Thursday, January 5, 2012

New Weekly MLB Hot Stove Report

So keeping in spirit with this whole posting more often idea, I will be posting the week's off season MLB news every week.  So, without getting further into something that I feel is self-explanitory, let's get right into it.

The biggest news of the week is the Chicago Cubs finally taking a big Aleve pill and getting rid of the headache that is Carlos Zambrano.  This is a pitcher who has been in fights with his catcher in the dugout, fights with his manager in the club house, and fights with the ownership in the media.  If he wasn't entitled to over $18 million dollars per year, I'm sure the Cubs would have cut him a long time ago.  But since they couldn't just pay him $18 million to sit at home every season like they did the second half of last year, they had to find some sap team who would actually be willing to take him off their hands.  Enter the Miami Marlins.  Here is a team that is actually doing its best to create a new team to build around its star shortstop Hanley Ramirez before he becomes to old and they let the opportunity for greatness pass them by.  Players of Ramirez's caliber only come around once and a while, especially for a team with the payroll of the Marlins.  They also signed in this free agency period Jose Reyes.  This was a surprise given that they already have Ramirez at SS, but look for one of these players, probably Reyes to move to third base much like Alex Rodriguez famously did when he joined the New York Yankees who already had their All Star Shortstop in Derek Jeter.  Also take a look at the other pitcher that the Marlins picked up.  They signed Mark Buerle, who although is getting up there in years, is still producing very well.  Now his winning percentage last year doesn't speak to his abilities.  He may have been 13-9, but that was on a pretty bad Chicago White Sox team that even released their manager just before the season ended.  And which team picked him up?  That's right, the Miami Marlins!  With the pickups this team has made this season, they are at least tied for the best off season this year.

Which may lead some of you who have been living under a rock to ask, who else would be number one?  How about a team that signed the two biggest free agents this year?  How about a team that picked up the best player in baseball (arguable? I don't think so)  How about a team that managed to get both C.J. Wilson and Prince Albert himself, Albert Pujols.  Now I will say these moves are big for the Los Angels Angels of Anaheim.  The only reason that the Marlins are tied is because they filled more holes in their system.  The Angels still have some issues in the outfield and and catcher.  And for those of you thinking that the Angels have a great outfield with Tori Hunter, Vernon Wells, and Bobby Abreu, remember that the average age of those three players is 35.3!  They are too old to play 150 games of the season.  The Angels need some youth out there to support those guys.  With Pujols on the team, the Angels should be able to go out and get some young, fast outfielders to split time with those guys.  But all around, I see the Angels as a mad team that they didn't make the playoffs last season, and so now they are guaranteeing themselves a spot this year.  Look for the Angels to be even more terrifying then in the past, because with an offense that has Pujols, Hunter, and Wells and a rotation that adds lefty C.J. Wilson, this team is a group to be reckoned with!

So with these two teams picking up some prime free agents, the question is who's left?  And for a great list of players who will really turn the team that signs them into contenders, continue reading...

Prince Fielder
With Pujols signing such a large contract with the Angels, look for Fielder, the second top free agent this year, to get a similar deal.  Which teams would be interested in this slugging first baseman?  Every single one!  Which teams should we look for to sign him? The Chicago Cubs, the Washington Nationals, the Texas Rangers, and the Seattle Mariners have all be mentioned as possible suitors for the big first baseman.  With Pujols off the market, I imaging we will see Fielder signed soon!

Carlos Pena
Another slugging first baseman who can hit the ball as far as Fielder but is younger.  This would be a great cheap pickup for an upcoming team.  I would actually say the Marlins should try to get him to a cheap long term deal, but they may be tapped out.  Currently a few teams seem interested in Pena, but they are all about neck-and-neck for this first baseman.  Included in the race are the Milwaukee Brewers, the Chicago Cubs, the Tampa Bay Rays, the Toronto Blue Jays, and the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Any of these teams could sign him, so he is an interesting man to keep an eye on, because who ever gets him could be getting a sleeper pick up. 

Further free agents in the pool include Ryan Madson, Edwin Jackson, Johnny Damon, Magglio Ordonez, Kevin Milwood, Xavier Nady, Javier Vazques, and Roy Oswalt.  Any one of these players would make an imediate impact on the team that signs them.  So with the start of 2012 already past, look for these players to go quickly, and I mean in the next week or two!

Come back next week for the next edition of MLB

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