Best thoughts going out to all of you for the best and safest of holiday seasons, as back we are this time with a look at the annual winter meetings, and the winners and losers therein. So, let's just have at it.
Boston Red Sox: Boy, if there is truly a big time winner for the month of December, with the signing of Carl Crawford, and trade for Adrian Gonzalez. Clearly the team to beat, on paper anyway, going into the 2011 season on the AL side. Maybe in MLB. Winners.
Giants: The defending World Champs pretty much pulled an attrition, losing the likes of Juan Uribe, Edgar Renteria, and Aaron Rowand, while retaining Pat Burrell and Aubrey Huff, and adding Miguel Tejada. Especially if Mark DeRosa returns in any kind of shape, the Giants will be no worse than they were going into 2010, which is not bad. As the season progresses, should they be able to work Brandon Belt and, maybe Conor Gillaspie into the infield mix, they could become a force. Winners.
Pirates: No, I don't think the Pirates will contend, but, they do have some fun young names in Andrew McCutcheon, Pedro Alvarez, Jose Tabata, and add in second sacker Neil Walker. But, the Bucs did well picking up throwaways with acceptable resumes and some potential. For example, to buoy the existing rotation of Paul Maholm and James McDonald, the Buccos added Scott Olsen (who is still just 26) and Kevin Correia. And, adding to their outfield signing Matt Diaz is also a nice move and again, though the Pirates don't have the horses to make the post season, they look improved. And that is a good thing. Winners
Orioles: The O's are in a similar position to the Pirates: many losing seasons in a row, with some bright young players, in a tough division. So, the Orioles took Mark Reynolds and JJ Hardy, and for better or worse, those are not the missing parts as I see it to portend a competitive team. Losers.
Angels: When was the last time the Angels went this far into the following season without adding a big name? It has been a while, but in truth, as nice an addition as Carl Crawford would have made, the Halos still have a very nice lineup. If Peter Borjous can show he can hit at the major league level, and if Kendry Morales can keep healthy, and if either Alberto Callaspo or Brandon Wood shows they can play third base all season, the Angels, in the always interesting AL West, will compete. After all, their worst starter is Joel Piniero and Juan Rivera is their DH. And, they have Mike Scioscia as a manager. Huge. Winners.
Rays: Another team in transition, but, like the Angels, the Rays have enough basic talent--and they have some players in the minors as well--in the majors right now that there is no need to panic. Think that they let go of Jason Bartlett, Carl Crawford and Carlos Pena, and still field a pretty good team. Reid Brignac becomes the shortstop, Dan Johnson inherits first base, and with Desmond Jennings in the fold, left field is covered. The Rays have the luxury of a deep rotation, especially with Jeremy Hellickson as a sixth potential starter, so that gives a bargaining chip to Tampa, a team that is still quite young and steady. Winners.
Cubs: The Cubs added Carlos Pena when they could play Tyler Colvin at first, and are now stuck with Blake DeWitt at second. I don't know, but were it me, I would have tried harder to get Brendans Ryan or Harris to play second, and not worried so much about first. Losers.
Mariners: Oh boy, adding Jack Cust and taking another chance on Erik Bedard. The plus side is the M's have Dustin Ackley. The down side is they don't have much else and even if Ackley is a monster, he won't be the difference between making the Mariners good, and staying mediocre. Losers.
Phillies: Going into 2010, the best team in the majors did very little on the surface, making those under the radar moves--signing Dennis Reyes, Brandon Moss, Jeff Larish, and Jesse Barfield--that a winning team does. I just have to think a couple of these new Phils will make the team and make a contribution as the Phils main roster is pretty well set, with the only newbie to the starting lineup is probably Domonic Brown. Again, no moves means basically a good move. Winners.
Nationals: They spent a wad on Jason Werth, and are rumored to be after Cliff Lee, though Washington is unlikely to seal the deal with the lefty. Like the Rays did, the Nats have a bundle of great prospects and names, and even if Stephen Strasburg is out till 2012, they would not seriously compete till then anyway. Which is right around when Bryce Harper should be ready. So, why they spent a bundle on Werth is beyond me. Bad move. Bad. Losers.
That is it for this time. Please again, have a great holiday season. I will be back second Tuesday in January with the Top 10 2011 Prospects.