The 2014 offseason was filled with major signings, and while the media loves to talk about which team "won", that can't truly be determined until the season gets going. With more than a month's worth of games now, it's possible to make some real observations about which moves have and haven't worked out thus far. Below are three teams thats that were featured prominently during the offseason, and a look at how their moves have paid off.
A.J. Preller has turned the Padres' fortunes around
After taking control of the Padres, their new GM A.J. Preller re-hauled the team. He made an entirely new outfield, trading for Justin Upton, Wil Myers, and Matt Kemp. Preller also brought Derek Norris and Will Middlebrooks aboard, without giving up any starting pitching.
That wasn't enough apparently, and just before the Cubs and Cardinals opened the season, Preller traded for Braves closer Craig Kimbrel. Thus far his new players have done well, and the Padres currently sit in 3rd place at 17-17.
While the offense is undoubtedly an improvement over years past, their outfield is on pace to set a record in futility. They rank dead last in many fielding categories, and are costing the team runs. However Preller should be applauded, as he remade the Padres in record time. They are currently a contending team, and are in the thick of the race in the NL West.
New pieces are working for the Cubs
While the Cubs major signing was left-handed pitcher Jon Lester, they also upgraded their catching situation significantly. Miguel Montero and David Ross are both known for their ability to frame pitches and maximize the strike zone, and in 2015 they have done just that.
Both are among the 12 best catchers in RAA (runs above average), while Ross is in the top five of zBall% and oStr%. The main purpose of trading for Montero and signing Ross was first and foremost to improve the effectiveness of their pitching. However both catchers have been performing surprisingly well at the plate.
Even Welington Castillo has improved, and in 53 innings behind the plate has an RAA of 0.2; not impressive by any means but is a great turn around for someone who had been so awful. Now that Lester has settled down, all of the Cubs moves seem to be paying off tremendously, however there's one area that still needs improvement. The bullpen has not been great, and will need to be addressed soon. Fortunately it's something that can be fixed relatively easily during the season, and shouldn't be a big concern heading forward.
Should the White Sox have done more?
The White Sox made a lot of noise during the 2014 offseason, and wound up with quite a few new players. They won the David Robertson sweepstakes, signed left-hander Zach Duke, as well as position players Adam LaRoche and Melky Cabrera. Unfortunately not everything has worked out perfectly.
Robertson has been unbelievable this season, as he's posted a K/9 of 16.07, an ERA of 0.64, and an FIP of -0.20. While Duke hasn't been horrible, his fWAR is -0.2, and his production has been no where near what it was with the Brewers last season.
All of his peripherals have risen, and he's allowing far more hard hit contact in 2015. LaRoche hasn't been a below average hitter, but certainly isn't living up to expectations. In 2014, he posted a wRC+ of 127, which has fallen to 106 in his first 29 games. Cabrera on the other hand has been a disaster. His triple slash line is .244/.298/.286, and has a wRC+ of just 62. His power has dropped off significantly, and his ISO is just .042. Among others, the White Sox will need these three players to improve, and become more productive.