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That Stove is Hot
Monday, December 11, 2006
Posted by jaygross
Comments: 0

I spend way too much time watching baseball, thinking about baseball, listening to baseball Hot Stove on ESPN/MLB.com. With the Winter Meetings ending this past week, this is always one of my favorite times of year when GMs play mad scientist trying to come up with that perfect mix of players. This year has been absolutely crazy with all the signings, maybe more so than other years because:
  • There is just too much money out there (even the Royals are buyers)
  • There are only a few front line free agent starters - Zito and Jason Schmidt
  • There are only a few legitimate middle of the order bats - Soriano, Carlos Lee, and Aramis Rameriz
  • There is Japanese swap meet - Igawa, Matsuzaka, etc.

So here are the my views of major leaguers that changed places so far (I haven't seen the Japanese guys, so they are not included):

Gary Sheffield, Tigers -- Grade A+
Holy Cow can this guy hit!!! And the Tigers were pretty close last year until they stopped hitting in the World Series, but Sheff helps protect against a repeat. I have to give the Yanks credit for getting 3 nice arms for an unhappy camper who they had to move (but they should have sent him to the NL).

Freddy Garcia, Phillies -- Grade A
I love this move... You shouldn't be able to get a legitimate #1 starter for two fringe prospects. Chicago should have held out for more, he'd have gone for more in June.

Julio Lugo, Red Sox -- Grade A
Lugo fills big voids 1) an experienced SS 2) quality leadoff hitter 3) good clubhouse guy. I know he is not Alex Gonzalez (who clearly deserved the Gold Glove), but he is decent in the field. He should score a truckload of runs (120+) hitting ahead of Youk, Ortiz, Manny, and Drew.

Andy Pettite, Yankees -- Grade A-
This is a winner who knows how to pitch in big games in New York. He'll fit in great behind Wang and Mussina. I don't like that he has had some injury issues and got $16M to be a #3 starter (and the Yankees pay crazy luxury tax).

Carlos Lee, Astros -- Grade B+
Is there any doubt that this will produce in what Jose Lima called "Ten Run Field"? $100M is way too much money, but it's much better use of the money that they were paying Bagwell not to play.

Alfonso Soriano, Cubs -- Grade B
He's talented and can do great things, but he is not $136M worthy. I just don't see him as a  franchise guy on a really good team, and that is how he is being paid. By the end of this 7 year deal, there is no way he is still stealing 30 bases.

Ted Lilly, Cubs -- Grade B
I have always liked Lilly, as he is such a Red Sox killer. He does not have A+ great stuff, but he knows how to mix his pitches and should fit nicely going up against those weaker NL lineups (and getting out the AL east).

Frank Thomas, Blue Jays -- Grade C+
I just don't have faith that his body can hold up for 2 years at $9M per. When in the lineup, he can certainy mash. With him, Wells, and Glaus, I'd hate to be an opposing lefty.

Jason Schmidt, Dodgers -- Grade C+
This guy can be downright nasty, but he such an injury risk and starting pitching was not the key need for the Dodgers.

JD Drew, Red Sox -- Grade C
He has a pretty complete skillset - exceptional fielder, hits for power and to all fields, high on base guy, and not a trouble. But this guy is soft and misses just too many games AND JUST GOT $70M OVER 5 YEARS. We all know he'll see plenty of pitches behind Papi and Manny, so there is a chance for big numbers (and the Red Sox had the worst #5 hitter in all of baseball last year).

Gil Meche, Royals - Grade D
I've seen him dominate, so I get the upside. But how can the Royals make a guy with his injury history their franchise player? It seems like they reached big time, as a bad signing could cripple this team for years. Just not a risk I think I would take. Boston and New York can survive Clement/Pavano, KC can't!



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