Thursday, December 10, 2009

Some More Moves @ The MLB Winter Meetings

Here's a few more free agent signings and trades of interest coming out of MLB's Winter Meetings in Indianapolis.

Feliz & Lyon Sign With Houston Astros; Acquire Lindstrom From Marlins

Pedro Feliz, who spent the past two seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies, has signed a one-year contract with the Houston Astros worth $4.5 million. The Phillies declined his option for the 2010 season and subsequently signed ex-Tiger Placido Polanco to play third. It's interesting that Polanco and Feliz are very comparable players yet Polanco gets three years in Philly while Feliz gets one in Houston.

The Astros also made a couple of additions to their bullpen. First, they acquired Matt Lindstrom from the Florida Marlins for a player to be named later. Then today they signed free agent pitcher Brandon Lyon to a three-year, $15 million contract. Lyon spent the 2009 season with the Detroit Tigers. He was initially brought in to be the closer but lost that job early on to Fernando Rodney. Lyon did pitch much better in the second half and did a good job as Rodney's set up man.

Will Lindstrom and Lyon compete for the closer's job? Because they signed Lyon to a three year deal leads me to believe he'll be the closer. However, he's been inconsistent in that role during his career. While he did save 26 games for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2008 by the end of the season it was Chad Qualls who was the closer. I think Lyon is better suited to set up and Lindstrom is better suited to close. Lindstrom has better stuff although he does have control problems. He was the Marlins closer until late June when a sprained elbow sidelined him. When he returned, Leo Nunez had supplanted him in the pen and made him expendable. So both Lindstrom and Lyon are seeking fresh starts. But neither of them might be much of a factor unless the Astros address their weak starting rotation.

Atlanta Braves trade pitcher Rafael Soriano to the Tampa Bay Rays for pitcher Jesse Chavez

I wondered what would happen to Soriano once they had signed Billy Wagner last week. Soriano was the Braves closer last season and saved 27 games. But I think he's better suited to the 8th inning. It appears Soriano was amenable to going back to that role because he accepted arbitration with the Braves earlier this week. But they opted to deal him to Tampa for middle reliever Jesse Chavez.

Well, Soriano is in the AL East. If he can close there then he can close anywhere. He will certainly be an improvement over the bullpen by committee approach Rays manager Joe Maddon took last season with the mid-season retirement of Troy Percival. J.P. Howell led the club with 17 saves in 2009 but is better suited to middle relief.

As for Chavez, this is the second time he's been traded in just over a month. In November, the Rays acquired Chavez from the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for infielder Akinori Iwamura. Sometimes you get traded to a club and never end up pitching for them. Chavez and ex-Red Sox hurler Takashi Saito will set up Wagner from the right side along with Peter Moylan. This has the potential of being a very even trade.

Crosby Signs With Bucs

Bobby Crosby won the 2004 AL Rookie of the Year with the Oakland Athletics. He hasn't come close to the numbers he put up that season. For starters he's been injury prone. Crosby has only played more than 100 games in a season once since and that was in 2008. Last season, Crosby became a utility player with Oakland.

He has now signed a one-year deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates. It's unclear whether Crosby will continue that role in Pittsburgh or if he will compete with Ronny Cedeno for the starting shorstop job. A platoon situation is unlikely since they are both right-handed batters.

Red Sox Acquire Pitcher Boof Bonser From Twins

The Boston Red Sox have acquired pitcher Boof Bonser from the Minnesota Twins for a player to be named later. Bonser is a reclamation project. He did not pitch in 2009 due to shoulder surgery. If Bonser should pitch well he should become a Fenway favorite. I can hear it now.
"Boooooooooooooooffffffffffffffffff!!!" If he doesn't then some wise guy will say, "What a Boofball."

What's in a name? But what a great name.

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