Busting Balls:The Baseball Free Agent Breakdown
Ben Reiter over at CNN/SI.com just came out with his list of baseball's top 50 free agents. The first thing you should know is that Nick Swisher comes in at #5 on the list, which means this could possibly be the worst crop of free agents in the history of organized sports. Anyway, here's a rundown of the Top 10, with my own take on each, and a few notes on some of the others.
1. Josh Hamilton, OF, Rangers: Hamilton had another all-star season but really crapped the bed down the stretch. With his history of substance abuse problems, Hamilton should avoid big markets like the plague and either stay in Texas or sign with a team like Colorado where he can get a natural, Rocky Mountain high.
2. Zack Greinke, P, Angels: Reportedly scared s**tless by crowds and bustling metropolises, Greinke should go back to KC where he can pitch every fifth day in non-jittery obscurity. Barring that, the Marlins, where no one goes to the games anyway.
3. B.J. Upton, OF, Rays: He hit 12 home runs in September to up-ton his season total to an attractive 28. Talk about an impressive eleventh-hour, contract-year push. Someone's gonna give this guy a pile of cash. Please let it be the Yankees.
4. Michael Bourn, OF, Braves: (Insert your Bourn Identity joke here.)
5. Nick Swisher, OF, Yankees: Swisher can only end up in one place, and that place is Baltimore. This way he can play out the remainder of his career running from those Maryland state troopers whose autograph requests he refused.
6. Adam LaRoche, 1B, Nationals: Nationals GM Mike Rizzo apparently loves Adam LaRoche, so it's safe to say that his free agent status will be decided in next week's election. Romney doesn't really go for guys proclaiming their love for other guys while Obama's got no problem with it at all. Stay tuned.
7. Dan Haren, P, Angels: Why are there two Angels starters in the Top 10 free agents? Didn't they miss the playoffs? That being said, he should stay with Los Angeles/Anaheim, if for no other reason than we don't need to hear Chris Berman ever say the '70s-soul, Tavares-inspired line, "Haren must be missing the Angels." (Look it up.)
8. Hiroki Kuroda, P, Yankees: He's 38, won 16 games, and, most importantly, had a 3.32 pitching in that little league park in the Bronx. There's no way the nameless, faceless, lawyers and other gray suits that run the Bombers don't hold on to this guy.
9. Kyle Lohse, P, Cardinals: Guys who pitch great in St. Louis have a way of disappearing when they leave the shadow of the Gateway to the West, which should be renamed the St.Muda Triangle. If he makes it out in tact, his name will probably change to Lyle Koshe and he'll find his way some Twilight Zone destination like Queens.
10. Rafael Soriano, Closer, Yankees: Soriano joins Ernest Borgnine, Kurt Russell, Adrienne Barbeau, and a long list of others looking to Escape from New York. The problem is, he's not nearly as good as his save numbers indicate. Believe me, I watched him. He declined a $14-million option, which is either ballsy or grounds for a ticket to the nut hatch. Who Knows?
13.-14. Marco Scutaro, 2B, Giants/Mike Napoli, C, Rangers: To hell with free agency, these guys are starting a chain of pizzerias called 2-4.
16. Mariano Rivera, (Real) Closer, Yankees: He can still pitch and I hear his steakhouse was the pits, so why not one more year in El Bronx?
19. David Ortiz, DH, Red Sox: Gotta be Cleveland. Seems too much like Serrano not to have a second chance there. Hats for bats.
27. Ichiro Suzuki, OF, Yankees: Don't care where he plays, just hope he keeps on playing.
31. Delmon Young, OF, Tigers: Anywhere but New York or San Fran for this guy. Nuff said.
41. Russell Martin, C, Yankees: Again, anywhere but New York. Can't listen to one more John Sterling "Russell with the Muscle" call.
46.-50. Bartolo Colon, P, Athletics/Lance Berkman, 1B, Cardinals: Fat Frog and Fat Elvis should retire to the Dominican Republic and Graceland, respectively.
Next week: Why the NFL Trading Deadline is more pointless than the first 40 games of the NBA season.