Monday, January 14, 2013

Analyzing the Offseasons of the AL East

With Spring Training right around the corner, (pitchers and catchers report in less than a month) it would appear that most teams are done making major moves. This is why I think it's fair that we can now analyze the offseasons of the AL East, as even if any AL East teams do sign one of the 3 remaining major free agents, the team doesn't change enough for my opinion on how the offseaon has gone for that given team. I will go through each team and tell you what they did, show you their projected lineup and rotation, give you my thoughts, and give an overall verdict and grade. I will go in order, based on the standings from 2012.

New York Yankees 
2012 Record: 95-67 
Key Acquisitions: Kevin Youkilis via free agency (1 year, $12 million), Russ Canzler (Waiver Claim from Indians) 

Re-Signed: Andy Pettite (1 year, $12 million), Hiroki Kuroda (1 year, $15 million), Ichiro Suzuki (2 years, $13 million), Mariano Rivera (1 year, $10 million). 

Key Departures: Nick Swisher (to SEA), Russell Martin (to PIT), Raul Ibanez (to SEA), Rafael Soriano (FA) 

Projected Lineup and Rotation: 

1. RF Ichiro Suzuki
2. SS Derek Jeter
3. 2B Robinson Cano
4. 1B Mark Teixeira 
5. CF Curtis Granderson
6. 3B Kevin Youkilis 
7. DH Eduardo Nunez (sometimes Russ Canzler) 
8. LF Brett Gardner
9. C Chris Stewart

1. LHP CC Sabathia
2. RHP Hiroki Kuroda
3. LHP Andy Pettite 
4. RHP Phil Hughes
5. RHP Ivan Nova 

CP- Mariano Rivera
SU- David Robertson 

The fact is, the Yankees didn't get any better this offseason. They didn't upgrade at a single position. I do give them credit for re-signing numerous free agents that are keys to the team, but I don't think it was enough. Losing Swisher and Martin are the 2 biggest blows to the team, especially since they don't have any players to fill in at both DH or catcher (until Gary Sanchez is ready). Having Nunez and Stewart or Romine in the lineup every day should prove to be a huge disappointment. I don't think that Youkilis will be as bad of a signing as people say he will be, and once A-Rod comes back, their offence should get a huge boost.
The Yankees got worse. The offseason has been disastrous. With that being said, the Yankees are still a very good team. The Yankees didn't need to do much, but it would have been much better if they made a move for a catcher, or possibly a better DH. Every year we say that the Yankees haven't done enough, and yet they still find themselves playing meaningful baseball in October. I still expect them to be contenders to win the AL East.

Offseason Grade: C-
Overall Team Grade: A-

Baltimore Orioles
2012 Record: 93-69
Key Acquisitions: Alexi Casilla (off waivers from MIN), Trayvon Robinson (via trade from SEA), Danny Valencia (via trade from BOS).

Re-Signed: Nate McLouth(1 year, $2 million).

Key Departures: Mark Reynolds (to CLE), Joe Saunders(still a FA), Robert Andino (trade to SEA), Jim Thome (still a FA) 

Projected Lineup and Rotation: 

1. LF Nate McLouth
2. SS J.J. Hardy
3. RF Nick Markakis
4. CF Adam Jones
5. C Matt Wieters
6. 1B Chris Davis
7. DH Wilson Betemit
8. 3B Manny Machado
9. 2B Brian Roberts (or Ryan Flaherty) 

1. RHP Jason Hammel
2. LHP Wei Yin Chen
3. RHP Chris Tillman
4. RHP Miguel Gonzalez
5. LHP Zach Britton

CP- Jim Johnson
SU- Darren O'day
SU- Pedro Strop


I get it. If you use logic, you would think that if the Orioles had a successful season in 2012, that it would make sense for the O's to stay put in the offseason. Unfortunately, the 2012 season for the Baltimore Orioles completely defied logic. The O's do have some good pieces, but the fact is, they were really, really lucky last season. Based on this, I would say that the O's should have made some more moves, maybe to bring in some starting pitching or long relief help, or an upgrade at second base or left field. I like the Casilla waiver claim, but all he'll do is be a replacement to what they had in Robert Andino.


Just not enough. The Orioles just don't have enough talent to compete this year. Most of the time, when you're lucky one year, the next year you'll come back down to earth. The O's will do exactly that. The only way I can see the O's competing is if Dylan Bundy emerges onto the scene and instantly becomes a star, which isn't something completely crazy, but it usually doesn't happen, even with the best of prospects (Mike Trout was special).

Offseason Grade: D+ 
Overall Team Grade: B- (borderline C+) 

Tampa Bay Rays
2012 Record: 90-72
Key Acquisitions: Yunel Escobar (via trade from MIA), James Loney (via FA 1 year, $2 million),
Wil Myers, Jake Odorizzi, Mike Montgomery (all via trade from KC), Roberto Hernandez (Fausto Carmona)((via FA 1 year, 3.25M))

Re-Signed: Joel Peralta (2 years $6 million) 

Key Departures: B.J. Upton (to ATL), Jeff Keppinger (to CWS), J.P. Howell (to LAD), Carlos Pena (to HOU), Luke Scott (still a FA), Kyle Farnsworth (still a FA), James Shields, Wade Davis (Both traded to KC)

Projected Lineup and Rotation: 

1. CF Desmond Jennings
2. SS Yunel Escobar
3. 2B Ben Zobrist
4. 3B Evan Longoria
5. RF Matt Joyce
6. LF Wil Myers
7. 1B James Loney
8. DH Ryan Roberts (Maddon will use numerous players in this role) 

9. C Jose Molina

1. LHP David Price
2. RHP Jeremy Hellickson
3. LHP Matt Moore
4. RHP Jeff Niemann
5. RHP Chris Archer

CP- Fernando Rodney 
SU- Joel Peralta
SU- Jake McGee

** The Rays lineup and rotation is hard to predict right now, as a lot of it will be determined in Spring Training. You could see Alex Cobb or Jake Odorizzi in the rotation instead of Archer or Niemann, and it's unclear if Wil Myers will make the team out of camp, if not, the Rays will go with a platoon of Sam Fuld and Brandon Guyer in LF.


The Rays' moves in the offseason have been very well received in the baseball world, and rightfully so. In what was an incredibly lopsided trade, the Rays stole the Royals 3 top prospects in exchange for James Shields and Wade Davis, a trade that will surely work out very well in the long-term for the Rays, and it was possibly a trade that determined that they will be a contender in 3-5 years from now, unless Myers, Odorizzi, and Montgomery are complete busts. An under-appreciated trade that they made was the trade for Yunel Escobar. They got him for practically nothing, and many feel that he could bounce back in a big way offensively, to go along with his already stellar defense.


The offseason has been a success for the Rays. They have yet to make a move that I question. What I think is forgotten, though, is that they lost multiple impact players in James Shields and B.J. Upton. Short-term, I actually don't think that they got any better, but they certainly didn't get any worse. The best way to explain it is that they got the best out of a not-so-great situation.  Well done, Friedman.

Offseason Grade: A
Overall Team Grade: A-

Toronto Blue Jays
 2012 Record: 73-89
Key Acquisitions: R.A. Dickey and Josh Thole (via trade from NYM),  Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Emilio Bonifacio, and Mark Buehrle (via trade from MIA), Melky Cabrera (via FA, 2 years, $16 million), Maicer Izturis (via FA, 3 years, $10 million), Esmil Rogers (via trade with CLE), Jeremy Jeffress (via trade with KC), Henry Blanco(via FA, 1 year, $750k.) 

Key Departures: Kelly Johnson (still a FA), Travis d'Arnaud, Noah Syndergaard, and Wuilmer Beccera(all traded to NYM), Yunel Escobar, Adeiny Hechavarria, Jake Marisnick, Justin Nicolino, Henderson Alvarez, and Jeff Mathis(all traded to MIA), Jason Frasor (to TEX), Omar Vizquel (retired), Brandon Lyon (Free Agency), Carlos Villanueva (to CHC). 

** Also a completely new coaching staff, that includes John Gibbons as the manager.

Projected Lineup and Rotation: 

1. SS Jose Reyes
2. LF Melky Cabrera
3. RF Jose Bautista
4. 1B Edwin Encarnacion
5. 3B Brett Lawrie
6. CF Colby Rasmus
7. C J.P. Arencibia
8. DH Adam Lind
9. 2B Maicer Izturis/Emilio Bonifacio

1. RHP R.A. Dickey
2. RHP Brandon Morrow
3. LHP Mark Buehrle
4. RHP Josh Johnson
5. LHP Ricky Romero

CP- Casey Janssen 
SU- Sergio Santos
SU- Delabar/Loup/Lincoln/Rogers (all will be used in a set-up/middle-relief role) 


Yes, this is a Blue Jays blog, but, I am not stating a biased opinion when I say the Blue Jays had the best offseason in the AL East, and possibly in Major League Baseball. All you have to look at is who the Jays got, and who left, to see that this is by far the most improved team in the Major Leagues. It isn't debatable that they got much better. I have heard an argument that the moves they made didn't help them out in the long-term, but the thing is, the Jays only have one player (Josh Johnson), who is due to be a free agent in 2014. The players that they acquired are long term players, with major league success. Many get too over-attached to the prospects, and don't understand that proven MLB talent defeats all.


The Jays are good. Really good. The only thing that they might need to work out is the bullpen, but that need can be addressed when it is a need. So what I am trying to say is that if the bullpen is struggling mid-season, they can look to trade for one more dominant relief pitcher to put them over-the-top. As for right now, the Jays will stay put.

Offseason Grade: A+
Overall Team Grade: A 

Boston Red Sox
2012 Record: 69-93

Key Acquisitions: Shane Victorino (via FA, 3 years, $39 million), Jonny Gomes (via FA, 2 years, $10 million), David Ross (via FA 2 years, $6.2 million), Stephen Drew (via FA, 1 year, $9.5M), Ryan Dempster (via FA, 2 years, $26.5 million), Koji Uehara (via FA 1 year, $4.25 million) Mike Napoli (not finalized, but had agreement, looks like 1 year deal), Joel Hanrahan (via trade with PIT) 

Re-Signed: David Ortiz (2 years, $26 million)

Key Departures: Cody Ross (to ARZ), James Loney (to TBR), Ivan Dejesus Jr (Traded to PIT), Stolmy Pimentel (traded to PIT), Mark Melancon (traded to PIT)

**Also a completely new coaching staff, with John Farrell becoming the manager. 

Projected Lineup and Rotation: 

1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
2. LF Shane Victorino
3. 2B Dustin Pedroia
4. DH David Ortiz
5. 1B Mike Napoli**
6. 3B Will Middlebrooks

7. SS Stephen Drew
8. RF Jonny Gomes
9. C Jarrod Saltalamacchia 

1. LHP Jon Lester
2. RHP Ryan Dempster
3. RHP Clay Buchholz
4. LHP Felix Doubront
5. RHP John Lackey

CP- Joel Hanrahan
SU-Andrew Bailey
SU- Koji Uehara/Junichi Tazawa


The Sox were handing out contracts like they were flyers this offseason. Any time you hand out lots of contracts to high profile free agents like they did, your team is bound to get better. And yes, the Red Sox did get much better. The question that must be asked is "is it enough to compete?" My answer to that question is yes, but just for 2013. With all of the talent that they have compiled, it would be hard to think that they won't at least be in the hunt for a wild card spot.


The Sox got better for the short-term, but not for the long-term. Many of the contracts that they gave were to players that are either on the back-end of their primes, or already completely out of their primes, and by the time their contracts are expiring, it's hard to believe that any of them will be 2+ WAR players, which just isn't worth it, considering the money that they spent.

Offseason Grade: B
Overall Team Grade: B

My final offseason grades: 

1. Blue Jays- A+
2. Rays- A
3. Red Sox- B
4. Yankees- C-
5. Orioles- D+

I hope that you enjoyed the article. If any other significant moves are made in the AL East, I will update this article and keep you posted.

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