Report Card for MLB's 50 Biggest Offseason Moves Through May

Rick Weiner@RickWeinerNYFeatured ColumnistMay 30, 2012

Report Card for MLB's 50 Biggest Offseason Moves Through May

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    Didn't the season just start?

    It sure seems that way, but in reality we are about to close the book on the second month of the regular season.

    With teams playing their 50th games of the season this week, we have a decent sample size from which to judge some of the moves that were made this offseason. And there's no better way to judge these moves than to hand out a bunch of letter grades as if we were all back in elementary school.

    Players who were free agents but ended up re-signing with the team that they played for in 2011 were not included. Moves that were made centering around prospects were also omitted.

    So without further ado, here are my grades through the end of May for the biggest moves of the offseason.

Yonder Alonso and Edinson Volquez Traded to the San Diego Padres

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    Alonso's Stats Through May 29th: .286/.364/.394, 1 HR, 14 RBI

    Volquez's Stats Through May 29th: 11 GS, 2-5, 3.46 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 65 IP, 54 H, 34 BB, 55 K

    In moving their ace, Mat Latos, to the Cincinnati Reds for Yonder Alonso, Edinson Volquez, Yasmani Grandal and Brad Boxberger, the Padres filled a number of holes in one fell swoop.

    While Grandal and Boxberger have yet to debut for the Padres, both Alonso and Volquez have performed quite well.

    Alonso, who was never pegged as a power-hitting first baseman, has taken advantage of the spacious confines of Petco Park, legging out 11 of his team-leading 16 doubles at home. He also leads the team in batting average (.286) and hits (50).

    Volquez, as has been typical throughout his career, walks entirely too many batters, but he's allowed three earned runs or less in nine of his 11 starts on the season.

    His poor record is due in large part to a lack of run support from San Diego's rather anemic offense, one that has provided him with a grand total of eight runs in his past six starts.

    Grade: B-

Andrew Bailey and Ryan Sweeney Traded to the Boston Red Sox

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    Bailey's Stats Through May 29th: Injured, has yet to pitch for Boston

    Sweeney's Stats Through May 29th: .315/.343/.446, 0 HR, 12 RBI

    Acquired for Josh Reddick and two prospects, Andrew Bailey was expected to be the closer in Boston while Ryan Sweeney would serve as the fourth outfielder.

    Instead, Bailey has missed all of the regular season after undergoing surgery on his right thumb. While he could start throwing from 90 feet this week, Bailey is likely two months away from returning to action.

    With injuries to Carl Crawford, Jacoby Ellsbury and Cody Ross in the outfield, Sweeney has seen extended action for Boston and performed quite well.

    He returned from the seven-day disabled list on Monday against the Detroit Tigers and showed no ill effects of a concussion, going 3-for-4 with a double and two runs scored.

    Sweeney by himself would get nothing lower than a B+, but Bailey's injury really hurts the deal as a whole. 

    Grade: C+

Erik Bedard Signs with the Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Stats Through May 29th: 10 GS, 3-5, 3.12 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 52 IP, 48 H, 22 BB, 51 K

    Supremely talented but never able to remain healthy over the course of a full season, the Pirates took a calculated risk in signing Erik Bedard to a one-year contract for $4.5 million this winter.

    Bedard filled a need to be sure, and while he's avoided the disabled list so far in 2012, he did have to leave his May 9 start against the Washington Nationals after only one inning due to back spasms.

    Since then, Bedard has been mediocre, pitching to a 4.24 ERA over his last three starts with eight walks and 14 strikeouts over his last 17 innings pitched.

    Over his six starts prior to that game, he posted a 2.65 ERA with 14 walks and 37 strikeouts over 34 innings of work.

    Bedard's injury history makes you wonder if his back is still an issue or if there's another unknown injury that he is dealing with.

    Regardless, the Pirates have to be pleased with how Bedard has performed overall, and they will keep their fingers crossed that he remains able to take the ball every fifth day.

    Grade: B

Heath Bell Signs with the Miami Marlins

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    Stats Through May 29th: 23 G, 3-3, 7.58 ERA, 2.05 WHIP, 19 IP, 25 H, 14 BB, 14 K, 9-of-13 SV

    After signing a three-year, $27 million contract this winter, Heath Bell responded in the regular season by blowing four of this first seven save attempts before losing his job as closer on May 4. A week later, Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen returned Bell to the back of the bullpen.

    After blowing his fourth save of the season, Bell put together a solid eight game run, going 2-0 (4-for-4 in saves) with a 2.35 ERA.

    That was until this past weekend, when Bell appeared in three games, allowing three earned runs and four hits in just over an inning's worth of work.

    Bell might eventually get himself straightened out, but overall he's been more of a problem than a solution.

    Grade: D

Carlos Beltran Signs with the St. Louis Cardinals

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    Stats Through May 29th: .290/.391/.592, 15 HR, 41 RBI

    Signing Carlos Beltran for $26 million over two years this winter was a coup for the Cardinals, but nobody knew how much of a steal it really was.

    Through the first two months of the season, Beltran is putting up numbers that are reminiscent of a 2006 season where he hit .275 with 41 home runs and 116 RBI, finishing fourth in the NL MVP race.

    Concern over his knees will always be in the back of everyone's mind, but of all the batters who moved this past winter, Beltran is giving the Cardinals more bang for their buck than anyone else.

    Grade: A+

Craig Breslow and Trevor Cahill Traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks

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    Breslow's Stats Through May 29th: 23 G, 1-0, 2.13 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 25.1 IP, 16 H, 10 BB, 22 K

    Cahill's Stats Through May 29th: 10 GS, 2-5, 3.96 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 61.1 IP, 55 H, 26 BB, 42 K

    Arizona gave up a lot to get this duo, but to get quality players you need to give up quality prospects—and both Breslow and Cahill have capably filled needs for a team that is looking to win now.

    Both have run into a rough patch recently, with Breslow allowing three earned runs in his past four appearances (3.2 innings pitched) and Cahill allowing four earned runs in three of his past four starts, none lasting more than six innings.

    Nonetheless, both players are quality pitchers. Prior to this stretch, Breslow had gone eight appearances without allowing a run, scattering four hits over 9.2 innings of work.

    As for Cahill, he's allowed three earned runs or less in five of his 10 starts this year—so it's not as if the talent isn't there for him to succeed.

    Grade: B- 

Mark Buehrle Signs with the Miami Marlins

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    Stats Through May 29th: 10 GS, 5-4, 3.26 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 69 IP, 66 H, 11 BB, 34 K

    As consistent a starting pitcher as baseball has seen over the past decade, there was no doubt that the four year, $58 million investment that Miami made in Mark Buehrle was a wise one.

    He finished April with a 1-4 record despite posting a 3.34 ERA, victimized by a lack of run support.

    In May, Buehrle has gotten plenty of run support, which has helped as of late with Buehrle allowing four earned runs in two of his last three starts. But Buehrle is undefeated in five May starts (4-0) with a 3.17 ERA, and he's gone at least six innings in each of his five May starts—and in nine of his 10 starts on the season.

    He has been everything that Miami thought he was—an innings eater who will keep his team in every game he pitches.

    Grade: B+

Jonathan Broxton Signs with the Kansas City Royals

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    Stats Through May 29th: 19 G, 0-1, 1.93 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 18.2 IP, 17 H, 5 BB, 12 K, 10-for-12 SV

    Three years removed from making his first of two consecutive All-Star appearances and being considered one of the up-and-coming closers in baseball, Jonathan Broxton agreeing to a one-year, $4 million contract with the Royals this winter has turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

    Originally signed to setup Royals closer Joakim Soria, Broxton was thrust back into the closer's role when Soria was lost for the season to Tommy John surgery.

    He has had a couple of missteps, but Broxton has been very solid in relief for the Royals, allowing a total of four earned runs all season.

    This was a low-risk, high-reward signing for the Royals, and so far they have been rewarded very well for their investment, regardless of the team's overall struggles.

    Grade: B+

A.J. Burnett Traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Stats Through May 29th: 7 GS, 3-2, 4.19 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 43 IP, 46 H, 12 BB, 39 K

    The Yankees would have taken virtually anything to be rid of A.J. Burnett, and the Pirates, who were in search of a veteran starter, sent two mediocre prospects to the Bronx in exchange for Burnett and $20 million of the $33 million that he is owed through 2013.

    Burnett's numbers are deceiving because with the exception of one start—where Burnett gave up an ungodly 12 earned runs over 2.2 innings against the St. Louis Cardinals—he has pitched very well.

    In his other six starts, Burnett has a 3-1 record, 1.79 ERA, and 37 strikeouts over 40.1 innings pitched.

    For the most part, Burnett has been better than anyone expected. This is looking like a great deal for the Bucs.

    Grade: B+

Melky Cabrera Traded to the San Francisco Giants

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    Stats Through May 29th: .376/.420/.556, 4 HR, 25 RBI

    Let's say that I asked you this question before the season started: "Which member of the Giants will have more hits than anyone in baseball at the end of May?"

    What would your answer have been?

    Buster Posey or Pablo Sandoval, no doubt.

    But it's Melky Cabrera, now on his third team in three years, who leads all of baseball with 77 hits. His .376 average also leads the National League.

    Trading young pitching for hitting is always a risky proposition, but there's no arguing that so far, the Giants got the best of their trade with the Kansas City Royals that sent Jonathan Sanchez packing.

    Grade: A+

Jose Campos and Michael Pineda Traded to the New York Yankees

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    Campos's Stats Through May 29th (Single-A): 5 GS, 3-0, 24.2 IP, 20 H, 8 BB, 26 K

    Pineda's Stats Through May 29th: Will not pitch in 2012 due to injury

    On the surface, trading Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi to the Seattle Mariners for Campos and Pineda has been a disaster.

    Campos, who is years away from making an impact in the major leagues, is on the disabled list with elbow inflammation.

    Pineda, the crown jewel of the deal and the man expected to slide in behind CC Sabathia as the Yankees' second starter, is out for the season after undergoing surgery on May 1 to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder.

    While this was a trade made with an eye towards the future, the 2012 Yankees have not benefited one iota from making the deal.

    Grade: F

Chris Capuano Signs with the Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Stats Through May 29th: 10 GS, 7-1, 2.14 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 63 IP, 42 H, 21 BB, 58 K

    Nobody, not even Chris Capuano, saw this coming.

    Signed to a two-year, $10 million contract, Capuano was expected to be the Dodgers' fifth starter.

    Instead, Capuano is pitching like Clayton Kershaw.

    Since allowing four earned runs and issuing five walks in his first start of the season, Capuano's numbers have been ridiculously good: 7-1 with a 1.70 ERA, walking 15 and striking out 54 in 58.2 innings pitched.

    Can Capuano keep this up all season?

    It's doubtful, but there's no arguing with the results so far.

    Grade: A+

Yoenis Cespedes Signs with the Oakland A's

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    Stats Through May 29th: .245/.319/.434, 5 HR, 21 RBI, 4 SB

    The most sought after international free agent after Yu Darvish, Yoenis Cespedes was good but not spectacular through the first week in May, posting 21 RBI in his first 28 major league games.

    While he hasn't played since May 6, his five home runs, 21 RBI and .245 average all place him second on the team—which doesn't say much about the A's offense.

    On the 15-day-DL since early May due to a strained left hand, Cespedes started his minor league rehab assignment on Monday.

    Grade: C

Wei-Yin Chen Signs with the Baltimore Orioles

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    Stats Through May 29th: 9 GS, 4-1, 3.31 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 54.1 IP, 53 H, 18 BB, 42 K

    Signed to a three-year, $11.09 million deal, 26-year-old Wei-Yin Chen has been a solid addition to an Orioles staff that needed an injection of quality starting pitchers.

    Chen got hit hard by the Washington Nationals just over a week ago, allowing six earned runs and eight hits while taking his first major league loss.

    But in a test to see how he would bounce back, he passed with flying colors, allowing only two earned runs over six innings of work against the Kansas City Royals. 

    Pitchers who have played in Japan don't have a great track record in the majors, but so far Chen looks like a keeper for the Orioles.

    Grade: B+

A.J. Cole, Tommy Milone, Derek Norris and Brad Peacock Traded to the Oakland A's

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    Stats Through May 29th: 10 GS, 6-4, 3.64 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 64.1 IP, 57 H, 16 BB, 35 K

    Of the four players that Oakland received from Washington in return for Gio Gonzalez, only Tommy Milone has appeared in a game for the A's thus far in 2012.

    Since allowing five earned runs to the Tampa Bay Rays on May 4, Milone has been very good over his past four starts, allowing eight earned runs over 27.2 innings pitched—good for a 2.60 ERA.

    This move gets a lower grade simply because only Milone has seen the majors in 2012, but this could turn out to be a win-win trade for both teams involved.

    Grade: C

Ryan Cook, Collin Cowgill and Jarrod Parker Traded to the Oakland A's

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    Cook's Stats Through May 29th:  22 G, 1-1, 0.75 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 24 IP, 6 H, 14 BB, 21 K

    Cowgill's Stats Through May 29th: .240/.321/.240, 3 HR, 12 RBI

    Parker's Stats Through May 29th: 7 GS, 1-2, 2.88 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 40.2 IP, 34 H, 21 BB, 29 K

    Oakland did very well for themselves with the return they got in the Craig Breslow/Trevor Cahill trade, wouldn't you say?

    Cook has emerged as a big-time setup man—perhaps pushing Grant Balfour out of Oakland altogether.

    Cowgill, who spent about a month in Triple-A from the middle of April to the middle of May, has struggled at the plate but has shown the ability to play all three spots in the outfield and play them well.

    Parker, the future ace of the A's pitching staff, has gone six innings or more in four of his six starts. While he's struggled with his command at times, Parker has shown that when he has command of his pitches, he's incredibly difficult to hit against.

    Just ask the Angels, who Parker held to one run and five hits over seven innings of work last week, walking one and striking out eight.

    This is a good deal for the A's now, and it's only going to improve as this trio continues to develop.

    Grade: B

Michael Cuddyer Signs with the Colorado Rockies

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    Stats Through May 29th: .270/.326/.472, 5 HR, 28 RBI

    Signed away from the Minnesota Twins with a three-year, $31.5 million dollar contract, Michael Cuddyer has spent most of his time in right field for the Rockies, with the exception of 16 innings over three games at first base.

    After hitting .299 in April, Cuddyer has scuffled with a .244 average in May. However, he is started to heat up again over the past week, going 9-for-24 (.375) with five doubles, a home run and five RBI.

    His 16 doubles on the season lead the team, and he ranks third behind Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki in RBI and total bases.

    Grade: B

Yu Darvish Signs with the Texas Rangers

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    Stats Through May 29th: 10 GS, 7-2, 3.25 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 61 IP, 54 H, 35 BB, 66 K

    With Daisuke Matsuzaka still fresh in everyone's minds, the Texas Rangers hooked themselves the biggest fish in the international waters, spending more than $100 million ($56 million in salary, $51.7 million in a posting fee) to sign Yu Darvish to a six-year contract.

    Darvish walks too many batters—his 35 walks rank third in the American League—but he's been very successful for the Rangers thus far, winning seven of his first 10 major league starts and allowing four or more earned runs in only two of those.

    He certainly looks like a viable replacement for the departed C.J. Wilson and the future ace of the Rangers pitching staff.

    Grade: B+

David DeJesus Signs with the Chicago Cubs

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    Stats Through May 29th: .289/.379/.416, 1 HR, 10 RBI

    David DeJesus has done everything the Cubs could have expected from him over the first two months of the season.

    DeJesus leads the teams in runs scored with 27 (thanks to a .379 on-base percentage) and his 50 hits puts him second on the team behind Starlin Castro.

    Grade: A

Prince Fielder Signs with the Detroit Tigers

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    Stats Through May 29th: .317/.377/.503, 8 HR, 30 RBI

    The Tigers might regret giving Prince Fielder $214 million over the next nine years at some point down the road, but two months into his tenure, Detroit has no complaints.

    He hasn't put up the gaudy power numbers that we've come to expect from him and is currently on pace to finish the season with less than 30 home runs and 100 RBI.

    That being said, Fielder has been seeing the ball very well as of late, going 13-for-28 (.464) over the past week and it's only a matter of time before the long balls start coming in bunches.

    While his defense has been shaky, remember that he wasn't signed for his smooth glove—it's his big bat that the Tigers wanted more than anything else.

    Grade: B+

Frank Francisco Signs with the New York Mets

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    Stats Through May 29th: 23 G, 1-3, 6.10 ERA, 1.69 WHIP, 20.2 IP, 25 H, 10 BB, 24 K, 14-for-16 SV

    Signed to a two-year, $12 million deal to replace the two-headed monster of Francisco Rodriguez and Jason Isringhausen that closed for the Mets in 2011, Frank Francisco has been an anomaly.

    One one hand, Francisco makes things interesting—he's allowed at least one earned run in eight of his 22 appearances, looking more like former Mets closer Armando Benitez than anyone else.

    On the other hand, Francisco has been dominant at times, including his last five appearances, where he's a perfect 4-for-4 on saves while not allowing a run and scattering two hits while holding the opposition to a .118 average.

    It's like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with Francisco, and the Mets desperately need the good doctor to make house calls more often than he has.

    Grade: D

Gio Gonzalez Traded to the Washington Nationals

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    Stats Through May 29th: 10 GS, 7-1, 2.04 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 61.2 IP, 33 H, 25 BB, 79 K

    Washington gave up quite a bit to acquire Gio Gonzalez, but can anyone argue with the results?

    All Gonzalez has done is make a case for the NL Cy Young award. He is allowing a miniscule 4.8 hits per nine innings while striking out 11.5 batters per nine innings—both of those stats lead the league.

    In his five May starts, Gonzalez is 5-0 with a 2.25 ERA—which is actually worse than his 1.82 ERA in April.

    He outperformed a phenom in Stephen Strasburg, and if the Cy Young voting was held today, it would be an incredibly close race between Gonzalez,  Atlanta's Brandon Beachy and the reigning NL CY Young Award winner, Clayton Kershaw.

    Grade: A+

Jeremy Guthrie Traded to the Colorado Rockies

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    Stats Through May 29th: 7 GS, 2-3, 5.31 ERA, 1.55 WHIP, 40.2 IP, 46 H, 17 BB, 18 K

    Expected to step in as the innings eating workhorse at the front of the Rockies' rotation, Jeremy Guthrie has been disappointing to say the least.

    Acquired from the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for Jason Hammel and Matt Lindstrom, Guthrie pitched to a 5.93 ERA through four April starts before going on the 15-day disabled list after injuring his shoulder in a bicycle accident.

    He has been better since returning to action, allowing eight earned runs over his last 16.1 innings of work, but he will need to improve significantly for this to not be a complete loss for the Rockies.

    Grade: D

Jason Hammel and Matt Lindstrom Traded to the Baltimore Orioles

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    Hammel's Stats Through May 29th: 9 GS, 6-1, 2.78 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 55 IP, 45 H, 17 BB, 53 K

    Lindstrom's Stats Through May 29th: 13 G, 0-0, 1.29 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 14 IP, 12 H, 4 BB, 14 K

    Trading away their only established veteran starter seemed an odd move for the Baltimore Orioles this past winter, but what a move it has turned out to be.

    Matt Lindstrom was establishing himself as an integral part of the most successful bullpen in baseball before partially tearing a ligament in his middle finger two weeks ago. He is expected to start throwing off of a mound later this week.

    Jason Hammel has been the real surprise.

    Having never won more than 10 games in a season, Hammel is more than halfway there at the end of May.

    While he hasn't been nearly as good as he was in April when he posted a 3-1 record, 1.97 ERA and held opposing batters to a .200 average, Hammel has remained solid in May, with a 3-0 record, 3.91 ERA and .250 batting average against.

    Hammel's recent struggles could be a sign of things to come, but there's no arguing with the results that Baltimore has gotten out of both he and Lindstrom so far.

    Grade: B

Aaron Harang Signs with the Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Stats Through May 29th: 10 GS, 3-3, 4.14 ERA, 1.36 ERA, 58.2 IP, 59 H, 21 BB, 50 K

    After a shaky start to the season, Aaron Harang has been outstanding in May, pitching to a 2.67 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and issuing only eight walks while striking out 20.

    He has allowed two earned runs or less in four of his last five starts, and while he's the only Dodgers starting pitcher to have an ERA over four, his 4.14 ERA is right in line with his career ERA of 4.25.

    The Dodgers are getting exactly what they bargained for when they signed Harang for $12 million over the next two years.

    Grade: B

Edwin Jackson Signs with the Washington Nationals

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    Stats Through May 29th: 10 GS, 1-3, 3.17 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 65.1 IP, 52 H, 15 BB, 53 K

    On the Washington Nationals, Edwin Jackson is one of only two starters with an ERA over 2.80 and has become something of an afterthought when talking about the team's rotation.

    That's not to say that Jackson is having a bad season, because he's not. Signed to a one-year, $11 million deal this winter, he is certainly pitching to a level deserving of a multi-year contract when this season wraps up.

    Grade: B+

Jason Kubel Signs with the Arizona Diamondbacks

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    Stats Through May 29th: .297/.385/.461, 4 HR, 23 RBI

    While signing Jason Kubel to a two-year, $16 million deal pushed Gerardo Parra back to the role of fourth outfielder, it has turned out to be a brilliant move by the Diamondbacks thus far.

    When Chris Young went down with an injury that forced him to miss a month of the season, Kubel's presence ensured that Arizona had the depth to weather Young's absence.

    Among their everyday players, Kubel leads the team in batting average, on-base percentage, hits, doubles and RBI.

    Grade: A

Hiroki Kuroda Signs with the New York Yankees

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    Stats Through May 29th: 10 GS, 4-6, 3.96 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 61.1 IP, 63 H, 21 BB, 37 K

    Yankees GM Brian Cashman had tried to acquire Hiroki Kuroda in each of the past two seasons to no avail, so it came as no surprise when the news broke that the Yankees had signed the veteran to a one-year, $10 million contract this winter.

    His numbers aren't spectacular, but that's the result of two horrendous starts in which he allowed seven and six earned runs, respectively. In his other eight starts, Kuroda has pitched to a 2.42 ERA.

    Grade: B

Mat Latos Traded to the Cincinnati Reds

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    Stats Through May 29th: 10 GS, 4-2, 4.58 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 59 IP, 57 H, 22 BB, 51 K

    Any doubts about the Cincinnati Reds trying to win now were put to rest when they traded Edinson Volquez and three of their best prospects to the San Diego Padres in exchange for 24-year-old Mat Latos, who was expected to step in and be the ace of their pitching staff.

    Moving from the pitcher-friendly confines of Petco Park to Great American Ballpark, one of the more hitter-friendly parks in the league, it was expected that Latos' ERA and WHIP would rise from his numbers in San Diego.

    Through 10 starts, however, Latos has been better at home (3-1, 4.10 ERA) than he has been on the road (1-1, 5.40 ERA). Johnny Cueto, Bronson Arroyo and Homer Bailey have all been more effective than Latos after two months, a surprising development to say the least. 

    But other than a rocky start this past Sunday against the Colorado Rockies, Latos has been very good in May, going 2-0 with a 2.35 ERA over his other four May starts.

    Grade: C+

Derek Lowe Traded to the Cleveland Indians

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    Stats Through May 29th: 10 GS, 6-3, 3.25 ERA, 1.52 WHIP, 61 IP, 75 H, 18 BB, 18 K

    It cost the Indians virtually nothing to acquire Derek Lowe from the Atlanta Braves, and with the team desperately trying to win now, Lowe was the veteran starter that the team felt it lacked.

    Other than his last start on Saturday when the Cleveland Indians crushed him to the tune of eight earned runs over 2.1 innings of work, Lowe has been surprisingly effective.

    Surprising in that Lowe is walking as many batters per nine innings as he's striking out, and he's getting hit far more often than a successful starting pitcher should.

    Nonetheless, in his other nine starts he's managed to go 6-2 with a 2.15 ERA, and he's been a big reason why the Indians continue to sit atop the AL Central.

    Grade: B+

Ryan Madson Signs with the Cincinnati Reds

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    Stats Through May 29th: Has not pitched for the Reds (out for the season)

    Signed to a one-year deal for $8.5 million to replace Francisco Cordero and give Sean Marshall a year as Cincinnati's setup man before taking over as closer, Madson injured himself in spring training. As a result, he will miss all of 2012 as he recovers from Tommy John surgery.

    While injuries cannot be predicted, the fact is that Madson is of no help to the Reds in 2012, and it's very likely that he will never throw a regular season pitch for the team.

    Grade: F

Sean Marshall Traded to the Cincinnati Reds

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    Stats Through May 29th: 20 G, 1-2, 4.24 ERA, 1.53 WHIP, 17 IP, 22 H, 4 BB, 24 K, 8-of-9 SV

    Acquired from the Chicago Cubs for starter Travis Wood and two prospects, Sean Marshall was expected to setup Ryan Madson in the Reds bullpen.

    Instead, Marshall was thrust into the role of closer. While he has lost his grip on the job, he hasn't pitched as bad as his stats would lead you to believe—especially recently, as he's allowed only one baserunner in his last four appearances.

    Grade: C+

Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi Traded to the Seattle Mariners

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    Montero's Stats Through May 29th: .246/.283/.398, 6 HR, 23 RBI

    Noesi's Stats Through May 29th: 10 GS, 2-6, 5.01 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 59.1 IP, 48 H, 20 BB, 34 K

    There was never a question about Jesus Montero's ability to hit major league pitching—the debate was over whether he could catch major league pitching.

    Two months into the season, it looks like Montero is capable of doing both. While he's not producing at the plate like the Mariners would like him to, he will only get better with time.

    Noesi's overall numbers are lousy, but the bloated ERA is due largely in part to three terrible starts, and the win-loss record can be partly attributed to a lousy Mariners' offense.

    Over his last three starts, Noesi seems to be turning a corner, allowing seven earned runs and 13 hits over 22.1 innings pitched—good for a 2.82 ERA.

    The trade that bought this pair to Seattle, in exchange for Jose Campos and Michael Pineda, will take years to truly determine which side got the better end of the deal.

    Grade: C-

Guillermo Moscoso and Josh Outman Traded to the Rockies

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    Moscoso's Stats Through May 29th: 2 GS, 0-1, 11.57 ERA, 2.14 WHIP, 9.1 IP, 16 H, 4 BB, 10 K

    Outman's Stats Through May 29th: 8 G, 0-1, 9.64 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 4.2 IP, 4 H, 3 BB, 9 K

    In return for Seth Smith, the Rockies got two pitchers who have seemingly forgotten how to pitch.

    Moscoso, who went 8-10 with a 3.38 ERA and 1.09 WHIP for the A's last year started the season in Triple-A before being called up to replace the injured Jeremy Guthrie in late April. After two horrendous starts against the Braves and the Mets, he was sent back down.

    Outman, who went 8-8 with a 3.75 ERA and 1.36 WHIP over parts of three seasons with the A's, has begun to at least resemble a major league pitcher, allowing no runs and only one hit over his past four appearances—a grand total of 1.2 innings of work.

    Grade: D- 

Joe Nathan Signs with the Texas Rangers

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    Stats Through May 29th: 22 G, 0-1, 2.08 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 21.2 IP, 17 H, 2 BB, 26 K, 12-for-13 SV

    After deciding to move 2011 closer Neftali Feliz back to the starting rotation, the Rangers went out and inked veteran closer Joe Nathan to a two-year deal for $14.5 million.

    Nathan, who missed most of 2009 with Tommy John surgery and struggled mightily upon his return in 2011, has been nearly perfect for the Rangers in 2012.

    Since allowing three earned runs against the Seattle Mariners on April 11, there may not be a better closer in baseball.

    Over his last 19 appearances, Nathan has converted all nine of his save chances, held opposing batters to a .190/.217/.276 batting line and allowed only one earned run, posting a miniscule 0.54 ERA.

    Grade: A

Jonathan Papelbon Signs with the Philadelphia Phillies

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    Stats Through May 29th: 21 G, 0-1, 2.21 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 20.1 IP, 14 H, 4 BB, 24 K, 14-for-14 SV

    Jonathan Papelbon has allowed five earned runs in three appearances, but he has also held teams scoreless in the other 18. His 14 saves leads the National League.

    He has done nearly everything that the Phillies have asked of him.

    So while the Phillies might have been able to sign him for less than the $50 million over four years that they are paying him, how can you argue with the results?

    Grade: A

Carlos Pena Signs with the Tampa Bay Rays

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    Stats Through May 29th: .202/.343/.365, 7 HR, 22 RBI

    Normally I wouldn't question Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon, but his decision to bat Carlos Pena leadoff is a puzzling one, regardless of power hitter's on-base percentage.

    Pena, who took a reduced salary to re-join the Rays on a one-year deal for $7.25 million, isn't one of the first names you think of when talking about leadoff hitters around the league.

    He's not particularly fast on the bases and as a low-average homerun hitter, you would traditionally want to have him hit lower in the order.

    Regardless, Pena has been  atrocious for Tampa Bay this season.

    After going 3-for-4 in the opener of a three-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays on April 17, Pena has gone 20-for-137 for a .146 average. His 62 strikeouts are tied for second in all of baseball with Rickie Weeks of the Milwaukee Brewers.

    His seven home runs and 22 RBI rank third on the Rays, but all things considered, this has been a pretty miserable reunion.

    Grade: D+

Albert Pujols Signs with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

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    Stats Through May 29th: .238/.282/.406, 8 HR, 28 RBI

    Signed to a 10-year, $250 million contract, to call the first two months of Albert Pujols' stay in Los Angeles anything but disappointing would simply be a lie.

    After waiting nearly two months, Pujols finally seems to be turning a corner for the Angels, who are slowly creeping back towards a .500 record and within striking distance of the AL West-leading Texas Rangers.

    Over his last seven games, Pujols has gone 11-for-28 (.393) with four home runs and eight RBI.

    Someone woke the sleeping giant, and that's bad news for the rest of the American League.

    Grade:

Carlos Quentin Traded to the San Diego Padres

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    Stats Through May 29th: .500/.556/1.125, 1 HR, 2 RBI

    In exchange for two minor league pitchers, San Diego acquired former Chicago White Sox slugger Carlos Quentin to provide some pop in the middle of their lineup.

    Unfortunately for the Padres, the only pop the Padres heard from him was the pop in his knee that required arthroscopic knee surgery and kept him sidelined for the entire season.

    Quentin finally made his Padres debut on Monday against the Cubs, and in his first two games with the interlocking "SD" on his batting helmet, Quentin has gone 4-for-8 with two doubles, a home run and two RBI.

    His health will continue to be a concern, but he should play well hitting between Yonder Alonso and Chase Headley.

    Grade: D

Aramis Ramirez Signs with the Milwaukee Brewers

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    Stats Through May 29th: .240/.313/.415, 4 HR, 27 RBI

    When Aramis Ramirez signed a three-year, $36 million deal with the Brewers this winter it seemed like a good deal for both sides. Ramirez joins a playoff contender while Milwaukee gets a bat to help fill the void left by Prince Fielder's departure.

    A rough April has been replaced by a better May and while his average and home run totals are low, his 25 RBI put him third on the team behind Ryan Braun and Jonathan Lucroy.

    He's been heating up over his past seven games, notching six hits over his last 16 at-bats (.375) with one double, one home run and five RBI.

    Grade: C+

Manny Ramirez Signs with the Oakland A's

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    Stats Through May 29th: Has yet to play with Oakland (suspended)

    One of the premier sluggers in baseball history with 555 home runs, Manny Ramirez has spent the first two months of the regular season suspended from baseball for violating the league's drug policy.

    With his suspension over and 10-game minor league rehab assignment expired, Ramirez is eligible to join the A's today, but he won't, as A's assistant GM David Frost told Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle: “We will continue to monitor Manny’s progress on a day to day to basis in hopes of bringing him to Oakland just as soon as he is ready to contribute at the major league level.”

    It's only a matter of time before Manny joins the A's and it will be interesting to see if he has anything left.

    Hitting in a lineup with newcomers Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Reddick, perhaps Manny has one more run of quality baseball left in him.

    Then again, maybe not. This signing was a total crap shoot.

    Grade: Incomplete

Josh Reddick Traded to the Oakland A's

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    Stats Through May 29th: .271/.340/.559, 14 HR, 27 RBI

    Josh Reddick has made A's fans forget about Ryan Sweeney, one of the players involved in the trade with Boston that bought Reddick to Oakland, that's for sure.

    Entering the 2011 season, Reddick had hit 10 home runs in 375 at-bats over the past three years with the Boston Red Sox, but he currently sits with 14 home runs on the season in 188 at-bats.

    Couple that with a cannon for a throwing arm and it's really irrelevant if the prospects that Oakland acquired with him turn out to be quality major league players or not.

    Reddick has already made this a great move for the A's.

    Grade: A+

Jose Reyes Signs with the Miami Marlins

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    Stats Through May 29th: .262/.342/.338, 0 HR, 9 RBI, 25 R, 15-for-19 SB

    After a dismal April that saw him post a batting line of .220/.293/.341 with six runs scored, three RBI and going only 4-of-7 on stolen base attempts, Jose Reyes has gotten hot in May.

    Over the past month, Reyes is hitting .294/.381/.339, drawing 16 walks to only seven strikeouts and swiping 11-of-12 bases. He has been even better over his past ten games, going 14-for-42 (.333) with seven runs scored and five stolen bases.

    While the six-year, $106 million contract that the Marlins gave Reyes is one that they could ultimately regret should his speed diminish, Reyes has erased his awful start to the season and is headed in the right direction.

    Grade: B-

Jonathan Sanchez and Ryan Verdugo Traded to the Kansas City Royals

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    Sanchez's Stats Through May 29th: 6 GS, 1-2, 6.75 ERA, 1.86 WHIP, 25.1 IP, 25 H, 22 BB, 18 K

    It was only two years ago that Jonathan Sanchez won 13 games, struck out more than 200 batters and helped the San Francisco Giants win their most recent World Series championship.

    On the 15-day disabled list since May 9 with biceps tendinitis, Sanchez has been downright awful for the Royals, unable to go more than five innings in any of his six starts.

    Sanchez is set to make his first rehab start tonight, and the Royals need him to return to form badly. Only Colorado and Minnesota have gotten less from their starting rotation than the Royals have.

    Verdugo has pitched well in 10 Triple-A starts (3-1, 3.61 ERA, 1.19 WHIP) and could find himself in Kansas City before long.

    Grade: D-

Sergio Santos Traded to the Toronto Blue Jays

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    Stats Through May 31: 0-1, 9.00 ERA, 2.00 WHIP, 5 IP, 6 H, 4 BB, 4 K, 2-for-4 SV

    Acquired from the Chicago White Sox in exchange for pitching prospect Nestor Molina, Sergio Santos was expected to take the reins as the closer in Toronto.

    Instead, he was largely ineffective over six appearances before going on the 15-day disabled list with inflammation in his right shoulder on April 21. His recuperation has taken longer than expected and there is no timetable for his return, as Blue Jays manager John Farrell tells Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com:

    I think every time we've given you a time frame it has ended up being a little bit longer. I'd like to think he can get to that distance by the mid to latter part of this coming week.

    He has been out to 120 feet on flat-ground long toss with some aggressiveness. The kind of the earmark, or the threshold, with the flat-ground work is when he gets out to 150 to 175 feet and he passes that with no issues then the mound is the next step.

    Until Santos returns to action and shows the stuff that allowed him to save 30 games for the Chicago White Sox in 2011, this goes down as a bad deal for the Blue Jays.

    Grade: D

Seth Smith Traded to the Oakland A's

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    Stats Through May 29th: .229/.354/.351, 4 HR, 12 RBI

    Acquired from the Colorado Rockies in exchange for pitchers Guilliermo Moscoso and Josh Outman, Seth Smith was expected to give the A's a consistent presence in the middle of their lineup.

    Smith has neither been a consistent performer at the plate or a consistent member of the starting lineup thus far in 2012.

    His .354 on-base percentage is second on the team to Jonny Gomes, the man he platoons with in left field.

    With Manny Ramirez expected to join the A's in the next few days, Smith could see his playing time continue to disappear.

    Grade: C- 

Huston Street Traded to the San Diego Padres

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    Stats Through May 29th: 10 G, 0-0, 0.93 ERA, 0.52 WHIP, 9.2 IP, 3 H, 2 BB, 13 K, 4-for-4 SV

    Asking why a non-contending team would spend nearly $6 million in salary for a closer is a fair question to ask.

    Huston Street, who has a history of injury, has been on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right lat muscle since May 5. He could start a rehab assignment at some point in the next week, and if he can remain healthy up until July, it's entirely feasible that the Padres would look to move him as the trade deadline nears.

    In the 10 games Street has pitched for the Padres so far, he's been excellent, allowing only one earned run and five baserunners. But the fact remains that he's missed nearly a month of action, and that lowers the grade on this move.

    Grade: C-

Josh Willingham Signs with the Minnesota Twins

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    Stats Through May 29th: .270/.399/.547, 9 HR, 32 RBI

    When Josh Willingham signed a three-year, $21 million contract with the Minnesota Twins, he expected that he was going from a perennial non-contender in Oakland to a perennial contender in the Twin Cities.

    Instead, the Twins have been the most disappointing team in all of baseball, sitting 15 games out of first place in the AL Central and with little hope of becoming relevant anytime soon.

    Some of that can be blamed on Willingham, who after hitting .347 in April has been awful in May, going 18-for-87 for a .207 average.

    He's ending the month on a high note, however, hitting a game-winning three-run home run in the bottom of the ninth inning on May 29 to beat his former team 3-2.

    Grade: B+

C.J. Wilson Signs with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

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    Stats Through May 28th: 6-4, 2.77 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 65 IP, 43 H, 29 BB, 59 K

    So far, C.J. Wilson has shown that he was deserving of the five-year, $77.5 million contract that the Angels gave him this winter.

    He has passed Dan Haren as the Angels second best starting pitcher behind Jered Weaver, giving the Halos eight quality starts over his first 11 games.

    With over $85 million committed to only eight players heading into 2013, it will be interesting to see whether Wilson's performance has any bearing on whether the Angels exercise the $15 million team option that they hold on Haren.

    Grade: A

Carlos Zambrano Traded to the Miami Marlins

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    Stats Through May 29th: 10 GS, 3-3, 3.00 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 66 IP, 49 H, 27 BB, 49 K

    Considering the cost to acquire him from the Chicago Cubs—mediocre fifth starter Chris Volstad—and with the Cubs picking up $15.5 million of the $18 million he's due in 2012, the only way this deal wouldn't work out for Miami was if Zambrano had one of his meltdowns.

    After losing two of his first five starts of the season, Zambrano has won four of his past five. He has pitched to a 2.85 ERA in May, and if you exclude last week's outing against the Colorado Rockies where Zambrano allowed seven earned runs over five innings of work, his ERA for the month drops to 1.32.

    There is always the threat of a disaster hanging over his head, especially with the volatile Ozzie Guillen at the helm for Miami, but the Marlins have to be ecstatic with how Zambrano has performed for them so far.

    Grade: B+