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Tag:Coco Crisp
Posted on: February 15, 2012 12:14 pm
 

Only a 'demigod' can 'outshine' Coco Crisp in CF

By Matt Snyder

Cespedes to A's
One of the better quote machines in Major League Baseball is A's outfielder Coco Crisp, and we've got an absolute beauty to pass along on this Wednesday afternoon.

The only background you need here is that the A's just signed Cuban import Yoenis Cespedes and it's possible Cespedes profiles as a big-league center fielder. Crisp is the incumbent in center.

Coco, take it away (via Susan Slusser at SFGate.com):

"I'm going to make all the plays," Crisp said. "If someone feels there's someone better than me, it's hard for me to believe. Unless he's a demigod come down from the heavens, no one is going to outshine me in center field."

Yes, the only way to be better in center field than Coco Crisp is to be half-man, half-god. Coco then laid down the gauntlet for his new teammate (again, via Susan Slusser at SFGate.com): "I'm excited to play alongside Cespedes - no matter what side that may be."

The funny thing is, Crisp is a very good defensive center fielder. As usual, though, his quotes far exceed any talent he has on the baseball field.

Hat-tip: Hardball Talk

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Posted on: February 13, 2012 12:27 pm
Edited on: February 13, 2012 5:50 pm
 

A's agree to 4-year, $36M deal with Cespedes

Yoenis Cespedes

By C. Trent Rosecrans


In a shocker, the Oakland A's have agreed to sign Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes to a four-year deal worth $36 million, CBSSports.com insider Jon Heyman reports. CBSSports.com has also confirmed that Cespedes has been cleared by the U.S. Treasury's Department of Foreign Assets Control, meaning he's free to sign his deal with Oakland.

The Marlins were reportedly the most aggressive -- and obviously the most public -- of the bidders for the 26-year-old center fielder. The Cubs, White Sox, Indians, Orioles and Tigers were also interested in signing him. The A's were mentioned last week as having some interest in Cespedes, but were never seen as the front-runner. However, in the end the Marlins offered Cespedes the same amount of money as the A's, but over two more seasons. The Marlins offer, according to Heyman, was $36 million for six years, not the $40 million being reported by some. The A's deal precludes the team from offering Cespedes arbitration, meaning he will become a free agent after the 2015 season at the age of 30.

Oakland, it should be noted, made a strong bid for Aroldis Chapman two years ago when he signed with the Reds.

The A's signed center fielder Coco Crisp to a two-year, $14 million deal this offseason with an option for 2014. Some, though, have wondered if Cespedes isn't more of a corner outfielder than a center fielder, so he could move and the team could leave Crisp in center. Oakland, though, also added Josh Reddick and Seth Smith to its outfield this offseason.

Cespedes, though, is expected to need some time in the minors, but at $9 million a year, he's unlikely to spend much time in the likes of Sacramento, Midland or Stockton. He struggled in his showing in the Dominican Winter League, but he still has a combination of raw power and great speed.

Tim Brown of Yahoo.com first reported Cespedes had chosen to sign with the A's.

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Posted on: January 3, 2012 5:40 pm
Edited on: January 3, 2012 10:20 pm
 

Coco Crisp headed back to Oakland

Coco Crisp

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Coco Crisp is returning to Oakland pending a physical, CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman confirms.

The outfielder has agreed to a two-year deal worth $13 million and a club option for $7.5 million in 2014 with a $1 million buyout, ESPN.com's Buster Olney tweets.

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Crisp had been garnering interest from several teams and said Monday that he'd made a decision, but hadn't told the team yet. That team will be his old team.

Last year Crisp, 32, hit .264/.314/.379 with eight home runs and a league-leading 49 stolen bases. In parts of 10 seasons with the Indians, Red Sox, Royals and A's, Crisp is a career .275/.330/.406 hitter.

Crisp was one of the few true center fielders on the free agent market, so several teams other than the A's reportedly had interested. The Orioles, Cubs, Cardinals and Dodgers had been rumored to have some level of interest in Crisp, who will instead stay in Oakland. Geography -- not to mention a guaranteed $14 million -- also may have played a part in Crisp's return to the A's. A Los Angeles native, Crisp reportedly wanted to stay in the state of California.

The outfield market now hinges on Cuban Yoenis Cespedes, while there are also some corner outfielder types available, like Cody Ross, J.D. Drew, Ryan Ludwick, Kosuke Fukudome, Raul Ibanez, Jonny Gomez, Juan Pierre and Magglio Ordonez. As for a center fielder, Corey Patterson is also available, but that's not going to excite too many teams. 

As for the A's, they keep their leadoff man, but at a price. Crisp will reportedly make $6 million in 2012 and $7 million in 2013. So far this offseason, the A's focus has been on shedding contracts and spending less money. Crisp's contract is in line with several other outfielders signed this winter -- just below Jason Kubel's two-year, $15 million deal with the Diamondbacks and more than Grady Sizemore's one-year, $5 million deal with Cleveland.

Crisp should hold down center field for Oakland, with newly acquired Josh Reddick in right and a battle in left between prospects Michael Taylor, Chris Carter and Collin Cowgill, who was part of the trade that sent Trevor Cahill to Arizona. Oakland could also dip into the free-agent market for another outfielder to try to round out the roster, but general manager Billy Beane has already said the team would be spending most of its money in the draft and international signings for next season. It wouldn't make sense for the A's, who are committed to rebuilding, to bring in anything more than a stopgap measure for left field -- although, at this point that may be all that's left.

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Posted on: December 30, 2011 5:18 pm
Edited on: December 31, 2011 11:19 am
 

And the Bloggies go to...



By C. Trent Rosecrans

No need to get dressed up -- but the Bloggies are here and they're best viewed in sweatpants or pajama pants. The winners, the winner get nothing. But we get to fill out a post and bring something new.

So, Monday (Part I) and Tuesday (Part II), we put up the nominees in several categories and let the fans vote. Well, we couldn't just stick to that, because we all know the internets is for disagreement over awards, so Matt Snyder and I will chime in with our picks, as well.

Best Moment(s) of 2011
Fans: World Series Game 6
Snyder: Game 6
Rosecrans: Sept. 28

Most Historic Milestone
Fans: Derek Jeter's 3,000th
Snyder: Jim Thome's 600th
Rosecrans: Jeter's 3,000th

Biggest Surprise
Fans: Cardinals
Snyder: Albert Pujols to the Angels
Rosecrans: Cardinals

Biggest Disappointment -- Individual section
Fans: Ryan Braun's failed test
Snyder: Braun
Rosecrans: Coco Crisp not sticking with the 'fro

Biggest Disappointment -- Team
Fans: Red Sox
Snyder: Red Sox
Rosecrans: Red Sox

Most Bush League Moment
Fans: Carlos Zambrano quitting on his teammates
Snyder: Carlos Guillen's celebration in the Jered Weaver/Tigers feud
Rosecrans: Zambrano

Worst Call
Fans: Jerry Meals
Snyder: Billy Butler's "inside the park" home run
Rosecrans: Meals

Biggest "Can't-Look-Away" Character
Fans: Ozzie Guillen
Snyder: Nyjer Morgan
Rosecrans: Guillen

Best Twitterer
Fans: @DatDudeBP (Brandon Phillips)
Snyder: @BMcCarthy32 (Brandon McCarthy)
Rosecrans: @BMcCarthy32

Biggest bonehead move
Fans: Mike Leake been caught stealing
Snyder: Leake
Rosecrans: Leake

Best celebration
Fans: None: They're all lame
Snyder: None
Rosecrans: None

Weirdest injury
Fans; Matt Holliday and the moth
Snyder: Holliday
Rosecrans: Holliday

Most impressive home run
Fans: Francisco

Snyder: Upton

Rosecrans: Upton

Best defensively play
Fans: Phillips

Snyder: Revere

Rosecrans: Revere

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Posted on: December 26, 2011 3:31 pm
Edited on: December 27, 2011 3:51 pm
 

Voting for the 2011 MLB Bloggies, Part I



By Matt Snyder


With just a few days left until 2012 brings us a whole new year, it's only fitting to look back at the year that was. Sure, there's an actual baseball season, including spring training, the regular season and the postseason, but things happen nearly every day throughout the entire calendar year. So we're going to create a fake award and call it a Bloggie.

We'll set the table with some nominations and let you, our readers, vote for the winners. This is just Part I. Tuesday, we bring you Part II. Friday, we'll post the winners and our staff picks. Without further ado ...

Best Moment(s) of 2011
No-Hitters: Justin Verlander, Ervin Santana and Francisco Liriano all tossed a no-hitter during the 2011 season, with Verlander doing so for the second time in his career.
10-year anniversary of 9/11: The Cubs and the Mets played the Sunday Night Game on September 11 in New York's Citi Field, with the game itself taking a backseat to the pre-game memorial for the victims and the honoring of service men and women. 
September 28th: Rarely -- if ever -- has the final day of the regular season provided so much drama, as the Cardinals and Rays completed epic comebacks to steal the respective wild cards. Evan Longoria put the cherry on top of an all-around amazing night of baseball with his walk-off home run.
Cooper Stone throws out first pitch: Months after losing his father, Shannon Stone, to a tragic fall, young Cooper Stone threw out the ceremonial first pitch of ALDS Game 1. The catcher? His favorite player, Josh Hamilton, who then embraced Stone just in front of the pitcher's mound.
Game 6: Eleven innings. Nineteen runs. Fifteen pitchers. Beltre and Cruz go deep back-to-back. Freese's triple. Hamilton's homer. Berkman's clutch single. And Freese's walk-off. This was one for the ages in one of the best World Series in recent memory.



Most Historic Milestone
Jeter's 3,000th: On July 9, Derek Jeter hit a home run for hit number 3,000, becoming the 28th player in baseball history to join the elite group.
Thome's 600th: On August 15, Jim Thome went deep twice, the second home run being the 600th of his illustrious career. Only seven other players in big-league history have reached that plateau.
Rivera's 602nd: On September 19, Mariano Rivera locked down the save with ease. It was the 602nd of his career, making him the all-time leader.
Triple Crowned: Verlander led the American League in wins, strikeouts and ERA. Clayton Kershaw pulled off the same feat in the National League. The last time each league had a pitcher take the triple crown was 1924.
Most Valuable: Verlander won both the Cy Young and the AL MVP awards, marking the first time a starting pitcher won the MVP since 1986 and the 10th time in history a player won both the Cy Young and MVP.



Biggest Surprise
The Cardinals: Not only were the eventual World Series champions virtually left for dead in late August, but they went all season without their ace, as Adam Wainwright suffered a season-ending injury in spring training.
The D-Backs: The Arizona Diamondbacks were predicted to finish last in the NL West by nearly everyone. They had finished last the past two seasons, too. But these Snakes came out and won the West by a whopping eight games and took the Brewers to the limit in the NLDS.
The Rays: Yes, the Tampa Bay Rays had won the AL East two of the previous three seasons, but they also lost several key pieces and the payroll was $30 million less than it was in 2010. And the Rays still took the AL wild card from the mighty Red Sox on the final day of the regular season.
Pujols to L.A.: Albert Pujols was a St. Louis Cardinals icon. While he appeared to be flirting with other teams, it only seemed like a ploy to get the Cardinals to pay him more. He wouldn't really leave, would he? Well, he did, signing with the Angels on the final morning of the Winter Meetings.
Marlins' spending spree: For years we've watched the Florida Marlins deal potential high-salary players and be one of the most notoriously frugal clubs around. And then, in less than a week, the newly-named Miami Marlins inked three big-name free agents -- Jose Reyes, Heath Bell and Mark Buehrle.



Biggest Disappointment -- Individual section
Dunn is done: Adam Dunn has one of the most historically awful offensive seasons ever, and he's a DH. And it was only the first year of a four-year, $56 million contract.
No mo fro? Coco Crisp let his dreads out twice to reveal an incredibly awesome afro. But he didn't stick with it. And, yes, we realize this is a disappointment on a different level, but the Bloggies don't necessarily have to be serious.
Fractured: Marlins bench player Scott Cousins leveled star Giants catcher at home plate, a play in which Posey suffered a season-ending broken leg.
Juiced? NL MVP Ryan Braun failed a drug test and is facing a 50-game suspension, if his appeal is not upheld.



Biggest Disappointment -- Team
Red Sox: You may have heard of a collapse ...
Braves: You may have heard of a collapse ...
Twins: Lots of injuries and underperformance left the two-time defending AL Central champs with 99 losses.
Giants: The defending World Series champs finished eight games back in the NL West and four out in the wild card, sporting one of the worst offenses in baseball.



Most Bush League Moment
Weaver vs. Detroit: Magglio Ordonez watches a home run to see if it's fair or foul. Jered Weaver misinterprets it and thinks he's been shown up, so he has some words for the Tigers. Then Carlos Guillen hits a home run and basically stands still, staring down Weaver. Weaver then threw at Alex Avila and was tossed from the game while screaming at the entire Tigers dugout. You can place blame with Weaver, Guillen or both of them. However you slice it, though, at least one person was far out of line.
Big Z(ero): Carlos Zambrano gets knocked around by the Braves, throws at Chipper Jones -- getting himself ejected -- and then bails on his teammates. Some overheard him talking retirement, but he now is trying to work his way back.
Molina's "spittle:" Yadier Molina may not have intentionally spit on umpire Rob Drake back on August 2, but he did freak out far too much over a called strike and get himself suspended for five games during a pennant race.
Nyjer's mouth: Brewers outfielder Nyjer Morgan was a polarizing figure all season and that was solidified after the Brewers beat the D-Backs in the NLDS. Morgan was overheard screaming f-bombs right behind a field reporter. OK, maybe he didn't realize it was on live TV. But then when he was summoned for an interview on national TV, he made sure to say it loud and clear right into the microphone.



Worst Call
No pitching inside: Clayton Kershaw was ejected September 14 for (barely) hitting Gerardo Parra with a pitch on the elbow. Kershaw had been seen jawing with Parra the previous night, but he also had a one-hitter going and the pitch wasn't very far inside. It definitely seemed like an overreaction by home plate umpire Bill Welke.
Let's go home: An epic 19-inning game ended on a blown call at home plate by Jerry Meals, calling runner Julio Lugo safe at home and giving the Braves the victory over the Pirates on July 26.
Home run? On August 17, Royals DH Billy Butler hit what appeared to be a double in the gap. It bounced high off the outfield wall, hitting some fencing above padding on the wall. The umpires initially ruled a home run, but the play was put under video review. Replays pretty conclusively showed the ball staying in the park -- even the hometown Kansas City announcers were discussing that when the umpires emerged Butler would be ordered to head to second base. Butler was standing on the top step of the dugout with his helmet on when the umpires emerged and upheld the ruling.
Missed tag: In Game 3 of the World Series, Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler made an errant throw that pulled first baseman Mike Napoli off the bag. Napoli made a swipe tag that very clearly got Cardinals baserunner Matt Holliday in time. First base umpire Ron Kulpa, however, blew the call, opening the door to a big inning for the Cardinals.



Biggest "Can't-Look-Away" Character
These don't really need an explanation, so we'll jump right to the poll ...



Coming Tuesday: Part II, including Boneheaded Moves of the Year, Weirdest Injury and Most Impressive Home Run
Coming Friday: Voting results and staff picks

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.



Posted on: December 22, 2011 10:57 am
 

Homegrown Team: St. Louis Cardinals

Albert Pujols

By C. Trent Rosecrans


What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional? No trades, no Rule-5 Draft, no minor or major league free agency ... once you are a professional baseball player, you stay in that organization. This series shows how all 30 teams would look. We give you: Homegrown teams. To view the schedule/past entries of this feature, click here.

While most of the teams on our list would love a do-over for 2011 -- or at least part of it, the season somehow worked out pretty well for the St. Louis Cardinals, a team that took advantage of an epic collapse and capitalized upon its chance by winning the World Series. The moves made by both the current management team and former executives, all worked out for one glorious season in St. Louis, so it's another example of why the exercise is for fun only. But there's one thing our Homegrown Cardinals have that the 2012 version doesn't -- Albert Pujols

Lineup

1. Jon Jay, RF
2. Placido Polanco, 3B
3. Albert Pujols, 1B
4. Allen Craig, LF
5. Colby Rasmus, CF
6. Yadier Molina, C
7. Brendan Ryan, SS
8. Skip Schumaker, 2B

Starting Rotation

1. Dan Haren
2. Jaime Garcia
3. Kyle McClellan
4. Chris Narveson
5. Lance Lynn

Bullpen

Closer - Chris Perez
Set up - Mitchell Boggs, Fernando Salas, Luke Gregerson, Blake Hawksworth, Eduardo Sanchez

Notable Bench Players

The bench has some interesting players -- you have defensive replacements in Jack Wilson and Coco Crisp, some pop in Brett Wallace, J.D. Drew and Rick Ankiel, as well as some versatility in Daniel Descalso. Daric Barton's there, too, but not sure where or when he'd ever play considering Pujols is still a Cardinal here.

What's Good?

Any lineup with Pujols is not bad -- but it's not overwhelming, either. While lacking some of the firepower from Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman, there are still some passable players. While there's no Chris Carpenter or Adam Wainwright, there is Dan Haren and the top two of the rotation are good. The strength of this team -- and Tony La Russa would certainly love this -- is the bullpen. Not only are their Cardinals holdovers of Motte, Boggs, Salas and Sanchez, you also add Perez, Gergerson and Hawksowrth, giving this team plenty of relief options. 

What's Not?

After the top two in the rotation, the rest are pretty pedestrian. McClellan is not only in the rotation -- where he started in 2011 -- but he's also going to be either a No. 3 or No. 4. The outfield isn't terrible, but when you take away Berkman and Holliday, it's going to pale in comparison.

Comparison to real 2011

Let's just get to the point, the margin for error for the 2011 St. Louis Cardinals was razor thin, but they stayed on the right side of it just enough to go on to one of the most exciting, improbable runs of all time to capture the World Series title. There is no way this hypothetical team could do anything close to what the real Cardinals did. The offensive firepower isn't the same and there's no Chris Carpenter. No, this team doesn't just fail to win the World Series or make the playoffs, it fails to reach .500 and probably finishes in the bottom half of our made-up NL Central.

Next: Ranking the Homegrown teams.

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Posted on: December 21, 2011 11:06 am
 

Beltran expected to pick between 5 teams soon

Carlos BeltranBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Carlos Beltran will likely pick his new team before Christmas, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes, noting the Cardinals are one of five teams still in contention for the switch-hitting outfielder.

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Goold writes that Beltran has "varied offers from five different teams," according to a source. The Cardinals could certainly use him in right field, the spot Lance Berkman has vacated to take over for Albert Pujols at first base. The Cardinals are also without Allen Craig, who has undergone knee surgery this winter.

Yahoo's Tim Brown wrote the Blue Jays, Red Sox and "perhaps" the Rays are interested in Beltran, while Goold notes there's another National League team in the bidding. Brown reports the 34-year-old Beltran is getting offers of two years and three years.

Beltran, a three-time Gold Glove winner, is known to want to continue to play in the field, as opposed to DH, which could give the Cardinals an advantage over the American League teams.

Goold notes the Cardinals are still interested in 32-year-old outfielder Coco Crisp, who unlike Beltran can still play center field.

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Posted on: November 1, 2011 10:27 pm
 

2011 free agent diamonds in the rough

Carroll, Crisp, Lidge

By Evan Brunell


The baseball free-agent class is a bear. Once you get beyond the first couple of names at each position that are eligible for free agency, you quickly dissolve into reading a list of retreads, never-weres or aging All-Stars. That will make it difficult for teams to fill holes via free agency, but at the same time, there are some names that are poised for bounceback seasons and are being overlooked. That's what this list is all about -- what players could contribute in 2012 given the chance, that are being overlooked right now?

Some of these names are true diamonds in the rough, while others are a product of choosing between bad or worse. But hitting right on one of these names could mean the difference between playing golf in October or getting a ring.

C: Chris Snyder

SnyderBack problems are never a good thing when it comes to catchers. If Snyder can recover from a herniated disc, however, he could give a team strong production as a backstop for minimal price. It wasn't all that long ago that Snyder had a long-term deal in hand from the Diamondbacks and was blocking Miguel Montero, but injuries sapped his production and he was shipped to Pittsburgh in 2010. Before the injury, Snyder showed signs of coming out of his slump. His plate discipline was still there, but he was driving balls with more authority. He didn't get enough playing time to accurately draw conclusions, but quality catchers are rare in baseball and Snyder should get another chance to show he belongs.

1B: Lyle Overbay

OverbayWhile age has caught up to Overbay, he still has something to offer as a first baseman. While one wouldn't have ever called him one of the better first baseman in the league in recent years, he did finish his Blue Jays career as a respectable first baseman. Problem is, he was anything but respectable with the Pirates and needed a late-season rejuvenation in Arizona to feel better about himself. At this point in Overbay's career, it would be a surprise if he found a full-time job at first somewhere, but Overbay is still capable of cracking doubles and providing solid (albeit unspectacular) defense. In a platoon role playing against just righties, Overbay could deliver.

2B: Aaron Hill

HillHill once hit 36 home runs, doing so in his breakout 2009 campaign as a 27-year-old. That bode well for the future, giving Toronto a beast in the middle of the order that played second, no less. Unfortunately for Hill, things took a turn for the worse in 2010 as he tried too hard to drive the ball over the fence. This season, Hill stopped trying to swing for the fences so much, but his offense was completely disastrous in every possibility, hitting .225/.270/.313 before the Jays gave up. Arizona saw what Hill could be like at his best, as the 29-year-old hit .315/.386/.492 down the stretch. That offers a lot of optimism moving forward, even if 2009 remains his high-water point. The mere fact he rebounded as well as he did with the Diamondbacks puts Hill in the category of low risk, high reward.

3B: Jamey Carroll

CarrollCarroll is actually one of the better names on the free-agent market, although that's mostly by default given the thin crop of free agents. Some may overlook Carroll for a third-base job given he has played second and short almost exclusively the last two seasons.  Yet, he's played more career games at third than shortstop (by one game), so he can handle the hot corner. In a market devoid of third basemen, teams would be well-served to look at Carroll to plug the hot corner and a fill-in across the diamond. The utility player has really emerged over the last two years with the Dodgers and is an above-average player. He won't excite you, but he won't give games away. Any team hoping to wins needs a Jamey Carroll as a complementary piece.

SS: Clint Barmes

BarmesBarmes is a criminally underrated shortstop who could solve a lot of problems for many teams -- the Brewers are one that springs to mind. The now-32-year-old was popular back in 2005 when he busted out in Colorado and fast becoming a darling of fans and media alike when he broke his left shoulder falling down a flight of stairs after carrying deer meat. Since then, Barmes has become a slick fielder who can't quite hit with the bat. But in the depressed scoring of the last two years, Barmes' bat has started looking better in comparison and hit .244/.312/.386 for Houston last year, numbers not that far off an average shortstop these days. And his fielding. Oh, his fielding. Bottom line, he can flat pick it and will come cheap enough that whatever production he gives will outstrip what he is being paid. Barmes is an average- to below-average hitter with superior defense and is head and shoulders better than, say, Yuniesky Betancourt.

LF: Felix Pie

PiePie was once supposed to solve the Cubs' problems in center field and usher in a new era of baseball in the Windy City. Instead, he got drummed out to Baltimore and for a while there, it looked as if he was yet another in a line of players that got away from Chicago. Except that Pie hit .220/.264/.280 in 175 at-bats after finally being primed to take over a starting role after slashing .274/.305/.413 in 308 PA in 2010. There's no getting around how bad Pie's 2011 was, but he will turn 27 at the beginning of February and his talent didn't just disappear overnight. Pie will struggle to find playing time on even rebuilding clubs, but it's too early to give up on the lefty.

CF: Coco Crisp

CrispIn a thin crop of free agents, it's easy to scan by Crisp's name and think he's just another name in a motley crew of unappetizing players. But Crisp could be a dynamic center fielder finally getting back in the groove for the first time since receiving the tall task of replacing Johnny Damon in Boston. Prior to linking up with Oakland for 2010, Crisp had never stolen more than 28 bases in a season (2007 Red Sox). He swiped 32 in 2010, and anted that all the way up to 49, leading the league and being caught just nine times. In addition, playing in his cavernous home stadium doesn't do justice to his bat, which has been the best over the last two seasons since 2004-05 with the Indians. Don't look past this guy.

RF: Magglio Ordonez

OrdonezOrdonez may opt for retirement after breaking his right ankle for a second time, but if he tries to give it another go next season, Ordonez could be the perfect salve for a team looking to plug a gap in the outfield or DH.  Ordonez's final season line of .255/.303/.331 in 357 plate appearances looks horribly weak, but he hit .354 from Aug. 12 on, and was 5-for-11 in the ALDS. The 37-year-old reported that his surgically-repaired right ankle, which hadn't been feeling right after breaking it in June 2010, was finally starting to come around. Then he broke it again in the ALCS. If he can bounce back, it appears as if Ordonez has enough left in his bat to hit over .300. However, if he chooses to play again, he may be forced to sign late and prove to teams he's fully healthy.

SP: Hisashi Iwakuma

IwakumaDon't forget about Iwakuma, who could have been pitching for the Athletics in 2011 had negotiations between Oakland and Iwakuma's agent, Don Nelson, not broken down. This season, the lefty is free to negotiate with any team as he is now an unrestricted international free agent. He appears likely to jump stateside, and will draw quite a bit of interest from teams. Once the top names on the starting pitching market sign, Iwakuma could quickly rise to the top of the list. He's known for his control and walking just 19 in 17 games in Japan ball in 2011. The 30-year-old finished with a 2.42 ERA in 119 innings after spending two years as a reliever. Teams may be concerned about his ability to handle the demands of a MLB rotation as opposed to Japan, where starters take their turns once a week.

RP: Mike Gonzalez

GonzalezIt seems as if Gonzalez's luster has diminished in recent years not just because of injury problems, but thanks to pitching in Baltimore. You'd do well not to overlook Gonzalez, however, who throws hard. From the left side, that's rare to see, and when healthy, the 33-year-old can be one of the most dominant relievers in the league. Gonzalez pitched a total of 53 1/3 innings in 2011, split between the Orioles and Rangers. His strikeout rate, while not as high as recent years, still remains high and he displayed some of the best control of his career this past season as well and a subsequent dip in fastball velocity was not recorded. In Texas, he took on the role of a lefty specialist which was the best way to use him in '11, but this is a guy who can function as a top-notch setup man for any team in the league.

CL: Brad Lidge

LidgeLidge was supposed to spend the entire year as the Phillies' closer, but that changed when injuries struck yet again. Fortunately, Lidge was able to recover to pitch 19 1/3 innings down the stretch and proved he could still strike out batters despite a fastball that couldn't reach over 90 and relying too often on his slider. With an entire offseason to rest, it's possible Lidge could reclaim some of his lost fastball velocity, which would reduce his reliance on a slider. Control is a problem, as evidenced by his 13 unintentional walks (against 23 strikeouts), but he showed improved control in September, walking just four and punching out 11 in 9 1/3 innings. That was a major step forward from August, when he walked seven in 7 1/3 innings. There are a lot of closers on the free agent market, so Lidge will struggle to find a team that could give him a shot to close, but could end up as baseball's comeback player of the year in 2012 if all breaks right.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com