Monday, October 24, 2011

Pitchers Go Early, Lindblom Hits Jackpot in FA

Many of the league's top available starters took early offers today, with 8 hurlers signing. Catcher Cory Lindblom was the day's big winner, taking home a $74 million deal with the Nationals. Today's A/B signings (through PM2 Cycle Part 1):

Branch Cepicky, RP: San Diego - 3 years, $21MM. Mega-innings reliever will enjoy the move from Colorado to San Diego. Nice value for a guy that could throw 200+ innings. Blanch's Grade: A

Ajb’s Second Opinion: Good Health and he has not seen a major decline in his abilities. However last season was his first as a starter. High ERA can be attributed to playing in Colorado, while his low stamina would make him a better fit back in the bullpen. Overall a 3 year run at 7 million isn’t a bad risk, for a back end starter or top of the line reliever/closer. Ajb’s Grade: B+

Sherman Moore, SP: Kansas City - 3 years, $18.6MM. Long-time Twin becomes a back-of-the rotation guy for the pitching-rich Royals. Won a career-best 11 last year - could easily top that this season. Blanch's Grade: B

Ajb’s Second Opinion: Solid innings eater, nothing great about him, but nothing bad. Working as a 4th or 5th starter will greatly help his numbers and give the Royals solid production at the back end of their rotation. Decent contract for the next 3 years. Ajb’s Grade: B

Taylor Mullin, 1B/OF: Toronto - 1 year, $4.25MM. 13-year vet has had a couple of off years, but the ratings suggest he can still hit. Bet worth taking. Blanch's Grade: B+

Ajb’s Second Opinion: Classic low risk/high reward contract. Of course that is all banking on if he hits. Mullin is near the end of his career but still has the ability to put together a .280+/20+/85+ season. His low range and arm strength will basically make him a 1B/DH. Ajb’s Grade: A-

Bo Benard, SP: Toronto - 2 years, $15MM. Has the control and vR of an ace, but the P2-P4 apparently lead to inconsistency - 5 seasons with ERA's above 4.00. But no ratings declines at 35, and if he matches his career ERA (4.18) over his contract, the Jays will probably be pretty happy. Blanch's Grade: B

Ajb’s Second Opinion: Possibly steal for Toronto getting him at 7.5 million. That is of course he puts together another season like last year. Still for a solid innings eater with great health 7.5 million a year isn’t out of range for him. Ajb’s Grade: B+

Lew Cannon, SP: Boston - 2 years, $11.4MM. Career 3.39 ERA man (and 143 wins) has had some injury-related ratings dings, but remains a top SP (only 1 4+ ERA season out of 13). Blanch's Grade: A+ Bargain

Ajb’s Second Opinion: Health is a risk for this player, but when he is healthy he puts up great numbers. Is starting to see a decline in his ratings, but should hold together alright for two years. Ajb’s Grade: A-

Al Jose, RP: Montreal - 2 years, $9.2MM. Career started a little slowly, but has now run off 5 straight good seasons. Ungodly curveball...nice addition for the Expos. Blanch's Grade: A-

Ajb’s Second Opinion: Nasty, nasty curveball, just average against LHB and is pretty good against RHB. Has solid control and isn’t prone to giving up walks. Good signing. Ajb’s Grade: B+

Kane Delaney, SP: Cincinnati - 2 years, $10.8MM. Extreme groundballer has a 5-pitch assortment - he'll get his K's but will also dish out some free passes. The big question may be how he'll adjust to a smaller ballpark. Blanch's Grade: B

Ajb’s Second Opinion: The good – groundball pitchers historically have success in Great American Small Park. The bad – 5 million for a long reliever is a little much. The ugly – is starting to decline in his ratings, also health is a BIG concern as his right elbow is being held together by gum and a paperclip (MacGyver style). Ajb’s Grade: B-

Damaso Baez, CF: New York Mets - 3 years, $22.5MM. Not great range for a CF, but a plus glove and a bazooka arm (for a CF). Add in 20+ HR power and you have a top-rung CF. Not a bargain, but not a bad price for an offense/defense package of this caliber. Blanch's Grade: B+

Ajb’s Second Opinion: Just on defense alone, he’s worth a couple million a year. Add in 20+ homers and 20+ steals and his contract is justified. Now if he could only hit better than .240….. Ajb’s Grade: B

Frank Ruffin, 1B: Toronto - 1 year, $4.4MM. Ordinarily I love the old-guy 1-year contract, but Ruffin has become a bit innocuous to be a 1B or DH. Third Type A/B FA of the day for the Jays. Blanch's Grade: C

Ajb’s Second Opinion: Another low risk/high reward signing (I love these kind of signings). 20+ homers and .250+ average for 4 million, I can’t find a reason to complain about that. Of course he should never see any other position besides DH. Ajb’s Grade: B-

Denny Sullivan, SP: Nashville - 3 years, $18.3MM. Blazing fastball, keeps it down, quality pitches...and wild. That about sums up Sullivan, who has posted a 4.15 career ERA. Blanch's Grade: B

Ajb’s Second Opinion: Could be casted as the real life Ricky Vaughn (besides the glasses and criminal record). Solid health and hasn’t started the infamous old player decline yet. Will he be able to produce solid numbers of the life of his contract, remains to be seen. Ajb’s Grade: B

Roberto Jacquez, SP: Pittsburgh - 5 years, $46.1MM. Given the other contracts for starters signed today, the Pirates appear to have overestimated the market for Jacquez. The front-loading will take some of the sting out in future years, though, and Jacquez is still top-notch despite last year's ratings hit (injury). Blanch's Grade: C

Ajb’s Second Opinion: Was able to put on good numbers in a horrid ballpark (Colorado). However he is coming off elbow surgery from last season, his health is a big question mark and he appears to be declining. The only way he can justify this contract is by staying healthy and putting up decent numbers. Ajb’s Grade: C+

Cory Lindblom, C: Washington D.C. - 5 years, $74MM. The question is not whether he'll be worth this amount in the out years - he won't. The question is whether D.C. wins a championship with Lindblom behind the plate in the next 2-3 years. If so, it's a Grade A signing. Until then, Blanch's Grade: C-

Ajb’s Second Opinion: Wow what a contract! It’s obvious Washington is in a World Series or bust mode, so getting as much offensive production as possible is the main key. Is he worth the contract? No. But if Washington wins 1 or more World Series titles in the next 3-5 years then the contract doesn’t matter as much. Ajb’s Grade: C- (No World Series titles) A (World Series titles)

John Lee, SS: San Diego - 4 years, $21.3MM. Lee has been an ace defensive SS with a little pop - 103 career HR's. The problem is, his power rating will start dropping and the park will suppress HR's. Still a top SS, but the price on the last 3 years may be a little high. Blanch's Grade: C

Ajb’s Second Opinion: Defensive stud, average on offense. His power numbers will probably drop moving to San Diego, but he should solidify the Padres infield. Health is a slight concern as well possibly ratings decline in the 3rd and 4th years of the contract. Ajb’s Grade: C+

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