It's been a long, cold winter with no end in sight. So let's fire up the hot stove and see what we've got cooking this baseball offseason.
For the Cubs, I'm still scratching my head over the Marlon Byrd acquisition. I suppose he'd make a good fourth outfielder. But from what I can tell the Cubs are bringing him in to bat fifth. Last I checked, Byrd has played 8 seasons in the bigs, only one of which where he started 140+ games, and his career OBP/SLG is .340/.422 (mediocre). My thought here is that you bring in Byrd to bat fifth if you're trying to be the Texas Rangers. However, if you're trying to win the World Series, you figure out a different strategy.
The Tigers trading away Curtis Granderson and Edwin Jackson was a big deal. Much of the media talked about how great it was for the Yanks to pick up Granderson. But don't underestimate the D-Backs' acquisition of Jackson.
Even without the Tigers firesale, I liked the White Sox's chances in the division this year. With John Danks, Jake Peavy, Mark Buehrle, and Gavin Floyd at the top of the rotation, the Sox should be decent in starting pitching. With J.J. Putz now in the mix, their bullpen might be good too. Plus adding Juan Pierre in the leadoff spot is promising. If the Sox can stay healthy, they can compete with the Twins again.
The Cards signed Matt Holliday to a big fat contract. I don't know. It seems to me that $120 million is a little much for a guy who can't catch the ball under pressure. (Okay, I'm kidding. Or am I? Let's talk again next October.)
Cincy made a splash in the media by signing Cuban pitcher Aroldis Chapman. However, if Chapman were so good, why didn't the Yanks, Red Sox, or Mets sign him? Answer: He's not that good, and the Reds probably just wasted $30 million.
The young Marlins will be a team to watch this year. It looks like their biggest offseason move was to keep Josh Johnson, and there's nothing wrong with that. (Jayson Stark has an interesting take on Johnson's signing as it might relate to labor rules down the road. Okay, actually it was kind of a boring article, but I thought some parts were interesting.)
I was at first surprised by the Phils trade for the Jays' Roy Halladay. Although, after looking at the money and how Cliff Lee's contract is up at season's end, it did make business sense.
The Mariners were also part of that blockbuster Halladay deal, picking up Cliff Lee along the way. In fact, back in December I started to notice that the Mariners were part of several trades. Furthermore, for the most part I agreed with the Mariners' moves, including the Felix Hernandez extension, Chone Figgins signing, taking a flyer on Milton Bradley (who has .400/.500 potential) and dumping Adrian Beltre, to name but a few.
So who is the Mariners GM? His name is Jack Zduriencik (pronounced "zur-EN-sik"), and he has righted the Mariner ship since taking over in October 2008. He also was the first non-GM to win MLB Executive of the Year back in 2007. His excellent scouting was crucial to building the Milwaukee Brewers into a competitive club.
I'll keep a close eye on Zduriencik's future moves with the Mariners. If they're anything like his previous moves, it should be fun to watch.