Tag: Raul Ibanez

2014 MLB Free Agency: Hitting: What’s Out There For Your Team

Another season has finished and with only ten teams having successful, playoff-bound seasons, it is time for the other 20 teams to look forward to the 2014 season. After 162 games, you probably have a pretty good idea of what your team needs. Below, you’ll find a list of upcoming free agents. Who would you like your team to sign? Comment away!!!

CanoTop Tier Talents

Robinson Cano, 2B, 31: Although ESPN’s Buster Olney reported that Cano wants a ten-year, $305 million deal, it would seem nearly impossible for the middle infielder to get anything close to that, even when considering all of the television money coming in for clubs. How far are the Dodgers willing to go over the luxury tax threshold? Are the Angels willing to shell out more money to 30-plus year olds after watching Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols not live up to expectations? Everyone knows that the Yankees are trying to slim down their payroll…it just doesn’t seem likely. After watching Cano hit like a corner outfielder while playing second base over the last nine years, he is clearly the top talent available in the entire free agency market.

Shin-Soo Choo, OF, 31: Choo showed his worth by getting on base exactly 300 times in the 2013 season (162 hits,  112 walks, and 26 HBP) while reaching the 20 home run/20 stolen base level for the third time in his career, helping solidify a Cincinnati lineup that had been seeking a strong leadoff hitter for what seems like decades. He proved that he was at least capable of handling center field in Cincinnati, but his defensive metrics have been pretty miserable over his entire career wherever he plays, although, Choo can make up for it at times with his strong arm. Shin-Soo Choo will be highly coveted by outfield-needy clubs this offseason and those clubs will likely get several solid seasons out of the South Korean-born, on-base machine.

Jacoby Ellsbury, OF, 30: Ellsbury had a fine season, leading MLB in stolen bases (52) while being a tremendous defensive center fielder. He will likely get paid huge dollars for his 2011 season (32 HR, 105 RBI, .928 OPS), even though his next best season was the 2013 season, when he hit nine home runs, drove in 53 runs, and posted a .781 OPS. More Michael Bourn than Matt Kemp, Ellsbury will be an asset due to his speed and defense as a strong outfield option, and while he doesn’t have the on-base skills that Choo possesses, he is a fine leadoff hitter.

Brian McCann, C, 30: McCann is going to be a rich, rich man. With the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, and Texas Rangers seeking help at catcher, he’ll have plenty of suitors. After reaching 20 home runs for the seventh time in eight full seasons despite playing in just 102 games, McCann has proven that his shoulder woes are behind him and that he can continue to be an offensive asset to a club going forward. Still pretty weak behind the dish (24-percent caught stealing this season and the same for his career), McCann’s bat will carry him and utilizing him in the American League at DH will do wonders for his career and whoever signs him.

McCannBest Available Catchers

McCann; John Buck, 33; Dioner Navarro, 30; A.J. Pierzynski, 37; Carlos Ruiz, 35; Jarrod Saltalamacchia, 29; Geovany Soto, 31;

There are some solid options available at catcher, here. McCann is obviously the top option with Saltalamacchia as the next best option. Navarro seems to have been around forever and the Cubs got a lot out of him this season while using him sparingly, posting an .856 OPS and 13 home runs over just 266 plate appearances, making him a somewhat attractive, cheaper option. The rest offer solid veteran depth, which has tremendous value with so many good young catchers in the league.

AbreuBest Available Corner Infielders

Jose Dariel Abreu, 27; Corey Hart, 32; Mike Napoli, 32; James Loney, 30; Kendrys Morales, 30; Justin Morneau, 33; Mike Morse, 32; Eric Chavez, 36; Mark Reynolds, 30; Michael Young, 37;

Abreu is the highly-coveted Cuban defector, full of power and mystique, who will likely get a Yasiel Puig-like contract, maybe better. Several solid veterans are available who can handle first base, many of them (Hart, Napoli, and Morneau, in particular) having some injury concerns. With the right type of deal, any of these players could provide tremendous value to a club seeking leadership, while having enough talent remaining to be productive as platoon options, starters, or multi-position use (1B/DH primarily).

Best Available Middle Infielders

Cano; Stephen Drew, 31; Rafael Furcal, 36; Omar Infante, 32; Kelly Johnson, 32; Jhonny Peralta, 32; Brian Roberts, 36; Brendan Ryan, 32;

Cano is the true treat here, but former All-Star talents exist, although several of them have been and will continue to be risky due to injury histories. Like many of the corner infielders that are available this winter, there are several players who could provide solid production, but it could come with a limited role as a platoon player while providing the old phantom value that comes with being a strong veteran with clubhouse presence.

Choo3Best Available Outfielders

Carlos Beltran, 37; Marlon Byrd, 36; Choo; Nelson Cruz, 33; Rajai Davis, 33; Ellsbury; Jeff Francoeur, 30; Curtis Granderson, 33; Corey Hart, 32; Raul Ibanez, 42; Mike Morse, 32; Juan Pierre, 36; Grady Sizemore, 31; Delmon Young, 28;

There could be tremendous value in the outfield this winter, as teams will be able to get aging veterans like Ibanez (if he comes back), Beltran, or Byrd, all having excellent 2013 seasons, at an affordable, short-term deal. At the same time, Cruz, Granderson, Hart, and Young could post numbers that would make them equals to the top players available (Choo and Ellsbury) if everything breaks right.

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My Reaction: James Paxton Debut

James Paxton, the Seattle Mariners 4th round pick in the 2010 MLB Draft (after being taken in the 1st round by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2009 and not signing), made his debut against the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday night.

First Inning

  • The Rays broadcast was saying his fastball fluctuates 7 mph throughout the game, but it was sitting 94-95 mph in the first inning, touching 97, which would make him a pretty dynamic starter, even if it is as a No.3 or No.4 starter, as it appears that he would be in Seattle behind Felix Hernandez and Taijuan Walker down the road.
  • Paxton’s breaking ball was bouncing a lot in the first, but his release point looked consistent from the couch.
  • 14-pitch first, which isn’t bad in a debut. Two ground-ball outs.

Second Inning

  • Mid-90’s in the second still, hitting 96 on Wil Myers.
  • He got behind Myers 3-1 with several very close fastballs (nothing but fastballs in the six-pitch at-bat), but came back and got the ground out to third.
  • Relying heavily on the fastball in the second after bouncing nearly every off-speed pitch that he threw in the first.
  • Hit 98 on a fastball against James Loney, who then lined the next pitch to left on a 3-1 count.
  • Finally threw a big, looping curve for a strike in the second to Sean Rodriguez, following that with a high and tight 97 mph fastball.
  • Really off with the off-speed stuff, which is why he’s relying so much on the fastball.
  • Walked Rodriguez. Inconsistent with release, almost aiming.
  • Three ground-ball outs in the second. Even with the inconsistency in his secondary stuff to this point, Paxton has good downward plane on the fastball, which is making the Rays hitters pound the ball into the ground.
  • 24-pitch second inning for Paxton but even with the hit and the walk, it was good to see him overcome that and continue attacking the zone.

Third Inning

  • Two-pitch at-bat for Yunel Escobar, who, shockingly, grounded out.
  • Very nice breaking ball (85 mph) to Desmond Jennings in the dirt, who will go down as Paxton’s first career strikeout…on three pitches.
  • One-two-three inning as Ben Zobrist hits the ball hard to Michael Saunders for the final out.
  • All of seven pitches to get through the third inning as Paxton continues to show solid velocity and seems to be getting more comfortable with the breaking ball release; although, he is still using it very sparingly.
  • Six of nine outs via the ground-ball variety.

Fourth Inning

  • Evan Longoria jumped on a first-pitch fastball – ground-out to Kyle Seager at third.
  • Looks like an 88-90 mph changeup that Paxton has, rather than the seven mph difference mentioned earlier, but it isn’t very sharp and it looks like it is aimed.
  • High flyball to Raul Ibanez by Delmon Young for the second out.
  • Paxton still is pounding the fastball down against right-handed hitters. With the velocity, the Rays seem overwhelmed.
  • A fastball up to Myers driven to left for a base hit.
  • Good, 79 mph breaking ball to Loney to start off the at-bat. followed by a good 96 mph fastball down in the zone.
  • Ground-ball to Nick Franklin for out number three.
  • 12-pitch fourth for Paxton.

Fifth Inning

  • Paxton started the fifth by working around Sean Rodriguez again, nibbling the outside corner with several fastballs before striking him out with a 97 mph heater.
  • Curveball is looking much more impressive – Jose Lobaton‘s swing at the offering was not very impressive. A couple of pitches after flailing at the curve, Lobaton grounded out to Franklin at second.
  • I saw three breaking balls in the inning and they were all strikes. He got Escobar to ground out to third.
  • 15-pitch inning. 2 K’s, 1 BB, 2 H, 10 ground-ball outs through five solid innings.
  • Still sitting 94-97 with the fastball at 72 pitches (46 strikes).

    Six Inning  

 

  • Paxton seems more confident in his stuff without trying to overpower hitters, as he is sitting on the outside corner at 94 pretty consistently…then comes inside and gets Jennings to groundout to short.
  • Zobrist pounds it into the ground to Seager at third, but a throwing error allows him to reach first.
  • After falling behind 2-0 to Longoria, Paxton gets a visit from Mike Zunino, goes fastball inside (94), and 95 in Longoria’s wheelhouse for a long home run.
  • Paxton regains his composure and strikes out Delmon Young on a good breaking ball in the dirt.
  • Pitch number 89 was 96 mph to Wil Myers. Still bringing good velocity.
  • Myers blooped it to right and it hits off of Justin Smoak‘s glove while Smoak’s right knee clipped Nick Franklin’s head…scary injury.
  • Loney follows Myers hit with a long fly-ball to Saunders for the final out.

 

    After six innings and 95 pitches, it is safe to say that Paxton’s debut was very solid. His final line:  

PaxtonSolid fastball and occasionally solid curveball out of Paxton during his debut. It seems as though he’ll get a much longer look in the rotation over the rest of the 2013 than Taijuan Walker, who will likely be shutdown after his start next week.

Paxton has the stuff to be a solid, innings-eater in the middle of a rotation, but if he were to find more consistency with his stuff, he could be a No.2 starter. A 94 to 97 mph fastball is very good for any pitcher, but that type of velocity out of a left-handed pitcher is downright sexy. He had 11 ground-ball outs tonight, pounding his fastball down in the zone. His curveball wasn’t consistent enough to warrant a lot of praise, but if he finds more consistency out of both the curve and the changeup (which wasn’t very useful or present tonight at 88 to 90 mph), he could be very useful to the rebuilding Mariners.

After tossing 145.2 innings in Triple-A, Paxton should be a fixture in the Seattle rotation in 2014. While he is still a work in progress, The stuff is there to be effective in the majors. Tonight was a very good debut for the 24-year-old left-hander, but there is still some work needed for the powerful southpaw.

More Hatred for Brown

I have written here several times (10/11/11, 5/20/11, and 7/30/11) about Domonic Brown and the terrible mishandling of the talented, young outfielder by the Philadelphia Phillies. Still just 25 years old, Brown faces another uphill battle with Phillies’ management signing Delmon Young to a one-year, $750,000 deal on Tuesday.

Young adds a right-handed element to the Phillies crowded outfield, as he joins Brown, John Mayberry, Jr., Laynce Nix, Darin Ruf, and Rule 5 pick Ender Inciarte as possible corner outfielders. Only Ben Revere seems locked into a job in center, with the other six men fighting for two spots.

While Rotoworld stated that Brown will likely see most of his at-bats in right field, you have to wonder if Ruben Amaro, Jr. is going to actually stick to that. He is the same man who said that Brown needed another full season in Triple-A in 2012, only to give the outfielder another up and down season with just 187 major league at-bats and 220 at-bats for Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

Heyward1While Brown is not Jason Heyward, the two were likened to each other at times coming up through the minor leagues. The major difference: Heyward was given an opportunity in Atlanta after posting a .953 OPS over three levels (as high as Triple-A) in 2009, earning the every day right field job in Atlanta in 2010. In 2009, Brown also went through three levels (as high as Double-A), while posting an .880 OPS. He hasn’t received his opportunity yet

Brown1Over the last three seasons, Brown now has 465 at-bats in Triple-A and 433 at-bats in the majors. Considering 500 at-bats is the norm for an everyday player, why has Brown been riding the bench in Philadelphia instead of getting everyday at-bats, and if he isn’t ready, why is he not in Lehigh Valley full-time instead of sharing outfield duties with Raul Ibanez and Ben Francisco over the last few years?

The Phillies have played with their talent a bit too much, here, and for a team that has so quickly aged with Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, and Ryan Howard leading the offense, they needed to actually give Brown the job and see what he could do, allowing him to prove that he is a failure instead of miscasting him as one without a full opportunity to prove the theory wrong.

While the Phillies rely on Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, and Cliff Lee to win them so many games in 2013, it is still questionable as to whether the team is going to rely on Domonic Brown. After signing Delmon Y0ung, it looks like the one-time No.4 prospect in all of baseball will have to prove himself and fight for at-bats among a group of less talented peers.

Brown still has value and for a team that seems to have no interest in building around him or giving him an opportunity, perhaps it is time to deal him for a pitcher that doesn’t cost $30 million per season or a younger position player who isn’t earning nearly three times what they are worth, like Rollins, Utley, and Howard.

What Are the Mariners Doing?

Courtesy: seattletimes.com
Courtesy: seattletimes.com

Last year, the Seattle Mariners finished 75-87, last place in the AL West, a spot that they have held for seven of the last ten years. What are the Mariners doing to build a contender?

Not much.

The club is loaded with pitching prospects, like Taijuan Walker, Danny Hultzen, Brandon Maurer, and James Paxton, and they have collected some fine offensive prospects, like Mike Zunino, Nick Franklin, and Brad Miller along the way. With Jesus Montero being added last season and the ascension of Dustin Ackley to the majors, you would think that the Mariners were building for a run in 2015.

However, that can’t be the case after the club has traded for Kendrys Morales and Mike Morse, both free agents after the 2013 season. While the club gave up John Jaso to get Morse and Jason Vargas to get Morales, the Mariners left themselves with some question marks.

FelixWith Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, Erasmo Ramirez, and Blake Beaven penciled into the rotation, the club may have to rely on Hector Noesi, Hultzen, or Paxton in the rotation to start the year. Noesi was 2-12 with a 5.82 ERA for the M’s in 2012, Hultzen was just 1-4 with a 5.92 ERA in 12 Triple-A starts in 2012, and Paxton would be jumping to the majors from Double-A. While Vargas isn’t close to being considered an ace, the Mariners will have a tough time replacing the 217 innings and 3.85 ERA that he provided last year.

After trading Jaso to Oakland, the Mariners only have Jesus Montero at catcher. Montero, who turned 23 in November, caught in just 56 games in 2012, throwing out 17 percent of base runners and posting a -8 Rtot (runs below average that he was worth defensively). While his bat has great potential, Montero is not an everyday catcher at the major league level.

Add in the Jason Bay and Raul Ibanez signings to the trades that Seattle has made, and the club is loaded with mediocrity.

There are two examples of their everyday lineup that I have found:

Example 1                                                                     Example 2

C: Montero                                                        C: Montero

1B: Morse                                                          1B: Smoak

2B: Ackley                                                         2B: Ackley

3B: Seager                                                         3B: Seager

SS: Ryan                                                            SS: Ryan

LF: Ibanez                                                         LF: Morse

CF: Gutierrez                                                    CF: Gutierrez

RF: Saunders                                                    RF: Saunders

DH: Morales                                                     DH: Morales

Example one is eliminating Justin Smoak from the equation. Smoak has over 1,200 at-bats and has a career slash of .223/.306/.377 line, but he is just 26 years old and he posted a .341/.426/.580 in September, showing a glimpse of what he can do when he is healthy, and he has battled a thumb issue for the last couple of seasons.

Example two eliminates Raul Ibanez from the lineup. Ibanez has had great success in Seattle, having played 10 of his 17 seasons with the Mariners, but at the age of 41, he may just be a situational talent.

The Mariners could really use a catcher. If the club was able to deal Smoak to Boston for Jarrod Saltalamacchia or Ryan Lavarnway, the Mariners could then move Montero to DH, Morales to first, and Morse can play left field. The Red Sox only have Mauro Gomez at first base right now, so the deal would make sense for both clubs, as the Sox have David Ross and whatever catcher they don’t trade to roster.

The M’s could also rush Mike Zunino, who was the top college player in last year’s MLB draft. Zunino could take over at catcher, allowing for the same moves with Morales and Morse as above, while the club could keep Smoak around in case of an injury. Zunino had 51 at-bats in Double-A last year, so he could use some more seasoning in the minors, but he could be a better option behind the plate than Montero already.

Regardless of the moves at catcher that the Mariners could make, the additions that the club has made have not been stellar.

Morse has a powerful bat but he has issues making contact, having posted a 223:52 K:BB while hitting 49 home runs over 928 at-bats over the last two seasons. Turning 31 years old in March, Morse has two seasons with a WAR over 1.0 (1.2 in 2010 and 3.1 in 2011), so one has to wonder if his 2011 season (with 31 home runs and a .910 OPS) was his peak.

Ibanez is not a player that a rebuilding team needs. His age and declining skills limit his potential.

Morales rebounded nicely after missing nearly two years due to injury, posting a .787 OPS. In 2009, Morales posted a .924 OPS and he had an .833 OPS in 2010 prior to his celebratory injury. Is the drop in production due to his injury, timing issues due to being away from the game, or pressing to hit at the levels that he did in 2009? Can he reach those numbers when he is playing half of his games in Seattle?

Add in the interest that the Mariners have in Justin Upton and the supposed offer (Taijuan Walker, Nick Franklin, Stephen Pryor, and Charlie Furbush) that they made, and the team seemingly has no long-term or short-term direction. The Mariners pitching, as it stands, is questionable at best. If the team is rebuilding, why would they offer two of their top five prospects instead of cashing in on any of their veterans that have value, even Felix Hernandez?

While John Jaso and Jason Vargas aren’t superstars, you have to wonder if the club would have been better off with the two players still on their roster. While they wouldn’t have made many moves to improve upon their last place finish from 2012, the Mariners wouldn’t have question marks all over the field like they do right now.

How Can You Rebuild the Yankees?

Keith Olbermann reported on his MLBlog on October 17 that the New York Yankees and Miami Marlins are already discussing a deal involving Alex Rodriguez once the season is over. This is big news due to the struggles of Rodriguez during the postseason, 3-for-23 (.103) with 12 strikeouts, and that fact that the quickly aging veteran is due another $114 million over the next five seasons.

Alex Rodriguez is taking a lot of heat for his struggles, as if he is the only player currently struggling during the club’s rotten postseason. Mind you, Robinson Cano is 3-for-36 (.083) and Curtis Granderson is just 3-for-29 (.103) with 15 strikeouts, so what is the deal with the hatred for the game’s highest paid player? The Yankees have bigger issues, including, how are they going to rebuild the franchise if the potential trade of Alex Rodriguez actually does happen?

Courtesy: Wikipedia

Moving Alex Rodriguez would signify a possible change in philosophy. While the Yankees have spent many hundreds of millions in payroll over the last decade, could this be the end of “buying” the talent, all because of an apparent very quick regression in some of their talent?

The Yankees have some things to look at with their current roster:

After that, the Yankees have some payroll concerns:

  • Alex Rodriguez, as mentioned before, is owed $114 million over the next five years.
  • C.C. Sabathia is due $119 million (counting his $25 million 2017 option) over the next five years.
  • Mark Teixeria is going to make $90 million over the next four seasons.
  • Derek Jeter will make $17 million in 2013 and either $8 million in 2014 or a $3 million buyout.
  • Rafael Soriano is guaranteed $14 million in 2013.

The problem with trading Alex Rodriguez is that the Yankees would have to eat a huge portion of the $114 million that he is owed. Since 2007, A-Rod’s OPS has gone from 1.067 (his MVP season) to .965, .933, .847, .823, and finally .783 in 2012. At the age of 37 (turning 38 next July), why would anyone give anything of value for the declining future Hall of Famer?

Dealing Rodriguez to the Miami Marlins for Heath Bell and Logan Morrison would be a solid deal, even paying $50-70 million of his deal, so that the team gets more bullpen help and a potential replacement in an outfield corner with Swisher and Ichiro both headed to free agency. However, that deal probably would not sit well with fans.

Should the club let all of their free agents depart, will they go after Josh Hamilton in free agency? Could Hamilton’s previous off-the-field issues, which he still admits to battling, become a huge issue in the largest media market in the world?

Should the club trade Granderson and/or Cano on top of dealing Rodriguez, just to allow the franchise to make a fresh start, like the Boston Red Sox deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers, which included the contracts of Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, and Adrian Gonzalez?

For what it is worth, dealing Alex Rodriguez would open up third base in one of the weakest years for free agent third base in recent memory, including: Miguel Cairo, Mark DeRosa, Alberto Gonzalez, Brandon Inge, Maicer Izturis, Jose Lopez, Scott Rolen, Drew Sutton, and, if their options aren’t picked up, Ty Wigginton and Kevin Youkilis.

Courtesy: NY Times

Would the club really go into the season with Eduardo Nunez at the hot corner? General Manager Brian Cashman would have to look in the mirror and commit to a potential rebuilding mode if that is the case.

While Alex Rodriguez has struggled and his value and stock has plummeted, the unfortunate facts are that the Yankees would be and will be better with him at third base in 2013 than they would be by making a trade. Unless the Bronx Bombers were able to trade Robinson Cano to Baltimore for Dylan Bundy and Manny Machado after trading Rodriguez, starting to make trades to change the structure of the team just does not make sense.

Cashman would have to make several trades involving star players and huge contracts, just to fill the several holes that would remain from the various deals. If you trade Rodriguez, he would need to trade for a third baseman. If he traded Cano, who would play second? If he traded Granderson, he could possibly get Hamilton, but what if the Red Sox or Rangers outbid him?

You can’t rebuild the New York Yankees. Brian Cashman is in a situation where he needs to win, in a market and a fan base that wants to win – see the attendance in the ALCS. The club will rebuild by reloading, like they have done, through free agency. They will acquire a top-tier or solid starting pitcher and a solid outfielder, and they will be right back where they were. They will probably have the veterans mentioned in potential deals, as well, because it is not worth the potential hassle of dealing the contracts and taking so much less in value, just to make a change.

Thaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa…Yankees Stink!

Sure, they made it to the ALCS, but what is the deal with the New York Yankees? For the millions upon millions of dollars that they are paying their superstars, the team has scored just 13 runs since scoring seven in Game 1 of the ALDS against the Baltimore Orioles. They’ve played six games since then!

If you take away Jose Valverde‘s total implosion in the ninth inning on Saturday night, the Yankees have scored ZERO runs on 11 hits in the remaining 20 innings in the ALCS against the Tigers. The Yankees are hitting just .200 in 50 at-bats with runners in scoring position during the playoffs, including .167 in 18 at-bats against the Detroit Tigers.

While Alex Rodriguez is getting a lot of the negative publicity for the Yankees struggles offensively, he is not alone. Along with Curtis Granderson and Robinson Cano, ARod is  just a part of the larger problem. The three stars have combined to hit just .099/.161/.160 in 81 at-bats, with two doubles, one home run, five RBI and 30 strikeouts. The three are 2-for-18 with runners in scoring position (.111) with three RBI, all from Cano.

With Derek Jeter‘s devastating ankle injury, can Raul Ibanez carry this team? He has to this point, hitting a robust .438/.550/1.063 in just 16 at-bats, smashing three home runs and saving the Yankees against the Orioles in Game 4 of the ALDS, while helping extend the Game 1 loss to the Tigers on Saturday night. Mark Teixeira has walked seven times this postseason, while posting a .320/.469/.360 line, so will opposing pitchers continue to pitch around him and take their chances on the other struggling Yanks?

With so many Yankees possessing a great amount of postseason experience, the struggles that have been ongoing are quite worrisome for Yankee fans. The bigger question is, can ESPN sleep at night without their moneymakers giving them much to talk about? No worries…Tebow threw a pass on Sunday and actually got a first down. Gotta love New York!

Shocking Spring #’s

Below are some guys who have impressed or have been absolutely miserable.  There are familiar names and there are some surprises.  Can it carry over if they’re doing well?  Will it carry over if they’re doing poorly?  Only time will tell, but it’s nice to dream that:

Melky Cabrera is a future Hall of Famer

.410/.425/.769, 5 2B, 3 HR, and 9 RBI

Cabrera hit .468/.471/.742 last spring, then he went on to have a career year, posting a .305/.339/.470 slash with 44 2B, 5 3B, 18 HR, 87 RBI, and 20 SB.  He is now in San Francisco instead of Kansas City, but he could use the spacious gaps to post similar numbers this season.

The Tigers have two stars and they aren’t Cabrera and Fielder

Delmon Young: .472/.487/1.000, 4 2B, 5 HR, 19 RBI

Ryan Raburn: .462/.464/1.308, 2 2B, 1 3B, 6 HR, 18 RBI

Raburn looks like he shouldn’t have to share second base with Ramon Santiago.  He’s always had excellent power, so this is something that should continue…as long as he keeps making contact, which is where his problem has always been.

Young is also raking, the same thing he has done since joining Detroit.  Keep in mind that Young scored 28 runs, ripped 5 2B, 1 3B, 8 HR, and drove in 32 runs in just 40 games when he arrived in Western Windsor Canada last season.  If he cuts down on his strikeouts, Young, too, could develop into a star…the one everyone thought he was going to be several years ago.

Short people can play baseball

Colin Cowgill: .419/.469/.605, 4 2B, 2 3B, 4 SB

It is still a crowded A’s outfield, and the 5’9″ University of Kentucky product will have trouble finding playing time because of it.  With Coco Crisp in left, Yoenis Cespedes in center, and Josh Reddick in right, Cowgill will battle Seth Smith and Jonny Gomes for backup outfield time and occasional starts at DH.  Cowgill may never get a serious shot due to his size, and that would be a short-coming…pun intended…by the organizations that continue to overlook him.

He Cain lead the league in OPS

Lorenzo Cain: .500/.553/.971, 7 2B, 3 HR, 5 RBI

With Eric Hosmer, Billy Butler, and Mike Moustakas becoming the elite players that everyone anticipated them becoming, what would make the Royals really happy?  How about ANYONE from the Zack Greinke trade working out for them!?  Cain won’t be killing any of his brothers, but he could destroy some pitching and become one of the best center fielders in baseball in his rookie season.

Francisco Liriano is good again

2.77 ERA, 0.62 WHIP, .143 BAA, 18/2 K/BB in 13 IP

Dude can pitch when the Twins let him pitch in the Dominican Winter League…which they didn’t let him do prior to an absolutely disgusting 2011.

The most dominant pitcher this spring won’t have a job when camp breaks…sorry about your luck Wade LeBlanc

0.61 ERA, 0.41 WHIP, .083 BAA, 15/2 K/BB in 14 2/3 IP

Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Ricky Nolasco, Anibal Sanchez, and Carlos Zambrano will be ahead of him, but LeBlanc should get a shot at some point between Johnson and Sanchez shoulder woes and a Zambrano breakdown.

The Suckers

Jair Jurrjens: 10.13 ERA, 2.63 WHIP, .403 BAA, 8/10 K/BB in 13 1/3 IP

Jurrjens would do better just sitting a ball on a tee.  The only guys who aren’t hitting against him are the ball boys, and his ugly K/BB ratio is concerning, as are his consistent shoulder woes.  Stay away.

Mike Pelfrey: 14.90 ERA, 2.69 WHIP, .426 BAA, 4/6 K/BB in 9 2/3 IP

Not even Pelfrey’s ears can hold the ball back this spring.  It looks like his two pitch arsenal is finally not working, but no one saw that coming…except Ray Charles.

Raul Ibanez: .059/.111/.088, 2 for 34 with 0 XBH and 2 RBI

Wonder why he was still available when the Yankees finally signed him?  Oh…I know.  He’s old and can’t hit a fastball.  Andruw Jones will get a lot of at bats at DH in 2012.

Freddie Freeman: .174/.191/.171, 8 for 46, 0 XBH, and 3 RBI

Freeman had some issues with a knee dislocation earlier in the spring, so he may get a small pass for that; however, the Braves need him to have it in high gear when things really get going, as he is one of their key bats.

Jason Heyward: .208/.236/.358, 11 for 53, 2 2B, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 16 K!

So much for refining his swing.  Heyward has picked up where he left off in 2011.  There is still time for him to get it going, but if both Freeman AND Heyward are hitting like this in April, the Braves will be alongside the Mets in the NL East basement.