What a wild wind up to the Winter Meetings we saw with teams adding and subtracting pieces and jettisoning salary trying to stumble into the correct combination that will lead to post season glory.
So, let's see what just how we think teams did?
Didi Gregorius: Diamondbacks to Tigers to Yankees, Gregorius is an interesting add to the Yankees, but hardly a replacement for Derek Jeter. In fairness, no one would be a worthy successor to DJ anymore than would they be to Mickey Mantle or Willie Mays. Gregorius is clearly an offensive step up from Brendan Ryan, which unfortunately, is not saying too much (I think I might even be that). But, the Yankees need to do something. Alex Rodriguez may be able to play third, which means Martin Prado could play second, to Mark Teixeira's first base, but this team is aging and brittle, and we have not even started talking pitching. Looks like it might be a tough year to be in the Bronx.
Yoenis Cespedes: Boston to Tigers. On one hand, Cespedes is such a perfect fit to the Tigers powerful offensive scheme. Can you see him hitting between Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez? On the other hand, the team swapped Rick Porcello, and is not (yet) resigning Max Scherzer. That means David Price stays as the ace, but that Anibal Sanchez and Justin Verlander have to pick up the slack. As with the team's approach toward closers, I kind of get what they are doing, and yet I have no clue what the real plan is. I do think Detroit will play third fiddle to the Royals and Indians, however.
Dee Gordon: Dodgers to Miami. I think both the Dodgers and the Fish made a smart move here. I do sort of think that Gordon's value may never be higher. But, even if his numbers drop--which I expect as Gordon is a low on-base player, especially for a lead off hitter--he should still be valuable atop a Marlins team that includes perhaps the best up-and-coming outfield on the planet. Add in stabilizing the middle defense by pairing with Adeiny Hechavarria, and Miami's rebuild is on a nice path. In fact I am really looking forward to watching the Fish, Mets, Padres, Astros, and especially the Cubs who are all near the end of the rebuild process.
Howie Kendrick: Angels to Dodgers. The Dodgers surely needed a second sacker with the departure of Gordon, and I must confess to long being a big Kendrick fan. Under-rated and steady (.292-12-75 162-game mean with 14 swipes over his nine years) Kendrick is perfect for the Dodgers. I see him hitting second, putting up his career average numbers, and working well with new shortstop Jimmy Rollins.
Jimmy Rollins: Phillies to Dodgers. Just about the end of the line for J-Roll, but somehow, a perfect spot, holding short until Corey Seager is ready.
Matt Kemp: Dodgers to Padres. I am not sure I would swap off the potentially potent Kemp quite so readily, were I the Dodgers, but a lot of what they did was adjusting payroll to positions to opportunity.
First things first: San Diego, who has a lot of nice stuff going on, needed serious help in their outfield. The existing configuration--Carlos Quentin, Will Venable, and Seth Smith--is really a configuration of fourth outfielders, So Kemp adds impact and credibility out there. Rumor has it the Pads would also like to land Justin Upton, which makes things even more interesting.
The teams still has short and catcher (now that Yasmani Grandal is a Dodger), and their essentially young pitching staff will need to work into a groove by July, but San Diego could be a fun team in 2015, and really good in 2016.
As for what the Dodgers get is a chance to give Scott Van Slyke (.297-11-29 with a .910 OPS last year) and Joc Pederson patrol the outfield, along with vets Yasiel Puig and Carl Crawford. Toss in Grandal behind the plate, Rollins and Kendrick, and Adrian Gonzalez and the Bums look pretty good (though they still need someone at the hot corner).
Jon Lester: Free agent to Cubs. Talk about the perfect move, on a team with six monster prospects, a veteran presence like Lester's is just brilliant. For one, he knows what it takes to make the post season. For another, he can indeed mentor the likes of Javier Baez and Jorge Soler and Kris Bryant et al. But, this also tells all those great young prospects that management has confidence their team can compete, and are willing to pony up for a premier starter to prove it.
Picking a World Series winner is a dicey thing, especially when it comes to the Cubs, but in 2016, I think the Cubs will have the best team in the National League. And, I think they will at least afford an excellent chance of overcoming 100-plus years of post-season misery.