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The Reiter 50: Ranking baseball's top free-agents (cont.)

The Reiter 50 (cont.)
26
Manny Ramirez
Age: 38
Position: OF/DH
2010 Stats: .298/.409/.460, 9 HRs, 42 RBIs, 1 SB

CURRENT TEAM: WHITE SOX
BEST FIT: TIGERS

That Ramirez would ever rank this low on any list of free agents seemed unlikely even recently, but an unproductive and injury-riddled year has made it so. Ramirez will likely henceforth be limited to DH duties, and while he has mentioned that he'd like to join former Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell in Toronto (where Farrell is now the manager), there doesn't seem to be much room for him there, as Adam Lind and Travis Snider both need and deserve playing time. The Tigers, meanwhile, could use his pop, if not his aggravating behavior, and have an opening.

27
Kevin Gregg
Age: 32
Position: RP
2010 Stats:2-6, 3.51 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, 8.8 K/9, 37 SVs

CURRENT TEAM: BLUE JAYS
BEST FIT: RED SOX

Gregg's 37 saves for the Blue Jays represented a career high, but he blew six chances and several of his peripheral statistics (particularly his WHIP) weren't particularly impressive. The Jays might yet pick up his option ($4.5 million for 2011, or $8.75 million for both `11 and `12), but if they don't, the Red Sox might be interested in using him in a non-closing role.

28
Kerry Wood
Age: 33
Position: RP
2010 Stats:3-4, 3.13 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, 9.6 K/9, 8 SVs

CURRENT TEAM: YANKEES
BEST FIT: CARDINALS

Wood was brutal in 20 innings with the Indians (6.30 ERA), but terrific as Mariano Rivera's setup man after Yankees GM Brian Cashman acquired him at the trade deadline. With New York, Wood allowed two earned runs in 26 innings and struck out 10.7 batters per nine, thereby reestablishing his value. The Cardinals could be interested in him both as a setup man and as a backup for closer Ryan Franklin.

29
Magglio Ordonez
Age: 37
Position: OF
2010 Stats: .303/.378/.474, 12 HRs, 59 RBIs, 1 SB

CURRENT TEAM: TIGERS
BEST FIT: BRAVES

Ordonez was experiencing something of a rejuvenation with Detroit before a fractured ankle, sustained while he was sliding into home, ended his season halfway through. The Braves will be in the market for an everyday left fielder with power, and he would nicely fit the bill.

30
Adam LaRoche
Age: 31
Position: 1B
2010 Stats: .261/.320/.468, 25 HRs, 100 RBIx, 0 SBs

CURRENT TEAM: DIAMONDBACKS
BEST FIT: WHITE SOX

In Arizona, LaRoche drove in 100 runs for the first time in his career, and even dispensed with his usual slow first half (his OPS was .787 before the All-Star break, .788 after it). Still, the Diamondbacks declined his $7.5 million option and he will likely change teams again. The perennial 25-home-run-a-year man would help soften the blow for the White Sox should they lose Konerko.

31
Ty Wigginton
Age: 36
Position: OF
2010 Stats: .248/.312/.415, 22 HRs, 76 RBIs, 0 SBs

CURRENT TEAM: ORIOLES
BEST FIT: BLUE JAYS

Another versatile player who will benefit from the weak market for infielders, Wigginton's numbers fell off in the second half last season (he hit 8 home runs with 31 RBIs after the All-Star break). But he has topped 20 homers in four of the past five seasons, and could prove a good fit in Toronto -- as a utilityman, or as the everyday first or third baseman, should the Blue Jays opt not to bring back Lyle Overbay and/or Edwin Encarnacion.

32
Jake Westbrook
Age: 33
Position: SP
2010 Stats:10-11, 4.22 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 5.7 K/9

CURRENT TEAM: CARDINALS
BEST FIT: DODGERS

Westbrook had Tommy John surgery in June 2008, but came back in 2010 looking like the same quality starter he had been before it. He particularly prospered after the Indians traded him to St. Louis, where in 12 starts he went 4-4 with a 3.48 ERA. The Cardinals have reportedly already begun negotiations with him, but he would also look good in Los Angeles, where he could take Kuroda's spot in the Dodgers' rotation.

33
Pat Burrell
Age: 34
Position: OF
2010 Stats:.252/.348/.469, 20 HRs, 64 RBIs, 0 SBs

CURRENT TEAM: GIANTS
BEST FIT: DIAMONDBACKS

Burrell had a strange season. He was awful for the Rays, who admitted the (rare) mistake they'd made in signing him to a two-year, $16 million free agent deal before the 2009 season by cutting him in mid-May. (As a Ray, Burrell ended up hitting .218 with 16 home runs in 146 games). Then he looked reborn after the Giants plucked him off the scrap heap, hitting 18 homers with 51 RBIs in 96 games. Then the Giants won the World Series in spite of him: He struck out in 11 of his 13 at-bats (all hitless) against the Rangers, and was benched for Game 4. Still, his regular season in San Francisco showed he's got some life left, and he's not as bad a left fielder as people think. The Diamondbacks -- whose left fielders produced just eight homers in `10 -- could use him.

34
Jhonny Peralta
Age: 28
Position: 3B/SS
2010 Stats: .249/.311/.392, 15 HRs, 81 RBIs, 1 SB

CURRENT TEAM: TIGERS
BEST FIT: TIGERS

The Indians traded Peralta to the Tigers at the deadline, and his numbers for both clubs looked rather similar, and rather similarly mediocre: a .698 OPS in Cleveland, a .710 OPS in Detroit. Peralta, though, is still relatively young, and he has turned into a solid defensive shortstop, despite his lack of foot speed, and his offensive production is far better for a shortstop than for a third baseman (where he mainly played with the Indians). Although the Tigers declined his $7.5 million option, they seem committed to bringing him back to play there.

35
Orlando Hudson
Age: 33
Position: 2B
2010 Stats:.268/.338/.372, 6 HRs, 37 RBIs, 10 SBs

CURRENT TEAM: TWINS
BEST FIT: CUBS

Hudson can't seem to find a long-term home, despite having a personality that makes him beloved in clubhouses, and as such is a perennial member of this list. But he is a switch-hitting four-time Gold Glover who still plays good defense (his Ultimate Zone Rating of 9.8 ranked third among second basemen in `10), and the Cubs could use him as an upgrade on Blake DeWitt.

36
Orlando Cabrera
Age: 36
Position: SS
2010 Stats: .263/.303/.354, 4 HRs, 42 RBIs, 11 SBs

CURRENT TEAM: REDS
BEST FIT: PIRATES

The other Orlando who is on this list every year, Cabrera is coming off a year in Cincinnati in which he set or approached career lows in most every offensive category, and he was outplayed by Paul Janish, who was supposed to be his backup. Even so, this year's crop of free agent middle infielders is extremely weak, as we have noted, and the Pirates could throw a one-year deal at him in the hope that he'd unseat incumbent Ronny Cedeno, or at least provide some veteran leadership on a team that needs pretty much everything.

37
Hideki Matsui
Age: 36
Position: DH
2010 Stats: .274/.361/.459, 21 HRs, 84 RBIs, 0 SBs

CURRENT TEAM: ANGELS
BEST FIT: MARINERS

The Angels signed Matsui to a one-year deal to replace Vladimir Guerrero, a move that seemed to have seriously backfired at the All-Star break, at which point Matsui was hitting .252 with 10 home runs. Matsui improved in the second half, in which his .955 OPS was 12th-best in the majors. Another one-year deal seems to be in his future, and the Mariners -- who had no player hit more than 15 homers -- could use his power.

38
Miguel Tejada
Age: 36
Position: SS/3B
2010 Stats: .269/.312/.381, 15 HRs, 71 RBIs, 2 SBs

CURRENT TEAM: PADRES
BEST FIT: CARDINALS

Tejada played well as the Padres' shortstop down the stretch (he started the year as the Orioles' primary third baseman), even though San Diego ultimately fell short of an unlikely playoff berth, and showed that he has some life, if not a lot of power, left. His services remain in demand, perhaps nowhere more so than in St. Louis, whose shortstops combined to bat an MLB-low .221.

39
Javier Vazquez
Age: 34
Position: SP
2010 Stats: 10-10, 5.32 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 6.9 K/9

CURRENT TEAM: YANKEES
BEST FIT: PADRES

This seemed as if it would be an awfully lucrative winter for Vazquez after an `09 season in which he went 15-10 with a 2.87 ERA for the Braves and finished fourth in the NL Cy Young voting, but he was a bust after being traded to the Yankees last December, and didn't even make their playoffs rosters. A move away from Yankee Stadium -- and back to the gentler NL -- might work wonders for him, and a move to the capacious Petco Park might be best of all.

40
Brian Fuentes
Age: 35
Position: RP
2010 Stats:4-1, 2.81 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 8.8 K/9, 24 SVs

CURRENT TEAM: TWINS
BEST FIT: DIAMONDBACKS

Fuentes was solid as the Angels' closer (3.52 ERA, 24 saves in 28 chances), but spectacular after a late August trade made him a Twins set-up man. We're still waiting for Fuentes to allow his first run in a Minnesota uniform -- he made nine scoreless appearances -- and it might never come, as his dominance of lefties (who hit .128 against him) has made him a sought-after specialist. The Diamondbacks' bullpen was unspeakably bad last season; its cumulative ERA of 5.74 was more than a run higher than that of any other 'pen (it was, in fact, the sixth-worst ERA recorded by a bullpen in major league history), and appears to be completely devoid of southpaws. Fuentes constitutes an obvious target.

41
Scott Downs
Age: 35
Position: RP
2010 Stats:5-5, 2.64 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 7.0 K/9, 0 SVs

CURRENT TEAM: BLUE JAYS
BEST FIT: YANKEES

Downs, like Fuentes, is another 35 year-old southpaw with closing experience who dominates left-handed hitters (he held them to a .152 batting average against in `10). The Yankees will require a second lefty in their bullpen to pair with Boone Logan, and Downs makes sense.

42
Lance Berkman
Age: 35
Position: 1B
2010 Stats: .248/.368/.413, 14 HRs, 58 RBIs, 3 SBs

CURRENT TEAM: YANKEES
BEST FIT: ROCKIES

Berkman's home run totals have now declined in four consecutive seasons, from 45 to 34 to 29 to 25 to 14, and his batting average and on-base percentage in `10, which he split between Houston and New York, both represent career lows. While the longtime Astro and Texas native will probably one way or another finish out his career in Houston, a brief stop in a Jason Giambi role in Colorado might prove interesting.

43
Chris Young
Age: 31
Position: SP
2010 Stats: 2-0, 0.90 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 6.8 K/9

CURRENT TEAM: PADRES
BEST FIT: ROCKIES

The 6'10" Young hasn't made 30 starts in a season since 2007 -- he was felled by a strained shoulder this season -- but he allowed just two runs over three late September starts, and is in line to receive a low risk, incentive-laden deal. That deal might come from the Rockies, who will have to replace not only de la Rosa but potentially Jeff Francis in their rotation.

44
Grant Balfour
Age: 33
Position: RP
2010 Stats:2-1, 2.28 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 9.1 K/9, 0 SVs

CURRENT TEAM: RAYS
BEST FIT: PHILLIES

After a down year in 2009 (in which his ERA jumped from 1.54 to 4.81), the fiery Aussie bounced back in `10 to again become one of the league's elite right-handed set-up men. The Phillies will likely not be particularly active in the free agent market, but they could fortify an always-shallow bullpen with Balfour, who could be in the mix to close if Brad Lidge has one of his off years.

45
Johnny Damon
Age: 37
Position: OF
2010 Stats:.271/.355/.401, 8 HRs, 51 RBIs, 11 SBs

CURRENT TEAM: TIGERS
BEST FIT: GIANTS

Damon's Scott Boras-dictated negotiating tactics backfired last winter, as the Yankees chose to move on without him after he declined their early two-year, $14 million pact. He waited until late February to sign a one-year, $8 million contract with Detroit, and after a season in which he declined in every offensive category, he is in no position to command a deal that approaches even that. Still, he would seem to fit in well -- in personality, and in the fact that his career seems on the downswing -- with the Giants, who will need a left fielder should they not re-sign Burrell.

46
Brad Penny
Age: 32
Position: SP
2010 Stats:3-4, 3.23 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 5.7 K/9

CURRENT TEAM: CARDINALS
BEST FIT: CARDINALS

Penny had a 1.70 through his first seven starts with St. Louis, but his season ended just two outings later, in a game in which he both hit his first career grand slam and sustained a strained right lat. Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan, however, seemed to have worked his wonders with him, and it is likely that both Penny and the club will try to continue their relationship over a full season.

47
Rich Harden
Age: 29
Position: SP
2010 Stats: 5-5, 5.58 ERA, 1.66 WHIP, 7.3 K/9

CURRENT TEAM: RANGERS
BEST FIT: ROYALS

Harden was signed to be the Rangers' ace. It didn't work out, and the club released him during the playoffs, even as they were making their way to their first World Series. The main culprit for Harden's struggles was a significant fall-off in his strikeout rate -- from 10.9 per nine innings in `09, the best among all pitchers who threw at least 140 innings, to a middling 7.34 in 10 -- and that partly resulted from the fact that his average fastball dropped from 92.2 miles-per-hour to 90.8. Still, he showed flashes of brilliance -- such as on Aug. 23, when he held the Twins hitless over 6.2 innings -- and plenty of teams, such as the Royals, will be in the market for his high-upside services.

48
A.J. Pierzynski
Age: 34
Position: C
2010 Stats:.270/.300/.388, 9 HRs, 56 RBIs, 3 SBs

CURRENT TEAM: WHITE SOX
BEST FIT: DODGERS

The clear third choice among free agent catchers, after Victor Martinez and John Buck, Pierzynski was consistently annoying during his six years with the White Sox, but also consistently productive. He drove in between 49 and 64 runs each year and he knows how to handle a pitching staff. With Rod Barajas a free agent and Russell Martin, a two-time All-Star at 25, coming off his second consecutive awful year, the Dodgers might turn to Pierzynski to solidify the position.

49
Pedro Feliciano
Age: 34
Position: RP
2010 Stats: 3-6, 3.30 ERA, 1.53 WHIP, 8.0 K/9, 0 SVs

CURRENT TEAM: METS
BEST FIT: ANGELS

Feliciano has led the majors in appearances in each of the last three seasons, topping out at 92 in 2010, and is a proven and durable situational lefty. The Angels' bullpen currently features no southpaws -- in fact, their 40-man roster features just one, the ineffective starter Scott Kazmir -- and that will certainly have to change by Opening Day. The addition of Feliciano could round out what will likely have been a very active winter for GM Tony Reagins.

50
Melky Cabrera
Age: 26
Position: OF
2010 Stats:.255/.317/.354, 4 HRs, 52 RBIs, 7 SBs

CURRENT TEAM: BRAVES
BEST FIT: GIANTS

The Braves simply couldn't wait to release Cabrera, acquired last winter in the Javier Vazquez trade, and they did so on October 19, just over a week after the Giants ousted them from the playoffs in four games. Cabrera was awful in his year in Atlanta -- among outfielders, only Franklin Gutierrez, Juan Pierre and Nyjer Morgan had posted a lower OPS than Cabrera's .671, and each of them stole more than three times as many bases as he did. But Cabrera is on this list because he is the youngest of any probable free agent this winter -- and more than two years younger than Peralta, the second most callow player in the Reiter 50 -- meaning that he's still got plenty of time to become a solid major league regular, at a low cost to any team that takes a chance on him. The Giants, for example, have done awfully well jerryrigging together a team of others' cast-offs. While some players who have been relegated to the "also receiving votes" category -- including Frank Francisco, Arthur Rhodes, Russell Branyan, Jorge Cantu, Brad Hawpe and David Eckstein -- were better in 2010 than was Cabrera, none of them might match him as a low-risk value, with a potentially significant reward.

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