UNSUPPORTED BROWSER
More Sports

Offseason shopping spree makes re-loaded Red Sox team to beat

As the children in Philadelphia are undoubtedly trying to rush delivery of a revised wish list to the North Pole, hoping Santa Claus can add a Cliff Lee No. 33 jersey to their holiday haul, folks in Boston have a choice to make on their apparel choice: a Carl Crawford jersey, an Adrian Gonzalez jersey . . . or both? Fans in both cities have no doubt replaced the visions of sugarplums dancing in their heads with fantasies of a World Series trophy.

In the spirit of this holiday season, I give you a gift of my own: a special offseason edition of SI.com's MLB Power Rankings.

Pitchers and catchers begin reporting in two months, but with most of the top free agents off the board, save Adrian Beltre and Rafael Soriano, the 2011 baseball season is starting to take shape. But if teams were to begin play today, this is how they'd stack up.

Note: Transactions only include expected major-league players. An asterisk (*) denotes a free agent who has not yet signed elsewhere and thus could return.

MLB Power Rankings
1Boston Red Sox
Last Week:
Notable additions: 1B Adrian Gonzalez, LF Carl Crawford
Notable subtractions: C Victor Martinez, 3B Adrian Beltre*, RP Hideki Okajima, UT Bill Hall*

The 2009 Red Sox were a very good club, scoring the second-most runs in baseball and winning 89 games despite being decimated by injuries. Other teams in other cities might emphasize rehab and only add a complementary piece, but these are the Red Sox, who saw a significant dip in local TV ratings and an uptick in interest in the Celtics and Patriots, the region's other title contenders. Thus, the Red Sox responded in force, at a cost of more than $300 million dollars and three top prospects to land Crawford and Gonzalez, who will be in Boston uniforms for a combined 15 years. The bullpen isn't complete, but if starters Josh Beckett and John Lackey have bounceback years, the Red Sox are positioned as the early World Series favorites.
 
2Philadelphia Phillies
Last Week:
Notable additions: SP Cliff Lee, RP Dennys Reyes
Notable subtractions: RF Jayson Werth, 1B Mike Sweeney*, RP J.C. Romero*

When Cliff Lee spurned the Rangers and Yankees for the Phillies -- the long-touted "mystery team" in the Lee sweepstakes -- he completed baseball's best starting rotation in at least a decade and probably several decades. The only questions regarding Philadelphia starting pitching are semantic ones: deciding on an order to the rotation and sticking to one nickname (among the choices are R2C2, the Phantastic Phour and the Four Horsemen). With such good pitching, the club can likely withstand the loss of Werth's offense, but the bullpen, which ranked ninth of 16 in the NL last year, could still use another arm or two.
 
3San Francisco Giants
Last Week:
Notable additions: SS Miguel Tejada
Notable subtractions: SS Edgar Renteria*, IF Juan Uribe

The defending World Series champions return the same rotation -- each of the top four likely a year closer to their prime -- and the same outstanding bullpen, but the offense hasn't really improved. The Giants won last year's title somewhat in spite of their lineup. In 2011 Miguel Tejada replaces Juan Uribe, a small decline in power, but Mark DeRosa should be healthy and ready to contribute. Then again, San Francisco's biggest offseason acquisition may be a loss, as third baseman Pablo Sandoval is on a new training regimen to shed some weight and try to regain his 2009 form.
 
4Cincinnati Reds
Last Week:
Notable additions: None
Notable subtractions: SP Aaron Harang, RP Arthur Rhodes*, SS Orlando Cabrera*, OF Jim Edmonds*

Thus far this offseason the Reds have opted for the status quo, which isn't a bad idea with a young, presumably improving core. The NL's top run-scoring offense is intact, save for a shortstop swap, as Cabrera left and backup Paul Janish will get the starting nod; both are offensive lightweights, though Janish did outperform Cabrera last year. Harang, Cincinnati's former Opening Day starter, was too costly to return after he couldn't crack last year's playoff rotation, especially with the emergence of Homer Bailey, Mike Leake and Travis Wood.
 
5Texas Rangers
Last Week:
Notable additions: C Yorvit Torrealba
Notable subtractions: SP Cliff Lee, DH Vladimir Guerrero*, OF Jeff Francoeur, C Bengie Molina*, 1B Jorge Cantu*

The defending AL champions will immediately jump to at least No. 3 on this list should they be able to pry Zack Greinke away from the Royals, which would certainly soften the blow of not retaining Lee. There's a hole at DH after the Rangers decided not to rush to extend Guerrero after he tailed off in the second-half, but he may still return or, presuming Mitch Moreland becomes the everyday first baseman, DH could still be filled in-house by someone like Chris Davis or other free agents like Magglio Ordoñez or Jim Thome. But for now Texas, in having lost Lee, has taken a step back.
 
6New York Yankees
Last Week:
Notable additions: C Russell Martin
Notable subtractions: SP Andy Pettitte*, 1B/OF Lance Berkman, RP Kerry Wood*, OF Austin Kearns*

No team pinned its offseason on obtaining one player quite like the Yankees did with Lee. Without him -- and with Pettitte still mulling retirement -- New York faces the prospect of opening the season with A.J. Burnett, Ivan Nova and Sergio Mitre as its Nos. 3-4-5 starters. But this is no news flash to say that won't happen. While signing Crawford and trading an outfielder might have been Plan B, one has to assume general manager Brian Cashman has a Plan C or D, which likely will mean offering Pettitte enough money that he returns and then trading for a veteran, perhaps someone like the Cardinals' Chris Carpenter, who has one expensive guaranteed year left on his contract. At least they retained Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter, though the latter's negotiations included quite a bit of acrimony.
 
7Chicago White Sox
Last Week:
Notable additions: DH Adam Dunn, RP Jesse Crain
Notable subtractions: DH Manny Ramirez*, OF/DH Andruw Jones*, RP Bobby Jenks*, RP J.J. Putz

Rather than rotating through designated hitters like Ramirez, Jones and Mark Kotsay, the White Sox now have Adam Dunn, who in the past seven seasons has averaged 40 home runs, 101 RBIs and a .381 on-base percentage -- star production despite his not having been named to an All-Star team any of those years. Chicago re-signed Paul Konerko and A.J. Pierzynski and is prepared to match its veteran-laden club, which contended for the AL Central title until September, against anyone in the division. Rookie lefty Chris Sale, a 2010 draft pick, will need to play a big role in the bullpen to help offset the losses of Jenks and Putz. Snagging Crain away from their division rival helps too.
 
8Colorado Rockies
Last Week:
Notable additions: SP Felipe Paulino, UT Ty Wigginton
Notable subtractions: C Miguel Olivo, 3B Melvin Mora, 2B Clint Barmes, SP Jeff Francis*

Turning Barmes, essentially a spare part with Eric Young Jr. around, into Paulino, a strikeout-heavy starter, may be the heist of the offseason. Yes, Paulino was 1-9 with a 5.11 ERA last year, but he suffered from a lot of bad luck (.340 average allowed on balls in play) and a high walk rate (4.5 per nine innings). If he improves the latter, he could be a good back-end starter or solid seventh-inning reliever. Otherwise re-signing free agent Jorge De La Rosa as the No. 2 starter and extending shortstop Troy Tulowitzki with essentially a lifetime contract were the important moves for the Rockies, who were within one game of the playoffs on Sept. 18th before finishing the season 1-13.
 
9Atlanta Braves
Last Week:
Notable additions: 2B Dan Uggla, RP Scott Linebrink, RP George Sherrill
Notable subtractions: RP Billy Wagner*, UT Omar Infante, 1B Derrek Lee*, LF Matt Diaz, RP Mike Dunn, RP Kyle Farnsworth*, CF Rick Ankiel*

New manager Fredi Gonzalez inherits not just a playoff club but also one that finally found a consistent power bat in Uggla and potentially a second new power bat in rookie first baseman Freddie Freeman. The back of the bullpen lost its closer, as Wagner is set to retire, but it has some power arms in Jonny Venters and Craig Kimbrel, not to mention incumbent eighth-inning reliever Peter Moylan and new additions in Linebrink and lefty specialist Sherrill. It's a stacked group, though not having a pre-ordained established closer can often be a little dicey. If Nate McLouth can return to his pre-2010 form and hold down centerfield, Atlanta ought to be a favorite to repeat as the NL wild card.
 
10Minnesota Twins
Last Week:
Notable additions: SS Tsuyoshi Nishioka
Notable subtractions: SS J.J. Hardy, 2B Orlando Hudson*, DH Jim Thome*, SP Carl Pavano*, RP Brian Fuentes*, RP Jesse Crain, RP Matt Guerrier, RP Jon Rauch*

The deal for slick-fielding Japanese middle infielder Nishioka isn't official, but he's a necessity for the Twins as they revamp their middle infield. Otherwise, Minnesota is seen as the favorites to keep Pavano and Thome. The real news is in adding two All-Stars already on the roster: first baseman Justin Morneau, who missed the second half of the season with a concussion, is improving, and closer Joe Nathan, who missed all of last year with Tommy John surgery, should be ready for the start of the season. The Twins will be banking a lot on veteran relievers Pat Neshek and Glen Perkins, each of whom spent most of last season in Triple-A.
 
11Tampa Bay Rays
Last Week:
Notable additions: None
Notable subtractions: LF Carl Crawford, 1B Carlos Peña, SS Jason Bartlett, RP Rafael Soriano*, RP Joaquin Benoit, RP Lance Cormier*, RP Dan Wheeler*, RP Randy Choate, RP Grant Balfour*, RP Chad Qualls*, C Dioner Navarro, DH Brad Hawpe*, IF Willy Aybar*

Despite the offseason attrition of Crawford, Peña and Bartlett, the Rays would still be a few spots higher on these rankings if they, you know, had a late-inning relief pitcher on the roster. Instead nearly the entire bullpen is gone; of the 128 innings pitched in save situations last year, only 1 1/3 innings of experience returns. Otherwise, the Rays have primarily lost veterans only where there's a younger, cheaper option at the ready. Reid Brignac will take over at shortstop for Bartlett (whose trade to San Diego isn't quite final yet); Dan Johnson produced at roughly the same rate as first baseman Peña; Desmond Jennings has a projected upside similar to Crawford's All-Star peak, though he may need a few years to get there.
 
12St. Louis Cardinals
Last Week:
Notable additions: 1B/OF Lance Berkman, SS Ryan Theriot, C Gerald Laird, RP Brian Tallet
Notable subtractions: SS Brendan Ryan, RP Dennys Reyes, RP Blake Hawksworth

The one certainty is that the Cardinals will be worse defensively in 2011 than they were in 2010. Ryan was the game's best-fielding shortstop, but he's been replaced with Theriot, whose defense has been slipping. Of greater concern is the outfield where Berkman, who has creaky knees and hasn't played in the outfield since 2007, will play one of the corner spots. But the gamble is that the new players (at least Berkman) will add offense beyond the formidable 3-4 hitters, Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday. With the high-scoring Reds leading the way, it seems the Cardinals think it's worth a shot.
 
13Detroit Tigers
Last Week:
Notable additions: C Victor Martinez, RP Joaquin Benoit
Notable subtractions: C Gerald Laird, OF Magglio Ordoñez*, DH Johnny Damon*, SP Jeremy Bonderman*

Last year Miguel Cabrera stood alone in the Tigers' lineup as an offensive force, which is why he led the AL with 32 intentional walks. The addition of Martinez, a regular .300 hitter with 20 home runs, should help reduce the team's reliance on one man to generate runs. The emergence of homegrown players like Ryan Raburn, Will Rhymes and Brennan Boesch is a plus, as is AL Rookie of the Year runner-up Austin Jackson. The lineup should be better, the bullpen could be a strength and the Tigers could be a darkhorse chasing the White Sox and Twins in the Central if the rotation can be more consistent.
 
14Toronto Blue Jays
Last Week:
Notable additions: OF Rajai Davis, RP Carlos Villanueva
Notable subtractions: SP Shaun Marcum, RP Scott Downs, RP Kevin Gregg*, 1B Lyle Overbay, RP Brian Tallet, OF Fred Lewis*

Toronto won 85 games in the AL East and stands to do about the same in 2011 while simultaneously building for the future. Davis is a younger, better version of Lewis, and the trade of Marcum to the Brewers netted a promising infield prospect in Brett Lawrie. The offense, which led the majors in home runs, will be better simply if Adam Lind and Aaron Hill recover from bad 2010 seasons. The rotation of Rickey Romero, Brandon Morrow, Brett Cecil, Kyle Drabek and Marc Rzepczynski -- all between the ages of 23 and 26 -- should benefit from the supervision of new manager John Farrell, the former Red Sox pitching coach.
 
15Los Angeles Dodgers
Last Week:
Notable additions: SP Jon Garland, IF Juan Uribe, RP Matt Guerrier, CF Tony Gwynn Jr.
Notable subtractions: C Russell Martin, LF Scott Podsednik*

Encouragingly, it's been an active offseason for the Dodgers beyond the courtroom. While the Frank and Jamie McCourt divorce proceedings have overshadowed the club for more than a year, general manager Ned Colletti has made some nice moves to improve the club by re-signing starters Hiroki Kuroda, Ted Lilly and Vicente Padilla, while adding Garland and Guerrier to the pitching staff and Uribe to play second base. The Dodgers' biggest problem, however, was that they failed to score 700 runs for the first time in five years, but perhaps new manager Don Mattingly, a former batting champion as a player and later a hitting coach, can coax a bit more offense out of the team.
 
16Los Angeles Angels
Last Week:
Notable additions: RP Scott Downs, SP/RP Hisanori Takahashi
Notable subtractions: DH Hideki Matsui

Thus far the Angels have been sitting tight. The buzz early on was that owner Arte Moreno was unhappy with last year's step back from a third straight AL West championship in 2009 to finishing under-.500 in 2010 and was ready to spend to make a difference, but the Angels missed out on top target Carl Crawford. Adrian Beltre would be a great fit for a team that needs pop, especially among its mostly weak-hitting infielders. The return of Kendry Morales will help, but Los Angeles may need more. The rotation is very strong, especially if No. 5 starter Scott Kazmir rebounds, and Downs shores up a strong back of the bullpen alongside Fernando Rodney, Jordan Walden and Kevin Jepsen. For more detailed analysis of the Angels, check back on SI.com Friday.
 
17San Diego Padres
Last Week:
Notable additions: SS Jason Bartlett, SP Aaron Harang, SP Dustin Moseley, CF Cameron Maybin
Notable subtractions: 1B Adrian Gonzalez, SP Jon Garland, SS Miguel Tejada, CF Tony Gwynn Jr., SP Kevin Correia, SP Chris Young*, UT Jerry Hairston Jr.*, 2B David Eckstein*

At the major-league level, the Padres have made exchanges at a lot of positions for 60 or 70 cents on the dollar. As of press time, they are hot in pursuit of Derrek Lee, who isn't Gonzalez at first, while Harang is less consistent than Garland, Moseley's a touch worse than Correia and Maybin isn't quite the fielder that Gwynn is. But the trade of Gonzalez netted San Diego three premium prospects -- who now constitute three of their top six organizational prospects, according to most analysts -- meaning the future is much brighter, while the present, especially if they sign a first baseman like Lee or Adam LaRoche, shouldn't be so bad either.
 
18Florida Marlins
Last Week:
Notable additions: C John Buck, SP Javier Vazquez, UT Omar Infante, RP Mike Dunn, RP Randy Choate
Notable subtractions: 2B Dan Uggla, C Ronny Paulino

At least until their new ballpark opens in 2012, the Marlins generally choose not to spend significant money to pursue free agents, netting Buck and Vazquez only after dealing away Uggla's salary. As a result the team that has averaged 81 wins in the seven years since its 2003 World Series title will stay right around .500 in the year ahead. Choate and Dunn shore up the lefty side of their bullpen.
 
19Oakland Athletics
Last Week:
Notable additions: OF David DeJesus, DH Hideki Matsui, SP Rich Harden
Notable subtractions: OF Rajai Davis, OF/DH Jack Cust, SP Ben Sheets*

The A's have a dynamite rotation, but they have trouble scoring -- last year their 663 runs were fewer than even the Royals. So taking Kansas City's best hitter, DeJesus, is a good start at reversing that trend, but he and the aging Matsui aren't enough to move the offense into the realm where it can support the pitching staff for a playoff run. Oakland couldn't sign pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma, but Harden is an intriguing addition. In his return to East Bay, he'll compete for the No. 5 starter job but may be an even better fit in the bullpen.
 
20Chicago Cubs
Last Week:
Notable additions: 1B Carlos Peña
Notable subtractions: 1B Xavier Nady

Next season will be a transition year for the Cubs, who will be in their first full season of new ownership, first full season under manager Mike Quade and the last seasons of the huge contracts given to third baseman Aramis Ramirez, rightfielder Kosuke Fukudome and starter Carlos Silva, representing roughly $35 million in freed payroll. (The total value is around $40 million, but the Mariners are paying about $5.5 milion of Silva's salary.) They'll be looking to trade any or all of their big contracts, especially Fukudome and starter Carlos Zambrano, as well as add a mid-rotation arm, perhaps free agent Brandon Webb.
 
21Milwaukee Brewers
Last Week:
Notable additions: SP Shaun Marcum
Notable subtractions: RP Carlos Villanueva, RP Trevor Hoffman*

The Brewers really had only two dependable starters last year in Yovani Gallardo and Randy Wolf, so adding Marcum makes a lot of sense, as the 29-year-old righthander's numbers should improve outside the AL East. But the conversation dominating Milwaukee's offseason is what to do with first baseman Prince Fielder, who has one year left on his contract and, as a Scott Boras client, is unlikely to return for any sort of hometown discount, thereby pricing him out of the team's budget. The Brewers can score, so their best bet is to hope to trade Fielder for a proven starting pitcher.
 
22New York Mets
Last Week:
Notable additions: C Ronny Paulino, RP D.J. Carrasco
Notable subtractions: RP Pedro Feliciano*, SP/RP Hisanori Takahashi

The Mets' new management team of GM Sandy Alderson with Paul DePodesta and J.P. Ricciardi as his top lieutenants is a star-studded squad, but with payroll maxed out for 2011, they must wait a year to do any real maneuvering. It's like hiring the Ocean's Eleven crew a full year before they're allowed to break into a casino -- it feels like a waste of talent, but they'll be prepared for every personnel scenario when they have money next year. Carlos Beltran, Oliver Perez, Francisco Rodriguez, Jose Reyes and Luis Castillo all have one more year on their contracts worth some $60 million, making next offseason a big one for the future of the Mets. In the meantime, they have shown great restraint.
 
23Baltimore Orioles
Last Week:
Notable additions: 3B Mark Reynolds, SS J.J. Hardy
Notable subtractions: RP David Hernandez, RP Kam Mickolio, SP Kevin Millwood*, RP Will Ohman*

The Orioles have made a couple of nice trades, improving the left side of their infield and, if they can harness Reynolds' all-or-nothing swing a little better, adding significant power to the middle of their lineup. But the reality is that, despite their own advancements, they are now farther away from the top of the AL East thanks to Boston's mega moves. Baltimore fans can be heartened by the club's measured roster enhancements, which suggest the team is on the right track.
 
24Washington Nationals
Last Week:
Notable additions: RF Jayson Werth, LF Matt Stairs
Notable subtractions: 1B Adam Dunn, SP Scott Olsen

The Nationals made a step forward in relevance, albeit maybe not in performance. Adding Werth may not help Washington win many more games than if they still had Dunn, but just their ability to sign a top free agent to a mega contract speaks of the team's progress. Just two years ago, according to then-GM Jim Bowden, the Nationals offered more years and more money to Mark Teixeira than the Yankees but lost the first baseman to New York. Beyond Werth, the Nats were at times linked to interest in Cliff Lee and Greinke as well, suggesting that Washington is close enough to contention -- two or three years, perhaps -- that the big names will at least listen to attractive long-term offers.
 
25Houston Astros
Last Week:
Notable additions: SP Ryan Rowand-Smith, 2B Clint Barmes
Notable subtractions: SP Felipe Paulino, IF Geoff Blum

The biggest question facing the Astros this offseason is not which names will adorn the "to" line of their payroll checks but the new name that'll sign on the "from" line. Houston's owner of the past 18 years, Drayton McLane, has put the team up for sale and, according to the Houston Chronicle, has heard from more than 20 prospective buyers. Until a new buyer is identified and approved -- a process that could easily take a year or two -- fans ought to get used to small moves that generate little excitement.
 
26Seattle Mariners
Last Week:
Notable additions: C Miguel Olivo, OF/DH Jack Cust, SS Brendan Ryan
Notable subtractions: 1B Russell Branyan*

Seattle scored 513 runs last year, the lowest season total of any team in a full season since 1972. Adding Olivo and Cust barely offsets the loss of Branyan, who led the team with 15 homers despite playing only 57 games. But Cust is a helpful singing. If he had been a Mariner in 2010, he'd have led the team in OBP (.395) and ranked 2nd in average (.272) and home runs (13). Top offensive prospect Dustin Ackley, the Arizona Fall League MVP and No. 2 pick in 2009 behind Stephen Strasburg, should join the club by June.
 
27Arizona Diamondbacks
Last Week:
Notable additions: RP J.J. Putz, RP David Hernandez, RP Kam Mickolio, 3B Melvin Mora, IF Geoff Blum, SP Zach Duke, 1B Xavier Nady
Notable subtractions: 3B Mark Reynolds, 1B Adam LaRoche*, RP D.J. Carrasco

Last year's Diamondbacks bullpen was historically bad -- its 5.74 ERA was sixth-worst in major-league history -- and so new GM Kevin Towers has overhauled it by signing Putz to close and trading power bat Reynolds for two power arms from the Orioles in Hernandez and Mickolio. Chase Field has increasingly become a launching pad, so perhaps offense will be easier to replace, but the trade of Reynolds and the decision not to re-sign LaRoche have cost Arizona 57 home runs from last year's lineup, leaving rightfielder Justin Upton unprotected in the middle of the order.
 
28Kansas City Royals
Last Week:
Notable additions: OF Jeff Francoeur, OF Melky Cabrera
Notable subtractions: OF David DeJesus, SP Brian Bannister*

The signings of Francoeur and Cabrera were comically predictable, as both were once highly-touted prospects who have fallen short of expectations -- seemingly the prototype Royals free agent. But there's hope on the horizon as Kansas City has drafted very well, and many of those prospects are getting close to major-league readiness. A trade of their ace, Greinke, would bolster that farm system even further.
 
29Cleveland Indians
Last Week:
Notable additions: None
Notable subtractions: None

Cleveland has been static so far, which isn't a good thing. Last year the Indians scored the third-fewest runs in the AL while allowing the third-most. There's increasing talk that All-Star starter Fausto Carmona could be traded, which might be a good way to add a few prospects to the farm system. That's likely to be the case midseason with centerfielder Grady Sizemore once he returns and proves he's healthy. Unlike Kansas City, Cleveland doesn't have a ton of blue-chip minor-leaguers chomping at the bit for a promotion, so trading its few players in demand would be smart.
 
30Pittsburgh Pirates
Last Week:
Notable additions: 1B Lyle Overbay, LF Matt Diaz, SP Kevin Correia, SP Scott Olsen
Notable subtractions: SP Zach Duke

The Pirates' streak of 18 consecutive losing seasons won't end in 2011, but their three-year run of getting worse than the year before should. Pittsburgh hit rock bottom in 2010, with the franchise's worst winning percentage (.352) and run differential (negative-279) in 56 years. But the club has made the last few drafts count better than at the beginning of the run, so players like Pedro Alvarez, Neil Walker and Brad Lincoln have reached the majors and Andrew McCutchen should be an All-Star within a year or two. The players signed this offseason are all nice complementary parts who should held Pittsburgh win a few more games and engender some hope while the prospects develop.
SI.com

Drag this icon to your bookmark bar.
Then delete your old SI.com bookmark.

SI.com

Click the share icon to bookmark us.