Many happenings over the past few days, so lets get to the good ones.
A.J. Burnett signs with Yankees. This is a huge step for the Yankees to add another stud to their rotation. When healthy and motivated, Burnett is one of the best pitchers in baseball. Unfortunately, he’s only topped 200 IP in 3 of his 10 MLB seasons and won more than 12 once. He seems to be driven by the lure of a lucrative contract as two of his three best seasons came in contract years and the other came as he was headed for his first arbitration year. I expect a season with 14 wins, 200 K, 3.95 ERA, assuming he can avoid the bite of the injury bug. Buyer beware on this one.
Raul Ibanez signs with Phillies. The Phillies have decided to go with Ibanez in leftfield rather than keep Pat Burrell. Ibanez is 36, so a long term deal isn’t a wise move. But he should provide offensive pop for your team in 2009 to the tune of .300/25/100.
J.J. Putz traded to the Mets. This move greatly reduces Putz’ value as he becomes the setup man to Francisco Rodriguez, but increases the value to Mets starters as they are now less likely to lose their wins to a very combustible bullpen. He’ll post good ERA and WHIP, but look for only a handful of saves. The interesting parts of this deal are Aaron Heilman and Franklin Gutierrez both landing in Seattle. Heilman will get a chance to start in Seattle, but could end up closing for the Mariners and should thrive in that role. If he is the closer by Opening Day, Heilman should be able to pick up 30 saves easy. Gutierrez comes from the Indians (who didn’t help themselves by being part of this deal) and has a very high ceiling. This guy is a great late round flyer in your draft and should pay dividends if the Mariners play him as their everyday centerfielder, as expected.
Ramon Hernandez traded from the Orioles to the Reds for Ryan Freel. This is an opportunity for both teams to get rid of a player in desperate need of a change of scenery. Hernandez was regarded as a top hitting catcher just a few years ago and can still produce. He would be a great addition to your team as a #2 catcher if you can get him cheap. Freel can play many positions and steal many bases. He is also in danger of getting injured whenever he ventures off his sofa. If you have a deep bench, he’s worth adding to your roster. If not, don’t waste your time.
Kerry Wood signs with Indians. He should slide into the Indians closer role and pick up 30-35 saves, assuming he can stay healthy. That assumption is a big risk so don’t spend a lot here on draft day.
Matt Joyce traded from Detroit to Tampa Bay for Edwin Jackson. The Rays sold high on Jackson, who was more lucky than good in 2008. The Tigers defense isn’t as good as the Rays, so Jackson is likely to see a decrease in all stats, unless he can get his strikeout rate back up. They added Joyce, who is quickly emerging as an elite defensive outfielder, which will keep his bat in the lineup. If you can deal with a lot of strikeouts, he’ll also hit a lot of doubles for your team.
Felipe Lopez signs with Diamondbacks. This is an intriguing move by Arizona, as Lopez finds himself with an everyday job as the D-Backs 2B and likely #2 hitter. Lopez was never really comfortable in Washington and made up for it after he found himself in St. Louis with .385/4/21/4 with a .965 OPS in 43 games. I wouldn’t expect him to keep up that pace in 2009, but a line of .295/15/70/12 is the minimum I’d expect if he can stay in the lineup throughout the season.