Not every offseason signing or trade grabbed the headlines. There were a number of teams that helped themselves over the winter even with a tighten budget. Shawn Hartlen tells MLB bettors which quiet additions could make the most noise during the regular season.
The rebuilding process continued with a couple deft additions. Because Rich Hill and Felix Pie were out of minor league options, the O's were able to steal them from the Cubs for the equivalent of a bag of balls and some pine tar.
Although Pie has only 260 major league at bats, his minor league track record suggests that he could hit for good average with plenty of stolen bases. And we all know the guy can run down most fly balls. He’ll probably start in left field against right handers and immediately gives Baltimore one of the fastest and defensively sound outfields in the majors. His presence will also allow the power-hitting Scott, who hit a meager .215 against lefties last year, to DH against righties with Ty Wiggington facing southpaws.
Hill, a southpaw starting pitcher with a looping curve ball and an above average change up, was on the road to success before struggling with his command last year. He was put on the shelf for most of the season because of a nagging back injury. Now healthy, Hill should give the Orioles double digit wins with an ERA under 4.00.
The Indians started last season with question marks at both third base and closer and were unable to recover from the lack of production from those positions. Andy Marte never lived up to his hype, hitting .221 with three homers and 17 RBIs in 76 games at the hot corner, while Joe Borowski posted a 7.56 ERA with four blown saves in 10 opportunities before the Tribe finally released him.
Enter Kerry Wood and Mark DeRosa.
Wood began his second career as a closer last year by amassing 34 saves and a 1.09 WHIP for the North Siders and will automatically boost a bullpen that had the lowest save total in the American League in 2008. DeRosa, a versatile veteran who can play all four infield positions and the outfield, will begin the season as Cleveland's everyday third baseman. After hitting .285 with 21 dingers and 87 RBIs, he will be a big improvement at a position that demands a run-producing player.
The Cards were able to snag the slick-fielding Greene from San Diego in exchange for relief pitcher Mark Worrell and a player to be named later. Not a bad deal for a shortstop with above-average defensive skills and the ability to slug double-digit home runs from a generally weak hitting position.
One year removed from a 27 homer, 97 RBI season, the 29-year-old