Maybe it’s just me, but something I find interesting that I’ve noticed while doing my research on the major happenings during Major League Baseball’s offseason is that it appears there are more teams in the American League with a “go for it” approach in their transactions this year than the National League.  The Blue Jays have traded prospects to National League teams for stars, the Tigers added Torii Hunter and kept Anibal Sanchez, the Royals traded some of their prospects for pitching, the Angels signed Josh Hamilton, and Red Sox have probably signed more players than anyone else, simply because they had more holes than most.  The Dodgers have been getting the press, unquestionably, because of their high profile moves this year, but outside of that, most of the teams in the NL seem to simply be fortifying existing plans, and it is with that that we begin with the Defending Champion…..

-San Francisco Giants, who still look to be in the best shape when all is said and done.  They probably overpaid to bring Marco Scuturo and Angel Pagan back, but with the reigning MVP in Buster Posey and, arguably, the best pitching staff in the league, they still make me think the Dodgers have more work to do, at the very least, I still think they’re 2 solid starters and one more bat away from even having a chance, at least right now.  Adding Zack Greinke to Clayton Kershaw was a great move, but you really have to wonder if the others in the rotation can pull their weight all year.   The other team in the Western Division picture is the Diamondbacks, who decided to add some intrigue to the offseason by signing Cody Ross for three years at 28 million dollars this week, crowding an outfield that already had Jason Kubel, Justin Upton, Gerardo Parra, and youngster Adam Eaton, and fueling speculation that Arizona trades either Upton or Kubel before Spring Training.  My opinion is if Kubel’s the only one they want to trade they won’t do it, its not that Kubel’s contract is terrible or anything, teams just haven’t been willing to trade many top prospects for an average defender in the outfield with a decent bat, and Texas does have enough DH types anyway.

-Justin Upton’s the one who’d attract the most, but it remains to be seen if the D’Backs actually pull the trigger.  I have a couple hair-brained trades I’d love to see the Mets try to make for Upton (who wouldn’t want a 25-year old cornerstoned signed reasonable for 3 years?), but to me the easy trade here would be the Mets dangling 21-year old Wilmer Flores for Adam Eaton, who would be exactly what the Mets needed, a young stud with All- Star caliber talent in the outfield, while giving up a player who can only handle a position the Mets just filled for the next seven years.  And the D’Backs only have Eric Chavez and Chris Johnson at 3rd and could use the help.  But the D’Backs aren’t close to the Giants yet because of the pitching, which lost depth when Trevor Bauer was traded, and while Brandon McCarthy is a solid ML pitcher, Danny Hudson is still expected to miss most of the season after Tommy John surgery, meaning the organization depth might be thin if Wade Miley doesn’t match last year’s impressive numbers or if Tyler Skaggs falters. Elsewhere, the Rockies seem to always be in the same spot- great offensive talents crippled by pitching in Coors Field, while the Padres always seem to have amazing pitching, with a great farm system fueling it, while the offense gets sapped every year due to playing in Petco Park.

-In the Central, the Reds are moving phenom flamethrower Aroldis Chapman to the starting rotation after resigning Jonathon Broxton, while Shin Soo Choo was added to fortify their already potent lineup.  With a top 3 of Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, and Chapman, and an offense including Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, Choo, the resigned Ryan Ludwick, young Todd Frasier (who came on strong in the 2nd half) and Brandon Phillips, the Reds still have the slight edge over the Cards, but with youngsters Lance Lynn, Shelby Miller, Joe Kelly and Trevor Rosenthal about to join a pitching staff that could have a healthy Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright, it might not be for long.

-The Pirates have been a quiet team this offseason, at least quiet after they collapsed in the second half, they made a quality signing in Russell Martin, then added Francisco Liriano for two years, now appear to be close to trading closer Joel Hanrahan to the Red Sox for prospect and Mark Melconan.  This organization really needs to prospects Gerrit Cole and Jameson Tallison to join their rotation and be dominant soon, or else they probably aren’t challenging this year.  The Brewers added two relievers but have been quiet as well, while the Cubs made a surprising move when they gave four years and 52 million dollars to Edwin Jackson, after making low-risk moves all offseason in Scott Baker, Scott Feldman, Ian Stewart, and Nate Schierholtz.  The Cubs have two studs in their lineup in Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo, but the pitching still isn’t much, and if Darwin Barney, Josh Vitters, Brett Jackson, and Dave Sappelt (all their young bats) can’t start hitting consistently this year, expect another year of a long rebuilding process.

-To quickly look at the East, its vry simple: the Nationals are here and are for real.  Whether or not they resign Adam LaRoche they still have probably the only rotation in the NL that can matchup with the Giants, and adding Dan Haren to Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmerman and Gio Gonzalez further solidified it, while adding Denard Span to play center and bat atop the lineup is a perfect piece that puts Bryce Harper further down the batting order and into run- producing situations, which can only help.

-The Braves are still behind Washington for now, but still have a quality rotation and solid offense, so they figure to be Wild Card contenders again, but for all the Phillies moves this offseason, the still present an outfield of three youngsters- Darin Ruf, formerly much hyped Domonic Brown, and recently acquired speedster Ben Revere, and are without Carlos Ruiz for the first quarter of the season after he was suspended for violating the league’s anti-drug policy this year.  Am I crazy or does it seems like the only real difference between the Mets and Phillies right now is that the Phillies have Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Cole Hamels pitching for them?  And if any of them get hurt the Mets could be in 3rd place by years end?  So there’s that to look forward to.  The Mets were also rumored to be looking at Carl Pavano.  If the Mets have to sign a retread- starter this year, I guess I wouldn’t mind him, he only was terrible as a Yankee, but I’d love to see Shaun Marcum come to the Mets.  He’s always been good when he’s healthy, and could be worth it for the right price.  Otherwise just let Jenrry Meija start the year as the fifth starter and get it over with.

Merry Christmas to all folks, see you on Thursday!!!!!!!!!!

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