Sunday, December 26, 2010

Tanner Scheppers Interview

This week I interviewed Tanner Scheppers, and I will post that along with some analysis on the Arthur Rhodes signing.

Tanner Scheppers Interview:

Tanner is one of the top pitching prospects in the Rangers’ system (Jamey Newberg ranks him as the number 2 prospect in the Rangers’ system). 2010 was his first full year with the Rangers, and he split the year between double-A Frisco and triple-A Oklahoma City. Expect to see Tanner in Arlington sometime in 2011. I would like to thank Tanner for doing this interview for me. He is a great guy, and I really appreciate him spending some of his time answering my questions.

Me: What are the three biggest differences between the independent league (St. Paul Saints) and the minor leagues?

Tanner: One, you get paid more in the minor leagues, two, the competition’s a little bit better, and, three, the atmosphere.

Me: Why did you decide not to sign with the Orioles in 2005 or with the Pirates in 2009 when they drafted you in the second round?

Tanner: Out of high school, I just don’t think I was ready. I really wanted to at least start my education through college. With the Pirates, it just really didn’t work out. They didn’t offer me anything and didn’t have any intentions to sign me, so it just forced me to go to independent ball.

Me: Right, so you went to the St. Paul Saints then. And when the Orioles didn’t draft you, you went to Fresno State, right?

Tanner: Yeah

Me: Can you please give three major differences you’ve experienced between starting and relieving and why? And which one do you enjoy more?

Tanner: I think for my future, I would really like to be a starter. One difference between starting and relieving is that, as a starter, you have a five day routine, you know when you’re going to throw, you prepare your body and get in a good workout routine. Relieving, you’re possibly pitching in any given situation on any day. Another thing is the mindset on attacking hitters. As a starter, you know you may have to go longer in a game, as opposed to relief, where you might just use your fastball and blow guys away. And then another thing would be… Hmm, you know, really I can only think of those two.

Me: Yeah, I like starting more, too.

Tanner: Do you?

Me: Because, when you’re relieving, you normally don’t get more than an inning and I don’t like that.

Tanner: Yeah, absolutely.

Me: What do you think are some of the reasons for the difference between your first half this year, where you had an ERA right around 1.00, and your second half, where your ERA was much higher?

Tanner: You know, I think it was just that it was my first full year and I had never really experienced how long the season actually was. I think I just ran out of gas mentally and physically. But now, being able to look towards the future, I feel like I can prepare myself a lot better, knowing what I have ahead of me throughout the year.

Me: Yeah, the schedule in the bigs is a lot longer than college.

Tanner: Yeah, exactly. I mean, I just never really experienced anything like that.

Me: That’s kind of how I was in my first year of select ball. We played like 40 more games than we did in rec ball. Did you notice any difference between Double-A and Triple-A hitters, and if so, what was it?

Tanner: I think the main difference is that you have more experienced players up there and they’re a lot more patient and they really capitalize on mistakes you make on the mound. They wait for what they want and they attack when they get it.

Me: When the prospect ratings come out with you near the top, do you pay any attention to them, or do you try just to ignore them?

Tanner: I just try to ignore them as best as possible and focus on what I need to do mentally and physically to get ready for the year.

Me: What were the three best parts of participating in the Futures Game this past season?

Tanner: You know, it was really cool because I was at the ballpark that I grew up going to, being from that area. And it was cool to be able to have a lot of my family and friends there, and being able to pitch in a big league stadium.

Me: Because you’re from California and it was in Anaheim, right?

Tanner: Right. I grew up like 30 minutes south of there.

Me: That’s pretty neat. In 2007, you were named to the first-team all WAC. What happens after you get named on that team? Is there a presentation or something to that extent, or do they just name the team and that’s it?

Tanner: They have an end-of-year banquet where they present players and awards for the year.

Me: Do they give you a trophy or anything?

Tanner: They give you a plaque.

Me: When you were recruited to Fresno State, they recruited you as a shortstop. Were you glad or disappointed when they switched you over to middle relief?

Tanner: You know, at first, I was a little disappointed, but it really grew on me and I just fell in love with the art of pitching.

Me: Right, because in your senior year in high school, I think you hit .460 or something and were team MVP, but you were also a good reliever. So I could see being disappointed but I can also see where Fresno State was coming from.

Tanner: Yeah, they had my best interests in their minds. So really, it ended up working out.

Me: It did. What are some of the differences between pitching in the Arizona Fall League and pitching in Spring Training?

Tanner: Just the atmosphere. You actually have people coming to the games and you have all the guys competing for a job (in spring training).

Me: What is the atmosphere in the Arizona Fall League like?

Tanner: It’s pretty relaxed. It’s for development and getting experience. It makes it really fun, when, really win or lose, you’re getting as much out of it because you’re getting better at the game of baseball.

Me: What do you think has been your best professional game and why?

Tanner: I think it would probably be my very first start of the year, against the Albuquerque Isotopes I think. I threw four innings of shutout baseball, and I think it was my best performance of the year.

Me: That’s a pretty solid first start.

Tanner: Yeah, it was nice.

Me: Who are your three favorite teammates since you joined the Rangers organization and why?

Tanner: Oh wow. To be honest, I think I would really rather not answer this question. I hope you understand.

Me: Yeah, that’s fair. Can you please rate each of the ballparks in the Rangers organization that you’ve played in from 1 to 10 (10 being the best) and explain your ratings?

Tanner: Frisco’s a 10. The atmosphere, the family atmosphere, the stadium, and the facility are unbelievable for double-A. And Oklahoma City was really nice. It was a little older park. I’d probably give it a 9. They had good crowds and the field was always done really beautifully. Both places were really fun to play.

Me: Yeah, my grandparents and I saw you get a save up in Oklahoma City this year. We stayed out in the hotel above left field, where we could see into the ballpark from our room. It was very neat.

Tanner: Yeah, that’s a cool little place.

Me: What is the toughest thing about minor league life and why?

Tanner: Probably just the travel and everyday grind. Playing every day and traveling different places, whether it’s on a bus or a plane. Probably just the everyday grind of that.

Me: Who are the three toughest hitters you’ve faced and why?

Tanner: I can’t even think of one really that sticks in my mind.

Me: You mentioned earlier that you’re from near Anaheim, so were the Angels your favorite team growing up?

Tanner: I actually grew up as a Dodgers fan. They were just a little further up the freeway.

Me: What sports did you play growing up?

Tanner: I played basketball, soccer, lacrosse, and baseball.

Me: Which one do you feel you were best at?

Tanner: Baseball.

Me: What is your best pitch and how was it developed?

Tanner: My fastball is my best pitch. It just kind of developed as I got bigger and stronger and got older. The velocity just came.

Me: When you were in high school, in your senior year, you were named to the Orange County All-Star team and you were also your team’s MVP. Which one meant more to you?

Tanner: Probably the Orange County All-Star.

Me: So, was there an actual All-Star game that you got to pitch in?

Tanner: Yeah, there was a game there.

Me: Thanks a lot for doing this. I really appreciate it.

Tanner: Hey, you’re welcome man.

Thanks again to Tanner for giving me so much of his time and for the great answers to my questions.

Arthur Rhodes:

I really like this move. Yes, he’s old, but have you seen his stats? He was an All-Star last year, with an ERA for the season of 2.29. The last three seasons, his ERAs have been tremendous, at 2.04, 2.53, and 2.29. I think that this is a terrific move, and the bullpen needs this, because with Feliz and Ogando possibly moving to the rotation (I think Feliz will be a starter and Ogando will stay in the ‘pen), the depth out there could be pretty thin. Plus, if you delete his stats from the 2000 playoffs, he has a 1.25 ERA in 14.1 innings of work during the playoffs. That’s pretty solid.

Come back next week for most likely another interview.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Newberg Book Release Party

This past Thursday, Jamey Newberg held his annual Book Release party at Sherlock’s out in Arlington. This year, he had Derek Holland, Matt Thompson, Joe Wieland, and Tanner Scheppers signing autographs and participating in a Q&A session. It was a lot of fun as usual. This week I will give a recap of the night and give some analysis on Cliff Lee going to Philadelphia.

Newberg Night:

My dad and I got to Sherlock’s at 4:30 for the 6:00 event, and there were already plenty of people there. We got a table and ate with Ted Price (, and Jamey Newberg came over and ate and chatted with us for a while. I ordered a bacon cheeseburger, which was good, along with some decent fries. Two years ago at the event, the news broke that AJ Burnett was going to sign with the Yankees, but there was no big news this time, just the fact that I shouldn’t have benched Vincent Jackson on my fantasy team. Devin Pike ( and Eleanor Czajka ( also came over and sat at the table with us for a little while as people were getting their autographs. It was fun talking with and hanging out with them. Scott Lucas ( was there too but I didn’t get the chance to talk with him much. I also spent some time at the Newberg Book Table with my friend Ryan Wolfson, who introduced me to potato skins, by giving me one, which made me end up getting my own order of potato skins.

After I finished eating the potato skins, I got autographs from the four players (Derek Holland, Joe Wieland, Matt Thompson, and Tanner Scheppers), and they were all extremely nice. I was towards the end of the line, so not too long after I got my autographs, the Q&A session started. Here are the highlights from the session:

Me: This question is for Tanner. What are the three biggest differences between the independent league, where you pitched for the St. Paul Saints, and the minor leagues? (This is one of the two questions I asked during the Q&A)

Tanner: One, you get paid more in the minor leagues, two, the competition’s a little bit better, and, three, the atmosphere.

Q: How do you keep your composure when there are so many trade rumors out there and you’re the centerpiece of so many of them?

Tanner: You can’t really worry about trade rumors. You’re a Ranger as long as you are. If it happens, it is what it is.

Derek: The main thing is not to worry about it. It’s a rumor, remember that. It’s not true until it happens. The best thing is not to worry about it. Just keep doing what you’re doing. Like Tanner said, you’re a Ranger until you’re told otherwise.

Q: Derek, you shut down the Yankees twice in the playoffs. Tell us how you did it.

Derek: The main thing is to keep throwing strikes. They’ve got to hit your pitch and, sure enough, they weren’t hitting it.

Jamey: Matt, if you had turned the Rangers down and gone to TCU, who would the ace of the Frogs’ staff have been last year, you or Matt Purke?

Matt: Go Frogs. They had a great year over there obviously and they’ll have another great year this year.

Q: This question is for Tanner. I read in an interview that you’re still going to be a starting pitcher. Is that correct? How does that make you feel? Do you have a preference?

Tanner: I definitely like the opportunity to start. Going into spring training, that’s what they’re telling me I’m going to do. All I can do is go out there and prepare as a starter and see what happens.

Eleanor: Joe, will you miss pitching in Bakersfield and what are your memories of pitching with the team?

Joe: Will I miss pitching in Bakersfield? No, definitely not. That league is a hitters’ league and unfriendly to pitchers. But I did kind of like how we started games at 7:45, because the sun was in the hitters’ eyes. It was fun, but I don’t think I’ll miss it.

Jamey: I’ve got one for Joe. Your first camp with the Rangers was also Nolan Ryan’s first camp since he came back to the organization. There were stories that he took a real liking to you the first time he saw you and I assume that involved a couple of conversations you had with him. Just talk about what that was like, being just out of high school and Nolan Ryan’s talking to you about pitching.

Joe: Everything he said, I took to heart. He’s got the best advice to offer. It’s incredible having a guy of his stature taking an interest in you. It helped me out quite a bit.

Q: I know Derek’s going to take ‘awesomeness’ to Surprise. What’s the one thing that the rest of you are going to take to Surprise?

Joe: I’m going to bring my toe shoes. If anybody doesn’t have toe shoes, I recommend it.

Matt: I’m just going to laugh at Wieland’s toe shoes.

Tanner: I’m going to bring Rangers attitude to Surprise. And a mountain bike.

Q: Do you guys pitch because you can’t hit or do you pitch because you’re a better pitcher than hitter?

Tanner: I’m a better pitcher than hitter.

Matt: I couldn’t hit to save my life.

Joe: Definitely a better pitcher.

Derek: Forget these guys. I’m both. Actually, I’m pretty much lying. I’m 0-for-6 so far. But you know what? Actually, I might get to face Cliff Lee. It’d be awesome to take him yard.

Q: If Cliff Lee hit you with a pitch, would you charge the mound?

Derek: I think it’d be even funnier if I just laughed. No, I won’t charge. He’s a nice guy.

Q: Tanner, you played in St Paul, which is an amusing little ballpark. What was it like playing for Bill Murray and, while you were there, did they still have the target with the guy hanging from it in right field?

Tanner: My two highlights in St. Paul are midget wrestling and dog day.

Q: Derek, a couple of years ago, you were at a Newberg event but were still in the farm system. A couple of years later, you’ve pitched in the World Series. What’s going through your head?

Derek: I was in awe. There’s no feeling to describe it. It’s breathtaking. But then again, the way I was taught by Bengie, who’s one of the greatest leaders of all time, is that the game doesn’t change. It’s always the same. It’s just like a regular season game. You just have more media. The game stayed the same. I was very composed. It’s just a little different atmosphere. That’s it.

Devin: You always hear that pitchers have their favorite catchers. At the major league level, you might have that luxury but, in the minors, you might have up to six catchers during the course of the season. So do you have the ability to express a preference for who you’d rather work with?

Joe: I don’t really think we have that luxury. I haven’t asked. I feel it would be disrespectful to the other catchers.

Matt: If you have a good relationship with your manager and pitching coach, you can tell them who you’re more comfortable or have a better connection with. If you recommend it, they can try to work to it as much as they can.

Tanner: Yeah, there are definitely catchers I connect with more than others. But it’s the manager’s decision and you go with what he says.

Q: Derek, first pitch in the majors or first pitch in the World Series? Which one’s better?

Derek: This will be easy. First pitch in the majors, because I threw a ball in the World Series. I threw 11 of them I think, which was very frustrating. Anyway, the debut definitely has more meaning because it’s the first step in the big leagues, so to me it was more important.

Q: Who was your favorite team or player growing up?

Tanner: Favorite team growing up was the Dodgers. Favorite player growing up was Nomar Garciaparra.

Jamey: The Texas Rangers were my favorite team. Probably Buddy Bell was my favorite player.

Matt: Texas Rangers for me as well. Rusty Greer was probably my favorite player.

Joe: I honestly didn’t have a specific favorite team. You guys might hate me for this but Alex Rodriguez was my favorite player.

Derek: Growing up, I was a big Braves fan. Chipper Jones was my favorite player and I wanted to be just like Andy Pettite.

Q: What’s your opinion on the DH?

Derek: I love the DH. It takes a lot of pressure off the pitcher. A lot of pitchers let a bad at-bat affect them when they go back out to the mound. To me, the DH helps out.

Joe: Since I have yet to hit professionally, I’ll have to say designated hitter. Having that extra bat in the lineup really helps out.

Matt: I really don’t have an opinion because I’ve never faced an opposing pitcher when he’s hitting, but I like the DH when I’m in the dugout and our team’s hitting.

Jamey: I’m actually a National League guy. I love interleague play when we’re traveling. I like that brand of baseball better when the bullpen strategy is what it is.

Tanner: It’s nice offensively to have a DH.

Q: I’ve heard it said that Ranger fans are unresponsive to the plays on the field. Derek, is that true? And do you really hear what we’re saying or not saying?

Derek: Personally, yeah, we can hear you guys, and that’s good. We have the greatest fans, just so you guys know. But one thing that I am going to ask, and I know that a lot of guys get irritated with this so don’t take it the wrong way, but the wave needs to go. When I was in the bullpen in the playoffs against the Rays, we had a close game and we were ahead and fans were too busy doing the wave instead of getting behind us. Do it when we’re up by a lot, that’s all I ask. The wave is great, just do it at the right time, that’s all. Please don’t take any offense to it. We like the wave – just do it at the right time.

Q: How much is the defense up the middle determined by what pitch is thrown versus the scouting report on the batter?

Derek: It’s not mainly about the pitch but more about the scouting report.

Q: Jamey, how do you not get in trouble with your wife?

Jamey: I’m really very blessed. Obviously my wife’s very tolerant of all this stuff that I do. But the last few years because of our son Max being more insane about the game than I was at his age, I think she’s given up. She actually kind of jumped aboard, and she had a great time rooting for a baseball team this year, which has never been the case before.

Me: Matt, what adjustments did you make following the 2008 season to lower your WHIP by more than 2 base runners per inning?

Matt: Really, I had a tough time coming out of high school. In high school, it was really about throwing it over the plate somewhere. I signed late, came into the Arizona Rookie League, and found out quick. My first professional pitch was about 93 or 94 mph and it was about 150 back at my face. I tried to make the adjustment over that offseason. I think I made some really good improvements.

Q: Tanner, do you prefer relieving or starting?

Tanner: Right now, definitely starting because that’s what they want me to do.

Q: Matt, do you realize you’re the only guy from Burleson to make it this far?

Matt: I did not know that. I’m competing with Kelly Clarkson.

Q: Now that there are expectations for this team, how does it change your offseason and your approach to the game?

Derek: If you would have come into that clubhouse after we lost, you would have seen that next year is going to be unbelievable. We are very hungry for this. We got a taste of it and now we want the whole thing. We’re not worried about pressure or any of that kind of stuff. We know what we have to do and we’re going to make sure we do it.

Joe: Being in the minor leagues, it was a lot of fun to be able to look up at the big league team and see them win their division and go to the World Series. I got to go to two games in San Francisco and it was just an unbelievable experience. It gave me that much more fire to improve and make adjustments and advance. Watching those guys, it looked like a blast and it’s something I want to experience. Hopefully in the next few years I’ll be able to get that chance.

Matt: Yeah, it was really exciting to watch these guys take care of business this year, just like they’ll do next year. At the lower levels, when the big league club has a season like they had and will continue to have, it makes us want to push ourselves harder so that one day we can come join them and be successful with them.

Jamey: Maybe less Rally Minka. Or more. My approach isn’t going to change.

Q: Derek, who is the most feared big league hitter in a clutch situation that you would not want to face?

Derek: If we’re going to use anybody, I can go ahead and say Josh Hamilton. But if one of us is pitching, then I’m going to say, and I know you guys aren’t going to like this at all, but Derek Jeter. You have to tip your hat to him. He’s one tough guy to get out.

Jamey’s book is awesome as always and is the most complete coverage of the Rangers’ 2010 season that you’re going to find. I highly recommend it. The forewords this year are by Chuck Greenberg and Brad Sham. Jamey included his prospect rankings (top 72, plus breakdowns of the players in each position that are on those lists), his 20 players who could break out in 2011, all of his reports for the season, and the 2010 draft. It is well worth the $25. You can order it off his website (

Cliff Lee:

Disappointed? Yes. A little frustrated? Yes. But, do I think the Rangers handled everything right? Yes to that, also. Although it is disappointing that Lee is with the Phillies, I feel that the Rangers did exactly what they should have done throughout the entire process. They gave Lee a very good offer, and upped it and upped it to match the Yankees, but then knew exactly when they would be giving him too much, and stopped right before that. Personally, I think it’s cool that Cliff decided to take less money to go to Philadelphia just because he liked it there. I just find it disappointing that the Rangers weren’t the team that he liked playing for the most and weren’t the team that he’d take a pay cut to go to.

As far what we should do now that Cliff Lee is off the market, I’m not really sure. But here’s what I don’t want to do:

1. Trade for Zack Greinke – He has a social anxiety disorder, and who knows how he will handle a new situation and pitching for a contending team. Plus, I think he’s overrated, as he had an ERA above 4.00 last season for the Royals.

2. Trade for Matt Garza and Consider Him an Ace – Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against Matt Garza. I think he’s a fine pitcher, and I wouldn’t mind having him. But I don’t think that he’s an ace. I think he’d be a very good #2 pitcher, but, I’m sorry, as far as aces on playoff teams go, a 3.91 ERA
(Garza’s 2010 ERA) just doesn’t cut it. So, trading for him I have no problem with, but not as an ace.

3. Sign Carl Pavano and Count on Him as Ace in the Playoffs – Once again, I see nothing wrong with Pavano. Actually, I like the guy. I mean, he screwed up the Yankees, so what’s not to like? Anyway, I think Pavano would be a great guy to sign. As your #1 in the regular season, he’d be great. He eats up innings (221 last year), and he consistently gives you quality starts. But, come playoff time, when he is matched up against CC Sabathia or Jon Lester or Tim Lincecum or Cliff Lee, he won’t win you those games. So Pavano as regular season #1: Fine. But Pavano as postseason #1: Bad.

4. Do Nothing – Our pitching staff just isn’t good enough without one more pitcher. Here’s the Rangers rotation:
CJ Wilson: Great #2, not sure about #1
Colby Lewis: Great #3, Not-So-Good #2
Derek Holland: Potentially Fantastic #4, Risky #3
Tommy Hunter: Fine #5, Mediocre #4

Come back next week for an interview with Rangers pitcher Tanner Scheppers.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Outfield/DH Free Agent Special

This week I will give some analysis and predictions for the top free agent outfielders/DHs. Once Cliff Lee makes his decision, I’ll post some analysis on that, so come back during the week for an update.

Magglio Ordonez (.303 AVG, 12 HR, 59 RBI)
Prediction: Detroit Tigers – The Tigers are pushing hard for Magglio and seem to be willing to pay him some serious dough. Ordonez had a very good year last year, and if you eliminate his injury that kept him out for half the season, his power numbers would pace out to be 24 home runs and 118 RBIs. Those are pretty good numbers, and I don’t see the Tigers letting him go.

Vladimir Guerrero (.300 AVG, 29 HR, 115 RBI)
Prediction: Texas Rangers – The Rangers want him back and Vlad wants to come back. Guerrero wants a multi-year contract, but it doesn’t seem like anyone is willing to give that to him. And as with all one-year contracts, he’ll go where he wants to go, and that’s in Texas.

Jim Thome (.283 AVG, 25 HR, 59 RBI)
Prediction: Minnesota Twins – Thome was a big part of the Twins’ success last year, and obviously still has it. He it 25 home runs in 108 games last year, which is a very impressive ratio (about 1 home run every four games). He also hit for a solid batting average, and I just don’t see the Twins letting him go, or any other teams jumping in and blowing him away.

Hideki Matsui (.274 AVG, 21 HR, 84 RBI)
Prediction: Tampa Bay Rays – Here’s a rundown of who all the Rays have lost this offseason and who they will and might lose:
Lost – Joaquin Benoit
Lost – Carlos Pena
Lost – Carl Crawford
Will Lose – Rafael Soriano
Will Lose – Grant Balfour
Will Lose – Randy Choate
Looking to Trade – Matt Garza
Looking to Trade – Jason Bartlett
After all of those losses, they have to add someone, right?

Come back next week for a recap of Newberg Night and come back during the week after Cliff makes his decision.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Free Agent Special: Infielders

This week I’ll give my predictions on where the top free agent infielders this year will wind up and give some quick analysis on the Rangers’ acquisitions from this week.

This past week the Rangers signed Yorvit Torrealba to be their starting catcher. I think that this is a very good move for the Rangers, especially when you consider that John Buck and Victor Martinez are already gone. Yorvit hit .271 last year with 7 home runs and 37 RBIs. In 2009, he hit .291, making the past two years some of the best hitting years in his career. He is good at working with pitchers, brings a veteran presence, but has lots of trouble throwing out baserunners. On the bright side defensively, though, he almost never makes an error, so he won’t give teams any free bases on passed balls or errors.

The Rangers also signed Yoshinori Tateyama this week. Over his 11 Japanese seasons, all with the Nippon Ham Fighters, he has a 3.43 ERA. Last season, he had a 1.80 ERA and a .213 BAA. He has had good statistics while in Japan and was scouted by the same people that scouted Colby Lewis while in Japan. He is 35, and I like this deal, because at the very worst, he does nothing for us and we get rid of him, but at the very best, he becomes a reliable reliever out of our bullpen.

Free Agent Infielders:

Paul Konerko (.312 AVG, 39 HR, 119 RBI)
Prediction: Texas Rangers – The Rangers are in need of a first baseman/DH and Konerko fills that role. It is a good fit, and the Rangers are trying hard to get him. He had a great year last year and wants this next deal to be his last, so the Rangers would have to make a long-term commitment to get him. The biggest challenge for the Rangers for Konerko would be the White Sox, even though they already signed Adam Dunn.

Carlos Pena (.196 AVG, 28 HR, 84 RBI)
Prediction: Chicago Cubs – The Cubbies lost their starting first baseman when they traded Derrek Lee last season, and they really seem to appreciate strong defense at that position, which Pena has. They also seem to like power, and Pena has that, too. Personally, I don’t think a guy that hit below .200 deserves anywhere near as much attention as he’s getting, but apparently some teams don’t care about average, they just care about home runs.

Adrian Beltre (.321 AVG, 28 HR, 102 RBI)
Prediction: Oakland Athletics – They apparently gave him a 5-year offer a few weeks back, and feel that they need him to be a contender. I don’t see Beltre turning down 5 years and a lot of money, although I don’t think that would turn out well for the A’s, given that in non-contract years he tends to struggle, and there would be four of those.

Russell Martin (.248 AVG, 5 HR, 26 RBI)
Prediction: New York Yankees - Russell, despite being a two-time all-star, is really not all that great of a starting catching option right now. He hit below .250 last year, exactly .250 in 2009, and has power numbers that have declined each of the past three years. If I’m a GM, I’m staying away from this guy, but the Yankees really want him to be their back-up catcher, and when the Yankees really want somebody, they normally get him.

Miguel Olivo (.269 AVG, 14 HR, 58 RBI)
Prediction: San Diego Padres – Olivo has been a very solid catcher over his career, getting 10+ homers each of the past five seasons, and has been very consistent. The Padres lost Yorvit Torrealba to free agency, and their other catcher, Nick Hundley has never played over 85 games in a season, and has never hit .250 or higher, so the Padres, especially after trading away Adrian Gonzalez, could really use some help at the plate (and behind it). Olivo can do just that.

Come back next week for my free agent special on outfielders.