Tag:Texas Rangers
Posted on: April 1, 2009 9:43 pm
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Posted on: February 13, 2009 2:54 am
Edited on: February 13, 2009 2:58 am

2009 AL West Preview

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
2008 Record:
100-62, 1st Place in AL West, Lost in ALDS to Boston
BP's 2009 Projection: 92-70, 1st Place in AL West

Key Additions:

Key Departures:

Up until a day ago, I would have said the Angels offseason was a complete failure. However, the Bobby Abreu signing changed that. Abreu brings this ballclub another player in the lineup that can be feared. Abreu usually hits for high average and is a career .315 hitter with runners in scoring position. He isn't that good of a defender, but his offense should surely make up for it. Abreu doesn't have quite the power numbers that Mark Teixeira had, but he should be a fine replacement in a lineup that desperately needed him. I applaud GM Tony Reagins for moving on past the contract that was given out to Gary Matthews. As for Fuentes, he's not as good as Rodriguez, but he's still a very good closer that can get the job done. Looking at the loss of Garland, this may or may not hurt the Angels. Garland is a good pitcher, but he just wasn't very good for the team a year ago. I have my doubts as to whether or not Dustin Moseley will last and ultimately I think the job may end up going to Nick Adenhart. However, if both of them fail, Kelvim Escobar should be back from injury by June. Escobar was one of the American League's top pitchers two seasons ago and his return should help the Halos on either offense or defense.

Projected Lineup:

  1. 3B Chone Figgins (S)
  2. LF Bobby Abreu (L)
  3. RF Vladimir Guerrero (R)
  4. CF Torii Hunter (R)
  5. 1B Kendry Morales (R)
  6. C Mike Napoli (R)
  7. DH Juan Rivera (R)
  8. 2B Howie Kendrick (R)
  9. SS Erick Aybar (S)

The addition of Abreu made this lineup so much better off than it was before. Manager Mike Scioscia is contemplating batting Abreu second as he is a high on base type player. Guerrero would then be able to provide Abreu protection in the lineup as well. The other alternative would be to have a player with a lesser on base percentage, such as Howie Kendrick, bat second and have Abreu hit 3rd behind him. Either way, this lineup should hold up against their AL West opponents. Whether or not it's good enough to win in the postseason is another topic. I'm assuming the Angels will just give Mike Napoli the starting catchers job, though he may once again platoon at the position with Jeff Mathis. Napoli isn't a good defensive catcher, but he broke out at the plater last season hitting over 20 home runs in less than 400 at bats. That's pretty impressive. Meanwhile, Mathis is known as a defensive catcher, but needs to start hitting to get any playing time.

Projected Bench:

As mentioned just above, Mathis and Napoli will battle it out for the starting catchers job, with the most likely scenario being another platoon. Maicer Izturis once again is the teams utility player that will serve as the main backup for the middle infielders and third base. Rob Quinlan will be back again as the backup on the corners, but likely might only find playing time against left handed pitchers. Meanwhile, Gary Matthews becomes the teams fourth outfielder and late inning defensive replacement for either Guerrero or Abreu. It's still up in the air whether or not Reggie Willits will be with the team after the team has signed Abreu. They may opt to go with only four reserves and add another bullpen pitcher.

Projected Rotation:

  1. RHP John Lackey
  2. RHP Ervin Santana
  3. LHP Joe Saunders
  4. RHP Jered Weaver
  5. RHP Dustin Moseley

Ervin Santana and Joe Saunders had breakout seasons last year which was the primary reason the Angels were able to win 100 games. Santana finally was able to win on the road, while Saunders just exceeded all expectations. However, that leaves things a little difficult when projecting the success of the team in 2009. Will Santana and Saunders continue to dominate? While both will be good ballplayers, a slight decline should be expected. Meanwhile, Weaver remains a capable 4th pitcher in the rotation. The 5th spot in the rotation will be a spring training battle between Dustin Moseley, Nick Adenhart, and Shane Loux. Moseley is the favorite for the spot entering spring, but Adenhart is the better talent. The only thing that concerns me with the Angels pitching staff is the lack of depth in the minors. Who do the Angels turn to if one of these players goes down.

Projected Bullpen:

Not bad.....Shields has been one of the best setup men in the league since he first came up in 2002, while Oliver is proving to be a capable one as well (though he is getting older). I doubt Justin Speier will be as bad as he was a year ago, but then again I doubt Arredondo or Loux will be as good as they were. Fuentes is an adequate replacement for Rodriguez, though he probably doesn't scare opposing hitters half as much.

Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects

  1. RHP Nick Adenhart
  2. RHP Jordan Walden
  3. OF Peter Bourjos
  4. LHP Trevor Reckling
  5. RHP Sean O'Sullivan
  6. RHP Kevin Jepsen
  7. C Hank Conger
  8. 1B Mark Trumbo
  9. RHP Anthony Ortega
  10. RHP Mason Tobin

Spring Position Battle(s):

5th Starting Pitcher - Dustin Moseley vs. Nick Adenhart
Last Few Bullpen Spots - Take Your Pick Among several players


Oakland Athletics
2008 Record:
75-86, 3rd Place in the AL West
BP's 2009 Projection: 84-78, 2nd Place in the AL West


Key Additions:

Key Departures:

As usual, the offseason just doesn't start until A's GM Billy Beane makes a blockbuster trade. Only this time, it's different as the A's were the team adding the superstar instead of unloading them. After a season in which the A's offense finished last in the American League in runs, team OPS, batting average, on base percentage, slugging percentage, strikeouts, and extra base hits, the A's needed to go out and get some bats. The found them in Matt Holliday and Jason Giambi. Both Holliday and Giambi are high on base percentage players with the capability to drive plenty of balls out of the park. Couple those two with a healthy Eric Chavez back in the lineup, and the teams offense went from the worst in the league to something that looks respectable. The signing of Russ Springer and the trade for Michael Wuertz have remained under the radar, but both should help a young A's bullpen. The A's didn't really lose any impact players this offseason either. Huston Street was expenable with the emergence of Joey Devine and Brad Ziegler last season, while Carlos Gonzalez's plate approach didn't fit Billy Beane's "moneyball" philosophy. Greg Smith was decent, but the A's are stacked in the minors with pitching talent and Andrew Brown was cut only after he had to have season ending surgery on his arm.

Projected Lineup:

  1. CF Ryan Sweeney (S)
  2. DH Jack Cust (L)
  3. 1B Jason Giambi (L)
  4. LF Matt Holliday (R)
  5. 3B Eric Chavez (L)
  6. C Kurt Suzuki (R)
  7. SS Bobby Crosby (R)
  8. RF Travis Buck (L)
  9. 2B Mark Ellis (R)

The A's lineup is pretty interesting as it stands right now. I imagine it will change throughout the year. My guess is that at some point Travis Buck will eventually switch back to batting leadoff for the team. The 2-5 spots in this lineup are all on base machines and Suzuki's high average should follow up nicely in the sixth hole. The one thing A's fans should be watching this year is if they get any production from Bobby Crosby in the lineup. If Crosby struggles early on, I wouldn't be surprised to see Cliff Pennington replace him as the everyday shortstop. Meanwhile, A's fans need to watch the health of the players on the team. The A's used the disabled list a record 25 times last season, which only beat the previous record that was set the season before. Mark Ellis is questionable for opening day after undergoing an offseason shoulder surgery, while Chavez has missed the last season and a half with various injuries of his own. Travis Buck has been injured at various points throughout the past two seasons, while Ryan Sweeney had a minor injury as well last year that limited him to under 400 at bats on the year. Meanwhile, Bobby Crosby was one of the A's healthiest players a year ago, but his history suggests that he could go down at any point.

Projected Bench:

I'm not actually sure if Barton will be on the opening day roster or not. The A's have the option of sending him down to AAA Sacramento or platooning him with Travis Buck (with Giambi at DH and Cust in right field instead). I'm not sure if playing Barton in a platoon would be relatively healthy for Barton's production. In most cases, people platoon left handed batters because they can't hit left handed pitching well, but Barton is a different case. He couldn't hit the righties last year. At age 23, Barton can hardly be considered a bust, but if the A's aren't going to give him regular at bats, it might be best that he regains his confidence in AAA. As for Rajai Davis, he will stay on the team as a defensive replacement and pinch runner (as he did a year ago). It is possible that Jack Hannahan will find a spot on the bench this year as well, but everything I've read suggests the A's are going to go with seven bullpen pitchers. The only way Hannahan would be on the bench in that scenario would mean Barton was in AAA.

Projected Rotation:

  1. RHP Justin Duchscherer
  2. LHP Dana Eveland
  3. RHP Sean Gallagher
  4. LHP Dallas Braden
  5. LHP Gio Gonzalez

Justin Duchscherer was practically unstoppable last season and was one of the American League's best pitchers. However, Duchscherer has had health issues the past few seasons (including last year) which might leave the A's staff without a true veteran leader. Only Duchscherer and Eveland are expected to be guaranteed a spot out of spring training, while Gallagher, Braden, and Gonzalez remain the favorites to take over the other spots. The A's have a lot of young pitchers with high upside, but none have broken through at the big league level yet. Beane's general consensus this offseason was that the pitchers would probably pitch better if they had more offensive support and less pressure to throw a shutout. In the minors, the A's have a quartet of young pitchers waiting for the future in Brett Anderson, Trevor Cahill, Vin Mazzaro, and James Simmons, but none are expected to get the call early unless they are lights out this spring. If the A's are out of contention at the trade deadline, it wouldn't surprise me if Duchscherer is traded for prospects as the future of A's pitching waits for 2010.

Projected Bullpen:

The only one that's not a lock for the pen here is Josh Outman, but with the team still looking for lefty relief help outside of Blevins, Outman is the best internal option the A's have at this point. Also, as Outman is a starting pitcher he can eat up innnings for the A's in a long relief role if any of the A's young starters get bounced early. A's head coach Bob Geren has said that he'll enter 2009 with a closer by committee, but those never seem to work out. My guess is that Joey Devine will eventually become the everyday closer at some point during the season with Brad Ziegler setting him up. The A's bullpen was the second best in the American League a year ago and it improved with the addition of Springer and Wuertz. Look for this to be the A's strongest unit in 2009.

Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects:

  1. LHP Brett Anderson
  2. RHP Trevor Cahill
  3. RHP Michel Inoa
  4. OF Aaron Cunningham
  5. SS Adrian Cardenas
  6. 1B Chris Carter
  7. LHP Gio Gonzalez
  8. RHP Vin Mazzaro
  9. 2B Jemile Weeks
  10. RHP James Simmons

Spring Position Battle(s):

Starting Rotation - Spots 3-5
Daric Barton vs. Travis Buck
Last Bullpen Spot



Seattle Mariners
2008 Record:
61-101, Last Place in AL West
BP's 2009 Projection: 69-93, Last Place in AL West


Key Additions:


Key Departures:

There has been a lot of talk recently about the Mariners signing Ken Griffey Jr., yet nothing has yet to be signed. I expect the team to either bring back Junior or add Garret Anderson as spring training gets going. However, it's been a dismal offseason for the Mariners. They lost their best run producer in Raul Ibanez to free agency, while their new GM Jack Zduriencik traded J.J. Putz away for a slough of players, including outfielder Franklin Gutierrez. The team is in rebuilding mode after they saw a 118 million dollar payroll rack up 101 losses for the team a year ago. Both Adrian Beltre and Erick Bedard are in the last year of their deals and the team could look to move both at the deadline if they decide not to resign them.

Projected Lineup:

  1. RF Ichiro Suzuki (L)
  2. 2B Jose Lopez (R)
  3. 3B Adrian Beltre (R)
  4. 1B Russell Branyan (L)
  5. CF Franklin Gutierrez (R
  6. DH Jeff Clement (S)
  7. C Kenji Johjima (R)
  8. SS Yuniesky Betancourt (R)
  9. LF Endy Chavez (L)

Well...This is the current lineup. If the Mariners go out and sign Ken Griffey Jr. or Garret Anderson, you can expect Endy Chavez to head to the bench as the teams fourth outfielder and then the team would probably demote Wladimir Balentien back to AAA Tacoma. Griffey would probably help more than Anderson considering Anderson would be just another free swinger on a team that has plenty. Aside from Ichiro at the top of the lineup, the Mariners don't really have too many threats. Beltre knows how to hit a few out of the park, but he isn't really that patient of a hitter and with the lack of protection he'll be receiving, it doesn't look like he's in for a good year. Jeff Clement could emerge as one of the Mariners most productive hitters this seasons as he is expected to be the teams everday designated hitter. Meanwhile, Kenji Johjima needs to turn around his 2008 performance if he wants to remain the starting catcher on this team.

Projected Bench:

Burke is going to be the teams third catcher and will probably never see the light of day in a game. He is just on the roster in case of an injury to either Kenji Johjima or Jeff Clement (as you can't move the DH to a position). Ronny Cedeno was acquired as depth in the deal that sent Aaron Heilman to the Chicago Cubs. As for Mike Morse, he will be used in a number of spots as he can play both infield and outfield positions. I expect Morse to take over the role Willie Bloomquist had for the team a year ago. Looking at Balentien, the Mariners have plenty of options. If they add Grifffey or Anderson, they can send him back down to AAA to get some everyday at bats. If neither of those two is added, the team can platoon him with Endy Chavez in left. Balentien has talent, but he just hasn't converted it into anything at the major league level.

Projected Rotation:

  1. RHP Felix Hernandez
  2. LHP Erik Bedard
  3. RHP Brandon Morrow
  4. RHP Carlos Silva
  5. LHP Jarrod Washburn

The Mariners front three in their rotation is the best in the American League West. Hernandez has been a consistent workhorse year after year and seems to be improving every year as well. Meanwhlie, Bedard is the top of the rotation pitcher he's always been, though like usual, injuries have stopped him from reaching his full potential. Speaking of potential, Brandon Morrow has plenty of it. This kid might actually be the best pitcher in this rotation. To this day, I still think it's funny an overhwelming majority of Mariners fans told me he wouldn't be ready to pitch in the big leagues in 2008. Rowland-Smith is probably a better option to start in the rotation instead of Washburn or Silva, but it's the contracts of those two players that will keep them in the rotation in the long run. However, both Washburn and Erick Bedard are good candidates to be traded at the July trade deadline.

Projected Bullpen:

The closer job is up for grabs this spring. The Mariners website suggests that Mark Lowe has the inside track on it, but I think Miguel Batista has a good chance at beating him out in spring training. The bullpen should be decent in 2009. There is nobody overpowering in it, but then again, there is no one that is terrible either. Garrett Olson has said he would be open to converting to a reliever if it works out best for the team, and I think it will happen as Olson is highly unlikely to make the team as a starter unless Bedard or Washburn is dealt.

Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects:

  1. OF Greg Halman
  2. OF Michael Saunders
  3. RHP Phillip Aumont
  4. MI Carlos Triunfel
  5. RHP Juan Ramirez
  6. C Adam Moore
  7. 3B Mario Martinez
  8. 3B Jharmidy DeJesus
  9. OF Dennis Raben
  10. RHP Michael Pineda

Position Battle(s):

Designated Hitter
5th Starter


Texas Rangers
2008 Record:
79-83, 2nd Place in the AL West
BP's 2009 Projection: 81-81, 3rd Place in the AL West


Key Additions:

Key Departures:

You know the Rangers had a bad offseason when Andruw Jones was their key signing. I had to go back two seasons to even find a picture of an Andruw Jones highlight and it looks like he broke his back hitting the ball in the process. Maybe that's why he's been bad the past year and a half? Plain and simple, the Rangers didn't accomplish anything this past offseason. They moved Laird to the Tigers for Moscoso, a move which had to be done, but it actually made the team worse (in the short run). Had the Rangers decided to trade Jarrod Saltalamachhia for pitching, they would be in much better shape, but 2009 is looking to be much like 2008...Great hitting and no pitching to speak of. On the bright side of things, the Rangers do get a healthy Brandon McCarthy back this season and have young stars in AA waiting for 2010 when they will get their first full season in the big leageus.


Projected Lineup:

  1. 2B Ian Kinsler
  2. 3B Michael Young
  3. CF Josh Hamilton
  4. DH Hank Blalock
  5. RF Nelson Cruz
  6. LF David Murphy
  7. 1B Chris Davis
  8. C Jarrod Saltalamachhia
  9. SS Elvis Andrus

Initially looking at this lineup (without checking numbers), I was surprised when I saw Nelson Cruz playing right field and batting 5th. I had always assumed Marlon Byrd would get the bulk of the at bats as he's been very good since acquired two seasons ago. However, once I started to look closer at the numbers, this started to make sense. In a little over 100 at bats last season, Cruz had an OPS+ of 170. During the minor league season, Cruz batted a ridiculous .342/.429/.695 with 37 homers and 99 RBI in 380 at bats. The man obviously seems ready to take over in the big leagues. Meanwhile, looking at the rest of the Rangers lineup, it wouldn't surprise me if Elvis Andrus eventually moved up to the leadoff spot. This kid is a great talent swinging the bat and harnesses a ton of speed making him the perfect guy to set the table. Ian Kinsler isn't really a true leadoff hitter. Also, the Rangers will get a full season of Chris Davis at first base, which means Rangers fans better bring their gloves if they are going to be sitting in the bleachers.

Projected Bench:

Jones would have to put up a ridiculous spring in order to work his way into the starting lineup, though many have said Jones' has looked a lot better after losing 30 pounds in the offseason. Vizquel provides the Rangers depth in the infield and should help young Andrus develop along the way. Meanwhile, I'm not sure if their is going to be enough at bats for Marlon Byrd to be happy this year. The Rangers outfield is starting to get crowded which means a trade could happen during spring. As for Taylor Teagarden, he has the chance to overtake Salty as the everyday catcher, but it might take a while for him to do it.

Projected Rotation:

  1. RHP Kevin Millwood
  2. RHP Vincente Padilla
  3. RHP Brandon McCarthy
  4. RHP Matt Harrison
  5. RHP Scott Feldman

Uggh....And that's pretty much all I have to say about that. There is a small chance Millwood and Padilla put together a strong season, but it's highly unlikely. McCarthy should be the Rangers best pitcher in 2009 (if he can stay healthy). The team just better make sure Millwood doesn't reach his 180 innings for his option to kick in and they need to be careful as to when they call up youngsters Neftali Feliz and Derrick Holland.

Projected Bullpen:

Another "make-shift" bullpen is in the works for the Rangers. Half of these guys are non-roster invites, but I figure they will still make the team. Guardado might be a bargain for the Rangers if he can perform as well as he did a year ago. Meanwhile, I expect C.J. Wilson to bounce back in some way, shape, or form. He isn't as bad as he pitched a year ago.

Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects

  1. RHP Neftali Feliz
  2. LHP Derrick Holland
  3. 1B Justin Smoak
  4. SS Elvis Andrus
  5. LHP Martin Perez
  6. C Taylor Teagarden
  7. OF Engel Beltre
  8. RHP Michael Main
  9. OF Julio Borbon
  10. C Max Ramirez

Position Battle(s):

Shortstop - Elvis Andrus vs. Omar Vizquel
Catcher - Jarrod Saltalamachhia vs. Taylor Teagarden
Bullpen - A handful of players

Posted on: February 9, 2009 1:45 am

2009 AL Rookie of the Year Candidates

1. David Price - SP - Tampa Bay Rays

Tampa Bay traded away Edwin Jackson to the Tigers this offseason to make room for David Price as the 5th starter in the Rays rotation. Price is projected to be an ace by most scouts and has excellent stuff and features a very good fastball and slider. He was the number one pick by the Rays in 2007 and excelled through all three levels of the minors last season and into the pros late in the year. Price was one of the Rays postseason heroes last season as he pitched the final inning of game 7 against the Boston Red Sox to advance the Rays to their first ever World Series appearance. The kid seems poised and ready to take on major league hitters and it will be fun watching what he can do with his first full season in the majors.

2. Elvis Andrus - SS - Texas Rangers

One of the main reasons the Rangers wanted Michael Young to make the transition from shortstop to third base was because of the young Elvis Andrus sitting in the teams farm system. Andrus was first acquired by the Rangers as part of the package the Braves sent to Texas for first basemen Mark Teixeira . He has limited power, but shows excellent bat speed along with quickness along the basepaths. Andrus is a defensive minded shortstop that could give the Rangers a legitimate leadoff hitter at the top of their lineup. He reminds me a lot of a younger Jose Reyes. Andrus will be given every opportunity to win the Rangers starting shortstop job out of spring training, but in case he still needs time in the minors, the Rangers added Omar Vizquel as a stopgap. It should be noted that Andrus has never played at AAA.

3. Matt Wieters - C - Baltimore Orioles

Pure talent. There hasn't been a catcher I was this excited about since Joe Mauer came up for his rookie season with the Twins . Wieters was Baseball America's minor league player of the year last season and very well could be the best prospect in baseball. The 2007 first round pick of the Orioles, Wieters dominated single-A ball hitting .345/.448/.576 with 15 homers and 40 in just 230 at bats. He then was called up to double-A where he hit .365/.460/.625. That's crazy. Wieters is expected to be the Orioles starter at some point this season. The question is....when? The team brought in Greg Zaun to be the veteran catcher to help ease Wieters into the big leagues, but it remains to be seen whether or not Wieters will break camp with the team.

4. Travis Snider - OF - Toronto Blue Jays

Snider advanced through all three levels of the minors last season and was the youngest player in the majors when he was called up in September of last season. He is only going to be 21 years of age to begin next season and is likely to be the Blue Jays everyday designated hitter as the teams outfield is already set with Adam Lind , Vernon Wells , and Alex Rios . Snider has a great bat and he figures to have 25 home run power in the big leagues. Snider is prone to strike out quite a bit and he doesn't have that great of plate discipline. If it can be developed, he can become a very good baseball player.


5. Matt LaPorta - OF - Cleveland Indians

LaPorta was the top prospect that the Indians acquired from the Brewers for CC Sabathia . While in Milwaukees discipline, LaPorta was known as an extremely patient hitter that would hit for high average and have decent pop. However, after he was traded to the Indians, LaPorta started to struggle. After hitting .288/.402/.576 with 20 homeruns in Milwaukee's farm system, LaPorta hit .233/.299/.350 with 2 homeruns in 17 games. LaPorta was so bad in the Venezuelan Winter League, he was sent home. However, LaPorta is a great talent and he should be able to turn it around. I doubtt LaPorta will start the year in the Indians outfield, but he could be be up within a couple months.

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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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: May 31, 2008 11:55 pm
Edited on: May 31, 2008 11:59 pm

Milton Bradley: The Key to the Rangers Success?

Laugh all you want, but Milton Bradley has proven to be one of the most feared hitters in the American League this season. While Josh Hamilton is getting most of the attention in Arlington these days, Bradley has been just as key to the Rangers success this past month. In fact, one could argue that Bradley has been the best free agent signing this offseason (considering the price he was signed for). Entering May, the Rangers were a pitiful 10-18 and there was already talk of 2nd year manager Ron Washington being fired by team president Nolan Ryan.

However, the strong play of Bradley coupled with the power of Josh Hamilton in the middle of that lineup and the teams improved starting pitching has helped the Rangers gain respectability. At 29-28, the Rangers were 19-10 in the month of May so far and are only 3 games back of the division leading Angels. In the month of May alone, Milton Bradley has hit .341 with five home runs and 19 RBI. On the season, Bradley is hitting .327/.435/.561 with 8 home runs, 31 RBI, 33 walks and 16 doubles. He leads the American League with a .996 OPS and is top 3 in the AL in slugging, on base percentage, batting average and doubles.

Now, the question we must ask ourselves is if this performance by Bradley is a fluke, or if we can expect it to continue throughout the season. Personally, I think he might be able to keep it up. If you recall, Bradley performed just as well in his time with the San Diego Padres last season and was the sole reason for their second half run. I think Milton Bradley is finally entering the prime of his career and is playing the type of baseball we expected from him when he first emerged as a star with the Indians back in 2002.

However, there are several limiting factors with Bradley. First, Bradley hasn't had the greatest track record in the clubhouse and one may wonder when will be the next time he blows up. In regards to this though, I think he's finally matured as a player. He hasn't had any problems since he left the Dodgers in 2006.

The other--and most important--limiting factor for Bradley has been his injury history. In his 8 seasons in the big leagues, Bradley has only played more than 140 games in a season only once and only more than 100 games only twice. Right now, Bradley is on pace to set career highs in just about every stat category, but an injury could prevent him from doing so. However, if Bradley can remain healthy all season long, the Rangers could become a darkhorse to win the American League West this season.

I know this might be difficult for some people to grasp, but the Angels just haven't been playing that good of baseball and the Athletics are more committed towards the future now that they are once again on pace to shatter their record of using the disabled list. Because of the play of Bradley and teammate Josh Hamilton, the Rangers now have the number one offense in the American League. If the pitching staff stays on par, don't sleep on the Rangers.....
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.....


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:

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:

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.


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.


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.....
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com