Its that time of year again, and it almost feels like Christmas. In just over an hour, 330 players will hit the open market. This years class is headlined with big name stars, including CC Sabbathia, Manny Ramirez, and Mark Teixera.
With all the hype around Manny, CC, and Tex, I thought I would take a closer look at the other 327 free agents. These are the players I'm more interested in, because the first three will receive outrageous multi-year contracts, that they will probably not live up to. Here are some of the key free agents I've got my eye on.
- Joe Beimel- The best reliever you've never heard of. Beimel was lights out last year posting a 2.02 ERA in 71 appearances. His high WHIP is a little bit of a concern, but at just 31 years old Beimel is in his prime and poised to build of last years success.
- Casey Blake- Blake may be a little old, but hes a model of consistency. You can expect .270 20 HRs 80 RBIs year in and year out. But more importantly Blake plays the game the right way, and he's the type of guy I want on my team.
- Jason Varitek- I've always considered Varitek to be overrated, and I was disgusted to see him make the all-star team this year. However, according to a 2008 players poll, Varitek is the best in the majors at calling games. This is something that doesn't show up in the stat sheet, and Varitek has long been a key ingredient to the success of the Red Sox. He may not have much left in the tank, but he will come at a big time discount after last years offensive mess.
- Pat Burrell- Public Enemy Number #1 to Mets fans (recently replaced by Shane Victorino), this man has caused a great deal of pain and suffering for me. But I can't help but respect him. He is one of the worst defensive players in the entire league, but Pat the Bat can flat out hit. He might not be a good fit for National League teams, because within the next year or two he will probably become a full time DH.
- Milton Bradley- Another man who I really don't like, I'm actually surprised that there isn't more hype surrounding Bradley. Last season, Bradley had a breakout season, overcome his ADHD and nearly lead the American league in batting. Clubhouse issues may be a concern, but if Bradley can remain healthy and consistent, he will be a steal for whoever signs him.