- “After the season ended, were we supposed to keep working?”
This isn’t going to be a rip-fest; certain teams have done little-to-nothing this winter and for the most part, it hasn’t been for lack of trying; the market is very, very weak and logic dictates that the few attractive players available will gravitate towards the better teams or those that offer them the most money.
That said, in certain cases, it’s hard to improve when these are the moves that have been made. In other cases, teams are wise to show restraint. Some have made good moves and bizarre moves.
Let’s take a look.
The hot streak at the end of the season under Buck Showalter was all well and good, but all they’ve done so far is trade for J.J. Hardy and Mark Reynolds—-two dramatically flawed players. While they’re both far better than what the Orioles had previously, that’s more of a reflection on what was there before rather than what they’ve imported.
Their pitching is very, very young and they’ve done nothing to bolster either the starting rotation or bullpen.
Showalter will have them playing the game correctly and that will result in better fortunes; they’re looking hard at Adam LaRoche; he, along with Hardy and Reynolds will make the offense better. The organization is not a wasteland anymore, but they’ve got a loooooong way to go.
Toronto Blue Jays:
They hired a new manager in John Farrell and subtracted Kevin Gregg, Scott Downs and John Buck. Still building with pitching, the Blue Jays aren’t spending heavily but have a lot to work with for 2011. It’s unlikely that they’ll contend before 2012 at the earliest, so the wise move is to stand relatively pat and let the young players develop.
With everything the Indians have done this winter, they’re primed to go from 69-93 to….69-93.
Kansas City Royals:
Not much need be said about the signings of Melky Cabrera and Jeff Francoeur—-it’s the same story over and over for the Royals under GM Dayton Moore.
The trade he made in sending Zack Greinke to the Brewers, however, has the potential to be a big win for the club. The Royals got rid of Yuniesky Betancourt in the trade along with Greinke and brought in pretty much the top tier of Brewers prospects—-Jake Odorizzi, Alcides Escobar, Lorenzo Cain and Jeremy Jeffress—-all young, cheap and high end.
They traded David DeJesus to the Athletics for pitching.
We’ll wait and see how this all works out for the Royals. Their starting pitching is serviceable and they have some arms in the bullpen.
The Rangers made a legitimate attempt to keep Cliff Lee and failed—-nothing to be ashamed of there; their starting pitching may be short unless they make a move—-they’re in on Brandon Webb, but what any club will get from him is a bonus if he can actually pitch.
Their bullpen is unlikely to repeat the work from 2010; they’re trying to keep Vladimir Guerrero, but they can hit well enough—-especially in their hitter-friendly home part—-so that run-scoring won’t be an issue.
Their off-season has been vanilla.
Year-after-year I’ve gone to great lengths to express my admiration for the way the Marlins do business under a tight budget. They’ve been smart, aggressive and fearless; but this winter they’ve added the word “strange” to that list of adjectives.
Sending Dan Uggla to the Braves for Omar Infante and Michael Dunn? They couldn’t have gotten more for Uggla than that?
Cameron Maybin to the Padres for two relief pitchers? Signing Randy Choate? A 3-year contract for John Buck?
The risk they’re taking on Javier Vazquez is worthwhile and they signed Ricky Nolasco to a contract extension.
Addressing the bullpen in the way they have appears to fly in the face of the correct way to build a bullpen by signing a lot of retreads and hoping to hit paydirt.
Still loaded with prospects, the Marlins will be competitive, but they’ve done some things that I can’t agree with.
They lost Arthur Rhodes, Aaron Harang and Orlando Cabrera.
They kept Miguel Cairo.
The Cubs retained manager Mike Quade; signed Carlos Pena to a 1-year deal; brought back Kerry Wood; and are unable to dump the contracts of Carlos Zambrano and Alfonso Soriano.
The Cubs situation is what it is. They’re not awful, but they’re not good either; this hot stove season mirrors that reality.
People jumped on the Astros bandwagon a bit early in comparing two separate entities (they and the Padres of 2009) because of similar late season spurts of solid play.
It’s a mistake.
They have some good starting pitching; subtracted Matt Lindstrom from an up-and-down bullpen; and are still building waiting for Carlos Lee‘s contract to expire.
They acquired Clint Barmes and Bill Hall to man the middle infield—-better than what they had, but not anything to get excited about.
Drayton McLane may be looking to sell the team too.
They hired a competent manager for their station in Clint Hurdle; they’ve been spending on the likes of Scott Olsen and Lyle Overbay.
How much these moves will help in improving a 57-win team is an open question. Take solace in the fact that they can’t be much worse…I don’t think.
San Francisco Giants:
The world champions lost Juan Uribe to the rival Dodgers; they tried to re-sign World Series MVP Edgar Renteria to a contract Renteria felt was insulting; they kept Aubrey Huff and signed Miguel Tejada.
Pitching carried the Giants to the title and that’s what will keep them competitive if they stay competitive.
A lot of risky money was spent to keep Jorge de la Rosa;they traded for Matt Lindstrom to boost their bullpen and signed Ty Wigginton.
Jason Giambi and Melvin Mora have been subtracted.
It’s a wait-and-see winter for the Rockies. Sometimes these under-the-radar signings/trades work and sometimes they don’t.
It’s interesting to see when the belle of the ball, the most attractive single remaining—-new GM Kevin Towers—-re-enters the fray and his supporters and detractors remember exactly what those positives and negatives of his long tenure as Padres GM were.
Towers is a smart baseball man, but he’s not the “brilliant” mind he was portrayed to be when he was an assistant to Yankees GM Brian Cashman and waiting for the offers to flow in to be a GM again.
Now he’s with the Diamondbacks, put Justin Upton on the market and took him off; as for the rest of his maneuvers? One word: meh.
J.J. Putz? Meh.
Xavier Nady? Meh.
Melvin Mora? Meh.
Geoff Blum? Meh.
And “meh” is not going to cut it in that division after a 65-97 season.
- Don’t blast the messenger:
A Washington Nationals fan forum is attacking me for telling the truth (and whoever linked it had a typo in John Lannan‘s name for which I’m being blamed); have a look—-link.
I dunno what’s more shocking—-that they’re attacking me for the sins of their own front office or that there’s actually a fan forum dedicated to the Washington Nationals.
- Sunday Lightning Preview:
Tomorrow, I’ll have stuff to say about Bob Feller; Dave Eiland; and I’ll answer the mail including a welcome message from a fellow survivor of the carnage that is, was and forever will be MLBlogs.