November 21, 2009

Hot Stove Predictions - Part 3 (1B, C, OF)

Amazingly (or maybe not) there aren’t any Type A free agents among the available first basemen. The top guys are Carlos Delgado, the oft injured Nick Johnson, Adam LaRoche, and a couple of guys who should get a good look from teams in Russell Branyan and Hank Blalock.

I’ll start with Blalock, who I see going to Cleveland. Here’s a team that desperately needs some power in their lineup (they finished 10th in the AL last year in homers) and Blalock can provide that. He’s not great at hitting lefties, but he will give a team 25-30 long balls. He could even platoon with Andy Marte, who is coming to the point in his career when he’s either got to put up the numbers or find his way to the bench or worse. Blalock is only 29 years old and still has some upside and would be a nice piece for the Indians to add.

If ever there was a player that fit the Billy Beane mold, it’s Nick Johnson. Johnson has a career OBP of .402. He’s a walk machine. Problem is he has a hard time staying healthy. It’s the “if he’s healthy” label that intrigues people and I can’t see Beane passing up an opportunity to sign a guy like this. He’s made for Oakland. It doesn’t hurt that he’s also a Sacramento native.

As for the others out there, I believe Carlos Delgado will return to the Mets, Adam LaRoche will head back to Atlanta and Russell Branyan will resign with the Mariners. Pretty boring… I know. Other free agents include Eric Hinske and Ross Gload. Either one could end up in a backup role in Atlanta or Florida, but are more likely to head to the AL where they can also DH some. I’ll pass on predictions for Kevin Millar, Dmitri Young, Doug Mientkiewicz and others like them…

As for catchers… I can’t figure out why anyone in the world would be interested in Jason Kendall. He can’t hit very well, doesn’t throw out runners and is now 35 years old. In my opinion, the best he can hope for is a back up role at this point in his career. I can see him replacing Brad Ausmus for the Dodgers.

I love Bengie Molina. He’s one of my all-time favorite Angels. I really would have never of imagined him being as productive as he has been the last couple years. Now that he’s 35, he’s probably only going to get a one year deal some where. It could be the Giants, but I have a feeling he’ll end up catching for the Mets – which seems to be a popular predicted destination for Molina. He’ll make that pitching staff better and I think he’s an excellent fit.

Miguel Olivo had a pretty good 2009, all things considered. He managed to crank out 23 homeruns while hitting .249. He just doesn’t walk very often and has a low OBP. Never-the-less there is a place out there for Olivo and I believe it will be in Detroit where he will put up more solid numbers.

Yorvit Torrealba will be heading to Milwaukee where he will be an upgrade over Kendall and be “the” guy. Rod Barajas will resign with Toronto. The Blue Jays can’t afford to let him get away.

Next up, outfielders…

If you’re buying what the media is selling about Hideki Matsui, he’s headed to Seattle. That doesn’t make sense to me since they have Ken Griffey, Jr. I see Matsui in Texas as their DH.

I’ve already predicted Dye to Oakland, Bay to the Angels and Guerrero to the White Sox.

Next up... Marlon Byrd, who will become a Giant replacing Randy Winn. Byrd is one of those guys who is probably not as good as his statistics would show. He had a solid season last year in Texas, but how will he do outside of Arlington Stadium? We’ll see, but I wouldn’t expect too much. Garret Anderson will join him in San Francisco as a slightly better option than John Bowker in left field.

Look for Xavier Nady to find his way back to his original team the San Diego Padres, replacing Brian Giles who may be forced to retire and Rick Ankiel will return to the Cardinals

Andruw Jones will head to the Cubs because the Cubs seem to have a propensity of making bad decisions and because they’ll believe he can play center field. I’m kidding; then again maybe not. After the debacle that is Milton Bradley, I can see the Cubs doing this. He’ll be reunited with his hitting coach from Texas, but it won’t matter much; Jones’ best days are behind him.

The big prize of the free agent class – Matt Holliday will play for the Mets. I’m not alone in this prediction, that’s for sure.

As for the mercenary that is Johnny Damon, I’ll go out on a limb and predict his destination will be the White Sox. Damon would probably sign with just about any place willing to pay him enough.

This prediction thing is a lot of work… but I’m having a little fun with it. I did kick a kick out of the news that Vizquel is likely to sign with the White Sox – which is something I predicted the day before the news broke. Yeah, I know… I’m that blind squirrel people talk about…

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