MLB Teams That Have Officially Lost the Offseason
With a little more than a month left until pitchers and catchers report, many MLB teams are putting the finishing touches on their final rosters for 2013.
Through free agency and trades, many teams have tried to improve their chances to reaching the postseason.
Other teams, however, have been quiet for much of the winter.
In some cases, quiet can be good. Why mess up a good thing?
In other cases, however, quiet can register quite loudly among a fanbase clamoring for increased activity.
Here is a list of teams who have largely failed to deliver thus far this offseason.
There are two schools of thought on the relative inactivity of the Baltimore Orioles this offseason.
The first is that the O’s are content with building from within and avoiding the big-ticket signings that plagued them for much of the past 15 years.
The Orioles found some diamonds in the rough last season with Nate McLouth and unproven Taiwanese pitcher Wei-Yin Chen, and they’ve done a much better job in developing prospects as well. Manny Machado is here to stay, and L.J. Hoes, Dylan Bundy, Jonathan Schoop, Kevin Gausman and Xavier Avery clearly represent the future as well.
However, from the other side, a section of the fanbase is pulling out its hair as it watches the inactivity.
Those fans see holes that need to be filled (second base, DH, veteran starter). A reliance on Brian Roberts to be totally healthy in 2013 is a failed way of thinking to these fans. A tandem that includes Wilson Betemit and Chris Davis at DH is also not the solution. Also, having a dozen or so arms competing for five rotation spots is nice, but having a veteran arm to lead the way would have been nice as well.
For those legions of fans, the inactivity was not what they envisioned after making the playoffs for the first time in 15 seasons.
The first group is right; the Orioles didn’t need to jump into the free-agent pool and overpay for players.
But the second group is spot on as well because doing nothing solved nothing.
The Rocky Mountains are home to some of the most scenic vistas in North America. They are also the home of the Colorado Rockies and Coors Field, where good pitchers are reduced to tears in a manner of minutes.
Well, it’s not quite that melodramatic.
However, it seems that the humidor isn’t working its magic anymore. As a result, the Rockies are having a hard time convincing any pitcher not named Jeff Francis to come to town.
Instead, they’ll hope that Jorge de la Rosa, Jhoulys Chacin and Juan Nicasio can avoid injury. They’ll hope that others like Tyler Chatwood, Drew Pomeranz and Christian Friedrich can somehow figure out how to at least pitch somewhat effectively at home.
As is stands right now, they can’t even draw flies, let alone decent free agents.
With new ownership in place and a new start in a new league, the Houston Astros head into play next season armed with a massive $220 million payroll.
Oh—wait a minute. I misread that. There are actually one too many zeroes in that number.
The 2013 Houston Astros will have one of the lowest team payrolls in recent memory. It is projected to be somewhere around $21-$22 million range.
To put some perspective on that number, the San Diego Padres had the lowest payroll in baseball last season at $55.2 million.
Some might compare the current Astros’ situation to that of the Tampa Bay Rays—using the model of developing from within without spending money just for the sake of spending money.
It certainly worked for the Rays—over time—and it could work for the Astros as well.
But in the short term, a third straight 100-loss season is not out of the realm of possibility for a team that spent less than $5 million (Carlos Pena, $2.9 million; Jose Veras, $2 million) to upgrade its roster this winter.
The Astros’ lack of spending may have been by design, but it more than likely assured another year of pain for fans.
The Miami Marlins may have guaranteed they'd have a pretty dismal offseason with the moves they made before it even started.
The Marlins jettisoned Edward Mujica, Gaby Sanchez, Hanley Ramirez, Randy Choate, Omar Infante and Anibal Sanchez.
Then their offseason started.
Now, the additional departures of Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson, Jose Reyes, Emilio Bonifacio, John Buck and Heath Bell have added to the feeling of complete misery in South Florida.
But don't worry, Marlins fans, Giancarlo Stanton is still in town.
For the time being, anyway.
The Milwaukee Brewers took some steps this offseason to address needs in their bullpen. Burke Badenhop, Tom Gorzellany and Mike Gonzalez have all been added to bolster a 'pen that registered a league-worst 4.66 ERA last season.
But that will likely be the extent of their offseason plans.
With one of the worst TV contracts in all of baseball and a shrinking fanbase at Miller Park, owner Mark Atanassio set out to slash payroll this offseason. The Brewers will start the 2013 season with a payroll around $80-$85 million, down significantly from the $97.7 million spent in 2012.
The Brewers led the National League in runs scored in 2012, so the offense should be solid once again. However, the starting rotation will rely on Yovani Gallardo and several youngsters who will be asked to step up.
It may not have been a completely lost offseason for the Brewers, but the lack of available funds certainly didn’t help.
New York Mets
The New York Mets acquired a catcher (Travis d’Arnaud) who they believe can help lead them into the future. They also acquired a young fireballing right-hander (Noah Syndergaard) who offers promise for the starting rotation as well.
The problem is, they gave up the reigning Cy Young Award-winning pitcher in return.
R.A. Dickey is gone, and the Mets have made no other significant moves of any kind.
They haven’t even decided whether to bring back outfielder Scott Hairston, who likely won’t cost much more than $3 million per year.
A small-market mentality for a team playing in the largest market in the country is a recipe for disaster.
San Diego Padres
Much like the Houston Astros, the San Diego Padres are another team with new ownership. But armed with fresh money, the Padres have been quiet this offseason.
All they have done is bring back starting pitcher Jason Marquis on a $3 million deal.
With the Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants and Arizona Diamondbacks all busy this offseason bolstering their rosters, Marquis represents the biggest move made thus far by San Diego.
So much for making a big splash with new ownership.
The Seattle Mariners have featured the worst run-producing offense in the American League for the past four years.
They’ve solved that issue by signing Jason Bay and Raul Ibanez and trading for Kendrys Morales.
First of all, Bay is coming off a disastrous three years with the New York Mets, and Ibanez was solid for the New York Yankees, but at 40 years old, it’s a stretch to think that he can continue producing consistently on an everyday basis.
Morales will help, but durability questions still surround him due to his rebuilt left ankle. Still, Morales insists that he can play first base every day, and the fact that Morales got stronger as the season went on last year was an excellent sign.
However, one can’t help but feel like the Mariners didn’t do nearly enough to address their offensive deficiencies.
The offseason isn’t over yet. If the Mariners are successful in their pursuit of Washington Nationals outfielder/first baseman Michael Morse, I’ll be happy to take them off this list.
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.