Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Was It Worth It?

As Spring Training continues and the 2011 MLB season approaches, each team is starting to recognize the level of success they will have this season. Some teams made big trades or acquisitions this off-season, and some felt content with the talent they already had. Highlighting just a few of the more significant players and teams involved in off-season changes, I have weighed the pros and cons to inevitably determine if they made the right decision.

Rafael Soriano was signed by the New York Yankees to a three-year; $35 million contract this off-season. Due to Soriano’s Type A free agency status, the Yankees have to give up their first round pick for the 2011 First Year Player Draft.
Pros: Soriano is one of the game’s top relievers, and the one-two punch that he and Mariano Rivera present will shorten the length of games in the 7th or 8th inning. With proven success as a closer, Soriano may someday become the successor of Rivera’s reign.
Cons: New York has had a difficult off-season with the failure to sign Cliff Lee to a monster contract, and the drawn out discussions with longtime Yankees Rivera and Derek Jeter. They have many questions regarding their starting rotation, and chose to revamp their relief squad instead. Will their decision to use the first round pick to acquire another talented reliever be worth it, or will the starting pitchers struggle too much to keep them in games?

Pat Burrell makes his return to the World Series Champions, the San Francisco Giants, for the upcoming season. All it comes down to for Burrell is winning. He wants rings. That is undeniably why he is willing to sacrifice money for the chance to be on a championship-caliber team.
Pros: The Giants are getting a decent left fielder and middle-of-the-lineup power hitter for only a one-year, $1 million contract. Burrell is a team player that is sure to buy into the Giants system and contribute in some way to their success.
Cons: He is getting up in age and may be plagued with injuries, whether minor or major, this season. He has yet to prove that he can be an asset in the playoffs and in clutch situations.

Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford were both acquired by the Boston Red Sox during the Winter Meetings this off-season. Crawford, a five-tooled outfielder, was signed out of free agency for 7 years, $142 million. Gonzalez, whose move to Boston had been years in the making, finally arrived in exchange for three Red Sox prospects. He is expected to finalize a contract extension in the upcoming weeks that will keep him in Boston for the long term.
Pros: The addition of Adrian Gonzalez will complete the Sox already competent infield with a stable, gold glove first baseman. They’ve had issue over the years with consistency at the corner infield positions, and this gives them the opportunity to move the defensive abilities of Kevin Youkilis to third base. Carl Crawford has solidified the Tampa Bay Rays outfield with his speed and arm strength, and will continue to do so with Boston. On the base paths he will be another weapon for Terry Francona, and fortunately now steal bases on other teams rather than his MLB record 6-stolen base game against the Red Sox back in ’09.
Cons: In order to complete the deal for Gonzalez, the Red Sox were forced to break ties with three of their most promising prospects. Starting pitcher Casey Kelly, power hitting first baseman Anthony Rizzo, and speedy outfielder Reymond Fuentes were all traded to the Padres. The Sox were also forced to let Victor Martinez go in order to clear up cap space for Crawford and Gonzalez.

Cliff Lee signed a deal with the Philadelphia Phillies back in December for 5 years, $120 million. Lee passed up offers of more money from the two previous AL Champions (Yankees and Rangers) to return to the Phillies for his second stint.
Pros: He joins a phenomenal rotation, possibly the best ever, consisting of Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, and Cole Hamels. For most baseball fans, this may bring back memories of the dominant Atlanta Braves rotation of the 1990’s. Or even the Koufax, Drysdale, Sutton, and Osteen pitching staff that controlled the Dodgers in the 1960’s. Do they compare? Imagining the possibilities with this caliber of a rotation makes me question if anyone can win a series against the Phillies come October. If the four of them stay healthy, the potential to go deep into games will be a dagger in the heart of even the best offensive teams.
Cons: With the addition of Cliff Lee, the Phillies lack the financial ability to sign a good replacement for their departing right fielder. Without Jayson Werth’s protection in the lineup, are the Phillies bats fresh and talented enough to put some runs on the board? This will be the big question when the season begins next month. If the offense can’t win games, their defense won’t have the opportunity to win championships. 

written by: Hayley Zedeck

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