Posted on: March 2, 2012 10:15 am
Edited on: March 2, 2012 12:08 pm

The case for & against the $75M Yadi Molina deal

JUPITER, Fla. -- As I warned Yadier Molina's agent, Melvin Roman, I was going to think/say/write the Cardinals got a great deal on Molina no matter what the deal was. I think he is that good. Roman is probably a little bit biased, but he called me over after the press conference to announce the signing to tell me he agrees with me.

Though clearly, not everyone does. A fairly strong stat-based case is being made on the internet (and below here) that $75 million for five years (plus a mutual sixth-year option) is an overpay.

I say, Molina's game isn't about numbers. I say, there are no comps for Molina because there is no one even close to like him.

The surprise here may be that the sides figured it out without too much trouble since no one's comparable. Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt and GM John Mozeliak agreed that it wasn't easy to put a pricetag on Molina because he is such a different player. He is the best defensive catcher in baseball, the best-throwing catcher, a clutch hitter and a winner. So ultimately, it wasn't about the comps, it was about the need and the desire.

"We couldn't take a chance of him being a free agent,'' DeWitt told me this morning.

I'm with him. But it's fair to present the other side. There's a big internet outcry, some but not all by the stat folks, that $15 million per year is to much for Molina. Here's how a friend of mine in baseball who analyzes these things put it for the other side:

"Good move by Yadier Molina. Cash in on a career year offensively and a second (winning) World Series. But buyer beware. He is coming off his first season with double digit home runs (14) and an OPS (.814) that is 100-plus points above his career average (.707). He had a .671 OPS in 2010 and I don't think that would get him $15 a year, even with his great defense.

"Twins got all giddy over Joe Mauer's 28 home run MVP season in 2009, numbers he likely will never reach again. They gave him $184 million. I'm sure they'd like a do-over on that contract.

"John Buck had a career year in '10 (20 home runs, .802 OPS) and that got him three years and $18 million (total) with the Marlins. Buck isn't anything close to Molina defensively, but, other that batting average, his career stats are on par with Molina. In fact, he has more power (90 home runs to 55 for Molina) through their free agent year Nobody is suggesting you;d take Buck over Molina. But it's obvious the Cardinals value Molina's intangibles/gamecalling, as they are paying him at a star rate.''

DeWitt had an answer, saying, "We didn't extend Molina because he had a good year offensively last year. We extended him because of the bulk of the work since he became a regular in 2005. He's been a key player on two World Series teams. He's won Gold Gloves. He's made All-Star teams multiple times.''

Beyond that, Molina brings things that can't be measured. He has tough at-bats at crucial moments (Mets fans know that, as do Rangers fans). He is tough mentally and physically. He doesn't miss games. The pitchers love him at a time they've lost Dave Duncan. As DeWitt said, they just couldn't take a chance.

Posted on: February 29, 2012 10:32 am
Edited on: February 29, 2012 1:22 pm

Cards understand Yadi's value; looks like $75M

JUPITER, Fla. -- The Cardinals are about to sign Yadier Molina to a five-year deal believed to be worth $75 million, and though this deal certainly cannot be considered a discount, the Cards could not take a chance on losing him.

Folks will look at Molina's new contract, which a source suggested should come in at right about $75 million and is expected to be finalized soon, as a partial make-good after losing all-time great Albert Pujols to the Angels this winter. However, that is unfair to Molina, who is the best defensive catcher in baseball as well as the best throwing catcher. He had a very nice offensive year last season with 14 home runs, 65 RBI and a .305 batting average, but Molina's value goes well beyond that. The team has not only been a perennial winner in his tenure, but it has fairly consistently outperformed expectations, including two unexpected World Series championships. Some of that might have to do with an under-rating of Pujols' value or underestimating of ex-manager Tony La Russa's impact, or even Dave Duncan's. But a lot of baseball people think it is because of Molina.

Beyond the fact that he a three-time All-Star and a four-time Gold Glove winner, he may be the most underappreciated impact player in the game. He is obviously not by the Cardinals, but by others. The biggest key to their title defense is not how they replace Pujols' offense but how they pitch, and it is hard to measure the importance of Molina's throwing, blocking and gamecalling ability. Molina respectfully declined comment this morning when asked about his contract situation, but sources suggest it appears headed toward finalization.

Molina is only 29, so the extension covers years 30-34, meaning there is a decent chance he'll still be productive at the end of the deal. The salary, assuming it comes in at $75 million, will make him the second-highest paid catcher ever behind Joe Mauer ($184 million, eight years), even ahead of Mike Piazza, ($91 million, seven years) and Jorge Posada ($52 million, four years). And though he obviously isn't the hitter they were, the value of having a great defensive catcher sometimes goes overlooked.

Glad to see the Cardinals, one of the smarter front offices in baseball, understood that.

Category: MLB
Posted on: February 23, 2012 3:31 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2012 3:44 pm

The Winter Standings, from 1 through 30

The Angels and Marlins spent plenty, the Astros stood pat, and the Mets did worse than that. Here they, one through 30, from most improved team to least improved.

1. Angels. Anytime you add Albert Pujols when you don't really need a first baseman, that's quite a luxury buy. Maybe 10 years are too many, but he'll obviously make a major impact in the first years of that deal. C.J. Wilson gives them as good a first four as just about anyone. Plus, he comes directly from the main competitor.

2. Marlins. Jose Reyes is a monster get, when healthy, Mark Buehrle fits as the perfect veteran lefthander to pitch behind Josh Johnson and Heath Bell is a very good closer. Ozzie Guillen spices things up. Much more interesting team as they move to their new park.

3. Diamondbacks. Loved that they didn't rest on their laurels. Trevor Cahill bolsters their rotation and Jason Kubel their lineup. Also tried hard for Hiroki Kuroda, offering him $13 million, $3 million more than he got from the Yankees. Terrific effort by a team in an area hit hard by the economic downturn.

4. Nationals. I don't love Gio Gonzalez's 1.48 lifetime road WHIP, but he's a talented, young lefthanded starter who's exactly what they needed. Of course, they still could use a center fielder.

5. Yankees. Hiroki Kuroda is the solid starter they needed, and Michael Pineda has a chance to be better than that, especially if he masters his changeup. Jesus Montero will be a mega star but they needed the pitching, so it was a worthwhile gamble. A.J. Burnett is addition by subtraction.

6. Rockies. Michael Cuddyer is a huge get, even if he did cost $31.5 million over three years. Jeremy Guthrie steps in as the Opening Day starter and Tyler Chatwood has a chance, though rotation questions still remain. Casey Blake might not have a lot left at third base, but super prospect Nolan Arenado looks to be close.

7. Rangers. Yu Darvish is going to be better than Wilson. They flirted with Prince Fielder, but came up a few years short. Had they pulled that one off, too, they would have easily topped this list. A lefthander in the pen wouldn't have hurt, either.

8. Rays. Carlos Pena will bring a lot more punch than Casey Kotchman, and if healthy, Luke Scott brings more still. Somehow, they find a way.

9. Blue Jays. Sergio Santos, Francisco Cordero and Darren Oliver represent a nice bullpen upgrade over Frank Francisco and Jon Rauch. Never made the huge deal folks were expecting, though.

10. Reds. They gave up a lot for Matt Latos, a talented pitcher who'll have to adjust going from pitching-firendly PETCO Park to Great American Ballpark. The pen is better with Ryan Madson in as the closer and strong lefty Sean Marshall over from Chicago. Looks like a contender.

11. Tigers. Owner Mike Ilitch gets props for the $214-million, nine-year band-aid he bought in Fielder after Victor Martinez's brutal knee injury.

12. Phillies. They imported Jonathan Papelbon, who has a longer track record, to replace Ryan Madson. Jim Thome fills the resident nice guy role left vacated by Brad Lidge's departure (and Juan Pierre won't hurt in that dept. either, assuming he makes the team). They have more versatility with Ty Wigginton adding to their bench strength.

13. Pirates. The new killer B's are here -- Rod Barajas, Erik Bedard, Clint Barmes and A.J. Burnett. The Bucs certainly should be better.

14. Mariners. Hong-Chih Kuo, Shawn Camp and Hisashi Iwakuma have a chance to help. But their offseason will turn on whether Montero becomes a bigger star than Pineda. The guess here is, he does.

15. Padres. They maximized the Latos trade. Yonder Alonso and Yasmani Grandal could become stars, and Brad Boxberger may be the closer of the future. Huston Street ably replaces Bell. And Carlos Quentin may thrive back in his hometown.

16. Cubs. David DeJesus is a solid outfielder, and Paul Maholm will help. But their winter will turn on whether slugging first baseman Anthony Rizzo is the player they think he is. The real loss for them was the new rule limiting bonus pools for drafted players.

17. Royals. Jonathan Sanchez is just the type of high-ceiling pitcher who fits, Bruce Chen was needed back and Jonathan Broxton is worth a flyer.

18. Dodgers. They managed to cut to below $90 million as cash-strapped Frank McCourt sells the team, but they pieced it together pretty well. Chris Capuano and Aaron Harang are solid starters but most of the other imports are extras. They also made an exciting secret grab at Fielder but were outbid by the Tigers. Their best move, though, was signing Matt Kemp for eight years at $160 million,

19. Indians. Given the restrictions of the budget, not terrible. Casey Kotchman looks to be on the upswing, and Derek Lowe is a veteran presence needed especially now that Fausto Carmona is better known as Limbo Carmona.

20. Giants. Melky Cabrera and Angel Pagan are late bloomers, and they might do as well as the combo of Caros Beltran, Andres Torres and Cody Ross. The comeback of Buster Posey is probably the biggest key. Also like the smaller pickups of Clay Hensley and Ryan Theriot.

21. Cardinals. It's hard to lose Pujols (not to mention Tony La Russa and Dave Duncan) and not feel it. But somehow, the Cardinals seem to find a way. Beltran replaces some of Pujols' lost offense, if not his presence. Adam Wainwright's return is the biggest addition, though.

22. Orioles. Nobody did more different things, but it's tough to evaluate or guess what Wei-Yin Chen or Tsuyoshi Wada will become. Wilson Betemit was an odd signing in that no one saw a two-year deal coming.

23. White Sox. Love the Robin Ventura move (though I suspect they should have made him take a more-experienced staff). The team will be a lot younger, too, with all the kids acquired for Santos and Quentin. Buehrle is tough to replace, though.

24. Braves. Their big deal was for utlityman Jack Wilson, which says a lot. Never found the right deal for Jair Jurrjens or Martin Prado.

25. Twins. Josh Willingham has a lot of pressure on him to make up for the loss of Cuddyer and Kubel. Joe Nathan preferred to go to a contender. Not sure how much Jason Marquis has left.

26. Red Sox. I like the way they recovered from the loss of Papelbon by adding Mark Melancon and Andrew Bailey. Cody Ross and Nick Punto are nice complementary pieces. But I think they'll miss Jason Varitek more than think. And they still don't have a No. 4 or 5 starter or starting shortstop after trading Marco Scutaro in exchange for "flexibility.'' Bobby Valentine was a great call for manager, and he does his best work when there are issues, so maybe he pulls it all together.

27. A's. They did a nice job collecting prospects (Jarrod Parker, Brad Peacock and A.J. Cole could be stars) but will be hard-pressed to avoid 90 defeats this year after trading Cahill, Gonzalez and Bailey. Big Talent Yoenis Cespedes and Mannyball spice things up. Interesting offseason.

28. Brewers. Tough to make up for the loss of Fielder. Aramis Ramirez is a nice middle-of-the-order bat, Alex Gonzalez is an upgrade at shortstop and Nori Aoki may work. Also lost some bullpen depth with Takashi Saito and Hawkins gone.

29. Astros. They took a flyer on the oft-injured Fernando Martinez but after failing to unload Wandy Rodriguez, Carlos Lee or Brett Myers, they basically return the same team. Which is not necessarily good news when you lost 106 games.

30. Mets. They lost the heart of the team (though an of-injured one), and Andres Torres wouldn't be my first choice to replace the dynamic Reyes. Actually, Pagan would have been better. But that's nitpicky. Let's face it, no one that cuts an unprecedented $50 million can do well.
Posted on: February 18, 2012 7:42 pm
Edited on: February 18, 2012 8:57 pm

Best deals from team, player perspectives

As with every year, there were the deals. And then there were the steals. With camps opening it is time to assess the best and worst of the winter's free-agent signings. With just a few dozen players remaining, here are my lists of the best signings for the team and the best ones for the player ...

Best signings (for team)

1. Francisco Cordero. Blue Jays RP, $4.5M, 1 yr. In a closer market filled with talent, he was the last good one to sign, and he seemed to have gotten squeezed. The Reds turned down a $12-million option for him, but based on 194 saves over the past five years, that seems closer to his true value.
 2. Brad Lidge. Nationals RP, $1M, 1 yr. Worries of injury probably kept him down. A great signing for a young team if he has anything left.

3. Carlos Beltran. Cardinals OF, $26M, 2 yrs. Concerns about his knee probably hurt him. But he did not have one knee issue all last year, when he was one of the more productive hitting outfielders in the league. Won't replicate Albert Pujols, but gives them a chance.

4. Ryan Madson. Reds RP, $8.5M, 1 yr. The biggest money spent early on closers when Madson thought he had a $44-million, four-year deal with his old team, the Phillies, before they pulled the offer. The Reds are the beneficiaries when the Angels and Red Sox didn't make their move. Only one year as a closer, but dynamic changeup gives him a chance to be excellent for years.

 5. Alex Gonzalez. Brewers SS, $4.25M, 1 yr. He's had a much better shortstop career than Clint Barmes or Jamey Carroll. Chronically low on-base percentage finally catching up with him.

  6. Joel Pineiro. Phillies SP, $1.5M, 1 yr. The $1.5-million salary on his minor-league deal wasn't even on Cot's Baseball Contracts (the usual reference spot for salaries), but the hunch is the switch back to the National League will make the difference for him. Despite their ballpark, the Phillies seem to do well with pitchers. Has never allowed a run in Citizens Bank Ballpark.

 7. Chris Capuano. Dodgers SP, $10M, 2 yrs. Some might look at this as a fair figure (or perhaps even a little high), but he showed last year he knows how to pitch and win with what he has left. Solid NL starter.

 8. Paul Maholm, Cubs, SP, $4.5M, 1 yr. Nice starter has been adversely affected by Pirates offensive woes.

 9. Lyle Overbay. Diamondbacks, $1M, 1 yr. Usually a member of the overpays, he went to the other list this year. Very good defender.

 10. Jon Garland. Indians SP, 1 yr. undisclosed contract. Whatever he got, the Indians got a solid pitcher who's been an innings eater throughout his career.

 11. Ryan Spilborghs. Indians OF, $1M, 1 yr. He got $1 million base for one year on a minor-league deal, and should see a lot ot action with the Indians considering their all lefty starting outfield and the injury history of Grady Sizemore. Solid, good team man.

 12. Mike MacDougal. Dodgers RP, $1M, 1 yr. Very talented pitcher. One of these years someone's going to get a steal.

 13. Kosuke Fukudome. White Sox OF, $1M, 1 yr. Smart insurance for a team that has a starting trio with some questions, even from the well-paid Alex Rios.

 14. Micah Owings. Padres RP, $1M, 1 yr. Multitalented player went 8-0 with the rival Diamondbacks last year. Can also hit.

 15. Jonny Gomes. A's OF-DH. $1M, 1 yr. A plus for any team or clubhouse.

 16. Francisco Rodriguez. Brewers RP. $8M, 1 yr. That's pretty steep for a set-up man, but K-Rod is really a second closer, a nice luxury for Milwaukee to have.

Best Signings (for player)

   1. C.J. Wilson. Angels SP, $77.5M, 5 yrs. Yes, I realize he could have gotten another $22 million from the Marlins. But he's had only two years as a starter, is surprisingly wild and bombed in the playoffs.

   2. Laynce Nix. Phillies OF, $2.5M, 2 yrs. Two years? Don't get it.

   3. Wilson Betemit. Orioles INF, $3.25M, 2 yrs. And I use the word "infielder'' loosely. The guy can hit a bit. but again, what's the reason for two years?

   4. Coco Crisp. A's OF, $14M, 2 yrs. He had the option of going to the Rays after saying he most wanted to play for a winner. So what does he do, but sign for two years (likely two dead years) with the A's. Can't really blame him considering.

   5. Rod Barajas. Pirates C, $4M, 1 yr. Pull hitter will yank a few out, even in Pittsburgh. But the market for the so-so catchers generally wasn't this good.

   6. Heath Bell. Marlins RP, $27M, 3 yrs. That's what folks figured he'd get. But it was quite good in this closer market for a pitcher in his mid 30s who's been thriving at PETCO. One advantage for the Marlins: He really is Heath Bell, and he's a good guy.

   7. Frank Francisco. Mets RP, $12M, 2 yrs. He did well by signing early, getting a multiyear in a rough market for closers.

   8. Yoenis Cespedes. A's OF, $36M, 4 yrs. Looked like superman on his video. but can he hit the major-league curveball? Curious choice in that Oakland isn't going to win at least this year, and maybe next. But it's understandable in that they'd missed out on Adrian Beltre and Lance Berkman, two guys who had monster years elsewhere after spurning Oakland's offers. Another plus for the player: if he can hit the curve, he's a free agent again at 30.

   9. Prince Fielder. Tigers 1B, $214M, 9 yrs. He could have gotten at least eight years elsewhere (surely from the Orioles and maybe the Dodgers, who had offered seven), but Victor Martinez's injury helped him join the $200-million club with a great team. Credit owner Mike Ilitch for doing whatever it took, but it took a lot.

   10. Mark Ellis. Dodgers 2B, $8.75M, 2 yrs. Very nice addition to any team, but he looked like he was on the verge of a release at one point early last year. The whole middle infield market did very well early, including Clint Barmes, Jamey Carroll and others. Dodgers appear a lot on these list, but that's because they signed more free agents than anyone.

   11. Mark Buehrle. Marlins, $58M, 4 yrs. Very good, consistent pitcher who may thrive in the NL. Steep price, though, so he better.

   12. Willie Bloomquist. Diamondbacks $3.8M, 2 yrs. Another one of the journeyman middle infielders who cashed in big. Funny thing is, he turned down close to $5 million with the Giants.

   13. Jerry Hairston, Jr. Dodgers INF, $6M, 2 yrs. Spunky, versatile player cashed in after mostly helping the Brewers late last year.

   14. Luke Scott. Rays DH, $5M, 1 yr. Hard to criticize the Rays, but the price seems steep considering the DH glut. He's younger and has more power than those left, however.

   15. Greg Dobbs. Marlins INF, $3M, 2 yrs. Again, not sure why a utilityman gets a multiyear deal. But good for him.

   16. Casey Blake. Rockies 3B. $2M, 2 yrs. Good guy who's an injury risk at this point. Time to start the Nolan Arenado era.

One more that will be good for the team: Roy Oswalt. His geographic desires have hurt him as he turned down close to $10 million with the Tigers and has let a Red Sox offer sit forever. Still waiting for the Rangers or Cardinals (we think).

One that will be better than you think: Albert Pujols. The $240 million over 10 years the Angels gave Pujols may seem a bit high toward the end of that deal, but the excitement and marketability the alltime great brings is immeasurable, though their new TV partner which dished out $2 billion probably has a pretty good idea of his value.

One that wasn;t a free-agent deal but was still great for the team: Matt Kemp. Can't blame the player for taking $160 million) over eight years), but you have to know the new owner loves the fact that the awesomely great Kemp is locked up through his prime years.

Posted on: January 28, 2012 1:01 am
Edited on: January 28, 2012 1:31 am

Oswalt may be headed south in locale & dollars

Longtime pitching star Roy Oswalt, who seems to have very strong geographic leanings, turned down a very large one-year offer of about $10 million from the Detroit Tigers, sources told CBSSports.com, and Oswalt is instead eyeing several other teams, most of them much closer to his southern roots, including the Texas Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals.

Oswalt's main criteria seems to be proximity to his home in Mississippi. Other teams said to be in the running include the Red Sox and Nationals, but indications are that he prefers the Rangers and Cardinals. Above all else, the locale seems to be the key to him as his decision nears. Otherwise, how to explain the out-and-out rejection of the powerhouse Tigers?

The issue seems to be that the two teams he seems to most prefer -- the Rangers and Cardinals -- aren't perfect fits. Neither currently has an opening for a starting pitcher, though it's possible either team might try to make one for him. One report, from @Jim_Duquette, suggested the Cardinals are the frontrunner.

One thing is certain, and that is that he won't be a Tiger. Detroit's offer, which was made well before they came out of nowhere to sign Prince Fielder to a $214-million, nine-year deal, is no longer on the table.

Though Oswalt's agent Bob Garber denied it, one other person familiar with the Tigers' discussions with regarding said Oswalt declined to accept Detroit's offer of about $10-million after it met Garber's asking price. That person said Garber requested $10 million, but after Tigers owner Mike Ilitch signed off on the $10 million, Garber later informed Detroit that Oswalt was not prepared to take the offer. Garber denied by text that he had asked for $10 million, saying, "I never gave the Tigers a number.''

Garber added that Oswalt has "his top three (teams) he's still focused on.''

He didn't name the three teams. But it's hard to bet on the Red Sox, who like Detroit is in the north, and what's more, are believed to have offered nothing close to the $10 million Tigers bid (the belief is that Boston's offer is closer to $5 million).

Texas and St. Louis seem more likely at this point. The Rangers, who already have six viable starters, would insist he take their price, which would presumably be less than even Boston's price. Nolan Ryan and pitching coach Mike Maddux are both Oswalt fans (Ryan like Oswalt was an Astros star and knows him well) so they may do it if he'd take a fraction of the $10 million he turned down.

The Cardinals don't have an overwhelming need for another starter, either. But St. Louis has talked to both him and another free agent, Edwin Jackson.

The Astros, his former team, were mentioned as a possibility in one report. And they certainly would fit his geographic preferences. But that report was denied by someone close to Oswalt.

Oswalt has such strong ties to his home area that he left the Phillies last year for eight days after his hometown was wracked by a hurricane even though his own home didn't suffer significant damage. Oswalt, who also battled back trouble last year, at one point last year ruminated about retirement last year.

Had he done so, he would have missed one of the most interesting free-agent plays in recent memory.

Posted on: January 6, 2012 5:48 pm
Edited on: January 25, 2012 6:36 am

Duncan, an alltime great, may not return

No timetable has been set for longtime Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan's return, and the feeling among Cardinals people is that it's possible he might not be back at all.

The Cardinals announced a leave of absence for Duncan, so they are keeping the seat warm. And they have hope to see him back at some point. But Duncan, probably the greatest pitching coach over the past quarter centurey and maybe ever, has understadably left to be with his wife Jeanine, and it is clear what his priority is now. Jeanine had surgery for a brain tumor in August. The team hasn't talk about her prognosis, but they understand Duncan's priority.

Duncan's replacement is Derek Lilliquist. They are calling Lilliquist is the interim replacement, and that is only appropriate. Duncan can come back is he desires. Unfortunately, it won't be soon.

Lilliquist is the right choice. He is known as a great communicator and a great competitor. Besides that, he has been in the organization since 2002 and knows all the pitchers. He was the point man in Jupiter who tended to all their rehabs before he joined the mjaor-league staff last year, in time for the World Championship, and he was the pitching coach for six weeks when Duncan left to be with Jeanine last summer.

Duncan will be missed. The 67-year-old coach was Tony La Russa's righthand man since the beginning, and he always seemed to get the most out of whatever he had. He leaves a void in experience, too. Jose Oquendo is the one very experienced coach left on rookie manager Mike Matheny's staff. Matheny is fortuate he has a very mature team, full of leaders like Chris Carpenter, Lance Berkman, Matt Holliday and Yadier Molina. But tere's only one Dave Duncan.

Category: MLB
Posted on: January 3, 2012 9:10 am
Edited on: January 24, 2012 8:54 pm

Crisp mystery: It's not O's, could it be A's?

The Coco Crisp mystery isn't quite solved. But we are making progress (a little, anyway).

Crisps's agent Steve Comte got the ball rolling when he told the San Francisco Chronicle that Crisp had settled on a team. So far, that team remains a mystery. Many teams have shown interest in Crisp, making this a tough one.

One possibility is that Crisp simply remains in Oakland. But that is thus far unconfirmed, as well.

As far as the Orioles go, I may need a new crystal ball. While the Orioles did talk to Comte in their pursuit of a leadoff hitter, it appears Crisp is likely heading elsewhere. Someone with the Orioles said his name didn't even come up in a recent meeting, a indication they certainly aren't expecting to get him.

But who is? Just about every A.L. East team was speculated at one point in recent days, but one by one they appear to have been shot down as the likely landing spot. The Cubs, Cardinals and Dodgers are among other teams that have been linked to Crisp. But there's no evidence it's any of them, either. 
Word has been that Crisp prefers to remain on the West Coast, and that he wants to play for a winner. Well, if it is Oakland, I am confident they will be a big winner. But maybe not for a couple more years.

Category: MLB
Posted on: January 2, 2012 9:42 pm
Edited on: January 24, 2012 8:56 pm

Crisp signing soon; could it possibly be Orioles?

The news of Coco Crisp's imminent signing with some unknown mystery team added intrigue to the baseball interest Monday night. Nobody seems to know for sure what team it is, but here's one guess out of left field: the Baltimore Orioles.

It hasn't been confirmed that it is the Orioles. But sources suggest that Crisp has been talking to the Orioles in recent days, and they are very much interested.

The Blue Jays are another team that could be a possibility, but they are said to be optimistic about Eric Thames and Travis Snider.

The guessing game began when Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reported that Crisp's agent Steve Comte said his client had picked a team. However, Comte didn't identify the team.

The Orioles don't seem like the obvious fit as they already have a fine young center fielder in Adam Jones. But they could move Jones to left field and form an outfield with three players capable of playing center. The Braves have been asking about Jones' availability, but the asking price has been understandably high. Baltimore wouldn't do it straight-up for young righthander Jair Jurrjens.

The Cubs and Cardinals were two teams that have been known to show interest in Crisp, but this may wind up being a surprise signing.

Category: MLB
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com