|Atlanta Braves: A-. The Braves kept their payroll at the same level in 2013 as it was in 2012, and they appear to be a much better team. The team brought in both BJ and Justin Upton to take up residence in their outfield, replacing Michael Bourn and Martin Prado. Gerald Laird is the team's new backup catcher, replacing David Ross. Chipper Jones has retired, and a platoon of Chris Johnson and Juan Francisco will take over at third base. Aside from all of that, the Braves nontendered the disappointing Jair Jurrjens anddealt the underwhelming Tommy Hanson to the Angels for potentially dominant Jordan Walden. This is a young, talented team that improved for the next three years despite trading a standout player in Prado to Arizona for Justin Upton.|
|Miami Marlins: D+. You know, I understand what the Marlins did this winter. They had an awful 2012 season after spending cash like drunken sailors last winter, so why not blow it up and start all over? It was the way they went about it that pissed a lot of people off, and killed a lot of goodwill towards the team. And it's not as if the Marlins made some sort of giant effort to improve their team after trading away Jose Reyes, Emilio Bonifacio, Mark Buerhle, and Josh Johnson either, signing washed up former Phillies Juan Pierre and Placido Polanco and handing them starting spots for this season. Giancarlo Stanton and possibly Rob Brantly are the only capable hitters projected to start in 2013. This is going to be another ugly year in Miami, and the venom being slung at Jeffrey Loria is much-deserved.|
|New York Mets: B. A lot of people are obliterating the Mets for not going hog wild and spending on free agents this winter, but I like a lot of what the Mets did. They got a solid return for RA Dickey, including a potential franchise catcher for the first time since Mike Piazza left town in Travis d'Arnaud. I think Shaun Marcum is a solid fit in a talented rotation if he's able to stay healthy, and I like the Brandon Lyon signing in the bullpen a lot more than the Jon Rauch and Frank Francisco signings last winter. There's also the matter of David Wright's contract extension, which will send a lot of goodwill toward the team in the future. Next season is when the Mets can really make a splash in free agency, with Johan Santana and Jason Bay coming off the books aside from buyouts.|
|Philadelphia Phillies: C. A lot of the Phillies philosophy this winter has been "low risk, high reward". The only problem with that is the odds of the high reward are quite low, considering how dreadful Michael Young and Delmon Young have been over the past couple of seasons. Both players are terrible defensively, and will probably make the blood pressure of the Phillies pitching staff rise. The team also got another shot in the kneecap with the suspension of Carlos Ruiz for the first 25 games of the 2013 season. But all isn't awful in Philadelphia, as the trade for Ben Revere at least gives the team a capable defensive center fielder (even if his offense is pathetic), and Mike Adams will stabilize a bullpen that was wretched at times in 2012. The Phillies are still talented enough to win the NL East, but they're an older team with a lot of disaster potential, and this offseason did nothing to dispell that aura around the team.|
|Washington Nationals: A. After a 98 win 2012 with a young squad, the Nationals didn't need to do much this winter. Sure enough...they managed to get even better. After re-signing first baseman Adam LaRoche, the team banished Michael Morse to Seattle and brought back prospect AJ Cole (dealt last winter in the Gio Gonzalez trade). They shifted Bryce Harper to left field after acquiring center fielder Denard Span, and replaced one veteran in the rotation, Edwin Jackson, with another, Dan Haren. The team also essentially said "screw it", and signed closer Rafael Soriano to make their bullpen that much more filthy. All in all, the Nationals made one real change on offense (going from Morse to Span in the outfield), one change in the rotation (going from Jackson to Haren), and essentially switched everyone's roles in the bullpen after signing Soriano and letting Sean Burnett and Michael Gonzalez walk as free agents. That's a pretty successful offseason in my eyes.|
|Chicago Cubs: A-. The Cubs whiffed on Anibal Sanchez, but ended up signing Edwin Jackson to a more favorable deal to bolster their rotation a bit. Combine the Jackson signing with one-year deals for Scott Baker and Scott Feldman, and two-year deals for Scott Hairston, Kyuji Fujikawa and Carlos Villanueva, and you have the Cubs offseason in a nutshell. Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are doing a great job at building for the future in Chicago by signing assets that could potentially be traded at the deadline for young talent while giving the Cubs solid production at a low cost in the first half.|
|Cincinnati Reds: B+. The Reds didn't do much, but then again, they didn't need to. Cincinnati's biggest splash this offseason was picking up Shin-Soo Choo from the cross-state rival Indians to replace Drew Stubbs in center field. Choo will be a definite offensive boost for the Reds, but it remains to be seen how he'll fare defensively in center. With the shift of Aroldis Chapman to the rotation, the Reds also re-signed Jonathon Broxton (acquired in July from the Royals) to serve as their closer. Aside from those two moves, the Reds re-signed left fielder Ryan Ludwick, brought in reliever Manny Parra, and added Jack Hannahan to their bench. They also bid farewell to Scott Rolen (assuming he doesn't re-sign after doing an about face on his desire to retire) and handed the third base job to 2012 rookie Todd Frazier. Not necessarily a bad offseason for the Reds, just not a real momentum changer overall.|
|Milwaukee Brewers: B. The "B" is for "boring". Milwaukee's only significant free agent loss was Shaun Marcum, who the team showed no desire to bring back anyway. Their only significant free agent signings were Tom Gorzelanny and Michael Gonzalez, along with bringing in Burke Badenhop via trade. Considering how putrid the Brewers bullpen was last year, those moves could end up improving the team a good bit in 2013.|
|Pittsburgh Pirates: B-. The Pirates needed to improve their rotation this winter, and they really didn't at all. They had a deal with Francisco Liriano that *just* became official after a song and dance regarding his physical. They signed Jonathan Sanchez, who was terrible last season, to a minor league deal. The team also brought back Jeff Karstens to battle for a rotation spot. However, Neal Huntington did some good this winter, including vastly upgrading the team's catching with Russell Martin and re-signing reliever Jason Grilli for two years at a lower cost than traded former closer Joel Hanrahan will make in one with Boston. They didn't do anything terrible, yet it almost feels like they're running in place and shooting for another season with between 76 and 78 wins.|
|St Louis Cardinals: B. The name of the game in the NL Central this year was "stand pat", and no team did less than the Cardinals. Lance Berkman (injured for nearly all of 2012) and Kyle Lohse departed as free agents, and the team signed no one to replace either after the emergence of Allen Craig in 2012 as Berkman's replacement and the team's glut of young pitching. The Cardinals signed three significant free agents: Randy Choate, Ty Wigginton, and Ronny Cedeno, a reliever and a pair of bench players. The news that Chris Carpenter probably won't pitch at all in 2013 might send them back into the tortoise race to sign Lohse, but I'd assume that the Cardinals would just use one of their youngsters to replace Carpenter and continue their transition to a new era. They didn't need to drastically change anything, and they didn't.|
|Arizona Diamondbacks: C-. I've been driving the Kevin Towers hate train this winter, and the Diamondbacks haven't done a great job at cultivating young talent under their GM. They traded Justin Upton for a package highlighted by 29-year old third baseman Martin Prado, who the team gave a four-year contract extension. Aaron Hill, who will turn 31 in March, was given a three-year contract extension. 32-year old Cody Ross was given a three-year contract for no real reason. Chris Young was traded for 35-year old Heath Bell and slap-hitting shortstop Cliff Pennington. I mean, what the hell is going on in Arizona? They've still got a nice young staff of pitchers, which makes the two-year deal given to Brandon McCarthy a little bizarre, and the average age of the offense took a major tick up this winter for little to no upgrade or salary relief. But hey, at least Towers gave up Trevor Bauer to get his dream shortstop in Didi Gregorius...who isn't even the top-ranked shortstop in the organization.|
|Colorado Rockies: D. If you lose 98 games in 2012, what should you do going into 2013? Well, if you're the Rockies...you trade for a reliever and sign a bunch of bench players, and hope the team that got you to 98 losses a year ago improves dramatically. A healthy Troy Tulowitzki will help the team out a lot this season, but I think that Josh Rutledge and Dexter Fowler will take steps back offensively this year. The Rockies are also banking on a healthy Jorge de la Rosa turning their rotation around, along with solid contributions from Drew Pomeranz, Jhoulys Chacin, and Juan Nicasio. There's a huge difference between standing pat with a good team (like the Cardinals did) and standing pat with a bad team (like the Rockies did).|
|Los Angeles Dodgers: A-. The Dodgers actually didn't do a lot this winter, despite what you might think. Most of their chaos came over the summer when they traded for Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, and Josh Beckett (and their contracts). However, the major move the Dodgers did make this winter is one that will move the needle: Zack Greinke. Greinke and Clayton Kershaw will combine to be perhaps the most dominant starting pitcher duo in the game, and LA is definitely a better team with Greinke in the fold. The Dodgers also won the bidding for Korean starter Hyun-Jin Ryu, solidifying their rotation even more. The only reason that they didn't get a better grade is for the horrible, terrible three-year contract that Brandon League got at the beginning of the offseason.|
|San Diego Padres: C+. The Padres didn't do a whole lot this winter, as you'd expect. The team signed a trio of starting pitchers, Jason Marquis, Freddy Garcia, and Tim Stauffer...and that's about it. This is a young team with a lot of players under control past next season, so it's not as if the Padres needed to make a splash...but it was just an underwhelming offseason overall. The suspension of catcher Yasmani Grandal didn't help matters, and pitcher Andrew Cashner hurting himself could set a disappointing tone for the 2013 season in San Diego.|
|San Francisco Giants: B. The Giants brought back many players from their 2012 World Championship team that were free agents, including Angel Pagan, Jeremy Affeldt, and Marco Scutaro, while relievers Sergio Romo and Santiago Casilla got multi-year deals. But the Giants did nothing to fill their hole in left field after Melky Cabrera departed and will roll with career backup Gregor Blanco, and I'm not sold on his ability to put together a solid performance for a full year. Considering they're the defending champs, I can't criticize too much about what the Giants did, but they didn't blow me away this winter like other teams have.|
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Being way to easy on the Padres. A crummy team that does nothing to improve? That sounds like an "F" to me.
I knew that. What I don't understand is your statement, "The headline. . .American League." Did you think I made some point about the AL?
Sorry you misinterpreted. I was not proposing a bell curve. Seemingly, maybe to only me, your grading system would give the '62 Mets a D (for showing up?) and any team which ends up with a .500 winning percentage would earn at least a B (since that was your average grade)?
@jagars A lot would have to do with expectations. For example, the Angels won 89 games last year, the Phillies and Diamondbacks finished .500...neither of those three teams would have gotten a B for their performances. But the 74-88 Mets? They were supposed to lose 100 games, and they had a pulse. Basing grades on performance in comparison to expectations is a good way to do things too, all things considered.
This guy (Lucia) must be a high school teacher in real life. I don't disagree (or care) about individual grades, but for every A shouldn't there be (on average) an F? In other words, shouldn't a player helping one team generally hurt the team he is leaving? I know the change is not always + - , but it is - - as often as + + .
@jagars That would be a bell curve, which a few college professors I've had like to throw around, but I personally think is a load of crap. Technically with a bell curve, you could get a 95 on an exam and be given an F because everyone else got a higher grade than a 95. That's garbage IMO. You get the grade you earned: if 2/3 of the teams in the league had an awful offseason, I'm not going to bump their grades up to even everything out.
But everyone has a different grading philosophy, and I can respect that. Just not my cup of tea at all.