With spring training here at last, it's time to reflect on another busy baseball offseason. Here's a look at the five biggest losers of the winter (in no particular order).
Traded away most of their established talent (Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson) and pissed off their franchise player, Giancarlo Stanton, in the process. Considering the Fish lost 93 games with that crew last year (plus Hanley Ramirez, Heath Bell, Omar Infante, and Anibal Sanchez), the Marlins are a lock to lose at least 100 games in 2013.
Kansas City Royals
The Royals haven't won in so long that they clearly have a misconception about what it means to "win now." It definitely doesn't mean signing innings-eaters Ervin Santana (5.16 ERA in 2012) and Jeremy Guthrie. It also doesn't mean trading away Wil Myers, the best hitter in the minor leagues last year, for a number two pitcher disguised as an ace (James Shields). Even with continued growth from young stars Salvador Perez, Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas, KC is a .500 team at best with almost no chance at contending for the second wild card. Don't be surprised if GM Dayton Moore is out of a job by this time next year.
New York Yankees
After getting wiped out by the Detroit Tigers in last fall's ALCS, the Yanks failed to do much this offseason besides get older. Squeezed by their commitment to getting their payroll below the luxury tax threshold of $189 million by next season, the typically free-spending Yankees restrained from handing out multi-year deals to any notable free agents. Brian Cashman was forced to pinch every penny, and what resulted was perhaps the quietest Yankee winter in recent memory. They picked up Kevin Youkilis to fill in for Alex Rodriguez at third, but Youk brings an injury-checkered past and eroding skills to the Big Apple. Instead of ponying up for Nick Swisher, they brought back a 39 year-old Ichiro Suzuki to man right field. Gone too is Rafael Soriano, an elite closer who stepped up when Mariano Rivera went down (though the 43 year-old Mo will be back, as will 40 year-old Andy Pettitte and 38 year-old Hiroki Kuroda). Russell Martin departed via free agency, leaving New York without an everyday backstop. Key role players Eric Chavez, Andruw Jones and Raul Ibanez--who combined for 49 home runs last year--are gone as well. Travis Hafner is an intriguing addition with that ballpark, but I'm not as enthusiastic about Dan Johnson, Matt Diaz and Juan Rivera. The Bronx Bombers enter 2013 loaded with question marks and will probably miss the playoffs for just the second time in the past 20 seasons.
If the O's think they can repeat last year's fluky success (93 wins with a +7 run differential), then they are sorely mistaken. After sitting on their hands this winter, they're doomed to crash and burn in 2013 when their good fortune runs out.
Made the biggest blunder of the offseason by trading Justin Upton, a potential MVP-in-the-making whom they still controlled for another three years, and Chris Johnson for Randall Delgado and Martin Prado. They gave up on B.J. Upton's little brother too early and should have been able to get a whole lot more in return than a pair of complementary players and three so-so prospects.