The offseason isn't over, but computers, Vegas, and executives are already ranking the most and least improved teams.
Hey, the world is still here. Neat.
- Jayson Stark looks at the most improved and least improved teams of the offseason so far, according to computer projections, Vegas odds, and baseball executive opinion. The Blue Jays, Red Sox, Royals, Angels and Dodgers generally show up near the top of each list, with the Marlins, Astros and Mets generally showing up on the not-so-improved list (can you imagine an Astros team that isn't improved?). From the executives on the Blue Jays, who were pretty much unanimously at the top of the improved list: "They've traded for three starting pitchers (R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson) who averaged 209 innings apiece last season. They've added a dynamic leadoff man (Jose Reyes), a guy who hit .346/.390/.516 (Melky Cabrera) before the test-tube police nabbed him, and two players (Emilio Bonifacio and Maicer Izturis) who give them the depth and versatility they lacked in 2012. So what's not to like? "They've basically traded for a No. 1, a No. 2 and a No. 3 starter," said one AL executive. "And that's remarkable, in and of itself." ... "I give them a lot of credit," said another NL exec. "They recognized that right now, the Red Sox and Yankees aren't the Red Sox and Yankees. The AL East isn't the AL East like it used to be. They saw a window of opportunity, and they're going for it. A lot of teams never take that swing. At least they took it."
- FanGraphs takes a look at agent Scott Boras' penchant for having his top guys wait to sign their contract, and, sometimes, take a one-year deal if the big money isn't there. Specifically, with respect to Michael Bourn this year, it's fair to wonder: did Bourn and Boras wait too long? ... probably not. Historically, Boras's plan to hold out his top players until the market settles a bit and other options go off the board has worked quite well. Odds are, it will work for Bourn, too, even if he has to accept a "pillow contract," and try again next year. (Though I'd point out that he's going to cost a draft pick, so teams may be slightly more reluctant to sign him for just one year, however cheaply he might come.)
- Speaking of one-year deals, it sounds like AJ Pierzynski is going to settle for one with the Texas Rangers, who are finally making a move after an offseason of apparent misses.
- Ever wonder how Kevin Goldstein went from writing for Baseball Prospectus to holding a high-level position in the Astros' front office? Well, he's interviewed here, and tells a bit of his story.
- If you're looking for a transaction tracker to keep up with what moves have actually happened, here's one from MLB Daily Dish.