Top 10 active OPS (On base plus slugging percentage)

Those of you gearing up for your fantasy baseball drafts might pay attention to OPS a little more than most folks. That is “on base plus slugging percentage,” measuring a player’s offensive worth more than almost any other statistic. Here is a list of the Top 10 active OPS leaders, minus players like Barry Bonds who are technically still active but not on a major league roster at this time:

1. Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals (1.0489)—Albert is a freak of nature, averaging 42 homers and 128 RBI with a .334 batting average in his first eight seasons in the big leagues. Last year, he battled early elbow problems and wound up winning the NL MVP. This guy is just money year in and year out, and he’s only 29.

2. Manny Ramirez, Los Angeles Dodgers (1.0044)—That sound you just heard was a combination of two things—a collective sigh of relief in La La land and the thud of millions of dollars landing in Manny’s bank account after finally signing a deal with the Dodgers this week. Like him or not, the Dodgers probably just bought a division title.

3. Todd Helton, Colorado Rockies (1.0020)—I’m not accusing anyone of anything but it’s intriguing to me that Helton hit 49 homers in 2001, the same year Barry Bonds hit 73. And his numbers have been steadily declining ever since. I’m just sayin’, it sort of reeks of Brady Anderson.

4. Frank Thomas, Oakland Athletics (.9740)—The Big Hurt has averaged 36 homers, 119 RBI and batted .301 over nineteen seasons. Are you kidding me? Dude is a lock for the Hall of Fame.

5. Lance Berkman, Houston Astros (.9730)—Berkman hasn’t matched his highs of 45 home runs and 136 RBI in 2006, but he always strikes fear in opposing pitchers.

6. Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees (.9671)—It’s been a rough month for A-Rod, first with steroid allegations and now with a hip injury that will sideline him for several weeks. But dude is still king of the regular season in the batter’s box.

7. Jim Thome, Chicago White Sox (.9663)—For almost 20 years, Jim Thome has been one of the best left-handed power hitters in the game. And his .279 career batting average isn’t exactly shabby either. Not great, but not shabby.

8. Vladimir Guerrero, Los Angeles Angels (.9634)—Check out these career averages—36 homers, 117 RBI and .323 batting average. How has Vlad only won one MVP award? Oh, I know—Montreal.

9. Chipper Jones, Atlanta Braves (.9554)—Chipper is about as steady as they come, and he seems to be getting better with age. It’s too bad that hardly anyone goes to that ballpark in Atlanta.

10. Jason Giambi, Oakland Athletics (.9421)—Yeah, okay, we know Giambi used banned substances to aid his performance. But dude is still a pretty good hitter even off the juice.

Source: Baseaball Reference

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Curt Schilling weighs in on A-Fraud mess

Curt Schilling has been an outspoken critic of players who used steroids and HGH, and he doesn’t hold back on the revelation that A-Rod tested positive for steroids, which contradicts A-Rod’s past statements on the matter.

Schilling wants Major Leaugue Baseball to release all information on all the positive tests.

I’d be all for the 104 positives being named, and the game moving on if that is at all possible. In my opinion, if you don’t do that, then the other 600-700 players are going to be guilty by association, forever.

It’s not about good and bad people, because Mark McGwire and Jason Giambi are two of the kindest human beings ever. Andy Pettite is a fantastic person. That’s seemingly got nothing to do with anything. One hundred and four players made the wrong decision, and it appears that not only was it 104, but three of the greatest of our, or any, generation appear to be on top of this list.

And before anyone asks, I’ll make it clear: My name will not appear on any lists of positive tests. I’ve never tested positive for steroids or HGH, and I’ve never taken steroids or HGH in my life, ever. You don’t need to call the union, or an agent to verify that.

Baseball needs to address this. The story will never end, and we’re seeing more and more players whose Hall-of-Fame careers are tainted by the use of these drugs.

It’s stunning to see practically all of Jose Canseco’s allegtions turn out to be true. I heard him recently on Howard Stern, and he regrets exposing other players. He’s been reduced to boxing Danny Bonaduce, and he realizes that his vendetta against Major League Baseball has not made his life any better, despite being vindicated as the facts about steroid and HGH usage by the game’s stars have been exposed. Regardless of his motivations, Canseco has been much more honest than those he accused. Some of the most respected players in the game have been exposed as liars and cheaters, proving once again that this is a business, and money and fame can distort the ethics of many players, even those blessed with the most talent.

Hot Stove League: Pitchers Flying Off Shelves

This past week, John Smoltz officially signed with the Red Sox and the Braves inked Derek Lowe to a four-year, $60 million deal, something Atlanta’s rival New York Mets could not match. Imagine that. But what runs deeper here is that the second and even third tier of pitchers continue to be signed and many position players remain team-less.

Less than a month before pitchers and catchers report, here are some of the big names still available: Manny freaking Ramirez, Adam Dunn, Bobby Abreu, Ken Griffey, Orlando Hudson, Frank Thomas, and to a lesser extent, Kevin Millar (20 homers last season) and Orlando Cabrera. To put this in perspective, the Astros signed pitcher Russ Ortiz to a minor league deal a few days ago, the Dodgers signed reliever Guillermo Mota, the Angels inked Darren Oliver for one year, and the White Sox brought back a Bartolo Colon who is on the downside of his career. Clearly, it’s a pitchers’ market this off-season, and it’s almost mind-boggling that Ramirez has gone almost three full months without being signed.

Part of the problem here is that the big spenders (ahem, New York teams) have blown their collective load on the likes of CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett, Mark Teixeira, Francisco Rodriguez, etc., leaving a team like the Dodgers the likely scenario for Man-Ram in 2009, which at the end of the day is probably best for both sides anyway. But some of those other guys are going to have trouble finding work, or they are going to take a recession-friendly deal from a team they wouldn’t have signed with otherwise. It’s already happened with Pat Burrell in Tampa and Jason Giambi with Oakland.

In other more recent news, the Red Sox avoided arbitration with Kevin Youkilis on Thursday, agreeing to terms on a four-year deal. And the Dodgers finally released beleaguered outfielder Andruw Jones, who the Braves are considering bringing back for the league minimum salary. The Braves are also mulling over whether to bring back injury-plagued LHP Tom Glavine for one more season.

Hot Stove League: It’s getting hot in here!

I know that I’ve been clamoring for some action in the MLB Hot Stove League for weeks, even months. But please, I can’t keep up with the floodgates these last few days. Well, here are the highlights (i.e., the bigger names), and you can bet much more will happen in the coming weeks as we get closer to spring training:

First off, two long-time players for a single team will have new addresses in 2009: Trevor Hoffman and John Smoltz. Hoffman, who has been with the Padres since 1993 when he came over as part of a trade with the Marlins for Gary Sheffield, has not only been a great closer for San Diego for 16 seasons—he has become the all-time MLB leader in saves with 554. But when San Diego no longer put the welcome mat out, Hoffman sought to sign elsewhere, and settled on a one year, $6 million deal with the Milwaukee Brewers that can also pay him $1.5 million in performance bonuses.

As for Smoltz, he came to the Braves in 1987 from Detroit in the Doyle Alexander trade, and has been with Atlanta, his only major league team, for 21 years. But the Braves, who are trying to inject more youth into their roster, did not offer Smoltz the money he was looking for and so he signed with the Boston Red Sox. Granted, Smoltz still is injured and probably won’t be available to the Sox until a few months into the season, but you’d rather have him in September and beyond anyway.

The Sox also finalized their deal with free agent RHP Brad Penny on Friday, so both he and Smoltz will join a rotation that includes Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and Daisuke Matsuzaka. Whoa. I gotta be honest, I think I like their rotation better than the CC Sabathia and AJ Burnett-led Yankees’. Not to sit tight after losing out on the Mark Teixeira sweepstakes to the Yankees, Boston also signed utility outfielder Rocco Baldelli, formerly of the Rays, who grew up in New England.

The Cubs signed outfielder Milton Bradley to a 3-year, $30 million deal, a year after he had one of his most productive seasons with the Texas Rangers (22 homers, .321 batting average). The Rays, who nearly won a title with all that youth in 2008, signed veteran OF Pat Burrell away from Philly, the team that beat them for said title.

Also, Jason Giambi has returned to his roots, signing a one-year. $5.25 million deal with Oakland, the team he began his career with before taking his big bat (and his tubes of stuff, allegedly) for big bucks.

Oh, and as if the Mets and Braves didn’t have enough to battle about on the field (I bet New York is thrilled not to have to face Smoltz anymore), the two teams are reportedly fighting hard over the services of one Derek Lowe. Then, whoever loses out on Lowe can turn their attention to the likes of Ben Sheets, Freddy Garcia or Andy Pettitte.

I know the economy still sucks, but at least we have some signings and movement.

If you hated the Yankees before, you’ll hate them even more after this offseason

Despise the New York Yankees, do ya? Well get ready to hate them even more because they’re about to become every Yankee-hater’s worst nightmare this offseason. By the time they’re done making moves, the head of every non-Yankee fan across this great nation will be long blown off.

Mark TeixeiraThink the Bronx Bombers were done after they signed CC Sabathia to a 30-year, $1 Gazillion contract last week? They’re not done – not even close. They’ve also got A.J. Burnett, Mark Teixeira and Manny Ramirez on their radar and if it were possible to raise Ty Cobb, Cy Young and “Shoeless” Joe Jackson from their death beds, the Yankees would have already made bids on their services, too.

Here’s the thing, the Yankees missed the playoffs last year. They also haven’t won the American League East since 2006, a pennant since 2003 or a World Series since 2000. Simply put, that is unacceptable in the Bronx and with a new stadium ready to be opened next year, the new boss Hank Steinnbrenner wouldn’t dare fielding a loser in 2009.


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