Top 111 Free Agents: the post-Prince Fielder update

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In light of the Prince Fielder signing, here’s an updated look at how this year’s top 111 free agents have fared.

1. Albert Pujols (Cardinals): Angels – 10 years, $254 million
2. Prince Fielder (Brewers): Tigers – 9 years, $214 million
3. Jose Reyes (Mets): Marlins – 6 years, $106 million
4. C.J. Wilson (Rangers): Angels – 5 years, $77.5 million
5. Jimmy Rollins (Phillies): Phillies – 3 years, $38 million
6. Jonathan Papelbon (Red Sox): Phillies – 4 years, $50 million
7. Mark Buehrle (White Sox): Marlins – 4 years, $58 million
8. Carlos Beltran (Giants): Cardinals – 2 years, $26 million
9. Edwin Jackson (Cardinals)
10. Aramis Ramirez (Cubs): Brewers – 3 years, $36 million
11. David Ortiz (Red Sox): Red Sox – accepted arbitration
12. Heath Bell (Padres): Marlins – 3 years, $27 million
13. Michael Cuddyer (Twins): Rockies – 3 years, $31.5 million
14. Ryan Madson (Phillies): Reds – 1 year, $8.5 million
15. Hiroki Kuroda (Dodgers): Yankees – 1 year, $10 million
16. Francisco Rodriguez (Brewers): Brewers – accepted arbitration
17. Josh Willingham (Athletics): Twins: 3 years. $21 million
18. Roy Oswalt (Phillies)
19. Jason Kubel (Twins): Diamondbacks – 2 years, $15 million
20. Javier Vazquez (Marlins)
21. Paul Maholm (Pirates): Cubs – 1 year, $4.75 million
22. Kelly Johnson (Blue Jays): Blue Jays – accepted arbitration
23. Hisashi Iwakuma (Japan): Mariners – 1 year, $1.5 million
24. Francisco Cordero (Reds): Blue Jays – 1 year, $4.5 million
25. Grady Sizemore (Indians): Indians – 1 year, $5 million
26. Erik Bedard (Red Sox): Pirates – 1 year, $4.5 million
27. Carlos Pena (Cubs): Rays – 1 year, $7.25 million
28. Tsuyoshi Wada (Japan): Orioles – 2 years, $8.15 million
29. Coco Crisp (Athletics): Athletics – 2 years, $14 million
30. Casey Kotchman (Rays)
31. David DeJesus (Athletics): Cubs – 2 years, $10 million
32. Rafael Furcal (Cardinals): Cardinals – 2 years, $14 million
33. Derrek Lee (Pirates)
34. Joel Pineiro (Angels): Phillies – 1 year, minor league deal
35. Clint Barmes (Astros): Pirates – 2 years, $10.5 million
36. Jason Marquis (D-backs): Twins – 1 year, $3 million
37. Aaron Hill (D-backs): D-backs – 2 years, $11 million
38. Johnny Damon (Rays)
39. Bruce Chen (Royals): Royals – 2 years, $9 million
40. Joe Nathan (Twins): Rangers – 2 years, $14.75 million
41. Bartolo Colon (Yankees): Athletics: 1 year, $2 million
42. Vladimir Guerrero (Orioles)
43. Cody Ross (Giants): Red Sox – 1 year, $3 million
44. Aaron Harang (Padres): Dodgers – 2 years, $12 million
45. Jonathan Broxton (Dodgers): Royals – 1 year, $4.5 million
46. Ryan Ludwick (Pirates): Reds – 1 year, $2.5 million
47. Matt Capps (Twins): Twins – 1 year, $4.75 million
48. Ramon Hernnandez (Reds): Rockies – 2 years, $6.4 million
49. Mark Ellis (Rockies): Dodgers – 2 years, $8.75 million
50. Freddy Garcia (Yankees): Yankees – 1 year, $4 million
51. Wilson Betemit (Tigers): Orioles – 2 years, $3.5 million
52. Darren Oliver (Rangers): Blue Jays – 1 year, $4 million
53. Frank Francisco (Blue Jays): Mets – 2 years, $12 million
54. Juan Rivera (Dodgers): Dodgers – 1 year, $4.5 million
55. Chris Capuano (Mets): Dodgers – 2 years, $10 million
56. Hideki Matsui (Athletics)
57. Brad Lidge (Phillies)
58. J.D. Drew (Red Sox)
59. Ramon Santiago (Tigers): Tigers – 2 years, $4 million
60. Juan Pierre (White Sox)
61. Chien-Ming Wang (Nationals): Nationals – 1 year, $4 million
62. Alex Gonzalez (Braves): Brewers – 1 year, $4.25 million
63. Ryan Doumit (Pirates): Twins – 1 year, $3 million
64. Jim Thome (Indians): Phillies – 1 year, $1.25 million
65. Kerry Wood (Cubs): Cubs – 1 year, $3 million
66. Rich Harden (Athletics)
67. Casey Blake (Dodgers): Rockies – 1 year, $2 million
68. Octavio Dotel (Cardinals): Tigers – 1 year, $3.5 million
69. Magglio Ordonez (Tigers)
70. Jon Garland (Dodgers)
71. Yuniesky Betancourt (Brewers): Royals – 1 year, $2 million
72. Kosuke Fukudome (Indians)
73. Jamey Carroll (Dodgers): Twins – 2 years, $6.75 million
74. Brad Penny (Tigers)
75. LaTroy Hawkins (Brewers): Angels – 1 year, $3 million
76. Rod Barajas (Dodgers): Pirates – 1 year, $4 million
77. Chad Qualls (Padres)
78. Jeff Francis (Royals)
79. Raul Ibanez (Phillies)
80. Jon Rauch (Blue Jays): Mets – 1 year, $3.5 million
81. Chris Snyder (Pirates): Astros – 1 year
82. Jonny Gomes (Nationals): Athletics – 1 year, $1.1 million
83. Takashi Saito (Brewers) : Diamondbacks – 1 year, $1.75 million
84. Jorge Posada (Yankees): Retired
85. Mike Gonzalez (Rangers)
86. Laynce Nix (Nationals): Phillies – 2 years, $2.5 million
87. Nate McLouth (Braves): Pirates – 1 year, $1.5 million
88. Livan Hernandez (Nationals)
89. Michael Wuertz (Athletics)
90. Jason Varitek (Red Sox)
91. Jerry Hairston Jr. (Brewers): Dodgers – 2 years, $6 million
92. Andruw Jones (Yankees): Yankees – 1 year, $2 million
93. Fernando Rodney (Angels): Rays – 1 year, $2 million
94. Jason Isringhausen (Mets)
95. Willie Bloomquist (D-backs): D-backs – 2 years, $3.8 million
96. Scott Hairston (Mets): Mets – 1 year, $1.1 million
97. Kevin Millwood (Rockies): Mariners – 1 year, minor league deal
98. Todd Coffey (Nationals)
99. Kelly Shoppach (Rays): Red Sox – 1 year, $1.35 million
100. Ben Sheets (n/a)
101. Ronny Cedeno (Pirates): Mets – 1 year, $1.1 million
102. Lyle Overbay (D-backs): D-backs – 1 year, $1 million
103. Juan Cruz (Rays)
104. Aaron Cook (Rockies): Red Sox – 1 year, minor league deal
105. Reed Johnson (Cubs): Cubs – 1 year, $1.15 million
106. Guillermo Mota (Giants): Giants – 1 year, $1 million
107. Ivan Rodriguez (Nationals)
108. Zach Duke (D-backs)
109. Dan Wheeler (Red Sox)
110. Mark DeRosa (Giants): Nationals – 1 year, $800,000
111. Chris Young (Mets)

Astros vs. Dodgers is a match made in heaven

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A lot of people who work at the league office or who take paychecks from the Fox network probably wanted to see the Yankees and the Cubs in the World Series. They won’t admit it, of course, but I suspect that many did, as the ratings for a Cubs-Yankees Series might’ve broken modern records. If they are at all disappointed by the Astros and Dodgers winning the pennant, however, they should let that go because they’ve been gifted by a wonderful matchup from a purely baseball perspective. Indeed, it’s one of the best on-paper matchups we’ve had in the Fall Classic in many years.

Before the Dodgers went on their late-August, early-September swoon, this was the potential World Series pairing most folks who know a thing or two wanted to see. At least I did, and I don’t think I was alone. It was certainly the matchup which represented the teams with the two best regular season records and storylines at the time. While Cleveland ended up winning more games than Houston did, for the first time since 1970 we have a World Series pitting two 100-win teams against each other.

Like that Orioles-Reds series in 1970, which featured Johnny Bench, Pete Rose, Tony Perez, Jim Palmer, Brooks Robinson and a host of other All-Stars, the Dodgers-Astros provide us with an embarrassment of big names and future Hall of Famers. Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw and Astros DH/OF Carlos Beltran are destined for induction already. Astros ace Justin Verlander may very well join them, especially if his late 2017 surge is evidence of a second career peak. Houston second baseman Jose Altuve‘s first seven years and Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen‘s first eight are the stuff upon which Cooperstown resumes are made as well. People will be arguing Dodgers second baseman Chase Utley‘s Hall of Fame case for years once he retires.

Youth is served as well in this matchup, with each club featuring a handful of the game’s best young players to accompany their big name veteran stars.

The Dodgers will bat their no-doubt N.L. Rookie of the Year first baseman Cody Bellinger second or third in the lineup every game. 2016 Rookie of the Year Corey Seager, who sat out the NLCS with a bad back, is expected to be activated for the Series where he’ll be the Dodgers shortstop. The Astros are actually an old team on paper — Verlander, catcher Brian McCann, starter Charlie Morton, first baseman Yuli Gurriel, outfielder Josh Reddick and DH Evan Gattis are all over 30 while Beltran is 40 — but young players are essential to their attack as well. Shortstop Carlos Correa just turned 23 and he’s one of the game’s brightest stars. Third baseman Alex Bregman, also 23, made the play that may very well have broken the Yankees’ back during Saturday night’s pennant clincher. Age aside, the Astros are the product of a major, multi-year rebuild and many of their players are making their first national splash this postseason.

Beyond just the names and resumes, though, the Dodgers and Astros represent a fantastic strategic matchup. The Dodgers attack this postseason has featured admirable plate discipline, with third baseman Justin Turner, right fielder Yasiel Puig and center fielder Chris Taylor all letting balls out of the zone pass them by while abusing pitches left out over the plate. Astros pitchers not named Justin Verlander, however, have lived by getting the opposition to chase bad balls. Game one starter Dallas Keuchel did this by relying on his very fast sinker. Lance McCullers pitched well starting Game 4 of the ALCS and pitched spectacularly closing out the final four innings of Game 7 mostly by virtue of his curveball, which Yankees pitchers could simply not lay off. Indeed, his final 24 pitches of Game 7 were all curves, many of them low and away. Who will give in first in this series?

On the side of things, Dodgers relievers have made a living by pumping in strikes. Particularly strikes high in the zone from Jansen and Brandon Morrow. There may be no better fastball hitter in all of baseball than Jose Altuve, however, and the team as a whole was one of the best in the bigs in dealing with gas in the zone. This was a big reason why the Astros struck out less than any team in baseball this year while simultaneously boasting the best offense in the game. The Dodgers throw strikes. The Astros make you pay when you throw them strikes. Again, something’s gotta give.

Maybe the suits in New York wanted the Yankees and Cubs. But everyone else is getting exactly what we want: a matchup of the two best teams in the game. A matchup of strength against strength. What is, from a purely baseball perspective, the best World Series we could’ve possibly hoped for.