The Texas Rangers and the San Francisco Giants have just finished the World Series of the underdogs, and the anticipation for baseball season is already growing. There is a lot of star power on the free-agent market this year, and many analysts are already making bold predictions about next season.
Cliff Lee, Carl Crawford, Derek Lee, and Jayson Werth are just a few of the names on the free agent lists. Where will they go? Who will sign them? How much money will they sign for?
I will be addressing 10 of the biggest offseason rumors for the MLB, and discussing whether they are fact or fiction.
Without any further ado, here we go in trying to separate fact from fiction for 10 talked about offseason rumors.
Most people are ranking Jayson Werth as the third-best free agent on the market this season. Jayson Werth has been a force for the Phillies in recent seasons. Last season, Werth hit .296, with 27 home runs and 85 runs batted in.
Teams are looking for a powerful outfield bat that they can insert into the three or four spot in the batting order. Jayson Werth is not that guy, and the Phillies (who know him best) taught us that.
When the Phillies were facing left-handed pitching in the postseason, their three and four hitters were Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, both lefties. The Phillies needed to insert a right-handed batter between Utley and Howard, and Werth seemed to be the perfect guy.
The Phillies, however, never put him there. They opted to go with Placido Polanco instead. Jayson Werth was not able to be the three hitter for the Phillies, and he won't be for any other team.
Jayson Werth Can Be a Middle-Of-The-Order Hitter: Fiction
The Boston Red Sox had a disappointing season, as they missed the playoffs and finished the season in third place in the AL East. The Tampa Bay Rays also had a disappointing result to the season. After posting the best record in MLB and winning the AL East, the Rays were dismissed in five games by the eventual AL-champion Texas Rangers.
The Rays have no chance at the playoffs in 2011. They are selling the farm and they will lose some of their best players. Carl Crawford will be gone, as well as many other key players from this season.
There is no way that the Rays will have enough talent in the AL East to make the playoffs.
The Red Sox have the talent, but they are aging fast. They do have some key young players, but the majority of the team is older.
They also will miss the playoffs.
The Red Sox and The Rays Will Both Miss The Playoffs: Fact
Nolan Ryan threw out the first pitch for an ALCS game, as well as a World Series game. Both pitches topped off at 68 miles per hour. Many people said that Nolan Ryan would return to the Rangers as a starting pitcher or help out with the bullpen that was so dreadful in the World Series.
These reports were quickly reported false, because his fastball was only 68 mph. The Rangers could use some help in the bullpen and they could always use more starting pitching.
Nolan Ryan, however, will not be returning to the Rangers as a player, only as an owner.
Nolan Ryan Is Returning To The Rangers As a Starting Pitcher: Fiction
Carl Crawford has always been a Tampa Bay Ray and many thought he always would be. His contract, however, is up, and the Rays do not have the finances to sign Crawford to a multi-year contract. So it appears Crawford's time with the Rays has come to a close.
There are many possible suitors for Crawford, such as the Angels, A's, Rangers, and Yankees. But the team that is most likely to sign Crawford, and the team he has been linked to most, is the New York Yankees.
The Yankees are known for their free spending, and they have the league's highest payroll. They will stop at nothing each offseason to sign the biggest names on the free-agent market, regardless of the cost.
Carl Crawford is no exception. He is the best position player available and the Yankees will stop at nothing to sign him.
Look for many teams to place a bid on Crawford. But look for him to sign with the Yankees.
Carl Crawford Will Sign With The Yankees: Fact
Adrian Beltre will be the fourth-most sought-after free-agent position player this offseason, behind Cliff Lee, Carl Crawford and Jayson Werth. Adrian Beltre had an option on his contract for 2011. That was up to him, but it is reported that he has declined this option.
The Red Sox have almost no chance of re-signing Beltre, since he could have easily opted in for 2011 in his old contract if he had wanted. It is unclear where Beltre will sign, but I believe the Red Sox are out of the running at this point.
The Angels prefer Carl Crawford over Adrian Beltre. But I believe that if Crawford signs with the Yankees, which seems likely, then Beltre will most likely sign with the Angels.
The Red Sox desperately would like to re-sign Beltre, but Kevin Youkilis is back and that gives Beltre reason to leave.
Adrian Beltre Will Re-Sign With The Boston Red Sox: Fiction
The New York Yankees and the Texas Rangers faced each other in the ALCS in 2010, and they were the cream of the crop in the AL. The Yankees never seem to have a bad year. They seemingly reload and find themselves in the ALCS each year. The Yankees, however, are getting old and many wonder if they can do this again.
The Rangers have the opposite problem. They are a young team, anchored by second-year players Elvis Andrus and Neftali Feliz. Many wonder if the Rangers have the mental toughness to repeat as AL champions.
I believe that both the Rangers and the Yankees will find themselves back in the playoffs this season. The Yankees are too strong and too good. And the Rangers have too much talent and produce too many runs to be left out.
The Rangers and The Yankees Will Miss The Playoffs: Fiction
Hiroki Kuroda had a good season for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Even though he did not post a great record, his ERA was still under four and many consider him a second-tier player.
Kuroda is not as good as Cliff Lee, Carl Crawford or any of the other A-level players. He, however, is just as important as those people. Kuroda can come at a bargain and he will not be as expensive as other players. But he has the ability to be a front of the rotation starter.
Many analysts are projecting the Pirates will sign Kuroda and I as well believe that the Pirates have the best chance to sign Kuroda.
He posted a 3-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio, and he threw over 200 innings. So, if he can remain healthy, he can win games for the Pirates.
The only problem is he will be 36 when the season starts.
Kuroda can give the Pirates a few good years with his pitching style.
The Pittsburgh Pirates Will Sign Hiroki Kuroda: Fact
Neftali Feliz is a young flamethrower for the Texas Rangers who has just finished his first full year as a player. Feliz is almost a lock for American League Rookie of the Year, and he broke the MLB record for saves by a rookie with 40. He showed his dominance in the postseason in save and non-save situations.
Feliz's fastball often hits 100 miles per hour and he compliments his fastball with a nice breaking ball, which he used to strike out Alex Rodriguez to clinch the ALCS.
There has been a lot of talk that the Rangers will convert Feliz to a starter, but that would not be a wise idea. Flamethrowers such as Stephen Strasburg of the Nationals and Aroldis Chapman of the Reds are susceptible to injury because of their hard-throwing nature.
CJ Wilson had success for the Rangers in his conversion, but it would be unwise to do the same with Feliz.
Good closers are hard to come by.
The Rangers Will Convert Neftali Feliz To a Starter: Fiction
Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter are old and both are coming off good seasons. Jeter just won his 10th Gold Glove, and Rivera had another good season closing games for the Yankees.
Both have just completed their contracts with the Yankees and they are free agents. They both have spent their entire careers with the Yankees. It would be weird for them to play for anyone else.
How weird would it be watching Rivera close games in the postseason for the Phillies? Who wouldn't think it was strange watching Jeter play short for the Angels.
Jeter and Rivera should do the right thing and re-sign with the Yankees, and accept whatever role they are given there.
The right move is to finish their careers with the team they started with.
Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter Will Remain With The Yankees: Fact
I know I am going against the grain with this one, but Cliff Lee will not sign with the Yankees. The whole country believes that Cliff Lee will sign with the Yankees. But much of the country believed that he would be dealt to the Yankees at the trade deadline, and he was not.
Cliff Lee is from Arkansas and the closest team to his hometown is the Texas Rangers. I believe that he will remain with the Rangers. The Yankee fans were disrespectful to his wife during the ALCS. She will not forget that. Everyone knows that, if his wife wants something, she will get her way.
Cliff Lee did not have a good World Series with the Texas Rangers, but he will still be the most sought-after free agent.
He will not sign anywhere else and he will remain with the Rangers.
Cliff Lee Will Sign With The New York Yankees: Fiction
Paul Ferguson is an intern at Bleacher Report.
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