Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Season 8 Free Agency Preview

Leon Jackson - Cobbfather Post Gazette

The hot stove is scorching hot, as Cobbfather embarks on Season 8 offseason free agency. We here at the Gazette are here to provide a preview, covering the top 10 players on the market and their strengths and weaknesses. Overall, it isn't a great free agency class, we'd probably rate it a C-, but that's not to say there's not great players to be had. Without further adieu, here are the top 10 free agents as determined by the Gazette in the season 8 class.

Paul Wirth
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Age: 30B/T: S/R
Born: Jefferson, LA
Position(s): P (SP2)
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1. Paul Wirth, 30, SP
Type B Free Agent
Key Stat: 3.36 career ERA

Possible Destinations: Nashville, Burlington, Syracuse, Charleston

Signed with Nashville - 5 years, $48.5 million

Wirth outstanding control, a strong right hand split, and 5 good pitches. His stamina isn’t great, but has good durability. You should be able to get at least 4 very good seasons from him, and maybe even 5. He has it all, and is only Type B, so you don’t even have to give up a draft pick. But the price is sure to be steep.

Rondell Burks
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Age: 30B/T: R/R
Born: Bayfield, WI
Position(s): RF/C/1B/LF/DH
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2. Rondell Burks, 30, RF
Type A Free Agent
Key Stat: .923 career OPS

Possible Destinations: Santa Fe, Houston, Syracuse, Boston, Dover, Los Angeles

Signed with Dover - 5 years, $65 million

Rondell Burks gets the nod as the top offensive free agent, and is the total package. A great batting eye and RH split have propelled him to some fantastic seasons. He would certainly bolster almost any lineup. He runs the bases well also, and has great durability. The asking price is high, so get ready to pay.

Walt Lowe
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Age: 30B/T: S/R
Born: Hartington, NE
Position(s): P (SP2)
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3. Walt Lowe, 30, SP
Type A Free Agent
Key Stat: 3.04 career ERA

Possible Destinations: Los Angeles, Tacoma, Dover, Boston, Nashville

Signed with Houston - 4 years, $48 million

This hurler has wicked control and outstanding splits, to go with fairly good pitches. The downside for him is low stamina, which could be a factor as he ages, and his durability isn’t great. This drops him to the #3 spot in our rankings, even though he may have the best skills of any free agent. Still, he should be able to throw a great 150-175 innings for whoever lands this gem.

Elvis Leon
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Age: 30B/T: R/R
Born: Roseville, CA
Position(s): P (LRA)
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4. Elvis Leon, 30, SP
Type B Free Agent
Key Stat: 3.57 career ERA

Possible Destinations: Burlington, Nashville, Houston, Syracuse, Tacoma

Signed with Charleston - 3 years, $20.8 million

Elvis has left the building in Nashville and his hit the free agent market. Elvis has superb control, velocity, keeps the ball down and has two great pitches. His splits are good, but not great. He’s also a type B free agent, so again, no draft pick has to be forfeited.

Mikey Wilkinson
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Age: 28B/T: S/R
Born: Erlanger, KY
Position(s): P (P)
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5. Mikey Wilkinson, 28, SP
No Designation
Key Stat: Age, Ratings

Possible Destinations: Syracuse, Santa Fe, Dover, Burlington, Charleston

Signed with Ottawa - 4 years, $50 million

Wilkinson is a starter with great control, nice splits, very good pitches, and excellent velocity and GB/FB ratio. He has the best stamina/durability of any of the free agent starters, and is also a few years younger. He can be a workhorse, and won't cost a free agent pick to sign. The only thing holding him back in the rankings is lack of major league success with only a 4.51 career ERA and 1.43 career WHIP. But that was in the bandboxes of Cincy and Hartford, so he definitely has upside to do better.

Aaron Tam
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Age: 31B/T: R/R
Born: Edmundston, NB
Position(s): C/DH
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6. Aaron Tam, 31, DH
Type A Free Agent
Key Stat: .890 career OPS

Possible Destinations: Santa Fe, Florida, Los Angeles, Charleston, Oklahoma City

Signed with Boston mid-season, 3 years, $2.1 million

Tam is a solid power hitter, probably the best power hitter in this free agent class, with nice splits and a decent batting eye. He’s probably a DH, even though he’s played some catcher is his career. The Type A price tag may be a bit steep for some, but teams that need a bat that may bite.

Benji Fernandez
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Age: 28B/T: R/R
Born: Haina, DO
Position(s): C
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7. Benji Fernandez, 28, C
Type A Free Agent
Key Stat: Age and Position

Possible Destinations: Dover, Syracuse, Nashville, Santa Fe, Florida

Signed with Sacramento - 2 years, $10.4 million

Fernandez, the youngest player on our list, is an average pitch calling catcher, with an above average arm. His best quality, however, is a great bat, especially from behind the plate. He doesn’t have fantastic major league stats, but it doesn’t appear he ever got a chance to play full time in Sacramento. He has outstanding contact, and very good power, splits, and batting eye. He has upside to do much better than his numbers in Sacramento, and a team needing a good hitting catcher should give him a look.

Jayson Haynes
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Age: 32B/T: R/R
Born: Underwood, IA
Position(s): P (T4A)
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8. Jason Haynes, 32, SP
Type B Free Agent
Key Stat: 3.46 career ERA

Possible Destinations: Los Angeles, Nashville, Tacoma, Burlington, Charleston

Signed with Charleston - 3 years, $19.8 million

This 32 year old still has great stuff. He’s got outstanding control and owns righties. He’s got very good pitches, although not a lights out one. He has a great history of success in the league. The main concern is durability and stamina in the long term. He should have a few more seasons of being a very effective starter.

Raul Sanchez
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Age: 33B/T: R/R
Born: Cua, VE
Position(s): P (P)
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9. Raul Sanchez, 33, RP
Type A Free Agent
Key Stat: 3.27 career ERA

Possible Destinations: Syracuse, Houston, Dover, Los Angeles, Boston

Signed with Cincinnati - 2 years, $10 million

Our pick as the top reliever in this free agent class, Sanchez sports excellent control and a killer RH split. Velocity, GB/FB, and pitches are all superb. Even though he hasn’t closed since Season 5, he could easily fill that role for a team. He’s a little more hittable against lefties, and his durability is a concern as he gets on in years, but he’ll still be a nice pickup for some team for sure.

Jack Bottalico
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Age: 34B/T: R/R
Born: Franklin, NC
Position(s): SS/IF/OF/DH
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10. Jack Bottalico, 34, 3B
Type B Free Agent
Key Stat: .856 career OPS, 186 career HR

Possible Destinations: Syracuse, Santa Fe, Charleston, Los Angeles

Signed with Nashville - 3 years, $15.5 million

Bottalico is getting up there in age, but he can still hit. While he can no longer carry a team, he should have another good season or two at the plate left. His fielding seems to be borderline 3B, but may be better off in right field. We don’t see him getting a huge contract, but he should be useful bat to some team.

That's it for the preview, good luck to everyone in the free agent market!


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