Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Off Season Winners and Abject Disappointments, 2012

By The Common Man

Last year, The Common Man ranked the offseasons, and came down decidedly in the favor of the San Diego Padres doing the best job maximizing the resources they had on hand.  It's hard to argue that their entire season was a big disappointment, but GM Jed Hoyer had put the club on solid footing.  Conversely, TCM was incredibly down on the Minnesota Twins, whose refusal to improve their depth, and the Angels, who missed out on their free agent targets and decided to make a splash with Vernon Wells instead.  Both clubs severely disappointed their fans.  (Of course, in the interest of transparency, TCM was way down on the New York Yankees' moves last offseason, and the clubs' pitching acquisitions helped them win 97 games.)

Now that we finally know that Roy Oswalt isn't going anywhere for a while, and where Juan Rincon landed, it's time to do it all over again.  TCM was surprised how few of the offseasons he was down on this year.  Glaring mistakes not committed by Dan Duquette were hard to come by, and teams that did overspend for some players made excellent moves in others.

So where does your team rank?*   Hit the jump to find out:
*Not that he's ever wrong, per se, but if TCM has overlooked anything that you think should affect his rankings, by all means let him know.  A lot happened this offseason.

1) New York Yankees

Added: Hiroki Kuroda, Michael Pineda, Jose Campos, Manny Delcarmen, Raul Ibanez, Clay Rapada, David Aardsma, Russell Branyan, Bill Hall
Lost: Jesus Montero, Hector Noesi, AJ Burnett, Bartolo Colon

The Yankees played the waiting game this winter, and everything they needed fell into their laps. Kuroda provides the club with a strong #3 starter for just one-year’s commitment, and Michael Pineda slots into the #2 spot behind CC Sabathia. All it cost the Yanks was money and one elite DH prospect who, frankly, they weren’t going to be able to use properly (since so many of their stars need regular turns at the position). The Yanks even got the better kicker out of the deal in Jose Campos. Plus, by holding out until the end of the offseason, they collected Ibanez at a bargain-basement rate and filled in bullpen depth for practically nothing. All in all, a terrific offseason for Brian Cashman, as the Yankees look like good bets to repeat as AL East champs.

2) Los Angeles Angels
Added: Albert Pujols, CJ Wilson, Chris Iannetta, LaTroy Hawkins, Jorge Cantu, Brad Mills, Greg Smith, Jason Isringhausen, Juan Rincon
Lost: Tyler Chatwood, Jeff Mathis

Math whizzes that they are, the Angels added by addition and subtraction this offseason, landing premier free agents Pujols and Wilson, and getting rid of the catcher who sank the 2011 season, Jeff Mathis. While the Pujols signing created a logjam of 1B/DH types, it’s not a terrible problem for the Angels to have since Pujols brings inner-circle Hall of Fame talent to the club in the short term. Wilson slides in perfectly into the #3 spot in the Angels rotation, giving them the best top 4 in the American League. One of the most underrated pickups of the offseason, Chris Iannetta gives the Angels a legitimate catcher that Mike Scioscia will have no choice but to play (especially with Mathis gone). The Angels are almost certainly playoff bound in 2012, and their great pitching will make them tough to beat in any playoff series. What a great first offseason by new GM Jerry DiPito.

3) Cincinnati Reds
Added: Mat Latos, Ryan Madson, Sean Marshall, Andrew Brackman, Dioner Navarro, Jeff Francis, Ryan Ludwick, Brett Tomko
Lost: Ramon Hernandez, Francisco Cordero, Yonder Alonso, Brad Boxberger, Yasmani Grandal, Edinson Volquez, Dontrelle Willis, Travis Wood, Dave Sappelt, Ronald Torreyes

The Reds saw an opportunity in the relatively weak NL Central and made big deals to get better in the short term while raising their payroll only slightly. The Madson signing, for just one year at $8.5 million, was a terrific move in light of the other deals signed this offseason, and Sean Marshall provides a tremendous power arm to set him up. Mat Latos will provide leadership at the top of the rotation that can miss bats and dominate games, so long as Dusty doesn’t run him into the ground, and everyone they gave up for him was, ultimately, redundant, even if it was a lot of talent headed to San Diego. Ultimately, this offeseason is going to be judged by whether Cincinnati makes the postseason, and how deep they go, but it sure seems like they’ve stepped up at exactly the right time, like Milwaukee did last year.

4) St. Louis Cardinals
Added: Carlos Beltran, Scott Linebrink, JC Romero, Koyie Hill, Alex Cora
Lost: Albert Pujols, Edwin Jackson, Nick Punto, Octavio Dotel, Gerald Laird

There’s no way the Pujols negotiations weren’t an utter debacle from start to finish, given that the player they wanted left them feeling alienated and insulted. But give the Cardinals credit, they rebounded nicely after losing an inner circle Hall of Famer who is ostensibly still in his prime, and likely won’t live to regret that Pujols signed elsewhere either in the long or the short term. Adam Wainwright sounds like he’ll come back strong. Carlos Beltran, if healthy, brings plus defense and a very strong bat to an outfield corner, and pushes Lance Berkman back to 1B (thankfully), and they maintained a ton of long-term payroll flexibility in doing so. Likewise, they only committed two years to Rafael Furcal, which is wise given his age and injury history. In fact, it’s likely that this Cardinals team will be even better than the one that won the World Series last year. Strong work.

5) Houston Astros
Added: Jed Lowrie, Kyle Weiland, Livan Hernandez, Justin Ruggiano, Fernando Martinez, Jack Cust, Chris Snyder
Lost: Mark Melancon, Jason Michaels

A team that’s going to lose 95+ games doesn’t need a closer, so the Astros boxed theirs up and shipped him to the Red Sox for a new starting shortstop and a promising starting pitcher. The team also bought low on Justin Ruggiano, who may finally get a shot at extended playing time, and former top prospect Fernando Martinez. And the other free agents they brought in won’t take up space that should be given to younger players. The Astros didn’t have much to work with this offseason, but they made the most of what they had to offer and took baby steps back toward respectability.

6) Oakland A’s
Added: Yoenis Cespides, Brad Peacock, Tom Milone, Derek Norris, AJ Cole, Jarrod Parker, Collin Cowgill, Miles Head, Raul Alcantera, Josh Reddick, Seth Smith, Bartolo Colon, Jonny Gomes, Manny Ramirez
Lost: David DeJesus, Josh Willingham, Trevor Cahill, Gio Gonzalez, Andrew Bailey, Ryan Sweeney, Guillermo Moscoso, Josh Outman, Craig Breslow

Reading the terrain in the AL West, Billy Beane correctly ascertained that his club is out of the running for at least 2012, so he put everything he had out on the lawn and let the Red Sox, Nationals, and Diamondbacks pick through all his stuff. He got back a lot of impressive young pitching, some outfielders, and a catching prospect. Then Beane went and brought in three more OF/DH types, which suggests that he’s planning to deploy a radical defensive alignment of eight outfielders. Anyway, the A’s are looking ahead to 2014. They got creative and brought in Yoenis Cespides, hoping that he’ll be as good as his workout video with some exposure to advanced pitching. And Manny Ramirez and Bartolo Colon might make attractive trade bait later this season. In all, it was a great read by Beane and it gives his A’s a strong direction in which to move.

7) Detroit Tigers
Added: Prince Fielder, Octavio Dotel, Gerald Laird, Collin Balester
Lost: Carlos Guillen, Magglio Ordonez, Wilson Betemit, Ryan Perry

On its surface, the addition of Prince Fielder looks like a huge win-now move for the Tigers, which will leave them somewhat log-jammed in the future. But the Tigers won 95 games last year on the backs of a historic Justin Verlander performance, a huge leap forward by Alex Avila, an unexpected performance by Jhonny Peralta, the acquisition of Doug Fister, and the typical brilliance of Miguel Cabrera. While he’s likely to continue to be an excellent player, it’s hard to see Avila duplicating his performance. Ditto on Verlander and Peralta. Cabrera figures to still be great with the stick, but with Fielder around, he’s reportedly moving to 3B, where he’ll probably give back some runs. And they won’t have Victor Martinez’s hot bat and defensive flexibility as an advantage anymore. Last year, according to Baseball Prospectus, the Tigers should have been about a 92 win club. The Fielder signing probably helps push the Tigers back to that point, which should be enough to win the AL Central. But it’s not as much of a slam dunk as you’d think.

8) Pittsburgh Pirates
Added: AJ Burnett, Rod Barajas, Casey McGehee, Erik Bedard, Nate McLouth, Juan Cruz, Jose Morales, Yamaico Navarro, Brian Tallet
Lost: Ryan Doumit, Jose Veras, Paul Maholm, Ronny Cedeno

The Pirates spent a lot of the winter being rebuffed by guys like Roy Oswalt and Edwin Jackson, so they made riskier moves to upgrade their pitching at far less cost, bringing in Burnett in what was a salary dump for the Yanks and Bedard on an incentive-laden one-year deal. Both might end up as trade bait, assuming the club doesn’t make another surprise run at the NL Central. McGehee was another great buy-low candidate, as he tries to bounce back from a horrendous 2011 to push Pedro Alvarez at 3B. Rod Barajas is a terrible hitter, but recent research suggests that his defensive abilities go a long way to improve a pitching staff, so he’s a welcome addition. The Bucs still have work to do to improve a hitting attack that scored the third fewest runs in the National League last year, but they are making positive moves and continue to take baby steps toward relevancy.

9) Washington Nationals
Added: Gio Gonzalez, Edwin Jackson, Brad Lidge, Chad Durbin, Mark Teahnan, Ryan Perry, Jason Michaels, Mark DeRosa
Lost: AJ Cole, Derek Norris, Brad Peacock, Tom Milone, Livan Hernandez, Jason Marquis, Todd Coffey, Collin Balester, Laynce Nix

The Nats flirted with Yoenis Cespides and with Prince Fielder, and decided instead to upgrade the rotation with a questionable trade for Gio Gonzalez and a brilliant one-year signing of Edwin Jackson. Score one for patience. There’s no doubt that Gonzalez is a fine pitcher, but the premium Washington paid to get him was incredibly high and depleted their high minors. But still, he and Jackson represent a huge upgrade over Hernandez and Marquis, and mean that the Nats now have a very strong front four when paired with Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann. Lidge is also potentially a huge bargain for just a year and $1 million. The club is still missing a legitimate center fielder, and it’s unclear how much Adam LaRoche is going to contribute at 1B. But the Nationals have definitely been upgraded to “frisky” in 2012.

10) Chicago Cubs
Added: Anthony Rizzo, David DeJesus, Manny Corpas, Ian Stewart, Paul Maholm, Travis Wood, Chris Volstad, Matt Tolbert
Lost: Aramis Ramirez, Sean Marshall, Carlos Pena, Carlos Zambrano, Tyler Colvin

Being honest, no player acquired this offseason was bigger than the combination of Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein who came in to run the show on the North Side. But the club managed to pawn off Carlos Zambrano, added everyday talent for a middle reliever, got two underrated players in David DeJesus and Ian Stewart, and brought in solid rotation options in Paul Maholm, Travis Wood and Chris Volstad. The Cubbies have a long way to go, but they got better this offseason in both the short and the long term.

11) Miami Marlins
Added: Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Heath Bell, Carlos Zambrano, Wade LeBlanc, Aaron Rowand
Lost: John Baker, Chris Volstad, Burke Badenhop

The Marlins spent big as they prepared to move into their wacky new ballpark, but did so in very strange ways. They pushed their best player off his preferred position without consulting him, and the A’s sweeping in to get Yoenis Cespedes ruined their plans for centerfield (which, frankly, might end up being better for the club, in the long run). Carlos Zambrano’s acquisition has significant upside, and ultimately, the Marlins are much better with Hanley Ramirez at 3B and Reyes at SS provided Hanley buys in. Heath Bell, at his age and price is not a significant upgrade, and it’s a shame the Marlins misread the closer market so significantly. All of the players they signed are significant risks to decline whether due to age or injuries as well, but in the near term, the Marlins should be fun to watch in 2012.

12) Minnesota Twins
Added: Josh Willingham, Ryan Doumit, Jamey Carroll, Jason Marquis, Joel Zumaya, Jeff Gray, Matt Maloney, Jason Bulger, Luke French, Steve Pearce
Lost: Joe Nathan, Michael Cuddyer, Jason Kubel, Jose Mijares, Jason Repko, Jim Hoey, Kevin Slowey

After losing 99 games last year, the Twins cut payroll and still managed to bring back more talent than they let go. Sadly, the Zumaya risk has already gone south, and the Twins compounded the problem by not bringing in any other low-cost options to improve their depth. Willingham will play better than Cuddyer provided he stays healthy, and Doumit gives the team a non-embarrassing option at DH, catcher, 1B, and even the corner outfield spots. Carroll also vastly improves the Twins at either shortstop or second base. The Twins will still rise and fall based on the performances of Justin Morneau, Joe Mauer, and Denard Span, but at least they didn’t ignore the supporting cast that the big three need to win games.

13) Toronto Blue Jays
Added: Sergio Santos, Francisco Cordero, Jason Frasor, Darren Oliver, Ben Francisco, Jeff Mathis, Omar Vizquel, Aaron Laffey, Jim Hoey
Lost: Frank Francisco, Jon Rauch, Shawn Camp, Nestor Molina, Brad Mills, Myles Jaye, Daniel Webb

The Jays spent the offseason remaking their bullpen, and saving their money while fans hoped for a big splash that never came. And why would it? Alex Anthopoulos has become a master at turning other people’s headaches into valuable pieces and getting rid of his own problem children for almost no cost. The club could use a little more time to develop to make sure that Colby Rasmus is back on the right track, that Travis Snider really is a bust, that Adam Lind still can hit, and to get Travis d’Arnaud ready for the Bigs. In the mean time, this is all shuffling around the margins to make sure the supporting cast is there when AA is ready to make his big push.

14) Cleveland Indians
Added: Derek Lowe, Casey Kotchman, Kevin Slowey, Dan Wheeler, Aaron Cunningham, Ryan Spilborghs, Russ Canzler, Christian Guzman
Lost: Jim Thome and Zach Putnam

If we were judging the Indians based on their moves since last July, they would rank much lower than this after the still difficult to understand Ubaldo trade, but they did good work around the margins this offseason with very little payroll space to work with. Derek Lowe pitched much better than his numbers last year in Atlanta, and could well be a league average starter for just $5 million. Kotchman is coming off a career year, and will regress, but he’s no worse than Matt LaPorta has been, and paired with Russ Canzler, may make an effective half of a platoon. Kevin Slowey is, if healthy, an effective 4th starter, and Dan Wheeler was a serious bargain. The Indians are clearly inferior to the Tigers in 2012, but if Detroit stumbles, and the Indians get rebounds from Grady Sizemore and Shin Soo Choo, they can take the AL Central.

15) San Diego Padres
Added: Carlos Quentin, Huston Street, Andrew Cashner, Yonder Alonso, Brad Boxberger, Yasmani Grandal, Edinson Volquez, Micah Owings, John Baker, Mark Kotsay, Jeff Suppan
Lost: Mat Latos, Heath Bell, Wade LeBlanc, Aaron Harang, Anthony Rizzo, Chad Qualls, Aaron Cunningham, Nick Schmidt, Pedro Hernandez, Simon Castro, Jorge Cantu, Zach Cates

The Padres made contradicting moves this offseason, making acquisitions designed to help them now (Quentin, Street) and sending away guys like Latos to build for the future. Perhaps the plan is to deal Street and Quentin this season. But then, Quentin’s value will be hurt by his time in Petco, where his power won’t play as well and his defense will be exposed. So TCM can’t really figure this out. Switching horses from Rizzo to Alonso suggests the club simply doesn’t have much faith in the player they acquired from the Red Sox as the centerpiece of the Adrian Gonzalez deal and a public break with the previous Padres administration that made so many good changes last year. There’s a lot to like here, especially in the haul for Latos, but it all seems muddled.

16) Boston Red Sox
Added: Andrew Bailey, Mark Melancon, Ryan Sweeney, Cody Ross, Nick Punto, Kelly Shoppach, Vincente Padilla, Carlos Silva, Aaron Cook, John Maine, Ross Ohlendorf
Lost: Jonathan Papelbon, Jed Lowrie, Kyle Weiland, Erik Bedard, Josh Reddick, Marco Scutaro, Dan Wheeler

The Red Sox never found a starting pitcher to their liking during Ben Cherington's first offseason at the helm, and instead seemed to move backwards this offseason. Losing Papelbon will hurt on the back end, but they were right not to meet his price from Philadelphia. The two relievers they picked up, Bailey and Melancon will do strong work, but they cost the Sox a lot of their depth. That depth was further compromised when Marco Scutaro was sent to the Rockies in a cost-cutting move. Picking up Sweeney and Ross will help shore up what was an unacceptable RF situation in 2011, but the whole season will hinge on whether the Daniel Bard to the rotation experiment works, or whether the Sox can patch together a full rotation out of the castoffs they signed to one-year deals.

17) Seattle Mariners
Added: Jesus Montero, John Jaso, Kevin Millwood, Carlos Guillen, Shawn Camp, George Sherrill, Hong-Chih Kuo, Oliver Perez, Hector Noesi
Lost: Michael Pineda, Jose Campos, Jamey Wright, Jack Cust, Jeff Gray, Adam Kennedy, Josh Leuke

The Mariners made a bold move this offseason to upgrade their offense, by trading away the second best player on their Major League club. The M’s have a bunch of young pitchers on the horizon, but of course pitching prospects are bred specifically to break our hearts. Still, Montero has all the signs of an impact hitter who can just spend the next 15 years mashing in the Edgar Martinez mold. Seattle also made good buy-low deals with relievers and starters, hoping to find a winning lottery ticket to exchange at the deadline, and dealt a fungible (and troubling) relief prospect away for a cost-controlled catcher with a history of success. Nicely done.

18) Tampa Bay Rays

Added: Carlos Pena, Luke Scott, two seven-foot-long boar-hunting spears, Jeff Keppinger, Josh Leuke, Burke Badenhop, Jose Molina
Lost: Kelly Shoppach, John Jaso, Casey Kotchman, Andy Sonnanstine, Juan Cruz, Johnny Damon

Is 2012 a year to wait and consolidate? The Rays lost both of their backstops this offseason, and replaced them with Jose Molina, a 37-year old strong defender who has never had more than 250 plate appearances in any season, and an assortment of late-20s minor league veterans. Likewise, the acquisition of Keppinger signals that the Rays are hoping to use a defensively stretched Sean Rodriguez at short until either Tim Beckham or Hak-Ju Lee claim the spot. In 2013, all of the major parts will still be around with the exception of BJ Upton, and perhaps James Shields if he gets dealt. The Rays did signal that they’d try to stay competitive by upgrading from Casey Kotchman (who won’t repeat his 2011) to Carlos Pena, and from Johnny Damon to Luke Scott, who will also protect the Tampa clubhouse from bear attack, but it’s hard for The Common Man to shake the notion that Andrew Friedman and company are more concerned with where the franchise will be next year than they are about this one.

19) Texas Rangers

Added: Yu Darvish, Joe Nathan, Conor Jackson, Joe Beimel, Brad Hawpe, Leonys Martin, Yoshinori Tateyama
Lost: CJ Wilson, Darren Oliver, Taylor Teagarden, Endy Chavez, Darren O’Day

Texas ultimately spent a lot more to bring in Darvish, a pitcher that they hope can match the production they lost when CJ absconded to the division rival Angels. They also spent wildly to upgrade the bullpen with the risky Joe Nathan, in the hopes of turning Neftali Feliz back into a starter. Texas still has a lot of talent, and as the two-time defending AL champs they certainly appear ready to make another playoff run. But there’s a big hole at 1B that they didn’t address and a lot of question marks. This club should compete for a playoff spot, but it probably won’t be with the Angels.

20) Milwaukee Brewers
Added: Aramis Ramirez, Norichika Aoki, Alex Gonzalez, Jose Veras, Brooks Conrad, Corey Patterson, Jay Gibbons
Lost: Prince Fielder, Casey McGehee, LaTroy Hawkins, Takashi Saito, Jerry Hairston, Yuniesky Betancourt, Mark Kotsay, Craig Counsell

There was never any doubt that the Brewers would lose Prince Fielder, and the acquisition of Aramis Ramirez to fill the hole at 3B at least helps make up for some of the loss, though his long-term viability at 3B could make him a liability as early as 2013. The Brewers also hamstrung themselves by offering arbitration to Francisco Rodriguez, who they figured would take less money to close elsewhere. K-Rod accepted their offer and will now be an $8 million setup man for the rest of this year. In part because of this, the Brewers never addressed their hole on the right side of the infield, and despite the continued availability of players like Derek Lee, they’re going to let Mat Gamel try and hit enough to stay there. Alex Gonzalez will at least field better than Yuniesky Betancourt at SS, but he’s not much of an upgrade at a position where the Brewers have been ailing. They’re still in the running for the NL Central crown, but will probably have to make some big moves during the season to win again.

21) New York Mets

Added: Frank Francisco, Jon Rauch, Ramon Ramirez, Andres Torres, Ronny Cedeno
Lost: Jose Reyes, Angel Pagan, Chris Capuano, Fernando Martinez

The Mets lost a franchise cornerstone. There’s no way of getting around that. Sandy Alderson and his crew are in the middle of a rebuilding process that they may never get a chance to finish, either because the current owners won’t have the money to acquire the necessary players or the new owners bring in their own guys to finish the work. Things are not good in Queens. Still, the Mets made decent moves, bringing in relievers on short contracts that they could potentially move during the season, and a legitimate centerfielder, who could interest a number of contenders. Meanwhile, they move Ruben Tejada into the new SS opening, get Ike Davis back to play 1B, and have Daniel Murphy and Justin Turner as options at 2B. Like the Astros, the Mets have a long way to go to get back to respectability, but they didn’t do anything this offseason that will get in their way on the road.

22) Arizona Diamondbacks

Added: Trevor Cahill, Jason Kubel, Takashi Saito, and Craig Breslow
Lost: Jarrod Parker, Collin Cowgill, Micah Owings

The Cahill trade doesn't inspire The Common Man, as the D-Backs gave up a potential ace in Parker for a big righty with control problems who doesn't strike anyone out. His ability to induce grounders will be nice in AZ, but that's about all he's got. Jason Kubel also figures to suck up money, while providing similar production to Gerardo Parra in leftfield. They did non-tender, then re-sign Joe Saunders in a nifty move leaves them with a strong front four, and their moves to re-sign John McDonald and Willie Bloomquist make a lot more sense now that we know that Stephen Drew's questionable for opening day. Regardless, they come into 2012 as the heavy favorites to repeat.

23) Kansas City Royals
Added: Jonathan Sanchez, Jonathan Broxton, Yuniesky Betancourt, Jose Mijares, Kevin Kouzmanoff
Lost: Melky Cabrera, Yamaico Navarro, Jeff Francis

Dealing Melky Cabrera at the height of his value was a good thing, although the return they got back is questionable. Sanchez throws gas, and has the stuff to be a huge addition. But his control is always horrible, he has just one season in six where he’s thrown more than 165 innings, and he’s coming off of his worst season since joining the Giants’ rotation. The Royals could get a league-average starter, or they could get a migraine-inducing wild card. Broxton is another question mark, after seeing his velocity drop precipitously over the last two seasons, and sitting out most of 2012 with elbow problems. Hopefully, he’ll be a lights out 8th inning guy, with the potential to take over 9th inning duties should Soria falter or get dealt.

24) Philadelphia Phillies
Added: Jonathan Papelbon, Jim Thome, Ty Wigginton, Scott Podsednik, Dontrelle Willis, Joel Pineda, Juan Pierre, Chad Qualls
Lost: Ryan Madson, Brad Lidge, Raul Ibanez, Ben Francisco, Wilson Valdez

This offseason, the Phillies got a little older and a lot more expensive. They put most of their resources into re-signing Jimmy Rollins and completely misread both the closer market and the incoming CBA to pay a premium for Jonathan Papelbon in terms of money and draft picks. Sure, they got the best reliever out there, but at $12 million a year, he’s going to have to be damn near perfect to earn it. The Phillies may have lucked out, now that Ryan Howard is swinging, running, and fielding relatively well after a torn achilles to end 2011, but the backup plan of Jim Thome and Ty Wigginton seemed more than a little desperate. The Phils are the undeniable favorites in 2012, but the future looks a lot tougher for 2013 and beyond.

25) Chicago White Sox
Added:  Scott Olsen, Nestor Molina, Simon Castro, Pedro Hernandez, Daniel Webb, Myles Jaye, Kusoke Fukudome
Lost: Mark Buehrle, Carlos Quentin, Jason Frasor, Sergio Santos, Juan Pierre, Omar Vizquel

The White Sox made a conscious decision to rebuild this offseason, but didn’t have much on the table they could deal, unless they wanted to take fractions of pennies on the dollar. They sold low on Quentin, getting back nothing but a couple potential bullpen arms. And while a lot of people are high on Nestor Molina, in light of the other closers who changed hands via trade this offseason, it seems like a pretty low return for the Sox. Hopefully, they’ll be able to unload Adam Dunn, assuming he bounces back, and Gavin Floyd at the deadline to bring some badly needed talent into this organization.

26) Colorado Rockies
Added: Ramon Hernandez, Michael Cuddyer, Marco Scutaro, Jeremy Guthrie, Casey Blake, Tyler Colvin, Tyler Chatwood, Josh Outman, Guillermo Moscoso, Zach Putnam, DJ LeMahieu, Jamie Moyer
Lost: Huston Street, Chris Iannetta, Seth Smith, Ian Stewart, Manuel Corpas, Jason Hammel, Matt Lindstrom, Kevin Millwood, Ty Wiggenton, JC Romero, Aaron Cook, Jose Morales

The Common Man has basically given up on figuring out what The Rockies are trying to do. They traded for fly-ball oriented pitchers in a park that, even with the humidor, is the second-best homer park in baseball. Then they brought in a mediocre, at best, defensive outfielder in Michael Cuddyer to chase all those fly balls, and are going to pay him $31.5 million to do it. Ramon Hernandez will probably be an ok player, but is he really better than Chris Iannetta? (Answer: No, he’s not.) And how do you only get a 25 year old PTBNL for Huston Street? The move to get Scutaro, which was a nifty pickup, is the only thing that saved this off-season from being a disaster.

27) San Francisco Giants
Added: Melky Cabrera, Angel Pagan, Clay Hensley, Ramon Ortiz
Lost: Carlos Beltran, Jonathan Sanchez, Ramon Ramirez, Andres Torres, Cody Ross, Jeff Keppinger

The Giants had a surplus of pitching, so moving Jonathan Sanchez for a hitter made a good deal of sense for one of the worst offensive clubs in the National League. It’s unclear whether Melky Cabrera actually makes them much better, however. Last year was a huge jump over his previous performance, spurred by a higher BABIP than normal and a spike in his HR/FB ratio. Neither of those are likely to be helped by the offensive sink hole that is AT&T park, and his walk rate and strikeout rate both went in bad directions. The Giants will be left hoping that the return of Buster Posey and some additional playing time for Brandon Belt will be enough to catapult them back to the playoffs. It probably won’t be, especially with the moves Arizona made to improve it’s pitching.

28) Atlanta Braves
Added: Jack Wilson
Lost: Derek Lowe, Nate McLouth, Alex Gonzalez, George Sherrill, Scott Linebrink

The an offseason happens, and the Braves didn't participate, does anyone care? The Braves finished just out of the playoffs last year, after collapsing down the stretch. Apparently satisfied with the options on hand, the Braves focused on opening up a spot in their rotation for Mike Minor by dealing Derek Lowe and $10 million for a minor league reliever. Linebrink and Sherrill were strong performers in the bullpen, but are fungible. And Gonzalez's departure opens up a spot for Tyler Pastornicky. But the club's refusal to bring in outfield help, and bullpen depth in case Johnny Venters, Craig Kimbrel, and Eric O'Flaherty's arms actually fall off in 2012 could end up costing them the Wild Card.

29) Los Angeles Dodgers
Added: Mark Ellis, Adam Kennedy, Chris Capuano, Jerry Hairston, Aaron Harang, Jamey Wright, Todd Coffey
Lost: Rod Barajas, Jonathan Broxton, Jamie Carroll, Casey Blake, Hiroki Kuroda

Frank McCourt and Ned Colletti are leaving a mess behind in Los Angeles on their way out. Not only did they sign fungible players like Ellis, Kennedy, Hairston, and more to two-year deals, but they heavily backloaded them as well, leaving them for the next owner to have to deal with. It's beyond irresponsible.  Meanwhile, the club lost their third best position player (Carroll) and second best starter (Kuroda), and did almost nothing to replace them. Despite having two of the five best players in the National League (Kemp and Kershaw), these Dodgers are going to struggle mightily in 2012.

30) Baltimore Orioles
Added: Jason Hammel, Matt Lindstrom, Nick Johnson, Wilson Betemit, Endy Chavez, Luis Ayala, Pat Neshek, Jai Miller
Lost: Jeremy Guthrie, Luke Scott

What a shame that Luke Scott never got healthy enough to deal last year. Instead, they get nothing from his departure for Tampa. Meanwhile, they traded away their only proven starter, who was signed to a perfectly reasonable deal, for a starter and a reliever who don't miss bats, and who together cost more. It's especially unclear why the Orioles made the deal in the offseason, when the market for starters figured to be hotter around the trade deadline. It's not like the O's are going anywhere one way or another. And to top it off, the O's got kicked out of an entire country. Oh well, at least Dan Duquette is back in the league, which is good for a few laughs.


William Tasker - Caribou, ME said...

My only quibble was with how high you rated the Twins' off season. But otherwise, pretty spot on.

Ryan said...

I like the list, but:

underrated: The Rays made the best move of the offseason by locking up Moore. They also absolutely raked in on the agent market. Pena and Luke scott are obvious upgrades over "Babip Illusion" Kotchman and Johnny "Hometown Hero" Damon. Molina's impact on the pitching staff is yet another undervalued asset Tampa got in on.

Overrated: Did Houston really improve their organization better than The Cubs or A's? No real prospects can't miss prospects taken in, Cust to a multi-year deal, and infinity billion dollars to Myers to pitch three innings a week...

The Common Man said...

Well, TCM ranked them 26th last year. Given the resources they had on hand, I think they did well, even if the Capps signing looks too generous.

Thanks. Good point on the Moore signing. Molina certainly has a fine reputation, but his lack of actually playing is a concern. Re: the Cubs, A's, and Astros, The Common Man absolutely agrees that the A's and Cubs added more talent to their organization than Houston did. But based on the assets they had available to sell off, TCM thinks that Houston did the best job of maximizing its resources.

AvengingJM said...

I think the Padres want to extend Quentin. He's a hometown guy and he has legitimate power. They love his make-up too.

With Street they essentially get Bell but at 1 year instead of 3 guaranteed. I wouldn't be surprised if Street gets moved provided a team is in need come July.

It is a weird combination of trying to win now but also building.

Jeff Moorad promised during the season that the payroll would "Start with a 5" (as in $50-ish million)in 2012. Amazingly, they had to work to make that happen after losing a lot of players via FA and trades. Enter Street and Quentin . . . and the payroll now starts with a "5".

These moves are partially PR related and also part of a plan to spend prudently while awaiting the wave of youngsters who are projected in 2013-2014.

So . . . no I can't quibble with your rankings.

Anonymous said...

I am certainly acting the classic homer, but I think you seriously underestimated the rockies offseason. Cuddy is a bit overpriced, but I saw the Street trade as being for Scutaro. I think that's a steal considering Betancourt is a fine closer for now with Brothers or Bettis waiting in the wings. They upgraded the two offensive blackholes at 2b/3b considerably. I see a good 6-8 win swing here, all without losing a single prospect of note.
I like it. I know that most haven't looked at the rox except for the fly ball pitchers but I think the upgrades are more than enough to consider it a successful offseason.

Mark said...

Every time I am reminded of the Mets roster for 2012, I am reminded of how abysmally sad this season will be. At least your comments here managed to put a small positive spin on things. Sort of in the vein of: "At least they didn't shoot themselves in the ass." A small measure of solace, to be sure.

Anonymous said...

Pineda started strong but got banged around later, and Kuroda is a past his prime pitcher coming from a very Pitcher friendly division to the AL East.

The Angels I guess decided they didn't have enough highly paid players on the downslope of their careers. In the West coast parks, if nobody is on base, the pitchers will be way more aggressive because quite a few of his NL Central Homers will be AL West flyball outs. The Angels are paying for Pujol's past production, evidently not noticing that Pujols #s the last 4 years have declined, and he's not getting any younger. Finally, the Angels have neither a high obp guy to put in front of Pujols and they don't really have a bat to protect him either. Why they didn't get Fielder for less $ and less years is beyond me. CJ is good, but he's at the age where his decline should start. Ianetta's #s outside of Coors field aren't very good. Latroy Hawkins and Isringhausen are hail mary attempts to shore up a thin bullpen. With their bloated and old roster, they should've punted the next two years and stocked up to be competitive when Trout hits his prime. Instead, they'll be stuck with Trout, a few huge contracts to mid 30s guys who aren't what they used to be, and a lot of league minimum players.

Reds, good moves considering their budget.

Depends on Beltran's health, and if Wainwright rebounds fast. They could be good.

Detroit's owner is rich and 86 year's old. Who cares about the future problems? Their infield D should be ugly. Beyond the big $ guys, they're pretty thin. 1 injury to a top player and they drop off a lot.

The Marlins moves will likely mean bankruptcy in a few years.

If Luke Scott refinds his mojo, and Pena doesn't regress, they're in good shape.

Darvish is the real deal and will dominate... and he's 25. I really don't understand the Nathan gamble, seeing how they've got bp depth to fill the closer role internally. If the gamble pays off, they've got a great veteran closer, and by the #s, Nathan showed the kind of progress you'd want to see coming off TJ surgery.

I think the D'Backs got damaged goods with Cahill and paid a lot for it.
Phillies are clearly all in but that's an old lineup and thin depth.

Robert Rittner said...

Anonymous, I think the common notion that Pineda "got banged around later" is misleading. He had a bad stretch of 3 games slightly past the mid-point of the season but generally pitched well after that. And his K rate, BB rate, GB and line drive rates were all slightly better in the second half.

I think that the Common Man underrates what the Rays did. They are clearly looking to contend in 2012, upgrading their power and deepening the bullpen. The Molina question is certainly valid, and shortstop remains a question mark, but the Rays gave up virtually nothing to strengthen their offense and maintain or improve their defense.

The Rays off-season moves rarely look sexy, but close inspection usually discovers important improvements.