In Bes-ball Talk #7-8 I wrote about the Yankees and Mets off season progress. So, for the next few Bes-Balls I want to do a round up of everyone else! First up, the East. Lets get to it.
Red Sox: While the Sox didn't land the big players, they made a bunch of maneuvers that will help fortify their team. To the starting staff they added Brad Penny and John Smoltz, both of whom will be fearful if they can return from injuries in decent shape. They also added former Dodgers closer Takashi Saito to their bullpen, adding a piece that could put it over the top in the AL East. To the bench comes Rocco Baldelli, another guy who's upside is huge should he recover from his ailment. Across the board the Sox are solid, more so then they were last year, and that could mean a pennant this year.
Phillies: I didn't care for the Raul Ibanez signing for this lefty heavy team. He's getting old, and you don't know what the pressures of Philly will do to his play. They're bringing back Jamie Moyer, and have added Chan Ho Park to compete for their final rotation spot? I'm sorry, but unless they can add a better pitcher than that, then the world champs might have taken a step backwards. If i'm them, I go and maybe bring back Randy Wolf or sign Jon Garland.
Rays: While the Rays haven't made too many huge maneuvers, they have made a couple of key ones that'll help this team in the '09 season. First, they upgraded at the DH spot adding Pat Burrell cheaply, who is younger and stronger than last year's version in Cliff Floyd. This is a big boost to their offense. They also traded away Edwin Jackson, the low man on their rotational totem pole. This allows superstar-in-waiting David Price a chance to prove his worth. With that piece seemingly set, they arguably have the best starting five in the majors, not to mention one of the youngest! Their bullpen will be questionable though, after overachieving last year, and I'm not sure a guy like Joe Nelson will do much to help out. Another body in there would be welcome. Otherwise this team is ready to go.
Braves: They've remade their rotation, which had completely fallen apart over the last year or two, and in that have improved respectfully. They added Javier Vasquez and Japanese pitcher Kenshin Kawakami and, most importantly, Derek Lowe to anchor it. Obviously, Lowe is the big acquisition. The Mets were hotly into him, and the Phils had been linked all off season. For the Braves to swoop in and sign him is tremendous. Add a more experienced Jair Jurrjens, and maybe a Jorge Campillo or a return of Tom Glavine, and you have a decent, competitive, rotation. They've done little else, but that may be enough to compete again. They should take a flyer on Andruw Jones, and bring him home; a return that may pay off for both parties. That and maybe bringing back Glavine are about the only other moves I see happening for this team.
Blue Jays: The Jays have done next to nothing, and have lost a major piece of their rotation, with A.J. Burnett''s defection to the rival Yanks. Other than Roy Hallladay, their rotation is shot. I fear any hope this team showed down the stretch last year has largely fallen away. Unless they can turn around, and add a spark to either the pitching staff or maybe the DH position, like an Adam Dunn, then last place is a strong possibility.
Marlins: Yes! They got Scott Proctor! And, um, they got Scott Proctor!
Orioles: The O's have improved a bit, and are obviously serious about their future. They also made a play at hometown boy Teixeira, but were never seriously in on it money wise. That said, though, they have some good young players, and this year look to add top catching prospect Matt Wieters to the mix. They traded off Ramon Hernandez to make room, and signed Greg Zaun to back up the kid. If Wieters is the real deal, we're looking at the next Joe Mauer or better! They also added the "meh" Cesar Iztauri to the infield, and traded rotation hopeful Garret Olsen for Cubs outfield prospect Felix Pie. They also dropped Daniel Cabera. To replace them they signed their first ever Japanese pitcher, Koji Uehara, and also the bland Mark Hendrickson. Also, they should sign Brian Roberts to an extension, instead of constantly looking to trade the guy. I mean you need some sort of leadership! Overall, the O's have improved, and may actually beat out the Jays for 4th this year. Go O's!
Nats: They lost out on Mark Teixeira, but can still bid for Manny or Dunn if they are serious in their quest to add some thump. Or maybe they just want a face to make fans to show up, and to take some pressure off the youngsters. They subtracted Tim Redding from their rotation, but added Scott Olsen (and Josh Willingham) by trade, and picked up non-tendered Daniel Cabera. Really, though, unless they do get another bat, they don't seem any better or worse than last year. If I was them, I'd start using the Teixeira money and bring in a few (good) vets. Unless it was never really there?
*I actually like Scott Proctor!
Next up, the Central. And that's Bes-Ball.