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Tag:Chicago White Sox
Posted on: April 1, 2009 9:43 pm
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Posted on: January 20, 2009 1:57 am
 

BP's Rewind: Winter Rankings 2009

It's been a little over a year since I did my last version of winter rankings (the first featured blog on CBS), but now that we are less than a month away from pitchers and catchers reporting, it is time to have a look at where each team stands this season. The offseason has been a long, slow, and drawn out process. Several impact players, including Bobby Abreu and Adam Dunn have yet to sign with a team. It is because of this reason, that I will be continually editing this blog entry as those players sign.

While the Phillies are the defending champions, they have remained rather complacent on the free agent market which begs to question whether or not the team can repeat last years success. Meanwhile, the Yankees have had the biggest offseason of any team, but will a team full of superstars finally get the job done? Also, the Rays were baseballs surprise team of 2008. Can they repeat the success? Who will be the surprise team in 2009?......These questions and more are answered in my latest rankings.

Winter Rankings


1. Chicago Cubs
Say all you want about the Cubs playoff misfortunes, but this team is the real deal. Milton Bradley, arguably the games best offensive player last season, joins the Cubs offense that scored the most runs in baseball last year. Couple that with the teams stable pitching staff featuring Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster, and Rich Harden and this team should easily run away with the National League Central for the second year in a row. I'm predicting a 100 win season.

2. New York Yankees
While the team has lost both Bobby Abreu and Jason Giambi in free agency, the additions of C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, and Mark Teixeira more than make up for it. The Yankees now have a well rounded team. They now have one of the best offenses in the league with Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira and the top 3 in their rotation should win them plenty of ballgames. If they can get a full season out of Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes, look out.

3. Tampa Bay Rays
Often times one year wonders like the Rays don't return to the postseason because they remain too complacent in the offseason. However, the Rays managed to land Pat Burrell for a bargain price of 8 million a season to replace Cliff Floyd in the lineup and the teams starting rotation will naturally get better with David Price entering the rotation.


4. Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox had a relatively quiet offseason with minor deals made. The team is still one of the best in the league, but has many questions to answer for 2009. Was Kevin Youkilis' increase in power for real? Can Jason Bay truly fill Manny's shoes in left? Will Mike Lowell, J.D. Drew, Brad Penny, and John Smoltz be healthy and how much can they contribute? The Sox are still a talented teams, but these factors are going to determine whether or not they win baseball's best division.

5. Arizona Diamondbacks
The Diamondbacks had a dissapointing 2008 season finishing 82-80, two games out of first place in the NL West. Despite losing Adam Dunn, Orlando Hudson, and Randy Johnson this offseason the D-backs get my vote of confidence as one of the NL's top teams entering 2009. They have a solid three in the rotation with Brandon Webb, Dan Haren, and Max Scherzer. Meanwhile, I'm counting on the young stars to improve.

6. Cleveland Indians
The Indians lost C.C. Sabathia this season, but it shouldn't affect the team too much as long as Fausto Carmona gets back on track. Cliff Lee's breakout season also helps alleviate that. The team is still without a starting right fielder as Franklin Gutierrez was traded away. Adam Dunn would make more sense than Matt LaPorta as LaPorta has struggled since coming over in the Sabathia deal. The bullpen has gotten a lot better as well with the addition of Kerry Wood and I expect this team to compete.

7. New York Mets
The Mets have been baseball's biggest choke artists over the past two seasons. On paper, they certainly are a much better team than anyone in their division. Whether or not they can finally get the job done, is another question. This team should win 95 games this year, but in order for that to happen, someone on the team will have to step up as a leader. If the team is in contention in August or September, a bullpen of Wagner, Putz, and Roriguez remains the scariest 7-8-9 in the league.

8. Philadelphia Phillies
Not a good offseason for the champs. First, the team overpaid for Raul Ibanez (another lefty) to replace Pat Burrell in the lineup. Second, J.C. Romero has to serve a 50 game suspension for violating the leagues substance abuse policy. Third, No one outside of Cole Hamels scares me in that rotation. And lastly, Carlos Ruiz and Pedro Feliz still have starting jobs in baseball. Uggh....

9. Los Angeles Angels
The gap has certainly closed in on the Angels in the American League West. Without Mark Teixeira, Garrett Anderson, or Francisco Rodriguez, they certainly don't scare teams the way they used to. Brian Fuentes is an adequate replacement for K-Rod, but I can't understand why they didn't just pony up a few extra to keep their star in town. Kendry Morales and Juan Rivera remain questioable replacements and the team will once again rely on Vlad and the starting pitchers to win ballgames.

10. Chicago White Sox
White Sox GM Ken Williams is one GM whose moves I can never understand, but they seem to work out right in the end. The Sox still are without a centerfielder and a second basemen going into next season, and there are questions as to whether Carlos Quentin, Gavin Floyd, and John Danks can repeat their 2008 success. For now though, I'm giving the Sox the benefit of the doubt. I really like the Bartolo Colon signing, as it has the makings of a low risk, high reward type deal.

11. Detroit Tigers
Don't count out the Tigers. While the Tigers finished last place in the American League Central last season, they were still third in the league in overall offense. Justin Verlander, Kenny Rogers, and Nate Robertson all had their worst seasons as pros. The offense should remain just as good as it was and if Verlander can return to form, the team should be able to compete. Edwin Jackson and Gerald Laird were both nice, under the radar acquisitions by GM Dave Dombrowksi.

12. Los Angeles Dodgers
With this ranking, I'm assuming Manny Ramirez is going to be a Dodger. If it turns out to be different, I will change the ranking accordingly. Dodgers GM Ned Colletti is about to find out what life is likek without Paul DePodesta's players. The losses of Derek Lowe, Brad Penny, and Jeff Kent will affect this team greatly. Unless the Dodgers give have Jason Schmidt go to some miracle worker, I don't know where this team is going to get a rotation that will compete.

13. Minnesota Twins
The Twins offense is their weakness. Both Delmon Young and Carlos Gomez featured low on base percentages last season which isn't helping the team at all. The teams offense really is only as good as Joe Mauer's knees as Justin Morneau can't do everything on his own. However, if the team can get similar production to 2008 from it's young pitchers in the rotation for 2009, this team will always have a chance to compete.

14. Oakland Athletics
The trades of Dan Haren, Joe Blanton, Rich Harden, Nick Swisher, and Mark Kotsay a year ago have paid off. The A's enter 2009 with one of the best minor league systems in the game and an offense that's ready to close the gap in the American League West. The acquisitions of Matt Holliday and Jason Giambi give the A's a ton of power in the 3-6 spots and Eric Chavez is supposed to be fully healthy headed into next year giving the teams young pitching a better chance to win.

15. Milwaukee Brewers
While the Brewers lost both C.C. Sabathia and Ben Sheets this offseason, its not as if they all of a sudden have a bad team. The team didn't have Sabathia for the first half of last year anyway and they've played several seasons with Sheets on the DL multiple times. The offensive remains intact with both Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder leading the way. If Yovanni Gallardo can remain healthy, I'm sure the Brewers can put together a respectable season.

16. St. Louis Cardinals
I really don't know what to think of the Cardinals. I'm not convinced that their pitching staff can hold up all season long, even if Chris Carpenter is fully healthy. Albert Pujols remains the best first basemen in the National League, but he isn't going to get much help. The Khalil Greene trade won't improve the offense that much and who knows if Ryan Ludwick and Rick Ankiel can keep it up with their bats.

17. Atlanta Braves
What a bad offseason for Braves fans. The farm system is depleted. They missed out on both A.J. Burnett and Rafael Furcal and allowed John Smoltz to sign cheaply with the Red Sox. However, this team still remains a dark horse candidate in the NL East. The starting rotation should be pretty good still with Derek Lowe, Jair Jurrjens, Javier Vasquez, and Kenshin Kawakami manning the first four spots. If they can stay in contention until August, Tim Hudson will be on his way back.

18. Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays finished 2008 with a respectable 86-76 record in the American League. However, the team has lost A.J. Burnett in free agency and hasn't made any major additions. Shaun Marcum is out for the season with Tommy John Surgery and Dustin McGowan is out at least for the first month. If they can make it past the first month of the season okay, they might be considered a dark horse candidate in the tough AL East. However, don't expect much.

19. Texas Rangers
The Rangers haven't made any major additions this offseason and have let Milton Bradley walk. 2009 will be an interesting year for the team. It will most likely be the last time we see Kevin Millwood and Vincente Padilla in a Rangers uniform and also could feature the debuts of shortstop Elvis Andrus and pitchers Neftali Feliz and Derek Holland. Also, we'll see Chris Davis mature into a solid power hitter. As always, if this team could pitch, they'd win games, but that's unlikely for 2009.

20. San Francisco Giants
With Noah Lowry coming back from injury and the addition Randy Johnson, the Giants have a pretty deep starting five heading into 2009. However, where will the offense come from? The team does not have a superstar offensive player and the market is drying up quickly. If they can't get their hands on Adam Dunn or Bobby Abreu, they might once again be wasting all that good pitching, Such a shame. Giants fans deserve better.

21. Colorado Rockies
I must be crazy, because I might be the only one that thinks the team trading Matt Holliday will help the Rockies. Huston Street replaces Brian Fuentes as the teams closer and Ryan Spilborghs, Carlos Gonzalez, and Ian Stewart now battle for time in the outfield. The rotation is better with Greg Smith in it and I don't think the offense will be affected. Not in that park at least. Ryan Spilborghs might be the best player no one knows about.

22. Florida Marlins
The Marlins might have finished 84-77 last season, but I'm not a believer in them....yet. The team foolishly traded Scott Olsen and Josh Willingham to the Nationals for nothing important. The Mike Jacobs trade will only be a good deal if Dallas McPherson can take his success from AAA last year and bring it with him to the majors. Also, there are questions as to whether this starting pitching can hold up and whether Jorge Cantu can repeat his 2008 performance.

23. Seattle Mariners
The Mariners didn't get much back in return for J.J. Putz and they haven't done anything significant to improve their lousy offense as well. The team will rely on youngsters to break through this season including Wladimir Balentien and Jeff Clement. Their pitching should keep them in ballgames with Felix Hernandez, Erik Bedard, and Brandon Morrow in the rotation, but if they are out of it early, you can expect the team to start shopping Bedard.

24. Cincinatti Reds
The Reds have a bright future ahead of them with young stars such as Jay Bruce, Edinson Volquez, and Johnny Cueto breaking through last season. Each of these youngsters are expected to continue to develop into solid ballplayers. The question remains as to whether or not this is the year the Reds finally start coming together as a team. They certainly have the foundations, but whether or not they are ready to translate that into a winning ballclub is up in the air.

25. Houston Astros
Ugggh. That's about all I can say about Astros GM Ed Wade. His trade of Brad Lidge for Michael Bourn last season looks worse and worse by the day. While the Astros finished strong last season, it was only because Wade's false sense of hope that they were somehow still in the race last year. Smart GM's would have sold. This team has no farm system and quite frankly, Mike Hampton isn't going to solve their pitching problems.

26. Baltimore Orioles
The bad news? The Orioles aren't going anywhere next season. The good news? Team President Andy MacPhail knows this and is positioning the team to develop for the future. The Felix Pie trade was a great trade for MacPhail and now the Orioles have the best outfield defense in the game. I really look forward to seeing Matt Wieters transition to the big leagues this year as well. The team has no starting pitching to speak of outside of Guthrie, but help is on the way in the minors.

27. San Diego Padres
With Jake Peavy on board, the Padres still have a respectable pitching staff and an offense led by one of the games best first basemen (Adrian Gonzalez). They could compete if things fall right offensively for them, especially considering their division, but that would require Chase Headley to stop swinging blindly and actually develop offensively. The best thing for Padres fans will be to get the sale of the team done as soon as possible.

28. Kansas City Royals
Coco Crisp? Kyle Farnsworth? Willie Bloomquist? Mike Jacobs? The Royals are going nowhere. The team has completely given up on Mark Teahen ever becoming something useful and now fans are growing impatient with both Alex Gordon and Billy Butler. Zach Greinke, Joakim Soria, and Gil Meche are the few bright spots on the Royals for 2009, but it will take another two years for their farm system to catch up and replace the mismanagement of the team under former GM Allan Baird.

29. Washington Nationals
The Scott Olsen and Josh WIllingham trade with Florida was a good one for the Nats, but they need a lot of work. Austin Kearns needs to be benched, but won't because of his contract and GM Jim Bowdens obsession with his former Reds players. The team would be better off with an outfield of Elijah Dukes, Lastings Milledge, and Willingham, but it probably won't happen. Meanwhile, Nick Johnson needs to be healthy for this team to have any chance.

30. Pittsburgh Pirates
The Pirates have done NOTHING this offseason. They enter 2009 without both Jason Bay and Xavier Nady, who they had in the first half of last season. They do get a full season of Andy LaRoche at 3rd base, but this team is going absolutely nowhere and is by far the worst team in baseball heading into 2009.
Posted on: June 30, 2008 1:40 am
 

American League Midseason Report Cards

The half way point of the season is here and it's time to grade the performance of each team. How well has your team done this season?

American League East

Baltimore Orioles
Record:
41-39, 4th Place in the AL East
Grade: A -

The Orioles made the right moves during the off-season by trading both Erik Bedard and Miguel Tejada. Those two trades brought the team some quality players in return that the team can build upon. While many people wrote the Orioles off this season--some going as far as predicting the team would have 100 losses--the O's have remained competitive all year long. The only step left for GM Andy MacPhail is to continue the firesale and trade off the remaining veterans for prospects. With the team having a top 3 relief pitching staff, there will be quite a bit of demand for veteran relievers like Chad Bradford, Jamie Walker, and George Sherrill. Trading them would make the team much better in the long run.


Boston Red Sox
Record:
50-34, 2nd Place in the AL East
Grade: A

The Red Sox have played very well this season. Despite the fact that David Ortiz started out slow, Curt Schilling is done for the year, and multiple players have spent time on the DL, they still have one of the best records in baseball. However, because they play in baseball's best division, they are finding themselves in the middle of what should be a three team race for the American League East. With regards to that, I give the team an "A" for overall performance. However, because Schilling is out with injury, I don't trust anyone on their team other than Josh Beckett to start in the playoffs. Despite Tim Wakefield having his best season since 2002, he has never been a good postseason pitcher. The young guys--Lester, Buchholz, & Masterson--have only one playoff start between them and lack longevity in the regular season. Meanwhile, Daisuke's walk totals are increasing and his performance in the postseason last year was terrible. It will be interesting to see if the team pursues a veteran starter at the deadline.


New York Yankees
Record:
44-38, 3rd Place in the AL East
Grade: B

The Yankees haven't exactly been playing their best ball, yet they haven't played bad baseball either. The team has consistently remained around .500 and have just recently made a run above it. In my opinion, the Yankees can't get much worse, but they have the potential to be much better than they are playing. With Joba finally making the transition to the rotation, if the Yankees can add one more starter, they'll be right in the thick of it. The teams offense is potent, especially with the return of Jason Giambi to the lineup and the bullpen has been holding its own so far. The Yankees were my prediction to win the division and I still think they will do it.


Tampa Bay Rays
Record:
49-32, 1st Place in the AL East
Grade: A

Wow. Who would have thought the Tampa Bay Rays would have been in first place in the American League East at the halfway point? I certainly didn't. This team has been loaded with talent, but it never fully developed until now. The off-season trade of Delmon Young for Matt Garza has payed dividends as well and given the team a formidable front three of Scott Kazmir, Garza, and James Shields. In addition, Evan Longoria is showing that he will be a true superstar in this league for years to come. What the team really needs going forward is one more bat, perhaps in right field or DH, to solidify the lineup. Other than that, the Rays will stay competitive until the very end. You can be assured of that.


Toronto Blue Jays
Record:
40-43, Last Place in the AL East
Grade: D

Everyone's favorite preseason pick is in last place in the division right now. The Blue Jays haven't played bad baseball, but they just haven't been given a commitment to winning by their management. The early season release of Frank Thomas (who is hitting .319 with the A's) is a perfect example. The team has the pitching staff to be a good team and they could make a 2nd half run, but it might be too little too late in the toughest division in baseball. If the team wants to remain competitive, they need to make a trade for an impact bat. You can't expect to win too many games with Matt Stairs, Brad Wilkerson, Kevin Mench, and Shannon Stewart in your lineup. It just doesn't happen.



American League Central

Chicago White Sox
Record:
45-35, 1st Place in the AL Central
Grade: A

Maybe we were a bit too harsh on GM Kenny Williams this offseason as many of his signings have proven to work out great. The additions of Octavio Dotel and Scott Linebrink have shored up the bullpen problems the team has been having for years. Meanwhile, Carlos Quentin is among the league leaders in home runs this season, while Alexei Ramirez is batting over .300 and has shored up the the 2nd base spot for the team. Even the decision to keep Joe Crede is looking brilliant now. The only move that isn't looking great is the Nick Swisher deal as Ryan Sweeney is outperforming him in Oakland. However, Swisher is batting .302 with 5 homers and 18 RBI in the month of June so he might be on the verge of turning it around.


Cleveland Indians
Record:
37-45, Tied for Last Place in AL the Central
Grade: F

I don't understand how a team this talented could perform so poorly all year long. The Indians aren't even putting themselves anywhere close to contention which is making the decision to trade C.C. Sabathia easier by the day. The more and more I see of Travis Hafner, the uglier that 6 year extension is looking that he signed a year ago as well. The only two Indians ballplayers that are performing are Grady Sizemore and Casey Blake and Blake is as good as gone at the seasons end. The Indians better hope that Sabathia brings them back players that will help them in the immediate future, because the Indians window of opportunity is closing.


Detroit Tigers
Record:
41-40, 3rd Place in the AL Central
Grade: C

Well, it isn't what we expected, but to be a game above .500 and only 4.5 back of the division leaders at the halfway sign is good for the Tigers who started the season off poorly. The pitching staff is starting to come around--though Dontrelle Willis may be done as a pro--and the team should get better in the bullpen when Joel Zumaya and Fernando Rodney start to come around. It wouldn't surprise me if the Tigers overtook the White Sox in the American League Central by the end of the year. Then again, it also wouldn't surprise me if the team remained mediocre for the rest of the season. Much like the Yankees, the offense will be there for this team. EVERYTHING relies on the pitching staff down the stretch. I would suggest the team making a trade, but after the deals with Florida and Atlanta, they can't have much left in their farm system.


Kansas City Royals
Record:
37-45, Tied for Last Place in the AL Central
Grade: D

We knew the Royals were going to be bad to start the year, so the fact that they have a higher grade than the Indians is because the Indians failed to meet anywhere close to their expectations. However, I still don't understand how many of these players on the Royals have jobs. I mean, how long is it going to be until Tony Pena, who has a .142 batting average and an OPS of -2 (yeah...negative two) is sent down? I mean, he can't be in their for his defense either as he has the 2nd worse. Their other alternative, Angel Berroa, was recently traded away to the Dodgers which made no sense at all. At least Berroa could hit the ball out of the infield. This team has some talented players, but they are nowhere near turning into a good ballclub.


Minnesota Twins
Record:
45-37, 2nd Place in the AL Central
Grade: B+

The Twins lost both Johan Santana and Torii Hunter this offseason and are still in contention. How you may ask? For one, Hunter has always been overrated and is just an average ballplayer. Secondly, Joe Mauer has been able to stay healthy this season which has given the offense a spark. And third, the bullpen (as usual) has been outstanding. The Twins really don't deserve to be where they are with the performance of the offense (as a whole) and the poor starting pitching they've had. However, they'd remained in the hunt the entire time and had tons of success against the National League this season. I gave them a B+ because of their record, however, I think both the White Sox and Tigers will finish ahead of them by the end of the year.



American League West

Los Angeles Angels
Record:
49-33, 1st Place in the AL West
Grade: A -

The Angels got exceptional performances from Joe Saunders and Ervin Santana while John Lackey was out, and now that he's back, the team has one of the most dangerous pitching staffs in the majors. However, the offense of the Halos has been a huge disappointment this season as the team is 2nd to last in the American League in team OPS. Only two players on the team have double digit home run numbers and one of them (Mike Napoli) is just a part time player. The Angels most obvious need for the second half is an impact bat, preferably at shortstop. The Angels should be able to keep pace in the west as the A's and Rangers aren't much of a real threat, but if they want to avoid another October disappointment, they'll have to make some changes.


Oakland Athletics
Record:
44-37. 2nd Place in the AL West
Grade: B+

If there is one thing I've learned over the years, it's not to doubt Billy Beane. He's the only guy that can make his team better the next season by trading his best pitcher and his best hitter. Many people had the A's predicted as the last place finishers in the west this season, but the A's have continued to succeed with their foundation of strong pitching. The team is on pace to set another record for most people on the disabled list in a season. Much like the division rival Angels, the A's offense has been terrible this season. However, I don't think it can get much worse than it already is. Daric Barton has struggled all year long, but the A's have no other options at the position now that Dan Johnson is gone and it's probably best to let Barton swing his way out of it. Carlos Gonzalez has finally arrived at the major league level and his swing is amazing. He is only 21 and you can tell that he'll be a great ballplayer in the future. The team has a lot of potential and was initially geared up to compete in 2010-2011. Anything they do now is just a bonus.


Texas Rangers
Record:
42-41, 3rd Place in the AL West
Grade: B

Nolan Ryan......."Take That!" At least, that's what I'd be saying if I were Rangers manager Ron Washington. After feeling the heat much of the first half, Ron Washington has the Rangers maintaining a respectable winning percentage. He is getting the most out of the players he has and it's turning into wins for the ballclub. Milton Bradley might just be the best offseason signing for the Rangers as he has continued to crush the ball. Now all the team needs to do is to finally get some decent pitchers to the big league level instead of trading their best talent away (i.e. Chris Young, Edinson Volquez, John Danks). If I were GM Jon Daniels, I know my team doesn't stand much of a chance at the postseason this year, so I'd look to see if I could trade Vincente Padilla (and his contract) to a contender.


Seattle Mariners
Record:
31-50, Last Place in the AL West
Grade: F

What a joke. I think I was the only person here to question how good the Seattle Mariners would be this season. I KNEW they weren't as good as everyone has been saying and they only proved me right by having the worst record in baseball. It's about time they fired Bill Bavasi as he did nothing good for the team. I don't even know what to say about the Mariners right now other than a firesale should be about to begin (with everyone except for Ichiro). The Mariners have a lot of rebuilding to do and now that Bavasi damaged the teams future, who knows how long it's going to take.

Posted on: April 10, 2008 6:34 pm
 

FAQ: Panic Attack

The answers to the questions you want to know......

Have a question? Post it below and it will get answered.


Q: Which pitcher has surprised you the most so far?

Edwin Jackson's start to the season has definitely been the biggest surprise to me. So far, through two starts this season, Jackson is 2-0, with a 0.64 era and 10 strikeouts in 14 inningsr. Jackson was a 15 game loser last season that had an era of almost 6. He once was considered the top pitching prospect in the Dodgers organization, but became an afterthought after he struggled with them early on. Jackson is only 24 years old this season and if he reaches the potential that scouts once thought he had, the Rays will have a pretty solid rotation with him, Scott Kazmir, Matt Garza, and James Shields.

Q: Of the batters off to hot starts, which one surprises you the most?

So far there have been two players starts that have surprised me so far. The first one is definitely Joe Crede of the White Sox. After 7 games this season, Crede is batting .393 with 2 home runs and 10 RBI. After a slow spring, Crede is making other GM's look foolish for not trading for him and he's also making Kenny Williams look like a genious for keeping him on the big league roster over Josh Fields, who had a solid year with the White Sox last year.

The second player that has completely surprised me is Jason Kendall of the Milwaukee Brewers. Through the first half of last season with the Oakland Athletics, Kendall was struggling just to stay above the .200 mark in batting average. Moving him behind the pitcher to the 9th spot in the order has seemed to work out so far as Kendall has started off the year hitting .526 with 5 RBI, 5 runs scored, and one steal. I knew Kendall would help Milwaukee's pitchers (2.95 team era), but I don't think anyone thought he'd be this effective with the bat. I always thought Kendall was a better National League player, and his performance so far has shown me why I still believe that.


Q: Baltimore, Kansas City, Chicago (AL), Florida, and St. Louis have all gotten off to hot starts so far. Of those teams, which one has the greatest chance of reaching the postseason?

This question had me thinking for a very long time. I guess the best way to answer this question is to start off with teams that I can pretty much guarantee won't reach the postseason. Even though the Orioles have gotten off to a hot start, they play in baseball's toughest division this season and don't have much of a chance. There is no way Florida would beat out Atlanta, New York, or Philly in the NL East without Miguel Cabrera, and even though Kansas City has great potential, I think they are going to cool down once Detroit and Cleveland start playing better. So that leaves me with the White Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals......Even though the NL Central has been the weakest division in baseball the past couple of seasons, I still don't see the Cardinals emerging on top. Their mediocre pitching staff will catch up to them and the offense isn't much outside of Albert Pujols. The White Sox, on the other hand, have the offense to compete with teams in the Central, and they spent big money to revamp the bullpen this offseason. The only question remains is the starting pitching, yet they have a decent ace in Buehrle and potential in the back with Danks, so if I had to choose one of these five to make the postseason, it'd be them.

Q: Should the Giants try to trade for Dan Johnson now that the A's designated him for assignment?

In my opinion, the Giants are the only team where Johnson would make sense. Although Johnson hasn't had great success in the big leagues, the success that he has had is certainly a lot better than both Rich Aurilia and Dan Ortmeier (who the Giants are playing at first base). If Johnson could just raise his batting average, he'd become a much better player. He already has a solid eye, as he walked 72 times last season. Maybe a move to the National League is just what he needs. If the Giants want him, I say they don't risk another team posting a claim on him and go ahead and trade for him. At the very most, it'd cost a player that the Giants don't utilize much like Fred Lewis and at the very least it would cost a low-A ball player.

Q: What do you make of the Dodgers outfield situation? Will Joe Torre finally figure it out?

When the news first broke that Andre Ethier would be starting in place of Juan Pierre, I thought Torre was making the right move. What the reports failed to tell us was that Juan Pierre would be eating up Matt Kemps at bats, which is worse than originally expected. Pierre only has 3 hits all season, zero walks, and has been thrown out trying to steal second. He doesn't deserve to start on the Dodgers and hopefully Joe Torre will eventually realize that. If he doesn't, it's going to start costing the team some wins.

Q: What is wrong with Andruw Jones? Will he ever be the player that he was 2-3 seasons ago for the Braves?

It remains to be seen. I remain optimistic that Jones can turn around his 2007 season, but he hasn't shown anything of the sort so far in 2008. I find it hard to believe that a player that has had as much success in this league as Jones, and is only 30 years old, will continue to decline. So far, Andruw Jones is proving me wrong about him. I hope by the end of the year that the "It's only April" excuse will apply to him because that would be a shame to see someone that good fall so fast.

Q: The Indians just locked up Fausto Carmona to a long term deal. Was this a good or bad move?

Indians GM Mark Shapiro is one of the best when it comes to locking up young talent. He did it with Grady Sizemore a few years back and now he's locking up Carmona to a deal that will buy out his first two seasons of free agency. While most general managers would usually wait another year before making such a deal, I think it was a smart move by Shapiro. If the Indians lose C.C. Sabathia in the offseason, they will be in trouble. At least this guarantees the team a front of the rotation starter for at least the next six seasons.


Q: Based on what we've seen so far, what are the best trades made this past offseason?

So far, I'd say the best trade made was the Diamondbacks acquisition of Dan Haren from the Athletics, simply because it helped both teams involved. So far, Haren has been lights out for the Diamondbacks, while both Dana Eveland and Greg Smith have pitched very well for the Athletics. Meanwhile, Brett Anderson was solid in his first minor league start and Carlos Gonzalez is batting .300 for the River Cats. Another trade that has worked out very well is the Orioles trade of Miguel Tejada to the Astros. Tejada's been hitting the ball well for the Astros, but Luke Scott has been hitting it even better. Scott leads the American League in batting average at .500. Meanwhile, both Matt Albers and Dennis Sarfate have yet to give up a run in over 9 innings of relief (combined). Also, as expected, the Mets deal for Johan Santana is working out great.

The worst trade we've seen so far could be Seattle's trade for Erik Bedard. While Bedard has had a solid two starts for the Mariners, the team has lost many games because their bullpen is now extremely weak and the offense is worse than it was a year ago. We'll have to give it more time to play out though.

Q: What is wrong with the Yankees? They have gone from having the best offense in 2007, to having the worst so far in 2008?

The Yankees are typically slow out of the gate, so I wouldn't be worried too much. Since 2004, the Yankees record in April is only 46-51(not counting this season) and they've made the postseason each one of those years. With both Posada and Jeter injured, and Giambi, Damon, and Cano off to slow starts, they should be happy with the 4-5 record. As always, the only people performing in New York right now on offense are A-rod, Matsui, and Abreu. I think Joe Girardi needs to handle his pitchers a little better. Not starting Kennedy because the "threat" of rain is lame to begin with and then bringing him in when the team is down 2 runs in the 7th is even more pointless.
Posted on: January 31, 2008 2:11 am
Edited on: January 31, 2008 3:36 pm
 

American League Offseason Grades

Now that most of the big name free agents have signed and impact players like Dan Haren and Johan Santana have been dealt to their new teams, it's time to rate each teams off-season performance based on need. Did your team do a good job this winter? Matt Abedi has the answers.....


East

Baltimore Orioles
2007 Performance:
69-93, 4th Place AL East
Offseason Grade:
B -

For an organization that has had absolutely no direction in previous seasons, this offseason was a positive sign for Oriole fans. New GM Andy MacPhail made the right move by deciding to firesale. While the Orioles could have traded Miguel Tejada a year or two sooner, it's nice to finally see them take action. The team still needs to trade Erik Bedard, Brian Roberts, and Ramon Hernandez. Once they do that, they can get a solid foundation of players to build around and hopefully be able to compete in the American League East.

Boston Red Sox
2007 Performance:
96-66, 1st Place AL East, World Series Champions
Offseason Grade:
B

After winning the world series a year ago, the Red Sox have done nothing to improve their team this offseason. Jacoby Ellsbury and Clay Buchholz are natural improvements, but the team could use some help in middle relief. While they still should remain one of best teams in the American League, it might be a lot more difficult for the team to repeat this season as other teams are closing the gap. In addition, you can't expect players like Mike Lowell to have another year like he did in 2007. At the very least, they were able to resign Curt Schilling, Lowe, Wakefield, and Timlin which should still keep them the favorites in the east.

New York Yankees
2007 Performance:
94-68, 2nd Place AL East, Wild Card winner, Lost to CLE in ALDS
Offseason Grade:
A -

The Yankees were able to avoid a disastrous offseason after they were able to resign Alex Rodriguez, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte, and Mariano Rivera. Although I disagree with the way the Yankees organization handled the Joe Torre situation, a coaching change was needed. The team has a lot of question marks in it's rotation to begin the season, but giving Ian Kennedy and Phil Hughes a chance to start everyday is better than going to free agent market to land a pitcher. In addition, a full season of Joba should help stabilize the bullpen problems the team has had in previous seasons.

Tampa Bay Rays
2007 Performance:
66-96, Last Place AL East
Offseason Grade:
C +

The Rays surprised everyone when they acquired Matt Garza this winter. Since B.J. Upton is capable of playing outfield and because Evan Longoria is likely to be called up to start at 3rd base, Delmon Young was expendable and it wasn't a bad risk for the team to take. However, the Rays still haven't done much to help stabilize their bullpen problems (unless they somehow think Troy Percival fixes everything) which is going to kill them in the long run. It was nice to see the team spend some money this offseason though.

Toronto Blue Jays
2007 Performance:
83-79, 3rd Place AL East
Offseason Grade:
C

The Blue Jays should become a better team than they were a year ago simply by just getting healthy. However, I'm not too impressed with any of their offseason signings or trades. In any event, it won't put them above the Red Sox or Yankees, which is what they needed to try to do. David Eckstein is just an average shortstop, and the Scott Rolen deal only adds more years and money to an injury prone player. The Blue Jays should once again finish third in the American League East.


Joe, Andy, and A-Rod were key to the Yankees offseason.


Central

Chicago White Sox
2007 Performance:
72-90, 4th Place AL Central
Offseason Grade: D

Does anyone have any idea what White Sox GM Ken Williams was thinking this offseason? Williams seemed to have mistake after mistake. So far this winter, Williams has traded away his most effective starter (Jon Garland) for one season of Orlando Cabrera. In addition, he traded away three top prospects to Oakland (for Nick Swisher) only to have one of the worst outfield defenses in the league. The White Sox will be lucky if they are a 3rd place team this year in the Central.

Cleveland Indians
2007 Performance: 96-66, 1st Place AL Central, Lost to BOS in ALCS
Offseason Grade: C

Other than signing Japanese right hander Masahide Kobayashi to a two year contract, the Indians didn't make any significant moves this offseason. It seems as if the Indians will be relying on C.C. Sabathia and Fausto Carmona to put up numbers similar to what they had a year ago in order for this team to get past the much improved Tigers.

Detroit Tigers
2007 Performance:
88-74, 2nd Place AL Central
Offseason Grade: A

With one trade, the Tigers have gone from being a good team in the American League to being an elite team. The additions of Miguel Cabrera, Edgar Renteria, and Dontrelle Willis should improve this team enough to be legitimate World Series contenders. Not to mention, Kenny Rogers will be fully healthy when entering the season. GM Dave Dombrowski has done an excellent job since taking over in Detroit.

Kansas City Royals
2007 Performance:
69-93, Last Place AL Central
Offseason Grade: C+

The addition of Jose Guillen this season should help ignite the Royals offense a bit more than in the past. His contract essentially replaces that of Mike Sweeney, who did little to help the team win the past three seasons. Meanwhile, the addition of Ron Mahay in the pen gives the team a reliable lefty that they can count on. The Royals could finish as high as 3rd in the division if everything goes right. They have a great young group of players that should continue to improve.

Minnesota Twins
2007 Performance: 79-83, 3rd Place AL Central
Offseason Grade: D +

It was a tough offseason for Twins fans. Not only did they lose Torii Hunter to free agency, but their GM made a huge mistake when deciding to trade Johan Santana to the Mets for that small of a package. They should have at least gotten Mike Pelfrey included in the deal to replace the losses of Santana, Garza, and Silva in the rotation. The good thing about this offseason is that the Twins actually spent money on Justin Morneau and Michael Cuddyer. The bad news is that this team won't be good for another couple of years.


The losses of Jon Garland, Johan Santana, and Matt Garza have hurt each teams chances of contending in 2008.


West

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
2007 Performance:
94-78, 1st Place AL West, Lost to BOS in ALDS
Offseason Grade: A

Mark my words when I say the Angels will have the best record in the American League next season. While many people bash the Angels for not trading for Miguel Cabrera, they had one heck of an offseason by acquiring Torii Hunter and Jon Garland. The addition of Garland gives the Halos the best pitching staff in the American League with John Lackey, Kelvim Escobar, Jered Weaver, Garland, and Joe Saunders. The team also has good depth with Ervin Santana stashed away. As for losing Cabrera, Aybar can be just as good and they have plenty of other options including Maicer Izturis and Brandon Wood. The Torii Hunter contract is bad is bad in the long run, but should help the team compete this season.

Oakland Athletics
2007 Performance:
76-86, 3rd Place AL West
Offseason Grade: B+

Billy Beane made the right choice when he decided to blow up the team. The A's were a game out of last in the west last season and were going nowhere fast. By selling high on Dan Haren and Nick Swisher, Beane was able to completely retool his team for the future and turned the farm system into one of the best in the league. In addition, Beane was smart by not accepting low ball offers for Joe Blanton and Huston Street. The Mark Kotsay deal was great for the team as well. There is a reason why Billy Beane is the best in the business. The A's might surprise a lot of people in 2008.

Seattle Mariners
2007 Performance:
88-74, 2nd Place AL West
Offseason Grade: D -

If the season started today, the Mariners only offseason acquisition would be Carlos Silva. While the Erik Bedard trade is still up in the air, the Silva signing was just a waste of money. If the Mariners do get Bedard, it would only stunt the growth of young Brandon Morrow as a starter in the league, downgrade them in right field from a year ago, and it would deplete their farm system. Once again, I'm not too impressed with what Bill Bavasi has done this offseason in Seattle.

Texas Rangers
2007 Performance:
75-87, Last Place AL West
Offseason Grade: D+

Once again, the Rangers will find themselves at the bottom of the AL West in 2008. They have done nothing to improve. The Kazuo Fukumori signing was a good low risk, high reward signing, but this team will still be lacking in 2008. The Hamilton trade is questionable given the teams lack of starting pitching. Jason Jennings? That's not going to help them at. And who is going to close for them? The Rangers always have too many needs and they never address them.


The additions of Torii Hunter and Jon Garland give the Angels an easy road to winning their division.



National League Grades to follow in the next few days.....
 
 
 
 
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