With the Washington Nationals signing Max Scherzer to the latest baseball megadeal, I wanted to look at the players that have changed leagues thus far during Hot Stove season and see which league has gotten stronger and how that might affect the quality of competition facing the Astros in 2015. While there is no doubt that Houston has made significant upgrades to a number of areas this winter, other teams have done the same thing.
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Looking at every transaction from November 1st through Monday, January 19, I picked what I thought would generally be agreed on as the top level of talent changing places. My intent was to show that a lot of AL talent had moved to the Senior Circuit, but the evidence may or may not back that up.
As a measuring stick, I tried to pick the most significant transactions involving difference-makers going from league to league. Reallocation of talent within leagues was not considered for this particular discussion, nor was any minor league deal of any type.
Going from AL to NL Going from NL to AL
Aaron Crow Adam LaRoche
Brett Anderson Hanley Ramirez
Dexter Fowler Edinson Volquez
Yunel Escobar Yovani Gallardo
Nick Markakis Tyler Clippard
Derek Norris Evan Gattis
Wil Myers Asdrubal Cabrera
Max Scherzer Ervin Santana
Joe Maddon – mgr Chase Headley
So, which league has made the better haul? Are the two groups equal in your eyes, or has one league “won” the offseason battle? Is the competition the Astros will face in 2015 tougher, easier, or about the same? What other difference-makers would you add to either list?
Does the talent level of Sandoval, Hanley, Gallardo and Headley rank ahead of Markakis, Myers and Scherzer? Would the signing of James Shields or a trade of Stephen Strasburg from one league to another change things in your eyes? And, do managers count?
The real truth in this exercise lies in the fact that of all the names mentioned above, a few of the biggest impact players in either league will be waiver wire pickups, PTBNLs or guys that finally just figure it out or are given a legitimate opportunity. It may be that the sum of the unheralded player moves ultimately out-influences the results of the big dogs. Time will tell on that one.
In any hot stove discussion, be it baseball or an actual hot stove, the right ingredients can make all the difference. For Astros fans, though, the 2015 season should be a fun one, no matter who is on the other team!