Hot Stove notes and other stuff…

Notes from the Hot Stove

The Yankees of the National League inked Jonathan Papelbon to a four-year deal, that at $50 million, guaranteed him more money in a single contract than any reliever in major league history. Hopefully for Phillies fans, Papelbon is a better value than the guy he passed – B.J. Ryan (5 years, $47 million).

Glad I took Oklahoma St. minus the 17 ½, though a 66-6 score is a little frightening.

I can name more than three federal agencies that I’d cut. Just sayin’…

Great time at the Shandler Arizona Fall League event this year. A few guys that caught my eye:

Nick Franklin was 2-for-4 in the first game I saw him, and then in the Rising Stars game, he had five RBI before the second inning was finished. He should be the Mariners’ shortstop by Opening Day 2013.

Arizona OF Adam Eaton (no relation) looks short, but all he does is hit and steal bases. I think he overtakes Gerardo Parra sometime in 2013.

Cody Scarpetta won’t be the Brewers’ fifth starter any time soon. He was absolutely shelled (seven runs, two outs) when I saw him.

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Lots of talk about Rockies’ 3B prospect Nolan Aredondo. He’s going to be good folks.

I learned that Brandon Crawford’s sister is not only hot, but also is dating Gerrit Cole. Cole meanwhile, must have had that on his mind when I saw him pitch in the Rising Stars game. The velocity was in the upper-90s, but Cole couldn’t get out of the first inning, surrendering home runs to Nick Franklin and some guy whose last name starts with “Terd”.

Danny Hultzen meanwhile looked very good. He’ll be a 92-94 mph, but the delivery is effortless, and he’ll soon (late-2012 or sooner) slot in as the Mariners’ third-best starter.

I sat by Robbie Grossman’s mom for part of one game, and she seems to like him. I do too. Unfortunately, Grossman’s fall ball ended early due to a broken hamate bone, but he’ll have time to recover. Grossman walked 104 times in 134 games this year, while increasing his HR total from four to 13 (in just a handful more at-bats) and swiping 24 bags. He’s a couple years away, but his star is rising.

We saw Nationals GM Mike Rizzo at one game, and though Bryce Harper went just 1-for-5 that night, the universal report in Arizona is that Harper is pretty good. Newsflash there eh? I don’t see Harper winning a big league job out of spring training, but with his talent, I’m open to the possibility it could happen.

Two years, $7 million for Jamey Carroll to be Minnesota’s starting shortstop. You think maybe they should have held onto J.J. Hardy? As a Dodgers fan, I love Carroll’s grit and OBP, but while RBI isn’t something I put a lot of credence in, he has just 17 in just north of 500 PA’s last year. That’s hard to do. Love the guy, but not as an everyday starter.

So the Dodgers lose Carroll and Rod Barajas (Pittsburgh), but give $4.5 million for one year of Juan Rivera? Can we just get this ownership situation resolved so that smart baseball people can take over? Thanks.

The Marlins? Really? I wish I knew the details of the offers to Albert Pujols, Jose Reyes, and Mark Buehrle. I’m guessing they sign for $250 million, $140 million, and $40 million respectively. I think Pujols stays in St. Louis, Reyes signs in Florida, and Buehrle goes to the Angels. Guesses of course, and I wouldn’t worry about Hanley Ramirez losing his shortstop eligibility. Reyes should miss enough games to get Hanley in there with some frequency.

It seems like such a no-brainer for the Angels to steal thunder from the Rangers by signing Albert Pujols, but apparently the team is comfortable with some combination of Kendry Morales and Mark Trumbo at the first base slot. They are in on C.J. Wilson however.

I’d love to see the Cubs reward Carlos Zambrano for his boorish behavior by shipping him, as has been rumored, to Kansas City.

Crazy story this week with the Wilson Ramos kidnapping. It’s easy for us to say that these big leaguers shouldn’t go there, but that’s their home. That’s where their family is. Ramos “only” makes in the $400k range annually, but perhaps as his salary rises, a bodyguard may be in order.

Green Bay Linebacker Desmond Bishop on the Joe Paterno / Penn St. scandal “Joe pa got fired?!?! Wft…wat did he do?” No word on whether this tool is friends with Ashton Kutcher.

I just put a little $$$ on the Marlins at 35:1 to win the 2012 World Series. If they can sign half of the guys they are rumored to be in on, that line will go down quickly.

Brett Morel homered eight times in September, and with the White Sox looking at a rebuilding phase, Morel is likely going to get first crack at the third base job. He could be a sneaky source of power, but the late of plate discipline (5.1|PERCENT| career BB|PERCENT|) will limit the BA upside.

Speaking of Septembers, Dee Gordon batted .372 with 14 stolen bases during the month. With his speed and contact ability, .300, 90 runs, and 50 steals is possible. Of course that could come with zero home runs and 30 RBI, but there’s still value to be had here.

B.J. Upton is going to generate a ton of trade interest this winter, and after batting .333/.432/.606 in September, he could be a difference maker with a change of address. Washington should have serious interest.

On the pitching side, presenting my top 20 starters for 2012:

1.       Clayton Kershaw, LAD – Solve his command issues and should win the NL Cy Young award.

2.      Justin Verlander, DET – A travesty if he’s not a unanimous Cy Young winner.

3.      Roy Halladay, PHI – Innings and age have to catch up to him at some point.

4.      Stephen Strasburg, WAS – Fastball averaged 95.8 mph upon return. That could be 97 next year. I’d pay a minimum of $500 for front row seats to see these two battle.

5.      CC Sabathia, NYY – K and BB rates were improved last year.

6.      Felix Hernandez, SEA – 2011 was a down year – 8.6 K/9, 2.6 BB/9. He’ll be better in 2012.

7.      Cliff Lee, PHI – see above

8.      Dan Haren, Angels – A quietly great 2011.

9.      Mat Latos, SD – Wins total may be suppressed by his team, but he was huge in September. Sky is the limit. Plus, you can get him after guys below him on this list.

10.   Jered Weaver, Angels – Yeah he was good too.

11.    Zack Greinke, MIL – Entering a contract year. Strong finish to 2011.

12.   David Price, TB – Same WAR as Brandon McCarthy if you can believe it, but yeah, I’ll still take Price.

13.   Madison Bumgarner, SF – Will be drafted after Tim Lincecum in 2012 drafts, but Bumgarner will be better.

14.   Tim Lincecum, SF – He’s already peaked, but he’s still good.

15.   Josh Beckett, BOS – Despite the beer and wings, a solid 2011.

16.   Ian Kennedy, ARI – Yeah, Yankees want him back.

17.   C.J. Wilson, ??? – Can he repeat?

18.   James Shields, Rays – 249.1 innings? That’s a concern.

19.   Michael Pineda, SEA – Looking at 200 innings next year. Guy is a beast.

20. Chris Carpenter, SEA – Yeah a few guys with more upside, but I think he has another strong year in him.

Baseball’s annual winter meetings are scheduled to run from Dec 5-8. That’s when we’ll see some trades and a handful of free agent signings. A few guys I’d expect to be on the block:

 
Domonic Brown – Phillies are looking at Michael Cuddyer as their left fielder, so Brown is expendable. I can see the Phillies dangling Brown in a deal for Stephen Drew, though Phillies fans might not be accepting of J.D.’s younger brother.

James Loney – He’ll be dangled, but will anyone bite on the promise of his 2011 second half? Cubs?

 
Anyone on the Cubs – Theo will be active, and willing to eat money.

Joey Votto – Do the Reds rake in a haul for Votto and go with Yonder Alonso at 1B? Possible. Blue Jays would have serious interest here, but I don’t see Jose Bautista going the other way in return. Votto for Ricky Romero?

B.J. Upton – Pretty sure he’ll be dealt. Lots of teams will be in here. I think he’ll head to Washington in exchange for prospects.

 
Jeremy Guthrie – I see him headed to a contender for prospects. Pretty sure he won’t be a part of the next Orioles contending team.