NL East Offseason Report Cards
The NL East is the fourth of the six MLB divisions to be graded by Noobsports.
Additions: SS Edgar Renteria, RP Lance Cormier, RP Oscar Villareal, C Todd Pratt, RP Mike Remlinger
Subtractions: C Johnny Estrada, SS Rafael Furcal, RP Kyle Farnsworth, 1b Julio Franco, 3b Andy Marte
GM John Schuerholz hasn't had his best offseason, although his track record suggests we should just shut up and trust his moves. 14 straight NL East titles should earn you Barry Gibb style respect. However, it is blatantly obvious that the Mets have narrowed the gap between the two clubs. While the Mets added Billy Wagner, the Braves lost hoss Kyle Farnsworth and will hope Chris Reitsma can close. The other members of the 'pen are unproven, making the bullpen the major weakness of this club. The rotation (John Smoltz, Tim Hudson, John Thomson, Jorge Sosa) is solid and the lineup offers a good blend of established stars (the Jones brothers, Andruw and Chipper, and Marcus Giles) and the young (Jeff Francoeur, Ryan Langerhans, Brian McCann). New SS Edgar Renteria is better than he showed in Boston and Schuerholz got the Red Sox to throw in a boatload of scrilla, making him a steal. Even so, Andy Marte might have still been too high a price to pay. Rafael Furcal's price was also too high, and the Braves were wise not to pay it.
Having said all that, the reason I fear that the NL East streak is over is the loss of their pitching coach Leo Mazzone. I know that he's friends with Sam Perlozzo, but Mazzone should never have been allowed to leave Bobby Cox's side. Maybe their incredible run was largely a result of the way they worked together, like the cast of Seinfeld. I'd hate to see the rest of their careers turn out like "Watching Ellie" or "Bob Patterson." Celebrities who reach iconic status should realize that the grass is NEVER greener on the other side.
Offseason Grade: C-
Additions: RP Joe Borowski, RP Sergio Mitre, 1b Wes Helms, 2b Pokey Reese, SS Alfredo Amezaga, 1b Mike Jacobs, SS Hanley Ramirez, re-signed PH Lenny Harris, re-signed SP Brian Moehler, C Miguel Olivo
Subtractions: SP A.J. Burnett, SP Josh Beckett. 1b Carlos Delgado, C Paul LoDuca, RP Todd Jones, OF Jeff Conine, 3b Mike Lowell, RP Guillermo Mota, 2b Luis Castillo, OF Juan Encarnacion, OF Juan Pierre, RP Ron Villone, 2b Damion Easley
Florida's offseason is an embarrassing blemish for Major League Baseball. Jeff Loria shedding his entire payroll after not getting a publicly funded stadium reminds me of the type of guy who throws a fit and quits his annual fantasy league when the draft date or league settings aren't to his exact specifications. If someone pulled this type of shenanigan in my fantasy football league, there would be a shit-storm. Yet somehow, Bud Selig allows this to happen twice to the same major league franchise. Shocking.
The Marlins should have gotten better returns in dealing off their high priced stars. Their reluctance to take back any payroll has lowered the level of prospects involved in those deals. Sure, Hanley Ramirez and some of the flame throwing pitchers that they picked up might develop into something special some day. It's just hard to believe that they couldn't have gotten a bit more. Perhaps they should have accepted a package of Nook Logan, Omar Infante, Joel Zumaya, and perhaps another prospect from Detroit in exchange for Josh Beckett. Instead of major league ready prospects, the Marlins have brought in complete noobs. New manager Joe Girardi will have to come up with something more than a ban on facial hair if he wants this team to win 65 games.
Offseason Grade: D+
New York Mets
Additions: 1b Carlos Delgado, RP Billy Wagner, C Paul LoDuca, OF Xavier Nady, 1b Julio Franco, RP Chad Bradford, SP Yusaku Iriki, RP Jorge Julio , RP Duaner Sanchez, 3b Jose Valentin, CF Endy Chavez
Subtractions: SP Mr. Anna Benson, CF Mike Cameron, C Mike Piazza, RP Braden Looper,1b Doug Mienkiewicz, SP Jae Seo, INF Marlon Anderson, INF Miguel Cairo, RP Danny Graves, 1b Mike Jacobs, RP Roberto Hernandez
Omar Minaya might have gotten a bit out of hand this winter; he gave $43 million dollars to a closer, picked up Delgado's back-loaded contract, and made a few questionable trades. He spent so much money that no one even noticed when he signed 47 year old Julio Franco to a 2 year deal. Perhaps as former GM of the Expos, Minaya still thinks he is spending Canadian dollars and geriatric owner Fred Wilpon just hasn't figured it out yet.
Since Wilpon doesn't seem to mind Minaya throwing around his paper, it's hard to criticize Minaya for overspending because there is no denying that his club is much improved. The GM's best trait is his decisiveness; after offering Benjie Molina a 3 year deal and not getting a prompt response, Minaya worked out a deal for LoDuca instead. He doesn't let himself get hung up for too long on any one acquisition, which means he is never going to leave himself without options. In this manner, Minaya systematically addressed his team's weaknesses. Wagner is a premier closer, Delgado is a premier bat, and I'm fairly sure that Franco is the premier 47 year old in the game today.
Offseason Grade: B+
Additions: CF Probable Steroid UserAaron Rowand, RP Tom Gordon, RP Arthur Rhodes, SP Ryan Franklin, SS Alex S. Gonzalez, RP Julio Santana, INF Abraham Nunez, C Sal Fasano
Subtractions: 1b Jim Thome, OF Jason Michaels, RP Billy Wagner, OF Endy Chavez, RP Terry Adams, OF Kenny Lofton, SP Vincente Padilla, C Todd Pratt, OF Michael Tucker
It's almost as if the Phillies are rolled up and ready to smoke, but no one has a lighter. The lineup will mash at Citizens Bank Park once again, but the starting pitching still lacks frontline talent. For this reason, the team has shopped RF Bobby Abreu around the league in hopes of adding any Ace that is not a member of the Ambiguously Gay Duo. So far, no GM has been willing to part with either the pitcher or the cash it would take to bring the 2005 Home Run Derby champ to their city, but don't rule
out a deal sometime before the deadline.
New GM Pat Gillick did make some shrewd additions to his team. Probable steroid user Aaron Rowand is capable of going 20/20 and shipping Thome to the AL means that NL Rookie of the Year Ryan Howard has first base to himself, as he should. Gordon is a solid replacement for Wagner at closer and Arthur Rhodes looked 10 years younger than he actually was while in Cleveland last year. If those 3 players can approach their past success, Philly could win 85-90 games.
Offseason Grade: C+
Additions: 2b Alfonso Soriano, 1b Matt Lecroy, SP Ramon Ortiz, OF Michael Tucker, SP Brian Lawrence, INF Marlon Anderson, 2b Damian Jackson, SS Royce Clayton, RP Felix Rodriguez, re-signed RP Mike Stanton
Subtractions: OF Preston Wilson, 1b/OF Brad Wilkerson, RP Hector Carrasco, SP Esteban Loaiza, 3b Vinny Castilla, INF Jamey Carroll, 2b Junior Spivey, OF Termel Sledge
The Nationals are another team that might be looking to deal. As you well know, Soriano is not going to move to the outfield willingly, which means that either he or Jose Vidro are likely to be dealt (unless Vidro's health problems continue). Even if both would-be second basemen are in the lineup, Washington will struggle for offense. That is why Sammy Sosa would actually have been a good risk in this situation, filling in while RF Jose Guillen recovers early in the season. Of course, he rejected their $500,000 offer and may retire.
The rotation needs upgrading behind John Patterson and Livan Hernandez. Here's a freebie: Ramon Ortiz is not the answer. The bullpen will be hard pressed to repeat its 2005 success and though Rodriguez is a decent enough gamble, another arm is needed here as well. LeCroy is a fine addition (17 homer in 304 ABs in '05) and should pick up plenty of at bats once Nick Johnson sustains his annual injury.
Offseason Grade: C-