I will recap some of the more significant deals and offer opinions as to why or why not these transactions are for the good of the teams acquiring these players.
Scott Downs - Relief Pitcher, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim - $15 million for the three years, not including incentives.
The Angels certainly needed a set-up man in front of closer Fernando Rodney. With long time eighth inning reliever Scot Shields in rapid decline and former closer Brian Fuentes dealt to Minnesota late last season, Downs is the perfect man for the set-up role. Also, Downs has the ability to close games should Rodney falter, as he often does.
This is a good marriage for both Downs and the Angels and the investment is well worth it.
Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko - First Base/Designated Hitters, Chicago White Sox --- Dunn - four years at $56 million ; Konerko - three-year at $36 million.
The Pale Hose not only kept an aging but still very productive Paul Konerko, they garnered the services of left-handed slugging mammoth Adam Dunn to essentially split the first base and DH duties. Not only do these mashers have tremendous power and run producing abilities, they will spell each other in the field to stay fresh and still garner plenty of plate appearances. Also, opposing pitchers will have to decide which hitter to pitch around to get to the other bomber. Pick your poison!
Tremendous signings for the White Sox. I believe between the two, 70 to 80 homers and over 200 RBI is well within reach and the team should see a significant increase in runs scored.
Carlos Pena – First Base, Chicago Cubs - one-year, $10 million contract.
With essentially nobody to play first base, the Cubs are taking a chance that the left-handed power hitting Pena can find his stroke after hitting a paltry .196 albeit with 28 dingers. He will definitely be heavily counted on for major production.
Although I have no problem with the signing of Pena, I feel the Cubs could have paid significantly less for his services --- maybe $6 million as opposed to $10 million.
Mariano Rivera – Closer and Derek Jeter – Shortstop, New York Yankees --- Rivera, two-year, $30 million and Jeter, $51 million over the three years.
These signings will insure that the two future Hall Of Famers will retire as members of the Yankees. Rivera, arguably the game's greatest closer, is still considered by many to be the best in the business and Jeter, although showing signs of decline both at the plate and in the field, is still a great influence for the clubhouse and typifies the the Yankee tradition of class. As usual, both will be critical to future Yankee success.
I'm split on these to dealings. I have no problem with Rivera getting his money. I firmly believe he's still the best closer in baseball.
While Jeter deserves to be a Yankee for life, paying a player an average of $17 million for three seasons is far too much for a player who may be declining at the plate and is certainly declining in the field with his lack of range. Argue fielding percentage if you like, he simply does not get to balls as he once did.
Jayson Werth – Outfield, Washington Nationals --- Seven-year deal worth a reported $126 million.
Washington obviously feels that Werth was the prime hitter in this year's free agent class. Werth hits for power, is productive, can run, and is a good defensive outfielder. Supposedly, he replaces Adam Dunn in the Nats lineup and will have to be all that Dunn was.
What Dick Has To Say:
Has Jim Bowden been re-hired as the Nationals General Manager? This is a ridiculous signing! While Werth is a good player, in no way is he an $18 million a season player. Heck, he's not even Washington's best player! That's reserved for third baseman Ryan Zimmerman. Here's throwing away!
Carl Crawford – Left Field, Boston Red Sox --- Seven-year, $142 million deal.
Red Sox Nation feared the ownership group led by John Henry would not spend money because of the $500 million spent to buy a European soccer team.
The BoSox aggressively went to Crawford at his home in Houston and grilled him on what his goals were in baseball. Obviously, Boston was so impressed that they paved the way to sign their first ever $100 free agent in Crawford. Patrolling left field and batting anywhere from third to sixth in the batting order, Crawford will be more productive without having to steal oodles of bases. Along with the acquisition of left-handed strong man Adrian Gonzalez, Boston could be the big league's highest scoring team.
Red Sox Fan Dick Says:
This is a wonderful time to be a Red Sox fan! Crawford will add speed in the outfield, hit 15 to 20 homers and will drive in at least 80 runs while scoring more than 80 runs to boot. He won't have to steal as many bags which should keep him fresh throughout the regular season.
That's the more note worthy signings thus far this winter. Very active this off season of 2010-2011 and much more will transpire.
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