Major League Baseball generally produces winners in cycles. There's a few exceptions to that rule, but the good teams that usually come and go throughout the decades bring special coaches, players and moments that we'll remember forever.
That being said, teams that have had success over the past few years are in a position of weakness heading into the 2013 season, and that starts with the Texas Rangers and New York Yankees—two teams that have dominated the last three years of play in the American League.
That's right—there's a changing of the guard in baseball.
Oakland, Baltimore and Detroit appear here to stay, while Toronto, Atlanta and Pittsburgh continued to improve with their offseason moves. Keeping up with the Jones' is harder and harder each season, and sometimes management can't keep pace—no matter how hard they try.
That's the case with these three teams. Despite their best efforts, there's more room to drop than move up when looking at the 2013 season—even if fans don't want to believe it.
Notable offseason moves: Lost OF Josh Hamilton, 1B/3B Michael Young, C/1B Mike Napoli, RP Mike Adams, SP Ryan Dempster, RP Koji Uehara, SP Scott Feldman. Signed C A.J. Pierzynski, 1B/DH Lance Berkman, RP Joakim Soria, RP Jason Frasor.
The Rangers' biggest loss was Josh Hamilton, and it's a loss that might have a resounding effect on their chances to repeat as playoff representatives from the AL West.
Even more so when you consider that Hamilton signed with the Los Angeles Angels.
While Hamilton is a big loss, so is Mike Napoli and the loss of top setup men Koji Uehara and Mike Adams. The Rangers are clearly not the same team that went to the World Series in 2011 and 2012, and that's going to be evident when youngsters like Justin Grimm, Jurickson Profar, Mitch Moreland and Martin Perez are counted on more than ever before.
Don't forget about Michael Young—Mr. Ranger to many fans—and the leadership that he provided to the clubhouse. The Angels are again ready to compete with two of the best sluggers in the game—Hamilton and Albert Pujols—the Oakland A's are the reigning AL West champs and even the Seattle Mariners and Houston Astros aren't going to be automatic wins this year.
That all spells trouble for what's been a brilliant three years in the history of this franchise.
New York Yankees
Notable offseason moves: Lost RP Rafael Soriano, OF Nick Swisher, SP Freddie Garcia, IF Eric Chavez. Signed RP Mariano Rivera, SP Hiroki Kuroda, 3B Kevin Youkilis, OF Ichiro Suzuki, DH Travis Hafner.
The Yankees won 97 games and managed to win the always-contested AL East with a classic end to the 2012 MLB season.
However, they continue to age at key positions (SS, SP) and are going to have to not only deal with an Alex Rodriguez injury, but his potential inclusion in yet another PED scandal. If his poor play and injuries weren't enough to make the team wish he wasn't around, media attention on baseball's ugliest secret sure will.
Elsewhere, Soriano is gone from the bullpen after a stellar finish to his campaign, and the Yankees continue to reload with older players (Suzuki, Hafner) in an effort to keep pace with the rest of the division. It's not hard to make the argument that every team in the AL East had a better offseason than New York (especially Toronto).
It's also troubling that Derek Jeter hasn't been cleared to run yet (via the New Jersey Star-Ledger) and that he'll turn 39 this season. Age, drama and an improving AL East all have the potential to doom the Yankees this year, or at the very least keep them from winning 97 games again.
However, if there's ever been a team that defied the odds year after year, it's the Yankees. They won't be the favorites coming into this season—and for good reason—but the Yankees have the veteran leadership and the pedigree for success that can't be discounted before the season starts.
That doesn't mean they won't slip out of first place in the AL East once the 2013 season is over, though.
Notable offseason moves: Lost OF Justin Upton, OF Chris Young, 3B Chris Johnson. Signed OF Cody Ross, SP Brandon McCarthy, RP Warner Madrigal, 3B Eric Chavez, C Wil Nieves, OF Eric Hinske, C Rod Barajas. Traded for IF/OF Martin Prado.
It's hard to say the Diamondbacks are going to take a step back after finishing 13 games out of first place in the NL West.
Still, it's hard to see them taking any steps forward.
Especially so when you look at the moves the defending champion San Francisco Giants did to keep their squad intact and the 2012/offseason moves that have now put the Los Angeles Dodgers as one of MLB's preseason favorites to win it all.
It also can't be discounted that the production that Young and Upton brought to the lineup will be sorely missed. Between the two stars, Arizona got tons of production in the lineup, production that is now going to have to be filled by Ross and Jason Kubel, among others.
I can't see Arizona being much more than a small-ball team, but with a great starting pitching staff that includes McCarthy from now, you can't discount the Diamondbacks as a sleeper in the National League.
That being said, it's hard to put the moves they've made above the rest of the division, and we'll have to wait and see what kind of offensive impact is lost from the two trades the team made during the offseason period.
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