This will, of course, provide lots of fodder for all the Yankee-bashers out there to get a couple more licks in.
My thoughts on the teams who’ve had the best offseasons so far:
- Yankees – how could you NOT begin here? They’ve caught the 2 biggest fish in the pond + A.J. Burnett and gave up next to nothing for Nick Swisher. Yes, they’ve spent a ton of money – nearly $400 M – but next year’s payroll is actually going to decline. Maybe all those execs who complain about "the evil empire" will decide to decline all the luxury tax and revenue-sharing money coming their way courtesy of the Yankees – you think? Swisher is the prototypical 3 true outcomes player but he provides youth, positional flexibility, power, and on-base ability and they got him for Wilson Betemit and a couple of subway tokens. They’ve surely added 10 wins to their team as a result of their bounty.
- Rays – the guys over at BtB said it better than I could -- here and here. The Rays have managed to stay true to who they are – they’re getting even younger, they found at least a part-time RF, opened up a spot for David Price in their rotation, and did it w/o trading Kazmir, Shields, Garza, or Sonnastine. In essence, they got better – and younger – in RF and in the starting rotation by trading the SP they most wanted to trade. Beat that!
- Athletics – they got better in a hurry and, w/ the Angels sliding, appear poised to make a run at the AL West. Say what you want about Matt Holliday’s career splits on the road – and they’ve been analyzed to death here – he’s probably a 5-6 win player who makes Oakland better instantly. The timing was perfect, but the package (from the A’s perspective) was really good as well. They gave up only 1 player – Carlos Gonzalez – they might really have any use for and, if they don’t win or aren’t competitive, can spin Holliday for a solid package at the trade deadline or hang on to him until the offseason and collect the two draft picks.
- Mets – I know, putting both New York teams on this list is enough to make some of you vomit but you have to like how the Mets have improved this offseason. Their biggest hole was in the pen and they addressed it in spades by acquiring K-Rod and J.J. Putz. Yes, both players are injury risks but they also provide a sort of hedge against the other’s injury. They signed K-Rod for much less than what he was looking for and what many thought he might get and traded nothing useful in the 12-player deal that included Putz. Of course, both are earning too much money but they’re the Mets and they’re moving into a new stadium. They can handle it.
- Mariners – it’s good to see a previously dysfunctional franchise improve itself over the offseason. Whereas Ed Wade would have tried to rebuild this horrible team instantly into a winner, thereby setting the team back 5 years in the process, new GM Jeff Zduriencik has tried to acquire lots of decent players in order to see what he’s got. He got Aaron Heilman from the Mets, Franklin Gutierrez from the Indians, and several other fairly young players in an attempt to build for the future while getting rid of a guy (Putz) his bad team had little use for. He hasn’t yet managed to extricate his franchise from the Carlos Silva contract but, hey – did you expect a miracle worker?
Now how about the worst offseasons so far –
- Brewers – you absolutely have to start here. They’ve lost their top 2 pitchers and appear poised to replace Sabathia and Sheets w/ (gulp!) Braden Looper. On top of that, the Yankees’ acquisition of Mark Teixeira cost them the Yanks’ 1st round draft pick as well. One more thing -- their closer, Solomon Torres, retired. It’s been a tough month for our friends to the north.
- Phillies – I guess if you win the World Series, people won’t care how bad your offseason is b/c you can always say "we didn’t exactly need to rebuild!" They dumped Pat Burrell in favor of Raul Ibanez, who is 4 years older and just as bad in the OF as Burrell. He’s also left-handed, exacerbating the righty-lefty disparity in their lineup. They gave Ibanez a 3 year, $31 M contract to suck until he’s 39 years old. To top it off, they gave 46 year old Jamie Moyer – a guy no one else really wanted – a 2 year contract b/c they didn’t want to give one of their young pitchers a chance to earn their way into the rotation. Why 2 years? I guess they thought 3 was excessive?
- Angels – they lost K-Rod and Teixeira and appear poised to replace K-Rod w/ Fuentes for almost the same money. Meanwhile, the A’s are catching up on them in the AL West. They did resign Juan Rivera (yippee!) and will be getting some extra draft picks to help them 4 years from now.
- Cubs – they dumped Kerry Wood (very good player) in favor of Kevin Gregg (definition of mediocre) and traded a pretty good relief prospect in order to do it. In fact, Jose Ceda may end up being better than Kevin Gregg this year! They’ve been unable to trade for Jake Peavy or Brian Roberts and been unable to dump Fukudome or, at least, move him to CF. Expect their offseason to get better, however.
- Padres – what the H-E-double hockey sticks are they doing? They’ve apparently made every other team in baseball decide they don’t want Jake Peavy w/ their ridiculously high trade demands and, let’s face it, this is a guy they pretty much have to trade now. The Padres aren’t going to win any time in the next couple of years and Peavy’s contract is only a really good one this season. The next 3 years, beginning in 2010, are $15, $16, and $17 M + a $22 M option. Maybe they got a decent return for Khalil Greene – we’ll know once the PTBNL is announced – but, while Mark Worrell can probably be a useful guy for them, you’d have to think that the sandwich pick they’d have gotten after next year’s draft would have been worth more.
Many Cards’ fans, impatient lot that we are, would probably put our offseason in that 2nd column. In fact, I was inclined to put us up top until I thought about a couple of the mistakes that have been made – the inexplicable disinterest in Randy Johnson, the 4th year on Kyle Lohse’s extension, and the refusal to offer arbitration to Springer or Looper. Still, you’d have to say that Mo’s done well in many areas (well, I’ll say that – you don’t have to.) He checked in on Peavy and Holliday until deciding that it would cost too much to acquire either. He’s put out a pretty decent offer to Fuentes (I still don’t want him, but a 2 year, $18 M offer is much better than 3 and 33) and seems ready to stand firm. He’s been aggressive when needed and patient when needed and, overall, I’m impressed. I still think he misfired w/ the arbitration offers but nobody’s perfect. He could have stood to be more patient w/ Kyle Lohse to see what would happen in the market also but there’s still a long way to go.