Offseason grades: NL East
The Miami Marlins made the most noise of any team in baseball this offseason but that doesn’t mean they’re the big winners. Most of the other teams in the division stayed relatively quiet. Here’s my two cents on hot-stove activities in the NL East:
Phillies: As has been the case over the last few years, the Phillies had a strong offseason. Many people don’t believe in paying closers, but the Phillies didn’t mess around when getting the best closer available in Jonathan Papelbon. The money was high, but I think he’ll be productive if not dominant over the life of the contract. The acquisition of Ty Wigginton gives them a viable first base option until Howard comes back. I wouldn’t expect Jim Thome out there more than once or twice a week. They could use a better veteran presence up the middle considering the injury concerns of Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley.
Braves: The Braves had a quiet offseason, which, in their case, is a negative. They need a proven middle-of-the-order bat, and they have the ammunition to get it, they just haven’t done it. They are again placing too much pressure on Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman to give them major production. Additionally, Jack Wilson is a downgrade from Alex Gonzalez.
Marlins: With all the attention it got, I don’t like the Marlins’ offseason. Until further notice, it appears to be somewhat of a sham as they would not include no-trade clauses for anybody. Giving Jose Reyes a six-year deal is not a good idea considering his legs are his best attribute and you don’t give those kind of players long-term deals (see Carl Crawford). Heath Bell is one of the better closers in the game, but they could have filled that position in house. Although they overpaid for him, Mark Buehrle is still a good middle-of-the-rotation innings eater. On top everything, they are forcing a position change on their best player, Hanley Ramirez, seemingly without giving him any notice.
Nationals: Even with the disappointment of not landing Prince Fielder, the Nationals had a solid offseason. They added a young lefty in Gio Gonzalez to the middle of the rotation, which balances nicely with their young right-handers, and then they quickly locked him up for the next six-years. Mark DeRosa has been injured for the better part of two years, but if he can stay healthy, he’s a solid bat who gives them a lot of flexibility. I don’t know how much Brad Lidge has left, if anything, but with his history, he could be late-season trade bait.
Mets: Considering the financial mess the Mets are in right now, their offseason has to be taken in that light. They’ve added a few spare parts but nothing that will impact the team enough. I don’t understand the idea of giving Frank Francisco two years at $12 million to close, considering their situation. It would have taken a minor miracle to do anything with the bad contracts of Johan Santana and Jason Bay. The one thing I would have explored is the market for David Wright. He’s still in the prime of his career, and a change of scenery would do him well.