This image pretty much sums up the Royals’ 2011 season. The amazing farm system finally gave us a peak last season and the Royals were able to move out of that cellar they had been dwelling pretty regularly over the past few years:
Jonathan Broxton, Yuniesky Betancourt, Jose Mijares, and Jonathan Sanchez.
Why?: I don’t really know. The Royals do have many more people in the plus column than they do in the subtraction (and a few years ago, I would have said getting rid of Melky would be a positive) side. However, the additions they made really don’t make the team THAT much better in my mind.
The two “impact” acquisitions are obviously Broxton and Sanchez, but even they aren’t THAT big of an impact on the team. I guess you can argue that Betancourt and Mijares are polishing touches, but they really don’t pop out to you.
Also, Jason Kendall and Jeff Francis are still on the market and could sign with another team, making them notable subtractions. This definitely stayed in the back of my head while grading them, because it is a very real possibility,’even if the two players aren’t really team changers by any stretch of the imagination.
Despite what I may write about the offseason not working out that well as far as improving the team, I do think that the 2012 squad will be better than that of the year previous, because this may be the year we see most of the Royals’ famed farm system. This alone could get them five more wins.
Predicted Record Range: 75-80 wins
As a person who identifies himself as a Twins fan more than a fan of any other team, I would just like to forget that 2011 happened and be happy that Terry Ryan is back at GM to hopefully rebuild this shell of a team:
Josh Willingham, Jason Marquis , Jamey Carroll, Ryan Doumit, and Joel Zumaya.
Michael Cuddyer, Jason Kubel, Jose Mijares, Joe Nathan, and Matt Tolbert.
Why?: I just really don’t like that the Twins lost two of the most underrated Outfielders in baseball and their closer. This doesn’t seem like it went that well. To tell you the truth, I’m just still depressed that the Twins season was so bad and that I went to their stadium the one of the few series the whole year that it would be packed. I really can’t think straight anymore when it comes to the Twins. True, I did give the Twins a D- in this same entry last year, but I didn’t expect that losing most of their bullpen would result in a season of 30 fewer runs, and really, it didn’t. The whole team stunk last year. Michael Cuddyer was their All-Star rep and he ended the year with 20 HRs. This was a below-average season for him, but he was the best player on the team through the first half. They were just THAT bad.
I can’t explain at all what happened. It’s like the whole team just decided collectively to have the worst season of their careers. All I can say is that I really hope Terry Ryan can pick up where he left off and start getting the Twins back to the playoffs. Actually, the Twins never were a team for a big offseason haul. They really just didn’t lose too much in the offseason and developed talent. For example, they still made the playoffs the year Johan Santana. True, Bill Smith messed up big time by only getting back Carlos Gomez and Phillip Humber for Santana, but they made the playoffs (I remember that the Red Sox were offering Buchholtz and another player while the Yankees were on the verge of offering Ian Kennedy and Melky Cabrera. Everything worked out well in retrospect for the Yankee fan in me as the Mets took their rightful spot loserville, but I would have liked to see the Twins get a little more back. Yay for parenthetical statements!).
Also I really don’t like Target Field for the Twins. As a person who went there this year, it *is* a really nice stadium, it’s friendly and absolutely gorgeous, but it seems to be a disadvantage to the Twins. Yes they did do really well in the first year at Target Field, but this seems more natural. I guess I should actually wait a few more years to get a broader sample base, but it just doesn’t scream home to me like the Metrodome did. The Twins were better at home, but only by three games. I don’t know, maybe it’s just the fact that I prefer domed stadiums, but I would have liked to see the Twins stay in the H.H.H Metrodome -or whatever it is they’re calling it these days.
Predicted Record Range: 65-70 wins. I know I have the Twins getting worse as a result of this offseason, but I just can’t imagine them being worse than last season.
This was the season of three of the four players in the next picture. There was Jose the perfect, Justin the MVP, and Miguel the MVP candidate:
Prince Fielder, Collin Balester, Ocatvio Dotel, and Gerald Laird.
Carlos Guillen, Wilson Betemit, Ryan Perry, and Joel Zumaya.
Why?: The temptation would be to say their good offseason grade came from Prince Fielder. While this is partially true, it was not only him, but all of the players in the “Notable Additions” category that brought this grade to a B+. True, there are only four of them, but that is why it is a B+ and not a grade in the “A”s. Let’s just compare the two sides very briefly. They gained: One of the best 1st Basemen in the game, two bullpen hands, and an above-average replacement for their injured catcher who was an All-Star (I believe) the last time he was on the team. They lost: a declining utility player, a young underperforming utility player, an Outfield prospect, because they had a surplus, and an oft-injured reliever. These are some solid additions they have made.
However, there is a hidden part to this story. There are two free-agents still on the market that were Tigers last year: Magglio Ordoñez and Brad Penny. Both would certainly be more “Notable” than any player on this list if they were to sign with another team. If they both were to do so, I might downgrade the Tigers.
Also, if this grade were for the impact this offseason had on the next few years, it might be higher. I mean the Tigers have a chance to win the World Series, but the move will be more for the years when Victor Martinez, because the lineup will be a mine field to navigate for pitchers.
Predicted Record Range: 94-99 wins
What can I say? The Cardinals were World Series champions with one of the best runs for a team. Ever.
Offseason Grade: D
Carlos Beltran, and J.C. Romero.
Albert Pujols, Octavio Dotel, Ryan Franklin, Gerald Laird, Cory Patterson, and Nick Punto.
Why?: The most exciting things to pay attention to this offseason concerning the Cardinals were the loss of Pujols and the addition of Beltran. Looking at just these two, the Cardinals didn’t do that poorly this offseason. However, if you look at all of the names on the list, the Cardinals actually have had some bullpen trouble. I personally don’t think that either Dotel or Franklin can be compensated for by J.C. Romero, much less the loss of both of them. Also, Arthur Rhodes is on the market and common wisdom dictates that he will probably not be coming back
As far as the other “notable subtractions”, it really just takes away from the depth of the team. Now, if a Catcher, Outfielder, or Infielder goes down, the player called upon to replace his spot will be a lesser quality replacement than it otherwise would have been. Also, there are less possible pinch-hitters to be called upon to hit for the Pitcher. Of course, the depth of the team matters less this year than it would have last year as Mike Matheny is the manager and not Tony LaRussa.
There really weren’t that many moves made on the part of the Cardinals. That’s why there isn’t that much to talk about. So this is it, I guess.
Predicted Record Range: 80-85 wins.