MLB Free Agency: Grading All 30 Team's Fan-Favorite Move
Now that we officially have baseball being played in Florida and Arizona, we might as well look back at the offseason that was. However, we are going to do that a little bit differently.
Normally, a list like this would grade the best free agent signing by each team made this winter. However, for this list, I want to look at the moves that got the fans most excited. Who was the fans' favorite free agent signing this winter? I hope you enjoy it!
Arizona Diamondbacks: Jason Kubel
Jason Kubel was one of the better names on the free agent market this winter. The Arizona Diamondbacks were able to bring him in add some power to the middle of their lineup. The only problem with this situation was that it created a situation where the Diamondbacks had four very talented outfielders.
However, if they're able to reconcile the situation by either trading one of the other outfielders or moving Kubel successfully to first base, this could work out pretty well.
Atlanta Braves: Jack Wilson
The Atlanta Braves fan base probably wasn't very excited when they signed Jack Wilson. It is not that he is a bad player, but they already have rookie shortstop Tyler Pastornicky ready to lay claim to the position. However, they barely signed any free agents this winter, so Wilson would have been probably been the most exciting.
Wilson has been a solid player throughout his career, and this is a decent baseball signing. The bench can be important as the seasons drags on, so from a baseball perspective, this is an okay move. However, when the most exciting move was signing a bench player, I don't really have much choice.
Baltimore Orioles: Wei-Yin Chen
Wei-Yin Chen is joining the Baltimore Orioles after four years in Japan. He has had a pretty high level of success in Japan even though his record didn't necessarily reflect that (36-30, 2.48 ERA). However, Baltimore fans are excited to see this new talent hopefully join the rotation. Baltimore has not necessarily been a huge player in the international market before this year, so that is also exciting.
If Chen is able to deliver as well as he did in Japan, he will be a huge bargain. However, the Orioles simply need him to be serviceable. They could definitely use some rotational support, and Chen could provide that.
Boston Red Sox: David Ortiz
This one is relatively obvious. David Ortiz has been one of the main centerpieces of the Boston Red Sox' recent dynasty. He is a very well-rounded hitter who doesn't need to sacrifice his batting average to gain power. Because of this success, he has been incredibly popular in Boston and all around baseball for that matter.
Although there was some doubt as to whether or not this deal would happen, most fans are probably thrilled about this deal and for good reason. Even though he is getting older, he definitely should still be effective in 2012.
Chicago Cubs: Kerry Wood
This is a difficult one. Kerry Wood had some excellent memories as a phenom strikeout machine in a Chicago Cubs uniform. However, he also battled with injuries for years while with the Chicago Cubs. I think the good memories outweigh the bad in the minds of the fans. Many of them will remember how great he was and welcome him back with open arms.
This is also a pretty solid baseball move. He has redefined himself as a very successful relief pitcher. He hasn't battled injuries quite as much over the past few seasons either which is definitely a step in the right direction. Overall, this was a move in the right direction for the baseball team and the fans.
Chicago White Sox: Kosuke Fukudome
Kosuke Fukudome had probably his worst professional season in 2011. However, he should be able to rebound from that. Also, this move is probably very popular simply because they had seen him on the other side of the ball for both the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians. When he is effective, it is definitely better to have him on your side.
Like I said before, Fukudome will need to rebound to be a major factor for the Chicago White Sox. However, this might pay off if he is able to get some of his double-digit home run power back.
Cincinnati Reds: Ryan Madson
The Cincinnati Reds declined their option on former closer Francisco Cordero, so they will have Ryan Madson at that position this season. He was very effective in Philadelphia as a setup man for most of his career and the closer in 2011 with his powerful fastball and deceptive changeup.
This move was met with general happiness. He is definitely a solid option for a closer, but it is definitely hard to replace someone who was as effective as Francisco Cordero. Nevertheless, I think that Cincinnati fans were pretty happy with this new arrangement.
Cleveland Indians: Casey Kotchman
Casey Kotchman is definitely not a stereotypical first baseman. He plays excellent defense and hits for a high average. However, he does not have very much power at all. The Cleveland Indians can handle this because they have other hitters like Carlos Santana who will provide the power. If Kotchman gets on base, other people will be able to drive him home.
The Cleveland Indians were not very flashy this winter. However, the fans should be satisfied with the signing of Kotchman. He is not a normal first baseman, but that is okay. If he helps them win baseball games, I don't think anybody will complain.
Colorado Rockies: Michael Cuddyer
Michael Cuddyer was one of the most sought-after players on the free agent market this winter. He demonstrated a powerful bat throughout his career and should be able to do even better in that thin air in Denver.
Colorado Rockies fans had an obvious reason to be excited about this signing. Cuddyer could be incredibly valuable to complement the already talented Troy Tulowitzki. He will finally have some more protection in the lineup and Colorado should be able to put a lot of runs on the board almost every night.
Detroit Tigers: Prince Fielder
Prince Fielder is one of the best power hitters in baseball right now. However, there is a general perception that the Detroit Tigers paid too much for him. Therefore, this does reduce the excitement a little bit, but I still think that Detroit Tiger fans will be happy to see him in the middle of their lineup next season.
It is always exciting to see a superstar come to town, so that was a relatively obvious choice for the fan-favorite free agent.
Houston Astros: Zach Duke
I know that Zach Duke only received a minor league contract and that Chris Snyder is probably a better player right now. However, even though Duke has fallen off a little bit, here is still a former All-Star, so that makes this move more exciting. Also, Duke is a native of Clifton, Texas, so there probably is also some excitement in terms of bringing a player back to his home state.
Maybe Duke will be able to rebound. After all, he will turn 29 during the season. There is still plenty of time for him to get his game back. However, for now this wasn't necessarily the best baseball move that the Houston Astros could have made.
Kansas City Royals: Jonathan Broxton
Jonathan Broxton has had a tumultuous career. For his first four professional seasons, he overpowered the competition and was one of the better relief pitchers in baseball. However, the past few seasons have been getting worse for him. He was still piling up strikeouts, but not like he was before. He will be hoping for a fresh start in Kansas City.
If Broxton is able to find himself again, the Kansas City Royals will have an excellent back end of the bullpen. The potential that he is bringing is very exciting. Kansas City Royals fans will be hoping for big things out of him.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: Albert Pujols
I know I tipped my hand on this one, but was there ever any doubt? The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim acquired the best hitter in baseball, so there is an obvious cause to be excited. The Angels already have one of the best rotations in baseball, and Pujols will bring their lineup a highly coveted run producer and power source.
Even though nobody expected the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim to be able to bring in Pujols, they were able to pull it off. That makes the situation even more exciting for the fans. This was the most exciting free agent signing of the winter.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Mark Ellis
The Los Angeles Dodgers didn't do a lot this winter that would be considered overly exciting. However, Mark Ellis is a very solid addition to this baseball team. He is a average at everything, but he isn't necessarily great in any one area.
You probably could make an argument that the Dodgers signing Aaron Harang was more exciting. However, I would argue that signing a player who will probably play every day is more exciting than signing a middle-of-the-rotation starter. Whether or not it was exciting, this was a solid move to add a decent all-around player.
Miami Marlins: Jose Reyes
The Miami Marlins made a lot of moves this winter, but the signing of Jose Reyes was by far the most exciting. Even though they missed out on Albert Pujols, Jose Reyes is definitely a very nice consolation prize. He is one of the most dynamic players in baseball who is always capable of turning a single into a double.
Overall, this was a very exciting winter for the Miami Marlins. It wasn't just about the players since they also have a new stadium and even a new name. However, in terms of free agents, Jose Reyes will hopefully make a big impact this season.
Milwaukee Brewers: Aramis Ramirez
The Milwaukee Brewers entered this winter with a lot of question marks. With the imminent departure of Prince Fielder, they knew they needed to make a move to fill in that offensive void. Aramis Ramirez is one of the best offensive third baseman in baseball, and he has demonstrated that for several consecutive years.
Milwaukee fans obviously didn't want their offense to suffer after the departure of Fielder. Apart from Fielder himself and of course Albert Pujols, the Milwaukee Brewers made the best possible move to provide the lineup protection Ryan Braun will need this season.
Minnesota Twins: Josh Willingham
The Minnesota Twins had a very disappointing 2011. They needed to make a relatively big move this winter to make 2012 a better season. They signed Josh Willingham to add a powerful bat to hopefully produce more runs.
Whether or not he is as effective as he was in Oakland obviously matters somewhat, but the main point of the excitement that this move created was essentially that the Minnesota Twins are putting themselves in a position to do much better than last season.
New York Mets: Frank Francisco
Frank Francisco is going to be the new closer for the New York Mets. He has been solid throughout his career, so it is obvious that the New York Mets do not want to sacrifice anymore leads at the end of games. The New York Mets overhauled their entire bullpen this winter, and Francisco should be the highlight of the that renovation to speak.
Unfortunately, New York Mets fans were greatly disappointed by the departure of Jose Reyes to the Miami Marlins. At least the Mets were able to fix some of their weaknesses from last season, and that is definite cause to be excited.
New York Yankees: Hiroki Kuroda
Hiroki Kuroda was brought to the New York Yankees to solidify their pitching rotation along with the trade that brought it Michael Pineda. Kuroda doesn't strike out many hitters at all, but he doesn't allow runs to cross the plate. He is also a ground ball pitcher which will serve him well in sometimes dangerous Yankee Stadium.
Hiroki Kuroda is not necessarily an exciting pitcher, but this is definitely an exciting move for the New York Yankees. He is a consistent pitcher who will help them meet the consistently high standards that Yankees fans have come to expect.
Oakland Athletics: Yoenis Cespedes
Yoenis Cespedes is one of the most exciting prospects to come out of Cuba in a long time. He legitimately possesses all five tools and should become a very exciting center fielder for the Oakland Athletics.
Because of his potential, Cespedes was pursued by several teams before the Oakland Athletics finally reeled him in. It is obviously exciting to win a highly sought after and talented athlete like Cespedes. If he is able to develop into the superstar that many people think he could indeed become, Oakland Athletics will become even more excited.
Philadelphia Phillies: Jim Thome
Jim Thome was popular in Philadelphia before, and he is still very popular now. Even though he is definitely older and not as productive as he was when he was in Philadelphia before, he still has a great style, and the people in Philadelphia will appreciate that.
In terms of a baseball move, this probably wouldn't have happened if Ryan Howard was not going to miss substantial time this year. However, that doesn't mean that this was a terrible or a desperate move. Thome still has some pop in his bat and will be a respected leader in the clubhouse.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Nate McLouth
Nate McLouth was developed in the Pittsburgh Pirates system. He had a pretty run as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates including an All-Star appearance and a Gold Glove in 2008. He then spent a few seasons as a member of the Atlanta Braves before this season where he will return to Pittsburgh. Players that return home are always popular.
McLouth had his last great success in Pittsburgh. He is still in his prime at 30 years old, so he is definitely capable of regaining some of his previous success. While this isn't necessarily a top-of-the-line move, it might pay off for the Pirates if he is able to return to his All-Star form.
San Diego Padres: Mark Kotsay
Mark Kotsay is a solid player. He possesses a pretty well-rounded set of skills, but he is not necessarily exceptional anymore. However, in his past, he has had some very strong seasons. While those numbers probably won't come around again this season, he still knows how to perform well and should be able to contribute in some degree.
The San Diego Padres were more focused on the trade market then the free agent market this winter. In that respect, they were highly successful and they made a lot of trades that will help them down the road. However, in the free agent market, their moves were not the strongest.
San Francisco Giants: Javier Lopez
Javier Lopez did a very good job out of the bullpen for the San Francisco Giants in 2011. Because of that, the fan base will definitely be happy to see him coming back for another season. The left-handed relief pitcher doesn't strike out a lot of batters, but he still gets outs in other ways, so I do not think that San Francisco Giants fans will complain about that.
Like the San Diego Padres, the San Francisco Giants didn't make a lot of very big moves on the free agent market. However, bringing back one of the best pieces of their bullpen is definitely a smart baseball move and will be highly popular.
Seattle Mariners: George Sherrill
George Sherrill has a great story. He didn't make it to the major leagues with the Seattle Mariners until he was 27 years old. When he got there, he never really looked back. He ended up leaving Seattle for the Baltimore Orioles, but after traveling through the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Atlanta Braves, he will be coming home to Seattle.
Sherrill is a left-handed specialist. He does tend to walk too many batters, but his ERA has been respectably low for most of his career, so at least he is stranding those runners on base. Overall, this is a decent acquisition for the Seattle Mariners.
St. Louis Cardinals: Carlos Beltran
With the departure of Albert Pujols, the St. Louis Cardinals were left with a giant void in the middle of their lineup. Carlos Beltran will try his best to fill the hole. He seemed to regain his form last season, and he will be looking to put up even better numbers in 2012. He might not return to MVP candidate form like he has been at different points during his career, but he should still be highly productive.
St. Louis Cardinals fans realized that once Albert Pujols left, their team would definitely need to make some type of drastic move to try to fill the lineup. Carlos Beltran was one of the best choices on the market this winter, and it was a great move for the St. Louis Cardinals.
Tampa Bay Rays: Carlos Pena
Carlos Pena had a very interesting career as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays. One season, he hit 46 home runs, but three years later, he hit .196. This inconsistency has consistently plagued him. However, he still has huge power potential, and that would definitely make him attractive to many baseball fans. People love high risk, high reward investments.
This was a great move for the Tampa Bay Rays as well. Compared to Casey Kotchman at that position last season, Pena will provide much more run production. His average will be lower, but if he can produce runs, that will help them win baseball games.
Texas Rangers: Yu Darvish
Yu Darvish was the most sought after international player on the market this winter. His numbers in Japan were substantially better than many of the other Japanese players that have made the jump to Major League Baseball. This means that Darvish will be facing higher pressure and greater expectations than any other pitcher coming to America.
Darvish seems that he has what it takes to excel in Major League Baseball. Of course, that really remains to be seen. It is hard to judge how well a player will respond to that transition. However, if previous success is any type of indicator, this is a very good more for the Texas Rangers.
Toronto Blue Jays: Francisco Cordero
A strong bullpen is one of the most viable assets that a baseball team can possess. The Toronto Blue Jays already have one of the better bullpen in major league baseball, but adding Francisco Cordero definitely made them an even stronger force.
Cordero is able to strike out a lot of opponents, and he was definitely be able to continue his successful career out of the bullpen with the Toronto Blue Jays. Although moving back to the American League will hurt his stats a little bit, he shouldn't suffer that much. The Toronto Blue Jays have a tall order to compete in the American League East, but a strong bullpen will help them do that.
Washington Nationals: Edwin Jackson
Edwin Jackson is going to be one of the headliners of a revamped Washington Nationals rotation. Although he has had some difficult season during his career, last season seemed to help him put something together. His ERA dropped, and he was able to put a nice record on the board. That led him to sign a one-year contract with hopes of having one more successful year and raise his free agent value for next winter.
Jackson is definitely a talented pitcher, and Nationals fan will decide to see a highly competitive product on the field every night. Jackson has a lot to do with that.
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