One month into the season, what's the biggest surprise so far? My vote goes to Alex Gonzalez's eighth home run of the season today. Let's take a look back at the past week:
- Not much debating on this week's top story, as Ryan Howard inked a mammoth five-year, $125MM extension with the Phillies. The deal kicks in after the 2011 season, and will pay Howard $25MM annually until his age 37 season. I've got to side with the majority on this one and say that the contract has me completely baffled. Howard's deal will undoubtedly have some side effects; what will this do to the price tags of Prince Fielder, Adrian Gonzalez, and Albert Pujols? Here's some additional reactions.
- Speaking of huge contracts, we heard from Cliff Lee's agent this week that the lefty will likely pursue free agency this offseason. Assuming a healthy season from here on out, Lee would be the top starter on the market, and could sign a deal north of $80MM.
- The Red Sox signed Cuban catcher Adalberto Ibarra to a five-year contract worth $3M guaranteed this week. Already 22 years old, he'll be assigned to the minor leagues, though it's uncertain which level to this point.
- Ike Davis is off to a hot start in New York, and that's got the rumor mill swirling in regards to Daniel Murphy's future with the team. Murphy underwhelmed offensively as a first baseman last season, but he's still just 24 years old.
- Could a market develop for Chris Iannetta? He's fallen out of favor somewhat in Colorado, having been demoted to Triple-A, but it's hard to imagine the Rox would have any difficulty at all finding a taker for the catcher's services. MLBTR's Howard Megdal looked at the situation this week.
- First we heard Billy Wagner say that he would retire at the end of the 2010 season, and he was soon followed by Bengie Molina. Both are mild surprises, though Molina more so, given his younger age and the scarcity of the catching market.
- It was a rough week to be a reliever; we saw the Rockies designate Juan Rincon for assignment, Alan Embree called up and DFA'ed shortly thereafter by Boston, and Merkin Valdez cleared waivers after being DFA'ed by Toronto.
- Minor league transactions this week included the Giants signing Angel Berroa, the Angels claiming Kevin Frandsen on waivers from the Red Sox, and the Cardinals signing Aaron Miles.
- 2011 Contract Issues updates this week included the Rangers, Pirates, Phillies, and Padres.