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Joint Base Andrews Features

NEWS | March 27, 2009

MLB offseason: Who spent their time, money wisely?

By Airman 1st Class Patrick McKenna Capital Flyer sports writer

New York Yankees
The Bronx Bombers offseason has been busy, to say the least.

The Yankees are opening their new $1.3 billion dollar stadium, having closed the doors to 'the house that Ruth built' forever. The storybook ending would have had the Yankees win one last title in the old stadium. They couldn't even make it to October.

The New York Yankees missed the playoffs in 2008 with an estimated payroll of $210 million. It was the first time the team had missed the playoffs since 1993, and with baby Steinbrenners Hank and Hal now running the show, it was a foregone conclusion big changes would be made.

They bid adieu to the albatross contracts of Jason Giambi, Mike Mussina, Bobby Abreu and Carl Pavano, who combined to earn $61 million dollars last season and brought in blue chip free agents CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and A.J. Burnett for essentially the same annual price. How's that for getting more bang for your buck?

The Yankees made bold moves this offseason to claw their way back into the limelight but high priced players only take you so far. To win a title, the Yankees will need some intangibles in September.

New York Mets

There's no question the bullpen was the Mets Achilles' heel last year. The Mets blew 29 saves in 2008 while finishing three games behind the Phillies in the division. The front office knew with closer Billy Wagner on the shelf until September following Tommy John surgery, that upgrading the bullpen had to be the top offseason priority.

The Mets fulfilled this goal by trading for closer J.J. Putz from the Mariners and signing record holder closer Francisco Rodriguez from the Angels.

Putz will be the primary set up man while 'K Rod' will bring his ninth inning dominance to a team sorely in need of it.

The Mets tied for second in the National League in runs scored last season and have a healthy Ryan Church manning right field, so offense is not an issue. They have baseball's best starting pitcher in Johan Santana and now arguably the best bullpen on paper in baseball. Barring injuries, they will vie for a post season berth this season.

Tampa Bay Rays

The reigning American League champs certainly shocked the world last year by coming out of nowhere to win the AL pennant, but flukes can happen in baseball. The two years that preceded the Rays' World Series appearance saw both the Rockies and Tigers make surprise appearances in October only to disappear back into obscurity. Will the Rays fall victim to the same fate?

Tampa Bay struggled mightily against left handed pitchers last season, so they went out and signed right handed slugger Pat Burrell to a two-year deal. Burrell crushed left handed pitchers last year evidenced by his .952 OPS against them in 2008.

The Rays also shored up their bullpen depth by acquiring pitchers Joe Nelson, Lance Cormier and Brian Shouse, who will all help to keep the team's bullpen among the best in baseball.

This team with its plethora of young talent has a bright future and as long as ownership continues to spend money the Rays will be a player in the American League for the next decade.