Free Agent Frenzy: Profiling the Outfielders

When November 12 rolls around and the free agent frenzy begins, teams will begin the process of the re-build, the re-tool or the re-load. <br><br> In part one of five, Jason A. Churchill examines the Top outfield free agents with a slant toward the Mariners' team needs.



Carlos Beltran
Position: CF
Age on Opening Day 2005: 27
2004: .267/.367/.548, 38HR, 104RBI, 42SB
Career: .284/.353/.490, 146HR, 569RBI, 192SB

Player Strengths:
The five-tool talent has great range in center field and is one of the game's best base stealers. Beltran is a switch-hitter with the ability to hit for average and power from both sides of the plate and has performed at the highest of levels in some of the biggest stages of the game.

Player Weaknesses:
No traceable weaknesses.

The Mariner Factor:
Roaming, and effectively covering, the spacious center field at the Safe, Beltran would feed more than just one hunger of the M's 25-man roster. Not only could the All-Star fill a gaping defensive deficiency but hitting in the three-hole, the winter's biggest free agent would also serve as the key to the offense and would add speed to the middle of the order, and avoid crowding the base paths for the rest of the lineup.

The versatility as a switch-hitter would create match up problems late in games for opposing pitchers.

The low-key approach allows him to suit up and play every day without additional pressure of a high-profile player. This sort of ingredient is a major bonus in Seattle.


J.D. Drew
Position: LF/RF
Age on Opening Day 2005: 29
2004: .305/.436/.569, 31HR, 93RBI
Career: .287/.391/.513, 127HR, 373RBI

Player Strengths:
Drew broke out in 2004 with a full season that displayed all of the skills he was drafted for. The former double first-round draft choice has a power bat with consistent ability to make contact that limits strikeouts and avoids prolonged slumps.

Defensively, Drew brings a CF's range to the corners and has the arm to play anywhere on the field.

Player Weaknesses:
Two words: Disabled list. Drew has spent more time on the disabled list than clubs would like to see in a player less than 30 years of age. The positive is that he is coming off of his first full season and seems to have curbed the nagging injuries that plagued him as a Cardinal.

The Mariner Factor: With Ichiro in Seattle as the game's best right fielder since Roberto Clemente, Drew's role would be in the left corner of Safeco's outfield, providing plus range and possibly the best arm of any left fielder this side of Jose Guillen. His offensive presence in the heart of the order would give the Mariners a left-handed run producer for the first time since Griffey was traded. The long time Boras client has good speed and often is compared to Larry Walker on the base paths.


Magglio Ordonez
Position: RF/LF
Age on Opening Day 2005: 30
2004: .292/.351/.485, 9HR, 37RBI
Career: .307/.364/.525, 187HR, 703RBI

Player Strengths:
One of the better run producers in the league when healthy and is capable of monster MVP-type seasons with the bat. The all-star can use his above-average speed to his advantage on the bases. His rifle arm and solid range in the field often have him in the running for a gold glove.

Player Weaknesses:
The only major weakness for Ordonez is the recent health of his ailing knee. Surgery was pushed back to late in the summer and the wait could jeopardize the first month or two of the 2005 season.

The Mariner Factor:
Health risk aside, Ordonez, like Drew, would have to slide to left field but would serve as one of baseball's best defensive left fielders after playing eight seasons in right. The offensive presence would be a welcomed addition as Ordonez's power spreads from left-center to right-center, alleviating some of the kill-shot that Safeco has on right-handed power hitters.


Moises Alou
Position: LF/DH
Age on Opening Day 2005: 37
2004: .293/.361/.557, 39HR, 106RBI
Career: .300/367/.513, 278HR, 1092RBI

Player Strengths: Has always hit well no matter where he has played and is one of the most underrated players in the game over the last decade. Had perhaps his best season in four years in 2004 and showed he isn't done producing at a high level. Still turns on the fastball as well as any hitter in baseball.

Player Weaknesses:
Alou has a bit of an injury history that magnifies with his advanced age. Defensively he is adequate, even as he ages, but does have limited range.

The Mariner Factor:
If the M's were in need of a designated hitter or were one player away from setting a World Series caliber lineup, Alou might be a great fit. He would add a third piece to a strong middle of the order and could be one of few to pepper the seats over the manual scoreboard in left field, as he continues to pull a large percentage of his home runs down the left field line.


Jermaine Dye
Position: RF/LF
Age on Opening Day 2005: 30
2004: .265/.329/.464, 23HR, 80RBI
Career: .272/.334/.463, 161HR, 611RBI

Player Strengths:
Dye has hit near .300 with 30 home run power to all fields. If he can stay in the lineup for 140+ games those numbers are possible again. In right field, Dye has a very good arm and as he gets back to form athletically, the range will return to the plus side. Only 30, and getting further and further away from his last injury.

Player Weaknesses:
The Injury bug has bitten Dye and his sole problem-area is staying off the DL.

The Mariner Factor:
Four year ago he would have been perfect for the Mariners. Now, he is the player the M's are glad they stayed away from when they were deep in trade discussions for just a few seasons back. Could turn it around and will likely get a short contract.


Steve Finley
Position: CF
Age on Opening Day 2005: 39
2004: .271/.333/.490, 36HR, 94RBI
Career: .276/.337/.450, 285HR, 1071RBI

Player Strengths:
Still possesses one of the better power strokes of any player in baseball and still has the bat speed to put it to good use. The ageless outfielder can still chase ‘em down in center field and is a valuable clubhouse member that is familiar with a winner.

Player Weaknesses:
Age is probably the only downside to Finley and at some point his bat will slow down some as will his range in the field. If counted on heavily can disappear for a series or two and is best suited as a complimentary player.

The Mariner Factor:
Like Alou, Finley would be a great fit if the M's were one player away. Finley's defense would be extremely valuable, but only for a short time and the M's are clearly looking for long term solutions, both offensively and defensively. His skills fit, his future doesn't.


Jeromy Burnitz
Position: RF/LF
Age on Opening Day 2005: 30
2004: .283/.356/.559, 37HR, 110RBI
Career: .254/.351/.491, 275HR, 845RBI

Player Strengths:
Burnitz has very good power and is a better all around hitter than he gets credit for after a tough 2003 season hitting at Shea Stadium. His 2004 numbers are inflated with the Coors effect but a park that favors home run hitters or lefties could serve Burnitz well. In the field the 30-year-old is decent in right field but is better suited to play the opposite corner where he could be much more of an asset.

Player Weaknesses:
At the plate Burnitz has a tendency to reach all-or-nothing status and whiff at alarmingly high rates and can fall into streaks where making contact is a chore. Defense isn't his strong suit and though he will rarely hurt his team, he seldom makes a play that saves the team a base or a run.

Mariner Factor:
Not a fit in Seattle where the team is attempting to set itself up with players still entering their prime, but could be a solid alternative for other contenders. The M's have the need for consistent hitters and wouldn't be much improved with the heavy swinging Burnitz hitting in the heart of the order.


Richard Hidalgo
Position: RF/LF
Age on Opening Day 2005: 29
2004: .239/.301/.444, 25HR, 82RBI
Career: .273/.350/.497, 155HR, 517RBI

Player Strengths:
Still has the ability to go deep 25 times a year and has gone over the 40 mark in his career. When in shape and 100% healthy, Hidalgo can play a solid outfield and is best suited for left. Since the Astros moved him from center to right, Hidalgo has been injured and out of shape, killing his production.

Player Weaknesses:
Seems to have lost some bat speed to go with the athleticism that went south with the injuries and the newfound soft gut that Hidalgo found a few years back. Age isn't much of a concern.

The Mariner Factor:
Certainly not the upgrade the Mariners need and is probably a better fit with an AL team where he can play some outfield and DH part time while hitting in the sixth or seventh spot.


Seattle Clubhouse Top Stories