Now That The World Series Is Over…….

It’s time for one of my favorite times of the year in baseball, the Hot Stove League…a.k.a. the time when players change teams and change the landscape of MLB for the following season. Let’s start by taking a look at the big names that will be moved or signed as free agents in the coming months, and be sure to check back in with us each week during the cold months….

Manny Ramirez—Word is the Dodgers do not want to sign Manny to a 4-5 year deal the way agent Scott Boras would like. That leaves open the very real possibility that Manny could be heading back to the American League where he can DH for a team like (are you ready for this?) Toronto. I don’t know, that just doesn’t seem right, does it? But it sure would tighten up a tough division even more. My feeling is Manny stays in LA for two years or so. The Yankees will also have to make a bid, and you might expect the Mets to as well just to say they did.

CC Sabathia—The Brewers would love nothing more than to re-sign their ace who came over from Cleveland in July and almost led them to the promised land. Well, he did almost single-handedly land the team in the playoffs. CC likes Milwaukee, but yearns for the west coast where he is from. The Dodgers might open their wallet here, especially if Manny goes elsewhere. The Yankees are also expected to bid, so the $$ could go high.

Jake Peavy—The hot rumor is that Peavy is being courted in a trade by the Braves, but GM Frank Wren is not itchy to give up the top prospects the Padres are looking for.

Francisco Rodriguez—The Angels’ closer who saved a major league record 62 saves in 2008, is expected to receive a hefty offer from the Mets to replace Billy Wagner.

Mark Teixeira—The Angels are likely to re-sign him, but if the Yankees do not get Sabathia, expect a run from them as well.

Other news….

Detroit’s Freddy Garcia has filed for free agency after pitching just three games for the Tigers in 2008……Seattle’s Raul Ibanez has also filed…AJ Burnett is likely to opt out of his contract with Toronto, and is expected to do so before next week’s GM meetings….Ken Griffey’s option was declined by the White Sox, who didn’t make it past the first round of the playoffs against Tampa. Griffey should find a home in the American League as a DH….Florida traded 1B Mike Jacobs to Kansas City on Thursday for pitcher Leo Nunez….the Tigers declined the option on Edgar Renteria….the Dodgers’ Jeff Kent is finally expected to retire… Brewers news, Ben Sheets has declared free agency, and they have named former A’s manager Ken Macha to replace Ned Yost…the Brew Crew also declined their option on infielder Craig Counsell yesterday.

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Top 10 Active MLB Singles Leaders

In baseball circles, guys who hit way more singles than they do extra-base hits are called “banjo” or “Punch and Judy” hitters. Well, that’s mostly sluggers talking, and who are those guys to complain when they come to bat with more teammates on base? Anyway, you won’t notice anyone calling anyone on this list a wimpy hitter—not when they have this many singles. This is a Top 10 of active players in that category, and there are some potential Hall of Famers to be sure:

1. Omar Vizquel, San Francisco Giants (2068)—In addition to being one of the game’s greatest defensive shortstops of all-time, Omar Vizquel is a damn good hitter. That’s a fact that everyone tends to forget. But in 20 seasons, Omar is hitting .272 and in addition to all of these hits, has stolen 384 bases.

2 Derek Jeter, New York Yankees (1844)—A prototypical #2 hitter, Jeter is an absolute pest to opposing pitchers. And he’s a really tough out in the playoffs, though it looks like the guy will be watching the entire postseason from his couch for the first time ever.

3 Ivan Rodriguez, New York Yankees (1734)—I’m not accusing anyone of anything, but Pudge looks a lot leaner these days than he did a few seasons ago. Regardless, you can’t chemically enhance bat speed, and to hit this many singles you just have to be a talented hitter.

4. Gary Sheffield, Detroit Tigers (1630)—For a guy closing in on 500 home runs, you just wouldn’t really expect to find him on this list. But there it is—another guy who just makes contact. In fact, Sheff has never struck out more than 83 times in a season over his 21-year career.

5. Johnny Damon, New York Yankees (1570)—What? Another Yankee? Just goes to show the Steinbrenners don’t shell out the big bucks solely for home runs.

6. Luis Gonzalez, Florida Marlins (1570)—In addition to all of those base hits, Gonzalez has 596 doubles, 68 triples, 353 homers and 1436 runs batted in. Whether or not he’s a Hall of Famer is borderline, but Gonzo is surely in the conversation.

7. Garrett Anderson, Los Angeles Angels (1550)—Okay, so I read recently where Mark Teixeira, after being traded from the Braves to the Angels, said that he grew up watching Anderson play for the Angels. It amazed me that Anderson has been playing since 1994, and all with the Angels. And he’s been one of the best under the radar players in the game that whole time.

8 Ken Griffey, Chicago White Sox (1521)—Griffey has 609 home runs and 1144 extra base hits in all, but a guy has to mix in a few singles, too. The Hall of Fame waits.

9 Edgar Renteria, Detroit Tigers (1519)—Renteria is still only 32, and has over 2000 hits. Here’s another guy who just quietly produces, every single (no pun intended) year. Well, most every year.

10. Jason Kendall, Milwaukee Brewers (1504)—And this guy is only 34? That’s 104 in catcher years, but Kendall stays in great shape and still hits the crap out of the ball. He’s lost most of his power stroke, but still has a lifetime .294 batting average.

Source: Baseball Reference

Top 10 Active MLB Windmills

Many power hitters in baseball also have a penchant for swinging and missing. While batters have evolved over the years into more complete players, and Dave Kingman types aren’t the norm anymore, there are quite a few that we can classify as “windmills.” Here is a list of the Top 10 active players in strikeouts in baseball today.

1. Jim Thome, Chicago White Sox (2155)—Even though Mr. High Socks has a career batting average of .280, his 533 home runs are tempered by the air created when he swings and misses. Thome has struck out 2155 times in his 17-plus seasons, or roughly 30 % of his at-bats. Yikes.

2. Carlos Delgado, New York Mets (1701)—Sitting comfortably behind Thome is Mets’ first baseman Carlos Delgado, who is a cool 454 strikeouts behind Jimmy. Delgado has clubbed 457 home runs, but he has now struck out 100 or more times for the thirteenth straight season.

3. Ken Griffey Jr, Chicago White Sox (1669)—Around the time Griffey was tearing up the American League in the late ‘90’s with 209 home runs over four seasons, he also tallied 454 strikeouts. And with 1669 career windmills, Griffey strikes out about as often as he smiles.

4. Jim Edmonds, Chicago Cubs (1656)—Edmonds has quietly amassed 378 career homers, and has also compiled 1656 career strikeouts. But he’s currently in one of the two places (other than Colorado) where his power more than makes up for his K’s.

5. Manny Ramirez, Los Angeles Dodgers (1643)—Will someone tell me how a career .313 hitter averages 102 strikeouts per season? Wait, let me guess — Manny being Manny?

6. Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees (1614)–$22 million for a guy that fans 107 times per season and doesn’t produce in the postseason? Am I missing something?

7. Mike Cameron, Milwaukee Brewers (1605)—Mike Cameron is a six-tool player—speed, average, power, glove, arm, and a penchant for missing the ball with his bat. That’s a very odd combination.

8. Jeff Kent, Los Angeles Dodgers (1515)—Ripping on Vin Scully? In Los Angeles, that’s like the priest ripping on the pope. Yeah, Jeff….you are 40, and even though Manny Ramirez now hits behind you, you still have almost as many career K’s on the scorecard as he does.

9. Andruw Jones, Los Angeles Dodgers (1468)—Seriously, now…..three of the current top ten windmills play for the L.A. Dodgers. No wonder this team can’t seem to catch the Diamondbacks.

10. Frank Thomas, Oakland Athletics (1394)—Mr. Thomas has 521 career homers, and though he’s only struck out more than 100 times three times in his career, he has landed here mainly because of his longevity (currently in his 19th season).

Source: Baseball Reference

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