In February of 2007, the then Tampa Bay Devil Rays signed a former first round pick known as Carlos Pena to a minor league deal. He had a disappointing spring, batting .255 with four RBIs. However, with an injury to starting first baseman Greg Norton, Pena took over the starting role.
He proceeded to mash from there on out. Pena set career highs in home runs, slugging percentage, on-base percentage, and wOBA (weighted on base average percentage for the uninitiated). He established himself as a prototypical first baseman: a home run masher with a ton of walks and whiffs. He helped Tampa Bay to their first franchise World Series appearance in 2008. Pena is now on the advent of free agency once more, but there will be teams there to bid for his services. Tampa Bay does not have the budget flexibility to keep Pena and their other star, Carl Crawford, for 2011 and beyond, as owner Stuart Sternberg said his team was to trim payroll for the 2011 season. If the Rays are out of contention by the trade deadline (highly unlikely), they will probably move him and Crawford and get handsomely paid in prospects. There are teams that have holes to cover up at first this coming winter, so let's take a look at them.
Mets - Mets fans are pissed. And reasonably so. General Manager Omar Minaya's mission this past winter was to plug holes in left field, the starting rotation, and first base. He outbid himself on Jason Bay and did nothing to fix his team's other problems. That is why the Mets are stuck with a platoon of Daniel Murphy and Fernando Tatis to start the season. If the team survives the season with this platoon, they will likely splurge on Pena. Pena will bring the Mets some power if David Wright does not rebound from his 2009 season. Pena has some injury risk attached to him, as he missed the final month of the season due to broken fingers. But the injuries would be nothing new to the Mets.
Mariners - New General Manager Jack Zduriencik went on a romp this offseason. He signed Chone Figgins, traded for Cliff Lee and extended the best center fielder in the game (Franklin Gutierrez). He made defense and pitching the focus of his club. Obviously, pitching and defense are important, but the M's are going to need some sort of run producing bat. The aging Ken Griffey isn't the same as he was back in the 90s. Milton Bradley is an experiment, and it may just end up working out for them if he mashes in Safeco. This is where Pena steps in. Should the Mariners' experiment with Bradley fail, they can sign him during the coming winter. But, the Mariners have an incumbent at first in Casey Kotchman. They could move Kotchman, or send him to DH, as Pena does not carry a lead glove. Pena fits the Mariners defensive approach, and it gives them the bonus of an excellent hitter.
I personally think that Pena will get a deal in the four to five year range with an AAV of 9 to 11 million. If he signs with the Mets, he'll get 5/55. If he signs with the Mariners, he'll get 4/48 with a player option for 2015.
Saturday, April 3, 2010
Hello, all potential readers. My name is Carlos, but on the blogosphere I go by Hangoverologist. The point of this blog is to study every baseball team from a fair and balanced view, given that I live for the blue pinstripes. I hope I can study each team fairly, so that I can draw readers from every single allegiance. The first post will be up soon. Happy reading!