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Phixing The Phillies? What The Phillies Could And Should Do This Off-season

November 11, 2010 By: Category: Major League Baseball, Sports

Should the Phillies bring back Cliff Lee?I have always known that being born and raised a Philadelphia sports fan would be the ultimate love/hate relationship. I bleed the team colors, and watch at the edge of my seat through every pitch, every pass, every jump-shot, and every slap-shot. For years I have heard how this city could never win the big one, and that my teams would always break my heart.

Yes I have had heart break, but yes I have also had some glorious moments. One I am so very fond of was the 2008 Philadelphia Phillies winning the World Series, however since then 2 other teams have won it, and now it is time for the Phillies to get to work this off-season and not so much load up with one huge superstar, but get role players, bullpen help, and a 5th starter to make this thing right.

The Phillies may be losing one of the most highest thought of baseball free agents in this seasons market in outfielder Jayson Werth, who many think can bring in the most money per year of any free agent this season. Despite setting a franchise record in attendance, and sell-outs and also raising ticket prices anywhere from $2 to $5 more for next year, the Phillies claim to not be looking to spend huge dollars.

Funny when you think that they are rumored to be on the list of 7 teams very interested in left-handed pitcher Cliff Lee, who many experts see as the top prize on the market. Some also believe, despite the over-load of left handed batters, that the Phillies could be looking to make a move for outfielder Carl Crawford. Now, I will say I love Crawford, but another lefty in this line-up? You’d have to be crazy!

So what I have done is come up with some nice pieces to a puzzle that is aging a bit, but still has enough pop and talent to make another run. The Braves owned this division for many years throughout the ’90s so why not the Phillies right now? Not every team needs to fill a roster with super talent, sometimes you just need that contact, or that ground ball, you know? So here are some suggestions to GM Reuben Amaro and the Phillies. Now I expect some bashing from Phils fans, and some praises from other fans, but heck it is all opinion, and being that Christmas is coming up soon, consider this my “Wish List”.

Starting Pitching
The Phillies have 3 excellent choices in Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, and Cole Hamels, and even a decent 4th guy in Joe Blanton. However 5th starter was a huge problem last year. A 5th starter for a contending team needs to be able to not only start, but is a key bullpen guy come post-season. Here are some options at this position.

Cliff Lee, Rangers: We saw what he can do in 2009, but the Phillies also let him walk this past off-season. He would be amazing to have again, but this could lead to some possible events: The trading of Roy Oswalt or Joe Blanton, or the Phillies spending no money at all on bench players or a big bat to replace Jayson Werth. He will get a huge contract somewhere, and I’m 99% sure this is not the place.

Brad Penny, Cardinals: Penny still has some gas, and throws a nice curveball, but you have to get him cheap. His weight has been an issue the last few years which has led to injuries. If you can get him at the right price he could make a quality 5th starter and emergency bullpen arm.

Vicente Padilla, Dodgers: He seems to have his temper better under control. Still has good stuff, just lets up more home runs now-a-days. He can be an excellent option as a 5th starter, but in a pitching hungry league he will probably get a big 1 or 2 year deal elsewhere. If not, he is worth a look.

Javier Vazquez, White Sox: In the National League he is quite a pitcher, in the American League not so much. It is hard to imagine him taking 5th starter money, but the Phillies can do much worse at number 5. When he was with Atlanta he sure was tough to hit and had the strikeouts.

Relief Pitching
A team is hard-pressed to win without a good bullpen, and the Phillies could use some strength in this department. Brad Lidge comes back as the closer, at least for one more year, but outside of that, the only real certain spot is Ryan Madson. So the Phils can use some serious work here, and here is some nice names.

Grant Balfour, Rays: He throws a great deal of fastballs, but when you throw them that hard, and place them that well, you can afford too. He is a right handed pithcer that actually pitches well against lefties too. He is an excellent addition to any bullpen, and could serve well here.

J.J. Putz, White Sox: Yes, we remember how poor his last stop in the National League was when he was with the Mets, but now as a strictly one inning set up guy, he seems to have found himself again. No, he will not be a closer anymore, but he has a very live arm, and can help this team.

Brian Fuentes, Twins: Fuentes does not have the gas of a closer, but he is craft, he is a lefty and can get the outs late in a ball game. He won’t be here as a closer, but he could be used as a specialist or set up guy. His 2.81 ERA last year with the Twins shows he holds value, and this team will badly need left handed relief.

Jason Frasor, Blue Jays: Not overly flashy name, but a guy who can gets the strikeouts. In 277 innings Frasor has struck out 275 batters, which are great numbers, and he brings a good fastball with him. Won’t cost much, and can be good in the 7th or 8th innings.

Pedro Feliciano, Mets: Another crafty lefty, and a guy who has shown he can pitch just about every night. He appeared in 92 games last season and is the perfect lefty inning eater for any team. He deserves a chance with a contending team to show what he has.

Jon Rauch, Twins: Another piece of the Twins division winning puzzle, Rauch is tall, and has a big delivery which can be intimidating to hitter. He was a former Washington National, so he knows a little something about pitching at Citizens Bank Park as well. Rauch can be a closer, a situation guy, or even an inning eater. He is high on the list for many teams due to such versatility.

Frank Francisco, Rangers: He has found control, and walks far less hitters then he did a few years ago, He throws hard and has a nice group of pitches to choose from. The negative is, he gets hurt a lot, and Texas can still offer him arbitration, which means he would cost compensation.

Other options: Kyle Farnsworth, Resign Jose Contreras or Chan Ho-Park

Infield/ Bench players
Jorge Cantu, Rangers: Cantu slumped after being traded to Texas, but here is a guy that can play first, second and third and is a great right handed bat. Cantu has shown he can knock in runs and hit to all fields, now he would just have to settle for less money and a bench role.

Jerry Hairtson Jr., Padres: He can be pesky, and he can play a decent infield. Hairston is not a great hitter, but he runs well, and can come off the bench and work counts and make contact. He could be wooed by a team with a starting role, if not he is worth an offer.

Eric Hinske, Braves: Hinske is not a wow name, but he has big time power, and can play some infield at times. Not a great defensive player, but the Phillies have a good enough infield not to make late inning changes.

Cristan Guzman, Rangers: He is much better in the National League, and still has a bit of speed left. Guzman will not be a starter again, and the Phillies don’t need him to be, but they need a guy off of the bench that can contribute. He should have a decent year or 2 left.

Felipe Lopez, Cardinals: He had an off year, and is a bit of a diva, but Lopez can play all the infield spots, and has a coveted right handed bat that this team always needs. Lopez in the past has shown he can be a .300 hitter in limited play he just needs to understand that he is best served in that role.

Outfield
With the Phillies about to possibly lose Jayson Werth, they will need to look hard and be creative here. Yes, they have Domonic Brown and John Mayberry Jr. in the system but they may need another piece, like one of these guys.

Carl Crawford, Rays: In my opinion, the best position player available this season. He is as close to a 5-tool player as you will see as he hits for average and power, steals bases, plays a good outfield and has a good arm. Crawford is a left-handed hitter, which many think is not needed here, but he is such a good player, he would be worth it. Only problem here is, he will cost a lot which could limit the moves they make.

Jayson Werth, Phillies: We know what he is and what he does. He will command lots of cash, and lots of years, plus force the Phillies to deal with agent Scott Boras, which rarely goes well foe the Phils.

Marcus Thames, Yankees: A guy that can accept a role as a part-timer with real good power and can drive in some runs. His defense improved as well this past season, but some may think he was good enough to ask for decent money. He may be worth it here as he is a right handed hitter, and in a good lineup can do things that Werth did.

Austin Kearns, Yankees: Some may think that Kearns and his soft numbers last year are what we should expect. I for one disagree, and think that Kearns, who played a nice right field last year, can still hit. He is a guy in a normal year that can hit better then .280 and hit 20 plus home runs. No, he is not Werth in any way, but in this lineup in the right positions he can put up some numbers.

Pat Burrell, Giants: It could be a long shot to expect him to take an incentive laden contract in a back-up role, but Burrell still has something left. As a right handed power hitter he is just what this team needs, whether we hold a grudge against him or not. If Pat can still throw up a .260 average and belt some home runs, I don’t see why he is not worth a look.

Rocco Baldelli, Rays: Perfect in the fact that he cannot play every day due to health reasons, but every bit as talented as an everyday player. In this city he can certainly hit one over the fence and can hit to all fields, which this team needs. Baldelli could easily start anywhere if he was healthy enough, but the fact he can’t mean she knows he has limits financially, which bodes well.

Here is my list. Some of you may like it, some may hate it, but either way I think a few of these players can put us back into contention. You can’t just sit back and expect to sign superstars every year, but if you can, then heck maybe my list is way off. You can easily find a list of available free-agents on any sports site, so check it out, and comment here if you see a good fit for our Phillies. We always appreciate feed back! Good Luck in 2011 Phillies!

If you’d like to hear anything else from me on topics or ideas I can be reached at [email protected]

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MLB Free Agent Frenzy 2011

November 01, 2010 By: Category: Major League Baseball, Sports

Derek Jeter New York YankeesAs we look upon the World Series, we wonder where our teams will be as they head into next season. What did the Phillies lack to get back to the Series? Is there someone the Yankees could have used to be just a little bit better, and get passed Texas?

Well this is the list of some of the top players available in the upcoming free agent period. These are the guys you will be hearing plenty about in the winter time. Need pitching? we have some of that. Need power? There is some power. All kinds of players are here. I will give you the top 10 overall, then we will look at the rest by position, so you can easily find guys for your teams wish list. So check it out, sit back, read and relax. Oh and to those fans of Texas and San Francisco, good luck in the World Series.

Top 10 Free Agents For 2011

10. Derek Jeter, Yankees: 2010- .270, 10 HR, 67 RBI 37 years old
Jeter is 10th on this list for a very simple reason, he won’t leave the Yankees. The all-time hit leader for baseballs most storied franchise will most likely do it year by year, but he is staying put.

9. Paul Konerko, White Sox: .312, 39 HR, 111 RBI 35 years old
At 35 years old, Konerko’s numbers actually improved. He has hinted to staying in Chicago, but if he moves on he is a one year contract guy. He still has an awesome bat, but defense could be iffy.

8. Victor Martinez, Red Sox, .302, 20 HR, 79 RBI 32 years old
A switch hitting catcher with some pop is a big asset to any team. He also proved durable enough to play 127 games this year. He is a career .300 hitter is a plus for any pennant hunting team.

7. Rafael Soriano, Rays, 3-2, 1.73 ERA, 45 saves, 51 K’s 31 years old
Now that he is a full time closer, Soriano proves worthy of it, and a possible big contract. He was one of the main reasons Tampa won the AL East, and is a terrific closer.

6. Prince Fielder, Brewers, .261, 32 HR, 83 RBI 27 years old
Big time power, good skills on defense for his size and a great RBI guy, not to mention he is young. In 2009 he was an MVP candidate with a .299 average, 46 HRs and 146 RBIs. A team like the Braves can be an instant contender with him at first.

5. Jose Reyes, Mets, .282, 11 HR, 54 RBI, 30 steals 28 years old
He was healthier this year, and he had good numbers. Reyes is a good “rah-rah” guy, and has great speed. His power is slipping as are his defensive skills, but for the right price he is a must for most teams. Seems hard to imagine the Mets will let him leave.

4. Jayson Werth, Phillies, .296, 27 HR, 85 RBI, 106 runs 32 years old
No longer labeled as injury-prone, Werth has become a big time power guy, and had a career high 36 HR is 2009. The Phillies badly need his right handed bat back to spell all the lefties, but Scott Boras will make any team pay large to get Werth. He has good speed and an amazing arm in the outfield to add to his offense skills.

3. Adrian Beltre, Red Sox, .321, 28 HR, 102 RBI 32 years old
With a good team around him, and being in a contract year he had massive numbers. If he can do this again he will be the best signing of the off-season, however we have seen Beltre fold in this spot before. Great power and ability to drive in runs.

2. Cliff Lee, Rangers, 12-9, 3.18 ERA, 185 Ks, 18 BB 32 years old
Another amazing post-season that to the moment is 3-0 with an 0.75 ERA, 34 Ks and just 1 walk. Lee is a true competitor, and a number 1 on any pitching staff today. He has hinted about a return or Texas, and also liking Philly, although the mighty Yankees are singing the tunes of big dollars already.

1. Carl Crawford, Rays, .307, 19 HR, 90 RBI, 47 SB, 110 runs 29 years old
About as close to a 5 tool player as we will see. Crawford is a rare breed of top-flight free agent in that he is under 30 years old. His power numbers get better every year, his average is usually at or over .300 and he still has great speed. The Rays will sorely miss him, but anyone else will be blessed to have him.

Who else is out there, by position:

Catcher
A.J. Pierzynski, White Sox, .270, 9 HR, 50 RBI 34 years old
He is a good team leader, still can catch, and his numbers are still decent.

Josh Bard, Mariners, .214, 3 HR, 10 RBI 32 years old
Was once a promising prospect, been on 3 teams in 3 years. Can switch hit though, which is a plus.

First Base
Lance Berkman, Yankees, .248, 14 HR, 58 RBI 35 years old

Had an unusually bad season on offense, but chances are he has a good one left in him. He has 296 career HR, and 1099 career RBI. Most likely a DH on a one year deal.

Adam Dunn, Nationals, .260, 38 HR, 103 RBI 31 years old
When he hits it he is worth every penny. When he misses, yeah he misses. Struck out 199 times last year, and is weak in the field. The Nats may decide to bring him back.

Derrek Lee, Braves, .260, 19 HR, 80 RBI 35 years old
The move to Atlanta saved the season for Lee, and proved he may still be a 30 HR, 100 RBI guys, at least for a year or two.

Carlos Pena, Rays, .196, 28 HR, 84 RBI 33 years old
If only he could hit for some kind of average. Yes he has the pop, but over the last 2 years his average has gone down by 40 points, leaving him under .200 in 2010.

Jorge Cantu, Rangers, .256, 11 HR, 56 RBI 29 years old
Under 30 and can play a few positions. He was a 100 RBI guy in the NL in 2008 and can hit for power. Good asset but not a huge contract guy.

Second Base
Bill Hall, Red Sox, .247, 18 HR, 46 RBI 31 years old

Hall was finally healthy in 2010 and had good power numbers. He needs to up it for average to be a viable, big pay free agent. He will land on his feet however.

Omar Infante, Braves, .321, 8 HR, 47 RBI 29 years old
Playing twice as many games this year did not hurt his numbers. Infante was a solid piece of the Braves puzzle, and can play all over the infield. He is a great pick up for a team in need of quality utility players.

Felipe Lopez, Cardinals, .233, 8 HR, 37 RBI 31 years old
As an everyday player he failed and his numbers dropped terribly, but Lopez is still a decent role player. Took time for him to get a job last year, so he may have to settle to play cheap.

Juan Uribe, Giants, .248, 24 HR, 85 RBI 31 years old
His power was up, but his average went down. He did big things in the post-season, which teams seem to value, plus he can play a few positions. Steady, not a star.

Cristan Guzman, Rangers, .266, 2 HR, 28 RBI 33 years old
A steady bat with averages around .280, he has good speed still and plays a nice infield. He is not an everyday starter but is a great guy to put on the bench for any team.

Shortstop
Jhonny Peralta, Tigers, .249, 15 HR, 81 RBI 29 years old

If he goes back to being the Indians Peralta, he is a good everyday player. He struggled a bit last year but is under 30 and can play good defense.

Miguel Tejada, Padres, .269, 15 HR, 71 RBI 37 years old
An AL team would be the best spot for Tejada and his bat. He does not possess the great infield skills anymore but can still swing a good bat. The numbers just don’t lie.

Third Base
Eric Chavez, Athletics, .234, 1 HR, 10 RBI 33 years old

The once power hitter is now an injury-riddled question mark. Does he have it in him to be productive anymore? I don’t think the Athletics will pony up the $12.5 million dollar option to find out, but someone will.

Aramis Ramirez, Cubs, .241, 25 HR, 83 RBI 32 years old
His numbers were down a touch, but Ramirez can still deliver. The Cubs will most likely not pick up his $14.6 million dollar option, so he may come at some kind of discount, but where will he fit in, and who will pay what will still be a heavy price?

Left Field
Pat Burrell, Giants, .252, 20 HR, 64 RBI 34 years old

A move back to the NL seems to have revived Burrell. He does not play great defense, and is aging, but shows he can still crush pitches. He might not be a 162 game guy, but get him into 100 of them and he should be worth a mid-range price.

Johnny Damon, Tigers, .271, 8 HR, 51 RBI, 81 runs 37 years old
Father time continues to tap Damon on the shoulder, but somehow he landed an $ 8 million dollar deal last year. Maybe not $ 8 million this year, but he could still get a gig.

Jeremy Hermida, Athletics, .216, 6 HR, 29 RBI 27 years old
He is young enough to still get his act back together, but his offense has struggled. A left-handed bat for a bench is an option, but he may be looking at starter salary.

Austin Kearns, Yankees, .263, 10 HR, 49 RBI 31 years old
Kearns is still a good hitter with some power, but never seen as a big time player. In a good offense with a regular role he can put up the digits. If the Phillies lose Werth, they should check the price tag on Kearns.

Manny Ramirez, White Sox, .298, 9 HR, 42 RBI 39 years old
Is the ride finally over? It is for the Dodgers, and now they can move on. Ramirez looked slow last season, and the years of solid production are obviously gone. Will he settle for a small contract on an average team? Not likely.

Jonny Gomes, Reds, .266, 18 HR, 86 RBI 30 years old
The move to the NL has been big for Gomes. Starved for time and production in Tampa, he has boomed in Cincy, although he does strikeout a lot. His ability to drive in runs and show power makes him worth a look, and he will do well this off-season.

Centerfield
Rick Ankiel, Braves, .232, 6 HR, 24 RBI 31 years old

Since the allegations of HGH, Ankiel has stumbled. 2 years ago he was seen as a miracle, going from weak pitcher to power hitter with a great glove. Now he just looks like a guy to use on a Sunday or to pinch hit in the 7th inning.

Coco Crisp, Athletics, .279, 8 HR, 38 RBI, 32 SB 31 years old
Baseball’s best name is still a good option for a team looking for a leadoff hitter. He has good speed, can knock one out time to time, and is a good fielder. He has bounced around a bit over the last few seasons, but he is a good guy to have in the club house.

Rightfield
Jermaine Dye, None, 37 years old

He had tons to say to owners last season, and even pulled a “race card” as to why he did not get a chance. The result? No job in 2010. He will put his name out there again this year, but will anyone give him a chance? Former 30+ homer and 100+ RBI guy deserves at least a spring training invite.

Brad Hawpe, Rays, .245, 9 HR, 44 RBI 32 years old
Perhaps the Rockies were afraid of his free agent future. Hawpe had 20 or better HRs in 2008 and 2009, but as soon as he appeared to struggle he was dealt. Hawpe may have been a product of the thin Colorado air, but after this year we will know if he still has it.

Magglio Ordonez, Tigers, .303, 12 HR, 59 RBI 37 years old
As an outfielder Ordonez may have slowed up a bit, but he still has the bat. Built more for the American League, Magglio still has another good year in him, and worth a shot at a mid-level salary.

Jose Guillen, Giants, .258, 19 HR, 77 RBI 35 years old
Every year Guillen is thought of as washed up, but yet he still manages to put up decent numbers. He will be a player who will sit still until near the beginning of spring training, then someone with a need will take a shot at him, again.

Andruw Jones, White Sox, .230, 19 HR, 48 RBI 34 years old
His .230 average was actually his best in 4 years, which is scary. However he played in more games, hit more homers and drove in more runs than he had in that span as well. Is Andruw back? Not a chance, but as a cheap free agent, he can be a decent platoon guy, at best.

Designated Hitters
David Ortiz, Red Sox, .270, 32 HR, 102 RBI 35 years old

Big Papi was more of a force this year and had his highest HR and RBI total in the last 3 years. He showed better patience and better at bats. He has pretty much no skill left in the field so he is strictly an AL player, and hard to imagine him not a Red Sox player.

Vladimir Guerrero, Rangers, .300, 29 HR, 115 RBI 36 years old
He does not have the legs he once did, then again you don’t swing a bat with your legs. Guerrero is still what he was for years and his hitting is one of the main reasons the Rangers are in the World Series. I would find it hard to imagine them letting him go, but if they do, you will see a mad dash for his services.

Hank Blalock, Rays, .254, 1 HR, 7 RBI 30 years old
If only he could stay healthy. Once known as a great contact hitter with some pop, Blalock has been reduced to a “what if” guy. In 2009 he hit 25 HRs, but also had a lowly average of .234. Is he worth a chance? A long shot, maybe.

Jim Thome, Twins, .283, 25 HR, 59 RBI 40 years old
Perfect DH type as he still has the power. He will enter the 2011 season 11 HRs shy of 600, and a milestone mark is always nice to help fill seats. The Twins should look to bring him back or possibly one more shot in Cleveland.

Starting Pitchers
Jeff Francis, Rockies, 4-6, 5.00 ERA, 67Ks 29 years old

Francis is trying to save his career. After missing 2009 and a rough 2010, does he have anything left in him? At just 29 years old he may be a tweak away from contributing, or one injury away from calling it quits.

Jon Garland, Padres, 14-12, 3.47 ERA, 136 Ks 31 years old
The Padres have a $6.75 million dollar option on Garland, and it sounds reasonable for a quality ERA and an opponents batting average of .240. Garland is a good 3 or 4 for any staff in the league.

Rich Harden, Rangers, 5-5, 5.58 ERA, 75Ks, 62 BBs 29 years old
Harden was known for being wild, but he really showed it in 2010. Harden fanned 75 batters but also gave up 62 free passes. He fell out of favor in Texas, and the Rangers released him before the playoffs started. Yes he can throw gems, but his bad outings are mounting up.

Vicente Padilla, Dodgers, 6-5, 4.07 ERA, 84 Ks 33 years old
When his temper is under control he is still a decent pitcher. He missed time in 2010 with injuries, but could be a great 4th starter for a solid staff, and also a bull-pen guy in an emergency. Still some gas left in the tank.

Carl Pavano, Twins, 17-11, 3.75 ERA, 117 Ks 35 years old
Pavano makes hitters work, walking only 35 in 2010. He had a very good year with 17 wins and was a key member of the Twins Central Division Championship. He seems to have shaken off the bad days of New York and is ready for another go around.

Brad Penny, Cardinals, 3-4, 3.23 ERA, 35Ks 33 years old
Penny had a hard time staying healthy, but his brief stint in San Francisco in 2009 and his outings with St. Louis in 2010 shows that he can still contribute, but for how long?

Andy Pettitte, Yankees, 11-3, 3.28 ERA, 101Ks 39 years old
Much like Jeter, if Pettitte plays anywhere, it will be New York. He only pitched in 21 games in 2010, but he is big in playoff games and is still a solid member of this staff.

Javier Vazquez, Yankees, 10-10, 5.32 ERA, 121 Ks 34 years old
Far from the Vazquez of 2009 that was 15-10 with a 2.87 ERA and 236 Ks with the Braves, but Vazquez has always been a better pitcher in the NL. Maybe in free agency another NL team gives him a chance.

Chris Young, Padres, 2-0, 0.90 ERA, 15Ks 32 years old
The giant Young is trying to recover and get back to form. He only pitched in 4 games in 2010, but looked real sharp in those outings, holding opponents to a .154 batting average. He is a big risk given his injury track record, but worth a gamble if he has outings like these.

Dontrelle Willis, Diamondbacks, 2-3, 5.62, 47Ks 56 BBs 29 years old
The mystery of what happened to Willis continues. In 4 years he has pitched just 30 games and has a knack for walking hitters. Willis may have a shot as a left handed long relief pitcher, and even that will take lots of work. At 29 no one expected this outcome, but whatever it is, he has lost his touch.

Dave Bush, Brewers, 8-13, 4.54 ERA, 107 Ks 31 years old
Bush can eat innings, and his ERA is right around the average of a 4th or 5th starter. At 31 he is young enough to get some kinks out and have a serviceable pitcher. However I would not spend money to make him a 1 or a 2, as some desperate team may do.

Closers
Brian Fuentes, Twins, 4-1, 2.81 ERA, 47Ks, 24 saves 35 years old

Fuentes was part of a real good Twins bullpen late last season and is very valuable as a left-handed short reliever. He showed he can still close, and pitch under pressure. He is one of a few closers available and trusting in the free agent market.

Kerry Wood, Yankees, 3-4, 3.13 ERA, 49Ks, 8 saves 34 years old
A tale of 2 seasons for sure. With Cleveland he had an ERA of 6.52, and was blowing saves at an alarming rate. He was a set up guy, and a 0.69 ERA and holding opponents to a .169 average. He may not have closer stuff anymore, but he is worth a 1 year deal.

Jon Rauch, Twins, 3-1, 3.12 ERA, 46Ks, 21 saves 32 years old
Rauch may be the second best option at closer this year after Soriano. Once a starter, the giant Rauch seems to have found his groove as a closer. He has an intimidating delivery that is classic 9th inning stuff.

Relief Pitchers
Grant Balfour, Rays, 2-1, 2.28 ERA, 56 Ks 33 years old

It never looks pretty, but Balfour gets hitters out. He struggled in 2009 after a good World Series stint in 2008. However he was able to pick up the pieces and have a stellar 2010 season, and is a nice late inning guy for any bullpen.

Jose Contreras, Phillies, 6-4, 3.34 ERA, 57Ks 39 years old
Much like Jon Rauch, Contreras got a new life as a relief pitcher. He was a key part of the Phillies bullpen in 2010, as he was for the Rockies in 2009. His pitches always have good movement which makes him hard to hit and keeps him close to the strike zone.

J.J. Putz, White Sox, 7-5, 2.83 ERA, 65 Ks, 3 saves 34 years old
Putz managed to survive career suicide by escaping the Mets mess in time. He did blow 4 saves in 2010, but held batters to a .204 average and was reliable for the White Sox. He may no longer be a closer, but he is one of the better short relief options this season.

Joe Beimel, Rockies, 1-2, 3.40 ERA, 21Ks 34 years old
The definition of “left-handed specialist” Beimel was a busy worker for the Rockies, but usually would face 1 or 2 hitters per game. He keeps the ball in play, but never really has a bad season. A nice piece of a bullpen puzzle.

Pedro Feliciano, Mets, 3-6, 3.30 ERA, 56 Ks 34 years old
A guy with a good mix of pitches and a great work-horse, Feliciano appeared in 92 games for the Mets in 2010. He won’t blow hitters away but is very crafty with lefties, which makes him a valuable asset. Many teams will push for Pedro, but perhaps not the Mets.

J.C. Romero, Phillies, 1-0, 3.68 ERA, 28Ks, 29 BBs, 3 saves 35 years old
Philly helped save Romero’s career, and he has been a big piece of their winning divisions and making playoff runs over the last 4 years. He has had run ins with suspensions and injuries, but when healthy he is one of the tougher lefties to hit. He walks a good deal of hitters, but makes up for it with good stuff.

There is a large number of players eligible for free agency this off-season but I brought you the players I feel are the best prospects. If you know of a name you would like to add, feel free to comment below and share your thoughts with us. Happy signing!

If you’d like to hear anything else from me on topics or ideas I can be reached at [email protected]

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