MLB 2011: Which Offseason Additions will Benefit their New Teams the Most?
Every offseason, teams try to identify their biggest weaknesses and fill them with the best available players, whether it's through free agency or via trade. There were some big additions this year, but which players will have the biggest impact on their new teams?
It isn't always the dollar amounts that dictate talent and there were plenty of bargains to be had.
So let's take a look at who's going to give their respective team the biggest boost in 2011.
J.J. Hardy, Baltimore Orioles
J.J Hardy is a flashy player. He's not going to steal a lot of bases or hit ton of homers, but what he is going to do is give the Baltimore Orioles a reliable bat and an upgrade at shortstop.
Last season, Hardy batted .268 with six home runs, 38 RBI and an OBP of .320.
His production has dropped in the last two seasons as his durability has become questionable; he played in just 101 games last season, and just 115 in 2009.
If Hardy is healthy all season, he can give the Orioles 20-25 home runs and 70-80 RBIs, a big improvement from last year's performance from Cesar Izturis.
Juan Uribe, Los Angeles Dodgers
Juan Uribe helps the Dodgers in several different areas, and at $7 million per, he could work out to be a real bargain.
Uribe can play all over the infield, logging games at three different positions for the World Champion San Francisco Giants last season, though it seems he'll get most of his reps at second base in 2011.
He hit just .248 last season, but collected 24 home runs and 85 RBIs. The Dodgers could certainly use the extra pop Uribe can provide, but where he'll really excel is driving in runs.
Last season, Uribe his .270 with five home runs with runners in scoring position and a rediculous .571 with the bases loaded.
The Dodgers were 11th in the National League in runs and second-to-last in home runs. They need power and they need it badly. Uribe wont crush 40 homers, but he'll provide versatility within the infield and at least a little extra power.
Hideki Matsui, Oakland A's
If there was anything holding the A's back last season, it was a lack of offense. They've made plenty of moves to address that, adding Josh Willingham and David DeJesus, but Hideki Matsui was a bargain and could be huge for them
Matsui, 36, hit .274 with 21 home runs and 84 RBI for Anaheim last season; good production from any player. He should serve as the A's primary DH, upgrading their production at that spot. Oakland was ninth in the AL in DH production, getting just 15 home runs and 74 RBIs.
Matsui is moving to a more pitcher friendly park in Oakland, which might worry some A's fans, but the Coliseum was actually just as lefty-friendly as Angel Stadium, ranking 23rd and 22nd in home runs, respectively, according to ESPN's Park Factor.
Carlos Pena, Chicago Cubs
Carlos Pena is one of those under-the radar additions we've seen this offseason. Don't let the .196 batting average fool you; this guy can hit. From 2007-2009, Pena drove in at least 100 runs and hit at least 30 homers. Though his stats took a hit last season, he still managed 28 homers and 84 RBI.
If he can find this his power stroke from 2007, when he drove in 121 runs while batting .282, the Cubs may really have something with this guy.
He's going to strikeout a lot, averaging 171 per season, but when he makes contact, the ball goes far, and at one-year and $10 million, he could be a real bargain.
Jayson Werth, Washington Nationals
Ladies and Gentlemen...the $126 million dollar man!
The Washington Nationals were so desperate to lure a big free agent that they had to overpay to get one. And yes, it is true that small-market teams will always have to overpay to bring in talent when they don't have much of a chance at winning, but no one thinks this is a good deal for Washington.
Last season, Werth hit .296 with 27 home runs and 85 RBI, his best overall season while in Philly. It wasn't really until the last four years that Werth became a star player.
Despite a WAR of 5.2 and a .532 slugging percentage, Werth wasn't exactly clutch last season. Werth hit just .186 with runners in scoring position and .139 with runners in scoring position and two out.
He'll give the Nationals a reliable bat to compliment Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche, but Werth will have to put up big numbers to justify his contract.
Mark Reynolds, Baltimore Orioles
Say what you will about Mark Reynolds and his strikeouts, but the guy can plain hit. Traded to the Baltimore Orioles from the Arizona Diamondbacks, Reynolds will be the big power threat that the Orioles didn't have last season.
Don't let the .198 BA fool you, Reynolds was able to throw in 33 home runs and 85 RBIs to go along with it, down from 44 homers and 102 RBI in 2009.
Is he going to strikeout a lot? Most definitely. He averages 221 k's per season, but much in the same thread as guys like Ryan Howard and Carlos Pena, Reynolds is a bat that opposing pitchers need to worry about.
He's moving from the NL West to the difficult AL East, so an upgrade in the quality of opponents may impact his numbers, but his value to the lineup is still high.
Dan Uggla, Atlanta Braves
When the Florida Marlins shipped Dan Uggla within their own division to the Atlanta Braves rather than pay him, Braves fans were more than willing to take him.
Uggla, 30, had the best season of his career in 2010, setting career-highs in batting average (.287), home runs (33), RBIs (105), OBP (.369) and OPS (.877).
In return for Uggla, the Marlins acquired utilityman Omar Infante and pitcher Mike Dunn. Both players will be positives for the Marlins, but wont be nearly as valuable as Uggla.
Uggla filled a big offseason need for the Braves, a right-handed power bat to slide into the lineup with Brian McCann, Jason Heyward and Chipper Jones. Throw in rookie first baseman Freddy Freeman, and the Braves have assembled one of the top lineups in the National League.
For as much pitching as the Philadelphia Phillies have, the Braves have as much offense, not to mention a pretty decent starting rotation of their own.
Shaun Marcum, Milwaukee Brewers
For those of you looking for the best under-the-radar signings of this offseason, Marcum certainly qualifies for that list. Acquired from the Toronto Blue Jays for Brett Lawrie, Marcum gives the Brewers an excellent No. 3 starter, and along with Yovani Gallardo and Zack Greinke, the Brewers really have something cooking.
Pitching in the toughest division in baseball, Marcum was 13-8 with a 3.64 ERA and 1.15 WHIP in 31 starts for Toronto.
His ground ball/fly ball rate (0.63) might be an issue playing in stadiums like Miller Park, Great American Ballpark and Minute Maid Park, but with the Brewers' offense behind him, a winning record is all but guaranteed for Marcum in 2011.
He could work out to be one of the biggest steals of this offseason.
Matt Garza, Chicago Cubs
At the moment, it looks like the Chicago Cubs gave up way too much for a pitcher like Matt Garza. However, as far as I know, no one is able to see into the future, so no one knows how the prospects the Tampa Bay Rays received will perform in the future.
We can however make a safe assumption about Garza's future performances for the Cubs--he'll be a solid starting pitcher.
Garza has played the last three seasons in the AL East and as a result, he's battle tested and fearless with his pitch selection. Last season, Garza went 15-10 with a 3.91 ERA, 150 strikeouts and a 1.12 WHIP.
With Garza, Ryan Dempster and Carlos Zambrano, the Cubs have assembled a rotation capable of competing with the much improved Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central.
The eight players the Cubs gave up to acquire Garza, which includes top pitching prospect Chris Archer and infield prospect Ju-Hak Lee, was way too much. But Garza will be a strong and reliable rotation piece for the Cubs in 2011.
Victor Martinez, Detrioit Tigers
Victor Martinez can do a little bit of everything. He can catch and play first base, though he doesn't do either particularly well. But the one thing he can do is hit.
Last season, Martinez hit .302 with 20 home runs and 79 RBI, playing the majority of the season as catcher for the Boston Red Sox.
While Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski has indicated that Martinez's primary role with the team will be as a DH, the Tigers also need some help at catcher, so having Martinez gives them excellent flexibility.
In 2008 and 2009, Tigers catchers posted WARs of a combined 0.8. That number rose to 1.9 in 2010, but that was still good for just sixth best in the American League.
DH hasn't been much better for the Tigers, having ranked next-to-last in batting average, slugging percentage and OPS over the last three seasons.
Having Martinez doesn't immediately turn the Tigers into division champions, but it gives them the ability to moves pieces around as they wish during the season, improving multiple positions in the process.
Rafael Soriano, New York Yankees
Last season for the Tampa Bay Rays, Soriano was the best closer in baseball, collecting a MLB-high 45 saves with a 1.73 ERA and 0.80 WHIP. Good thing he'll be closing for the Yankees, right? Well, no, that job still belongs to the greatest closer of all-tim, Mariano Rivera.
In desperate need of a big signing, and much to the chagrin of GM Brian Cashman, the Yankees signed Soriano to a three-year, $35 million contract. He has opt-out clauses in each of the first two years.
Salary aside, this was a great pickup for the Yankees. With the strength of their starting pitching in serious doubt, the Yankees are now able to lock down wins after six innings. If they can't assemble a good rotation, they can at least make the games shorter.
Soriano will serve as the bridge to Rivera and will join David Robertson, Joba Chamberlain and Pedro Feliciano to form one of the best bullpens in baseball.
Zack Greinke, Milwaukee Brewers
Make no mistake, the Milwaukee Brewers have visions of playoff baseball in their heads for 2011. They have assembled one of the best rotations in baseball and certainly the best in the NL Central, on paper anyway.
Yovani Gallardo will be joined by offseason acquisition Shaun Marcum, but all eyes will be on Zack Greinke.
Greinke is a pitcher surrounded by questions. How will he perform on a good team in a division race? Was his 2009 Cy Young campaign a fluke? How will his issues with anxiety play out through the season when the pressure is one?
Those are all valid questions, but one thing we can't question is that Greinke has talent.
Entering the 2010 season, a lot of expected of Greinke, but he wasn't able to come close to his Cy Young numbers. Greinke finished last season 10-14 with a 4.17 ERA and his numbers were down across the board.
Greinke has never been shy about admitting it was hard to get motivated to play for a basement-dweller like Kansas City, so he's got to show what he can do when he's playing for a legit contender.
So what's it going to be? 2009 or 2010? Cy Young candidate or one-hit wonder? Will the real Zack Greinke please stand up!?
Adrian Beltre, Texas Rangers
Beltre is a player to keep your eyes on in 2011, not to mention the entire Texas Rangers offense. After posting his best numbers since 2004, Beltre signed a big six-year, $96 million contract to play in Arlington.
Last season, Beltre hit .321 with 28 home runs and 102 RBI. He slugged .553 and posted a WAR of 6.1.
Can he do it again this season? We'll find out. The biggest knock against Beltre has been his love of contract seasons. Now that his one-year stint in Boston has paid off for him, we'll see if Beltre can get rid of that stigma with back-to-back big seasons.
Having Beltre gives the Rangers a solution for the loss of Vlad Guerrero by moving Michael Young to DH, not to mention that Beltre is an excellent defensive third baseman.
The Rangers are paying Beltre big money over the next six-years and it would be a shame if it didn't work out.
Adam Dunn, Chicago White Sox
Write this down in permanent marker: Adam Dunn will hit at least 40 home runs and drive in at least 100 runs in 2011.
Adam Dunn is nothing more than a creature of habit. He has a habit for crushing tape measure home runs and getting one base. He'll flirt with 200 strikeouts every season, but he'll give you over 100 walks too.
Last season, Dunn hit 38 home runs with 103 RBI and an OBP of .356 for the Washington Nationals.
The Chicago White Sox signed Dunn to a four-year, $56 million contract this offseason, giving them the left-handed bat they were looking for. Dunn will most likely DH in 2011, allowing him to focus everything on hitting...something which should scare opposing pitchers.
Cliff Lee, Philadelphia Phillies
We all know the story of how Cliff Lee returned to Philadelphia. The bidding for his services was confined to the New York Yankees and Texas Rangers until Philly swooped in like a thief in the night and stole him out from under them.
According to Lee, it wasn't the money, though he will make more annually in Philly than in New York; it was the thought of joining Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels in the best rotation in baseball. And it's that thought that makes other teams sick to their stomachs.
A quick glance at Lee's 2010 numbers will show you a seemingly so-so pitcher. 12-9 with a 3.18 ERA isn't exactly mind blowing, but it's in the postseason where Lee really shines. A career 7-2 record in the playoffs with a 2.13 ERA is why the Phillies wanted to get him back.
A master of control (18 walks in 2010), Lee has Phillies fans salivating at the thought of 2011. How many games can they win with a rotation like that? We'll have to wait and see, but one thing is for sure: Lee is going to dominate.
Carl Crawford, Boston Red Sox
Carl Crawford became the highest paid outfielder in baseball history when he signed with the Boston Red Sox, stabbing Tampa Bay Rays fans in the back in the process.
While questions have been raised regarding the length and dollars of the deal, one thing that cannot be questioned is Crawford's production.
While playing in the thoughest division in baseball, Crawford has averaged 54 stolen bases, 100 runs and a .296 batting average every season, not to mention his excellent outfield defense.
The addition of Crawford, along with Adrian Gonzalez, gives the Red Sox the best lineup in baseball. If their starting rotation shapes up, the Red Sox can walk right through the AL East and into the World Series in 2011.
Adrian Gonzalez, Boston Red Sox
Before the big trade that sent him to Boston, Adrian Gonzalez was probably the most underrated player in baseball. Hiding behind a small salary, and hidden in the small market of San Diego, Gonzalez has been putting up big numbers.
Hitting in the very spacious PETCO Park, Gonzalez has averaged 32 home runs and 99 RBI over his six year career, all with the San Diego Padres. Quite simply, Gonzalez was the ENTIRE Padre offense.
The Padres received solid prospects in return for Gonzalez, most notably pitcher Casey Kelly, but the Red Sox are the obvious winners of this deal.
Placing Gonzalez at first base and moving Kevin Youkilis back to third base instantly solves the loss of Adrian Beltre to free agency.
Baseball writers everywhere are salivating while trying to project the numbers Gonzalez will put up in Fenway Park and personally, I can't wait to watch him play.
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