Midseason Report Cards for MLB's 50 Biggest Offseason Moves

Doug Mead@@Sports_A_HolicCorrespondent IJuly 6, 2012

Midseason Report Cards for MLB's 50 Biggest Offseason Moves

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    Now halfway through the 2012 MLB season, it’s time to take a look at the moves made this past offseason.

    Every single team made a bid during the winter to bolster the club, some for the immediate future, others with more of a forward-thinking state of mind. Either through trades or free agency, successes and failures have thus far ruled the current day.

    In some cases, injuries have been the culprit, while for others it's just poor performance. For some teams, their signings or acquisitions have served to strengthen their team in ways unimagined by the general public at the time of the transaction.

    We will take a look at the 50 biggest transactions and grade them accordingly.

Wei-Yin Chen: Baltimore Orioles

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    Soon after the Baltimore Orioles named Dan Duquette their vice president of baseball operations, he went to work on improving a club that hasn't seen a winning season since 1997.

    Duquette looked to Asia for help, plucking southpaw pitcher Wei-Yin Chen from the Chunichi Dragons of Japan's Central League. Chen signed a three-year, $11.09 million contract with an additional option for the 2015 season.

    Thus far, the deal looks like a steal.

    Chen is 7-4 with a 3.64 ERA in 16 starts for the O's, helping to stabilize a starting rotation that was in dire straits.

    Grade: B+

Paul Maholm: Chicago Cubs

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    For the first seven years of his career, left-handed pitcher Paul Maholm plied his trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates, pitching for a team that was perennially at or near the bottom of the NL Central standings.

    In 2012, it's déjà vu all over again.

    Maholm signed a one-year, $4.75 million deal with the Chicago Cubs during the offseason and once again finds himself pitching for a cellar-dwelling team.

    Maholm has pitched well his last two starts, giving up just one run in 14.1 innings to raise his record to 6-6 and lower his ERA to 4.62.

    Grade: C

Joe Nathan: Texas Rangers

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    In late October, the Minnesota Twins declined a $12.5 million option on reliever Joe Nathan's contract. While it was thought at the time that the Twins would consider bringing Nathan back, the Texas Rangers had other plans.

    The Rangers signed Nathan to a two-year, $14 million contract with an option for the 2014 season. The acquisition allowed the Rangers to move Neftali Feliz to the starting rotation.

    It's hard to argue the results. While Feliz is currently on the disabled list with right elbow inflammation, Nathan has been terrific, posting 18 saves with a 1.87 ERA and looking very much like the Nathan of old. Nathan also earned his fifth All-Star selection last week.

    Grade: A

Ryan Doumit: Minnesota Twins

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    While it's safe to say that the Minnesota Twins are likely to be sellers this season, there's at least one player who is likely to stick around for a while—catcher/designated hitter Ryan Doumit.

    Signed to a one-year, $3 million deal this offseason, Doumit has fit in well with his new team, providing solid backup for catcher Joe Mauer and giving manager Ron Gardenhire plenty of versatility.

    In fact, the Twins signed Doumit to a two-year, $7 million extension last week, with Gardenhire saying:

    Doumit’s a blue-collar guy who grinds it out. He can do some things, catch, play some outfield, put some nice swings on the ball. He’s big for our ballclub. He comes here to play every day and we like those kinds of players.

    Doumit is hitting .279 with seven HR and 36 RBI in 64 games.

    Not many things have gone right for the Twins thus far in 2012, but Doumit has clearly been a good fit.

    Grade: B+

Bartolo Colon: Oakland Athletics

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    After receiving what some have called a controversial treatment to treat his ailing elbow and shoulder, Bartolo Colon returned in the 2011 season to pitch once again.

    Colon went through a procedure that injected stem cells from his body into his elbow and shoulder to help repair ligament damage and a torn rotator cuff.

    It was certainly enough to get Colon back on the mound, posting an 8-10 record and 4.00 ERA for the New York Yankees in 2011.

    The Oakland Athletics were impressed, offering Colon a one-year, $2 million deal to hurl for the A's in 2012.

    The results thus far have been mixed—Colon is 6-7 with a 4.05 ERA in 16 starts. He recently returned from the DL after an oblique strain knocked him out for two weeks.

    At times, Colon looks like the pitcher who won a Cy Young Award in 2005. Other times he looks like, well, a 39-year-old pitcher trying to hang on.

    Grade: C

Jamey Carroll: Minnesota Twins

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    When Terry Ryan stepped back up to become interim GM for the Minnesota Twins, he immediately went after an area of need.

    After seeing four different shortstops on four previous Opening Days, Ryan signed free-agent infielder Jamey Carroll to a two-year, $6.75 million contract.

    Carroll was seen as a guy with a steady glove and a great clubhouse presence who could get on base with relative regularity.

    For sure, Carroll has provided the steady glove, moving around between short, second and third throughout the season. The bat, however, has been streaky.

    After a very slow start, Carroll heated up, getting his average up to .260 by June 20. Since then, Carroll has swooned again, with just four hits in his last 38 at-bats.

    It's entirely possible that Carroll could be offered up in trade as the non-waiver trade deadline approaches. With a relative dearth of middle infielders available, Carroll could draw considerable interest.

    Grade: C-

Philadelphia Phillies: Jim Thome

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    With Ryan Howard shelved for a good portion of the 2012 season due to a torn Achilles tendon suffered in his final at-bat in the 2011 NLDS, the Philadelphia Phillies found it necessary to obtain a quality replacement bat.

    They looked no further than a known commodity—Jim Thome.

    Thome, who played for the Phillies from 2003 to 2005, signed a one-year, $1.25 million contract in November. Thome was signed to add provide an additional option at first base along with John Mayberry and Ty Wigginton, who was obtained in a trade from the Colorado Rockies.

    Unfortunately for the Phillies and Thome, his presence on the team didn't do much to perk up a team that struggled out of the gates. Thome was traded last week to the Baltimore Orioles, a clear sign that the Phillies have just about given up hope this season.

    It didn't help that Thome hurt his back in early May while playing first base, an indication that he's just not able to play the field on a regular basis.

    While Thome could certainly provide value as a DH for the Orioles, it wasn't going to happen in Philly.

    Grade: D+

Jonathan Broxton: Kansas City Royals

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    The Kansas City Royals haven't had a lot of success in the past 15 years or so, but this winter they may have found a needle in the haystack.

    In late November, the Royals signed reliever Jonathan Broxton to a one-year, $4 million contract. Broxton was brought in to be the setup man for incumbent closer Joakim Soria.

    However, Soria was felled with elbow ligament damage requiring Tommy John surgery in spring training, elevating Broxton back to his former role with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

    While Broxton may not have the blazing fastball he possessed in the late 2000s, he has been magnificent, posting 20 saves with a 2.05 ERA. Broxton was one of the five pitchers involved in the Final Vote for the American League All-Star team.

    Grade: A

David DeJesus: Chicago Cubs

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    One of the first major signings for the Chicago Cubs this offseason involved a player who was coming off a very subpar season—outfielder David DeJesus.

    DeJesus struggled throughout last year in his only season with the Oakland Athletics, hitting just .240 with 10 HR and 46 RBI.

    However, the new Cubs management team of Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer felt that DeJesus' down year in Oakland was the exception rather than the norm, inking him to a two-year, $10 million contract with an option for the 2014 season.

    DeJesus started out rather slowly, hitting just .250 with no homers and two RBI in the month of April. He has picked it up a bit since and is now hitting .272 with two HR and 21 RBI.

    Certainly more production had to have been expected, however.

    Grade: C-

Fernando Rodney: Tampa Bay Rays

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    It's amazing that year after year, the Tampa Bay Rays manage to find relievers on the scrap heap and turn them into precious metal once again.

    That's certainly been the case with Fernando Rodney, who was a complete bust during his time with the Los Angeles Angels.

    The Rays signed Rodney to a one-year, $2 million contract with an option for the 2013 season. Considering the results thus far, it might be safe to assume that Rodney's option will be picked up. He has posted 24 saves thus far with a 0.96 ERA, earning a selection to the AL All-Star team for his efforts.

    Grade: A+

Manny Ramirez: Oakland Athletics

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    By mid-February, it appeared that no team was willing to take a chance on slugger Manny Ramirez, especially considering he needed to serve a mandatory 50-game suspension.

    That didn't deter Oakland A's GM Billy Beane, who signed Manny to a $500,000 contract in late February.

    Manny was eligible for reinstatement on May 30. However, after playing 17 games for the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats and hitting .302 with only three extra-base hits (all doubles), the A's released Ramirez.

    Sure, the money was minimal, so not much risk was involved. But if you can't play your way into the A's lineup, chances are you can't play your way into any lineup in the majors.

    Grade: F

Edwin Jackson: Washington Nationals

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    As the offseason progressed, it appeared that many teams were scared off by the apparent contract demands of pitcher Edwin Jackson.

    It had been reported that Jackson was seeking a five-year, $60 million deal, and it became obvious that teams weren't willing to make that commitment to a pitcher with a career .500 record who was prone to wildness.

    Jackson finally backed down, realizing his goal was more of a pipe dream, signing a one-year, $11 million contract with the Washington Nationals in early February.

    Thus far, Jackson has been solid but not spectacular. In 16 starts, Jackson is 5-4 with a 3.73 ERA. The major plus thus far is Jackson's WHIP, currently at 1.135, well below his 1.447 career mark.

    Grade: C+

Milwaukee Brewers: Alex Gonzalez

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    This past offseason, the Milwaukee Brewers sought to replace the offense lost with the departure of free-agent first baseman Prince Fielder.

    They turned to the left side of their infield as a possible solution.

    The Brewers inked shortstop Alex Gonzalez to a one-year, $4.25 million contract in early December.

    Gonzalez slugged 15 homers for the Braves in 2011, albeit with a .241 average and .270 OBP. Still, GM Doug Melvin liked Gonzalez's defense and the ability to still hit the long ball.

    Unfortunately, the Brewers didn't get to see much of anything. Gonzalez suffered a torn ACL in a game against the San Francisco Giants on May 5, putting him down and out for season.

    Gonzalez had an additional vesting option for the 2013 season that kicked in if he reached 525 plate appearances. Obviously, that's not happening, and his MLB future is likely in jeopardy.

    Grade: F

A.J. Burnett to Pittsburgh Pirates for Diego Moreno and Exicardo Cayones

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    When the New York Yankees traded for pitcher Michael Pineda and signed free-agent pitcher Hiroki Kuroda within days of each other in late January, the writing was on the wall regarding the future of current Yankees pitcher A.J. Burnett.

    Sure enough, the Yankees executed a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates on Feb. 19, dealing Burnett in exchange for minor leaguers Diego Moreno and Exicardo Cayones.

    The Yankees also ponied up $20 million of the $33 million remaining on Burnett's contract.

    While Burnett's eye injury in spring training loomed as a bad sign, Burnett returned in mid-April and has been brilliant, posting a 9-2 record and 3.74 ERA in 14 starts.

    Burnett is riding a career-high eight-game winning streak for a Pirates team that's currently tied for the lead in the NL Central with the Cincinnati Reds.

    Grade: A

Erik Bedard: Pittsburgh Pirates

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    With Paul Maholm not returning for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2012, the Bucs were in need of a left-hander in their rotation.

    In early December, they addressed that need, signing free-agent southpaw Erik Bedard to a one-year, $4.5 million contract.

    Health was the main concern for Bedard considering his recent history. However, he has thus far stayed off the disabled list, providing 16 starts.

    Bedard started off strong, posting a 3-5 record and 3.12 ERA through the first two months of the season. Bedard's record was more the result of horrible run support than it was his effectiveness.

    Since then, however, Bedard has struggled, posting a 1-4 record and 7.04 ERA in his last six starts.

    Grade: C-

Clint Barmes: Pittsburgh Pirates

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    The Pittsburgh Pirates were looking to improve their infield offense over the offseason and looked to Clint Barmes as a possible answer.

    Barmes, who hit 12 HR with 39 RBI last season for the Houston Astros, was signed to a two-year, $10.5 million contract by the Pirates, who hoped he could replicate that production.

    So far, Barmes has spit the bit.

    In 74 games thus far, Barmes is hitting .204 with just four HR and 21 RBI. While the Pirates are certainly riding high in the NL Central, they're doing it despite a lack of production from the shortstop position.

    Grade: D-

Orioles Trade Jeremy Guthrie to Rockies for Jason Hammel and Matt Lindstrom

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    When the Baltimore Orioles dealt longtime starter Jeremy Guthrie to the Colorado Rockies for starting pitcher Jason Hammel and reliever Matt Lindstrom, the deal was thought to be of benefit to the Rockies.

    Local Baltimore writers offered their analysis immediately after the deal was consummated, with many of them agreeing that the deal was a bit of a head-scratcher.

    However, it's pretty hard to argue the results.

    Hammel has been outstanding for the O's, posting an 8-4 record and 3.43 ERA in 16 starts, earning a spot in the Final Vote for the last roster spot on the AL All-Star team. Hammel finished third in the vote behind winner Yu Darvish and runner-up Jake Peavy.

    Lindstrom has been solid as well, posting a 2.25 ERA in 16 appearances. Lindstrom recently returned from the disabled list after missing six weeks with a partially torn ligament in his right middle finger.

    On the other side of the trade, Guthrie found himself demoted to the bullpen after a horrible start in which he posted a 3-6 record and 7.02 ERA. Guthrie also saw time on the disabled list after injuring his right shoulder in a fall from his bicycle in late April.

    Baltimore Orioles Grade: A-

    Colorado Rockies Grade: F

Red Sox Trade Josh Reddick to Athletics for Andrew Bailey and Ryan Sweeney

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    Just before the start of the new year, the Boston Red Sox sought to address their need for a closer following the departure of free agent Jonathan Papelbon.

    On Dec. 28, the Red Sox acquired closer Andrew Bailey and outfielder Ryan Sweeney from the Oakland A's in exchange for right fielder Josh Reddick and minor leaguers Miles Head and Raul Alcantara.

    Reddick showed promise for the Red Sox in 2011, filling in for the injured J.D. Drew and hitting .280 with seven HR and 28 RBI. Nonetheless, the Sox felt that youngster Ryan Kalish provided more promise for the future.

    Needless to say, the deal has worked out extremely well for the A's. Reddick is hitting .259 with 19 HR and 41 RBI, with some feeling he deserved All-Star recognition.

    Meanwhile, Bailey has yet to suit up for the Red Sox following surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb. Ryan Sweeney has also missed time, out since June 16 with a stress fracture in his left big toe.

    Sweeney ended the month of April with a torrid .373 batting average but had come back down to earth at the time of his injury, hitting .292.

    Oakland A's Grade: A-

    Boston Red Sox Grade: D

A's Trade Cahill and Breslow to D-Backs for Parker, Cowgill and Cook

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    In early December, the Oakland A's traded off two key pieces of their pitching staff, dealing starter Trevor Cahill and reliever Craig Breslow to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

    In exchange, the A's received young starting prospect Jarrod Parker, reliever Ryan Cook and outfielder Collin Cowgill.

    At this point, the A's are the clear winners.

    Parker has been impressive, posting a 5-3 record and 2.46 ERA in 13 starts, clearly looking like the pitcher that was named the No. 26 prospect overall by Baseball America.

    Cook has been outstanding as well, posting an outstanding 1.50 ERA in 36 appearances, supplanting both Grant Balfour and Brian Fuentes as the A's closer and earning an All-Star selection.

    For the D-Backs, Cahill has been solid but not great, posting a 6-7 record and 3.63 ERA in 16 starts, while Breslow has been solid in the bullpen with a 3.00 ERA in 33 appearances.

    Oakland A's Grade: A-

    Arizona Diamondbacks Grade: D+. Have to penalize the D-Backs for giving up on two young prospects who have shined thus far.

Aaron Harang: Los Angeles Dodgers

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    After an excellent season with the San Diego Padres in 2011, starting pitcher Aaron Harang found himself a new home in 2012.

    The Los Angeles Dodgers signed Harang to a two-year, $12 million contract with an option for the 2014 season. Thus far, Harang has largely delivered.

    Harang is 6-5 with a 3.51 ERA in 17 starts, providing quality innings in the middle of the rotation for the Dodgers.

    Grade: B

Chris Capuano: Los Angeles Dodgers

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    In addition to signing Aaron Harang, the Los Angeles Dodgers signed Chris Capuano to a two-year deal.

    Capuano signed for $10 million including an option for the 2014 season, a year after posting an 11-12 record and 4.55 ERA in 31 starts.

    So far, Capuano might just be one of the big steals of the year.

    Capuano is 9-3 with a 2.62 ERA for the Dodgers in 17 starts, with many thinking that he was snubbed for the NL All-Star team.

    Grade: A

Giants Trade Andres Torres and Ramon Ramirez to Mets for Angel Pagan

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    At first glance, when the San Francisco Giants traded center fielder Andres Torres and reliever Ramon Ramirez to the New York Mets for center fielder Angel Pagan, it looked like two teams exchanging outfielders that needed a change of scenery.

    Neither Torres nor Pagan put up stellar numbers in 2011—Pagan saw diminished numbers after an excellent 2010 season, hitting .262 with seven HR and 56 RBI, while Torres hit just .221 in 112 games after an outstanding 2010 season as well.

    However, Pagan is four years younger, so the Giants threw Ramirez into the package as well, and so far the Giants have the upper hand.

    Pagan has been excellent, posting a .288 average, five HR and 31 RBI with 15 stolen bases.

    Torres has yet to deliver, hitting just .201 for the Mets with one HR and 20 RBI in 59 games. Ramirez hasn't exactly been stellar either, posting a 4.30 ERA in 25 appearances, famously injuring his hamstring while celebrating teammate Johan Santana's no-hitter on June 1.

    San Francisco Giants: B+

    New York Mets: D+

Frank Francisco: New York Mets

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    This past offseason, New York Mets GM Sandy Alderson sought to remake a bullpen that ranked second-last in the National League in 2011 with a 4.33 ERA.

    Alderson went to work, signing free-agent reliever Frank Francisco to a two-year, $12 million contract.

    Francisco has saved 18 games for the Mets, but the term "potential heart attack" comes to mind when seeing him trot out of the bullpen.

    Francisco has blown three saves and posted a 4.97 ERA along with a 1.586 WHIP. Nothing is automatic when Francisco comes in.

    Grade: D+

Carlos Pena: Tampa Bay Rays

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    First baseman Carlos Pena took a 25 percent pay cut to return to his former home, the Tampa Bay Rays.

    Pena slugged 28 home runs during his lone season with the Chicago Cubs after spending four seasons in Tampa. The Rays wanted more power in their lineup after deciding not to bring back Casey Kotchman for another season.

    Thus far, Pena is close to the pace set last year, with 13 HR and 36 RBI at the midway point. However, he is also hitting only .199 with 103 strikeouts.

    Grade: C-

Luke Scott: Tampa Bay Rays

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    Luke Scott suffered through a miserable season in 2011 with the Baltimore Orioles. First, a groin injury forced him to miss a few games in early April. Then a torn labrum in his shoulder required surgery, ending his season in late July.

    Despite playing just 64 games, the Rays saw Scott's potential as a power-hitting designated hitter, signing him to a one-year, $6 million contract with an option for the 2013 season.

    However, injuries have once again crept into the equation. Scott landed on the disabled list in early June with back stiffness, missing close to three weeks in the process. Since his return on June 28, Scott is hitless in 21 at-bats through July 4, dropping his average to .197 for the season with nine HR and 36 RBI.

    Grade: C-

Red Sox Trade Jed Lowrie and Kyle Weiland to Astros for Mark Melancon

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    In December, the Boston Red Sox said goodbye to a player long thought to be the answer at shortstop for the long term.

    Jed Lowrie suffered a spate of injuries during his Red Sox career that clearly led to his demise in Boston. He was traded along with pitcher Kyle Weiland to the Houston Astros for reliever Mark Melancon.

    Melancon was thought to add depth to the Red Sox bullpen. However, he was demoted to Triple-A Pawtucket in April after giving up 11 runs on 10 hits in four outings totaling two innings. Melancon is back with the big club, having returned in mid-June. Since his return, he has been considerably better, posting a 0.93 ERA in nine appearances.

    Lowrie has provided excellent production for the Astros, hitting .255 with 14 HR and 35 RBI. However, it's thought that Lowrie could be used as a trade chip for the Astros in order to acquire more attractive prospects for the future.

    Boston Red Sox Grade: C

    Houston Astros Grade: B

Red Sox Trade Marco Scutaro to Rockies for Clayton Mortensen

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    There was certainly nothing flashy about shortstop Marco Scutaro during his two seasons with the Boston Red Sox, but he did provide a steady presence.

    Nonetheless, despite already trading one shortstop earlier in the offseason (Jed Lowrie), the Sox unloaded another, trading Scutaro to the Colorado Rockies for pitcher Clayton Mortensen.

    Scutaro has been just as steady for the Rockies, hitting .285 as their everyday second baseman, moving over to fill in at shortstop in the absence of star Troy Tulowitzki.

    Mortensen just can't seem to stick with the big club, being optioned back to Triple-A Pawtucket on Wednesday despite providing stellar relief, with a 1.35 ERA in eight appearances, including five innings of one-run ball in relief of Daisuke Matsuzaka on Monday night.

    Colorado Rockies Grade: B

    Boston Red Sox Grade: C

Cody Ross: Boston Red Sox

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    Despite missing a month after fouling a pitch off his foot and fracturing his left foot, Boston Red Sox outfielder Cody Ross has found his groove once again.

    After signing a one-year, $3 million deal in late January, some thought that Fenway Park was the perfect place for Ross to find his swing after suffering through a miserable 2011 season with the San Francisco Giants.

    They were right.

    Ross is hitting .275 with 12 HR and 39 RBI in 53 games and has added a key bat for the Sox in the absence of outfielders Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford.

    Grade: B+

Aramis Ramirez: Milwaukee Brewers

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    The Milwaukee Brewers sought an answer to their decline in offensive production due to the departure of free-agent first baseman Prince Fielder.

    They found one by signing longtime Chicago Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez to a three-year, $36 million contract with an option for the 2015 season.

    Thus far, Ramirez has hit 10 HR with 50 RBI along with a .265 batting average. While the home run production is slightly down, Ramirez is on pace to drive in 100 RBI for the seventh time in his career.

    Grade: B-

Yankees Trade Jesus Montero, Hector Noesi to M's for Michael Pineda, Jose Campos

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    It's not often in Major League Baseball that two teams engage in a trade involving what amounts to an even-up exchange for young talent.

    But that's what took place on Jan. 23 when the New York Yankees traded promising catching prospect Jesus Montero along with pitcher Hector Noesi to the Seattle Mariners for pitcher Michael Pineda and minor leaguer Jose Campos.

    Montero shined during his September call-up last year, hitting .328 with four HR and 12 RBI in 18 games.

    Pineda finished fifth in AL Rookie of the Year Award balloting after posting a 9-10 record and 3.74 ERA in 28 starts. However, Pineda struggled in the second half, posting a 1-4 record and 5.12 ERA in 10 starts after the All-Star break.

    Pineda struggled during spring training to gain velocity and was placed on the disabled in late March after complaining of pain behind his right shoulder. He was eventually shut down for the season after being diagnosed with a labrum tear in his right shoulder that required surgery.

    Montero has had his ups and downs in his first full season in Seattle, hitting .245 with eight HR and 28 RBI, splitting his time between catcher and designated hitter.

    Noesi has pretty much been a disaster, posting a 2-11 record and 5.77 ERA in 17 starts.

    New York Yankees Grade: F

    Seattle Mariners: D+

    So far, this trade hasn't really done wonders for either team. It could certainly be considered incomplete based on Pineda's season-ending surgery, and a true grade really can't be determined until he returns. But in grading how it's working out right now, I'm sticking with the above.

Hiroki Kuroda: New York Yankees

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    When the New York Yankees signed Hiroki Kuroda to a one-year, $10 million deal on Jan. 26, GM Brian Cashman had essentially completed an overhauling of his starting rotation along with the addition of Michael Pineda just three days earlier.

    While Pineda didn't pan out, at least for this year, Kuroda certainly has.

    In 16 starts, Kuroda is 8-7 with a 3.17 ERA, providing quality innings in the wake of questions continuing to surround the Yankees rotation. Kuroda was outstanding in the month of June, posting a 4-1 record and 1.98 ERA in six starts.

    Grade: B+

Giants Acquire Melky Cabrera from Royals for Jonathan Sanchez and Ryan Verdugo

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    When the San Francisco Giants obtained outfielder Melky Cabrera from Kansas City Royals for pitcher Jonathan Sanchez and minor league pitcher Ryan Verdugo, they were hoping that Cabrera would be at least as good as he was in 2011 for the Royals.

    Cabrera has been all that and a whole lot more.

    Cabrera has clearly been the MVP for the Giants in the first half, hitting .354 with seven homers, 39 RBI and a league-leading 114 hits. Cabrera was rewarded for his efforts by being selected as a starting outfielder for the NL in the All-Star Game on July 10.

    Sanchez has struggled mightily for the Royals, posting a 1-4 record and 6.80 ERA in 10 starts, missing six weeks of time with biceps tendinitis as well.

    San Francisco Giants Grade: A+

    Kansas City Royals Grade: D-

Ryan Madson: Cincinnati Reds

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    The Cincinnati Reds took a chance this offseason, and it cost them $8.5 million.

    Weeks after the Philadelphia Phillies reportedly pulled a four-year, $44 million offer off the table, the Reds swooped in and signed closer Ryan Madson to a one-year, $8.5 million contract.

    That money is now safely in Madson's pocket despite not pitching even one game.

    After battling elbow soreness all spring, Madson was diagnosed with a torn UCL requiring Tommy John surgery. The Reds were forced to scramble as a result.

    Does anyone else think due diligence wasn't served properly here?

    Grade: F

Padres Trade Latos to Reds for Alonso, Grandal, Volquez and Boxberger

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    It's not often that a lopsided deal winds up in favor of both teams, but you could argue that the trade between the San Diego Padres and Cincinnati Reds has indeed worked out for both.

    The Padres and Reds completed a blockbuster trade on Dec. 17, with the Padres sending star pitcher Mat Latos to the Reds for first baseman Yonder Alonso, catcher Yasmani Grandal and pitchers Edinson Volquez and Brad Boxberger.

    Latos has posted a 7-2 record in 16 starts for the Reds, but the ERA is a full run higher than last year at 4.42, indicating that maybe Petco Park really did help just a bit.

    Alonso is hitting .260 with three HR and 23 RBI thus far for the Padres. Volquez is 5-7 with a 3.68 ERA in 17 starts, and Boxberger spent two weeks with the big club in June, posting a 1.42 ERA in five relief appearances.

    Grandal could be the big find here for the Padres. Called up in late June to replace the poor-hitting Nick Hundley, Grandal became the first player in MLB to hit home runs from both sides of the plate for his first two major league hits.

    Cincinnati Reds Grade: B-

    San Diego Padres Grade: B-

Indians Obtain Derek Lowe from Braves for Minor Leaguer Chris Jones

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    When the Cleveland Indians obtained starting pitcher Derek Lowe from the Atlanta Braves for minor league pitcher Chris Jones, the deal made absolute sense at the time.

    The Braves paid $10 million of the $15 owed to Lowe in the final year of his contract, so money wasn't a huge factor for the Tribe.

    In addition, they got a veteran arm to offset youngsters Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez, Jeanmar Gomez and Josh Tomlin.

    Lowe started out like a house afire, posting a 6-1 record and 2.05 ERA through May 15. He has since cooled considerably, posting a 2-5 record and 6.43 ERA in nine starts since.

    Grade: C+

Yu Darvish: Texas Rangers

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    The Texas Rangers posted the largest posting fee ever for a Japanese player, dishing out $51.7 million just for the right to negotiate exclusively with pitcher Yu Darvish.

    The Rangers and Darvish agreed on a six-year, $60 million contract an hour before the deadline in mid-January, and it's hard to argue thus far that the $111 million wasn't worth it for the Rangers.

    Darvish is 10-5 with a 3.59 ERA in 16 starts for Texas, with 117 strikeouts in 102.2 innings.

    On Thursday, Darvish was announced as the winner in the Final Vote for the remaining spot on the AL All-Star team, beating out Jake Peavy, Jonathan Broxton, Ernesto Frieri and Jason Hammel.

    Grade: A-

Blue Jays Acquire Sergio Santos from White Sox for Nestor Molina

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    When the Toronto Blue Jays acquired closer Sergio Santos from the Chicago White Sox for minor league prospect Nestor Molina, it caught many by surprise, including Santos.

    However, so far the Jays haven't seen the fruits of their labor.

    After just six appearances, Santos landed on the disabled list with inflammation in his right shoulder and has gone through several setbacks with no current timetable for a return.

    Molina was also shut down in late June for a couple of starts after experiencing pain in his right elbow.

    Chicago White Sox Grade: C

    Toronto Blue Jays Grade: C

    This has been pretty much a wash for both teams thus far.

Mark Buehrle: Miami Marlins

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    When the Miami Marlins went looking for an impact starting pitcher, they didn't have to look very far in their search.

    Mark Buehrle had already pitched for eight seasons under new Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen in Chicago, so he followed Guillen, signing a four-year, $58 million contract.

    Buehrle is 8-8 with a 3.25 ERA in 16 starts thus far, providing quality innings for a team that often is unable to back its rotation with capable run support.

    Grade: B-

Michael Cuddyer: Colorado Rockies

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    There is an awful lot that hasn't gone right for the Colorado Rockies thus far in 2012, as evidenced by their 31-51 record.

    However, the addition of Michael Cuddyer hasn't hurt.

    Cuddyer, signed to a three-year, $31.5 million contract, has hit 12 HR with 49 RBI thus far, also providing manager Jim Tracy with defensive flexibility, playing 10 games at first base as well as in right field.

    Grade: B-

Josh Willingham: Minnesota Twins

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    During the offseason, the Minnesota Twins decided to part ways with longtime players Jason Kubel and Michael Cuddyer, creating an obvious hole offensively.

    They plugged part of that hole by signing outfielder Josh Willingham to a three-year, $27 million contract.

    Willingham has delivered with a .269 batting average, 18 HR and 59 RBI. Willingham is easily on pace to surpass his career highs in both homers and RBI, and he arguably was the team's MVP through the first half.

    Grade: A-

Jason Kubel: Arizona Diamondbacks

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    After seven seasons with the Minnesota Twins, outfielder Jason Kubel found a new home in the desert.

    The Arizona Diamondbacks signed Kubel to a two-year, $16 million contract with an option for the 2014 season.

    Thus far, Kubel has largely delivered, posting a .296 average with a team-leading 14 HR and 58 RBI. With Justin Upton getting off to a slow start, Kubel's presence in the lineup was certainly a welcome sight.

    Grade: A-

Jonathan Papelbon: Philadelphia Phillies

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    The Philadelphia Phillies' season thus far has pretty much been a disaster, now 37-47 and sitting in last place in the NL East.

    Their new acquisition, closer Jonathan Papelbon, hasn't been the cause of it, but he hasn't necessarily been lights out either.

    The Phillies signed Papelbon to a four-year, $50 million contract with a vesting option for the 2016 season, the largest contact ever given to a closer in MLB history.

    Papelbon has at times been dominant, but at times he has also looked human, including on Thursday. Papelbon gave up a walk-off single to New York Mets third baseman David Wright to drive in Jordany Valdespin with the winning run in a come-from-behind 6-5 win for the Mets.

    Papelbon is now 2-3 with 18 saves and a 3.45 ERA. Has he been worth a record contract thus far? You might find a few Phillies fans who disagree right about now.

    Grade: C

Padres Get Carlos Quentin from White Sox for Pedro Hernandez and Simon Castro

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    This deal may not necessarily be complete yet, considering the trade speculation concerning Carlos Quentin.

    Acquired from the Chicago White Sox in late December for minor leaguers Pedro Hernandez and Simon Castro, Quentin didn't make his debut with the Padres until May 28 after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery.

    Quentin started out on a hot streak but has cooled considerably, now hitting .289 with seven HR and 16 RBI. If Quentin is offered up for trade by the Padres, he would likely bolster the Padres' already stocked farm system.

    Hernandez has pitched well in Double-A ball for the White Sox, with a 7-2 record and 2.75 ERA in 12 starts. Castro was recently promoted to Triple-A after posting a 6-3 record and 3.60 ERA in 13 starts at Double-A Birmingham.

    Chicago White Sox Grade: B

    San Diego Padres Grade: B-

Heath Bell: Miami Marlins

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    As part of the buying spree executed by the Miami Marlins and owner Jeffrey Loria, Heath Bell found himself at least $27 million richer, but the Marlins may be crying as a result.

    Bell, after signing a three-year, $27 million contract with an option for the 2015 season, has definitely not provided equal return value.

    Bell blew another save on Tuesday night, giving up a walk-off, two-run home run to Aramis Ramirez, allowing the Brewers to win 13-12 in 10 innings.

    Bell redeemed himself on Wednesday, picking up his 18th save of the season in a 7-6 win over the Brewers. But the 6.19 ERA and five blown saves thus far were not what the Marlins and Loria had in mind.

    Grade: F

A's Trade Gonzalez and Gilliam to Nationals for Cole, Milone, Norris and Peacock

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    Washington Nationals GM Mike Rizzo made a deal to acquire an impact starting pitcher, and he may just have found himself a future Cy Young Award winner.

    Rizzo acquired southpaw Gio Gonzalez and minor leaguer Robert Gilliam from the Oakland A's in exchange for pitchers Brad Peacock, Tommy Milone and A.J. Cole and catcher Derek Norris.

    Gonzalez was named to his second All-Star team after posting an 11-3 record and 3.01 ERA in 16 starts.

    Milone hasn't been awful either, posting an 8-6 record and 3.73 ERA in 16 starts for the A's. Peacock has struggled, posting a 7.00 ERA in 17 starts at Triple-A Sacramento. Cole started quickly, posting a 4-0 record and 2.58 ERA in eight starts at Single-A Burlington, but he has struggled after his promotion to Advanced Single-A Stockton with an 0-7 record and 7.82 ERA in eight starts.

    Norris was recently called up, giving manager Bob Melvin another option behind the plate along with the struggling Kurt Suzuki. Norris is hitting .294 with two HR and six RBI in nine games since his call-up.

    Washington Nationals Grade: A

    Oakland A's Grade: B

Casey Kotchman: Cleveland Indians

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    After the Tampa Bay Rays opted not to bring him back for another season, first baseman Casey Kotchman had to wait quite a while before finding his next home in the majors.

    The oft-traveled Kotchman finally inked a one-year, $3 million deal with the Cleveland Indians, his sixth team in the last five seasons.

    Kotchman has been criticized for his perceived lack of production at the first base position, and that probably hasn't changed much after his first half with the Tribe.

    Kotchman has provided a slash line of .231/.289/.355 thus far with seven HR and 31 RBI.

    Grade: C-

Carlos Beltran: St. Louis Cardinals

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    It would be difficult to look at this deal thus far for the St. Louis Cardinals and not proclaim it a smashing success.

    Looking to replace the offense left behind by the departed Albert Pujols, the Cardinals inked free-agent right fielder Carlos Beltran to a two-year, $26 million contract.

    Any concerns about Beltran's injury history prior to the signing has certainly been a moot point thus far. Beltran has hit .304 with 20 HR and 63 RBI, earning a start by virtue of fans in the upcoming All-Star game for the National League.

    Grade: A+

Jose Reyes: Miami Marlins

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    The former New York Mets shortstop got himself a big payday this offseason, becoming one of the first elite players on the market to sign.

    Reyes inked a six-year, $106 million contract with the Miami Marlins with an additional option for the 2018 season.

    The Marlins signed Reyes with the hopes that he would provide a spark at the top of their lineup.

    They're still waiting for that spark to ignite.

    Reyes is hitting .270, a far cry from the .337 average that earned him the NL's top batting honors last season. While he hasn't been terrible, he's been nowhere near the player the Marlins expected to provide a boost.

    Grade: C-

Prince Fielder: Detroit Tigers

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    Detroit Tigers owner Mike Ilitch came out of nowhere this offseason in snatching up one of the prized players on the free-agent market.

    Ilitch put his stamp of approval on a nine-year, $214 million contract for former Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder.

    The deal sparked an outcry of approval from fans in Motown, especially with designated hitter Victor Martinez likely done for the 2012 season after tearing his ACL during workouts.

    Thus far, Fielder has been solid with a .298 average, 13 HR and 58 RBI. The home run production is a bit down, and Fielder's presence in the lineup hasn't been enough to lift the Tigers out of their doldrums. The Tigers are sitting at 41-42 but just 4.5 games behind the Chicago White Sox in the NL Central.

    Fielder also earned the fans' vote for the starting nod as the first baseman in the upcoming All-Star game on July 10.

    Grade: B

Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson: Los Angeles Angels

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    On one day in early December, Los Angeles Angels owner Arte Moreno spent more money on two free agents than some teams have paid for free agents in their entire history.

    When the day ended on Dec. 8, 2011, Moreno had paid out a total of $331.5 million to acquire first baseman Albert Pujols and starting pitcher C.J. Wilson.

    If this deal were to be analyzed in late April, the grade would likely be much worse. However, after Pujols endured a homer-less April, he finally heated up. Pujols is now hitting .273 with 13 HR and 49 RBI.

    Wilson, on the other hand, has been stellar from the start. Now 9-4 with a 2.33 ERA in 17 starts, Wilson was named to his second consecutive All-Star team and has partnered with Jered Weaver to provide a formidable 1-2 punch at the top of the Angels rotation.

    Grade: B+

     

    Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle.