MLB Predictions 2011:10 Players Who Will Be Missed the Most By Their Former Team
As things move closer to Opening Day, teams are starting to look around at their potential rosters. The most obvious thing they notice is who they don't see.
Teams have lost and gained players through free-agent signings, trades and retirement. To be honest, there are some teams that are grateful certain players high-tailed it out of town.
On the other hand, some teams lost players that have significantly reduced that team's shot at making the post-season. Those are exactly the type of players I am going to talk about here.
There are 10 players I specifically identified as those that their teams will miss more than others. Before you move to the next slide, do you have any guesses?
10. Alcides Escobar, Milwaukee Brewers
The Brewers pulled off two of the biggest trades this off-season when they dealt four players to the Kansas City Royals for Zack Greinke and Yuniesky Betancourt.
Escobar was a key to the Royals making that deal. It is for those same reasons that the Brewers will miss him. Escobar is young (only 24) and quickly developing. He has speed to burn and has amazing range at shortstop. Looking at his .235 BA from last season is deceiving. He hit a lot of line-drives, but most were hit right at defenders.
His replacement for the Brewers is a guy that someone said recently was the worst everyday player in the majors. From everything I've heard this Spring, Yuniesky Betancourt is not a total stiff. He's said to have both average range and an average arm. I grant you his OBP is atrocious, but he did hit 16 HR and have 78 RBI in 2010. There aren't that many shortstops who did that last season.
When you have a really good starting rotation like the Brewers seem to have right now, it always helps to have good defense up the middle. Having Betancourt instead of Escobar is not a positive thing in that regard.
9. Jason Werth, Philadelphia Phillies
Hold on a sec there! With that pitching staff resembling the Super Friends, how could the Phillies possibly miss Jayson Werth? That's a valid question, but if you really look at the Phillies offense, it's obvious they are going to miss his bat.
Without Werth, the Phillies offensive line-up is good, but not exactly formidable from top to bottom. So far this Spring, Chase Utley has continued to battle knee issues. He is the catalyst for that offense and without him, you saw how that offense struggled at times, even with Werth last season.
Raul Ibanez is around 206 years-old and won't be getting any better, Jimmy Rollins just doesn't get on base and Domonic Brown is already doubtful for the season opener.
Whether the Phillies want to admit it or not, Werth will be sorely missed.
8. Adam Dunn, Washington Nationals
In essence the Nationals traded Adam Dunn for Jayson Werth. I'm not sure that helped that offense at all.
If you are looking for 40 HR and 100 RBI, Adam Dunn is your guy. Since 2004, he has hit over 38 HR seven times and drove in over 100 runs six times. That is consistency.
Sure the guy strikes out a lot, but he also has a career OBP of .381. They could have kept Dunn at first-base and found a RF who could put up similar or better numbers to Adam LaRoche.
No one from the Nationals organization will say it out loud, but as the season progresses they will be thinking how much they wish they had Dunn back in Washington.
7. Dan Uggla, Florida Marlins
Omar Infante is a nice player, but his run production has been lacking during his entire nine-year career. Dan Uggla is synonymous with the phrase, "BOOM goes the dynamite!"
Since 2006, Uggla has been, quite possibly, the most consistent player in the National League. He has hit between 27 to 33 HR and had 88 to 105 RBI every season. He is one of the top second basemen in all of MLB.
So why did the Marlins trade him? Jeffrey Loria is a cheap moron, that's why. The Marlins are heading into a new ballpark next year, and Loria has the audacity to cut salary. He had three proven cornerstones to the Marlins franchise. Now he only has two in Hanley Ramirez and Josh Johnson.
The Marlins have some good young players, but none of them are quite there yet. Losing a consistent run-producer hurts. Shipping him to a division rival is asinine. Good luck getting Uggla out.
6. Mark Reynolds, Arizona Diamondbacks
Melvin Mora and Geoff Blum.
That's who the D-Backs intend to replace Mark Reynolds with this season in Arizona. Sounds like a no-brainer to me. Blum is 37 and has been a part-time player and pinch-hitting specialist while Mora is 39 and his career is clearly on its last legs.
I'm not sure if Arizona's front office has noticed, but counting on Chris Young, Justin Upton and Stephen Drew to carry the offensive load is a losing proposition. I'm not saying Reynolds was all that, but they don't have anyone else on that roster who will be driving in 100 runs anytime soon.
There's a reason why manager Kirk Gibson has been upset at all the losing the D-Backs have done this Spring. He knows it's just the beginning.
5. Carl Crawford, Tampa Bay Rays
I can't blame the Rays for losing Crawford. They couldn't afford to pay him stupid money.
The problem is that they are going to miss not only his bat, but also his consistently good glove. Crawford made that Tampa Bay offense go. I highly doubt that either Johnny Damon or Manny Ramirez will be able to do that.
I see the loss of Crawford affecting what Evan Longoria will be able to do this season. I don't believe he will have nearly as many RBI opportunities and his overall numbers will suffer because of it.
Desmond Jennings, Crawford's heir-apparent, should get his shot at some point this year. A lot of people have favorably compared his game to Crawford's. That's all well and good, but it took Crawford years to develop that game.
4. Matt Garza, Tampa Bay Rays
When the Rays lost Crawford, I thought the Rays would be okay because of their one-two punch of David Price and Matt Garza. Then Tampa goes and trades Garza for a bunch of prospects. Good luck getting people out.
Why did they jump the gun? The Rays still had Garza under team control for several more seasons and he's just entering his prime. Sounds like a possible trade scenario in another year or two but not now.
Behind Price in their starting rotation, the Rays have rookie Jeremy Hellickson, James Shields, Wade Davis and Jeff Niemann. I love Hellickson and he's probably better than all of them but Price.
I fail to see how trading Garza made the Rays a better team. Besides Hellickson, they have other top pitching prospects such as Matt Moore, Alex Torres and Enny Romero among others. They didn't need to trade for another prospect like pitcher Chris Archer. It makes no sense.
3. Shaun Marcum, Toronto Blue Jays
I have heard a lot of people say it and I have to agree. The Brewers trading for Marcum flew under the radar and could be the most important one the Brewers made. The Zack Greinke deal was huge, but without Marcum in the fold and Prince sticking around, Greinke would never have waived his no-trade.
Marcum could have anchored the top of the Blue Jay's rotation with Ricky Romero. Instead they have Kyle Drabek, Jesse Litsch and Mark Rzepczynski battling it out for the final two spots in the starting rotation. That doesn't really inspire confidence. I would have a thought some veteran leadership could go a long way with those young arms.
Obviously Toronto was enamored with Brewers' top prospect 2B Brett Lawrie. He clearly has the tools, but he is also extremely immature. The Brewers didn't seem to have any qualms swapping Lawrie for Marcum in a rare one-for-one deal. I wonder why?
2. Andy Pettitte, New York Yankees
This past off-season waiting for Andy Pettitte to announce his intentions for the 2011 season was like listening to paint dry. Yes I said listening, not watching.
Then the Yankees lost out in their pursuit of prized free-agent Cliff Lee. Then the waiting for Pettitte became an ever-increasing period of prayer and finger-crossing for the Yankees organization and their throng of devoted fans. Then the hammer dropped.
So now there's no Cliff Lee and no Andy Pettitte. There has been the flirtation with the Minnesota Twins and Francisco Liriano, but the Twins aren't really motivated to deal at this point.
The Yankees need to hope for a few things right now. They need to hope Phil Hughes takes that next step. They need to hope A.J. Burnett finds "it" again and they need to hope Ivan Nova, Sergio Mitre, Freddy Garcia or even Bartolo Colon can pull one out of their you-know-where.
While it wasn't the Yankees fault they don't have Pettitte any longer, now they know what it feels like to be just another team looking for quality starting pitching.
1. Cliff Lee, Texas Rangers
Those poor Rangers. I feel their pain. Their situation was similar to the one the Milwaukee Brewers found themselves in after they traded for CC Sabathia in 2008 and subsequently lost him to the New York Yankees in free-agency.
The Rangers' starting rotation is better than what the Brewers was after losing their big gun. While that is true, Texas no longer has that anchor that they know they can count on to be there at the top of his game every five days.
While C.J. Wilson, Tommy Hunter and Colby Lewis are all solid pitchers, there is no stopperand I doubt any of them will be able to morph into one. Pitchers like Lee are rare, unless you pitch for the Phillies of course.
Some teams can't miss what they never had, but the Rangers will miss Lee big time.