Free agent predictions review

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With everyone headed home from the meetings and a quiet night likely, it seemed like a good time to revisit some of the predictions from my Free Agency Preview columns. Here’s a list of the 18 signed free agents to receive guesses in those columns:
Ramon Hernandez
Guess: Reds – one year, $4 million
Result: Reds – one year, $3 million
Ivan Rodriguez
Guess: Rangers – one year, $1.5 million
Result: Nationals – two years, $6 million
Others will point to Brandon Lyon, but this is the real mindblower of the offseason to date for me. He’s certainly no better of a bet now than he was last winter, when he went unsigned into March and settled for $1.5 million.
Placido Polanco
Guess: Dodgers – two years, $12 million
Result: Phillies – three years, $18 million
Chone Figgins
Guess: Cubs – four years, $48 million
Result: Mariners – four years, $36 million + vesting option
I was guessing new ownership meant new money, but the Cubs aren’t shaping up as real spenders this winter. I’m still surprised no one stepped up and offered Figgins at least $10 million per year.
Pedro Feliz
Guess: Astros – one year, $2.5 million
Result: Astros – one year, $4.5 million
Marco Scutaro
Guess: Red Sox – three years, $18 million
Result: Red Sox – two years, $12.5 million + mutual option
Alex Gonzalez
Guess: Blue Jays – one year, $2.5 million
Result: Blue Jays – one year, $2.5 million
Randy Wolf
Guess: Mariners – three years, $36 million
Result: Brewers – three years, $29.5 million
The market for Wolf clearly wasn’t what I thought it’d be. If he had been offered arbitration by the Dodgers, he’d probably still be on the market looking for a three-year offer. The Brewers were more inclined to give him one because they didn’t have to surrender a draft pick.
Rich Harden
Guess: Orioles – two years, $18 million
Result: Rangers – one year, $7.5 million + mutual option
The fun thing about this prediction is that the Rangers could only sign Harden after dumping Kevin Millwood’s contract on the Orioles.
Andy Pettitte
Guess: Yankees – one year, $10 million plus incentives
Result: Yankees – one year, $11.75 million
Brad Penny
Guess: Brewers – two years, $16 million
Result: Cardinals – one year, $7.5 million
Carl Pavano
Guess: Diamondbacks – one year, $7 million
Result: Accepted arbitration
Rafael Soriano
Guess: Rays – two years, $14 million
Result: Accepted arbitration
Definitely the better result for the Rays. They’ll have Soriano at around $7 million for one year, and they were able to hold on to their first-round pick.
Billy Wagner
Guess: Orioles – one year, $7.5 million
Result: Braves – one year, $7.5 million + vesting option
LaTroy Hawkins
Guess: Astros – two years, $9 million
Result: Brewers – two years, $7.5 million
Brandon Lyon
Guess: Phillies – two years, $8 million
Result: Astros – three years, $15 million
The Astros could have had Hawkins for $7 million-$8 million over two years. Lyon isn’t deserving of the scorn some are dishing out right now, but Hawkins at his price surely seemed like the more attractive option.
Takashi Saito
Guess: Diamondbacks – one year, $4 million
Result: Braves – one year, $3.2 million plus incentives
Rafael Betancourt
Guess: Rockies – one year, $4 million
Result: Accepted arbitration

Major League Baseball needs to make an example out of José Ureña

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We’re about an hour and a half separated from the first pitch of Wednesday night’s Marlins/Braves game that featured Marlins starter José Ureña hitting Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña on the elbow with a first-pitch, 97.5 MPH fastball. The benches emptied, Ureña was ejected, and the game went on. Acuña left the game not long after to tend to his injured elbow.

After the game, when the Marlins speak to the media, they will almost certainly deny any ill intent towards Acuña, who had hit leadoff home runs in three consecutive games against them. When they do so, they will be lying. Watch how catcher J.T. Realmuto sets up on the first pitch.

ESPN Stats & Info notes that Ureña’s 97.5 MPH fastball was in the 99th percentile in terms of velocity of the 2,125 pitches he has thrown this season. It was also the fastest pitch Ureña has ever thrown to begin a game. Ureña put a little extra mustard on this pitch, for some reason.

Ureña has a 6.8 percent walk rate, which ranks 37th out of 95 starters with at least 100 innings of work this season. The major league average is eight percent. Control isn’t typically something with which he struggles.

Furthermore, Acuña isn’t the only player who has drawn Ureña’s ire:

Ureña wanted nothing to do with Hoskins — even though Hoskins has yet to get a hit off of him — in his August 4 start at home against the Phillies, walking him twice which included a few up-and-in pitches.

Ureña will almost certainly be fined and suspended for his actions on Wednesday night against Acuña. But will his punishment be enough to deter him and others from wielding a baseball as a weapon? Probably not. On June 19, when Marlins starter Dan Straily intentionally threw at Buster Posey, he received a five-game suspension and manager Don Mattingly was suspended one game. If you look at Straily’s game logs, you can’t even tell he was suspended. He started six days later on June 25 against the Diamondbacks and again on July 1 and 6. Because starters only pitch once every five days, it was like he wasn’t even suspended at all.

Major League Baseball needs to levy harsher punishments on players who attempt to injure other players. A 15-game suspension, for example, would force Ureña to miss at least two starts and it would inconvenience the Marlins enough to more seriously weigh the pros and cons of exacting revenge. The Marlins couldn’t work around it the way they did Straily by pushing back his scheduled start one day.

Major League Baseball also needs to make a legitimate effort to do away with this culture of revenge against players who are just a little bit too happy. Batters get thrown at when they flip their bats, when they yell at themselves in frustration, and even when they’re just hitting well. Baseball’s stagnating audience is very old, very white, and very male. It is not going to bring in fans from diverse backgrounds by keeping this antiquated culture that prevents baseball players from showing their personalities and being emotive. In the event Acuña needs to go on the disabled list for a couple weeks, that’s two weeks that Acuña isn’t on SportsCenter’s top-10, isn’t on the front page of MLB.com, and isn’t in articles like this. The culture of revenge is actively harming MLB’s ability to market its bright, young stars. If ending this culture of revenge doesn’t hit MLB from a moral angle, it should absolutely hit home from a business angle.