Albert Pujols poised for bounce-back year

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MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez reports Los Angeles Angels first baseman Albert Pujols will be ready for Opening Day after having off-season surgery on his right knee. The word “certain” appears in the headline, referring to the probability of Pujols appearing in the Opening Day lineup. Pujols should see some spring training action by the middle of the month if all goes according to plan.

Pujols hit 30 home runs with a .285 average, .343 on-base percentage, and .516 slugging percentage — all career lows for the veteran, entering his 13th year. However, it was mostly just his April that dragged him down. During the first month, he didn’t hit a single homer and posted a .570 OPS. He hit his first homer of the season on May 6, and from that point until the end of the season, he posted a .934 OPS, a number more in line with our expectations.

Some have soured on Pujols, citing his age (33) and vanishing unintentional walk rate, which fell to five percent last year after hovering between nine and 11 percent through 2010. Given what he did after April last year, though, there is no doubt he can continue being one of the best hitters in baseball.

Report: Mets close to a deal with Jose Bautista

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SNY’s Andy Martino reports that the Mets are close to a deal with free agent Jose Bautista. This doesn’t come as a surprise, as the Mets were rumored to be interested in him on Monday, a day after the Braves released him.

Bautista, 37, struggled to a .593 OPS in 40 plate appearances with the Braves. He’s coming off of his worst season as a regular, as he hit .203 in 157 games last year with the Blue Jays.

Bautista mostly played in the outfield for the Jays, but played third base for the Braves. The Mets need depth at both third base and in the outfield due to injuries to Todd Frazier, Yoenis Cespedes, and Juan Lagares.

It will be interesting to see who loses their roster spot to accomodate Bautista. I suggested earlier it should be Jose Reyes.