Random Observations Jan 6th, 2009
The Rays were able to sign Pat Burrell to a two-year, $16 million deal. The Phillies spring home is in clearwater and this supposedly had an effect in the negotiations. What a great signing from a valuation standpoint. Burrell has close to a .900 OPS over the past three seasons. He’s always around a .250 BA, walks over 100 times a season and chips in with 30 HR. I don’t see his numbers remaining at these levels but I can see a .250, 25, 90 RBI type season. This fills the Rays most glaring hole, which is the lack of a true DH and now gives them a potential top of the batting order comprised of Iwamura, Crawford, Upton, Pena, Longoria and now Burrell.
A player coveted by many clubs, head-case Milton Bradley, signed for what in my mind is a surprisingly low 3 year, $30 million contract with the Cubs. From a positional standpoint the Cubs are getting to the point where they are casting aside internal development of players and sticking strictly to FA signings and trades. Milton did lead all of the MLB in BABIP in 2008, so I do expect to see a 15%+ drop in production from Bradley in 2009.
The Blue Jays recently signed longtime minor league Randy Ruiz to a contract. In my opinion, this is the best FA signing by the Jays this offseason. While the over-the-hill Matt Clement is expected for some reason to contribute positively to the big league club in 2009, Ruiz is purely a AAA padding move. Since the Jays basically got the boot from the International League due to poor play, beefing up the performance of their AAA club out in Vegas is a sound strategy and a rare forward looking move by Jays management.
A few weeks back the Cleveland Indians gave Kerry Wood $20 million for two years to be their closer. Why? I’m usually behind every move that GM Mark Shapiro makes but this one leaves me scratching my head. Let’s forget the history of Wood’s injuries for a minute and focus on the Indians previous closer, Jensen Lewis. After assuming the closer’s role in the latter half of the season, Lewis went 12 for 13 is save opportunities. I watched a number of the Tribe’s games on MLB.TV and he seemed to fit in well in the role. He’s got some above average stuff, so this isn’t he isn’t a Joe Borowski clone either. I just don’t understand why a small market team that is under payroll restrictions would spend this kind of money to slightly upgrade (or maybe even downgrade) the closer position.