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So Far: Good Off-Season Rates Great On A Curve

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If you're the A's, having made appreciable upgrades to a formerly cesspoolian COF, but unable to bolster the rotation or 3B despite throwing $36M-$64M at the cause, just be glad you're not other American League teams because some of them have to be hating the off-season so far.

Within the division, Texas made a solid offer to retain Cliff Lee and Ron Washington went so far as to say his gut told him Lee would choose the Rangers over the Yankees. Yet a "mystery organ" should have mentioned the Phillies to the Texas skipper, because this off-season has become the "Year of the National League," beginning with Lee spurning two AL suitors for Philadelphia and continuing with Jayson Werth landing with the Washington Nationals.

Meanwhile, the Rangers have improved nothing while so far the Angels have added...Scott Downs, not Beltre (a subtantial upgrade at their current "position of suckitude"), not Rafael Soriano (an actual closer), while losing Hideki Matsui from a lineup that is looking increasingly "2007-10 A's"-like. Note that two key weaknesses, 3B and closer, could still potentially be addressed by available free agents, but also note that even with Beltre and Soriano the Angels would not be favorites, just better.

But this post isn't about the AL West. It's about...

...The Yankees.

"Shouldn't this really be on Pinstripe Alley?"

Probably. So anyway...

Remember when players signed obscenely lucrative deals with the Yankees, only to tell the press that it had always been their lifelong dream to play in those legendary pinstripes? Or would sign moderate deals with the Yankees and then tell the press that it had always been their lifelong dream to play in those legendary pinstripes?

How about Cliff Lee turning down millions and more millions for the privilege of not playing for the Yankees? Now perhaps Andy Pettitte will fail to retire for the 3rd consecutive off-season, but at the moment -- with Pettitte still unsure, supposedly leaning towards retirement and planning to decide in the next few days -- New York's rotation looks like CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes, AJ Burnett, er...Ivan Nova and Sergio Mitre?

How about Kerry Wood also turning down more money to return to the Chicago Cubs. Are the schools that much better in Chicago? That's two players, an ace starter and an excellent set-up man, who took less money to play elsewhere.

I have no idea why the Yankees didn't offer Jack Cust $4M to DH for them. Cust, batting #2 in the order ahead of Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, and Robinson Cano, might score 125 runs. Playing half his games at Yankee Stadium, Cust would find his power returned to him in good condition -- a line of .250/.385/.465 seems reasonable, and you have to think that Cust would have preferred to get $4M to play for a contender rather than $2.5M to be stranded at 1B a lot for the Mariners.

But they didn't. Maybe they couldn't bear to risk that Cust would become not the first, not the second, but the third player to take less money to play somewhere else.

Clearly, the Boston Red Sox have had an excellent off-season. At the moment, though, the A's are arguably second in the AL in this regard, with the additions of DeJesus, Matsui, and Willingham allowing Oakland to bat Kouzmanoff and Suzuki where they actually belong, all accomplished with the rotation of Anderson, Gio, Cahill, and Braden left completely intact.

And really nothing has gone especially right for the Yankees while something rather important (Lee, eggs, basket, oops) has gone rather wrong. It's still early-ish, in that Beltre hasn't landed anywhere, Soriano is still out there, and some trades will undoubtedly be made as the free agent pool dries up. But so far? Great to be the Red Sox, good to be the A's, and more than a bit troubling to be the rest of the American League.