With Albert Pujols and now Prince Fielder following Adrian Gonzalez to the American League, the NL has bled some remarkable talent at first base the last two winters. That’s one sure Hall of Famer and two more legitimate possibilities switching leagues while still in their primes. Left is Joey Votto and, well…
Reds: Joey Votto – .990 (2012 projected OPS)
Mets: Ike Davis – .864
Cardinals: Lance Berkman: .860
Phillies: Ryan Howard – .850/Ty Wigginton – .739
Braves: Freddie Freeman – .823
Rockies: Todd Helton – .815
D-backs: Paul Goldschmidt – .814
Marlins: Gaby Sanchez – .809
Astros: Carlos Lee: .787
Dodgers: James Loney: .776
Nationals: Adam LaRoche: .776
Brewers: Mat Gamel: .761
Cubs: Bryan LaHair: .756
Giants: Aubrey Huff: .739/Brandon Belt: .782
Padres: Yonder Alonso: .725
Pirates: Garrett Jones: .710/Casey McGehee: .728
In his MVP season of 2010, Votto only made the NL All-Star team by winning the final vote for the 32nd spot. I’m going to take a stab and say he’s not going to have much to worry about this year.
Davis and Freeman are potential All-Stars and new Cubs acquisition Anthony Rizzo might also have that kind of potential, but the list above simply isn’t very inspiring. Howard is likely to miss two months or more with his torn Achilles’ tendon, leaving Wigginton as the Phillies’ primary first baseman. I don’t understand why the Pirates decided to spend $15 million on Rod Barajas, Clint Barmes and Erik Bedard, only to get gunshy on reupping Derrek Lee. He’d be a big upgrade for them and a somewhat lesser one for the Brewers.
In Saturday’s column for the Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo suggests that free agent Cliff Lee is seeking a guaranteed major league deal between $6 and $8 million plus incentives. That is turning some otherwise interested teams away, as the lefty is still recovering from a torn flexor tendon in his left elbow. Lee hasn’t pitched since July 31, 2014.
Last month, Lee’s agent Darek Braunecker said the pitcher would need “a perfect fit” to pitch in 2016. He also noted that Lee has begun a full offseason throwing program.
In his most recent season, Lee compiled a 3.65 ERA with 72 strikeouts and 12 walks in 81 1/3 innings for the Phillies. The Phillies had signed him to a five-year, $120 million contract in December 2010 but declined a club option for the 2016 season, instead buying him out for $12.5 million.
In an article for MASN on Friday, Steve Melewski noted that the Orioles were reluctant to forfeit their first round draft pick (14th overall) in order to sign free agent starter Yovani Gallardo. The club is now reconsidering its stance and rechecking the right-handers medicals, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.
Gallardo, who turns 30 on February 27, posted a 3.42 ERA with 121 strikeouts and 68 walks over 184 1/3 innings for the Rangers last season. The Rangers had acquired him in a trade with the Brewers, sending Luis Sardinas, Corey Knebel, and minor leaguer Marcos Diplan to Milwaukee.
Gallardo has posted an ERA below 4.00 in six of his last seven seasons. He remains unsigned into February, however, because his strikeout rate has rapidly decreased with each year since 2012. Per FanGraphs, that rate was 23.7 percent in 2012, then went to 18.6 percent, 17.9 percent, and 15.3 percent progressively. Some of that may have to do with diminishing fastball velocity, as Gallardo’s 90.4 MPH average marked a career low among his eight full seasons with at least 100 innings pitched.
The Orioles lost starter Wei-Yin Chen, who signed with the Marlins, and the back end of their rotation is highly speculative with Kevin Gausman, Mike Wright, Odrisamer Despaigne, and Tyler Wilson. Adding a veteran like Gallardo, even if he is apparently declining, may be stabilizing.
MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez passes along word from the Dominican Republic that right-hander Freddy Garcia will hang up his cleats for good after Sunday’s Caribbean Series championship game.
Garcia will start that game for the Tigres de Aragua out of Venezuela. He’s taking on Mexico’s Venados de Mazatlan.
“Venezuelan fans are expecting something good from Freddy and so is everybody,” said Tigres de Aragua manager Eddie Perez, who also serves as the bullpen coach for the Atlanta Braves. “Knowing that it’s his last game is going to make it very special. We all hope he pitches a really good game so he can retire in a good way and bring the title for Venezuela. Everybody who is rooting for Venezuela expects him to do well.”
Garcia’s last major league game was in the 2013 postseason. The 39-year-0ld will finish with a 4.15 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and 6.4 K/9 in 2,264 career regular-season innings. He had a 3.26 ERA in 11 playoff starts, winning a World Series title with the White Sox in 2005.
MLB.com put together this very cool video montage reviewing the 2015 season and setting us up for what should be a wild 2016. Young stars, veterans chasing milestones, unpredictable divisional races.
It’s so close to spring training. Let’s do this.