I talk about those articles I posted links to on Friday.

Matt Garza thinks the AL Central will be a close race. He also understands that he “used too many bullets too early” and thinks he knows what his body can handle now (hopefully resulting in improved performance in September).

USA Today ranked the best and worst signings this winter. Their top 5 signings in order:

1. Sean Casey, Tigers. Basically the article says that he was a good signing because he signed at half the price he was at last year, even though the article admits that “Casey might never approach 100 RBI again”. Funny, considering he hasn’t hit 100 RBI in a season ever. His best season was in 2004 with the Reds, where he hit 24 HR with 99 RBI and a .324 batting average. I can’t say I agree with this being number 1.

2. Adam Kennedy, Cardinals. A career .280/.332 (OBP)/.398 (SLG) hitter, I’m guessing USA Today calls this number 2 because of his defense. He’s got a career .983 fielding percentage as a 2B. He also averages about 71 double plays turned per season. Again, I disagree with this being in the top 5 best signings.

3. Aramis Ramirez, Cubs. A masher 3B (105 HR in his three full seasons with the Cubs) coming off of a career year (highs in HR, RBI, doubles, triples, and walks), I can finally agree somewhat with the list. Ramirez didn’t come cheap, though, at $15 million a year for the next 5 years.

4. Dave Roberts, Giants. Roberts likes to get on base via a walk, steal some bases, and then score. He had 51 walks (only 61 strike outs), 49 stolen bases, and 80 runs scored last season as a Padre. Roberts hasn’t played over 130 games in a season in a career that has spanned eight seasons, although he’s 34. The Giants signed him for three years, and their best chance is for Roberts to stay healthy. I think this signing was a decent one, but probably not in my top 5.

5. Gil Meche, Royals. This signing in the top 5 is just silly. From the article: “by signing a desirable pitcher in his prime…”. Meche is certainly not desirable, as his best season yielded a 4.48 ERA and a 1.43 WHIP. Plus the Royals are giving him $55 million for 5 years. And Meche may be at the age that is considered prime (he’s 27), he did not pitch in the major leagues in 2001 or 2002 due to surgery for “dead arm“. This would be in my worst 5 signings list.

And USA Today’s 5 worst signings:

1. Barry Bonds, Giants. Face it, USA Today, Barry draws fans. The article says “they’re stuck with his toxic presence, accompanying circus and legal woes”. If you had a chance to see Barry Bonds tie and/or break Hank Aaron‘s home run record, I’d bet money that you would go. Barry has a chance to do that this season, and fans will flock to the stadium to be a part of history. I personally hope Bonds gets hurt and doesn’t get to the record, but that’s probably too mean. This wouldn’t be on either list, for me.

2. Juan Pierre, Dodgers. I don’t feel this one deserves a spot in the 5 worst. Pierre has started all 162 games the past 4 seasons and usually gets more walks than strike outs in a season. However, as a lead off guy, his walks hover around 35-40 and you can bet on him getting caught stealing 17-20 times a year, leading to an OBP of around .330.

3. Jason Marquis, Cardinals. This is one I agree with 100%. 14-16 record (after going 13-14 in 2005) with a 6.02 ERA last season. He also served up 35 homers. Good choice, USA Today.

4. Julio Lugo, Red Sox. He’s never hit .300 in a season, and had just 37 RBI last year in 435 at bats. His primary position is shortstop, but he has a .966 career fielding percentage. I don’t know where this would rank on my worst 5, but it definitely wouldn’t be in my top 5.

5. J.D. Drew, Red Sox. This seems to be in the right spot. Drew’s best season came in 2004 when he hit 31 HR, had 93 RBI, walked 118 times and struck out 116 times. He had a batting average of .305 and an OBP of .436. However, Drew only played in 72 games in 2005 (he played in 145 and 146 games in 2004 and 2006, respectively). It seems like every other year, Drew misses some time. Here are his games played from 1999-2006: 104, 135, 109, 135, 100, 145, 72, 146.

Also, if you’re bored, Sid Hartman wrote an article on how Joe Nathan thinks the Twins can turn Sidney Ponson‘s career around.

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