Big-name free agents still require scouting
September, 1, 2011
By Jim Bowden | ESPN Insider
AP Photo/Jeff RobersonWhen scouting Albert Pujols, clubs will want to make sure his early-season wrist injury is behind him.
This year’s free-agent class includes two of the best run producers in the major leagues in the Cardinals' Albert Pujols and Milwaukee's Prince Fielder, one the games best shortstops (Jose Reyes), as well as two of baseball’s better left-handed starting pitchers in the Rangers' C.J. Wilson and Mark Buehrle of the White Sox. It could even include another left-hander, CC Sabathia, if he chooses to opt out of his contract. Every general manager in baseball knows who these guys are and what they’re capable of on and off the field.
However, if a team is considering signing any of them as free agents this fall, it's not going to stop scouting their every plate appearance or every pitch. If you want to know which teams are serious about the pitchers, check out the teams that are scouting them behind home plate in every one of their starts. If you want to know what teams are “in” on Pujols, Fielder and Reyes, check out the clubs evaluating their every at-bat not just in the board room, but behind home plate during every home and road series.
All of these players are proven quantities and easily projectable, but you can still learn something on each player by not missing an opportunity before, during or after every game. Remember, these guys will get contracts worth hundreds of millions, and clubs can’t afford to make a mistake.