The Faceoff

 "A bad offseason can certainly set a team back, say, seven years and $126 million."

By James Costanzo, Sports Editor 

A strong offseason won't win a World Series, but a bad one can certainly set a team back, say, seven years and $126 million.

That's the deal the Washington Nationals gave 31-year-old outfielder Jayson Werth this offseason. Prediction: they start to regret that deal around year four, if they don't already.

The Nationals don't get my "worst offseason" award because their five consecutive losing seasons might force them to overpay on coveted free agents. Instead, my best-of-the-worst offseason goes to the Texas Rangers, who failed to resign Cliff Lee. Now the load falls on C.J. Wilson, Colby Lewis, Tommy Hunter, Derek Holland and perhaps Neftali Feliz to help the Rangers return to the World Series.

On its surface, the signing of Adrian Beltré seemed to soften the blow of failing to keep Lee in Arlington, but let's be honest, Beltré isn't batting .328 with 28 homeruns again. The Beltré signing might also cost the Rangers Michael Young, who wants out if he has to be the team's designated hitter. Besides the loss of the league's most formidable left arm, the Rangers will also be without Vladimir Guerrero, who had a decidedly solid year.

Don't get me wrong, the New York Yankees get an honorable mention in this category after losing out on Lee to the Philadelphia Phillies and Andy Pettitte to retirement – not to mention the panic signing of Rafael Soriano, who will essentially be just a really good setup man. The bombers also added Andruw Jones, Bartolo Colon, Mark Prior and Freddy Garcia to their payroll. Too bad it isn't 2002 anymore.

The Tampa Bay Rays also get a nod, just look at who they lost: Carl Crawford, Rafael Soriano, Matt Garza, Jason Bartlett and Carlos Pena, to name a few. Nevertheless, they're young and they still have a lot of talent.

The American League East isn't completely full of disappointment, however. The Boston Red Sox get my "best offseason" award for their acquisitions of Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford; two great defensive players that make the Sox lineup downright scary. If Josh Beckett, John Lackey, and Jonathan Papelbon can bounce back, the Sox will have a shot at another title.

Honorable mentions go to the Milwaukee Brewers who added Zack Greinke, and the Phillies who have the best rotation since Greg Maddux's Atlanta Braves.

"Plan C for the Angels?  Luring Vernon Wells out of Toronto."

By Dayshawn Simmons, Staff Writer

With spring training right around the corner and catchers and pitchers reporting on Feb. 14, let's explore which Major League Baseball team should be crowned the winner and loser of this offseason.

For the loser of this offseason, my pick would have to be the Los Angeles Angels. It is no secret that last season was a bust for the team; the Angels lost a key player during a walk-off celebration. It was widely reported the team had money to spare this offseason and was primed to make big splashes.

The Angels were looking to have a strong defensive outfield, with hopes of adding Carl Crawford to left field. Angels General Manager Tony Reagins even had right-fielder Torii Hunter involved with recruiting Crawford before the 2010 season ended in hopes of luring him to the west coast. The team lost out on Crawford, though; he joined the Boston Red Sox on a seven-year, $142 million contract.

Plan B? The Angels reportedly made a significant offer to Adrian Beltré, who had a comeback year as third baseman for the Boston Red Sox, but Beltré ended up at the Texas Rangers on a multi-year deal.

Plan C? Luring Vernon Wells out of Toronto. The Angels needed to save face somehow but Wells certainly isn't Crawford or Beltré, so they never really had a chance even with their promising resources. The Angels weren't the only team to lose out big: the New York Yankees are a case in point.

The offseason winner has to be the Philadelphia Phillies. Yes, they only signed one major player, but that player was Cliff Lee. Lee surprised everyone when the Phillies were identified as the mystery third team bidding for his services. It seemed like the Texas Rangers or the Yankees would nab the southpaw.

Now the Phillies have a rotation in which Roy Oswalt is the third starter and Roy Halladay returns as the ace. The Phillies lineup lost some power with the departure of Jayson Werth to the Washington Nationals, but the saying goes that good pitching usually beats good hitting any day.

Perhaps Philadelphia should start planning the team's victory parade now. If the players stay healthy, the Phillies are the team to beat in the National League this year.

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