One Team Will Win the Offseason … And it Won’t Matter
A year ago in December, all of baseball was parading around the Boston Red Sox as the team to beat in the American League. With a lineup consisting of Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz, Ramirez, and Sandoval, how could it possibly fall flat? It fell flat behind awful pitching signings and a miserable bullpen. But regardless, the Red Sox won the offseason.
It wasn’t foreign ground for Boston, who just a few years earlier had taken MLB by storm when they signed Carl Crawford, a perennial All-Star, to a seven-year, $142 million deal. The fans loved it, the media ate it up, and Boston was penciled in for October baseball.
Except none of that happened.
Crawford lasted a year and a half in Boston, was plagued by injuries, and hit just .255 in his one full season, the lowest of his career. Boston shipped Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez (who, granted, was one of the few producers on a miserable 2012 Red Sox roster) to Los Angeles.
The Sox responded with a title in 2013, based on of an offseason in which they signed the right guys at the right times. Too bad the 2104 offseason didn’t go the same way.
Marquee players make a difference, but only on elite teams. The Royals won the World Series behind a great trade deadline deal to bring in Cueto, but the Kansas City roster was already stacked — Cueto was just the missing piece.
San Diego struck big last winter, bringing in James Shields and trading or Matt Kemp. How’d that turn out, you ask? Shields was extremely effective, going 13-7, the fewest losses of his career, with a 3.91 ERA. Kemp? Not so hot. The oft-injured centerfielder hit .265, his lowest mark since 2010, with 147 strikeouts and an OBP of .312.
Kemp did manage 100 RBIs for the third time in his career with 23 home runs, but the Padres finished a miserable 74-88, 18 games behind the Dodgers in the NL West.
Go ahead, crown your offseason winner, but odds are you won’t be crowning them again in October.