AL East Offseason Report Cards
Additions: C Ramon Hernandez, SP Kris Benson, 1b Kevin Millar, OF Corey Patterson, RP LaTroy Hawkins, 1b Jeff Conine
Subtractions: OF Sammy Sosa, OF Eric Byrnes, RP B.J. Ryan, RP Steve Kline, RP Jorge Julio
Despite many rumors, the Orioles have not yet traded either shortstop Miguel Tejada or catcher/DH Javy Lopez. However, they have been active in minor deals that appear to improve the club in small increments. Benson for Jorge Julio was a good swap for the O's and Corey Patterson's talent is worth the gamble. The biggest acquisition might have been Leo Mazzone, the most respected pitching coach in the game. If he can work his magic with Mr. Anna Benson, Erik Bedard, and Daniel Cabrera, he will be worth his 3 year, $1.35 million deal. However, Baltimore's refusal to deal Tejada in exchange for a package including Mark Prior makes one raise an eyebrow. Hopefully, no one is in danger of the permanent "People's Eyebrow" that Virginia governor Tim Kaine sports. I'm pretty sure that he gave the Democratic response to the State of the Union address Tuesday night from the Smackdown Hotel. Losing Ryan is not a step in the right direction and if youngster Chris Ray can't win the job, it could put Hawkins in the closer role. We dare you to ask any Cubs' fan how LaTroy handles the pressure of the ninth inning.
Offseason Grade: C-
Boston Red Sox:
Additions: OF Coco Crisp, SP Josh Beckett, 2b Mark Loretta, 3b Mike Lowell, RP Julian Tavarez, RP David Riske, RP Rudy Seaenz, 1b J.T. Snow, SS Alex Gonzalez, re-signed 2b Tony Graffanino
Subtractions: OF Johnny Damon, SS Edgar Renteria, 3b Bill Mueller, 1b Kevin Millar, C Doug Mirabelli, RP Mike Myers, RP Mike Stanton, RP Chad Bradford, 1b John Olerud, SP Wade Miller
The Red Sox offseason had more drama than an episode of Night Stand with Dick Dietrick. Manny Beisbol demanded a trade before ulimately deciding to stay put. Theo Epstein left the Red Sox briefly and snuck out of Fenway by wearing a gorilla suit (since auctioned). Oh, and Johnny Damon signed with the Yankees. Damon's departure was a swift kick to the groin of Red Sox Nation, but the club wisely never seemed interested in overpaying for him. By basically turning the disappointing Renteria into Crisp, the Red Sox hope they have found his replacement in centerfield and atop the lineup. While Andy Marte and Hanley Ramirez are huge young talents, Crisp and Beckett are entering the primes of their careers. Signing Gonzalez for $3 million was a shrewd move; he is very good in the field and has some pop at the plate. The Saux might have another deal to make yet, as they appear to have seven starting pitchers. David Wells or Matt Clement would be the most likely candidates for a trade. Jon Papelbon might be ready to emerge, either in the 'pen or the rotation.
Offseason Grade: B-
New York Yankees:
Additions: OF Johnny Damon, C Kelly Stinett, RP Kyle Farnsworth, RP Mike Myers, RP Octavio Dotel, 2b Miguel Cairo, RP Ron Villone, re-signed OF Bernie Williams, re-signed OF Hideki Matsui, re-signed SP Al Leiter
Subtractions: RP Tom Gordon, 2b Mark Bellhorn, OF Matt Lawton, C John Flaherty, 2b/OF Tony Womack, RP Alan Embree
First off, the Yankees receive bonus points for signing Farnsworth, the biggest hoss we've seen since Bam Bam Bigelow.
Farnsworth could easily be closing for a lesser team, and Steinbrenner will have to pay him as such (3 years, $17 million). Villone and Myers are decent additions for a bullpen that needed more depth and the Yanks are willing to wait a couple months for Dotel to recover. Godzilla Mat-suiiiiii!!! is an underrated part of the lineup, but giving him and Damon 4 year contracts assures that the 2008 Yanks will resemble the 2006 Padres: older than pitcher Eddie Harris from Major League. Keeping GM Brian Cashman and manager Joe Torre shows that Steinbrenner isn't completely irrational.
Offseason Grade: B
Tampa Bay Devil Rays:
Additions: RP Dan Miceli, 3b Sean Burroughs, 3b Russell Branyan, RP Shinji Mori, re-signed 1b Travis Lee
Subtractions: RP Danys Baez, RP Joe Borowski, RP Lance Carter, SP Dewon Brazelton, 1b Eduardo Perez
The greatest breakup line I have ever heard came courtesy of my buddy Ryan. A particularly crazy female once inspired him to tell her that "I would rather sow my face to the carpet than ever talk to you again." I like to imagine that D-Rays owner Vince Naimoli used that line when he finally fired former GM Chuck Lamar. Letting Chuckles go allowed the D-Rays to finally unload Danys Baez to the Dodgers for a decent return in prospects (something tells me that Edwin Jackson still might make some noise). Tampa Bay may yet find a deal for shortstop Julio Lugo (Cubs?), but the team should have sent him and Baez to Boston for stud prospect Andy Marte. Unfortunately, Burroughs has somehow let his game regress since starring in the Little League World Series. Oh, and why not give Jonny Gomes 500 at-bats in 2006 (.282 BA, .372 OBP, .534 SLG, 21 homers, 54 RBI, 9 steals in 348 ABs)?
Offseason Grade: C- (only saved from a D by canning Chucky Lamar)
Toronto Blue Jays:
Additions: SP A.J. Burnett, RP B.J. Ryan, 1b Lyle Overbay, 3b Troy Glaus
Subtractions: RP Miguel Batista, RP Chad Gaudin, 2b Orlando Hudson, 3b Corey Koskie
The Blue Jays opened up the safe this winter and basically gave pitchers Ryan and Burnett whatever they wanted. GM J.P. Ricciardi then upgraded the offense by adding Overbay and Glaus, but downgraded the defense by trading Hudson. Glaus, who packs the biggest lippers this side of Warren Sapp, can mash (37 dingers in '05) but is also expensive (second year of 4 year, $45 million deal). There is little doubt that the Jays are improved for 2006; the best days for Ryan, Burnett, and Overbay could still be in front of them. The question is whether or not they will be financially hamstrung in 3 years because of this winter's extravagance. Ricciardi's work might not yet be done either, as he could find a taker for Shea Hillenbrand or Eric Hinske. Free agent catcher Bengie Molina is also available and might make sense for the club, if the Dodgers don't sign him first.
Offseason Grade: A-