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Monday, February 07, 2011

Bargain Basement

There were some interesting late-Hot Stove signings this past week.  Most notably, Vlad Guerrero finally landed in Baltimore, as many had been anticipating.  As I discussed last week, I'm not completely sold on this move for the Orioles because I don't think it gets them into playoff picture, but a one-year, $8 Million contract for a 35-year-old coming off a pretty impressive resurgence is totally reasonable.  I'm certainly rooting for Vlad to have enough good years in him to pile up a few HOF milestones (he currently sits at 2427 hits, 436 HR, 1433 RBI).

A much sneakier deal got done in Chicago, as Kenny Williams showed his caginess in the acquisition of Lastings Milledge.  Once considered a top prospect, Milledge, now entering his sixth season (but still only 25-years-old) has gotten pegged with the "bad attitude" label.  Certainly, his performance has been pretty putrid in New York, Washington, and Pittsburgh, but he was clearly rushed through the minors and a breakout year is well within the realm of possibility (see Delmon Young in 2010).  Milledge could steal some at-bats from Juan Pierre and provide insurance for the oft-injured Carlos Quentin.  The White Sox needed somebody to fill that role.  At $500,000, Milledge could be a steal.

There's not much left of the 2011 free agent class, but here's a couple of players who your team could still find a use for...

Jeremy Bonderman - SP

Bonderman's overall numbers in 2010 were pretty abyssmal (8-10, 5.53 ERA, 1.44 WHIP).  But the most important number was this one: 171 IP.  For a guy who missed most of the previous two season recovering from shoulder surgeries, that's a pretty impressive workload.  After such a long layoff, one can certainly see how it might take Bonderman a full year to get anywhere near full strength.  However, if he does regain at least a modicum of his former talent, he would be a downright steal.  Before his shoulder problems, he looked destined to be a solid #2 or #3 in any rotation.  He's still just 28.  The only team who's reported any interest in Bonderman thusfar is the Indians, which seems a fairly logical fit.  The Yankees seem to be collecting pitching projects and Bonderman is certainly no more of a long shot than some of those they've already brought on board.  Other reasonable suitors include the Mariners, Nationals, Cardinals, and Pirates.

Cristian Guzman - 2B/SS

Guzman didn't help his case by faring poorly as a super-utility player in Texas after a midseason trade, but he's a very underrated middle infielder who hits for a decent average, consistently puts the ball in play, and is at least an average defender at two difficult positions.  And let's face it, there's not a ton of shortstop talent around these days.  The Astros, Brewers, Pirates, and Mariners are all currently limited to guys with far worse track records than Guzman.

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