Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Free Agent Class Position-By-Position

Unlike recent classes (Goodwin and maybe Nakajima and Woodward last year; Brogna, Lim and Javier in Season 14; and Morales in Season 13), this class doesn't have a headlining superstar. That doesn't mean there aren't some very helpful players available. For those willing to investigate closely, work in a platooner here and there, and generally be creative in their picks, this class offers some good value, especially among position players. Some thoughts, position-by-position:

Catcher: Pat Ramirez appears to be the top name here, although there are lots of 30-something vets available. Matt Selby and Jose Zurburan could be good value at the right price. Ralph Bacsik offers a mean bat, especially against RHP, although he has an annoying tendency to call for high fastballs to high fastball hitters. There's also a varied assortment of platooners that can contribute.

1B: Diego Coronado isn't your classic power guy, but could give you 18-20 homers and a .400+ OBP (in a sm aller park than San Diego's). Nash Brooks can still hit and, at 34, might come cheap. This group trails off badly after those 2 but might provide a surprise find or 2.

2B: Roy Drew is solid but coming off 2 subpar seasons. Carlos Pineiro is in the same neighborhood, although he's a year older and has less power than Drew. Troy Harris might be an interesting play for someone - he's among the better defenders available at 2B and smacked 28 taters for Little Rock last year.

3B: Hard to say who's at the top of this bunch, although it seems Bruce Post and Sean Hines are the most visible. Post is the better defensively; Hines delivers more punch but is marginal at the hot corner. After a couple of seasons as a backup, Midre Ordonez got his chance last year and delivered a respectable (for San Diego's park, at least) .741 OPS - he can field the position adequately. Aramis Espinoza gives you power, but also has some trouble in the field. For those considering a defensive specialist here, Terry Owen could be your guy. At 35, Mitch Hall isn't going to be your everyday 3B, but he could fill in there occasionally and will still get a big hit.

SS: Some interesting names here, lead by (imho) sure-fire, 1st-ballot HOF'er William Kwon. His power's down a little, and his range and arm aren't really in SS territory anymore, but his glove and other hitting ratings are still sterling. Ivan Ruiz offers excellent D (NL Gold Glove last year) and a good bat against RHP. It's probably time for Clyde Simon to slide over to 3B. Among the pure defensive specialists, Julio Jose maybe the most intriguing...with that 96 range he notched 26 "+" plays for Buffalo last year (but he can't hit squat).

COF: Most a grab-bag this year with a lot of role-player types, although Victor Perez, Billy Ray Hernandez and John Lindsay could be more than that. Lon Andrews is a part-timer now but is still better than most here at 36.

CF: If you're really in need of a CF, you might want to consider trading for one, as all the available CF's have flaws of one kind or another. George Sweeney and Al Pulido appear to be the only ones here who can field the postion well (in case) to adequately (in Sweeney'sPulido's) and hit at least a little.

DH: Harry Encarnacion call still rake (.300/42/101 for Cleveland last year) at 34. Beyond that, Tony Ueno seems the best bet to contribute.

SP: At first glance this looks like a motley crew, but there are plenty of guys who could have good seasons (they could also have sucky seasons, but that's pitchers for you). Some possible breakout candidates: J.J. Little (decent in a LR role for Jackson last year), Edwin Hill (although it's hard to see him improving at 36), Ken George (same comment as Hill, only he's 37), Jacob Martin (can he come back from injury at 34?), Norm Rose (man, this is an old group), Jimmy Martin, and Derek Betemit.

RP: Fausto Cedeno is the prototypical 100+ innings setup man. He's been excellent for Burlington and the only rating that's started to slip (at 35) is velocity. Humberto Roque could probably get away with being a won't find better command of the first 2 pitches anywhere. Rick Miller night be the best 1-inning guy avaible...he has struggled before but put it together the last 2 seasons in El Paso. Bobby Anderson is 38 and had a rough Season 15, but is only a year removed fromposting a 1.44 ERA (62+innings). Lawrence Simpson appears to be done - he's 2 years and a lot of earned runs from his last glory season in Charleston.

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