NL East Activity
As we roll into the annual winter meetings, I thought it would be a good idea to take a quick look at what the teams in the NL East have been doing since the end of the 2010 season. After all, the Mets play each of the teams in their division 18 times — that’s 72 of their total games — so it’s helpful to keep an eye on what those teams are doing.
Jayson Werth is on the free-agent market, and the Phils will have a big hole to fill in the lineup if he signs elsewhere — which is looking like a very likely scenario right now.
With J.C. Romero and Chad Durbin also free agents, the Phillies are in the market for relievers, though they did re-sign Jose Contreras.
The team very quietly signed these minor league free agents: LHP Dan Meyer, 1B Jeff Larish, 2B Josh Barfield, RF Brandon Moss, 2B Pete Orr, RHP Eddie Bonine, LF Matt Miller. Miller, Larish, and Moss all were once highly touted hitting prospects who are now “AAAA” players. They all provide solid and somewhat youthful depth in AAA. Meyer and Bonine are both pitchers who have been effective MLB middle relievers within the last two years; again, good signings for minor-league depth.
Former pinch-hitter extraordinaire Greg Dobbs also is a free agent. Considering he hit only .122 as a pinch-hitter in ’10 and .197 overall, I’m sure they’re fine with finding a replacement.
The biggest news in the division was the acquisition of Dan Uggla by the Braves from the Marlins for Omar Infante and Michael Dunn. Though Infante was an All-Star and a very good all-around ballplayer, the addition of Uggla to Atlanta’s lineup changes the dynamic of their offense considerably.
Troy Glaus, Derrek Lee, Rick Ankiel, and Kyle Farnsworth all became free agents. Glaus and Lee are unlikely to be re-signed given that 21-year-old wunderkind Freddie Freeman appears ready to take over first base. Ankiel leaves a hole in centerfield, unless Nate McLouth can make a comeback. Farnsworth is a native of Alpharetta so there’s an outside shot he returns.
Matt Diaz and Melky Cabrera were also cut loose. Losing them and Ankiel and considering the question marks of McLouth and former prospect Jordan Schafer suggest that the Braves will be actively seeking an outfielder at the winter meetings.
The Braves did, however, re-sign utilityman Eric Hinske and just acquired setup man Scott Linebrink from the White Sox. Linebrink has been so-so for the Sox since signing a big free-agent contract after the 2007 season, but he could benefit by a return to the NL.
The Braves signed a few nondescript minor leaguers, but among them was former Mets farmhand Shawn Bowman, a third baseman with an excellent defensive reputation and good pop but one who suffers from chronic back problems. If the Canadian native can stay healthy, he will provide solid depth behind the ever-injured Chipper Jones and Martin Prado.
The Fish traded Dan Uggla to the Braves for Infante and Dunn, and on the surface it looked like a steal for Atlanta. Upon further inspection, however, the deal works well for Florida because it opened up a significant amount of money in their budget, which they used to sign two free-agents: catcher John Buck and starting pitcher Javier Vazquez. They also added relievers Edward Mujica and Ryan Webb by sending Cameron Maybin to the Padres, and LHP Dustin Richardson was acquired from Boston for Andrew Miller.
Other than Maybin and Uggla, the Fish didn’t lose much; only free agents Will Ohman, Jorge Sosa, Jose Veras, Chad Tracy, and Ronny Paulino.
Adam Dunn has left DC for Chicago, leaving a gaping hole in the Nats lineup that is unlikely to be filled. They also may lose, to free agency, Scott Olsen, Miguel Batista, Adam Kennedy, Kevin Mench, Chien-Ming Wang, Wil Nieves, and Joel Peralta.
Otherwise, all has been quiet on the Washington front. Hard to say whether they’ll be active during the winter meetings, since they would appear to be holding on to their young talent as they continue rebuilding. Though, there have been some rumors suggesting they are open to moving shortstop Ian Desmond.