The ten best moves by teams in this year's off-season and its selection of free agents and trade bait.
1. Matt Holliday: signs seven year $120 million deal to stay with St. Louis.
Matt Holliday was wise to re-sign with the Cardinals, especially because he was on a massive tear with the Cardinals once he was traded from Oakland. Hitting right behind Albert Pujols in the lineup now gives the Cardinals a devastating 3-4 duo in the middle of their lineup.
Having Holliday all season will definitely benefit St. Louis. The Cardinals were the only real hard pursuers of the slugger. I couldn't have imagined him going anywhere else.
2. Jason Bay: signs four year deal for $66 million with an option for fifth year with the New York Mets.
The Mets were desperate for a power bat in the middle of the lineup who can hit over 30 home runs and drive in close to 100 R.B.I.'s. The Mets having healthy key players, along with power hitting Jason Bay in left field, should make a huge improvement from 2009.
The Mets success really depends on the health of their new key player Bay, along with their pitching, which is weak behind Santana.
3. Chone Figgins: signs four year deal for $36 million with an option for a fifth year with the Seattle Mariners.
Adding Figgins to man third base, along with his blazing speed at the top of the lineup with Ichiro, gives the Mariners a huge threat at the top of their batting order. Figgins, will hit second behind Ichiro. Figgins is also versatile, and is a very good defender.
4. Roy Halladay: traded from Toronto to Philladelphia and part of a four-team trade and also agrees to a three year extension for $60 million, with an option for a fourth year.
Now that the NL Champs have added one of the best pitchers in all of baseball, the Phillies have a very good pitching rotation, and have no real weaknesses. Adding Halladay will continue to put the Phils on top and be considered the best team in the National League for the next couple of years.
If only the Phils could have had both Halladay and Lee, that would have been nasty for opponents and one of the best 1-2 pitching punches in recent memory. The Phillies were still the favorite to make it to the World Series again, but with Halladay, it is a given now. The Blue Jays received some really good prospects in return.
5. Mariners acquire Cliff Lee from the Phillies in part of the blockbuster four-team trade for Roy Halladay for prospects.
The Mariners now have the best 1-2 pitching punch in all of baseball, and didn't have to give up top prospects to land Lee. Lee will be pitching behind King Felix, and will benefit from pitching in a pitcher friendly park Safeco Field, while helping carry the Mariners to a hopeful postseason berth.
Seattle was in desperate need of another good, durable, and reliable pitcher, but bringing in the left-handed Lee is unheard of. Philadelphia got some good prospects to make up for some of the ones they traded for Halladay.
6. John Lackey: signs five year deal for $82.5 million dollars with the Boston Red Sox.
Well Lackey hasn't had a lot of success pitching at Fenway, but he should be fine primarily because he isn't going to be the ace, the role Josh Beckett has held for years.
Boston now has one of the strongest pitching rotations in all of baseball, and with this rotation the Red Sox should be able to contend and possibly be able to beat the rival Yankees.
Since they missed out on signing Jason Bay, they spent their money elsewhere and made pitching their first priority.
7. Yankees acquire Curtis Granderson from Detroit in a three team trade for Phil Coke, Austin Jackson, and Ian Kennedy.
Giving up stud prospect Jackson was tough for the Bombers, but in the long run and future, it is totally worth it. Granderson is an all-star player who is very good defensively, has good speed, and can hit with some pop. He is also locked up for the next four years.
New York needed another outfielder to replace Damon. This now puts the Yankees on top as the favorites to repeat as World Series champions. The Tigers got some good talent in return.
8. Red Sox sign Mike Cameron, Adrian Beltre, and Marco Scutaro.
After signing Lackey, the Sox needed some guys to fill in for the loss of Jason Bay in left field. So, the Sox signed three players who will make their defense one of the best in all of baseball. Even better, all three guys can hit the ball too and will makeup for the loss of Jason Bay. The Sox can actually compete with the Yankees.
9. Angels sign Matsui, Rodney, and Pineiro.
Replacing Lackey, Guerrero, and Figgins is no easy task. The Angels did a very good job filling in the holes using other veterans, and did so without overspending on other top free agents.
With the additions of Matsui, Rodney, and Pineiro, the Angels should still be in pretty good shape, but not be quite as good as in years past. They must look out for a new team in the AL West, the Seattle Mariners.
10. My last one is hard, it's between the Diamondbacks acquiring Edwin Jackson, in part of the three team trade with NYY and DET, or the Brewers signing pitchers Randy Wolf, Doug Davis, and LaTroy Hawkins.
I have to go with the Brewers on this one. The Brewers came out with an off-season goal, and that was to improve its pitching, particularly in the starting rotation. So Milwaukee went out and got the top left-handed staring pitcher on the market in Wolf, then signed bullpen insurance with Hawkins.
The offense is pretty good with Fielder and Braun, but ever since Sabathia and Sheets have left the Brewers' pitching has been a mess.
I know that there were a lot of other great moves along with a lot of bad deals this off-season, but these ten moves will make all the the following teams that I mentioned improve, and also filled a lot of that team's holes.
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