Rating every team's winter activity (cont.)
11. Cubs: Milton Bradley and the lovable losers have the potential to be a dicey mix, and it doesn't help that they'll need the volatile slugger to remain healthy enough to play the outfield. Kevin Gregg doesn't make up for the loss of Kerry Wood, and Aaron Miles isn't as good as Mark DeRosa, who was a great find for them. But they did keep their fine rotation intact, Aaron Heilman may be a find and they're already the favorites to import Jake Peavy at midseason.
12. Indians: DeRosa is a scrappy player who does surprising damage with his bat. But one of baseball's smartest front offices took a flier on Carl Pavano. Nobody who saw his body of work in New York could possibly endorse that move.
13. Royals: They are Exhibit A in the argument against collusion as that rare small-market team that spent liberally. If there was something funny going on behind the scenes, certainly nobody let them in on it. While Mike Jacobs, Coco Crisp and Kyle Farnsworth probably won't transform the Royals into a playoff contender, they should make them better.
Non-Winners (in a tough economy, I try to be nice where possible)
16. Tigers: Nobody underachieved like them last year. And while they didn't continue their spending spree this winter, a return to the mean by their key players would still put them in contention.
17. Pirates: I love the Nate McLouth signing for $15.75 million over three years. And it was nice to see them dabble with Pedro Martinez. But ultimately, they didn't get Martinez and didn't do enough to make anyone believe their losing streak is about to end.
18. Rangers: They lost OPS king Milton Bradley, who really thrived there, before taking a flier on former superstar Andruw Jones. Texas is probably the right place for him; he badly needs a swing guru, and there's no one better than Rangers hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo. Among their other rumored moves, the only one that appears to be happening is Michael Young going from shortstop to third base.
19. Mariners: Ibanez and Putz have been removed from the 100-loss team. The rebuilding process is needed, new GM Jack Zduriencik seems to know what he's doing and they are strong on scouts. But it's going to be painful, at least at the start.
20. Angels: How can you help liking the deals they got on closer Brian Fuentes ($17 million, two years) and perennial 100-RBI man Bobby Abreu ($5 million, one year)? Locking up young stud Ervin Santana was another good idea (though Santana, who gave up at least one free-agent year, did well to get $9.5 million more than Phillies star Hamels). The Angels do a great job, and certainly have a real shot at a championship, as usual. That being said, you lose Teixeira and K-Rod, and it's tough to claim you're moving forward.
21. Rockies: Any time you subtract a superstar like Holliday, it's not possible to make up for it. However, they did as well as possible to get promising outfielder Carlos Gonzalez in the package for Holliday.
22. Padres: There are worse things than being stuck with Peavy. Plus, they're upgrading at owner with the sale from in-over-his-head John Moores (the one who insisted they draft Matt Bush, the troubled hometown kid who they took at No. 1 overall in '04 and just traded to Toronto) to Jeff Moorad. Even so, a long season awaits.
23. Blue Jays: The most notable thing about Toronto is the injuries to a couple top young starters, Dustin McGowan and Shaun Marcum. No chance Matt Clement makes up for their loss. Also, no chance for the Jays to compete with the elite of the AL East now. Though, at least the lively Kevin Millar should make things more fun.
24. Brewers: They caught a tough break when the losses of both Sabathia and Ben Sheets netted them only one second-round pick (for Sabathia). Braden Looper should help, but it's hard to imagine what they see in Eric Gagne again. Their fine nucleus of everyday players is going to have to do a lot of meshing.
25. Orioles: They got Nick Markakis on a long-term deal, but didn't get any new players to make anyone think there's light at the end of the Fort McHenry Tunnel.
26. Marlins: Need to change their name to Florida Misers.
27. Astros: Any team that gives Mike Hampton guaranteed money isn't all there. But at least Randy Wolf didn't quickly grab their reported $28.5 million offer before they pulled it back (later, they had the nerve to offer him about $4 million, thinking he'd take 85 percent less than the sum he didn't take earlier).
28. Nationals: They spent a lot of time trying to land the biggest fish, Teixeira, but ultimately it was wasted effort. Eventually, the big move involved another ex-Red, Adam Dunn. They have too many ex-Reds, far too many outfielders and first basemen, too few pitchers and one too many Jim Bowdens.
29. Twins: Baseball's annual overachievers should never be doubted. Joe Crede could be on his way to fill a major need.
30. Dodgers: They lost Derek Lowe, Brad Penny, Takashi Saito, Joe Beimel, Jeff Kent, Nomar Garciaparra -- and so far -- Ramirez. With sparkplug Furcal back and Wolf signed to a reasonable $5 million deal, they'll be OK as long as they keep Ramirez. But if the Man-child goes to the rival Giants, they move to the bottom of the losers, er, non-winners list.