Wednesday, March 31, 2010

MLB Final Standings

In case you are busy over the next few months and will not be able to follow baseball, here is what the final standings will look like:

NYY 103-59
Bos 95-67
TB 93-69
Bal 67-95
Tor 65-97

Min 84-78
Det 82-80
Chi 81-81
Cle 68-94
KC 63-99

LAA 87-75
Tex 83-79
Oak 80-82
Sea 79-83

Atl 90-72
Phi 89-73
NYM 82-80
Fla 77-85
Was 72-90

StL 89-73
Cin 84-78
Chi 83-79
Mil 82-80
Hou 78-84
Pit 64-98

Col 90-72
LAD 84-78
SF 82-80
SD 78-84
Ari 76-86

Postseason and award predictions tomorrow.

Monday, March 29, 2010 Article

...thanks for the link, Tom.

MLB Over/Unders, Twitter-Style

Describing why each team will cover or fall short of their respective win total over/unders in 140 characters or less.

Arizona- 82.5: Under. Asking for a 13-game improvement from last season w/o a healthy Webb? Too ambitious. Not convinced EJax is a huge improvement over Scherzer.

Atlanta- 85.5: Over. Braves won 86 in '09. Dealt Vazquez but get full year of Tommy Hanson and Tim Hudson. And oh yeah some guy named Heyward.

Baltimore- 74.5: Under. O's have won >74 games once in last 11 seasons. They play in baseball's toughest division and only added fluff (Millwood/Atkins/Tejada).

Boston- 94.5: Over. Sox have won 95 or more in 6 of last 7 years. A top-3 (Lester-Beckett-Lackey) that can compete with anyone in baseball. Bright skies ahead.

Chicago C- 82.5: Under. Pitching staff that scares/impresses no one. Depending too much on Soriano whose production has been in steady decline for three years.

Chicago W- 82.5: Under. Any time a team seriously considers batting Mark Kotsay or M Teahan third in the lineup, run for the hills. I do like their pitching though.

Cincinnati- 79.5: Over. My 2010 sleeper team. Harang and Arroyo in contract years. High hopes for Chapman. Love the heart of the lineup: Votto, Phillips, Bruce.

Cleveland- 74.5: Under. Won 65 in '09 despite having Cliff Lee for half the season. 1 of the 3 worst pitching staffs in baseball even if Carmona can bounce back.

Colorado- 84.5: Over. Won 92(!) games last season and still have best lineup in NL West. They lost no starters. Why does Vegas see 8 game drop off? Baffling line.

Detroit- 80.5: Over. Despite dealing Granderson, don't see 6-game decline from '09. Detroit has all the makings of a .500 club. This is a bet on Miggy Cabrera.

Florida- 80.5: Under. Did nothing to improve over winter. Johnson/Nolasco are nice but after that staff's a mess. Team could go into fire sale mode at any point.

Houston- 74.5: Over. Not a huge fan of the moves Ed Wade made this winter but you have to think it made the team 1 game better than last year (74 wins), no?

Kansas City- 71.5: Under. Death, taxes, and the ability to repeatedly bet against the Royals. Life's certainties indeed.

LA Angels- 83.5: Over. Won 97 last year. No way they are 14 games worse. Lost Lackey and Figgins but get full year of Kazmir. Vlad = Matsui. Best bet on board.

LA Dodgers- 85.5: Under. They might have Kemp & Manny, but Vicente Padilla will be their Opening Day starter. Plus, their owner(s) won't spend any money. No thanks.

Milwaukee- 80.5: Over. Have to think Doug Davis and Randy Wolf are a two-game upgrade over Braden Looper and Jeff Suppan. Healthy Weeks wouldn't hurt either.

Minnesota- 83.5: Over. Weird line after Twinkies won 86 regular season games in 09. To me additions of Hardy/Hudson/Thome+healthy Liriano outweighs loss of Nathan.

NY Mets- 80.5: Over. Injuries crushed any hope the Mets had last year. I expect Reyes in lineup by mid-April and Beltran back in May. Worried about pitching.

NY Yankees- 95.5: Over. Added Vazquez and Granderson without losing anything of substance. Age/injury are only concerns here after winning 103 + WS last year.

Oakland- 78.5: Over. This is a bet on Ben Sheets' health and could look very foolish in a few weeks. I think Kouz and development of young staff will help too.

Philadelphia- 92.5: Under. I have gone on record as saying this team got worse over the offseason and still believe it despite addition of Roy.

Pittsburgh- 69.5: Under. Vegas expecting an eight-game jump (62 wins in '09)? I can't name one area in which they improved at all except second base.

San Diego- 71.5: Over. Scrappy bunch that added enough small pieces to be respectable. If they keep Adrian & Bell, they should win more than last year's 75.

San Francisco- 81.5: Over. Another crazy line. Won 88 in '09. Can't see any reason they would be seven games worse now. Obviously need Linc/Cain to avoid injury bug.

Seattle- 83.5: Under. Got better this winter vastly overachieved last year. Need Lee/FHer to stay healthy. Where will offense come from?

St. Louis- 88.5: Over. My World Series pick. Love Pujols, Wainwright, and Carpenter. Huge expectations for Colby Rasmus too.

Tampa Bay- 89.5: Over. Starting pitching now runs five-deep. Line-up mashes. Need to compete to keep Carl Crawford happy.

Texas- 84.5: Under. Cannot trust the starting pitching especially when I see Rich Harden topping out at 88. Not good. Excited to see Justin Smoak though.

Toronto- 70.5: Under. Losing Roy Halladay damages the on-field product and off-field psyche tremendously. Plus, there are no cupcakes in AL East. bad combo.

Washington- 70.5: Over. Nats spent enough to win 75 games, which won't get them to the playoffs but will win this bet.

Five Best Bets

1. LA Angels O83.5
2. Rockies O84.5
3. NY Yankees O95.5
4. Royals U71.5
5. Cincinnati O79.5

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Love This Idea

-Greg Caggiano of the Bleacher Report asks Rangers fans to stop with the ridiculous "Potvin Sucks" chant, an idea I proposed over a year ago.

Sucks to be you...

--I'm thrilled not to be a Dodgers fan when I read something like this: Vicente Padilla to start on Opening Day.

Great News for St. John's Fans

All 18 of us can rest easy now.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Dirtbags Separated at Birth?

Jesse James and Ben Roethlisberger

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

How cool would it be...

...if you got a standing ovation when you walked into class/work? Ask Big Shot Ali.

Who pays for this sort of thing?

The people in charge of conducting this study need a new hobby.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Ridiculous Punchout Style

I guess this is the only way Cuban umpires get noticed. His next move: raft to Miami.

Monday, March 22, 2010

HotStove Article...

...can be found here.

Terrible GMs Not the Only Ones to Blame

Dayton Moore, Omar Minaya, and Ed Wade are generally believed to be the game's worst General Managers. However, they have something else in common: the owners of their respective teams extended each one of their contracts at least eight months before it was set to expire.

Were these three really a threat to leave and go elsewhere?

Dayton Moore - signed four-year extension with 13 months still remaining on original deal

Hits- Signed Greinke to a four-year extension; fleeced Omar Minaya by trading Ambiorix Burgos for Brian Bannister

Misses- Everything else.

Omar Minaya - signed three-year extension with 12 months still remaining on original deal

Hits- Johan Santana trade; signing David Wright and Jose Reyes to long-term deals

Misses with Mets- Got fleeced by Moore (see above); traded Heath Bell and Royce Ring for Jon Adkins and Ben Johnson; traded Jason Bay for Lou Collier; signed Luis Castillo to a 4-year, $25m deal; signed Oliver Perez to a 3-year, $36m deal

(Huge) Miss with Expos- In one of the three worst trades of all time, he dealt Grady Sizemore, Cliff Lee, and Brandon Phillips for Bartolo Colon

Ed Wade - signed two-year extension with eight months still remaining on original deal

Hits with Astros- Selected Jason Castro and Jordan Lyles in the Rule 4 Draft

Hits with Phillies- Picked up Shane Victorino in the Rule 5 Draft; responsible for selecting Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Cole Hamels, Gavin Floyd, Brett Myers, Marlon Byrd, and Ryan Madson

Misses with Phillies- Traded Scott Rolen for Placido Polanco, Bud Smith, and Mike Timlin; traded Curt Schilling for Travis Lee, Vicente Padilla, Nelson Figueroa, and Omar Daal

Misses with Astros- Every free agent signing he has made

Fun Ed Wade Fact: In his 10 years as a GM (Philadelphia 1998-2005, Houston 2008-9) none of Wade's teams has EVER made the playoffs. This guy should be a scouting director, not a GM.

This should be a lesson to owners: let your GM's contracts play out unless the results have been spectacular.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Interesting Stat

ESPN's Stats and Info Department tells us that only two active players have won both an NBA and an NCAA title: Rip Hamilton and Nazr Mohammed.

Will Melo be added to that list shortly?

Friday, March 12, 2010

College Dunk of the Year

Yesterday it was Chauncey Billups and JR Smith in the NBA; today, it's Gerard Anderson and Ray Miller in college. Enjoy.

No one told me Hugo Chavez played in the NBA...

This is better than any "Separated at Birth" I have ever posted.

Hugo Chavez's dead ringer: Mengke Bateer

Bateer [one letter off from Banter] has more NBA Titles (1) to his credit than Stockton and Malone combined (0).

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Dunk of the Year

If this happened in the dunk contest (especially after the one we just saw), no one would be complaining. To do it in a game, is unreal.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

HotStove Podcast Now Up

Link can be found here if the below does not work.

Hot Stove Podcast

I'll be on today at 2pm.

Post-Combine NFL Mock Draft - 1st Round

What do St. Louis and The Killers have in common?
1- Connotations of murder &
2- Sam's Town

There has been some change atop the mock draft as Sam Bradford overtakes Ndamukong Suh.

1. Rams: Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma
2. Lions: Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska
3. Bucs: Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma
4. Redskins: Russell Okung, OL, Oklahoma State
5. Chiefs: Eric Berry, S, Tennessee
6. Seahawks: Trent Williams, OT, Oklahoma
7. Browns: Dan Williams, DT, Tennessee
8. Raiders: Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, South Florida
9. Bills: Derrick Morgan, DE, Georgia Tech
10. Jaguars: Rolando McClain, LB, Alabama
11. Broncos#: The Amazon Freak, LB/DE, Texas
12. Dolphins: Carlos Dunlap, DE, Florida
13. 49ers: Joe Haden, CB, Florida
14. Seahawks^: CJ Spiller, RB, Clemson
15. Giants: Brandon Graham, DE, Michigan
16. Titans: Golden Tate, WR, Notre Dame
17. 49ers&: Brian Bulaga, OT, Iowa
18. Steelers: Bruce Campbell, OT, Maryland
19. Falcons: Earl Thomas, S, Texas
20. Texans: Kareem Jackson, CB, Alabama
21. Bengals: Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma State
22. Patriots: Arrelious Benn, WR, Illinois
23. Packers: Mike Iupati, OG, Idaho
24. Eagles: Sean Weatherspoon, LB, Missouri
25. Ravens: Jermaine Gresham, TE, Oklahoma
26. Cardinals: Jerry Hughes, DE/LB, TCU
27. Cowboys: Anthony Davis, OT, Rutgers
28. Chargers: Jahvid Best, RB, Cal
29. Jets: Taylor Mays, S, USC
30. Vikings: Jimmy Claussen, QB, Notre Dame
31. Colts: Roger Saffold, OT, Indiana
32. Saints: Everson Griffin, DE, USC

# Acquired from Bears
^ Acquired from Broncos
& Acquired from Panthers

New to the Mock: Graham, Jackson, Iupati, Weatherspoon, Hughes, Best, Saffold

Out of the Mock: Navorro Bowman, Penn State; Jon Dwyer, Georgia Tech; Patrick Robinson, Florida State; Brian Price, UCLA; Tim Tebow, Florida; Terrence Cody, Alabama; Aaron Hernandez, Florida

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Separated at Birth?

"The Hurt Locker" actor Jeremy Renner and Chicago White Sox pitcher Jake Peavy

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Hurt Locker

Three notes before we begin:

Note 1: If you reside in the state of Washington, do not read this post.

Note 2: I am in no way a morbid person. In fact, I think of myself as the complete opposite.

Note 3: I have never seen the movie "The Hurt Locker."


While watching the Oscars tonight, I was once again reminded of the terrible decision made by University of Washington QB Jake Locker to return to school for his senior season when a movie called "The Hurt Locker" swept the event.

Can Locker stay healthy behind an offensive line
that surrendered 28 sacks last year?

Why did Locker decide more school would be best for him?

The company line was something like "another year under head coach Steve Sarkisian will prepare Locker for the rigors of NFL life." This might be true, but Locker has put his future and a boatload of guaranteed cash at stake with the decision.

Using history as a guide, we come to the story of Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford.

Last year's consensus top prospect, Bradford found himself in the exact same predicament in which Locker currently sits. Had he declared for the draft, Bradford almost certainly would have been the #1 overall selection. However, Bradford returned to school, got injured in the first quarter of his team's first game against the Cougars of Brigham Young, and missed the rest of the season.

The injury, thankfully, did not ruin his long-term health, and Bradford will probably be chosen in the top 10 this April. All said, Bradford may have cost himself $10m or more in guaranteed money.

Matthew Stafford's contract - #1 overall pick in 2009, $41.7m guaranteed - against Mark Sanchez's contract - #5 overall in 2009, $28m guaranteed.

[Full disclosure: There exists a possibility that Bradford could be drafted #1 overall this year, but just go with me.]

Now, Locker, a sensational athlete (drafted twice in the MLB Rule 4 Draft) who possesses a rifle arm and runs like a "Tebow," takes that same risk.

The St. Louis Rams, a team in desperate need of a franchise signal caller and owners of the first pick in April's NFL Draft, could have certainly used someone with his skill set. He would have made the perfect #1 pick.

Now was the time for him to declare for the draft.

My sincere hope is that the next time we hear the term "The Hurt Locker," it won't be on the cover of the Seattle Times on September 5th, the day after UW's first game.

Oh and who does UW play in their season opener?

None other than BYU.

Please do not let this be an omen.

Follow me on Twitter: @mspici

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Hot Stove Blurb

Josh Hamilton blurb posted here.

Wonderlic Misunderstanding

I think Orlando Ledbetter and the three professors who performed the research missed the point in this article.

The end goal of the Wonderlic test is to alert teams of any cognitive red flags, not to find a correlation between high scores and great performance on the field.

Players that score above 15 are intelligent enough to play in the NFL. Guys who score less than that need to be tested further.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Linkage on a Slow Friday

*The winner of this trophy gets a few extra Bengals scouts at their Pro Day.

*I can't believe I missed this story seven years ago. Very sad story but the writing is impeccable.

*First, Miss Elizabeth. Now, the Big Boss Man. Say it ain't so.

*This one goes out to loyal reader RyMac. I like the coach's explanation for the name of the play best.

*PhotoShop is great.

*I'm waaaay late to the party on this one as well: Johan, impressive.

*Loyal reader georgekaplan sent this along.

*Has U2 figured out how to count to four in Spanish or are they still singing "uno, dos, tres, catorce?"

*Just a great pitcure all around assuming you aren't a Jets fan (D'oh). Is that a young Mike Holmgren in the background?

*This could be useful for anyone filling out a bracket this year...which I assume is everyone reading this post.

*Here's a saber-friendly approach to quantifying the abilities of NFL defenders. Pretty interesting stuff.

Don't Want to Jinx It, But... looks like I got this one right as Antonio Cromartie appears headed for the Jets. I told you the deal made sense.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Rex Ryan Proving to Be a Banter Follower

I told you last week that this trade would make sense. Of course, Thomas Jones won't be a part of it, but the concept itself still works.

Combine Results

I made five wagers on this year's Combine. How did I do?

The Prop: Fastest 40 Time: 4.31 seconds
The Pick: Under -115
The Rationale: Four words - Jacoby Ford / Trindon Holliday. World-class sprinters.

The Result: WIN - Jacoby Ford ran a 4.28

The Prop: Player to Record the Faster 40 Yard Dash at the 2010 NFL Scouting Combine
-115 Dexter McCluster (Ole Miss)
-115 Golden Tate (Notre Dame)
The Pick: Dexter McCluster
The Rationale: Tate lacks top end speed which will hold him from being a very high draft pick (his hands are unquestioned). McCluster makes his money with speed and quickness. To me, this seems like easiest pick on the board.

The Result: LOSS - Tate made himself a lot of money at the Combine posting a 4.42 40. McCluster came in at a pedestrian 4.58.

The Prop: Most repetitions on the bench press (225 pounds): 38.5
The Pick: Over: -115
The Rationale: Every year since 2003, there has been at least one player to pop 39 or more. I'm counting on Idaho G Mike Iupati to deliver this year. He's from American Samoa. He's a beast.

The Result: WIN - Mitch Petrus posted 45 reps, Jeff Owens 44, and Linval Joseph 39.

The Prop: Will any offensive lineman run the 40 in under 5.02 seconds?
The Pick: Yes -110
The Rationale: Charles Brown (see below) or Jared Veldheer should get the job done.

The Result: WIN - Bruce Campbell, Trent Williams, and Michael Newhouse all posted 40s under 5.02 seconds.

The Prop: Player to Record More Reps on Bench Press at the 2010 NFL Scouting Combine
-110 Dan Williams
-120 Terrence Cody
The Pick: Dan Williams
The Rationale: This is what Terrence Cody

The Result: N/A - Cody did not bench at the Combine. Williams put up 27 reps.

Overall: 3-1-1. I'll take that any day.

I also advised people to watch out for these eight individuals who would surprise. What are the pundits saying after Indy:

OLB Dekoda Watson, Florida State: Sporting News Today:
Watson, who has been flying under the radar, stepped up and helped himself. Not only was he quick and explosive in the 40 - he ran in the high 4.5s - but he showed the same quickness and explosiveness, along with smooth and fluid athleticism throughout the workout. he should move up draft boards.

Verdict: CORRECT

OT Bruce Campbell, Maryland: Todd McShay (ESPN):
Campbell has become the top workout warrior of the 2010 class...[he] ran an official 4.85-second 40-yard dash, turned in a 32-inch vertical jump and put up 34 repetitions on the standard 225-pound bench press...this showing proves that Campbell is blessed with rare physical tools and should make him a lock to come off the board in the bottom half of Round 1.

Verdict: CORRECT

OT Charles Brown, USC: I could not find anyone that said something positive or negative about Brown's performance.

Verdict: N/A

QB Jevan Snead, Ole Miss: Don Banks (Sports Illustrated):
Maybe Ole Miss junior quarterback Jevan Snead knew what he was doing after all in coming out early this year. Snead had a strong workout Sunday afternoon and the accuracy and strength of his passes provided the highlight among the quarterbacks who threw. Snead might have positioned himself nicely for a third-round grade coming out of Indy.

Verdict: CORRECT

WR Arrelious Benn, Illinois: Steve Muench (Scouts, Inc.):
Illinois WR Arrelious Benn's 40-yard dash time came in under 4.5 seconds, and Benn also is showing strong hands and swallowing up the ball. He did look a bit tight in the hips and didn't catch every ball during the gauntlet drill, but overall it's a strong showing. He also posted 20 reps on the bench, tops among WRs.

Verdict: CORRECT

WR Emmanuel Sanders, SMU: ESPN: emerging sleeper... tied for the second-best 40 among wideouts with a 4.41. He also finished in the top five in both the vertical (39.5) and broad jumps (10-6). He lacks ideal size (5-10⅞, 186) but shows the initial burst, explosiveness and hands to develop into a dangerous slot receiver at the next level. Sanders could come off the board as early as Round 3.

Verdict: CORRECT

CB Joe Haden, Florida: Meunch:
Haden ran a pair of disappointing 40-yard dash times Tuesday morning, clocking 4.57 and 4.58 seconds...based on his game film, we had felt confident he would come in somewhere in the low-4.4 range...this time will affect Haden's draft stock.

Verdict: WRONG

S Larry Asante, Nebraska: McShay:
Finally, the safety that appeared to lose the most ground during his trip to Indy is Nebraska's Larry Asante. He clocked a pair of unofficial times in the mid-4.6 range and also looked tight during the majority of the defensive back drills. Our recent film studies of Asante were a bit disappointing recently, and his underwhelming performance here only confirms our assertion that he belongs on Day 3.

Verdict: WRONG

I hit on five, missed badly on two, and one failed to register which qualifies as a loss. I'll take 5-3.

Lastly, Sergio "The Amazon Freak" Kindle posted a 4.65 40 and was "impressive" and "fluid" according to Muench.

McShay also called him "chiseled" which was one of the three things necessary for this nickname to stick.

Mike Mayock, the renowned NFL Draft expert, "He's every bit as good, if not better than (Pro Bowl rookie Brian) Orakpo, who had a very good year."

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Separated at Birth?

San Antonio Spurs' point guard Tony Parker and Frank the Entertainer

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

NBA Trade Deadline Thoughts

Now that we have had over a week to digest all of the moves, here are some thoughts/ideas:

*The Knicks now only have $21m in committed salaries for next year. Eddy Curry accounts for more than half of that as he has a player option for just over $11m. This might sound crazy, but here me out.

What if the Knicks asked Curry to decline the option and signed him to a 20 year, $20m contract. Yes, 20 years.

The chances of Curry earning more than $9m (20m minus 11m) after next season seem like they are nil.

The Knicks would be on the hook for a $1m of dead weight a year, but this would give them the chance to sign two max free agents AND re-sign David Lee. Can you say "Eastern Conference Favorites?" I can, and as the newest Knick fan in the world, I'm in.

I am not a cap expert, so a deal of that length may be illegal.

As an alternative, the Knicks could buy Curry out this year for ~$9m, and have him off the books entirely next season. Then, he would be free to sign elsewhere and the Knicks would have room to sign 2 max players and a mid-level free agent.

*Any Cleveland fans that haven't started praying LeBron stays had better start now. They are staring at the possibility of watching Antawn Jamison, who will be 34 on Opening Day next year, be the #1 option for the next two years (and $28m). Ask the Wizards how that worked out. Jamison is an expensive but capable second option, but things will get ugly quickly if he's asked to be the man.

*What were the Kings thinking? John Hollinger put it perfectly in a recent article:

The Kings could have sent Martin and little-used Andres Nocioni to the Celtics for Ray Allen and a first-round pick, and cleared $18 million in cap room (the Celtics, given their current time horizon, would have blurted out yes to this offer in a nanosecond).

They then could have used Allen and Kenny Thomas in a deal with the Knicks and walked away with the exact same trove of assets that the Rockets did. If so, Sacramento wouldn't have Landry, but look at what they'd have instead: Jordan Hill, New York's 2012 first-rounder, Boston's 2011 first-rounder, the right to swap picks with New York in 2011 (admittedly, an item of more value to Houston given the two clubs' likely records next season), and the same cap room they cleared with the Martin trade.

The only reason they don't have those assets, it would appear, is that they didn't ask.

*I love what the Bulls did but think they should have dealt Kirk Hinrich to the Lakers if the opportunity presented itself at any time.

*LVP of the deadline: Spurs - Tim Duncan will not be around forever and this team as currently constructed has no chance against the upper echelon of the West.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Which teams helped themselves most for 2010?

(1) Red Sox: Theo Epstein addressed both defense and pitching (summed up nicely here) this offseason without surrendering much in the way of offense. Sounds like a great recipe in theory, but the health/age concerns of some of the newly acquired talent should keep BoSox fans a bit cautious in their optimism.

John Lackey (5 years, $82.5m) has missed each of the last two Aprils with arm injuries. If he can remain healthy, though, he will slot in nicely as the number three starter in one of the game's best rotations.

When healthy, Mike Cameron (2 years, $15.5m) and Adrian Beltre (1 year, $10m) are defensive stalwarts. Cameron will be 37 on Opening Day and Beltre missed 50+ games last season with a potpourri of injuries.

Any defensive or offensive production the team receives from new SS Marco Scutaro (2 years, $12.5m) would be more than the team got from the position last season.

The team also rolled the dice on former prospect Jeremy Hermida, who had fallen out of favor and the budget in Florida, and Bill Hall (luxury tax reasons) while electing to let free agent LF Jason Bay and RP Billy Wagner walk away in exchange for draft pick compensation.

Grade for 2010: A-

(2) Yankees: The team as currently constructed needs to win now, and the moves that were made this offseason support that theory.

In simple terms, the Yankees swapped Johnny Damon, Melky Cabrera, Hideki Matsui, and a slew of prospects for Curtis Granderson, Javier Vazquez and Nick Johnson (1 year, $5.5m). I would venture to guess that fans in the Bronx are ecstatic as this gives their team an excellent chance to repeat as World Series champs.

On the flip side, the payroll figures to be in the $200m range yet the Yankees lack a fifth starter. (Then again, when you can score six runs per game, it might not matter who starts.) 2011 will be no better as New York has over $144m committed already and that does not include the inevitable re-signing of Derek Jeter.

Grade for 2010: A-

(3) Diamondbacks: The front office in Arizona clearly sees an opportunity in front of them. They think they can win the NL West despite finishing last season 22 games under .500. As crazy as it may sound, I agree with them.

They acquired Edwin Jackson and Ian Kennedy from the Tigers for the steep price of Max Scherzer and Daniel Schlereth, the thinking being Jackson will be able to help sooner than Scherzer despite the fact Scherzer is widely regarded as the superior talent. I was very opposed to this deal (from Arizona's perspective) when it was announced, but now at least I can see what the end goal. For what it's worth, I am not nearly as high on Kennedy as the Arizona staff is.

Pairing Jackson with Brandon Webb, coming off a season that saw him start only one game, and Dan Haren gives Arizona a top three that can match up with anyone in baseball.

The team also addressed some hitting needs by signing Kelly Johnson (1 year, 2.35m) and Adam Laroche (1 year, $6m) and its bullpen vacancy by signing Bobby Howry (1 year, $2.25m) to short-term deals.

Grade for 2010: B+

(4) Mariners: First the good. Seattle acquired Cy Young Award winner Cliff Lee for three prospects. Then, the team locked up staff ace Felix Hernandez (5 years, $78m). Together, they give Seattle the most formidable 1-2 punch in baseball. They also signed free agent 3B Chone Figgins (4 years, $36m) and locked up Franklin Gutierrez (4 years, $20m) solidifying the team's defense.

[In a recent article, Buster Olney mentions the possibility of Ichiro and Figgins becoming the best 1-2 combo as well. Food for thought.]

Now the bad. The M's failed to address two key areas - the pitching depth (numbers 3 through 5 starters) and the offense. What are they going to do when Hernandez or Lee aren't getting the ball? The offense scored the fewest runs in the American League, and they lost two key contributors (Russell Branyan and Adrian Beltre).

The team also made three other trades over the winter. They traded for clubhouse cancer, Milton Bradley (in exchange for the uber-overpaid Carlos Silva), reliever Brandon League (in exchange for former top prospect Brandon Morrow), and 1B Casey Kotchman (for Util Bill Hall). I am not a huge fan of the first two deals but definitely support the third.

Overall, a solid offseason for the about-to-be-canonized-in-Seattle Jack Z. The team will be better than last season, but will it be enough to push them into the playoffs? I have my doubts as I cannot trust the likes of Doug Fister and Ryan Rowland-Smith to hold down the back end of the rotation.

Grade for 2010: B

(5) Rangers: Clearly, Rangers GM Jon Daniels thinks the AL West can be had in 2010. Blessed with one of the game's top farm systems, Daniels rolled the proverbial dice, signing a number of high-risk/high-reward free agents to short-term deals. Among them were Vlad Guerrero (1 year, $5.5m), Rich Harden (1 year, $6.5m), Colby Lewis (2 years, $5m), and Khalil Greene (1 year, $500k). If one or more of these deals pan out, great. If not, they will call up one of their top prospects.

I especially like the Harden deal as he has as much natural ability as any anyone in this year's free agent class. Because of his injury history, however, he came at a fraction of the cost of John Lackey with only a one-year commitment.

If the ownership mess can be sorted out by July, the team can also acquire some help before the trade deadline.

Grade for 2010: B

(6) Twins: By and large, general managers are not an unintelligent bunch (I speak in double-negative tongue on purpose). Why do I bring this up here? Orlando Hudson was signed by Minnesota (1 year, $5m) this offseason, pushing their payroll north of $100m. This was the second straight offseason Hudson garnered very little interest. He seems to be a player in decline (and the numbers back that). Sure, he is an upgrade from the putrid production the team received from its second basemen last year, but $5m seems exorbitant.

By my count, fans in Minnesota have two things to be happy for:

1- The highway robbery of a deal for JJ Hardy (traded Carlos Gomez straight up), and
2- Joe Mauer seems inclined to want a long term deal to stay in the Twin Cities for the rest of his career.

This offseason reminds me a lot of the Mariners. Several deals that look good on paper, but will they help enough to lead to the postseason?

Grade for 2010: B

(7) A's: Oakland was involved in all facets of the offseason. They were major players in the chase for a number of free agents, landing Ben Sheets (1 year, $10m), Coco Crisp ($1 year, $4.75m), and Gabe Gross (1 year, $750k). They were also involved in trades at the major league level (acquiring Kevin Kouzmanoff for Scott Hairston and Aaron Cunningham) and minor league levels (swapping Brett Wallace for Michael Taylor). A very busy winter indeed.

[Side note: In the end, Oakland, through all of its trading with San Diego (and Scott Hairston), dealt Sean Gallagher, Ryan Webb, Craig Italiano, and Aaron Cunningham for Kevin Kouzmanoff. Not cheap at all.]
Oakland may still be a hitter or two short, but the pitching staff, including newly re-signed Justin Duchscherer (1 year, $2m), has great potential and can carry the team.

Grade for 2010: B

(8) Brewers: If Milwaukee can sign Jarrod Washburn, they will have officially cornered the left-handed starting pitching market as the team has already signed southpaws Randy Wolf (3 years, $29.75m) and Doug Davis (1 year, $5.25m). Although I am not enamored with either (Wolf on the basis of cost and Davis on talent), I have to credit GM Doug Melvin for being decisive. His team lacked starting pitching behind ace Yovani Gallardo, and he addressed the need.

Melvin also signed C Gregg - [bad joke alert] add the extra "g" for gotta be better than Jason Kendall - Zaun (1 year, $2.15m) to a very team-friendly deal. They also brought back Trevor Hoffman (1 year, $7.5m) and signed LaTroy Hawkins (2 years, $7.5m) to anchor the 'pen.

The team also dealt former shortstop-of-the-future JJ Hardy to Minnesota in exchange for all-glove, no-hit Carlos Gomez. After deciding rookie Alcides Escobar would be their shortstop, only getting Gomez was disappointing, but at least they saved some money.
Side note: Jeff Suppan will make nearly 10-times more this year in salary than Ryan Braun. (12.75m vs 1.28m).

Grade for 2010: B

(9) Cardinals: St. Louis made two noteworthy deals this winter. They re-signed Matt Holliday (7 years, $120m) and signed Brad Penny (1 year, $7.5m). However, they watched Joel Pineiro (Angels), Rick Ankiel (Royals), and Mark DeRosa (Giants) flee for greener pastures.

In all, it's a net loss in talent. So, the Cardinals will come back to the pack a bit, but losing Holliday would have been especially devastating.

Grade for 2010: B

(10) Reds: Cincinnati was relatively quiet but made two solid deals, one for now and one for later.

In early January, the team signed the top prize of the international market, LHP Aroldis Chapman (6 years, $30.25m). He throws gas but could use some work on his command. Overall, this is a worthwhile risk to take on a 21-year old wrong-hander.

Then, the team signed Orlando Cabrera (1 year, $4m) to play shortstop this season at a fair price. He should slot into the 2-hole of an underrated lineup.

With a payroll of only $70m and a very solid core (Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, Jay Bruce), they can afford to be aggressive at the deadline.

I think they will surprise.

Grade for 2010: B

(11) Padres: Like the Reds, the Pads had a sneaky good offseason. First, they hired a solid general manager (innocent until proven guilty) in Jed Hoyer.

Then, they re-signed Kevin Correia (1 year, $3.6m) after weeks of speculation that he would be non-tendered.

Next, they signed Jon Garland (1 year, $4.7m), Yorvit Torrealba (1 year, $1.25m), and Jerry Hairston, Jr. (1 year, $2.125m), all more than capable of contributing positively to the club especially at these prices.

They followed this with a great trade where they dealt Kevin Kouzmanoff for Scott Hairston and Aaron Cunningham. (I love this deal.)

Most importantly, they kept Adrian Gonzalez, their best player who might have the most team-friendly contract in baseball).

Grade for 2010: B

(12) Nationals: Another delusional team making moves as if they are ready to compete today, Washington fans have been set up for disappointment. The Nats signed Jason Marquis (2 years, $15m), Adam Kennedy (1 year, $1.25m), Pudge Rodriguez (2 years, $6m), Chien-Ming Wang (1 year, $2m) and Matt Capps (1 year, $3.5m) and traded for Brian Bruney (in exchange for first pick of Rule 5 Draft - Jamie Hoffmann).

Will they win more games in 2010? Sure. Will they win enough games to sniff the playoffs? No chance, which makes all of the offseason activity much ado about nothing. If management is willing to spend money, try the draft or international prospects, not short-term stopgaps.

Interestingly, if the team thinks it can win now, Stephen Strasburg might find himself in the Opening Day rotation.

Grade for 2010: B

(13) Giants: If GM Brian Sabean didn't inherit Barry Bonds, what would his legacy be? As it stands, he is often credited with a franchise turnaround in the late 90's ultimately leading to an appearance in the 2002 World Series. However, his style (read: willingness to overpay veterans) seems to be wearing thin as the team has not made the postseason since 2003.

Behind the dynamic duo of Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain, the Giants finished 2009 14 games over .500. Sabean added vets Mark DeRosa (2 years, $12m) and Aubrey Huff (1 year, $3m) and re-signed Bengie Molina (1 year, $4.5m) instead of handing the keys to top prospect Buster Posey.

Future be damned, we are going for it now.

Grade for 2010: B-

(14) Phillies: Out- Cliff Lee, Pedro Feliz, Chan Ho Park, Pedro Martinez; In- Roy Halladay, Placido Polanco (3 years, $18m).

I don't think you can make the argument that this year's team is better than last. Halladay might be a minor upgrade from Lee, but I see little improvement elsewhere.

As for the future, in the Lee and Halladay deals, the team basically traded Kyle Drabek, Travis D'Arnaud, and Michael Taylor for Phillippe Aumont, Tyson Gillies and Juan Ramirez. A clear downgrade in talent.

For the life of me, I cannot understand the Cliff Lee deal. A rotation of Halladay-Lee-Hamels would make the Phillies the favorites to win the NL pennant.

Grade for 2010: C+

(15) Orioles: For a team that finds themselves at least two years from serious contention, Baltimore made a series of befuddling moves. Signing Garrett Atkins (1 year, $5m), Miguel Tejada (1 year, $6m), and Mike Gonzalez makes them a notch better in 2010, but at what cost?

The Mike Gonzalez (2 years, $12m) signing taken in a vacuum looks fine. However, when you factor in the fact that it cost Baltimore its second round pick in June, the deal looks a bit foolish. It would have made much more sense to allocate this money to the draft or to signing some young international prospect(s).

The team also dealt Chris Ray for Kevin Millwood, taking on more salary in 2010 without much hope of contending.

Grade for 2010: C+

(16) Angels: As the other three teams in the AL West improved, the Angels lost two key free agents - John Lackey and Chone Figgins - and two more solid contributors - Vlad Guerrero and Darren Oliver. To replace this group, the team signed Joel Pineiro (2 years, $16m), Fernando Rodney (2 years, $11m), and Hideki Matsui (1 year, $6m). Let's compare:

-(no one) vs Figgins = big loss

-Pineiro vs Lackey = loss

-Rodney vs Oliver = slight win

-Matsui vs Vlad = wash

I am not worried about the pitching as much as I am the offense (and the other three teams in the division). Los Angeles must now count on Jered Weaver to replace Lackey and 3B Brandon Wood to fill Figgins' shoes.

This could be the year someone catches the Angels for the first time since 2006.

Grade for 2010: C

(17) Astros: This winter, GM Ed Wade made some puzzling decisions. Many would argue that guaranteeing Brandon Lyon (3 years, $15m) the amount of money they did constituted the worst deal of the winter. I'm not sure I would go that far, but it certainly was not a wise move.

Wade then watched LaTroy Hawkins (Milwaukee) and Jose Valverde (Detroit) flee weakening his bullpen once again. On the bright side, Valverde was a Type A free agent so they get a first round pick out of the deal. With the farm system in shambles, this was probably the best thing to happen to the team during the offseason.

Wade, then began picking Phillies' castaways off the scrap heap. 3B Pedro Feliz (1 year, $4.5) was brought in to replace Miguel Tejada (Baltimore), and SP Brett Myers was signed (1 year, $5.1m) with the hopes that he could revitalize his career in hitter-friendly Minute Maid Park. Coughcough, not happening, coughcough.

Really an amazing offseason - they made no great moves, but because of the lack of / misguided movement by others (specifically Detroit), they find themselves much closer to the top of this list than they should.

Grade for 2010: C

(18) Mets: Los Mets, led by one-foot-out-the-door GM Omar Minaya, seem to be clueless about two things:

1- injury prevention/treatment, and
2- constructing a roster.

New York was devastated by the injury bug last year. Jose Reyes (137), David Wright (15), Carlos Delgado (147), Carlos Beltran (78), Johan Santana (45), and John Maine (98) spent a combined 520 days on the DL. Naturally, they decided to entrust the 8th inning to a guy, Kelvim Escobar (1 year, $1.25m), who finds himself atop the wrong kind of at least one offseason top-10 list because of all the time he has missed with arm problems.

The team has over $123m committed in salary but lacks a dependable first baseman, second baseman, catcher, and back end of the rotation. Sure, they signed Jason Bay away from the Red Sox, but it cost them their second round draft pick and $66m over the next four years. Awesome.

I won't even get started with the Rod Barajas (1 year, $1m) signing or the Alex Cora deal (1 year, $2m) or the whole Carlos Beltran saga because I might flip a lid.

To make matters worse, Billy Wagner, a player the Mets dealt to Boston last season to save some money, was signed by Atlanta after being deemed a Type A free agent. This gave Boston Atlanta's first rounder, a pick that could/should have gone to the Mets.

Bottom line: This team is a mess from top to bottom.

Grade for 2010: C

(19) Braves: Atlanta made a series of uncharacteristically big moves this winter.

The team offered arbitration to closer Rafael Soriano. While waiting to see if he would accept, they signed closer Billy Wagner (1 year, $7m) for which they were forced to surrender their 2010 first round pick. Six days later, Soriano accepted arbitration so they traded him to the Tampa Bay Rays, who signed him to a 1 year, $7.25m deal. Essentially, they chose a package of Wagner + $250k (difference in salary between Soriano and Wagner) over Soriano + first round pick. I would choose the later package 100 times out of 100.

They also signed injury-prone RP Takashi Saito (1 year, $3.2m) and 3B Troy Glaus (1 year, $1.75m).

In an effort to further cut payroll, Atlanta dealt last year's ace Javier Vazquez to the Yankees for OF Melky Cabrera and prospects. If they were so concerned about payroll, though, why sign Wagner?

A very weird offseason, much like that of the Detroit Tigers.

Grade for 2010: C-

(20) White Sox: Chicago used the trade as its weapon of choice this winter, acquiring OF Juan Pierre and 3B Mark Teahan. The Pierre trade makes sense monetarily as the Dodgers will eat most of the cost, but the Teahan deal leaves much to be desired. GM Kenny Williams traded two former top prospects for a guy that was on the verge of being non-tendered by the cellar-dwelling Royals and then signed him to a contract extension on top of that (3 years, $14m).

Williams also signed reclamation projects Omar Vizquel and Andruw Jones to one-year, incentive-laden deals.

Grade for 2010: C-

(21) Cubs: It's been 91 years and counting for the North Siders since their last World Series crown. Unfortunately, the 2010 roster does not have the look of a team that can end the schneid.

Chicago watched Rich Harden bolt via free agency and failed to sign any arms to replace him. Counting on Randy Wells and Tom Gorzelanny to provide 300+ innings seems like a recipe for disaster, although both did pitch reasonably well for the team last year.

They did sign Marlon Byrd (3 years, $15m) and Xavier Nady (1 year, $3.3m) in an attempt to corner the fungible, right-handed corner outfield market. The Cubs also signed John Grabow (2 years, $7.5m), a reliever that can get righties and lefties out regularly.

Grade for 2010: C-

(22) Tigers: Detroit finds itself in the midst of a very confusing offseason. At the Winter Meetings in December, the team traded its most popular player (Curtis Granderson) and second-best pitcher (Edwin Jackson) in a three-team deal that netted them Max Scherzer and Daniel Schlereth from the Diamondbacks and Phil Coke and Austin Jackson from the Yankees. At the time, it seemed like Detroit was in cost-cutting mode. Fine.

However, weeks later, the Tigers signed Jose Valverde (2 years, $14m), a Type A free agent, to be their closer.

Then, the Tigers signed Johnny Damon for $8m.

So, the team swapped two of its best players and its first round pick for a guy with questionable mechanics (Scherzer), Valverde, three mid-level prospects, and now Damon.

Maybe I am missing something, but the logic baffles me. The fans in Detroit deserve better.

Grade for 2010: C-

(23) Rays: I was critical of Tampa Bay last offseason and have no reason to ease off the gas here (insert lame Toyota joke here). The Rays - essentially - traded Akinori Iwamura for Rafael Soriano and his $7.25m salary. They also acquired C Kelly Shoppach from the Indians for a PTBNL... and that's about it.

Solidifying the back end of the bullpen will help (albeit at a hefty cost), but for a team on the cusp of competing, more could have and should have been done. Now, the Rays need to depend on their farm system to produce, and to produce quickly, if they have any hopes of playing deep into October.

Grade for 2010: D+

(24) Pirates: Being a fan of his team must be incredibly frustrating.

Their two big ticket acquisitions were Akinori Iwamura, a slightly above average second baseman, and Octavio Dotel (1 year, $3.5m), signed to be the closer despite the fact he has not filled that role since 2004 [side note: let's hope this doesn't become an issue either for Dotel].

They also signed Ryan Church (1 year, $1.5m), Brendan Donnelly (1 year, $1.3m) and Bobby Crosby (1 year, $1m).

Not much to be excited about this year, yet again.

Grade for 2010: D+

(25) Indians: As my pick to win the World Series last season, the 2009 Tribe turned out to be even bigger disappointments than Nicole Eggert (I really thought she would stand the test of time). They were never a contender and were forced to trade Cliff Lee before the July deadline with hopes of rebuilding.

Unfortunately, soon-to-be-former GM Mark Shapiro made very little effort to improve his team's chances in 2010 until Friday when they signed Russell Branyan. In fact, they made no discernable effort at all to do anything besides trade Kelly Shoppach to the Rays.

The Branyan deal was extremely team-friendly (1 year, $3m max) but can he have enough of an impact to lead Cleveland to the playoffs? Doubtful.

Shapiro's hits far outweigh his misses so he gets a bit of a pass from here, but this offseason leaves plenty to be desired.

Grade for 2010: D

(26) Rockies: It really bothers me when teams that can take the next step (as in playoff contenders to World Series contenders) decide to stand pat. Colorado failed to add a single starter, either position player or pitcher, and downgraded their bench - Melvin Mora (1 year, $1.3m) from Garrett Atkins (Baltimore) and Miguel Olivo (1 year, $2.5m) from Yorvit Torrealba (Padres).

The team did make moves to keep their bullpen intact by locking up (3 years, $22.5m) and Rafael Betancourt (2 years, $7.55m), but by watching Jason Marquis leave via free agency (Washington), the staff got weaker overall.

Grade for 2010: D

(27) Dodgers: In an utterly shocking move, the Dodgers declined to offer SP Randy Wolf arbitration. Had he accepted - which there is almost no evidence he would have - Wolf would cost about $10m. Had he declined and signed elsewhere the Dodgers would receive a first or second round pick plus a supplemental first rounder because of Wolf's Type A free agent status.

Predictably, Wolf signed elsewhere (Milwaukee), and the Dodgers were left with nothing. To top things off, they signed Vicente Padilla (1 year, 5.025m) to an ungodly deal. Why not take the chance of offering Wolf arbitration? Makes no sense.

Jon Garland (San Diego) Orlando Hudson (Minnesota), two more players the team could have offered arbitration, also left. They were replaced with no one.

I understand the financial situation of the club is in question pending the divorce of the McCourts, but this performance by the front office was wretched for a team that has hopes of competing.

Grade for 2010: D-

(28) Blue Jays: Rookie GM Alex Anthopoulos will forever be linked to Roy Halladay. In his first major move at the helm, AA dealt Roy for a trio of prospects - Michael Taylor, Kyle Drabek and Travis D'Arnaud. The move was shrewd on a number of levels.

First, the deal brought in two high-ceiling prospects in Taylor (who was flipped for another prospect, Brett Wallace) and Drabek who were desperately needed as the farm system was barren.

Second, the deal saved the team tens of millions of dollars. Of course, now they will have to pay other players a large chunk of this money, but in the short term while the team cannot be competitive, it makes sense to cut costs.

Now, AA needs to find a taker for Vernon Wells, no easy task.

Grade for 2010: D-

(29) Marlins: When discussing disappointing offseasons, Florida has to head the list. The Marlins did nothing to improve a team that finished 87-75 and remained competitive throughout the year.

Sure, they re-signed staff ace Josh Johnson (after the MLBPA forced their hand), but he was under team control anyway. For a team begging for a new stadium, they better hope a collapse is not in store. Very disappointing for all 17 Marlins fans.

Grade for 2010: F

(30) Royals: If not for Zach Greinke, this would be the worst team in baseball. It actually infuriates me how terrible they are.

They do not develop young talent properly (see Gordon, Alex). They sign terrible free agents to above market value deals - Jason Kendall (2 years, $6m), Rick Ankiel (1 year, $3.25m), and Scott Podsednik (1 year, $1.75m - at least she comes with him), and they lack creativity.

Grade for 2010: F

(Last article of series)