Now that we are almost a week away from catchers and pitchers reporting to spring training, it is time to look back at the 2009/2010 offseason to see which players benefited the most. It is hard to keep track of all the player movement, so we at Baseball Professor put our heads together and came up with a list of players who you should watch and look out for in the 2010 season.
Best Offseason Move (Hitters)
George: Matt Holliday (Re-Signed by St. Louis Cardinals)
Sometimes the best moves are the ones you don’t make, and in this case, Matt Holliday did himself a favor by staying in St. Louis. In 2009, Holliday showed that he enjoyed hitting with Albert Pujols as his numbers jumped to .353/13/55 in just 63 games. It looks like it wasn’t just Coors Field that made Holliday a top outfielder, so fantasy owners can relax now that they know Holliday will be staying put for a while.
Chris: Matt Holliday (Re-signed by St. Louis Cardinals)
If Matt Holliday signed with an American League team or another National League team, there would be uncertainty surrounding him. But since he hit so well with the Cardinals last year, we can be confident making him a top five OF.
Bryan: Curtis Granderson (Traded to New York Yankees)
Much was made of Yankee Stadium's right field porch last season, and Granderson will be the latest beneficiary. It looks like a second consecutive 30 HR season is a distinct possibility.
Jeff: Curtis Granderson (Traded to New York Yankees)
The Yankees definitely upgraded their center field by replacing Melky Cabrera with Granderson. He is a great fielder with a lot of pop in his bat. Combine his lefty power with the short porch at Yankee Stadium and he could hit close to 40 homers this season.
Honorable Mentions: Austin Jackson (traded to the Detroit Tigers), Casey Kotchman (traded to the Seattle Mariners), Juan Pierre (traded to the Chicago White Sox), Adrian Beltre (signed by the Boston Red Sox), Nick Johnson (signed with the New York Yankees)
Worst Offseason Move (Hitters)
George: Johnny Damon (Leaving the New York Yankees)
While we don’t know where Johnny Damon is going to end up, we do know one thing—he will not be with the Yankees in 2010. This means that Damon will be leaving the deepest lineup and one of the more hitter-friendly ballparks in baseball, all of which will hurt his 2010 value. If you think Damon will approach 25 home runs and 80 RBI on another team, you are mistaken.
Chris: Jason Bay (Signed with the New York Mets)
It’s not that I think his numbers will take a huge hit, it’s just that Boston was the perfect fit for Jason Bay. He had Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, Victor Martinez, and Kevin Youkilis to drive in, and a short left field that was conducive to his pull-happy swing. Now he has to deal with the uncertainly of the Mets' top of the order and a more spacious home ballpark.
Bryan: Chone Figgins (Signed by the Seattle Mariners)
Figgins will still steal bases and still score runs, but Seattle's offense isn't in the same class as Los Angeles' offense. Jose Lopez, Milton Bradley, and Franklin Gutierrez aren't Kendry Morales, Torii Hunter, and Bobby Abreu. Plus, the Angels now have Hideki Matsui, too.
Jeff: Jason Bay (Signed with the New York Mets)
Bay will probably still have a solid season, but it is not reasonable to expect the same output that he had in Boston for a year and a half. Citi Field eats home runs, as evidenced by the Mets' power outage that lasted all year. His fantasy value goes down a bit with this signing.
Honorable Mentions: Melvin Mora (signed by the Colorado Rockies), Hideki Matsui (signed by the Anaheim Angels), Jeremy Hermida (signed by the Boston Red Sox), Garret Atkins (signed with the Baltimore Orioles)
Best Offseason Move (Pitchers)
George: Cliff Lee (Traded to the Seattle Mariners)
There is a lot to like about Roy Halladay moving to the National League, but Cliff Lee will have one of the best defenses behind him in Seattle, which is also one of the best pitcher's parks in baseball. Lee will see a couple less wins, potentially, but everything else should be better than advertised.
Chris: Roy Halladay (Traded to the Philadelphia Phillies)
What’s not to love about Roy Halladay getting traded to the Phillies? He moves over to the National League, moves out of the best division in baseball, and moves to the best team in the National League.
Bryan: Roy Halladay (Traded to the Philadelphia Phillies)
A move to the National League and a team with both a better offense and a legitimate closer (assuming Brad Lidge rebounds, which I think he will) can only mean good things for Halladay. Without having thrown an inning in the NL, he's already Tim Lincecum's biggest threat for a Cy Young three-peat.
Jeff: Roy Halladay (Traded to the Philadelphia Phillies)
While the Phillies lost Cliff Lee to the Mariners in this trade, I think the Phillies made out best here. Halladay is the better overall pitcher and I don't see him having trouble adjusting to the National League. In fact, I see him getting better, which is a scary thought for NL hitters.
Honorable Mentions: Ben Sheets (signed by the Oakland Athletics), Edwin Jackson (traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks), Jon Garland (Signed by the San Diego Padres), Brett Myers (signed by the Houston Astros), Rich Harden (signed by the Texas Rangers)
Worst Offseason Move (Pitchers)
George: Max Scherzer (Traded to the Detroit Tigers)
He has to face a DH instead of a pitcher now, which will only hinder his ability to pitch past the sixth inning. He already had enough trouble with that in the National League, so wins will be hard to come by for the third-year pro.
Chris: Javier Vazquez (Traded to the New York Yankees)
Vazquez was a fantasy ace last year. He won’t be this year after moving to the American League and baseball’s best division. Vazquez, who is prone to giving up the long ball, is not the best fit in a home run hitter's park such as Yankee Stadium.
Bryan: Javier Vazquez (Traded to the New York Yankees)
No shock here. Vazquez is the popular pick because of his last stint in New York, and I'm going to back it up. A move to the American League and a hitter's ballpark should cause more problems for Vazquez than in 2009. On the bright side, he could have more win opportunities.
Jeff: Joel Pineiro (Signed by the Anaheim Angels)
The Angels coughed up far too much money for Pineiro, especially since they are trying to find a filler for losing John Lackey. He has never had very good strikeout numbers, and has a career ERA of over 4.50. Better to stay away from him.
Honorable Mention: Jason Marquis (signed by the Washington Nationals)
Best Offseason Move (Closers)
George: Billy Wagner (Signed by the Atlanta Braves)
Last year, Billy Wagner was coming off Tommy John surgery and was picked up by the Red Sox to be a set up man in the second half of the season. He had virtually no fantasy value, but now with Rafael Soriano and Mike Gonzalez gone to other teams, Wagner is the main guy for saves in Atlanta. It will be interesting to see what he can do as a full-time closer.
Chris: Billy Wagner (Signed by the Atlanta Braves)
Wagner had very little value last year. He missed most of the year, got healthy, then was traded to the Red Sox where he backed up Jonathan Papelbon as closer. This year, Wagner will be the undisputed closer for one of the best teams in the National League.
Bryan: Rafael Soriano (Traded to the Tampa Bay Rays)
This award was split between Soriano and Mike Gonzalez, but because Soriano is going to the better team, he gets the edge. Soriano has already shown that he can succeed as a team's closer, and now he has no competition for the job.
Jeff: Rafael Soriano (Traded to the Tampa Bay Rays)
Soriano will not have to share the load with Mike Gonzalez next season as the closer in Tampa. He will get plenty of save opportunities and his value goes up because of his solid numbers last season.
Honorable Mentions: Mike Gonzalez (signed by the Baltimore Orioles), Brandon Lyon (signed by the Houston Astros), Jose Valverde (signed by the Detroit Tigers)
Worst Offseason Moves (Closers)
George: Fernando Rodney (Signed by the Anaheim Angels)
Rodney is the only closer who moved into a worse situation this offseason, so by default he loses. He was a valuable source for cheap saves last year (37), but now he will be backing up Brian Fuentes in Anaheim, so stay away.
Chris: Fernando Rodney (Signed by the Anaheim Angels)
Last year, Fernando Rodney saved 37 games for the Detroit Tigers. After signing with the Angels, Rodney will no longer be a closer as he will be backing up Fuentes.
Bryan: Fernando Rodney (Signed by the Anaheim Angels)
Rodney goes from the No. 1 closer to the No. 1 setup man. It's Fuentes' job to lose, and he's not losing it.
Jeff: Fernando Rodney (Signed by the Anaheim Angels)
Rodney converted save opportunities when he had to last season, but it wasn't always easy. He pitched himself into trouble often, and I don't see him being so lucky with the Angels next season.
Honorable Mentions: Chris Ray (traded to the Texas Rangers), Matt Lindstrom (traded to the Houston Astros)
Hitter Most Affected Indirectly
George: Buster Posey—Negatively Affected (Promotion delayed with Bengie Molina still on the team)
This was going to be the year that Buster Posey rose to the majors and showed us that he is the real deal—much like Matt Wieters did last season. Not so fast, because when Bengie Molina re-signed with the team, the Giants pretty much created a logjam at the position. They will probably wait on bringing up Posey until he is absolutely ready for the big leagues.
Chris: Alcides Escobar—Positively Affected (Now starting after J.J. Hardy was traded)
When management traded away J.J. Hardy to the Minnesota Twins, they showed that they had full confidence in Alcides Escobar’s ability to be the full-time shortstop. After taking over for Hardy late in the season last year, Escobar batted .304. He also has shown speed in the minors, swiping 34 bases in 2008 and 42 in 2009.
Bryan: Scott Sizemore—Positively Affected (Starting after Placido Polanco signed in Philadelphia)
Sizemore is a front-runner for AL Rookie of the Year, and he should bat atop the Detroit lineup with players like Miguel Cabrera and Magglio Ordonez to drive him in.
Jeff: Jeremy Hermida—Negatively Affected (Fourth OF on the Boston Red Sox)
Hermida is capable of starting on a handful of teams in the league, but not in Boston. He will not realize his full potential with the ton of outfielders on the Red Sox.
Honorable Mentions: Ian Stewart (was supposed to see more playing time with Garret Atkins gone but now potentially less with the Melvin Mora signing), Brandon Wood (should be Angels' starting third baseman with Figgins gone), Delmon Young (less playing time with Jim Thome)
Pitcher Most Affected Indirectly
George: Rich Hill—Positively Affected (Now with pitching coach Dave Duncan)
Rich Hill wasn’t on my radar until he signed a minor league deal with the Cardinals this offseason, and it's because of Dave Duncan. Duncan has had a very nice track record with pitchers, most recently with Joel Pineiro, so if he can help bring back that talent we saw in 2007 when Hill struck out 183 batters in 195 innings with a 3.92 ERA, he will be a sleeper in almost all leagues.
Chris: Boston Red Sox pitching staff—Positively Affected (After Boston's defensive overhaul)
The Boston Red Sox set out to improve their defense in 2010, and they did. The signings of defensive wizards Adrian Beltre, Mike Cameron, and Marco Scutaro should go a long way in run prevention. As a result, Boston’s pitching staff should see a slight boost in numbers with better defenders behind them.
Bryan: Ricky Romero—Negatively Affected (New Toronto ace with Roy Halladay)
It's tough enough for young pitchers to succeed on an average team in the AL East. It's even harder when your organization trades away Roy Halladay and looks at you to be their ace. Good luck, kid.
Jeff: Tim Wakefield (Could be out of rotation with Lackey signing)
Wakefield signed a new deal with the Red Sox, but now it looks like he will not be used in the rotation. The addition of John Lackey sets the rotation without Wakefield in it. He will probably be used as a relief pitcher which lessens his value.
Honorable Mentions: Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain (potentially no room in the starting rotation for them), Jeremy Guthrie (no longer has pressure of being the ace), Jordan Zimmerman (not sure where he fits in rotation after offseason signings)
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