The moves made by the Angels this week are hard to defend. Byrd is coming off Tommy John surgery and he experienced problems even after returning last season. His ERA will rise coming to the American League. At least his contract is just for one year. Why the Angels decided to give a multi-year deal to a pitcher who has never posted an ERA under 3.83 is beyond me. With the success they have had developing their own relief pitchers you would think that a is better and cheaper option.
Boston Red Sox:
Not long after losing Pedro Martinez, the Sox inked Edgar Renteria. The 29-year-old shortstop will likely hit second in the batting order and will sure up the infield defense. He is an upgrade over Orlando Cabrera. Wells signed an incentive-laden deal. He can earn an additional $5 million each season. If he reaches the bonus levels he will likely be worth, or close to worth the money. Wells obviously can't replace Martinez but he can help soften the blow.
Chicago White Sox:
Jose Hernandez was picked up by the Tribe as a utility player but may end up seeing some starts. He is a quality player and if forced into the starting lineup he can perform well enough. Rhodes was acquired so that Sauerbeck can go back to being more of a lefty specialist. Rhodes will likely be the primary setup man.
Kansas City Royals:
Most of Eli Marrero's value comes as a solid defensive catcher but like the Braves last season, the Royals plan to use him strictly as an outfielder. Marrero was excellent against lefties last season and will likely form a platoon with Matt Stairs or Terrence Long.
New York Yankees:
Have the Yankees finally learned their lesson? You can't just spend money for the sake of it. You have to make smart decisions and bring in players that fit your needs. While they didn't exactly make the best decisions with their early signings, they had the right idea. The Carl Pavano signing is their best move of the winter. He fits their need of a solid starting pitcher. The contract may be a little rich but the Yankees can certainly afford it. Pavano will pay off.
With the rumors that were heard about a week ago that the Dodgers were offering Edwin Jackson and Antonio Perez for Tim Hudson, it is surprising to see that this is all the A's ended up with. Cruz proved to be effective as a reliever last season and the A's may end up giving him another shot in the rotation. Meyer is a very solid left-handed pitching prospect and has good upside and Thomas is nothing more than a fringe starter. The A's are getting some talent but not what would be expected in return for Tim Hudson. However, it is better than losing him to free agency and only receiving draft picks.
Wow. Two days after the Mariners gave the richest contract in club history to Richie Sexson they trump that by giving the new richest contract in club history to Adrian Beltre. Sexson is getting a bit much considering the injury risk but since his signing did not prevent the Beltre deal it is acceptable. The Beltre signing is likely the best deal of the offseason so far. In a non-Barry Bonds world, Beltre was the MVP last season. He had one of the greatest seasons from a third baseman all time. He has yet to reach his prime and the contract runs through it. Even if Beltre reverts to his old form, which is unlikely, this contract is a huge win for Seattle.
Tampa Bay Devil Rays:
Cash was picked up as nothing more than a backup for Toby Hall. He doesn't have much upside and his ceiling isn't much higher than the level he is currently at.
Colbrunn was also given an invite to spring training and will likely earn a spot on the team. He may act as their designated hitter against left-handed pitching.
Toronto Blue Jays:
Koskie reportedly turned down a three-year, $20 million contract from Los Angeles. The Canadian-born third baseman must have liked what he saw in Toronto and wanted to return home. Eric Hinske, the third baseman last season and former rookie of the year, is now penciled in as the first baseman but don't be surprised to see him get traded.
Bringing in two middle infielders is a questionable move. Considering who they are and what kind of bats they bring with them, one would have been plenty. At least with Clayton they are only committed to a one-year deal and he is still very solid defensively. Brandon Webb is probably happy. Counsell is 34 and had a .645 OPS last season. There is no defense for a two-year deal for him.
Capellan is a flame-throwing prospect for the Braves and giving him up is a lot to pay for an overvalued closer. However, with Kolb on board the Braves can move John Smoltz back into the rotation. If Smoltz can stay strong throughout the year he could be a Cy Young candidate. Speaking of Cy Young candidates, the Braves also added former winner Tim Hudson. They gave up their other top pitching prospect in Dan Meyer but that had to be done to get someone of Hudson's talent. With Smoltz and Hudson they now have one of the best one-two punches in baseball.
Walker will be back in Chicago and will fill the same role he did last season. He may be back for 2006 as well as the Cubs have a $2.5 million option. I don't know why they had to give a back-up catcher a two-year deal but it seems like the thing to do this offseason.
Weathers' contract includes an option for 2006. He will fill a role in middle relief for the Reds. Ben Weber was one of the best relievers in baseball during 2002 and 2003 but he lost it in 2004. At 35 he isn't a good bet to bounce back but at the price, it is a nice risk for the Reds. He could end up being a steal for this season.
Alfonseca originally signed a two-year, $4.75 million contract but failed the physical, nullifying the deal. He agreed to new incentive-laden deal that, if he stays healthy, will give him about the same as the first guaranteed contract.
Los Angeles Dodgers:
Buy low, sell high. That is the theory in every industry and it is no different in baseball. Kolb is coming off an excellent season that he is unlikely to repeat so it is the perfect time to trade him. Being able to pick up a very good prospect in Capellan has to be considered a success. Luis Vizcaino was Kolb's likely replacement as closer but not any longer. He was shipped with Scott Podsednik to Chicago for Carlos Lee. Lee will join Geoff Jenkins as two solid hitters back-to-back in the Milwaukee lineup. Mike Adams is currently penciled in as the closer but expect the Brewers to make another move to bring in someone like Ugueth Urbina.
New York Mets:
There is no doubt that Martinez is still a good pitcher but he isn't presently worth $13 million per season, never mind in four years. GM Omar Minaya used the press conference to explain why he was given so much money. He stated that Martinez will be more than a just pitcher; he will also be a recruiting tool. It's hard to defend or attack that so we'll just have to wait and see. The Mets need to hope he's right because they might be struggling to find other reasons why he's worth it.
Since the Pirates won't be paying all that is owed to Santiago this season, he is a decent addition as a stop-gap until someone better can be brought in. He won't do much for them but as the eighth hitter he should be acceptable. It was known from day one that Arthur Rhodes would soon be dealt, to where and for whom were all that we didn't know. Milton Bradley had been mentioned but it turns out to be an extremely similar but slightly lesser player, Matt Lawton. He had a good season in Cleveland last year and could see similar success while leading off for Pittsburgh. He's currently penciled in as the starting right fielder but the Pirates would like to make an acquisition and put Lawton in center and Tike Redman on the bench.
St. Louis Cardinals:
The Cardinals apparently have given up hope on Randy Johnson and are turning their attention to other options.
San Diego Padres:
San Francisco Giants:
The inexcusable contracts being handed out are continuing. The latest one is the Mike Matheny deal. He's a fine defensive catcher for sure but he is a black hole offensively. He had just a .640 OPS last season and is already 34-years-old. His defense might not even be enough to carry his bat when the second and third years of this contract come up.