It's time to put the old kibosh on the 2009 edition of Major League Baseball's over-hyped, yet always classic Winter Meetings. The four-day event can only be defined as a spectacle, packed with trades, free agent signings and even a few false rumors. This year was no different.
The Rotoworld crew generated close to 500 news blurbs and our Twitter feed
gained nearly 1,000 new followers. It was a week to remember and one I, personally, will never forget. Thank you all for keeping up with us and for providing feedback through e-mails or on Twitter. It has been an absolute blast.
Of course, the offseason isn't close to being through. Over 100 perfectly signable free agents remain on the open market and there are trades that haven't yet been completed. The rumors aren't ready to cease and we'll continue pumping out hot stove-related blurbs right up into Spring Training. Stay tuned. We have no plans to disappoint.The Fantasy Side Of Things
Ready for a little fantasy baseball chatter? Yeah, us too. With each trade and free agent signing that takes place this offseason, fantasy draft rankings will be affected. It's simple: different situations and scenarios result in different values. Let's recap some of the winners and losers from this year's Winter Meetings.
First, because we're positive people, the winners
:Rafael Soriano - RHP - Rays
The Braves were a little shocked and upset when Soriano accepted arbitration earlier this week, but they were quickly able to work out a deal
and ship him off to Tampa Bay. The Rays haven't committed to him at closer just yet, but he has a clear path to the ninth-inning gig. The right-hander struck out 102 batters in 75 2/3 innings this past season and boasts a devastating fastball-slider combo. He could easily top 35 saves in 2010 on a very talented Rays team.Curtis Granderson - OF - Yankees
Granderson was the centerpiece of the Winter Meetings' biggest move, a three-team trade
involving the Diamondbacks, Tigers, and, of course, the Yankees. He hit 30 home runs in spacious Comerica Park during the 2009 season while also collecting 71 RBI. The new Yankee Stadium is a much friendlier ballpark for left-handed power hitters and he should become well acquainted with the short right field porch rather quickly. A 35-plus homer season is not out of the question for the speedy center fielder and he should be provided with a good deal of RBI opportunities in a loaded Bronx Bombers lineup.Brad Penny - RHP - Cardinals
St. Louis hopped quickly
on Penny at this year's winter gathering, inking him to a one-year contract worth $7.5 million in base salary and another $1.5 million in incentives. The 31-year-old right-hander struggled with Boston in 2009, there's no denying that, but he went 4-1 with a 2.59 ERA once the Giants scooped him up in late August. He's a National League pitcher and Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan is the best in the business at fixing tweaks in hurlers and revitalizing careers. It's a marriage that should work for both parties.Brian Bruney - RHP - Nationals
The Nationals gave up their first pick
in Thursday's Rule 5 Draft to acquire 27-year-old reliever Brian Bruney
from the Yankees. He was fairly impressive in 2009 with the Yanks, posting a 3.92 ERA and tallying 36 strikeouts in 39 innings of work. He may just get a crack at closing games next season in Washington. The Nats can't be fully confident in incumbent closer Mike MacDougal
, who collected 20 saves in 21 opportunities this past season but did it while posting a 1.52 WHIP and 30/30 K/BB. This will be a situation to monitor in the spring.Honorable Mentions: Matt Lindstrom
(Astros). He should get the chance to close in Houston, even over Brandon Lyon
. ... And LaTroy Hawkins
(Brewers), who might get a crack at saves if Trevor Hoffman
's age finally catches up to him.
Now the losers
:Rich Harden - RHP - Rangers
Harden is among the filthiest pitchers in the game when healthy and managed to strike out 10.9 batters per nine innings this past year with his tricky fastball-changeup attack. But moving from the National League to the American League is never easy, even for pitchers who have had a taste of both leagues. On top of that, the Rangers' ballpark is cozy and balls tend to fly out at a high rate. For a flyball pitcher like Harden, that could mean trouble. Draft him for the strikeouts, but you'd be foolish to expect a low ERA.Pedro Feliz - 3B - Astros
Poor Pedro. He was handed a healthy $4.5 million contract
by the Astros this week but is stepping into a situation in Houston that is not only volatile, but borderline confusing. The Astros have a litter of corner-infielders on their 40-man roster, including Geoff Blum
, Jeff Keppinger
and 25-year-old Chris Johnson
. Feliz has never been much of a fantasy asset, but he may have taken an even larger step in the direction of fantasy anonymity now that he's on a poor team and a poor organization in general.The Nationals
Solely because they signed 38-year-old catcher Ivan Rodriguez
to a two-year, $6 million contract. Pudge made only $1.5 million in 2009, yet the Nats came to the inconceivable decision that he needed a raise. Does a career-worst .249/.280/.384 batting line really deserve to be rewarded?Honorable Mentions: Randy Wolf
(Brewers). He should do fine, but there are concerns that some of his success in 2009 was the result of spacious Chavez Ravine. For what it's worth, his splits don't necessarily back up that concern. ... And Astros GM Ed Wade, because it seems he's gone crazy. Or should we be blaming owner Drayton McLane?