Tag:Tigers
Posted on: November 27, 2011 6:56 pm
  •  
 

Report: Tigers 'inquired' about Aramis Ramirez

By Matt Snyder

The Detroit Tigers have "inquired" on free agent third baseman Aramis Ramirez, reports Jon Heyman of SI.com. "Inquired" could mean as little as they briefly talked to Ramirez's agent, who passed it along to Heyman in hopes to conjure up more interest from other teams that are weak at third. It's been a slow enough past few days on the rumor front, however, it can't hurt to pass this along as a discussion point -- because Ramirez to Detroit does make a lot of sense.

Free Agency
The Tigers mostly used Brandon Inge and Wilson Betemit at third base last season, so Ramirez would mark a big offensive upgrade. He hit .306 with 26 home runs, 93 RBI, 35 doubles and a .971 OPS last season for the Cubs. He's been in Chicago since being traded there in July of 2003. As a Cub, he's hit .294/.356/.531 with 239 homers and 806 RBI, playing for three division champions.

Ramirez is 33 years old and easily the best third baseman on the free agent market. In fact, he's the only free agent at that position that is a viable everyday starter.

Again, though, we don't know how serious talks can be if the report simply states the Tigers "inquired on" him.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: November 21, 2011 2:01 pm
Edited on: November 21, 2011 5:04 pm
 

Justin Verlander wins AL MVP



By Matt Snyder


Tigers ace pitcher Justin Verlander had a historic season for several reasons, and you can now add MVP and Cy Young in the same season to the list. He won the American League MVP, the Baseball Writers Association of America announced Monday afternoon. Verlander becomes the first starting pitcher to win MVP since Roger Clemens took home the honors all the way back in 1986. This also marks the first time any pitcher has won since 1992, when A's closer Dennis Eckersley won. This marks the 10th time a pitcher has won both the MVP and Cy Young in the same season.

"Not even in my wildest dreams had I thought of this," Verlander said. "I want to say this is a dream come true. I can't say that because my dream had already had come true ... to win a Cy Young. And the next dream is to win a World Series. This wasn't even on my radar until the talk started. And then all of a sudden it was a this-could-actually-happen type of thing."

Verlander, 28, was clearly the best pitcher in baseball in 2011. He went 24-5 with a 2.40 ERA, 0.92 WHIP and 250 strikeouts in 251 innings. He had four complete games, two shutouts and one no-hitter. He led the American League in wins, winning percentage, starts, innings pitched, strikeouts, WHIP, ERA-plus and hits per nine innings.

Verlander racking up awards
The only real question as to whether or not Verlander would win the award was based upon his position. Pitchers only work once every fifth day, so many argued that they shouldn't be allowed to win an award that is traditionally given to players who are seen in the lineup every single game. But Verlander was so good it was tough to ignore. And he tied Jose Bautista with 8.5 wins above replacement, according to Baseball-Reference.com.

"I think that a starting pitcher has to do something special to be as valuable or more so than a position player," Verlander said. "Obviously, having the chance to play in 160-some games in the case of Miguel, they can obviously have a huge impact every day. That's why, I've talked about on my day, on a pitcher's day, the impact we have is tremendous on that game. So you have to have a great impact almost every time out to supersede (position players) and it happens on rare occasions, and I guess this year was one of those years."

This vote was probably the most intriguing of all the BBWAA votes this season because it felt wide open. Should pitchers be allowed to win? Can a player on a fourth-place team be considered valuable? Can a player on a team who had a historic collapse down the stretch win? There were arguments all over the place for the last six weeks of the season. Here's how the final vote stacked up, with the final points in parentheses:

1. Verlander (280)
2. Jacoby Ellsbury (242)
3. Bautista (231)
4. Curtis Granderson (215)
5. Miguel Cabrera (193)
6. Robinson Cano (112)
7. Adrian Gonzalez (105)
8. Michael Young (96)
9. Dustin Pedroia (48)
10. Evan Longoria (27)

In order: Ian Kinsler, Alex Avila, Paul Konerko, CC Sabathia, Adrian Beltre, Ben Zobrist, Victor Martinez, James Shields, Mark Teixeira, Asdrubal Cabrera, Alex Gordon, Josh Hamilton and David Robertson also received votes.

Verlander received 13 of the 28 first-place votes. Bautista got five, Ellsbury, four; Granderson, three; Miguel Cabrera, two and Young got one first-place vote. Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News gave Young his lone MVP vote.

One voter, Jim Ingraham of the Lake Herald News (Cleveland) completely left Verlander off the ballot. Via the Associated Press, here was Ingraham's rationale:

"I'd wrestled with this for a long time. If I was ever going to vote for pitcher for MVP, it would be him this year," Ingraham said. "He hasn't appeared in 79 percent of their games, any starting pitcher really doesn't appear in 79 percent of his team's games in a year.

"Would you vote for an NFL quarterback for MVP if he only appeared in three of his team's 16 games, which would 21 percent? So that's part of it. Another part of it is I think they're apples and oranges. The guys that are in there every day, there's a grind to a season that a starting pitcher doesn't, I don't think, experience the way the everyday position players do playing 150, 160 games."

Sheldon Ocker of the Akron Beacon Journal gave Verlander an eighth-place vote while both Chad Jennings of the Journal News (New York) and Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle voted him sixth.

Jacoby Ellsbury was hurt by a 10th place vote from Scot Gregor of the Arlington Heights Daily Herald (Chicago).

Other pitchers to win MVP and Cy Young in the same year were Don Newcombe (1956), Sandy Koufax (1963), Bob Gibson, Denny McLain (1968), Vida Blue (1971), Rollie Fingers (1981) and Willie Hernandez (1984).

This is the ninth time a Tigers player has won the MVP. The others: Mickey Cochrane (1934), Hank Greenberg (1935), Charlie Gehringer (1937), Greenberg (1940), Hal Newhouser (1944), Newhouser (1945), McLain (1968) and Hernandez (1984).

The National League MVP will be revealed Tuesday. It's likely to be either Ryan Braun or Matt Kemp, but a few others will factor heavily in the voting.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: November 16, 2011 4:27 pm
Edited on: November 16, 2011 4:54 pm
 

Including playoffs, La Russa top manager



By C. Trent Rosecrans

At last year's Winter Meetings in Orlando there was a motion during the Baseball Writers Association of America's meeting to change the voting for the Manager of the Year Award until after the playoffs. The resolution was overwhelmingly voted down, but it did get me to thinking how Wednesday's choices would have been different had the voting taken place at the end of October rather than the end of September.

For the record, I voted against the measure. I believe the true test of a manager is over 162 games, while the playoffs can sometimes be a crapshoot with moves sometimes magnified more on whether they worked or not, rather than how things often even out over the course of a full season. Heck, the past postseason has turned managers from genius to idiot back to genius in the course of a single series.

Award Season
Kirk GibsonKirk Gibson overwhelmingly won the National League Manager of the Year award, getting 28 of 32 first-place votes. Joe Maddon won the AL award, getting 26 of 28 first-place votes.
Read>>
Related links

In the American League, Maddon probably still would have won the award, regardless of when the vote was taken (as long as it was after the regular season, he was kind of an afterthought at the beginning of September). In the playoffs, the Rays fell to the Rangers in four games, but it was through no fault of Maddon's. Nobody expected the Rays to go on to the World Series, and they didn't.

None of the three other managers in the American League playoffs -- Texas' Ron Washington, New York's Joe Girardi or Detroit's Jim Leyland -- were seen as having great postseasons, or even good ones. Washington is always criticized for playing his hunches -- including starting Matt Harrison in Game 7 -- while Leyland didn't just Justin Verlander on short rest and engaged in a bunt-fest with Girardi that nearly broke Twitter, meaning Maddon wouldn't have to worry about giving up his crown if the voting were moved.

Had the voting been done after the playoffs, the National League winner would have certainly been different. After leading his underdog Diamondbacks to the playoffs, Arizona manager Kirk Gibson was the overwhelming winner in the National League Manager of the Year award, but just a less than two weeks after 28 of 32 ballots (mine included, for the record) had Gibson on top of their ballots, it might not have been such an easy choice.

While Maddon won the American League award based in part because of the Rays' late run to the playoffs, La Russa did the same in the National League and still finished third in the voting. Maddon's Rays were 9 1/2 games out of the wild card on Sept. 2, while La Russa's Cardinals were the 8 1/2 behind the Braves on that same date and went 17-7 over the rest of the season, winning the wild card on the final day.

La Russa added to that resume in the postseason when the Cardinals made an underdog run to the franchise's 11th World Series title. Along the way he was praised for the handling of his team's pitching staff up until a communication breakdown with his bullpen in Game 5 of the World Series in Texas. At that point, the so-called smartest man in baseball looked clueless and was called worse. Two more wins salvaged that reputation before La Russa retired on top.

Meanwhile, Gibson was roundly criticized for his perceived overaggressiveness early in the series, including a decision to pitch to Prince Fielder in a Game 1 loss. Gibson was then praised after pulling starter Joe Saunders in Game 4 of the NLDS against the Diamondbacks in a win. Overall, the Diamondbacks didn't lose the series because of Gibson's managing, but he did come out with his reputation taking a bit of a hit following the first five postseason games of his managerial career.

Despite the bullpen phone mixup in Texas, there's zero doubt La Russa would have added his fifth Manager of the Year award to his collection had the voting taken place after the playoffs. While Gibson shouldn't be making apologies for winning the Manager of the Year on Wednesday, it's unlikely he'd have it if the voting were done later -- but I'm pretty sure La Russa wouldn't trade his 2011 trophy for the one Gibson' received.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: November 15, 2011 4:53 pm
 

No shame in losing for stellar trio of starters



By Matt Snyder


We've all heard the old cliche and even said it from time to time: No one remembers who finishes second.

In the case of the American League Cy Young, it's really a shame that the sentiment is likely to apply in a few years, because Justin Verlander's season for the ages completely overshadowed special seasons from Jered Weaver and James Shields while again ensuring CC Sabathia's great effort was buried in the voting.

Sabathia has absolutely carried the Yankees' pitching staff in his three season in the Bronx. His average season has been 20-8 with a 3.18 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 209 strikeouts in 235 innings pitched. That's a career year for almost any other pitcher, and, again, that's his three-year average. And he hasn't finished higher in Cy Young voting than third. This season, it was fourth place and you'd be hard pressed to argue he should be higher. While Sabathia had an excellent year, it was a special season for three different pitchers.

AL Cy Young
If you want to focus on wins and losses while disregarding all other stats, you might scoff at the mention of James Shields with this group. He was 16-12. Look deeper, though: His ERA was 2.82, his WHIP was 1.04 and he struck out 225 guys in a whopping 249 1/3 innings. And the biggest factor of all here is the complete games. Pitching a complete game does so much more for a team than any stat can measure. The manager can rest easy with a relatively stress-free day. The defense stays in rhythm without having to stand around during pitching changes and the bullpen gets a full day of rest, which translates to better performance in the following several games. And Shields threw an insane 11 complete games in 33 starts. Yes, once every three times out, he completed the job he started. No other AL pitcher had more than five. No NL pitcher had more than eight. No one has had as many as 11 complete games since Randy Johnson had 12 in 1999.

Shields still wasn't as dominant as Weaver, though. The AL All-Star Game starter went 18-8 with a 2.41 ERA, 1.01 WHIP and 198 strikeouts in 235 2/3 innings. He started the season with a six-start stretch where he was 6-0 with a 0.99 ERA and more strikeouts than innings pitched. He had an eight-start stretch in June and July where he went 7-0 with a 1.04 ERA. And he closed with a 1.84 ERA in his last four starts. In many other seasons, Weaver would have been named the Cy Young winner, sometimes in runaway fashion.

But not this one, because Justin Verlander was that damn good. Let's remember that while also not forgetting about the seasons put together by Weaver, Shields and Sabathia. They were too great to simply be forgotten.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: November 15, 2011 3:16 pm
Edited on: November 15, 2011 7:35 pm
 

Can Justin Verlander get to 300 wins?

Verlander

By Evan Brunell


Justin Verlander is coming off one of the most successful seasons of his career -- or really, of any pitcher's career. The right-hander unanimously won the AL Cy Young Award on Tuesday.

Verlander's credentials to win the award lie on his low ERA, his dazzling strikeout numbers and the ability to pitch deep into games. But he no problem showing up in the wins department for those who still value wins. His 24 victories are the most since Randy Johnson won 24 in 2002. Before that, you have to go all the way back to John Smoltz in 1996, who also won 24.

Award Season
Verlander
Verlander's dazzling season handed him the AL Cy Young Award victor for the first time in his career.
Read>>
Related links
Johnson, of course, is a member of the 300-win club, winning his 300th as a member of the Giants two seasons ago. But through his age 28 season, Johnson had won just 49 games. Verlander? He's sitting pretty at 107. That seems to suggest Verlander has a very real chance at 300 victories, but there's a lot more to winning 300 games than just comparing Verlander and Johnson's win totals.

(Earlier this summer, CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler discussed the possibility of 300 wins with Verlander -- click here to read).

There are several reasons why Johnson won 300 games, and a large part of it is his dominance extending into his later years. The man won four straight Cy Young Awards from age 35-39, and he was a feared pitcher until the day he retired, also racking up 4,875 strikeouts. He pitched until he was 46 before finally hanging it up, more than offsetting his slow start to his career. But Johnson is the exception -- there aren't many pitchers out there who don't separate themselves as an elite pitcher until their late 20s or early 30s, then morph into one of the best pitchers in history throughout his 30s. Johnson is the exception, not the norm.

Verlander is the norm -- a dominant pitcher who debuted at a young age and has held that dominance through his prime years. A better comparison might be Nolan Ryan, who tucked 105 victories under his belt through his age 28 season. But Ryan was another pitcher who pitched late into his career, hanging up his spikes at the age of 46. It's impossible to predict if Verlander will be pitching 20 years from now, let alone 10, but like Ryan, Verlander boasts no-hitter stuff, with each pitcher tossing multiple no-hitters in their career.

Roger Clemens had 134 wins in his career by the age of 28, but he also pitched late into his career, ending his career at age 45. And of course, there's the possibility that Clemens helped himself along by using steroids once he joined the Blue Jays.

One thing's clear -- if Verlander hopes to reach 300 victories, he's going to have to stay elite well into his 40s. If you do a simple projection of doubling his wins along with his years of service, Verlander will be sitting at 214 wins come age 35. He'd need at least five more seasons to reach 300, putting him into his 40s.

But can one even predict 214 wins in the next seven seasons? Fortunately, the argument about whether a pitcher's wins are a value state is largely dead. Most people these days understand that a win is not an acceptable way to judge pitchers. Baseball clubs moved on from wins quite a while ago, and most of the media has come around in recent seasons. You can't judge a pitcher on wins because it is so heavily dependent on the team. How is their defense -- can it prevent balls from dropping in or unearned runs from scoring at a clip enough to harm the pitcher? Is the bullpen good enough to hold leads? Does the manager have a quick hook? Is the offense capable of supporting the pitcher?

The fact that Verlander has 107 wins at this point in his career is rare, no matter the pitcher, because of all the variables that go into winning a game. Verlander has lucked out in pitching for a contender his entire career, and within that, having his team rack up the victories for Verlander. That's not easy to do. For comparison, let's look at a list of players since the new millennium that reached 100 or more wins by the age of 28, just like Verlander:

CC Sabathia, Carlos Zambrano, Jon Garland, Mark Buehrle, Mark Mulder, Barry Zito, Pedro Martinez, Andy Pettitte.

Other than Sabathia, none of these players are thought to have any shot at winning 300. The latter two, of course, are now out of baseball and thus have zero chance. The 90's are kinder to Verlander's chances. Those pitchers who won at least 100 games by age 28 in the 90s are: Mike Mussina, Ramon Martinez, Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, Dwight Gooden, Bret Saberhagen and Clemens. Madduz and Glavine have won 300 along with Clemens. Glavine needed into their 40s to get win No. 300, while Maddux grabbed his at age 38... and he is a transcendent pitcher in baseball history. When you're talking about a starting pitcher with tons of miles on his arm pitching at an elite level into his 40s... it's simply too unpredictable to guess whether or not Verlander will get 300 -- or if he'll even still be playing.

If Verlander stays healthy, if he stays elite, if he lasts into his 40s and if he continues to pitch for a contender the majority of his career, the odds do seem good that Verlander will win 300. But that's a lot of ifs. Too many ifs, actually. Right now, let's bask in Verlander's historic season, the likes of which haven't been seen since the mid-1980s, and worry about Verlander's chances to win 300 in a decade.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: November 15, 2011 2:00 pm
Edited on: November 16, 2011 5:39 am
 

It's unanimous: Verlander claims AL Cy Young

Verlander

By Evan Brunell


In a season for the ages, Justin Verlander took home the AL Cy Young Award on Tuesday, winning the award unanimously, just the fourth pitcher in the AL to do so.

It was a no-brainer decision for voters after Verlander racked up a 2.40 ERA, good enough to lead the American League. He did so in 251 innings, which led all of baseball. Verlander's accomplishments don't stop there -- he also led baseball in wins, racking up 24 against five losses, and also was tops in the game in strikeouts (250) and WHIP, sinking under 1.00 and finishing at .920.

The last pitcher to have a WHIP under 1.00 and strike out at least 250 batters was in 2004, when three pitchers accomplished the feat in Ben Sheets, Johan Santana and Randy Johnson. But if you add in at least 250 innings pitched, there have only been two pitchers since 1986 to accomplish that feat. Curt Schilling with the Diamondbacks in 2002 is the only other man left standing with Verlander.

Award Season
Brunell
Can Justin Verlander reach 300 wins in his career? Evan Brunell examines his case. Read>>
Related links
Once you factor in ERA, Verlander stands alone in how dominant he was. Schilling's 3.23 ERA was very good for the offensive climate of 2002, but even Schilling doesn't compare with Verlander in how dominant over and above the average pitcher Verlander was. Mike Scott in 1986 and Dwight Gooden in 1985 are the only pitchers since the 1970s to put together a total package of accomplishments like Verlander did. In fact, Verlander is now the first AL pitcher to win both Rookie of the Year and Cy Young in a career. The feat has been accomplished five times in the NL, but it is an AL first.

While Gooden didn't toss any no-hitters during his transcendent season, Scott did, blanking the Giants on Sept. 25. Verlander can match that feat, as he tossed his second career no-hitter on May 7, taking out the Blue Jays. Verlander walked just one and faced the minimum 27 batters. In his next start, he had a no-hitter until the sixth inning. In total, Verlander had 15 2/3 innings of consecutive no-hit ball. It wasn't the last time he would flirt with a no-hitter, taking one into the eighth inning on June 14 and July 31.

Verlander's victory gives the Tigers their first Cy Young since 1984, when closer Willie Hernandez took home the honor. Verlander's unanimous selection marks the 18th such time in baseball it has occurred. The first time it happened was with a fellow Tiger, with Denny McLain the obvious victor in 1968, two years after baseball decided to give the award to one pitcher in each league. The Cy Young had previously been awarded to one pitcher upon inception in 1956. The NL also made its first unanimous selection in 1968, handing the distinction to Bob Gibson.

With Verlander, there are six pitchers who can boast unanimous victories in the AL, with Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez and Johan Santana all winning the award unanimously twice. McLain and Ron Guidry are the other AL hurlers with unanimous selections. Verlander will earn an additional $500,000 on top of his $12.75 million salary as a result of the victory.

The Angels' Jered Weaver (18-8, 2.41) finished second with 97 points, the only other pitcher to be named on each ballot. James Shields of the Rays had 66 points, finishing third. He is followed by CC Sabathia of the Yankees with 63 points, and Tigers closer Jose Valverde rounded out the top five with 28 points.

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

Posted on: November 11, 2011 7:45 pm
Edited on: November 14, 2011 8:29 pm
 

Manager interviews finishing for Cubs, Cards, Sox

Sandy Alomar Jr.By C. Trent Rosecrans

The interviews, it seems, are done for the three managerial openings. The Cubs, Cardinals and Red Sox are all done with their first round of interviews and it appears the hirings could come relatively soon.

Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak told Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the Cardinals' next manager will come from one of the six candidates the team interviewed. The Cardinals interviewed former Red Sox manager Terry Francona, Ryne Sandberg, third base coach Jose Oquendo, former Cardinals catcher Mike Matheny, Triple-A manager Chris Maloney and White Sox third base coach Joe McEwing.

"I'm fairly confident that it will," Mozeliak told Goold when asked if the team's next manager would come from that list.

That does not mean there will not be further questions asked of any of those six, but it doesn't appear that a surprise candidate will emerge.

Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer wasn't quite as definitive about his team's next manager coming from the list of four interviews that they have already conducted.

"I wouldn't guarantee that it is (the entire list), but we feel really good about the four guys we brought in," Hoyer told MLB.com's Carrie Muskat. "We had four very good interviews. I wouldn't rule out an additional candidate, but it's not a certainty."

The team interviewed Indians bench coach Sandy Alomar Jr. on Friday. It has also interviewed Phillies bench coach Pete Mackanin, Brewers hitting coach Dale Sveum and Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux.

The "additional candidate" could be Francona. Hoyer said Theo Epstein has already talked to Francona, and with the history between the two, a formal interview wouldn't be a necessity. There's also Rays manager Joe Maddon, who was the other finalist when Epstein hired Francona in Boston. Maddon's resume would certainly make an interview unnecessary, although the Cubs would have to work out a deal with the Rays for compensation -- something they've still been unable to accomplish with the Red Sox.

As far as Francona's successor in Boston, Alomar, Sveum and Mackanin have already interviewed with the Red Sox. Blue Jays first base coach Torey Lovullo interviewed on Friday and Tigers third base coach Gene Lamont will interview on Saturday. Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington told reporters after Louvullo's post-interview news conference that the team had no plans on bringing in additional candidates after interviewing Lamont on Saturday. He also added that the team had not been formally turned down by another other organization when seeking permission to interview candidates.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: November 11, 2011 4:53 pm
Edited on: November 12, 2011 2:01 pm
 

Closer look at all 30 closing situations



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.

AL East

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.
Possibilities: Gregg, Johnson, Bell, Francisco Cordero, Francisco Rodriguez, Jonathan Broxton.

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.
Possibilities: Bard, Madson, Bell.

New York Yankees: Mariano Rivera. Enough said.

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.
Possibilities: Madson, Bell, Cordero, Rodriguez, Casey Janssen.

AL Central

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.

Cleveland Indians: Chris Perez is on solid ground as the team's closer, picking up 35 saves in 2011.

Detroit Tigers: The Tigers picked up the $9 million option on Jose Valverde.

Kansas City Royals: The Royals picked up the $6 million option on Joakim Soria and have options for 2013 and 2014.

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.
Possibilities: Nathan, Perkins, Jon Rauch, Broxton.

AL West

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.
Possibilities: Walden, Scott Downs, Broxton, Rauch.

Oakland Athletics: Andrew Bailey is the team's closer, but a trade is always possible with Oakland.

Seattle Mariners: Brandon League had 37 saves and a 2.79 ERA in 2011.

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.
Possibilities: Mike Adams, Madson, Cordero, Rauch, Broxton.

NL East

Atlanta Braves: Craig Kimbrel. Period. 

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)? 
Possibilities: Nunez, Mujica, Madson, Cordero, Rodriguez, Bell.

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. 
Possibilities: Parnell, Madson, Bell.

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. 
Possibilities: Storen, Madson, Bell, Cordero.

NL Central

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. 
Possibilities: Cordero, Chapman, Boxberger, Bailey, Street, Broxton.

Houston Astros: Mark Melancon saved 20 games with a 2.78 ERA last season. There are far bigger problems with this team to believe they'll try hard to make a change here.

Milwaukee Brewers: John Axford and his award-winning 'stache.  

Pittsburgh Pirates: All-Star Joel Hanrahan nailed down the job last season. 

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. 

NL West

Arizona Diamondbacks: It will again be J.J. Putz with David Hernandez filling in if (when?) Putz falls injured.

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. 
Possibilities: Bell, Qualls.

San Francisco: The Beard. 

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