From Wikipedia: the book All Quiet on the Western Front describes the German soldiers' extreme physical and mental stress during the war, and the detachment from civilian life felt by many of these soldiers upon returning home from the front (WWI). If you are a fan of an AL East team, especially a team that is usually a mover and shaker during the early winter months, this offseason may be causing some physical and mental stress due to the inactivity and judging by my twitter feed Yankee and Red Sox fans are quite restless.
For the first time in a number of years every move that a team makes in the American League this winter isn't seen through the prism of "is it enough to catch the Yankees or Red Sox?" Kind of refreshing to think that as of now, in my opinion, the Yankees and Red Sox have to ask if they have enough to keep up with the Rays who finished the last two months of the regular season with a 35-20 record while scoring 4.6 runs per game. The end of 2011 also showed how explosive Matt Moore can be and the emergence of left fielder Desmond Jennings.
As we head into the holidays let's take a look at the moves that the other teams in the AL East have made. And since the free agent market and trade market has began to settle down the field of trade partners and the available free agents is beginning to become more into focus; therefore, predictions may become a little more on target.
Feel free to use this thread to post your thoughts on what the other teams in the AL East may do over the remaining month and a half of the offseason and how these moves may affect the Rays in 2012 as well as what moves you anticipate the Rays making via free agent signings or trades. Remember to hashtag your predictions in the comments section or on Twitter with #DRBPrediction if you want to be included in the official DRaysBay Prediction Tracking.
The Yankees big moves has bee the re-signing of CC Sabathia, who opted out of his contract, and Freddie Garcia. Neither move inspires the usual glitz and glamour of landing a big time free agent signing to catapult the team to certain World Series favorites.
BrandonC over at Pinstripealley asks: Does the New York Yankees Answer to their Rotation "Problem" Lie Within.
Richard Justice of mlb.com discusses the Yankees quiet offseason and suggests that this offseason may be an example of Brian Cashman exerting more control over the operations and viewing this as a transitional phase where the Yankees return to growing Yankees.
Jonah Keri has an outstanding piece at Grantland titled Counting Pennies and Clipping Coupons in the Bronx. It is a fantastic read and its final sentence wonders about how George would feel about all of this:
The New York Yankees have become more frugal than they have in years, with enough patience to make them baseball's most unlikely story of Zen. Wonder what George would say if he could see them now.
The Red Sox were stung early in the winter when closer Jonathon Papelbon jumped ship to head to the Philadelphia Phillies. In an effort to replace some of the back end bullpen depth the Sox dealt Kyle Weiland and Jed Lowrie to the Astros for reliever Mark Melancon. To add depth to the bench the Red Sox have signed Nick Punto and Kelly Shoppach. The Red Sox big move has been the re-signing of DH David Ortiz.
If any one area of the Red Sox could be pointed at as the reason for their late season collapse it would be the starting rotation. With the tumultuous end of the 2011 season and replacing of GM Theo Epstein with Ben Cherington and Manager Terry Francona with Bobby Valentine it would seem logical next step for the Red Sox would be to begin the process of filling out their rotation.
The Red Sox have only three starters returning from the 2011 team, Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, and Clay Buchholz. Thus far the Red Sox were unable to land Trevor Cahill or Gio Gonzalez, were not a big player in the C.J. Wilson talks, and didn't seem to be interested in Yu Darvish. The Red Sox could still land a starting pitcher such as Hiroki Kuroda, Edwin Jackson, or Roy Oswalt via free agency or could pick up a Wandy Rodriguez or Matt Garza in trade but the lack of addressing this area has been a mystery thus far.
Marc Normandin at OverTheMonster posted an open thread for the Red Sox fans to discuss their Starting Pitching Preferences. Alex Speir of WEEI discusses the transition of Daniel Bard and Alfredo Aceves from the bullpen to the rotation and discusses Why Red Sox Face a Complex Move.
The Blue Jays,as well as the Red Sox and Yankees, have been linked to brand name players like Carlos Beltran and Prince Fielder and were supposedly the runner up in the bid to land Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish but thus far have made very little moves. The Jays big move this offseason has been trading prospect Nestor Molina to the Chicago White Sox for closer in Sergio Santos.
Alex Anthopolous has been a very active GM during his tenure in Toronto. He has been able to turn over most of the roster including removing the albatross contracts of Vernon Wells and Alex Rios, he's added depth to the minor league system, and added Colby Rasmus at the trade deadline in 2011. The Blue Jays were unable to win the Yu Darvish posting, were unable to land Carlos Beltran, and were unwilling to match prospect packages for Mat Latos or Gio Gonzalez. The Blue Jays seem unwilling to go beyond 5 years in a contract offer which seems to take them out of the Prince Fielder negotiations so it appears as if the Blue Jays will not be making a big splash this offseason. Tom Dakers at BlueBirdBanter says:
Anyway, it got me thinking, do the Jays really need to make a 'big splash'? We've had a year of big moves. Marcum for Lawrie. Farquhar and Magunson for Davis. Wells for not having to pay Wells. Napoli for Francisco. Hill and McDonald for Johnson. A half dozen middle relievers for Rasmus.
They were all pretty big moves, but the Jays still have to "prove" to folks that they want to win. And they have to do it now. Right now. You'd think Alex would have built up a little good will in us by now. We could give him a bit of time. He does seem to know what he is doing.
This winter the Orioles have dipped into the international market by signing pitcher Tsuyoshi Wada and signed reserve outfielder Endy Chavez. They have also been mentioned as a possible landing spot for Prince Fielder and have been rumored to be in trade discussions with the Atlanta Braves centered around Adam Jones for some of the Braves pitching depth.
At the end of the winter the Orioles are often the team that has removed several older overpriced players with other older overpriced players. The result of constantly making these lateral moves has been 14 consecutive years finishing under the .500 mark. This winter the team has taken a risk in signing Wada but has resisted to be the early entrant for the older player that is on the market. Dan Duquette has taken over as the GM and along with Buck Showalter may have enough experience and stubbornness to convince owner Peter Angelos to allow them to build the Orioles in a slightly different manner.