Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Ohka, Erstad Find New Homes

Not the sexiest signings in recent memory, but Tomo Ohka and Darin Erstad may have new MLB addresses this morning.

Ohka reached a one year agreement with the Bluejays. He will receive $1.5 million guaranteed money and could double that with incentives. Ohka's lone impressive season came in 2002 when he threw 192 innings of 3.18 ERA ball. He still only managed 118 strikeouts.

A partial tear of his rotator cuff limited him to 18 starts in 2006. This will also limit expectations for his 2007. His agent stated that Ohka turned down larger contract offers to join a more competitive club. With the 2006 BlueJays posting some powerhouse offensive numbers, Ohka - like the immortal John Thomson - will not be asked to part the Red Sea. This is good because Ohka's walks are going up while his strikeouts go down.

On the other hand, the potential Chisox signing of Erstad seems to be a perfect fit. Especially when the breaking news has Scott Podsednik out 6-8 weeks following a sports hernia-related surgery. The guy can earn you a GoldGlove at probably every position. If it wasn't for the nagging knee injuries barren bullpens like Kansas City's might even consider using him in the backend of their bullpen.

Ok, just kidding, but Erstad could take some heat off of an underwhelming rookie season from centerfielder Brian Anderson, give Konerko rest at first, and will lighten the blow of Podsednik's absence. Pod's groin-surgery may also allow thirdbase prospect Josh Fields some playing time in leftfield.

The Josh Fields link will take you to the Sports Illustrated's rankings of the top 75 baseball prospects. This is a solid list with his top-5 looking like this:

5. Brandon Wood - LAD
4. Philip Hughes - NYY
3. Homer Bailey - CIN
2. Delmon Young - TAM
1. Alex Gordon - KC
I do not have any major gripes with this compilation as many scouts argue who the better pitching prospect is: Hughes or Bailey. Many times the discussion boils down to Bailey having an edge in straight-up stuff, while Hughes has more pitchability and a higher baseball IQ - in other words better all-around ability.

Maybe Delmon Young's problems outside the lines drops him to number two, but many scouts believe he is the top prospect - no disrespect to Gordon who also seems destined to take the MLB by storm.

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