NOTE: Post updated with actual team italicized or bolded if correct.
Although I'm still basking in the aftermath of the San Francisco Giants World Series championship (as, likely, you are as well), baseball never stops. The offseason has begun and even though I'd like to just sit here on my laurels and let my beer shower soaked vestments further infect all my other clothing items, I shall not. Just as Bochy and Sabean got together a day or two after the parade, so shall I sit down at my keyboard and spout predictions about the top free agents in this 2010 class, inclusive of course of our beloved rally thong wearing, name chanting, WS game clinching homering guys.
Before I go into my free agent predictions, let me validate my prediction power. Towards the end of spring training last March, these were my predictions (bold means correct):
NL Playoff teams: Phillies, Giants,, Cardinals, Rockies
AL Playoff teams: Yankees, Twins , Red Sox, Mariners
ALCS: Yankees vs Red Sox
NLCS: Phillies vs Giants
World Series: Red Sox over Phillies
AL Cy Young: Felix Hernandez
NL Cy Young: Roy Halladay
AL MVP: Ichiro (not even close)
NL MVP: Albert Pujols (Votto)
AL ROY: Austin Jackson (Neftali Feliz)
NL ROY: Madison Bumgarner (turned out to be his battery mate Buster Posey)
4 out of 8 playoff teams I got right. And possibly 3 out of 6 awards. Pat on back over. Here is where I think the top free agents are headed come Spring Training 2011
Cliff Lee (Rangers): I think the Yankees will throw everything they can at Cliff Lee. But Texas has a great young core and have money to spend and seem intent on hanging on to him. Actual: Phillies
Carl Crawford (Angels): Anaheim has made Crawford a priority. The Yankees and Red Sox are expected to go hard after Crawford as well. The Giants are said to be interested but won't be able to compete with the financial packages offered by the AL clubs. The Angels, after missing the playoffs for the first time in awhile, will get their man. Actual: Red Sox
Jayson Werth (San Francisco): I think the Giants are a darkhorse for Werth. With Pat the Bat unlikely to return, the Giants will replace him with another phormer Phillie. Werth will cost a lot of money, but the Giants coming off a WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONSHIP (god, that doesn't get old) will make a splash by signing Werth. Werth is one of the best right handed power hitting outfielders in the game and he plays a wicked right field. By the way, he hit a homer opposite way against the Giants at AT&T in the playoffs. Don't think the Giants didn't notice. He is a perfect fit for AT&T and unlike Aaron Rowand, I don't think taking Werth out of Philly will deflate all his power. Actual: Nationals (!)
Victor Martinez (Rangers): Although Bengie had a great October, he was pretty horrendous for the Rangers in the regular season. They are actively looking for an upgrade at catcher. Cliff Lee gets reunited with his battery mate from Cleveland. Actual: Tigers
Adrian Beltre (Red Sox): With the Red Sox striking out on Crawford and Werth, look at them to retain their 3B. Beltre will shop around but the Red Sox will step up to the plate and give him an offer he won't refuse. Actual: Rangers
Adam Dunn (Cubs): The Cubs need a first baseman. Dunn is familiar with the NL Central. And he won't be forced to DH. It's a good fit for both. Actual: White Sox (right city, wrong team)
Paul Konerko (Braves): Braves need a 1B. They've done the Adam LaRoche thing before (twice), they won't do it for a third time. Konerko will likely want to play for a contending team. The Dodgers (the team that drafted him) are a darkhorse but they have to trade Loney first and Loney is cheaper. Not sure they make that move. Konerko will settle in with the Braves. Actual: White Sox
Rafael Soriano (Angels): There are not a lot of teams looking for closer help. But the Angels are one of them. And Arte Moreno is not afraid to spend money. Tampa can't afford to keep him.
Carlos Pena (Diamondbacks): The Dbacks want a new first baseman. They are apparently very interested in Paul Konerko but I can't see Konerko going to a team in rebuilding mode. Carlos Pena is good defensively and has a ton of power. In the BOB, he could likely hit 40 bombs again. Actual: Cubs
Vladimir Guerrero (Rangers): I was surprised they didn't pick up his option. If another team doesn't come in and blow him away with an offer, I see Vlad and Texas resuming their baseball relationship.
Aubrey Huff (Giants): Huff says he'll pounce to return to SF "for the right offer". Let's not kid ourselves, Aubrey loved it here. This is posturing. He'll be the Giants 1B come Opening Day, 2011.
Jorge De La Rosa (Brewers): The Brewers like signing mediocre pitchers that turn out good seasons right before free agency (see: Suppan, Jeff and Wolf, Randy). De la Rosa will be another notch in that particular belt. Actual: Rockies
Manny Ramirez (retires or plays in Japan) I just don't see Manny accepting any offers from MLB teams because they'll not be what he's used to. Manny last season said he wanted to end his career in Cleveland. Manny says a lot of things. Cleveland won't offer him very much and he'll likely hang 'em up.
Magglio Ordonez (Rays): The Rays can't really afford big name free agents but they might be able to lure Magglio to Tampa Bay. Actual: Tigers
Derrek Lee (Nationals): Nats need a 1B. Derrek Lee needs a job. Actual: Orioles
John Buck (Red Sox): Red Sox lose out on resigning V-Mart so they go for Option B. Actual: Marlins
Javier Vazquez (Nationals): Vazquez played for the Expos. He'll play for them in D.C. as the Nationals. Actual: Marlins
Juan Uribe (Dodgers): Ooo-REBAY is beloved by the Bay. The Giants have no shortstop prospects ready and need an insurance policy at 3B in case Sandoval doesn't get his shit together. However, Uribe will command a multiyear deal at decent dollars. The Giants don't necessarily need him after 2011 and he's not an ideal SS anyways. He will get a better deal elsewhere. One team desperate for a 2B? The Dodgers. And Ned wants to be Brian Sabean, so... it'll be painful booing you in Dodger Blue, Juan.
Pat Burrell (Braves): Atlanta seems interested. Burrell has a tough to read market. He sucked as a DH so that rules out most AL clubs. His postseason was embarrassing as he looked like the Burrell that was cut from Tampa. However, Atlanta takes fliers on guys like Burrell (Troy Glaus) and likely would prefer him over Jermaine Dye or another reclamation type project. Giants enjoyed Pat the Bat's contributions and he'll forever be remembered by Giants fans for hitting clutch homers during the regular seasons, but it seems like Sabean squeezed just enough magic out of him and they seem to be aware of that. They'll let him walk for the bigger deal. Actual: Giants (Welcome back Pat the Bat!)
Edgar Renteria (Cardinals): Edgar claims he wants to end his career in Miami or St. Louis. St. Louis could use a back up middle infielder with clutch hitting ability. Tony LaRussa loves the guy. This is a reunion that should happen. Actual: Reds
Adam LaRoche (Orioles): LaRoche will wind up on the Orioles when the other 1B jobs disappear. Actual: Nats
And that's it for now. As guys are non-tendered, I'll put in a new prediction list.
Enjoy! And in case you forgot, the Giants are YOUR 2010 World Series Champions!