Japanese defender scores world record 63-yard header
Top MLB Free Agents for 2012
1 Albert Pujols
2011 Stats: .299/.366/.541, 37 HRs, 99 RBIs, 9 SBs
CURRENT TEAM: CARDINALS
BEST FIT: CARDINALS
That the world champion Cardinals will re-sign Pujols does not mean that they should. His production declined ever so slightly in 2011 -- he posted the worst OPS+ (150) of his 11-season career, and failed to bat .300 and drive in 100 runs for the first time -- and one shudders to think what his numbers might look like, and how his exorbitant salary will hamstring mid-market St. Louis, five years from now, let alone, potentially, 10. But Pujols, for better or for worse, will likely be a Cardinal for life, and he will continue to be the game's greatest hitter for at least a few more seasons.
2 Prince Fielder
2011 Stats: .299/.415/.566, 38 HRs, 120 RBIs, 1 SB
CURRENT TEAM: BREWERS
BEST FIT: CUBS
Fielder didn't exactly bid adieu to Milwaukee after the Brewers' NLCS elimination, but there was a lot of past tense in his final press conference. "Playing here was awesome," he said. The burly young slugger could move to the Cubs, who are starved for offense -- their 654 runs in 2011 were their fewest since the strike-shortened 1994 season. Fielder would become the face of new GM Theo Epstein's top-to-bottom rebuilding effort.
3 Jose Reyes
2011 Stats: .337/.384/.493, 7 HRs, 44 RBIs, 39 SBs
CURRENT TEAM: METS
BEST FIT: NATIONALS
Reyes's recurring health problems are a concern -- he has not played more than 133 games since 2008 -- but his production is not. He won the NL batting title this season, and retains 50-steal potential. The on-the-rise Nationals could use a shortstop and top-of-the-order spark plug to go along with future stars Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg. Team owner Ted Lerner -- baseball's richest -- can afford to pay Reyes to be just that for the next seven years or so.
4 C.J. Wilson
2011 Stats: 16-7, 2.94 ERA, 1.187 WHIP, 8.3 K/9
CURRENT TEAM: RANGERS
BEST FIT: ANGELS
Two years ago, Wilson was a periodically effective reliever, but since then the lefty has transformed himself into the best starting pitcher who is likely to be genuinely available on the market. While his playoff struggles demonstrated that he is not a true ace, the Angels' new GM, Jerry DiPoto, could bring the Orange County native home, where he would make for a superior No. 3 man in a rotation topped by Jered Weaver and Dan Haren.
5 Jonathan Papelbon
2011 Stats: 4-1, 2.94 ERA, 0.933 WHIP, 12.2 K/9, 31 SVs
CURRENT TEAM: RED SOX
BEST FIT: RED SOX
There are an unusual number of quality and proven closers who will be free agents this winter, and that means that we will either witness a carousel, whereby they all assume one another's jobs, or a situation in which pretty much everyone remains where they are. The latter scenario seems more likely, and will become more so if Papelbon -- who was superb for the Red Sox despite suffering a stunning loss in Game 162 -- returns to Boston.
6 Heath Bell
2011 Stats: 3-4, 2.44 ERA, 1.149 WHIP, 7.3 K/9, 43 SV
CURRENT TEAM: PADRES
BEST FIT: PADRES
The consistent Bell saved more than 42 games, while blowing fewer than six opportunities, for the third straight season. While he will have other suitors, he seems perfectly happy to stay in San Diego, where he will likely be the Padres' lone All-Star Game representative -- as he was in 2011, when, memorably, he sprinted in from the bullpen and then slid into the mound when his name was called.
7 Carlos Beltran
2011 Stats: .300/.383/.525, 22 HRs, 84 RBIs, 4 SBs
CURRENT TEAM: GIANTS
BEST FIT: GIANTS
Beltran was excellent after the Mets traded him to the Giants -- in 44 games he hit .323 with seven home runs and 18 RBIs. But his overall .910 OPS was baseball's 15th-best, and he would be higher on this list if not for his age and fragility. Still, the Giants desperately need offense, and are said to want him back.
8 David Ortiz
2011 Stats: .309/.398/.554, 29 HRs, 96 RBIs, 1 SB
CURRENT TEAM: RED SOX
BEST FIT: RED SOX
Lost in the mess that became the Red Sox' 2011 season was Ortiz's bounce-back campaign. He hit .300 and had an OPS in excess of .900 for the first time since 2007, and showed a remarkably improved batting eye, striking out just 83 times after recording 145 the season before, despite making just one fewer plate appearance. Ortiz's suggestion that he might want to move on from Boston seems an attempt to create a market for himself, and while other teams such as the Blue Jays could be interested, new GM Ben Cherington will likely bring him back to Fenway.
9 Aramis Ramirez
2011 Stats: .306/.361/.510, 26 HRs, 93 RBIs, 1 SB
CURRENT TEAM: CUBS
BEST FIT: MARLINS
At press time, the Cubs held a $16 million option on Ramirez, but Epstein seems likely to buy Ramirez out, especially if he's eyeing Fielder. The Marlins will move into a new ballpark this spring and are rumored to be contenders for bigger names like Pujols and Reyes, but they could settle for the consistent Ramirez, who would fill a hole, as no NL team's third basemen hit fewer home runs in 2011 than the Marlins' (six).
10 Jimmy Rollins
2011 Stats: .268/.338/.399, 16 HRs, 63 RBIs, 30 SBs
CURRENT TEAM: PHILLIES
BEST FIT: GIANTS
J-Roll's roll has slowed, and he is no longer nearly the player he was in 2007, when he won the NL MVP award. Still, he remains intelligent and effective both at the plate and in the field, and the Giants haven't had that type of player at shortstop in at least a decade. They could turn to Rollins, a Bay Area-native.
Jaamal Berry charged with assault
Ohio State sophomore running back Jaamal Berry has been suspended from the team after being charged with misdemeanor assault and disorderly conduct stemming from an Oct. 21 incident in Columbus.
Ohio State spokesman Jerry Emig said in a statement that Berry had been suspended from the team "for violating the university's student-athlete code of conduct."
"Berry will remain suspended until charges filed against him have been resolved," the statement read. He has an arraignment hearing scheduled for Dec. 1.
The early-morning incident allegedly occurred between Berry and a 21-year-old man when, according to a Columbus police report, the man was struck in the face.
The alleged victim said Berry punched him with a closed fist after an argument and that a witness was hit as he tried to break up the fight, according to the police report. Another witness said Berry bragged about what he had done. There were no serious injuries.
The alleged victim filed a civil lawsuit against Berry last week, accusing him of assault, battery and ethnic intimidation. Ohio State officials have said that Berry would be suspended if charged, pending the outcome of the case. Berry also was involved in a Sept. 28 incident that Ohio State police described as an assault. No charges were filed in that incident.
Berry was treated and released at a hospital following that incident. Ohio State's student newspaper, The Ohio State Lantern, reported that Berry was confused and disoriented after "wrestling" with another student on campus. Berry was in uniform for Saturday's game against Wisconsin but did not play. He has appeared in five games this season and has seven kick returns, three rushes and two receptions.
Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith did not immediately respond to a text message seeking comment, The Associated Press reported.