Just not the power itself, because that’s mostly AL bound. But a review of the players switching leagues so far this winter definitely favors the NL, mostly because that’s where the pitching is going.
AL to NL
Cliff Lee – Phillies
Zack Greinke – Brewers
Shaun Marcum – Brewers
Javier Vazquez – Marlins
Kerry Wood – Cubs
J.J. Putz – Diamondbacks
Matt Guerrier – Dodgers
Carlos Pena – Cubs
Orlando Hudson – Padres
Lance Berkman – Cardinals
John Buck – Marlins
Jason Bartlett – Padres
Bill Hall – Astros
Lyle Overbay – Pirates
Ty Wigginton – Rockies
Jose Lopez – Rockies
NL to AL
Pedro Feliciano – Yankees
Hisanori Takahashi – Angels
Adrian Gonzalez – Red Sox
Adam Dunn – White Sox
Josh Willingham – Athletics
Mark Reynolds – Orioles
Tsuyoshi Nishioka – Twins (from Japan)
Russell Martin – Yankees
Miguel Olivo – Mariners
Alcides Escobar – Royals
The AL’s top imports so far are a pair of former Mets relievers and it could enter 2011 missing a full quarter of its top 20 starting pitchers. Lee and Greinke were certainly among the top 10, and Marcum belonged in the next 10. Next is Andy Pettitte, who still might opt to call it a career. Also, there’s Carl Pavano. I wouldn’t really put Pavano in the top 20, but he did go 17-11 with a 3.75 ERA for the Twins last season. He and Lee tied for the AL lead in complete games with seven.
All of that pitching making its way out of the league would seem to be good news for the offensive imports. Gonzalez, Dunn and Reynolds could combine for 110 homers next year. The AL hasn’t lost a whole lot offensively. I hesitated to even include Berkman, who has spent his entire career in the NL outside of two unproductive months with the Yankees. Pena could bounce back and Buck was an All-Star last season, but the hitting side of things definitely favors the AL.
The rest of the winter should belong to the AL as well. The Yankees, Angels and Rangers all appear to have more money to spend than any NL team. It’s unlikely that Adrian Beltre will switch leagues, and bats like Derrek Lee and Adam LaRoche may make their way to the AL. We could also see AL contenders make plays for Carlos Zambrano, Wandy Rodriguez, Ricky Nolasco and others in trade talks.
1B/DH Edwin Encarnacion signed a three-year, $60 million contract with the Indians early last month. The 34-year-old had spent the last seven and a half seasons with the Blue Jays, but his future elsewhere appeared to be written on the wall when the Jays signed Kendrys Morales in November to essentially occupy Encarnacion’s role.
Encarnacion spoke about testing free agency for the first time in his career and the situation that led to him leaving Toronto for Cleveland. Via Jorge L. Ortiz of USA TODAY:
“Toronto was always my first option, but I had never been a free agent, and anybody who gets to free agency wants to find out what’s out there,’’ he said. “I think they got too hasty in making their decision, but now I’m with Cleveland and I’m happy to be here.’’
Encarnacion last season hit .263/.357/.529 with 42 home runs and an AL-best 127 RBI. He’s now on the team that defeated his Blue Jays in the ALCS to advance to the World Series. Encarnacion effectively replaces Mike Napoli, who returned to the Rangers.
I’m on record saying that Sammy Sosa has been rather hosed by baseball history.
The guy did amazing things. Unheard-of things. He was truly astounding at this peak and was incredibly important to both his franchise and Major League Baseball as a whole. His repayment: he’s a pariah. His club won’t claim him and his greatness, by any measure, has not just been overlooked but denied by most who even bother to consider him.
Yes, he had PED associations, but they were extraordinarily vague ones. He’s in the same boat as David Ortiz as far as documented PED evidence against him, but Ortiz will be a first ballot Hall of Famer while Sosa barely clings to the ballot. He hit homers at the same cartoonish rate as Mark McGwire, but while Big Mac has been embraced by baseball and has coached for years, Sosa can’t get into Wrigley Field unless he buys a ticket and even then the Cubs might try to hustle him out of sight. The man has been treated poorly by any measure.
Yet, it’s still possible to overstate the case. Like Sosa did in this interview with Chuck Wasserstrom:
It’s like Jesus Christ when he came to Jerusalem,” Sosa told chuckbloggerstrom.com. “Everybody thought Jesus Christ was a witch (laughing) — and he was our savior. So if they talk (bleep) about Jesus Christ, what about me? Are you kidding me?”
At least he was basically joking about it. Still, it’s a totally unfair and almost offensive comparison.
I mean, anyone who watched Sosa’s career knows that he had trouble laying off breaking stuff low and away. In contrast . . .