The GM's Office: Prince Fielder

Ranking the 50 World Series players

October, 23, 2012
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Prince FielderThearon W. Henderson/Getty ImagesPrince Fielder might be the first Detroit hitter to put one in the right-field cove at AT&T Park.

With the World Series upon us, the 50 players showcased on baseball grandest stage will have varied roles, boasting an assortment of strengths as well as exposing some weaknesses. The Detroit Tigers' lineup is fearsome, as are their top three starting pitchers. But the San Francisco Giants match up well, and if the length of their series in the first two rounds is any indication, this could go down to the wire.

Let's take a look at those 50 players and rank them according to their potential impact on the series and importance to their respective teams. (Note: At time of publication, official rosters had not been announced.)


1. Justin Verlander, RHP, DET: Verlander has the best overall stuff of any pitcher in the major leagues, and he is finally dominating the postseason in the same fashion as he does the regular season. He's the Tigers’ key to winning the World Series.

2. Miguel Cabrera, 3B, DET: He will win the AL MVP this November after becoming the first AL Triple Crown winner since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967.

3. Buster Posey, C, SF: He will win the NL MVP this November, and despite a poor NLCS, I look for him to rebound in the World Series.

4. Matt Cain, RHP, SF: It was just two years ago that he ran the table in the postseason, leading the Giants to a World Series title. I expect him to repeat what he just did in Game 7 of the NLCS and help give the Giants their second title in three years. He’s a true ace.

5. Prince Fielder 1B, DET: Owner Mike Illitch took a lot of grief from his peers over the nine-year pact he gave Fielder, but that signing has Illitch just four wins away from a world championship.
6. Max Scherzer RHP, DET: He and Verlander had the highest K/9 ratio of any tandem in baseball this season. As future Hall of Famer Chipper Jones once told me, power pitchers win in the postseason. The Tigers have the two best in this series.

7. Austin Jackson CF, DET: The best defensive outfielder in this series, Jackson runs down fly balls in the gaps better than anyone in this World Series. His ability to get on base will offer RBI opportunities for Cabrera and Fielder.

8. Pablo Sandoval 3B, SF: “Kung Fu Panda” is the heart, soul and energy of the Giants’ lineup. He's locked in at the plate right now with consistent sweet spot contact. Don't be surprised if he's the next one to deposit a home run in the left-field cove at AT&T Park.

9. Ryan Vogelsong RHP, SF: Who would have thought that Vogelsong would be the best Giants starting pitcher in the postseason, ahead of Cain, Tim Lincecum and Madison Bumgarner? Vogelsong possesses a 92-93 mph fastball with pinpoint control on the black and changes eye levels.

10. Doug Fister RHP, DET: Fister pounds the lower part of the zone with a nasty sinker and is one of those players who loves center stage. I expect another good series from him.

11. Marco Scutaro 2B, SF: He led all NLCS players in on-base percentage and is a true table-setter. His defense has been matching his offense, and he sets the tone for this resilient ballclub.

12. Sergio Romo RHP, SF: He has one of the best sliders in baseball, and his ability to put away Jay Bruce in the NLDS might have been the at-bat that truly put him in the category of an impact closer. Bruce Bochy now has the confidence to use him in the biggest games to close against left-handed hitters as well as right-handed hitters.

13. Barry Zito, LHP, SF: How does Zito land ahead of Tim Lincecum and Madison Bumgarner on this list? His 15 regular-season wins and his dominant Game 5 performance against St. Louis in the NLCS give him the edge. However, my instincts say his 84 mph fastball is at risk of being exposed by the Tigers. Stay tuned.

14. Anibal Sanchez, RHP, DET: The Tigers mortgaged the future by trading right-hander Jacob Turner and catcher Rob Brantly for him at the deadline. If they win the World Series with him, who cares?

15. Delmon Young, LF/DH, DET: Young entered the postseason with little free-agent value and completely changed that with his second consecutive strong postseason, earning this year's ALCS MVP. He would be higher on the list if he were to play strictly DH, but he will have to play left field in possibly four games of this series.

16. Santiago Casilla, RHR, SF: Casilla had once been the closer, and he also shared the role, and now he has found a home in the eighth inning. Expect some critical relief outings for him in this series, especially against Cabrera and Young.

17. Tim Lincecum, RHP, SF: It will be interesting to see if Bochy uses him to start or relieve. He was really effective out of the bullpen, but then gave a mediocre start at best. He's now working exclusively from the stretch, which has somewhat cleaned up his delivery. He's throwing mostly 91-92 mph, but with inconsistent command in the zone.

18. Alex Avila, C, DET: With the Giants possibly throwing both Zito and Bumgarner against the Tigers in this series, Avila might still have to platoon with Gerald Laird.

19. Phil Coke, LHR, DET: Coke has followed up the best stretch of his career with a stellar postseason. He has usurped the closer’s role after failures by both Jose Valverde and Joaquin Benoit.

20. Javier Lopez, LHR, SF: Lopez is one of the best situational left-handed relievers in the sport and his matchups against Fielder and Avila in this series will be interesting to watch.

21. Madison Bumgarner, LHP, SF: What in the world has happened to Bumgarner this postseason? In his last two outings he's thrown 91 mph in the first inning and then 87 mph in the second. His arm slot is down, the ball is coming out on the side, everything is flat, and he looks fatigued. However, with extra rest, I still think he can rebound. If he gets another shot at starting, he might even have a dominating performance left in him unless, of course, he's hurt and not telling anyone.

22. Angel Pagan, CF, SF: Another one of Brian Sabean's excellent under-the-radar trades. Pagan has stayed focused all year and done a great job of covering ground even when he takes an occasional bad route to a ball. He's done a solid job in the leadoff spot ahead of Scutaro and brought good passion to the team.

23. Hunter Pence, RF, SF: How do you drive in 100 runs and end up 23rd on this list? But that's how he's looked this postseason. His timing is off and his at-bats have been inconsistent. Will he break out in the World Series? I doubt it while facing Verlander, Scherzer, Fister and Sanchez.

24. Joaquin Benoit, RHR, DET: He's been one of the best eighth inning relievers in baseball the last few years. The question should that be past tense?

25. Jhonny Peralta, SS, DET: He makes the routine plays at shortstop, including when the game is on the line.

26. Octavio Dotel, RHR, DET: He was an important middle reliever for the Cardinals in last year's World Series, and with Valverde falling off the face of the Earth, he'll be even more important this World Series.

27. Brandon Crawford, SS, SF: He's one of the best defensive shortstops in this postseason. He possesses above-average range to both sides with a gun for an arm and he reads the ball off the bat as good as anyone in the game. The bat is the reason why he's down on the list.

28. Gregor Blanco, LF, SF: He's a fourth or fifth outfielder playing regularly because of Melky Cabrera’s absence. However, his speed on the bases and range in the outfield has been a plus for the Giants. He's also a great character guy.

29. Brandon Belt 1B, SF: Belt is trying to make adjustments on the fastball inside on the black, where clubs love to pound him. He's cheating some to get to it, but that's making him vulnerable to the outside pitch, although on Monday he crushed a Jason Motte 98 mph fastball in the same vicinity. His defense at first base is above average.

30. Omar Infante, 2B, DET: He instantly helped solidify the Tigers’ weakest position on the field after coming over from the Marlins in the Anibal Sanchez deal.

31. Jeremy Affeldt, LHR, SF: Affeldt is used mostly in the sixth and seventh innings, and can get both right- and left-hand hitters out.

32. Hector Sanchez, C, SF: You will see him start only if Lincecum gets a start. He's solid behind the plate and can drive a key run in the other way.

33. Avisail Garcia, RF, DET: In a couple of years, Garcia will skyrocket up this list, but his time is not now.

34. Andy Dirks, RF, DET: He'll get most of the playing time in right field over Garcia this World Series, but Garcia could see action if the Giants throw lefties Bumgarner or Zito at them. Regardless, Dirks is a gamer.

35. Al Alburquerque, RHR, DET: There should be specific spots against the Giants where Alburquerque can come in and get that much-needed ground ball.

36. Quintin Berry, LF, DET: His speed is an important element coming off the bench or playing left field for the Tigers.

37. Ryan Theriot, INF, SF: Theriot is a team player and possesses tremendous makeup. He can help the Giants win games in so many different ways off the bench.

38. Joaquin Arias, INF, SF: He's an above-average defender at second base, shortstop and third base, and could become valuable if there is an injury.

39. Drew Smyly, LHP, DET: Has a chance to develop into a 12- to 15-game winner but will have a limited role in this World Series.

40. George Kontos, RHP, SF: Picked up in the Chris Stewart deal with the New York Yankees, the Northwestern product played an important role of giving the Giants quality bullpen depth in the second half.

41. Rick Porcello, RHP, DET: This could be his final season as a Tiger and is a candidate to be traded this winter.

42. Jose Valverde, RHR, DET: He's gone from a top 10 player to 42nd on this list. Oh how life can change quickly for closers in Major League Baseball.

43. Gerald Laird, C, DET: Has done a great job against left-handed starters and could see time if the Giants run out Bumgarner or Zito.

44. Brennan Boesch OF DET: Has great power from the left side and stock just collapsed. Great guy.

45. Ramon Santiago, INF, DET: The switch hitter could be called upon to pinch hit or as a defensive replacement, but not much more.

46. Jose Mijares LHR, SF: The third left:hander out of the bullpen picked up from the Royals during the season. He'll be the first left out of the bullpen if needed early in the game only.

47. Xavier Nady OF, SF: Veteran bat with power from right side.

48. Aubrey Huff 1B, SF: Veteran bat with power from left side.

49. Guillermo Mota, RHR, SF: No longer taking cough medicine.

50. Danny Worth, INF, DET: He might get an at-bat or two during the series. However, if he's not on this list, Brayan Villarreal will be. The hard-throwing right-hander struck out 66 in 54.2 innings pitched. He's got future closer written all over him.

Where will Josh Hamilton sign? 

May, 9, 2012
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Josh HamiltonJoy R. Absalon/US PresswireJosh Hamilton being congratulated at home plate was a familiar sight on Tuesday night.

As I watched Josh Hamilton’s fourth home run leave Camden Yards last night, I couldn’t help but be taken back to Sept. 7, 1993, when Mark Whiten hit four home runs against my Cincinnati Reds. I was 32, a rookie general manager and interim president and had the worst pitching staff during a nightmare season.

Hamilton, on the other hand, is living the dream. He leads the American League in home runs, RBIs and OPS. And the impending free agent soon will be paid handsomely for it. On Tuesday night, he set an American League record with 18 total bases in a single game.

He is arguably one of the most talented players in baseball right now, perhaps second only to Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp. I say that not only because Kemp is younger, but Hamilton’s injury and addiction history hold him back. Despite all the accolades and Herculean feats like last night’s four-home run game, the fact is Hamilton’s past has and will continue to impact any contract negotiations he has with the Texas Rangers or any other team that seeks his services.

How the Twins can move Morneau 

April, 12, 2012
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Joe Mauer & Justin MorneauTom Dahlin/Getty ImagesJoe Mauer (right) is virtually untradable, but there could be a market for Justin Morneau.

Oh, how things can change in 18 months.

It was just a short time ago when baseball was talking about its best hitting tandems. Among them were the St. Louis CardinalsAlbert Pujols and Matt Holliday, the Milwaukee BrewersRyan Braun and Prince Fielder, and the Minnesota TwinsJoe Mauer and Justin Morneau.

Now, 18 months later, Pujols is in Los Angeles and Fielder is in Detroit, but Mauer and Morneau remain Twins, literally and figuratively, joined by their sheer lack of tradability due to their massive contracts.

They were supposed to be the Twins’ cornerstones after helping the team to division titles in 2004, 2006, 2009 and 2010. Their contracts ensured the duo would remain together through the opening of Target Field and beyond. Morneau signed first, inking a six-year, $80 million deal in 2008. Then Mauer signed a club-record eight-year, $184 million deal after the 2010 season.

However, what seemed like a dream scenario with the Twins' two biggest stars devolved into a nightmare of injuries from the 2009 season through the 2011 season.

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Chapman should go to Triple-A 

February, 29, 2012
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Aroldis ChapmanAndrew Carpenean/US PresswireIf the Reds really want to get the most out of their investment in Chapman, they'll send him to Triple-A.


PHOENIX -- The Cincinnati Reds are excited about the potential of their rotation for the short- and long-term, but don’t be surprised if left-hander Aroldis Chapman isn’t a part of it come Opening Day as there is strong sentiment that he could start the year in Triple-A. The Reds committed $30.5 million on Chapman to be a starter, but he’s spent most of his career in the Reds' bullpen, which hasn’t allowed him to develop his secondary pitches or his command. (He walked 7.4 men per nine innings last season.)

In order to develop his off-speed stuff and refine his command, he needs innings. Remember, his 101 mph fastball is supplemented only by an inconsistent slider, which at times can be devastating but he doesn’t have command in the zone. He had a forkball when he pitched in Cuba and a changeup he rarely uses. Therefore, to eventually earn the $30.5 million he’s being paid, starting in Triple-A and getting the innings to refine those secondary pitches could be the best thing for him and the Reds. It also would give them a starter to go get if one of their top five starters stumbles or gets injured.

The Reds' projected rotation is Mat Latos, Johnny Cueto, Bronson Arroyo, Mike Leake and Homer Bailey, and they have veterans such as Jeff Francis and Brett Tomko ready to step in if injury strikes. That means Chapman starting the year in Triple-A is a real possibility.

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30 teams, 30 questions for spring training 

February, 22, 2012
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Phil HughesChris Trotman/Getty ImagesThe Yankees and their fans are hoping Phil Hughes can regain his 18-win form from 2010.

Heading into spring training, every general manager has a list of questions that he wants answered. Whether that's seeing if a player has rebounded from surgery or if an aging veteran has any gas left in the tank. It might be a position battle that needs resolving or which youngster might step up and make the team. Here's a look at all 30 teams and what remains the biggest question for each. We'll start with the American League.

American League

Baltimore Orioles
This team has plenty of questions, including whether any of its young players will develop any further. But after trading pitcher Jeremy Guthrie, the rotation is nothing but question marks. What will it look like come Opening Day? If guys like Brian Matusz can't figure it out, this could easily be a 100-loss team.

Boston Red Sox
Although there are questions regarding the back end of the starting rotation and bullpen, right field and the health of Carl Crawford, the most pressing concern is shortstop. Can rookie Jose Iglesias hit enough to win the starting job?


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Grading the offseason: American League 

February, 17, 2012
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Albert PujolsStephen Dunn/Getty ImagesThe Los Angeles Angels enjoyed the most fruitful offseason by signing Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson.


To say baseball's landscape has shifted this offseason is an understatement. There was an exodus of talent to the American League, and teams like the Los Angeles Angels, Detroit Tigers, Texas Rangers, Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees find themselves amid baseball's power elite. There's a chasm between the top and the bottom of the American League, and much of that canyon was dug this offseason. Here's how each team did during the winter. (For a look at my NL grade, click here.)

Los Angeles Angels - Grade: A

Key Transactions: Acquired C Chris Iannetta from Colorado for RHP Tyler Chatwood; signed 1B Albert Pujols, 10 years, $240 million; signed LHP C.J. Wilson, five years, $77.5 million; signed RHP LaTroy Hawkins, one year, $3 million.

Bowden's Take
The Angels signed the best position player and starting pitcher available on the free-agent market in Pujols and Wilson, respectively, which placed them among a group of six elite AL teams. The signings have bolstered the offense. The Angels also own arguably the best four-man rotation in baseball. Hawkins adds depth and leadership to the bullpen. The Angels won the offseason and put themselves in the position of being World Series contenders.


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How Prince Fielder ended up in Detroit 

January, 25, 2012
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Prince Fielder AP Photo/Jeffrey PhelpsHe's headed to the team his father played for, but Prince will leave his own footprint.

While Cecil Fielder launched home runs for the Detroit Tigers from 1990-96, legend has it his 12-year-old son, Prince, hit a home run into the upper deck of cavernous Tiger Stadium.

Of course, legends are embellished, and Prince’s shot merely went over the fence and not into the upper deck. However, after signing a reported nine-year deal with the Tigers worth $214 million yesterday (remarkably close to our projections), it’s time a new legend of Prince began in Detroit.

It was a deal that came together quickly, not unlike how the Los Angeles Angels rocked baseball’s winter meetings by signing the top free-agent hitter in Albert Pujols and the top free-agent pitcher in C.J. Wilson.

It also was a deal that might never have happened were it not for Victor Martinez.

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Five teams that got worse this winter 

January, 12, 2012
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Gio Gonzalez, Trevor Cahill and Andrew BaileyGetty ImagesGio Gonzalez, Trevor Cahill and Andrew Bailey are gone, and the A's are likely headed for the cellar in 2012.


Facing the stark reality that a rebuilding project is inevitable, some teams held fire sales this offseason, dealing from areas of strength and depth. Others simply continue to be mired in bad decisions or the aftermath of those decisions, or simply won’t be able to withstand the loss of an All-Star player to free agency. Regardless, here are the five teams that got worse in the offseason:

1. Oakland Athletics

What they lost: Left-hander Gio Gonzalez, 26, amassed a 31-21 record with a 3.20 ERA and striking out 368 hitters in 402 2/3 innings the last two years. Trevor Cahill, 23, averaged double-digit win totals in each of his three years in the majors. When healthy, Andrew Bailey was highly effective, saving 75 games over the last three years, striking out a man per inning. The A’s also lost reliever Craig Breslow in the Cahill deal, and outfielders David DeJesus and Josh Willingham left via free agency.

What they added: Gonzalez fetched two starters who are close to the big leagues in Brad Peacock and Tom Milone. Peacock has a high upside but could be a year away, and Milone is more of a back-of-the-rotation starter. For Bailey, the A’s received a fourth outfielder in Josh Reddick and two prospects; among the two, hard-throwing pitcher Raul Alcantara, 19, has more upside. For Cahill, the A’s received a package of prospects highlighted by right-hander Jarrod Parker, who has ace potential but is recovering from Tommy John surgery. For Willingham and DeJesus, the A’s received two first-round supplemental picks (Nos. 34 and 47 overall).

Bottom line: Without Gonzalez, the rotation has no stopper, and there will be many losses in 2012 for Oakland. Without Bailey, the A’s have a void in the ninth inning. Most of the prospects won’t even see the light of day until 2013 or 2014. The A’s shouldn’t be expected to compete in a stacked AL West for several years.

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Five reasons Nationals need Fielder 

January, 5, 2012
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Prince FielderChristian Petersen/Getty ImagesNot only would Prince Fielder bolster the Nats' offense, he would draw more fans to the ballpark.

With pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training in little more than a month, teams and free agents will start scrambling like a game of musical chairs in order to ensure they have a place to sit when the music stops. One free agent who should not have that problem is first baseman Prince Fielder. However, as the number of legitimate suitors dwindles for him and agent Scott Boras, it has become clear the Washington Nationals are the favorites to land Fielder. And they should be; he makes sense. Here are five of best reasons the Nationals should sign Prince Fielder:

Reason 1: The chance to win now


Signing Fielder gives the Nationals a legitimate chance to win the National League East or at least a wild-card berth in 2012. They have three starters at the top of their rotation who can conceivably win 15-20 games this year, as well as an impact closer in Drew Storen and strong setup arms such as Tyler Clippard. The have emerging young stars in Danny Espinosa and Wilson Ramos up the middle and one of the best third basemen in the game in Ryan Zimmerman. With uber-prospect Bryce Harper knocking on the big-league door, Fielder could be the final piece needed for a solid run at the postseason.

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Fielder's four likeliest destinations 

December, 13, 2011
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Prince FielderAP Photo/Jeffrey PhelpsHave bat, will travel: Prince Fielder is still trying to find a home.

With Albert Pujols off the free-agent market, the biggest question that remains is where first baseman Prince Fielder will end up.

Yesterday’s news puts to rest at least one location, as the Milwaukee Brewers moved on by signing third baseman Aramis Ramirez to a three-year, $36 million contract. With Ramirez signed and reliever Francisco Rodriguez accepting arbitration, the Brewers seemingly would not have room for Fielder in their payroll.

Realistically, just four teams remain in contention for Fielder’s services. Here's a look at those four teams with a breakdown of what they have to do to convince him to come and what other measures they will take should they sign him. They are listed in order of likelihood of signing Fielder, beginning with the most likely.

Texas Rangers

Why they need Fielder: General manager Jon Daniels does an excellent job of staying in touch and remaining involved with the representatives of all the top free agents just in case anything changes quickly either among his opposition or within the free agents' camps. At the winter meetings, there was a massive shift in the balance of power in the American League West and Daniels knows he must address it. Not only did the Los Angeles Angels sign Pujols, they took the Rangers’ best pitcher, C.J. Wilson. The Rangers now find themselves in a similar position to last offseason, when they struck out on signing lefty Cliff Lee. Instead of settling for mediocrity, they found something besides pitching to make their team better: third baseman Adrian Beltre. This year, their alternative could be Fielder, and Dan Szymborski does an excellent job of explaining why Texas needs him more than any other club.

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Top 10 moves that might happen 

December, 9, 2011
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In the wake of the winter meetings and the big moves made by the Miami Marlins and Los Angeles Angels, here are the top 10 moves that didn’t happen but still might.

1. Texas Rangers sign Prince Fielder for eight years, $192 million
There’s an arms race brewing in the American League West, and the Los Angeles Angels just fired the first salvo with their signings of Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson at the winter meetings. Rangers assistant general manager Thad Levine said the team likely would have to circle back and reassess whether to pursue Fielder. When a division rival makes moves as large as the Angels', Levine said, his team's entire offseason strategy must be re-evaluated. Armed with a new TV contract with Fox, Texas has the money to sign Fielder.

2. Milwaukee Brewers sign Aramis Ramirez for three years, $36 million
Once Fielder is signed, that should pave the way for the Brewers to bring Ramirez into Milwaukee. Brewers GM Doug Melvin and manager Ron Roenicke think Ramirez is the perfect fit for the lineup and the left side of their infield. However, don’t count out the Angels, Detroit Tigers, Philadelphia Phillies and Marlins from bidding on him, too.

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Bowden Bullets: Wilson might decide today 

December, 8, 2011
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WilsonMike Segar/US PresswireC.J. Wilson will make up his mind between SoCal and South Beach today.


• Multiple sources said C.J. Wilson spent Wednesday night visiting with both the Los Angeles Angels and Florida Marlins one final time before making his decision. If the Angels don't add a sixth year to their offer, it appears Wilson will join Mark Buehrle, Heath Bell and Jose Reyes in Miami. The Marlins have six years on the table for Wilson already.

• Rays manager Joe Maddon acknowledged his team has enough starting-pitching depth to trade one starter for a long-term solution at first base and catcher. Following are some scenarios for first basemen who could become available for one of the Rays’ starting pitchers (Wade Davis, Jeff Niemann or Alex Cobb):

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Bowden's Bullets: Want Andrew Bailey? 

December, 5, 2011
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Andrew BaileyKyle Terada/US PresswireBilly Beane continues to shop closer Andrew Bailey and lefty Gio Gonzalez for a young outfielder.


At the winter meetings, things can spin on dime. That’s what makes it fun, as well as frustrating at times.

One minute a general manager or team owner will boast -- off the record -- how “on” a particular player his team is, then one bad negotiating session later the agent and player are gone just like that team’s chances of signing him. Or, sometimes it’s the other way around -- an agent tells you a deal is done, but the GM says it’s not so you wait … and wait.

• The Oakland A's are talking to everyone regarding their starting rotation and closer Andrew Bailey trying to get young outfielders in trade. The Kansas City Royals might have a prospect package that could land left-hander Gio Gonzalez, which would be a coup by Royals GM Dayton Moore, if he can pull it off. The A’s might ask for a package that starts with top prospect Wil Myers.

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Bowden's Bullets: Bourjos for Wright? 

December, 5, 2011
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Peter BourjosSteve Mitchell/US PresswireWould the Angels part with rangy center fielder Bourjos? For David Wright they might.

With free-agent shortstop Jose Reyes signing with the Miami Marlins, the winter meetings have begun with a bang.

• The Marlins are not done, either, as one top-ranking team official insists that Miami is still in on left-hander Mark Buehrle (No. 6 on my free-agent value rankings) and first baseman Albert Pujols. Signing Pujols after adding Reyes and Heath Bell would equal the Miami Heat’s coup two years ago when they signed LeBron James and Chris Bosh.

• New Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto will be busy this week. He is targeting starting pitcher C.J. Wilson and closer Ryan Madson, the two best hurlers in their respective markets. He also might be in the market for a third baseman, and the Mets match up well with the Angels. With Reyes leaving the Mets, it only makes sense for Mets GM Sandy Alderson to trade David Wright now and begin the rebuilding mode in earnest. The Mets might be able to get a package of Peter Bourjos and Hank Conger for Wright. Wright would solve the Angels’ nagging third-base problem, and they could insert prospect Mike Trout in center field.

• It would be shocking if the Washington Nationals did not land Buehrle or Wilson. They prefer Buehrle because they feel they can get him for three years rather than the five years it will take to get Wilson. And like the Marlins, the Nationals feel they are well in the hunt for Pujols or Prince Fielder. The Nationals also have interest in Bourjos, as they continue to search for a center fielder. They’ve talked to the Rays about B.J. Upton, but the likeliest target is Yoenis Cespedes. Still, they’re not convinced that they want to meet Cespedes’ asking price, which is in the $50 million neighborhood.

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Bowden's Bullets: Free-agent bear market 

November, 26, 2011
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Prince Fielder, Albert Pujols & Yu DarvishAP Photo/Getty ImagesWho will sign Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols? Will Yu Darvish become available?

Major League Baseball’s winter meetings begin next Sunday at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas, and there will be fireworks.

Make no mistake, general managers are savvy enough to take advantage of being in a spotlight under which they can get their clubs national attention and maximize their teams' ability to sell tickets, luxury boxes, promotions and advertising. I predict there will be a flurry of movement this year because the free-agent market has remained somewhat inert thus far.

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