The off-season is slowing down a bit before pitchers and catchers report to spring training next month. A majority of moves have been made, teams are analyzing their near finished product of free agency signings and trades. The New York Post has chimed in on how the AL East teams fared in their respective off-seasons and ranked the Yankees third.
The Post said the Red Sox had the best off-season upgrades, followed by the Blue Jays, Yankees, Orioles, then Rays. Giving the Red Sox the #1 spot for off-season upgrades is understandable. They acquired Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval, Wade Miley, Rick Porcello, and Justin Masterson. I would argue that one of their biggest issues was acquiring Justin Masterson. They lost Yoenis Cespedes in order to acquire Porcello. What is not mentioned is also losing Jon Lester because he was technically a mid-season trade.
Let’s be honest, the team and the city expected him back in Boston this spring and that is a huge loss going into 2015. In all, the Red Sox grabbed a lot of upgrades, but their pitching could still kill them.
The Blue Jays added one of the best young third basemen in baseball in Josh Donaldson, suddenly renowned catcher Russell Martin, outfielder Michael Saunders and first baseman Justin Smoak. To go with their short list of additions, the lose Melky Cabrera, Brett Lawrie, and Colby Rasmus. Keep in mind, we are only talking about the major league level. The Blue Jays lost a lot in order to grab Donaldson from the Athletics.
This team is essentially adding Donaldson and Martin while losing Cabrera. If the Yankees had grabbed Smoak, they would have been laughed right out of the newspapers, even at $1 million. Melky Cabrera was a huge loss for this team. He gets on base, he scores runs, and he plays a strong outfield. He has improved at each stop in his career and Chicago should be no exception. While the Blue Jays will benefit from securing the hot corner and backstop, this is a very similar team to last year.
The turnover and additions to the Yankees could fill a book. The Yankees landed righty relievers David Carpenter and Justin Wilson, starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi, shortstop Didi Gregorius, lefty relievers Andrew Miller and Chasen Shreve, and DH Alex Rodriguez, They lost backup catcher Francisco Cervelli, starting pitchers Shane Greene, Hiroki Kuroda, and Brandon McCarthy, reliever David Phelps, closer David Robertson, outfielder Ichiro Suzuki, utility guy Martin Prado, and legendary shortstop Derek Jeter.
At first glance, the Yankees really lost a lot. The biggest losses were Kuroda, McCarthy, and Robertson. However, the Yankees have given themselves one of the best bullpens in all of baseball and have Dellin Betances ready to take over the ninth.
Forgetting the name for a second, having $500K per year young gun Gregarius take over for Jeter at short is both an upgrade defensively and a toss-up offensively. One must also keep in mind that the team signed Chase Headley to a four year contract to secure third base. He needs to be considered a new addition despite joining the team in July.
Lastly, despite his age, you cannot dismiss the addition of A-Rod for the 2015 season. No one knows what he has left, if anything, but his teammates love him. He is going to be a positive influence in the clubhouse, even if he is destroyed publically all season. Jose Pirela and Rob Refsnyder should bolster the infield if and when they get to the Bronx this year.
The Baltimore Orioles did nothing to improve and lost Nelson Cruz, Nick Markakis, and Andrew Miller. Short and sweet, this team will not be winning the division in 2015 even with a healthy Manny Machado.
Lastly, the Tampa Bay Rays. If trading away Wil Myers, Yunel Escobar, and Ben Zobrist doesn’t say they are waving the white flag I don’t know what does. The Rays lost not only their genius of a GM to the Dodgers, but they have begun the process of trading their top players for parts. Don’t forget they traded star pitcher David Price in July of last season. The team is prepared to return to the cellar of the AL East despite their strong rotation.
The Post article was not posing who the best team in the AL East is. It was answering who had the best off-season. Sandoval for the Red Sox and Headley are essentially a wash, although the Red Sox paid $43 million dollars more for his serves despite only signing him to one more year.
They did a great job of grabbing arms to fill out their formerly nonexistent rotation, but they are all average arms. The Sox don’t have a 1-5, it’s more of a bunch of third starters. They also got rid of Cespedes to grab one of those arms.
The Yankees infield is much better than it was one day one of the 2014 season. Additionally, the bullpen will shorten the game for the team. Eovaldi is a massive question mark as the newcomer. The Yankees will see a lot more out of Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, and Ivan Nova this season, but I’m only here to talk about new additions. Starting pitching is definitely a bigger question mark than it was a year ago.
The Blue Jays got better at two positions and got much worse at one. The Orioles didn’t add anyone and lost a lot. The Rays are getting ready for the 2017 season.
To say the Blue Jays had a better off-season than the Yankees is an absolute joke. The Blue Jays did nothing to get better pitching, starting or relieving. We’ll see if Russell the Muscle can keep up his much improved offense from the 2014 season.
The Red Sox additions were few, but big splashes. The Yankees made a lot of moves that didn’t grab headlines but made the team better. The Red Sox definitely had the biggest loss with Lester, but losing Kuroda and McCarthy is going to hurt the Yankees too. The Red Sox may be more complete as a team for 2015 (even that is debatable) but the Yankees had a better off-season upgrading.