Jon Heyman of SI.com compiled his top ten list of winners this offseason and he had the Milwaukee Brewers taking the top spot on the strength of the Zach Greinke acquisition.
Obviously, the Mets were not in his top ten, but three other NL East teams all made the cut. Here are his capsules for the Phillies, Nationals and Braves.
3. Phillies. How good is their starting pitching? Well, it’s good enough that it has to be compared to the alltime greatest pitching staffs. “They could trade Cole Hamels, and they’d still have three of the best starters in baseball,” one NL scout remarks. They paid Cliff Lee $120 million over five years, and were still seen as getting a bargain in light of the fact that he could have gotten $28 million, or more than that, from the Yankees. They’re a weaker hitting team from the right side without Jayson Werth, and they still need to figure a way to balance a lineup that was uneven last year, even with Werth. But even if they hit only a little, they have to be the World Series favorite, based on their starting pitching alone. One scout went so far as to call them, “prohibitive” World Series favorites.
4. Nationals. They added a five-tool player and some credibility when they doled out $126 million for Werth, and while that was no bargain price, the move enhanced their stature within the game. They failed to get Zack Greinke, who rejected a chance to go there, but they’re still talking to first baseman Derrek Lee and starting pitcher Carl Pavano. They seem to have a real plan now, which is to enhance their pitching and defense (although Werth’s a very good defender, so far they’ve helped their offense more).
8. Braves. Dan Uggla gives them needed punch, though it’ll help if Jason Heyward is ready to step into the No. 3 or 4 spot in the order. They will depend on a bevy of hard-throwing youngsters to man the pen after Billy Wagner’s retirement, too.
I would agree that all three deserved inclusion as far as offseason winners go, but I would have ranked the Braves ahead of the Nationals. I was not as impressed with the Werth acquisition as Jon Heyman was. Plus, I thought the Braves did a nice job of trading for Scott Linebrink and adding Eric Hinske to their bench. I also liked their hire of Fredi Gonzalez to replace Bobby Cox.