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.