Here’s something new. And something that, once we get a couple of weeks under our belt, will hopefully be fun. Power rankings. Yes, lots of places do them. No they don’t mean a thing, especially in baseball. But I’m a college football fan who is kind of addicted to arguing over arbitrary rankings that are borne out of bias and ignorance and all manner of ill-will (and don’t you think I don’t know it, you Big Ten haters!), so I think it will be fun to do these once a week.
Beefing, moaning, defending, gloating and denying should be directed to the comments section:
1. Yankees: To be the man, you gotta beat the man.
2. Cardinals: El Hombre homered as I was writing this. He’s the man.
3. Rays: They have a chance to make me look real dumb this year.
4. Braves: They have a greater chance to make me look dumb.
5. Phillies: One of my bosses is a big Phillies guy. He’s probably not liking this.
6. Red Sox: Another of my bosses is a big Red Sox guy. I know he hates this.
7. Rockies: Seth Smith gets the nod over Fowler for the opener.
8. Angels: I wonder how short a leash they have with Brandon Wood.
9. Twins: First ten games against Angels, Chisox and Bosox. Not easy.
10. Dodgers: I feel like I have them too low, but I don’t know who to bump.
11. Tigers: First nine against the Royals and Indians. Fast start, one would hope.
12. Rangers: Feliz is the setup man. Why is everyone so afraid to develop starters these days?
13. White Sox: I predict Ozzie Guillen’s tweets cease within a week of Opening Day
14. Marlins: They’ll feel low early, but they’ll die by attrition, not obvious incompetence.
15. Reds: I’m fine with them losing the traditional first game. The Red Stockings were a different franchise.
16. Giants: Lincecum and Cain and three days of rain? Only if it rains hitters.
17. Brewers: A team full of third and fourth starters.
18. Mariners: Seven of their first ten games are against the A’s. They should sign Cust for spite.
19. Cubs: Big hopes placed on Zambrano and Soto comebacks. What if they suck again? Uglyville, that’s what.
20. Orioles: Reporter Scott Templeton assigned to get quotes outside Camden Yards on Opening Day
21. Mets: Their cleanup hitter is a Royals non-tender. And people think I’m pessimistic?
22. Athletics: They should sign Edgar Martinez just for spite.
23. Diamondbacks: First six against Padres and Pirates. Who will be the first reporter to get suckered?
24. Nationals: Obama on Opening Day a mere dress rehearsal for Strasburg’s arrival.
25. Astros: They offer Jeff Keppinger a no-trade clause yet? That’s their thing, right?
26. Blue Jays: No games against the Yankees until June. How does that happen?
27. Royals: First 12 against Tigers, Red Sox and Twins. 3-9?
28. Padres: Yesterday’s earthquake will be the most action at Petco Park sees all season.
29. Indians: The post-game show is brought to you by…
Christ, I can’t find it. To hell with it.
30. Pirates: Garrett Jones has hit two homers since I started writing this post. There’s hope.
I’m guessing these will change once the games actually start happening.
The Astros have reportedly agreed to terms with free agent DH/outfielder Carlos Beltran for a one-year, $16 million contract, per ESPN’s Buster Olney. The deal includes a complete no-trade clause, according to a report from Bob Nightengale of USA Today.
Beltran elected to return to the Astros after fielding offers from the Yankees, Blue Jays, and Red Sox. He appeared in Houston during the second half of 2004, batting .258/.368/.559 with 23 home runs in 399 PA and making his first postseason run to the tune of a .435 average and eight homers as the Astros battled their way through to a seven-game loss in the Championship Series. Beltran also played with Houston manager A.J. Hinch and bench coach Alex Cora in separate stints with the Royals and Mets, which the Houston Chronicle’s Jake Kaplan cited as possible influences in the Astros’ decision to pursue the free agent.
In 2016, Beltran split the season between the Yankees and Rangers after getting dealt at the deadline for a package of right-handed pitching prospects. He was stationed in right field for the majority of his time in New York, but was almost exclusively utilized as a designated hitter over 52 games in Texas. Between the two clubs, he batted an impressive .295/.337/.513 with 29 homers and earned his ninth career All-Star designation to boot.
The veteran slugger is expected to fill a similar role on the Astros, who need a full-time DH but could use some additional support in the outfield corner. Olney envisions a lineup with Beltran in the five-spot, per an earlier report:
Catcher Welington Castillo was non-tendered by the Diamondbacks on Friday, making him one of 35 additional players to enter the free agent pool. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reported that Castillo was drawing interest from the Rays, among a bevy of major league clubs, and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s David O’Brien added that the Braves have “some interest” as well.
The Rays’ trifecta of catchers — Curt Casali, Luke Maile, and Bobby Wilson — did little to inspire confidence behind the plate in 2016, and with top free agent Wilson Ramos sidelined after suffering a torn ACL in September, it makes sense that they’d explore more affordable options. Castillo profiled well at the plate during his first full season with the Diamondbacks, slashing .264/.322/.423 with 14 home runs in 457 PA. Behind the dish, he placed third among all qualified major league catchers with seven DRS (Defensive Runs Saved), though his league-leading 10 passed balls weren’t anything to write home about.
Unlike the Rays, the Braves have a serviceable catching platoon in Tyler Flowers and Anthony Recker. Beyond that, their catching depth is fairly shallow despite the recent addition of former Mariners’ outfield prospect Alex Jackson. Jackson, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Mark Bradley, has not played behind the plate since high school, though GM John Coppolella is reportedly interested in trying him there again. A.J. Pierzynski is also rumored to be seeking a deal elsewhere in free agency, which could open the door for a multi-year deal with Castillo.