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.