There were plenty of big names thrown around town, chief among them Josh Hamilton and Zack Greinke, but in the end there were no earth shattering moves at the Baseball Winter Meetings. There were a handful of moves involving useful players however, so let's take a moment to wrap up the meetings, and the week, by looking at some of that movement.
Joe Blanton, who I'll have a write up on in the coming days, signed a two year, $15 million deal with the Angels. He's no Zack Greinke but he's a solid hurler, durable, and the terms of the deal certainly aren't prohibitive by any means. Many think this is a bad deal based on his 4.71 ERA last season but I'm telling you his ERA should have been a run lower last season than it was. Solid.
Sean Burnett received a two year deal for $8 million from the Angels who are amassing one hell of a bullpen. Not just that, but I don't know how the Angels convinced him to take so little after Jeremy Affeldt received 3/$18 million from the Giants. Burnett struck out 57 batters in 56.2 innings with an impressive 4.75 K/BB ratio, not to mention a superb 2.51 GB/FB ratio, for the Nationals last season.
Andrew Cashner failed to be the breakout candidate many hoped for last season as injuries limited him to a mere 46.1 innings. Still, he punched out 52 batters in 46.1 innings, and there is a lot of excitement about him starting for the Padres in 2013. Unfortunately, he's unlikely to be ready for spring after a hunting accident. Apparently a friend slipped on the trip, fell, and sliced the thumb of Cashner with his knife necessitating surgery that will likely keep Andrew out of action for about three months. I'm not going to say it serves him right, but honestly, I just don't get hunting, at all. If you need to eat that's one thing, but what is the sport in shooting an animal that is just standing there? Sorry, just don't get it.
Ben Revere was dealt from the Twins to the Phillies in exchange for Vance Worley and minor leaguer Trevor May. It seems very odd to me that the Twins would deal Denard Span and Revere within a week of one another (for more on Span see his Player Profile). Clearly, the Twins have no intention of competing in 2013 and are desperate for starting pitching. Revere, looking pretty much like a direct Juan Pierre clone, hit .294 with 40 steals in 124 games last season. He'll never hit for power and may never get on base at a rate much better than the league average, but his speed makes him a superb play in the fantasy game. As for the Twins, their outfield is in shambles. It's looking like Josh Willingham, Trevor Plouffe and... Brandon Hicks? GM Terry Ryan also stated that Darin Mastroianni and Joe Benson will battle for a starting spot with Hicks, but that doesn't really help matters much now does it. Can feel the excitement? The Twins, they receive May who has struck out more than 11 batters per nine innings in the minors, and if everything breaks right could be a #3 starter in the bigs. The Twins are hoping that Vance Worley is the real deal. Worley is coming back from elbow surgery in September as he had some loose bodies and a bone spur removed. Everyone is confident he will be healthy by spring. Worley owns some solid numbers – 7.71 K/9, 2.45 K/BB, 1.28 GB/FB ratio – even if nothing really stands out. Best case he'll be a weak SP2, but more than likely the Twins would be happy if he emerged as solid third starter for them.
Nate Schierholtz signed a one year deal with the Cubs for a reported $2.25 million ($500,000 in incentives). Having watched him play for years that's a strong signing by the Cubs. Nate is an elite defender who is a solid hitter with a bit of speed. He's not an exciting fantasy option, but he's an ideal 4th outfielder in the real world who could be quite effective if given consistent work. Speaking of the Cubs. Brett Jackson, another outfielder, has revamped his swing this offseason in an attempt to cut down his massive K-rate. He's a 20/20 talent, especially if he puts the ball in play more effectively. Finally, the Cubs gave a 1-year, $2 million deal to former power hitter Ian Stewart (it looks like he will battle Luis Valbuena for the starting job). Only in America could a guy hit .183 withfive homers an a .561 OPS over 301 at-bats the last two years and get two million dollars.
Koji Uehara received a little over $4 million to ink a one year deal with the Red Sox. Born on the same day as my brother (04-03-1975), Koji is coming off a season in which he was limited to 36 innings because of injury. However, he was as good as ever when on the bump with a 10.75 K/9 mark and just three walks on the season leading to a 14.33 K/BB ratio. That 14.33 mark was the third best mark since 1885 in a season of 35 innings pitched (only Dennis Eckersley bettered it at 18.33 and 18.25 in 1989-90). Uehara also owns the all-time big league record with a 7.70 K/BB ratio (minimum 200 innings pitched). A strong signing if he can stay healthy.
Also... some links to my recent Player Profiles of a handful of players who have switched teams in the past week (those who deserve a bit more than the passing glance most of the players in this article received).
By Ray Flowers
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The co-host of The Drive on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210, XM 87: Mon-Thurs 7 PM, Fri. 9 PM EDT), Ray also hosts a show Sunday night (7-10 PM EDT). Ray has spent years squirreled away studying the inner workings of the fantasy game to the detriment of his personal life. Specializing in baseball, football and hockey, some consider him an expert in all three.
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