Travis Reitsma

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Colorado Rockies vs. Los Angeles Dodgers

2012 Record: 64-98, 5th NL West
2012 Pythagorean Record: 69-93
Impact Player: SS Troy Tulowitzki
Impact Pitcher: LHP Jorge De La Rosa
Top Prospect: 3B Nolan Arenado

Significant Acquisitions: RHP Wilton Lopez, UT Reid Brignac, 3B Ryan Wheeler, LHP Daniel Rosenbaum, RHP Manny Corpas, RHP Chris Volstad

Significant Departures: 1B/PH Jason Giambi, RHP Alex White, RHP Josh Roenicke, LHP Matt Reynolds

The tenure of former Rockies manager Jim Tracy, who took over part way through 2009 and managed the maligned club through the end of last season, the Rockies win total fell steadily every year. From 92 wins to 83 to 73 all the way down to 64 last season — the fewest in franchise history. Entering their 20th year of existence, the Rockies are yet to figure out exactly how to build a suitable pitching staff for the high altitude of Coors Field. Last year, amidst their worst season ever, they went a little bonkers trying.

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Colroado Rockies v Arizona Diamondbacks

2012 Record: 81-81, 3rd NL West
2012 Pythagorean Record: 86-76
Impact Player: C Miguel Montero
Impact Pitcher: RHP Ian Kennedy
Top Prospect: LHP Tyler Skaggs

Significant Acquisitions: 3B Martin Prado, RHP Brandon McCarthy, OF Cody Ross, SS Cliff Pennington, RHP Heath Bell, LHP Tony Sipp, LHP Matt Reynolds, 3B/1B Eric Chavez, 1B/OF Eric Hinske, RHP Randall Delgado, SS Didi Gregorius

Significant Departures: RF Justin Upton, CF Chris Young, RHP Trevor Bauer, RHP Bryan Shaw, 3B Chris Johnson, 3B Ryan Wheeler, RHP Matt Albers, RHP Matt Lindstrom

Going into the offseason, forward-thinking baseball people seemed to have a decent opinion of Arizona Diamondbacks’ General Manager Kevin Towers. Sure, he’s an old school guy, but going back to his time as the GM of the Padres, he seemed to have a decent grasp on how to intelligently run a baseball team. Then, in a matter of a few wintery months, that opinion changed.

Right from the beginning of the offseason, Towers and his crew made questionable decision after questionable decision. First he acquired overpaid and overrated reliever Heath Bell from the Marlins in a three-team trade that saw him jettison talented centerfielder Chris Young; then he dealt another high-upside player in former third-overall pick Trevor Bauer. The right-hander had been in the organization for only a little over a year and had already skyrocketed to the Majors, but he apparently didn’t gel with the coaching staff and he was sent to Cleveland in another three-way trade that brought shortstop prospect Didi Gregorius over from Cincinnati.

Finally, Towers capped off his talent-purge by trading his most talented player in rightfielder Justin Upton to Atlanta for a package of players centered around third baseman Martin Prado.

Towers and his brass ostensibly acquired an overpaid reliever, two middling glove-first shortstops, a decent pitching prospect and Martin Prado for one of the game’s most talented outfielders, one of the game’s most highly-touted pitching prospects and an above-average centerfielder. He told the media that he wanted to build a team in manager Kirk Gibson’s image—tough, gritty and leadershippy. That means fans in Arizona are going to see a lot more Willie Bloomquist-types than Justin Upton-types from here on out.

Having said all that, the D’Backs are still a very good team. You could make the argument that even if they made themselves worse in the long run by trading away Bauer and Upton, et al, they might still have made themselves better for 2013. Whether or not you think that’s a good strategy is up to your philosophy on contention.

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Baltimore Orioles v Toronto Blue Jays

2012 Record: 73-89, 4th AL East
2012 Pythagorean Record: 74-88
Impact Player: RF Jose Bautista
Impact Pitcher: RHP Brandon Morrow
Top Prospect: RHP Aaron Sanchez

Significant Acquisitions: SS Jose Reyes, RHP Josh Johnson, RHP R.A. Dickey, LF Melky Cabrera, LHP Mark Buehrle, RHP Esmil Rogers, UT Emilio Bonifacio, C Josh Thole, C Henry Blanco, IF Maicer Izturis, UT Mark DeRosa, RHP Michael Schwimer, RHP Jeremy Jeffress, RHP Mickey Storey, RHP Justin Germano

Significant Departures: SS Yunel Escobar, 2B Kelly Johnson, RHP Henderson Alvarez, LHP Aaron Laffey, RHP Carlos Villanueva, RHP Jason Frasor, RHP Brandon Lyon, C Jeff Mathis, IF Omar Vizquel, SS Adeiny Hechavarria

Watching the 2012 Blue Jays was a bit like watching the third season of HBO’s Six Feet Under. For those unfamiliar with the show’s ebb and flow, the third season starts off oddly happy. For the first few episodes, you get the impression that things might turn out alright for this down-on-their-luck funeral-home-owning family. Something is still amiss—some of the characters are merely pretending to be happy, but for the most part, things are humming along about as well as could be expected.

Then…disaster. Every character seems to enter a sort of crisis and suddenly within a few episodes all the happiness — unsustainable though it might have been — evaporates and the viewer is left with a complicated tapestry of death and misery.

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Boston Red Sox v Tampa Bay Rays

2012 Record: 90-72, 3rd AL East
2012 Pythagorean Record: 95-67
Impact Player: 3B Evan Longoria
Impact Pitcher: LHP David Price
Top Prospect: RF Wil Myers

Significant Acquisitions: RF Wil Myers, SS Yunel Escobar, 2B Kelly Johnson, RHP Roberto Hernandez, 1B James Loney, RHP Jamey Wright, 1B/OF Shelley Duncan, RHP Jake Odorizzi, IF Mike Fontenot

Significant Departures: RHP James Shields, RHP Wade Davis, CF B.J. Upton, IF Jeff Keppinger, 1B Carlos Pena, IF Elliot Johnson, RHP Burke Badenhop, LHP J.P. Howell

Despite the fact that they won 90 games and finished only three games behind both the Rangers and Orioles for a wild card berth, the Rays never really felt “in” the AL playoff picture last season. Part of the reason might have been that they had to win 12 of their final 14 games to even be that close, but it’s not like they were ever that far out of it. Regardless, the Rays were one of the unluckiest teams in baseball last season finishing a full five wins below their Pythagorean record which sat tied with the Yankees for the best mark in the American League.

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Division Series - Baltimore Orioles v New York Yankees - Game Five

2012 Record: 95-67, 1st AL East
2012 Pythagorean Record: 95-67
Impact Player: 2B Robinson Cano
Impact Pitcher: LHP CC Sabathia
Top Prospect: OF Mason Williams

Significant Acquisitions: 3B/1B Kevin Youkilis, DH Travis Hafner, OF Matt Diaz, OF/1B Juan Rivera, RHP Shawn Kelley, RHP Jim Miller

Significant Departures: RF Nick Swisher, C Russell Martin, OF/DH Raul Ibanez, RHP Rafael Soriano, 3B/DH Eric Chavez, RHP Freddy Garcia, OF/DH Andruw Jones, RHP Derek Lowe

We keep predicting (let’s face it, wishing for) their downfall and they keep on going. No matter how old they get, no matter how much we think their aging core is going to suddenly stop performing, they continue to put up 95-win seasons and march into the playoffs. Since 1995, the New York Yankees have missed the playoffs once…once.

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Pittsburgh Pirates v Boston Red Sox

2012 Record: 69-93, 5th AL East
2012 Pythagorean Record: 74-88
Impact Player: 2B Dustin Pedroia
Impact Pitcher: LHP Jon Lester
Top Prospect: SS Xander Bogaerts

Significant Acquisitions: RHP Ryan Dempster, 1B/C Mike Napoli, RF Shane Victorino, OF/DH Jonny Gomes, SS Stephen Drew, RHP Joel Hanrahan, RHP Koji Uehara, 1B Mike Carp, 1B Lyle Overbay

Significant Departures: OF Cody Ross, RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka, RHP Aaron Cook, RHP Scott Atchison, RHP Vicente Padilla, IF Mike Aviles, RHP Mark Melancon, RHP Matt Albers, LHP Rich Hill, OF Scott Podsednik

It’s still hard to fathom that the Boston Red Sox were the best team in baseball in early September 2011. After four months of absolute dominance, the Red Sox fell off a cliff and had the worst collapse in baseball history to end that year. The hangover carried over into 2012 and they had their worst season since 1965 finishing in last place in the AL East.

After the 2011 collapse, ownership decided not to renew manager Terry Francona’s contract and after General Manager Theo Epstein took over the Cubs, ownership stepped in again and hired Bobby Valentine as the new manager. New GM Ben Cherington wanted Dale Sveum—who eventually went to the Cubs—but he appeared to be overridden.

Valentine ended up being nothing short of an unmitigated disaster in his return to managing. He publicly called out players, alienated his entire team and certainly was no help in righting the Red Sox wayward ship.

By August, the front office cashed in its chips and unloaded $261-million in salary commitments by trading Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett and Nick Punto to the Dodgers for a package of players. That package included high-upside pitching prospects such as Rubby de la Rosa and Allen Webster which is a nice bonus to go along with a lot of financial flexibility. Hopefully there’ll be less drama around the Red Sox this season with the return of former pitching coach John Farrell who was acquired from the Blue Jays for Mike Aviles in November to be the new manager.

Despite all of their problems, the Red Sox still finished fifth in the AL in runs scored. Their problem was their pitching, which ranked among the worst in the league. Cherington had a lot of work to do in the offseason and went about making small additions with short-term deals. He brought in the likes of Shane Victorino, Mike Napoli and Ryan Dempster and did not commit more than three years to any of them. Looking at the complexion of the roster, it’s hard not to see an improvement for 2013.

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Minnesota Twins v Baltimore Orioles

2012 Record: 93-69, 2nd AL East
2012 Pythagorean Record: 82-80
Impact Player: CF Adam Jones
Impact Pitcher: LHP Wei-Yin Chen
Top Prospect: RHP Dylan Bundy

Significant Acquisitions: IF Alexi Casilla, 3B/1B Danny Valencia, LHP Daniel Schlereth, OF Trayvon Robinson

Significant Departures: 1B/3B Mark Reynolds, LHP Joe Saunders, IF Roberto Andino, OF Endy Chavez, DH Jim Thome, DH Nick Johnson, LHP Randy Wolf

The Baltimore Orioles had one of the most remarkable seasons in recent memory. After 14 years of losing and coming off a 69-93 season with a top-heavy-but-thin farm system, Baltimore and their new General Manager Dan Duquette appeared to be in for a long re-rebuilding project. Then, that elusive vagabond Lady Luck decided the Orioles were due for a little good fortune.

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