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In recent days, the baseball world has been flooded with news about free agents finding new homes. We all know the size and scale of the Mark Teixeira signing and we all know what Tex brings to the table every season for fantasy owners. Well, I have decided to take a closer look into three players who didn’t make national sports headlines with their signings but, are still potentially valuable to you in 2009.
After nine seasons in Philadelphia, Burrell has decided for a change of scenery right after he collected his World Series championship. His new home is that of the young and talented Tampa Bay Rays. Tampa Bay shocked the baseball world last season by winning the A.L. East and look to do the same after changing almost nothing about their team.
Last year in Philly, Burrell yielded a .250 avg, 33 HR, and 86 RBI. It was Burrell’s fourth career 30-HR season and his third in the last four years. Not known for great defense, Burrell will be the everyday DH in Tampa, which will ease the minds of those who are worried about his durability (played in career high 157 games in 2008). He also has a knack for getting on base with at least 98 walks in three of the past four seasons and a career .367 OBP.
I can’t see his production slipping too much since he will be surrounded in the lineup by the likes of: Carl Crawford, B.J.Upton, Carlos Pena, and, A.L. Rookie of the Year, Evan Longoria. Just like in Philadelphia when he hit behind Rollins, Utley, and Howard, Burrell will get the chance to drive in plenty of runs.
OK, so it isn’t 100% done yet, but all Bradley has to do is pass a physical…*gulp*. Yeah, durability and health aren’t exactly Bradley’s game. However, when healthy, he is a solid contributor. The 2008 A.L. All-Star looks to join a great Cubs offense and get them back to the playoffs.
In 126 games last season, Bradley hit .321 with 22 HR and 77 RBI (all career highs). He lead the A.L. with a .436 OBP. Let’s just say he plays in the same amount of games in 2009 as he did in 2008. If he does, then Bradley will enjoy the hitter-friendly Wrigley Field and the lineup support of Alfonso Soriano, Derek Lee, Aramis Ramirez, and N.L. Rookie of the Year Geovany Soto. He has all of the variables to succeed, but it is up to him to stay healthy and out of trouble.
Welcome home! After already acquiring LF Matt Holliday from Colorado, Oakland is trying to further improve the A.L.’s worst offense by bringing back former A.L. MVP Jason Giambi. Giambi has spent the past seven seasons with the New York Yankees and signed with Oakland after the rumors and eventual signing of free agent Mark Teixeira.
2008 saw Giambi hit 32 HR with 96 RBI and a .247 avg. Although he is getting up there in age (will be 37 at start of season), Giambi still maintains some pop to his bat and his veteran presence is ideal for an up and coming group of youngsters in the Oakland clubhouse.
How much pop? Even though Giambi’s career has been polluted with steroids that helped him win the 2000 A.L. MVP award, a closer look at the numbers shows us that he has topped 30 HR in three of the past four seasons, all of which were clean of any performance enhancing drugs. Yes, the short porch in Yankee Stadium did help and his old stomping ground of McAfee Stadium in Oakland is a pitcher’s park, but maybe now being out of the media spotlight of New York can ease his mind. Being teamed with the pure talent of Matt Holliday, the raw power of Jack Cust, and a young and talented Oakland lineup will show us the old Jason Giambi.
Will hit 40 HR no matter where he plays. Count on It!
More players will switch teams so keep a look out for more analysis.