With the second basemen out of the way, its time to continue moving around the infield, this time stopping at the other middle infield position — shortstop. Here is writer Brett Murdock has to say about the position that is quickly turning into a hot commodity.
Hard to argue with this one, as the Colorado Rockies star is probably the most complete at his position in the big leagues. A powerful offensive weapon, ‘Tulo’ hit .302 last season with 30 long balls and 105 runs batted in, a new career high. For the past three years, he has finished in the Top 10 of MVP voting, finishing fifth twice (2009 and 2010) and has cut down on his strikeout totals tremendously. Injuries have hampered him as he has never played a full 162 games, but nobody really does anymore anyway. Additionally, Tulowitzki is a back-to-back Gold Glove winner and should be a strong MVP candidate again this year.
The Miami Marlins big free agent splash this winter came in the form of the Dominican speedster. Reyes won the National League batting crown last year, topping off at .337 for the season, a full 45 points better than his career average. Never known as a power hitter, Reyes relies on his other weapons, mainly his speed to get by. Injuries have stalled him in recent years but when healthy, he is one of the best base runners in the game. His fielding percentage is lower than what some might expect and his 18 errors last season tied a career high. But, he is a team’s offensive ignition and should be a good fit for the Marlins in a competitive NL East.
It seemed like the young outfielder’s decision wouldn’t be made until Spring Training rolled around and it appeared like the Miami Marlins had the bait to sway Cespedes to Florida. But in a surprising move, the Oakland Athletics shocked the baseball world by signing Cespedes to a four-year, $36 million deal Monday. For the entire offseason, the A’s looked as if they were going to settle into their ways of dumping young talent while trying to build a competitive roster with a very low payroll. This signing was the complete opposite of that, throwing the entire MLB a major curveball that not a lot of people saw coming. (more…)
BY WADE MCMILLIN, Couchsideshow.com editor
The St. Louis Cardinals aren’t automatic favorites anymore with Pujols not in the picture. And the magic will have probably left Milwaukee — along with Fielder — when the final months of the 2012 season unfold. There’s no doubt the N.L. West will never be the same. But don’t be discouraged. The largest division in baseball should still create some late-season drama. The Cards and the Brew Crew did lose some big bats, but have bright stars in the waiting. And don’t count out the Chicago Cubs or the Cincinnati Reds, either. As usual, those four teams should be in a dead heat toward the end of the season for the division crown. Each club definitely has a shot and the division should be as competitive as ever.
Here’s Couch Side’s early preview of the N.L. Central and the top four clubs could finish out 2012:
BY WADE MCMILLIN, Couchsideshow.com editor
Only one big name still stands after players like Albert Pujols, Jose Reyes and C.J. Wilson were plucked off the Major League Baseball free agent market for big bucks.
And that big name comes with perhaps the biggest body and burliest beards in baseball. Yes, for some reason, Prince Fielder hasn’t found a team yet — despite easily being the second-best hitter on the market this winter. There’s been rumors about the Chicago Cubs, Seattle Mariners and even the Texas Rangers trying to woo the 275-pound first baseman. But this week the Washington Nationals, an unusual suitor, came out as the top team in pursuit of Fielder.
So why did it take so long for one squad to step up as frontrunners for a 30-year-old who hit .299 with 38 home runs and 120 RBIs last season? Probably because Fielder’s agent is the dubious Scott Boras. It also likely had something to do with the amount of zeros in Pujols’ ground-breaking contract. And if you’re a team dealing with those two factors, deals aren’t going to happen fast.
Boras has made things tough by changing his mind at least a handful of times, trying to get what’s best for Fielder. At first, the pair thought it would be an Pujols-like deal. Interested teams didn’t. Then, the duo wanted a deal slightly less than Pujols’ hefty $240 million, 10-year contract — so somewhere in the $200 million range. Clubs also didn’t see eye-to-eye on that idea. So Boras thought Fielder could land a shorter contract, but still make the big bucks. That’s about where prospective negotiations are at now, but the asking price for Prince may still be too high, for some teams.
Enter the Washington Nationals.