(The following is being syndicated from The Captain’s Blog).
Over the winter, much was made about how Theo Epstein and the Boston Red Sox won the offseason, while Brian Cashman and the New York Yankees were left out in the cold. Well, after only one month, the tables have been turned. At least in April, it’s Cashman who is now winning the WAR.
Despite spending half as much money as the Red Sox, the Yankees have enjoyed nearly three more wins above replacement from their offseason acquisitions. A good portion of that value has been contributed by Russell Martin, who has turned out to be one of the best steals of the offseason. In fact, according to fangraphs, only Jeff Francoeur and Lance Berkman have had higher WARs among position players who changed teams over the winter.
In addition to Martin, the Yankees have also had strong contributions from a group of players that most thought were better suited to an Old Timers team than a pennant contender. Andruw Jones, Eric Chavez, Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia have all seemingly turned back the clock 10 years by combining for approximately two wins above replacement. Even better, the quartet is only costing the Yankees $6 million.
If not for Rafael Soriano and Pedro Feliciano, Cashman’s early returns would have been unmitigated, but even with those pitchers’ lack of contribution, the Yankees’ general manager seems as if he has been rewarded for his patience…at least so far. Of course, when assessing Cashman, it seems fair to remove Soriano’s negative contribution from his record because that move was made over his objections.
After spending a boatload of money, the Red Sox instantly became the consensus pick to not only win, but according to some, run away with the American League East. However, some of that enthusiasm was dampened when the team got off to a 1-9 start. Part of the reason the team stumbled out of the gate was because many of Epstein’s offseason additions did as well.
In particular, Carl Crawford has endured a brutal introduction to Red Sox Nation. His -1.0 WAR has negated Adrian Gonzalez’ positive contribution, but his $20 million salary has done nothing to offset the similar amount also being paid to the team’s new first baseman. Although Crawford is a good bet to bounce back from his slow start, his inflated salary will remain on the books for the next seven years (as an aside, how much better does Cashman’s 2009 trade for Curtis Granderson look now).
Crawford hasn’t been the only black mark on Epstein’s off season overhaul. Several of the bullpen additions have also struggled. Bobby Jenks, Dan Wheeler and Dennys Reyes have posted ERA+ rates of 60, 45 and 31, respectively, which probably isn’t the kind of relief the Red Sox were expecting.
Just like you can’t “win the off season”, the baseball war isn’t won in April. Nonetheless, it’s worth noting the early spring fruit of the long winter’s labor. Now, the real question becomes, which crop will thrive throughout the summer?
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