Top five 2011-2012 offseason winners
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With February here and Valentine’s Day approaching, a handful teams have the opportunity to express love for their new acquisitions. In recent years, these teams have included powerhouses like the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies and St. Louis Cardinals, this year’s list of winners is made up of mid-sized markets looking to get to that powerhouse level. So, while we await spring training and the impending 2012 season, let’s take a look at my top-five winners of the offseason.
5. Washington Nationals
One of two NL East teams to make the list, the Nationals realized what it would take to combat the other offense-minded teams in the divison: a good pitching staff. With the acquisition of left-hander Gio Gonzalez from the Athletics and the signing of free-agent pitcher Edwin Jackson, the Nationals have set up a powerful 1-2-3-4 punch in their starting rotation with Gonzalez, a finally healthy Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann and Jackson. At the back-end of the pitching staff, they added relief pitcher Brad Lidge, who is looking to rebound from three very disappointing seasons with the Phillies after being almost unhittable in their 2008 World Series run. If Lidge can find that magic again, he joins a solid relief pitching staff that already includes Tyler Clippard and closer Drew Storen. Although they didn’t make a huge splash in the offensive player pool like last year’s addition of Jayson Werth, they did add a solid utility-player in Mark DeRosa. DeRosa adds a solid bat to a line-up that already included Werth, Michael Morse and Ryan Zimmerman.
The Nationals can contend for an NL East crown, but winning the divison games against the Phillies, Marlins and Braves will be crucial. They added a punch to a pitching staff that was 7th in the MLB in 2011 with a team ERA of 3.58, and they expect to add more runs with a healthy Ryan Zimmerman and the addition of De Rosa. Watch out for the Nats in 2012.
4. New York Yankees
Alright, so I couldn’t come up with a list that didn’t include at least one large-market team, and as much as I dislike putting them here, they come in at number four. This wasn’t a typical offseason for the Bronx Bombers, though. The perennial high-bidder on any big-name free agent on the market had a relatively quiet offseason that saw them add to what they lacked most: quality pitching. The re-signing of ace C.C. Sabathia and the addition of pitchers Huroki Kuroda and Michael Pineda has allowed the Yankees to begin to tie up loose ends that plagued them in 2011. Kuroda and Pineda join a starting pitching staff that already includes: Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Phil Hughes, Ivan Nova and Freddy Garcia. That starting pitching staff will turn the ball over to relief pitchers David Robertson, Rafael Soriano and Mariano Rivera. In short, The Yankees have a ton of great pitching, too much in fact, but I think that Brian Cashman would agree that too much is a good problem to have.
Yes, they fixed their pitching staff, and yes, that will be complementing an already power-packed offense that includes Curtis Granderson, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira. The New York Yankees are the front-runners for the AL East crown, and any time you add players and only strengthen your argument for that case, you deserve to be mentioned amongst the offseason winners.
3. Detroit Tigers
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