The off season is in full swing, and with it, teams are making moves via trades or dipping into the Free Agency market. We've, of course, focused mainly on the Astros but now may be a good time to examine some of the moves made by other teams. We'll start in the AL East:
- As usual, the Yankees have stolen the show. Their 2008 season can be summed up as dissapointing and painfully dissapointing. Injuries abounded with this team last year, with their starting pitching staff taking the biggest hits with Chien Ming Wang, Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain all missing significant time. Two big contracts to CC Sabathia (7 yrs/$161 million) and AJ Burnett (5 yrs/$82.5 million) later, and the Yankees seem to have one of the best starting rotations in baseball going into 2009. They'll probably regret the big money offers in a few year, however...but comparisons of Burnett and Carl Pavano are unwarranted to me. Pavano lacked the pure stuff that Burnett has, and Burnett was largely injury free in 2008. How a man like CC Sabathia could leave the meat and beer capital of America is beyond me. CC's former teammate Mike Cameron is also rumored to be heading to the Bronx in exchange for the Melk man, Melky Cabrera
- The Baltimore Orioles have stayed relatively quiet so far this offseason, besides non-tendering pitchers Rheal Cormier and Daniel Cabrera. Cabrera apparently has seen interest from eleven teams, with one even offering a multi-year deal. He's had control issues his entire career, but still offers a projected WARP of 3.1 for next year....Cormier is a former Phil, but our bullpen is already full, so don't look for him to join the Astros
- The AL champion Tampa Bay Rays made a significant move in trading fifth starter Edwin Jackson to Detroit for reserve outfielder Matt Joyce. Tampa was dealing from a position of strength and were able to snag a young outfielder with some pop. Jackson was due to an arbitration induced raise, so the deal made sense on multiple levels for TB. The team is still looking to add a slugging outfielder to replace well...so they can have one. Pat Burrell, anyone?
- Matt Clement was signed to a minor league deal by the Toronto Blue Jays, and it's their hope that he can return to form after missing all of 2007 and 2008 with shoulder issues. Losing the aforementioned Burnett to the Yankees won't help the cause either. While their pitchers led the AL in runs allowed (610), their hitters ranked only 11th in runs scored (714). The team finished with basically the same record as our Astros, 86-76, but their Pythogorean Record was a sterling 93-69. In other words, the opposite of the Astros. It's tough competing with the Yankees in free agency, but the loss of Burnett may have hit this team pretty hard unless their offense is able to perform up to snuff. Their problem is that a lot of their hitters played about as well as can be expected. Perhaps Alex Rios can improve upon a season where he OPS'ed only .798 (111 OPS+), but he seems to be the only Jays regular that can outperform their 2008 season. David Eckstein's grit, tenacity and heady play can only do so much to make up for his .358 SLG%
- Finally, the Boston Red Sox non tendered Tim Wakefield's caddy, Kevin Cash.... The team explored a Julio Lugo for Nate Robertson or Dontrelle Willis deak, but that trade never came to be. Jason Varitek was offered arbitration but the deal was declined by 'Tek. Mark Teixiera has been on their radar, and it looks like it'll take somewhere around 8 yrs/$160 million to land the slugging first baseman. Could Rocco Baldelli come in as a fourth outfielder? Will The Captain return to play behind the dish?