hit .146 last year with a .382 OPS in over 200 AB. He has a career average of .169 in parts of four seasons with LA. Enough said.
2010: Phillies, 2011: Red Sox
Logic: Boston missed the playoffs last year, for the first time since 2006. Boston needs to make a splash to stay close to the Yankees. Boston doesn’t have a power hitting outfielder with a strong arm. Should be obvious.
2010: Mariners/Rangers, 2011: Yankees
Logic: As much as every baseball fan across North America is pleading with Cliff Lee to not sign with New York, it’s obvious he’s going to. If he wanted to stay in Texas he would have re-signed before free agency. When somebody says “I’ve earned the right to explore the open market” they are all about money. See: Sabathia, CC; Burnett, A.J.; Teixeira, Mark. All signed with the Yanks. So will Lee.
2010: Twins, 2011: Twins
Logic: He has a bad reputation, he is an aging starter, and the last time he had a good year he robbed the Yankees of $39 million. Nobody will reach out to sign this guy, so why bother testing the market? He pitched well for the Twins last year, and he should stay there in 2011.
2010: Red Sox, 2011: Tigers
Logic: Seems to have fallen out of favour in Boston. Detroit’s catcher is a 23-year old kid named Alex Avila who hit .228 last year. They need a catcher, want to make a big free agent splash, and have a lot of money coming off the books.
The “I Have Absolutely No Idea” Division
2010: Nationals, 2011: A’s
No Idea: Dunn loves the National League and is fighting the inevitable by not wanting to DH. NL teams don’t seem too enamored with Dunn, and AL teams want him to DH. Something’s gotta give. Usually in these kinds of spots a team that nobody expects swoops in and signs the player. One team that seems to do that a lot? Oakland.
2010: White Sox, 2011: Rangers
No Idea: I haven’t heard a lot about Konerko thus far. But he is coming off a monster year (.312 avg, .977 OPS, 39 HR, 111 RBI) and unlike Jim Thome can still play the field. There’s a chance he stays in Chicago, but Texas is stacked everywhere but 1B, and if they don’t get Lee they have cash to burn.
2010: Rays, 2011: White Sox
No Idea: I chose the White Sox by making a variety of assumptions.
1. He will stay in the AL (Cut – all NL teams)
2. He wants to play for a contender (Cut – Orioles, Jays, Royals, Indians, TIgers, Mariners, A’s)
Of the remaining teams, he’s too expensive for the Rays, and the other teams have established closers already (NY = Rivera, Bos = Papelbon, Det = Valverde, Min = Nathan, Angels = Rodney, Rangers = Feliz). Chicago has Jenks, but after last season they don’t look like they trust him.
Jorge De La Rosa
2010: Rockies, 2011: Rangers
No Idea: The Good – he’s young, left-handed, his WHIP has been improving, and he’s a big strikeout pitcher (K/9 > 8.4 3 straight years). The Bad – he’s wildly inconsistent, only averages about 6 inning per start, walks a lot of batters, has never had an ERA below 4.20, and is a .500 pitcher. The Ugly – he will likely want a lucrative 5-year deal. But if Texas loses Lee, this will be their guy.