Faceoff: Andrew Constant vs Sam Smith
Who had baseball’s best off-season?
This is an easy one. The Boston Red Sox had the biggest offseason of any team in baseball. In fact, this may be one of the best winters that the Sox have had in their history.
After the Sox finished in third place in the American League East in 2010, they knew that major changes were needed to get back to the playoffs and knock off the Tampa Bay Rays and their arch-rival, the New York Yankees.
Their first course of action was to trade for All-Star first baseman Adrian Gonzalez from San Diego, whom they had their eye on for numerous years. To get Gonzalez, who hit .298 with 30 home runs and 101 RBIs in 2010, the Sox only had to give up three prospects, none of who are major-league ready.
But to top that move, Boston shocked a lot of people by signing Rays outfielder Carl Crawford to a massive 7 year, $142 million contract. His power and speed are a lethal combination and will continue to create troubles for AL East teams.
Adding bullpen acquisitions Bobby Jenks and Dan Wheeler to a pitching staff that is loaded with arms, the Sox did a great job for themselves this winter.
The Baltimore Orioles have done well for themselves this offseason. Compared to years past when the only signings the Orioles made were players with high-risk and no reward (Garrett Atkins), the Orioles have effectively filled their gaps (first baseman, third baseman, shortstop and relief pitcher) with players that Orioles fans will actually want to see play at Camden Yards.
Their lineup is sure to bring home more runs than it did last year. Adding guys like Derrek Lee and Mark Reynolds, who are no strangers to the long ball, will provide plenty of protection for guys like Adam Jones, Matt Wieters and Nick Markakis, triggering greater success for those young sluggers.
The Orioles acquired J.J. Hardy, who is sure to be an offensive upgrade over Cesar Izturis.
And if the Orioles do in fact land Vladimir Guerrero, their lineup could easily be among the scariest in the American League.
Their bullpen has been deepened with the additions of Kevin Gregg and Jeremy Accardo.
If the starting pitching develops like it should, then the Orioles will easily have a shot of clearing the .500 mark for the first time in 14 seasons.