Posted on: March 7, 2012 1:59 pm
Edited on: March 7, 2012 2:32 pm

FA guesses for Phils lefty Hamels: $150M-$175M

The Phillies better lock up Cole Hamels, and they better do it before he becomes a free agent after this season. A quick survey of three agents, none with ties to Hamels, revealed that they believe Hamels would garner between $150 million and $175 million as a free agent.

Here are the guesses of the three agents (of course, keep in mind these are not management guesses):

--$168 million, seven years

--$150 million to $175 million

--$150 million to $160 million

Hamels professed his love for Philadelphia and keen interest in remaining a Phillie earlier this spring, and his words aren't the usual hollow tripe, as he resides in Philly year-round even though he hails from beautific San Diego.

Hamels' longtime agent, John Boggs, is visiting Clearwater and talking to Phillies management, and there seems to be some hope for a deal even if nothing appears imminent. Not too much is being said by the Phillies, but it is hard to imagine Philly, a team that is quite generous with its core players, letting him slip away.

If he does go, some figure the new Dodgers owner, whoever that may be, might want to make a splash by luring the Southern California product.

This deal is not going to be cheap either way. One of the agents surveyed said that as a free agent Hamels is sure to use as comps the past deals from the elite left-handed pitching market, meaning CC Sabathia's $161-million, seven-year deal (Sabathia added one year and $30 million this winter, thanks to his opt-out clause), Cliff Lee's $148-million, seven-year Yankees offer (he took $120 million over five from the Phillies instead) and to a degree Johan Santana's $137.5-million, six-year deal, though that deal is a few years old.

The Phillies should be able to get a bit of a discount on a Hamels deal since he wants to stay to play for a perennially winning team that sells out and has created buzz around the city. But the Phillies shouldn't mess around here. The key to their team are the three ace pitchers, and the other two are on the wrong side of 33. Lee is 33 and Roy Halladay will be 35 in May.

Hamels, only 28, is practically a necessity for Philly.  

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 22, 2012 3:45 pm
Edited on: February 22, 2012 8:31 pm

Ryan Howard takes BP, won't predict return date

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Phillies star Ryan Howard fields grounders occasionally here at Phillies camp, and today he took batting practice at Bright House Field. Afterward, he was all smiles. His spirits were obviously high, but he made no predictions about when he'd be able to play in games.

"I feel good about where I am right now ... I guess I'm right where I'm supposed to be,'' is how Howard characterized things at a press conference to talk about all things related to the dramatic finish to his season and his lengthy recovery (it's at four months and counting) from his surgery to repair his torn left Achilles suffered on the season's final at-bat.

Howard said he felt very good while hitting and saw no reason for any dropoff in productivity once he's back on the field for real. In fact, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel actually predicted Howard's best years were ahead of him. The shift has surely taken a bite of his batting average which has been in decline, but there is no reason to think the Achilles injury will affect him longer than the time it takes to heal.

The hope is that he's in the Phillies lineup by sometime in May, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro said. "He's got a lot of strength to gain. We're going to be very cautious with it,'' Amaro said.

Howard said he's heard he's not going to be at full strength until the All-Star break. He didn't say whether he heard that from one of the Phillies doctors or one of the many lay people who chatted him up at the grocery store and other spots this winter. Howard referred to the injury as "a blessing in disguise'' because it gave him time to think. It was quite a disguise, as intense pain on top of making the final out of the season is no highlight. He said he saw the replay once. No reason to view it more than that.

Referring to making the final out two years running (although last year it was more hobbling than running), Howard joked that this could be his year to come through. "I'm about due,'' he said.

He may be a giddy to be here after all the inactivity. He said his winter consisted a lot of "housewives'' shows, the result of being immobile and unable to wrest the clicker away from his fiancee.

So understandably, just being in camp is a welcome step for him.

Posted on: February 22, 2012 2:55 pm
Edited on: February 22, 2012 4:52 pm

Smart money says Hamels gets his wish and stays

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Man, what is it about Philly?

Long the butt of jokes, major league ballplayers can't get enough of that town. One day, it's the Phillies' star lefthander Cole Hamels, the class of the 2012-13 free-agent market, pining to stay in Philadelphia, going so far as to say there is no deadline for a new deal. The next it was Shane Victorino, the sparkplug and heart of the team, who joined the small chorus.

"I'd like to stay here, too,'' Victorino, another free-agent-to-be, said. Victorino cited the very same things Hamels cited abut Philly: the victories, the expectations, the fans, the guys. Believe it or not, the guys are a big part of it.

"I don't want to go anywhere else. this is the place that gave me my start, the place that made me who I am today,'' Victorino said. "This is a great place to play.''

Victorino couldn't think of a bad thing to say. He wasn't even upset that Hamels gets a press conference to say how much he likes Philadelphia, whereas he has to do it one-on-one. "I'm not at that level,'' Victorino said.

Perhaps not, but he is one of the gang, part of the nucleus that makes the guys at the top want to stay a Phillie. Hamels credited the organization for finding the right core, the "six or seven'' players who have formed the personality of the most popular team in the game (to the players, anyway). It may just look like a very talented group to outsiders, but Hamels insisted that the organization has found "the right type of guys'' to form the core.

"We generally have very good makeup guys,'' GM Ruben Amaro said. "These are guys that want to win. I think they all have egos, but these are egos that allow them to perform at the level they need to perform at.''
Hamels' words were so glowing at his press gathering folks wondered whether they were actually scripted by the Phillies public relations staff. Alas, they were not. Yet, the organization was duly pleased by what they heard.

"I think he genuinely enjoys it here,'' Amaro said. "And I think he realized he made some comments in the past without thinking, and he thought about what he was going to say. He's also matured.''

This is a little different from the way the Cliff Lee negotiations went. That time, they were all done in secret, with the small coterie of Philly organization people who knew about them all swearing to keep the secrecy. The only hint of Philly's immense popularity at the time was Roy Halladay's overt effort to get to Philadelphia when his time was up in Toronto. Then Lee left at least $28 million on the table when he spurned the Yankees and went to Philly for $120 million over five years. "It's just the talent level and the expectations,'' Lee said. "There are sellouts every game. Good team, good enviornment ...  everything about it is positive.''

Phillies CEO David Montogomery, who helps set the excellent tone and the high payroll (it is bordering on luxury tax territory), appreciates the kind words from Hamels. "We certainly have the door open, and it seems like he does, too,'' Montgomery said. "He's been with us a long time. You never know where it leads. But the interest is there for us to retain him, and it seems like he'd very much like to stay.''

The vibe seems perfect for a deal here. In fact, it would be a shock if the Phillies and Hamels don't figure it out.

The early word is that the Phillies might be thinking about a contract in the range of $100-120 million. That is an estimate, but it makes sense because Lee is a bit more dominant. No matter, negotiations can get intense no matter how wonderful the public rhetoric. "(Hamels) still has (agent) John Boggs, doesn't he?'' Montgomery said. The CEO did say he thinks it's great there's deadline no restrict the talks. And Amaro said luxury tax considerations won't inhibit them either. "It'll come down to years and dollars, just like it does with every contract.''

Hamels certainly has made no secret of his desires. It would be hard to hide them, anyway, as he lives year-round in Philly. He may love it more than any solitary native San Diegan. The idea of playing back in his idyllic hometown, for instance, has no appeal for Hamels, who recalls going to an empty Qualcomm Stadium as a kid. "Nobody goes to Padres games,'' Hamels said. "Why would I want to go where fans only support the team from the third inning to the sixth inning? I'd rather play where fans are excited about the games.''

He is certainly playing no games when it comes to negotiations. Everyone knows where he stands. And where he wants to end up.



Posted on: February 22, 2012 10:45 am
Edited on: February 22, 2012 1:58 pm

Thome back in Philly 1 final year with 1 goal

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- All-time good guy Jim Thome and the Phillies made a deal that made both sides happy.

Thome was home pondering retirement when in a quick switch he became the first free agent to sign this winter, taking the Phillies' fair $1.25 million, one-year offer a scant three days after the free-agent period began. It's far from a windfall for the player who signed what was once the richest deal in Phillies history ($85 million, six years before the 2003 season), but it surely doesn't look like a terrible monetary arrangement for him now, not with several DH types still looking for work. No matter, Thome isn't here to enhance his bank account.

"I told my wife I was content to go home and retire, but when they called and made an offer as early as they did, they made the decision easy to play for one more year,'' Thome said. "If it is going to be my last year, what a way to go out.''

When Thome says it wasn't about the money, you believe him. It's also not about the stats. He has his 600 home runs now (604, to be exact) but it is easy to believe it was never about that for him, either. For all he has accomplished, Thome has never been part of a World Series winner -- he came the closest with the 1997 Indians -- and he sees an excellent chance here with the team that has to be considered the prohibitive favorite in the National League, especially with the nemesis Cardinals having lost the great Albert Pujols.

And despite no DH with Philly, Thome has a decent chance to play, at least early. Indications are that the team enters camp with a decent chance for Thome and Ty Wigginton to platoon at first base until star first baseman Ryan Howard returns from his Achilles injury.

"It's not about the at-bats, it's not about the home runs. I want to win,'' Thome said. "If I get 10 at-bats or 100 at-bats, it doesn't matter if we win. That's what it's all about.''

He's going to get a lot more than 10 at-bats, at least early when he has a chance to man the majority of games at first base before Howard gets back, probably sometime in May. Thome admitted he had "to get through the ups and downs of not playing (first base) in six or seven years.''

Thome isn't expected to win any Gold Glove awards out there now, but he still provides quite a bit, namely power and personality in abundance. He hit 15 home runs in just 324 at-bats with the Twins and Indians last year while batting .256. But he is more to a team than that. He brings a rare vitality for someone who at 41 is one of the oldest players in baseball. Beyond that, he is also that rare human reminder of someone who has his priorities straight.

Category: MLB
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 30, 2012 2:50 pm
Edited on: January 31, 2012 4:45 pm

Retiring Burrell stacks up well vs. other No. 1s

Pat Burrell had a better career than you think. In fact, "Pat the Bat" had a better career than the vast majority of the other No. 1 overall draft picks, maybe 75 percent of the overall No. 1s, or maybe even more than that.

Of the first 34 overall No. 1s, from Rick Monday in 1965 by the A's to Burrell in 1998 by the Phillies, only five clearly had a better career than Burrell. That would be Ken Griffey Jr. (1987, Mariners), Alex Rodriguez (1993, Mariners), Chipper Jones (1990, Braves), Harold Baines (1977, White Sox) and Darryl Strawberry (1980, Mets). That's three out of 34 with Hall of Fame resumes, one with an extremely long and productive career and a fifth who probably should have been going to Cooperstown. Burrell falls into the next group of nine who had very nice careers but far short of great. But he's probably at or near the top of that group, so while he never became a superstar or even made an All-Star team, he was a solid first selection, certainly a lot more solid than most top picks.

The other eight No. 1 overalls I'd put into that good-but-not-great category would be Jeff Burroughs (1969, Senators), Bob Horner (1978, Braves), B.J. Surhoff (1985, Brewers), Andy Benes (1988, Padres), Phil Nevin (1992, Astros), Tim Belcher (1983, Twins), Shawon Dunston (1982, Cubs) and Mike Moore (1981, Mariners). I'd rank Burrell seventh overall, just behind Monday at No. 6 but ahead of the others in this group -- though, if someone wants to reorder the players within that group I wouldn't necessarily quibble. Burrell could be eighth, ninth or 10th, but he's clearly in the top third, at the very worst.

Shawon Dunston has a pretty good case to be at or near the top of this second group, too, with 150 home runs and an all-time shortstop arm in a 20-year career, but I'd put him just below Burrell. Benes has really solid stats, with a 155-139 record and 3.97 ERA, but he didn't have as much impact as Burrell. Burroughs and Horner has similar careers to each other, with some high highs (an MVP in Burroughs' case) but either not quite as much length or consistency. Surhoff was versatile and a high average hitter (.282) but he's more famous for having been picked ahead of Barry Bonds, Barry Larkin and Will Clark in that stellar '85 draft.

Burrell, who CBSSports.com has confirmed will retire (Tim Dierkes of @mlbtraderumors first reported the news), hit 292 home runs, twice finished in the top 14 in MVP voting and was a key contributor on two World Series winning teams, the 2008 Phillies and 2010 Giants (although the '10 World Series wasn't his finest hour). Burrell was a prodigious and consistent power hitter for the Phillies, and he had a very respectable .834 OPS for his career.

It's amazing how many of the overall No. 1 picks, especially the early ones, simply did not deliver. Danny Goodwin, a marginal major leaguer, was twice a No. 1 pick overall pick. David Clyde was the biggest-hyped high school pitcher maybe ever. Mike Ivie never became the big slugger some figured he might be. Tim Foli was a notable scrapper, but at some point , big-league scouts figured it wasn't worth taking a scrapper No. 1 overall.

Only two of the 34 No. 1s overall never played in the big leagues, Steve Chilcott (1966, Mets) and Brien Taylor (1991, Yankees). Chilcott was an incredible miscalculation, and was a mistake that is illuminated by the man picked right behind him, Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson. Taylor never regained his 99-mph fastball or any of his early promise after injuring his left shoulder defending his brother in a bar fight after he signed a record $1.55-million contract after a negotiation depicted by "60 Minutes'' and a couple impressive minor-league seasons. Shawn Abner, Matt Anderson and Al Chambers were busts in their own right.

Counting the ignominious New York picks Chilcott and Taylor, 19 No. 1 overall picks from '65 to '98 clearly had inferior careers to Burrell's (at least in my mind). And while that may say something about the crapshoot aspect of the amateur draft, some bad early picks before scouting improved or something else entirely, Burrell can't be considered any sort of disappointment, no matter how you measure it.
Category: MLB
Posted on: January 11, 2012 1:18 pm
Edited on: January 24, 2012 10:53 am

Boras: Ryan OK'd $44M bid; Phils backed off

The Reds got an excellent closer on a reasonable contract when they agreed to an $8.5-million, one-year contract with ex-Phillie Ryan Madson. What did Madson get? He received the opportunity to close for a very good young team where he has the chance to rack up saves before hitting the free-agent market again next year.

Madson came close to doing a $44-million, four-year deal with the Phillies earlier this winter, as everyone knows by now. But Madson's agent Scott Boras wanted to make it clear that Madson did not reject that proposal, as has been suggested in some places on the blogosphere, and in fact informed the Phillies he was ready to sign back with the Phillies for that $44-million deal he said was proposed. "He told the Phillies he would accept it, and the Phillies decided not to execute it,'' Boras said by phone.

Phillies GM Ruben Amaro has denied that the deal fell apart because club president Dave Montgomery wouldn't approve it but declined to get into the specifics of how it blew up. Word was, the sides were discussing relatively minor items such as incentives when Amaro raised the idea of needing to go to Montgomery, though Amaro has since said that Montgomery knew all along where things stood and was not the reason the deal didn't go down. The Phillies ultimately signed Jonathan Papelbon for $50 million over four years shortly after the deal with Madson blew up.

The Phillies at some point tried to re-engage Madson about returning on a much lower deal, but after being under the impression he had a deal with his old team for $44 million Madson never re-entered serious talks with his old team.

In any case, the Reds were the beneficiary of the deal that blew up, getting the improving reliever who saved 30 of 32 chances in his first year with the bulk of the closing time. He went 4-2 with 62 strikeouts in 60 2/3 inings.

Category: MLB
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