With baseball season right around the corner, let’s recap the winners and losers of the 2009-2010 MLB Off-Season.
New York Yankees – The defending champions made a few key moves to solidify their roster. The acquisition of SP Javier Vazquez from the Atlanta Braves will prove vital to the Yankees’ rotation, especially since it’s almost a done deal that Chien-Ming Wang will sign with a team other than the Yankees. Vazquez, who was second in the NL last year with 238 K’s, will combine with CC Sabathia and AJ Burnett to form a formidable pitching staff. The Bronx Bombers also added CF Curtis Granderson to the roster, a player with tremendous work ethic and speed, and were able to get rid of disappointment Ian Kennedy in the process. While the losses of Melky Cabrera, Phil Coke, and Austin Jackson hurt, the Yankees have done well to fill the holes they’ve left. If the New York can work Phil Hughes into a consistent pitcher, and figure out what to do with Joba Chamberlain, the Yankees could be headed back to the World Series.
Boston Red Sox – The Sox also had a good off-season, improving their rotation with the addition of John Lackey, a pitcher who managed 11 Wins last year in 27 games with the Angels. They also signed 3B Adrian Beltre and picked up OF Jeremy Hermida from the Marlins. I believe Hermida will turn out to be a great pickup, because the Red Sox didn’t give up much, and Hermida has been a pretty good bat for the Marlins in past years. He’s no Albert Pujols, but he has some hot streaks and could help Boston down the stretch. The Red Sox also made a couple of other signings, they added SS Marco Scutaro and 3B Bill Hall, and were able to get rid of Casey Kotchman, who was almost worthless after the Red Sox picked up C/1B Victor Martinez. Like the Yankees, the Red Sox have also done a pretty good job in filling the holes left by several departing players, including big bat Jason Bay. The Red Sox have certainly improved this off-season, and they should be able to make it back to the playoffs this year.
Seattle Mariners – The Mariners went from laughing stock of the American League to favorites for the AL West this off-season. Seattle locked up ace Felix Hernandez by signing him to a five year deal. King Felix dominated AL hitters, posting a 2.49 ERA and amassing 19 wins. The Mariners added SP Cliff Lee, who won the AL Cy Young in 2008 and helped lead the Philadelphia Phillies to the World Series in 2009. In addition to Lee, they also picked up a bundle of good players: RP Brandon League, RP Chad Cordero, 3B Chone Figgins, and 1B Casey Kotchman. The Marniers also have 1B Dustin Ackley, who they took with their first-round selection in the 2009 MLB Draft. The Mariners have significantly improved their offense, starting rotation, and bullpen this off-season, and will make a statement this year.
New York Mets – The Mets left several holes unfilled this winter. At the beginning of the offseason, there was talk of the Mets going after C Bengie Molina, a great veteran catcher who would help an inconsistent Mets’ offense. Instead the Mets decided to sign Catchers Chris Coste and Henry Blanco, who don’t provide much offense at all. The Mets also failed to sign a pitcher to help Johan Santana in the starting rotation, and a decent 1B to replace Carlos Delgado. Mike Jacobs and Fernando Tatis certainly won’t get the job done. They didn’t fill the hole left by departing RP J.J. Putz, instead taking a huge risk on injury-prone RP Kelvim Escobar. The Mets felt they needed to strengthen their outfield, which shouldn’t have been their main priority. They initially decided to strengthen it with the addition of Jason Bay, but then decided they would throw the towel in and trade for OF Gary Matthews, Jr. The Matthews, Jr. trade was the most curious, as he hit just .250 in 103 games last year. His speed, power, and defense are all on a steep decline.
Los Angeles Angels – The Angels were hurt this off-season by the departures of 3B Chone Figgins, DH Vladimir Guerrero, and SP John Lackey. When these consistent veterans filed for free agency, the Angels made a decent attempt at filling the voids these three left, with DH Hideki Matsui, SP Joel Pinero and RP Fernando Rodney, but the moves simply won’t be enough this season. While Pinero is a pretty decent option, you never know what you’re going to get out of Matsui, and you know you’re not getting a consistent reliever in Fernando Rodney. Instead of a good option at 3B in Chone Figgins, the Angels will have to hope disappointing youngster Brandon Wood, who is a career .192 hitter, can hold down the third base position.
Johnny Damon – A player who was a great fit in New York over-estimated his value and now still remains unsigned, and that can be attributed to Scott Boras. If it weren’t for Boras, Damon would be in pinstripes. Instead, Damon will most likely sign with the Detroit Tigers, a team he won’t fit in as well with, for the same amount of money the Yankees initially offered. Damon wanted to stay in New York, but his bloated value kept him out.
The upcoming season is sure to be a competitive one, with several emerging contenders. Some teams like the Mets and Angels still have some unfinished business to take care of, while others, like the Yankees, Red Sox, and Mariners have improved their chances. Check back in the next few weeks for my season predictions.
Kenny Ducey is the owner of The Sports Guys, and a contributor to Bleacher Report.