Posted on: February 28, 2012 9:43 pm
By C. Trent Rosecrans
The Marlins made headlines with their offseason spending spree, the Phillies still have the game's most intimidating rotation, the Nationals have some of the game's biggest young talents and the Braves are a sleeper team that shouldn't be written off because of last season's late collapse. And then there's the Mets. Last season the team finished fourth in the division and went 77-85, and then they lost their best player. To say there's a lack of buzz surrounding the Mets would be an understatement.
Major additions: CF Andres Torres, CL Frank Francisco
Major departures: SS Jose Reyes, RH Chris Capuano
1. Andres Torres CF
2. Daniel Murphy 2B
3. David Wright 3B
4. Ike Davis 1B
5. Lucas Duda RF
6. Jason Bay LF
7. Josh Thole C
8. Ruben Tejada SS
1. Johan Santana
2. R.A. Dickey
3. Jonathon Niese
4. Mike Pelfrey
5. Dillon Gee
Closer: Frank Francisco
Set-up: Jon Rauch, Ramon Ramirez, Bobby Parnell
Important bench players
OF Scott Hairston, IF Justin Turner
Prospect to watch
The team's top prospect is right-hander Zack Wheeler, acquired in the Carlos Beltran trade, but if he sees Citi Field this season, it'll likely be near the end of the year when the team's fate has already been decided. Outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis could contribute immediately. The 24-year-old missed the second half of the 2011 season with a torn labrum in his non-throwing (left) shoulder, but has been swinging the bat at full strength since last month. Before his injury, he was hitting .298/.403/.505 with six homers in 221 plate appearances for Triple-A Buffalo. A solid all-around player, Nieuwenhuis can play any of the three outfield sports, but center field may be where he could make his mark. The Mets have the 34-year-old Torres as the its starter in center and the 31-year-old Hairston backing him up, so it's not much of a stretch to see Nieuwenhuis get a chance sometime this season.
Fantasy sleeper: Lucas Duda
"From July 15 (about the time he took over for a departed Carlos Beltran) to the end of the season, Duda hit .322 with 10 homers and a .957 OPS -- numbers that jive with his minor-league track record. And that was at old Citi Field, complete with its big gaps, tall fences and ability to crush David Wright's spirit." -- Scott White [Full Mets fantasy team preview]
Fantasy bust: David Wright
"Over the last three seasons, he has a .284 batting average and .828 OPS, which are solid numbers but less than elite even for a third baseman. True, his struggles began the same year the Mets moved to spacious Citi Field, but that doesn't explain why his numbers have lagged on the road during that time. Thus, you can't assume the team's decision to move in the fences this year will be Wright's miracle cure. It'll help, but it won't eliminate the injuries, the perpetually rising strikeout rate and the curious home-road splits." -- Scott White [Full Mets fantasy team preview]
Santana returns to Cy Young form and Niese takes a step forward, as the Mets pitching staff rounds into form. The new dimensions of Citi Field make a huge difference for the team's offense, with Wright and Bay returning to form, while Duda becomes a star. Even in this perfect world, the Mets could have trouble leapfrogging the Phillies, Marlins and Braves. But Bud Selig could always add another eight playoff spots, giving them a spot in the postseason.
Santana's injuries continue to haunt him and nobody steps up to take over at the top of the rotation. Davis isn't the same player that he was before his injury and Duda suffers from a sophomore slump, as the offense struggles overall. And then there's the chance that the problems on the field pale in comparison to the ownership problems. The worst-case scenario (well, for 2012, it's may be the best-case scenario for the long term) has a repeat of the Dodger fiasco.
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Tags: AL East, Andres Torres, Bobby Parnell, C. Trent Rosecrans, Carlos Beltran, Chris Capuano, Daniel Murphy, David Wright, Dillon Gee, Frank Francisco, Ike Davis, Jason Bay, Johan Santana, Jon Rauch, Jonathon Niese, Jose Reyes, Josh Thole, Justin Turner, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Lucas Duda, Mets, Mike Pelfrey, R.A. Dickey, Ramon Ramirez, Ruben Tejada, Scott Hairston
Posted on: December 10, 2011 12:05 pm
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.
If there's an opposite of the Oakland A's and Billy Beane's Moneyball, it's Kenny Williams and the White Sox. The White Sox have not drafted well and searched to fill holes through free agency, spending money and taking big chances in trades. While Williams' way makes him the butt of some jokes and nobody's making a movie about him anytime soon, he does have something Beane doesn't have -- a World Series trophy.
1. Alexei Ramirez, SS
2. Gordon Beckham, 2B
3. Michael Morse, 1B
4. Chris Young, CF
5. Carlos Lee, DH
6. Magglio Ordonez, RF
7. Ryan Sweeney, LF
8. Brent Morel, 3B
9. Chris Stewart, C
1. Mark Buehrle
2. Gio Gonzalez
3. Daniel Hudson
4. Brandon McCarthy
5. Clayton Richard
Closer - Jon Rauch
Set up - Matt Guerrier, Chris Sale, Addison Reed, Boone Logan, John Ely
Long - Lucas Harrell
Notable Bench Players
Not surprisingly, when looking at the state of the organization (and the state of that lineup), the White Sox are thin on bench players, with Dayan Viciedo making a push for the starting lineup as well as Chris Getz on the infield and Mike Cameron in the outfield.
There's no Adam Dunn, for starters. The rotation is good, especially at the top with Buehrle and Gonzalez. The rest of the rotation is good enough, as well. While Rauch isn't the top closer around, the rest of the bullpen is talented.
The lineup isn't going to strike fear into too many pitching staffs, even though there are nice pieces. The corner outfielder and DH are all on the down side of their career. There's also not much depth on the roster among position players.
Comparison to real 2011
The White Sox finished 79-83 in 2011, thanks to poor seasons from Dunn, Morel, Beckham and Alex Rios. The rotation is likely a little better in real life than this team, while the bullpen is better here than in real life, evening out. The lineup may not put up a lot of runs, but the White Sox didn't, either. The real team has an impact bat in Paul Konerko and a good complimentary piece in Carlos Quentin. This lineup doesn't have those kinds of weapons, so I'm not so sure our hypothetical team could match the 79 wins the White Sox finished with in 2011.
Next: Baltimore Orioles
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Tags: Adam Dunn, Addison Reed, AL Central, Alexi Ramirez, Boone Logan, Brandon McCarthy, Brent Morel, C. Trent Rosecrans, Carlos Lee, Chris Getz, Chris Sale, Chris Stewart, Chris Young, Clayton Richard, Daniel Hudson, Dayan Viciedo, Gio Gonzalez, Gordon Beckham, Homegrown, John Ely, Jon Rauch, Kenny Williams, Lucas Harrell, Magglio Ordonez, Mark Buehrle, Matt Guerrier, Michael Morse, Mike Cameron, Ryan Sweeney, White Sox
Posted on: December 6, 2011 9:07 pm
Edited on: December 6, 2011 10:38 pm
By Matt Snyder
DALLAS -- The New York Mets have signed potential closer Jon Rauch, confirms Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com. The deal is pending a physical and is for one year. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports the deal is for $3.5 million with performance bonuses. Sherman also notes the Mets expect to sign one more "closer-type" to compete for the job with Rauch. (Update: That's already happened, as the Mets have added Frank Francisco)
The moves keep Bobby Parnell in setup duties, alongside newly acquired Ramon Ramirez.
Rauch, 33, had 11 saves in 16 chances last season for the Blue Jays. He had a 4.85 ERA, 1.35 WHIP and 35 strikeouts in 52 innings. The reason the Mets likely wanted another "closer-type" pitcher is because Rauch has never really been able to hold down a closing job for an entire season. He's been the closer for the Nationals, but was dealt midseason to setup for the D-Backs. He was then the Twins' closer, but they traded midseason for Matt Capps and made him the closer. Rauch does have 58 career saves, but he's hardly a lockdown closer.
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Posted on: November 11, 2011 4:53 pm
Edited on: November 12, 2011 2:01 pm
By C. Trent Rosecrans and Matt Snyder
It appears the first domino in closer market has fallen (at least, we're pretty sure this time), but that leaves Heath Bell and Ryan Madson as the top relievers still available. But who needs a closer? Here's a look at the closing situation for all 30 teams.
Baltimore Orioles: Kevin Gregg is still under contract -- much to the chagrin of new general manager Dan Duquette's chagrin. Gregg will make $5.8 million in 2012, not exactly ideal for a guy with a WHIP of 1.642 last season and an ERA of 4.37 while picking up 22 saves. Jim Johnson recorded nine saves and threw just 91 innings, but doesn't exactly miss a ton of bats. The Orioles could move Johnson to the rotation.
Red Sox: Well, obviously Papelbon is gone. Papelbon was the Red Sox closer for the last six years, recording the final out of the 2007 World Series among other memories. Still, As untouchable as he was in his first four years as the closer (1.74 ERA and 0.917 WHIP from 2006-2009), he had a 3.43 ERA and 1.104 WHIP over the last two seasons. Daniel Bard is unhittable at times, but struggled in the last two months of the season (which certainly wasn't uncommon among Red Sox), posting a 6.95 ERA in 21 games in August and September.
Tampa Bay Rays: The Rays let the Yankees overpay for Rafael Soriano and then picked up Kyle Farnsworth off the discard pile, signing him to a two-year, $6 million deal. In retrospect, it was genius -- Farnsworth had 25 saves with a 2.18 ERA in 2011 and the Rays will keep him another year and let someone else overpay him for 2013.
Toronto Blue Jays: Frank Francisco was the team's closer for much of 2011, but he's a free agent and the team could be looking to spend some money on a closer.
Chicago White Sox: Right-hander Sergio Santos converted 30 of 36 save opportunities, liming batters to just a .181/.282/.314 slash line and he should be in line to keep his job in 2012. If he falters, Addison Reed has a chance to take over.
Minnesota Twins: The Twins declined their $12.5 million option on incumbent Joe Nathan, but have expressed interest in bringing him back. Although his overall numbers -- 4.84 ERA, 1.164 WHIP, 14 saves -- weren't too impressive, he did convert all 11 of his saves in the second half of the season. Left-hander Glen Perkins had two saves in 2011 and struck out 65 batters in 61 2/3 innings. If the team doesn't sign a free agent -- or trade for someone -- Perkins would have the best shot.
Los Angeles Angels: Jordan Walden recorded 32 saves as a rookie and made the All-Star team. He did blow 10 saves last season, so it wouldn't be a complete shock if the team looked for an upgrade, but it's not expected, especially with tight purse strings this winter. The team could bring in a veteran for cheap that could close if Walden falters.
Texas Rangers: The Rangers could be a wild card in the free agent closer market if they decided to move Neftali Feliz to the rotation. The Rangers tried that last spring but decided to keep Feliz in the bullpen. If they bring in a big-name, that would mean they believe Feliz can make the move. If not, there's still a chance of Mike Adams taking over for Feliz. Or they could bring in a low-cost veteran to have in reserve in case Feliz does work in the rotation.
Miami Marlins: While the artist formerly known as Leo Nunez gets his name issue sorted out, the Marlins have a gaping hole at closer. The current members of their bullpen combined for four saves last season. Do the Marlins try to go with an internal option like Edward Mujica or make a splash on the free agent market (as they've been connected to several huge names already)?
New York Mets: If they stay internally, which is entirely possible, it looks like Bobby Parnell. But he wasn't awesome by any stretch when given save chances last season. The Mets have spent big on a free agent closer before (K-Rod), so would they be gunshy in doing so again? It's possible. But it's also possible they try to land someone like Ryan Madson.
Philadelphia Phillies: Papelbon.
Washington Nationals: Drew Storen closed 43 of 48 games in 2011, his first full season in the majors. One would think that would be enough to earn him at least another year on the job, but Storen's name keeps popping up in trade rumors and the Nationals have been reportedly interested in Madson. The Nats have plenty of money, so if they wanted to ink a big-name closer and deal Storen as part of a package for a center fielder (Denard Span, perhaps?), they would be able to do so.
Chicago Cubs: It's probably going to be Carlos Marmol again, but he better get himself in gear. Not only did he blow 10 saves, but his once-astronomical strikeout rate lowered a bit in 2011 and control continues to be a serious problem. With new brass at the helm, 2011 will likely be his last chance to get things fixed.
Cincinnati Reds: Cordero had a great four-year run with the Reds, amassing 150 saves with a 2.96 ERA, but he's a free agent now. Fireballer Aroldis Chapman is ticketed for the starting rotation and Nick Masset seems to be awfully inconsistent. The Reds don't have the money to spend in free agency, so would they make a trade for, say, Huston Street or Andrew Bailey? Seems unlikely. Either Chapman doesn't make it as a starter and sticks as closer or someone internally (23-year-old Brad Boxberger?) gets a shot. This one is totally up in the air.
St. Louis Cardinals: Jason Motte was never officially named closer by the stubborn Tony La Russa, but he did more than enough down the stretch and in the playoffs to earn the job for 2012, closing nine of 10 saves during the Cardinals' late run and five more in the postseason.
Colorado Rockies: Street is reportedly on the trading block. If he's is dealt, look for Rafael Betancourt to take over. He collected eight saves with a 2.89 ERA and more than a strikeout per inning in 2011.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Rookie Javy Guerra came on to save 21 games in 23 chances with a 2.31 ERA and 38 strikeouts in 46 2/3 innings in 2011. That's enough to have nailed down the job for the 2011 season, one would think.
San Diego Padres: Bell is a free agent, but the Padres may just offer him arbitration, and he actually might accept it. If he does stay, the choice is obvious. If Bell leaves, there's a decent internal option in Chad Qualls. Qualls, 33, has 51 career saves. As far as free agency, if the Padres want to pay for a closer, they'll be paying for Bell.
San Francisco: The Beard.For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Tags: 2012 free agency, 2012 MLB Free Agency, 2012 MLB Free Agents, 2012 MLB Hot Stove, Addison Reed, AL Central, AL East, AL West, Andrew Bailey, Andrew Bailey, Angels, Aroldis Chapman, Astros, Athletics, Bobby Parnell, Brad Boxberger, Brain Wilson, Brandon League, Braves, BRewers, C. Trent Rosecrans, Cardinals, Carlos Marmol, Casey Janssen, Chad Qualls, Chris PErez, Chris Perez, Craig Kimbrel, Cubs, Daniel Bard, Denard Span, Dodgers, Edward Mujica, Francisco Cordero, Francisco Rodriguez, Frank Francisco, free agency, free agent tracker, Giants, Glen Perkins, Heath Bell, Houston Street, Indians, Jason Motte, Javy Guerra, Jays, Jim Johnson, Joakim Soria, Joe Nathan, Joel Hanrahan, John Axford, Jon Rauch, Jonathan Broxton, Jonathan Papelbon, Jordan Walden, Jose Valverde, Kevin Gregg, Kyle Farnsworth, Leo Nunez, Mariano Rivera, Mariners, Mark Melacon, Marlins, Matt Snyder, Mets, Miek Adams, MLB Free Agency, MLB Free Agents, MLB Hot Stove, Nationals, Neftali Feliz, NL Central, NL East, NL West, Orioles, Padres, Phillies, Pirates, Rafael Betancourt, Rangers, Rays, Red Sox, Reds, Rockies, Royals, Ryan Madson, Scott Downs, Sergio Santos, Storen, Tigers, Twins, White Sox, Yankees
Posted on: October 31, 2011 10:43 pm
Edited on: October 31, 2011 10:58 pm
By Evan Brunell
As baseball readies for free agency, numerous decisions on options are being made. Those either free up players to hit the market or tie them to their 2011 club for one more season. Sunday's list is right here. Let's take a look at what happened Monday...
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Tags: 2012 free agency, 2012 MLB Free Agency, 2012 MLB Free Agents, 2012 MLB Hot Stove, Aaron Cook, Aaron Harang, Aaron Hill, AL Central, AL East, AL West, Blue Jays, Brad Hawpe, Brandon Phillips, Braves, Chad Qualls, Chris Snyder, Colby Lewis, Cubs, Dan Wheeler, David Aardsma, Diamondbacks, Edwin Encarnacion, Eric Hinske, Evan Brunell, Fausto Carmona, free agency, free agent tracker, Grady Sizemore, Henry Blanco, Indians, Jason Frasor, Jason Giambi, Jeff Samardzija, Joakim Soria, Jon Rauch, Mariners, MLB Free Agency, MLB Free Agents, MLB Hot Stove, MLB Rumors, Nate McLouth, NL Central, NL East, NL West, Padres, Paul Maholm, Pirates, Red Sox, Reds, Rockies, Ronny Cedeno, Royals, Ryan Doumit, Scott Atchinson, White Sox, Willie Bloomquist, Yoshinori Tateyama, Zach Duke
Posted on: October 31, 2011 10:02 pm
Edited on: October 31, 2011 10:03 pm
By Evan Brunell
The Blue Jays have declined their club option on reliever Jon Rauch, but will bring DH Edwin Encarnacion back.
Rauch was one of several who tried to close games out for the Jays, a team that had trouble finding that stopper. Rauch wasn't quite the man, despite notching 11 saves. The righty allowed 11 homers after giving up just three in 2010, finishing the season out with a 4.85 ERA in 52 innings. His season was cut short by knee surgery in September, but pitched well enough to qualify as a Type B free agent. This may have been what led to declining the $3.75 million option on Rauch, which is a reasonable price. The Jays are one team that tries to collect as many draft picks as possible, and with Rauch fetching back a compensatory pick should (once) he signs elsewhere, it likely made more sense to Toronto to grab a different unspectacular middle reliever in order to perhaps draft the next great Blue Jay.
Encarnacion's return, meanwhile, jams up first base and DH, which could complicate any chance of getting any slugger who plays one of these positions. But bringing Encarnacion back for $3.5 million was a no-brainer. It wasn't before June 5, when the righty woke up with a .243/.275/.342 line, but netted three hits that night and played the rest of 2011 at a .286/.359/.505 clip, hammering 16 homers in 370 plate appearances. The Jays seem to have finally given up on Encarnacion at third, so he's limited to first and DH, although the club could stick him in left field a few times next season. Toronto has Adam Lind, Travis Snider and Eric Thames all vying for at-bats in varying degrees between first, left and DH, so Encarnacion will have to fight for playing time barring a trade.
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Posted on: October 22, 2011 3:28 pm
Edited on: October 24, 2011 4:51 pm
By C. Trent Rosecrans
With the free agent reliever market, it always seems to be buyer-beware, but every year teams overspend for closers and setup men. While not exactly a bumper crop this year, there are some good arms available, even if the top closers would all prefer to stay with their current teams. Still, we all know those preferences can go out the window when a higher offer comes.
1. Jonathan Papelbon: After a disappointing 2010, Papelbon returned to form in 2011, despite recording his lowest save total (31) since becoming the Red Sox closer. Not only was his ERA (2.94) down from 2010, he had his best strikeout rate (12.2 per nine innings) since 2007 and lowest walk rate (1.40 per nine innings) since 2008. His xFIP was 2.16, the lowest of his career. At 31, he's still an elite closer and the best available on the market. The Red Sox had been said to be interested in bringing him back and they still have the payroll to absorb a high-priced closer. Still, don't expect Papelbon to take a home-town discount.
2. Heath Bell: When the Padres decided not to trade Bell during the season, it appeared he would be staying in San Diego. However, when the season ended with Bell not getting an extension, things became less sure. Now, Jed Hoyer is off to the Cubs and Josh Byrnes is in as the new GM. With this much change, things could easily change for Bell, who has said all along he'd prefer to stay in San Diego. The Padres may prefer to spend their money elsewhere. Bell is 34, but coming off his third straight 40-save season. One thing that could be troubling for a team is his falling strikeout rate. After striking out 10.2 per nine innings in 2009 and 11.1 in 2010, he struck out a career-low 7.3 per nine innings in 2011. His strikeout-to-walk ration was a career-low 2.43, although that was due to the lower strikeout numbers instead of more walks. Any team considering spending big money on him will have to seriously think about his age and if he's worth what he may command based on gaudy save numbers. He's also been aided by pitching at spacious Petco Park. The Padres may decide they don't need an All-Star closer and their money could be better spent elsewhere. Bell has said he would accept arbitration if offered.
3. Ryan Madson: After several attempts earlier in his career to serve as a closer, Madson finally showed the ability to close out games in 2011, finishing with 32 saves in 34 opportunities. He's said he'd prefer to stay in Philadelphia, but that's easy to say during the season. A Scott Boras client, the Nationals have to be considered in the mix for Madson, who struck out 62 batters in 60 2/3 innings, while walking just 16 batters.
4. Jose Valverde: The Tigers hold a $9 million club option on Valverde, which is pretty reasonable for a guy who led the majors with 49 saves and didn't blow a single save all season. Valverde's last outing was far from ideal, allowing four earned runs in 1 1/3 innings of Game 4 of the ALCS, but he's still an elite closer (if not exactly the most comfortable guy to watch). Valverde would command big bucks on the open market, but it seems highly unlikely he'll be there.
5. Francisco Cordero: The Reds probably won't pick up his $12 million option, but he could still stay a Red. Cordero's been a stabilizing influence on the Reds bullpen in his four years in Cincinnati, but for a team like the Reds, it makes little sense to have a closer as the highest-paid player. Reds general manager Walt Jocketty and Cordero have both publicly said they'd like to work out an extension for him to stay in Cincinnati. It's similar to what the Reds did with Bronson Arroyo last offseason. The team is moving Aroldis Chapman to the rotation, so there's no real in-house candidate to fill in for Cordero if he leaves, so it makes sense to work out a deal. That said, someone could still pop in and make a bigger offer. The Brewers thought they had a deal with Cordero before he left for the Reds, so history could repeat itself.
6. Francisco Rodriguez: After being traded to the Brewers, Rodriguez was not used as the team's closer, and said as a free agent, he'd like the opportunity to close again. That's not going to come in Milwaukee, where John Axford has established himself as the Brewers closer. However, after the Brewers' loss in the NLCS, owner Mark Attanasio made sure to point out just how important Rodriguez was to the team's bullpen and how much the club appreciated what he brought to the team. Although he's clearly not going to be the closer in Milwaukee, money talks -- and enough money and he may decide he can set up Axford. Sure, he spoke of being frustrated about not closing in Milwaukee during the year, but seeing the market could open his mind to other propositions.
7. Kyle Farnsworth: Fransworth more than lived up to his one-year deal last season, rewarding the Rays for taking a chance on him with 25 saves and a 2.18 ERA. He struck out 51 in 57 2/3 inning and had a career-best 0.988 WHIP and also his lowest walk rate of his career (1.9 BB/9). He made $2.6 million last season and the Rays have a $3.3 million club option (with a $650,000 buyout). It's basically a no-brainer to pick it up. Even if he doesn't repeat his 2011 numbers, he has the type of arm some team will want at the deadline to fortify a bullpen.
8. Joe Nathan: It's unlikely the Twins pick up Nathan's $12.5 million option -- that's just too rich for a guy pitching in just 48 games after missing the entire 2010 season because of Tommy John surgery. Still, both the Twins and Nathan are said to have interest in the closer returning to Minnesota. The 36-year-old has 260 of his 261 career saves in a Twins uniform and it's hard to imagine the two sides not working something out.
9. Kerry Wood: The 34-year-old has already said he will either return to the Cubs in 2012 or retire. Count on the former. Wood was steady in the bullpen in 2011, striking out 57 in 51 innings and also showed no need to be the closer. Steady set-up men are something every team needs, and the Cubs as much as any other team. Wood took a below-market deal to return to the Cubs last season, earning just $1.5 million, and he may be open to doing it again. If so, it seems like a no-brainer to bring him back.
10. Jeremy Affeldt: Affeldt is a left-handed reliever, but he's not just a left-handed specialist. Sure, his numbers against lefties are better (they hit just .144/.206/.200 against him), but he can also stay in and do a good job against right-handers. That versatility adds to his value on the mariet. He's been part of the very good Giants bullpen and expect him to stay there. San Francisco has a $5 million option on him after he earned $4.5 each of the past two seasons. He's earned the pay bump with his solid numbers. If the Giants don't exercise his option, they'll likely work out a multi-year deal with the team.
11. Jonathan Broxton: Coming off a disappointing 2010, the hard-throwing right-hander appeared in just 14 games and underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow in September to remove a bone spur and loose bodies. Once an All-Star, Broxton's first year of free agency will likely end with a one-year, incentive-laden contract. Broxton is just 27, but if he's no longer throwing 99 mph, what exactly is his worth? It's unlikely he'll get a job as a closer, but will have the opportunity to prove himself in the spring. The Dodgers appear ready to wash their hands of Broxton, despite the right-hander's statements he'd like to return.
12. Arthur Rhodes: Rhodes has said he wants to pitch one more season and then retire. Rhodes has pitched for nine clubs in his career, including two this season -- the Cardinals and Rangers. While disappointing in Texas, Rhodes has rebounded with the Cardinals after being designated for assignment by the Rangers. Tony La Russa loves playing matchups, so it wouldn't be a shock to see him stay in St. Louis.
13. Jon Rauch: Rauch had 11 saves for the Blue Jays, pitching in 53 games for the Blue Jays this season. Toronto has a $3.75 million option on the 6-foot-10 right-hander, which is affordable enough. Rauch gave up 11 home runs, the most he's allowed since 2008. While a former closer, he's not exactly anyone's idea of a closer going forward.
14. Darren Oliver: The 41-year-old left-hander has said he'd like to pitch one more year. His 2011 proves he can still do it, appearing in 61 games and putting up a 2.29 ERA. His splits against left-handers and right-handers weren't too far off, with only his strikeout rates really spiking against lefties. He had 23 strikeouts of lefties in 94 plate appearances and 21 against right-handers in 121 plate appearances. Righties had an OPS of .594 against him, lefties .587. He's spent 10 of his 18 seasons in Texas in three stints. It seems like a perfect fit for him to return.
15. Jason Frasor: The White Sox hold a $3.75 million option for 2012, but the right-hander struggled after being part of the trade that sent him to his hometown at the trade deadline. Frasor was part of the massive three-team trade that sent Colby Rasmus to the Blue Jays and Edwin Jackson, Marc Rzepczynski and Octavio Dotel to St. Louis. In 20 appearances for the White Sox, he had a 5.09 ERA, but did strike out more than a batter an inning (20 strikeouts in 17 2/3 innings). He had a 2.98 ERA in 44 appearances for the Blue Jays.
16. Brad Lidge: The Phillies declined a $12.5 million option on their former closer, giving him a $1.5 million buyout. Lidge missed most of the season with a shoulder strain, but did pitch well upon his return, putting up just a 1.40 ERA in 25 appearances, striking out 23 in 19 1/3 innings. Lidge has said he's open to returning as a set-up man, but it appears his days of closing for the Phillies are done, even with Ryan Madson as a free agent. Still, Philadelphia needed several closers to get through the season and having Lidge back could be a good backup plan. Neither side has ruled out a return for Lidge at Citizen's Bank Park.
17. Dan Wheeler: The Red Sox hold a $3 million option on the right-hander who will be 34 next season. After coming over from the Rays, Wheeler put up a 4.38 ERA out of the Red Sox bullpen. Wheeler spent some time on the disabled list with a calf strain and then was unavailable down the stretch with forearm stiffness. His health will be major issue Boston's decision to bring him back. If deemed healthy, it would seem he'd have a good chance of returning to the Red Sox. Wheeler had a better xFIP (3.71) than ERA, with a high BABIP (batting average on balls in play) than he did in either of the past three seasons (.272).
18. Frank Francisco: Francisco is a Type B free agent, and the Blue Jays will likely offer him arbitration. The 32-year-old right-hander came over in the Mike Napoli trade and picked up 17 saves for the Blue Jays, putting up a 3.55 ERA in 54 games. He struck out 53 in 50 2/3 innings, walking 18. He's not exactly anyone's first choice for a closer, but he could go into a camp and compete for that job, or at least be a fill-in while some team's closer is injured.
19. Chad Qualls: San Diego is expected to decline the $6 million option on Qualls. Qualls appeared in 77 games for the Padres in 2011, putting up a 3.51 ERA in San Diego. The Padres are reportedly interested in bringing him back, just not at $6 million. He thrived at Petco Park, earning a 2.09 ERA at home and 5.05 on the road, so it's not a stretch to expect that he would have interest in returning to the Padres.
20. Matt Capps: Just 28, the right-hander is a former closer for the Pirates, Nationals and Twins, but saw his strikeout rate (4.7 per nine innings) and fastball velocity (92.9 mph) drop this year and his ERA rise to 4.25, hardly the way you want to enter free agency. Capps made $7.15 million last season, earning 15 saves for Minnesota. He'll take a pay cut in 2012, likely signing another one-year deal, hoping to re-establish his worth.
Free-agent overall rankings: Position players | Pitchers
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Posted on: August 16, 2011 3:58 pm
By C. Trent Rosecrans
It's beginning to look like 2011 is the year of appendicitis -- Blue Jays reliever Jon Rauch was taken to a Seattle hospital early Tuesday morning where he underwent an emergency appendectomy, Mark Zwolinski of the Star in Toronto reports.
So far this season the Cardinals' Matt Holliday, White Sox's Adam Dunn and Yankees Ramiro Pena have all undergone emergency appendectomies. Even Rays general manager Andrew Friedman underwent an appendectomy last month.
The Blue Jays put Rauch on the disabled list and also designated left-hander Trever Miller (who also gave up a homer on Monday) for assignment and called up left-handed relievers Will Ledezma and Rommie Lewis.
If you're looking for a closer in fantasy baseball, Jesse Litsch may get the first chance at closing for Toronto, so pick him up before anyone else in your league does.For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.