Breaking Down the MLB Offseason

Mat Batts | Staff Writer

The 2010 MLB season was one that will not soon be forgotten. “The Year of The Pitcher,” as it was affectionately nicknamed, presented baseball fans with seven months of non-stop, suspenseful action. The excitement did not end with the crowning of the San Francisco Giants; however, as MLB enthusiasts are enjoying an eventful offseason that can be overwhelming at times. I have broken down the major happenings of this offseason to clear some of the fog for the casual baseball fan.


Managerial Departures

If the 2010 season is remembered in history for one distinct reason, it will not be the numerous no-hitters pitched or the Cinderella story that the baby-faced Giants shared with the world. This past season will forever be remembered as the year that saw three historic managers take off their respective uniforms for the last time.

The retirement of Bobby Cox, Lou Piniella and Joe Torre marked the end of an era in professional baseball, an era that was home to hard-nosed “small ball” and collective success that will never be matched. In a combined 81 seasons as managers, these three men accumulated over 6,500 wins as well as six World Series titles. They became the face of their respective franchises, including Joe Torre’s unmatched success in both New York and Los Angeles.

The baseball world will not soon forget the success had by Cox, Piniella and Torre and their careers surely will soon be immortalized in baseball’s hall of fame.


Trade Market

The trade market in baseball is constantly busy during the winter months and this offseason has been no different. Teams have dealt players to each other on nearly a daily basis in an attempt to bolster their rosters for the upcoming season, but a few major trades have stuck out as particularly interesting.

One of the earliest trades of the offseason surfaced when the Atlanta Braves cut a deal with a divisional rival in the Florida Marlins. The two teams agreed to a trade in November that sent Florida’s powerful second basemen Dan Uggla to Atlanta in exchange for utility man Omar Infante and pitcher Mike Dunn. This trade presented the Braves with some much needed homerun power to their order, but might cost them in the long run as they parted ways with a clutch contact hitter, Omar Infante.

Another trade that shook up the dynamics of the upcoming season occurred when the Kansas City Royals dealt ace pitcher Zach Grienke to the Milwaukee Brewers in order to obtain shortstop Alcides Escobar and outfielder Lorenzo Cain in addition to a few minor league prospects. This trade could greatly benefit the Brewers if Grienke is able to return to his 2009 form, a season in which he posted an impressive 2.16 ERA.

The Boston Red Sox expressed their desire to win as they struck a deal with San Diego that sent pitcher Brian Fuentes and two minor league players to the west coast for the services of superstar Adrian Gonzalez. Gonzalez will give the Red Sox the luxury of having one of the best pure power hitters in the game.

The most recent trade that has everyone buzzing includes dominant pitcher, Matt Garza. The Tampa Bay Rays dealt Garza to the Chicago Cubs in a deal that sent pitcher Chris Archer, outfielder Brandon Guyer and a number of minor league prospects to Tampa Bay. Garza is coming off of a successful 2010 season that included the first no-hitter in franchise history and looks to help a struggling Cubs team back to the elite of the NL Central division.


Hall of Fame

The 2011 Hall of Fame inductions celebrated the careers of two outstanding players in early January as Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven were enshrined. Alomar boasted a .300 career batting average and 12 Gold Gloves on his resume, while Blyleven accumulated 287 wins and 3,701 strikeouts as a pitcher. Notable names that were not elected into Cooperstown included Jeff Bagwell, Fred McGriff, Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro.


Free Agent Frenzy

The final aspect of the offseason that has and continues to shake up the league is the race to sign free agents. Big names on the free agent market can change a team’s outlook on the season in a heartbeat and general managers will do anything to sign the next top player.

The free agent frenzy led off with a highly publicized standoff between the New York Yankees and their franchise star Derek Jeter. The two battled for weeks before agreeing to a contract that keeps Jeter in pinstripes for at least three more years.

The Washington Nationals also made waves in the free agent game as they signed slugger Jason Werth to a contract that marked his departure from divisional foe Philadelphia.

Arguably the most touted free agent this offseason was Cliff Lee. In a position to sign with nearly any team he pleased, the left-handed pitching ace decided to return to a familiar team when he signed a contract with the Phillies. Lee will join forces with the two Roy’s, Halladay and Oswalt, as well as Cole Hamels, to create what will surely be a dominant starting rotation.

The current winners of the free agent war, however, trumped this deal as the Boston Red Sox signed outfielder Carl Crawford. This deal, along with the trade for Gonzalez creates the possibility for dominance. These two power hitters, combined with Boston’s already potent offense are sure to wreak havoc on the league this spring.