Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Ranking the offseason for all 30 teams
By Jim Bowden
It was an active offseason that witnessed the trade of a Cy Young Award winner, several large, multiteam trades and an inflated free-agent market. So to evaluate and rank the offseason of all 30 teams, I took into account the following factors:
• How it improved the team for 2013, as well as the next five years.
• How it affected payroll and budgets -- both short and long term.
• How it affected team chemistry and clubhouse culture.
• How effectively needs were filled -- through free agency, trade or farm system.
• The amount of money committed compared with the value received.
With spring camp upon us, we'll see whose offseason produces the best results. Here are the rankings of all 30 teams’ offseason campaigns.
2. Los Angeles Dodgers | GM: Ned Colletti Acquired: RHP Zack Greinke, LHP Ryu Hyun-Jin, IF Skip Schumaker, re-signed RHP Brandon League Analysis: Owner Magic Johnson made it clear in his expectations that anything short of a World Series in 2013 will be considered a failure. The Dodgers improved their chances, adding Greinke and Hyun-Jin to a starting rotation that already boasted Clayton Kershaw. The bench and bullpen also now have added depth with Schumaker and League. These moves, coupled with the Dodgers' blockbuster trade with the Red Sox in July, have put them in position to pass the Giants or secure one of the two wild-card berths.
3. Los Angeles Angels | GM: Jerry Dipoto Acquired: OF Josh Hamilton, LHPs, Jason Vargas, Sean Burnett, RHPs Tommy Hanson, Ryan Madson, Joe Blanton Analysis: After signing Albert Pujols in his first season as GM, Dipoto stayed aggressive this winter and pounced on Hamilton, the best player available. Dipoto jettisoned unproductive players such as Ervin Santana, and added innings to the starting rotation. However, Madson suffered a setback in his rehab after elbow surgery and won’t be ready for the start of spring camp.
4. Atlanta Braves | GM: Frank Wren Acquired: OFs B.J. Upton, Justin Upton, 3B Chris Johnson, RHP Jordan Walden Analysis: Though Chipper Jones’ retirement and Michael Bourn’s departure via free agency left a void, Wren did a terrific job in replacing them in the lineup. B.J. Upton is a comparable defender to Bourn and provides more power, with the capability for a 30/30 year. Justin should at least replace Jones’ production, if not surpass it. Walden is a health risk but adds depth to what is already one of the league’s best bullpens.
5. Detroit Tigers | President/GM: Dave Dombrowski Acquired: OF Torii Hunter, re-signed RHP Anibal Sanchez Analysis: After finishing just four wins away from a World Series title, Dombrowski signed Hunter and upgraded the defense in right field and in the No. 2 hole. Hunter also gives them a vocal leader who will have a positive impact and teach their young outfielders. But the Tigers gain the most from within as Victor Martinez returns from injury and rookie Bruce Rondon -- he of the 101-mph fastball -- will be given first shot at the closer’s role.
7. Washington Nationals | GM: Mike Rizzo Acquired: OF Denard Span, RHPs Dan Haren, A.J. Cole, re-signed 1B Adam LaRoche Analysis: Despite owning the best record in the major leagues last season, Rizzo did not rest. Trading for Span solves Washington’s two biggest needs -- a defensive improvement in center field and a leadoff hitter, while Haren replaces Edwin Jackson’s workload cheaply with a one-year deal. However, shrewdly convincing LaRoche to take a two-year deal was Rizzo’s best move. LaRoche maintains important left-right balance in the middle of their order.
8. Boston Red Sox | GM: Ben Cherington Acquired: RHPs Ryan Dempster, Joel Hanrahan and Koji Uehara, OFs Shane Victorino and Jonny Gomes, Cs David Ross and Mike Napoli, SS Stephen Drew, Manager John Farrell
Analysis: The Red Sox finished in last place in the AL East last season and were just as bad in clubhouse. Cherington replaced manager Bobby Valentine with John Farrell and loaded up in free agency, acquiring not only talent, but character that will provide a positive clubhouse culture. However, many of those free agents also have either injury or decline risk. Cherington’s best moves could be a simple return to health for his team’s established stars.
10. Kansas City Royals | GM: Dayton Moore Acquired: RHPs James Shields, Wade Davis, Ervin Santana, re-signed RHP Jeremy Guthrie Analysis: Tired of having a great farm system and yet never contending, Moore decided to go all out and trade the organization’s best prospects to finally contend in 2013. Moore built a new rotation by committing $74 million over the next couple of years to a rotation of Shields, Guthrie, Santana, Luke Hochevar, Bruce Chen and Davis. If the new rotation works, the Royals might just have their first winning season since 2003.
11. Philadelphia Phillies | GM: Ruben Amaro Acquired: OFs Ben Revere, Delmon Young, 3B Michael Young, RHP Mike Adams, LHP John Lannan Analysis: The Phillies needed a leadoff hitter/center fielder and acquired Revere on the last day of the winter meetings. Revere brings high energy and serves as the table-setter they so desperately needed. Michael Young will solve their short-term issue at third base and adds more leadership to the clubhouse. Delmon Young could hit 25 or more home runs in Citizens Bank Park. However, both Youngs hamper the Phillies’ defense.
12. Oakland Athletics | GM: Billy Beane Acquired: OF Chris Young, SS Hiroyuki Nakajima, IF Jed Lowrie, C John Jaso Analysis: Beane gutted the middle of his infield as Drew left via free agency and Cliff Pennington was traded. Both moves were surprising, considering the A’s had won the AL West mainly thanks to their range up the middle. But with Young, Lowrie, Jaso and Nakajima -- who scouts say has average range but soft hands and a solid arm -- the A’s are actually better and deeper up the middle than last year.
13. Minnesota Twins | GM: Terry Ryan Acquired: RHPs Alex Meyer, Vance Worley, Trevor May, Mike Pelfrey, Kevin Correia Analysis: Coming off a dismal 66-96 season, the Twins were 13th in the league in ERA and yielded more hits than any other AL team. Improving the starting rotation was the priority, and a former first-rounder such as Meyer is a good start. Worley is ready to go now, and May is a solid middle-of-the-rotation starter in the future.
14. Seattle Mariners | GM: Jack Zduriencik Acquired: 1B/DHs Kendrys Morales, Michael Morse, OFs Jason Bay, Raul Ibanez, IF Robert Andino, LHP Joe Saunders Analysis: The Mariners spent the offseason trying to find ways to improve their offense and might have accomplished that feat. Zduriencik added veteran bats -- sure there’s a lot of age and decline, but they will be crucial to developing the young Mariners hitters. And he did it without sacrificing any of his young pitching depth. Felix Hernandez’s extension should be finalized soon and, if he stays healthy, is a club-friendly deal.
15. St. Louis Cardinals | GM: John Mozeliak Acquired: LHP Randy Choate, IF Ty Wigginton Analysis: Choate and Wigginton fill gaps, but the Cardinals' offseason was about improving through development of their best young prospects. Young pitchers Trevor Rosenthal, Shelby Miller and Joe Kelly will be expected to fulfill the confidence Mozeliak showed in them by allowing Kyle Lohse to leave via free agency. The Cards’ farm system does have one of the game’s best prospects in outfielder Oscar Taveras, and second-base prospect Kolten Wong is nearly ready.
16. New York Mets | GM: Sandy Alderson Acquired: RHP Noah Syndergaard, RHP Brandon Lyon, OF Collin Cowgill, Cs Travis d’Arnaud and John Buck Analysis: The Mets' offseason continued to build for the long term as Alderson sent NL Cy Young Award winner Dickey to the Blue Jays in exchange for arguably the game’s best catching prospect in d’Arnaud, future middle-of-the-rotation starter Syndergaard and a short-term solution at catcher in Buck. They missed out on Bourn, but trading a Cy Young winner to get d’Arnaud was a gutsy move.
17. Cincinnati Reds | GM: Walt Jocketty Acquired: OF Shin-Soo Choo, re-signed RHP Jonathan Broxton Analysis: Manager Dusty Baker finally got the leadoff hitter he’s been seeking in Choo. He brings loads of offensive ability, but can he play center field? He was a right fielder for the Indians and known for some bad jumps and angles. Choo also is in his walk year, and prospect Billy Hamilton should be ready to take over both leadoff and center in 2014. The Reds already had a World Series-caliber team, so they didn’t have to do much.
18. San Francisco Giants | GM: Brian Sabean Acquired: Re-signed OF Angel Pagan, 2B Marco Scutaro, LHP Jeremy Affeldt Analysis: After winning the World Series two of the past three years, the Giants' offseason game plan was simple: retain their players. Pagan, Affeldt and Scutaro all represent huge financial risks, but after two World Series championships, who should question Sabean and his loyalty to the players who have given him the rings?
19. Texas Rangers | GM: Jon Daniels Acquired: RHPs Joakim Soria, Josh Lindblom, OF/1B Lance Berkman, C A.J. Pierzynski Analysis: Consider for a moment the players the Rangers lost this offseason: Josh Hamilton, Michael Young, Mike Napoli. Then they missed on signing Greinke and trading for Justin Upton. But, like the Cardinals, the Rangers hope to improve through their farm system, with rookies Mike Olt, Martin Perez and Jurickson Profar. Soria, who is still recovering from 2011 Tommy John surgery, could be the sleeper move of the offseason.
20. New York Yankees | GM: Brian Cashman Acquired: 3B Kevin Youkilis, DH Travis Hafner, re-signed OF Ichiro Suzuki, re-signed LHP Andy Pettitte, RHP Hiroki Kuroda Analysis: This might have been the Yankees’ worst offseason in the past decade, between the departures of Rafael Soriano, Russell Martin and Swisher, as well as Alex Rodriguez’s hip surgery and more PED accusations. Signing Youkilis and Hafner might help a little, as will Mariano Rivera’s return from a knee injury. At least on paper, the Yankees went from a 95-win team to an 85-90 win team this offseason.
22. Arizona Diamondbacks | GM: Kevin Towers Acquired: SS Didi Gregorius, OF Cody Ross, RHPs Brandon McCarthy, Heath Bell, IFs Cliff Pennington, Martin Prado, Eric Chavez, and Eric Hinske, LHP Tony Sipp Analysis: They traded three high-ceiling players in Upton, Bauer and Young and instead gambled that McCarthy and Bell would return to form. They completely remade their infield with Prado, Gregorius and Pennington. How all these moves will play out remains a question, but this team certainly has been rebuilt with the gritty style Towers and manager Kirk Gibson wanted.
23. Milwaukee Brewers | GM: Doug Melvin Acquired: RHP Burke Badenhop, LHPs Tom Gorzelanny and Mike Gonzalez Analysis: For the second year in a row, first baseman Corey Hart required surgery on his right knee, and he will be sidelined for at least four months. Also, Ryan Braun’s name has emerged amid the recent PED news. Still, the Brewers wanted to improve a bullpen that led the majors in blown saves with 29, and they acquired three solid relievers. They are eyeing free agent Kyle Lohse in case his price falls.
24. Pittsburgh Pirates | GM: Neal Huntington Acquired: RHP Mark Melancon, LHPs Francisco Liriano, Jonathan Sanchez, C Russell Martin, IF Ivan De Jesus, OF/1B Jerry Sands Analysis: The fact that they were above .500 at the All-Star break last season is some small consolation. However, the Pirates’ offseason has been a mixed bag of reclamation projects in Liriano, Sanchez and Melancon. But they did improve their catching with Martin, who will slow down the running game and add 15-20 homers.
25. Houston Astros | GM: Jeff Luhnow Acquired: RHPs Alex White, John Ely, Brad Peacock, 1B Carlos Pena Analysis: Astros GM Luhnow continues to wheel and deal as he has since taking the job, though stockpiling more quantity than quality. He has picked up some quality young arms such as White, Ely and Peacock. The Astros are still a long way from contending and have an excellent chance at the first overall pick in the 2014 draft.
26. Chicago White Sox | GM: Rick Hahn Acquired: Re-signed RHP Jake Peavy, IF Jeff Keppinger Analysis: Hahn’s rookie year as a general manager got off to a great start with the Peavy signing, but he soon watched an exodus of talent as Youkilis, pitchers Brett Myers, Phil Humber, Liriano and Pierzynski all left via free agency. Hahn signed only infielder Keppinger, who the Sox hope will be at least adequate defensively at third base.
27. San Diego Padres | GM: Josh Byrnes Acquired: RHPs Tyson Ross, Jason Marquis, Freddy Garcia Analysis: The Padres' offseason was extremely quiet, with the biggest trade being the Andy Parrino and Andrew Werner deal for Ross. The Padres also signed free-agent pitchers Marquis and Garcia. However, the Padres continue to build with scouting and player development, so their lack of movement was expected.
28. Baltimore Orioles | GM: Dan Duquette Acquired: IF Alexi Casilla, 3B Danny Valencia Analysis: The Orioles had a very quiet offseason marked by signing Duquette and manager Buck Showalter to long-term deals. They increased their payroll by approximately $20 million because of arbitration. But this left Duquette very little room to maneuver. A team that went from 93 losses in 2011 to 93 wins in 2012 did very little to continue the momentum.
30. Miami Marlins | President: Larry Beinfest/GM: Mike Hill Acquired: OF Juan Pierre, 3B Placido Polanco, RHP Henderson Alvarez Analysis: It was only last offseason that Miami’s future looked so bright. In one year, their manager was fired and the trio of free agents signed at the winter meetings got traded away. The Marlins took such a bad public relations hit in South Florida that just a handful of fans were in line when single game tickets were put on sale last week.