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Grading the offseasons of the American League, using Upworthy headlines

Al Messerschmidt

I'm sorry.

I'm kind of obsessed with Upworthy. They've created a tug-of-war between your brain and your finger, daring you to click their carefully crafted, insipid, genius, awful click-bait headlines. You click. Most of the time. And when you pretend you don't, you secretly do. When you're successful in resisting their siren call, your Facebook feed is stuffed with a dozen of them. Other sites have figured out the formula, and they're doing it, too.

I hate it. It's everything wrong with the Internet.

I love it. It's everything I want the Internet to be.

Mostly, I hate it. But I can't stop thinking about it. This Simpsons-related parody site is to blame. And because the only way to exorcise these demons is to briefly succumb to their filthy promises, here's the offseason of the American League so far, as told by Upworthy-style headlines.



One Team Went From Pennants To Out Of The Playoffs. They Needed A Big Move. They Made The Biggest Move.

It's worth thinking about the chutzpah and derring-do that went into the Prince Fielder trade again. The Rangers, still a loaded organization with a solid blueprint, figured out a way for Prince Fielder to make sense for them.



A General Manager Known For Crazy Trades Decides To Get Crazier. Here's The Story Of His Insane 48 Hours.

It really wasn't that insane, at least in retrospect. In a two-day span, Billy Beane dealt Jemile Weeks for Jim Johnson, Seth Smith for Luke Gregerson, and Michael Choice for Craig Gentry, then he signed Scott Kazmir to a two-year deal.

At the time, though, it was insane. Every other transaction coming across the ticker was a wheel and/or deal for the A's. What's he building in there? I heard he was up on the roof last night, signaling with a flashlight. And what's that tune he's always whistling? What's he building in there?

If Jim Johnson, Luke Gregerson, Craig Gentry, and Scott Kazmir are insane, though, maybe you should just sit the offseason out.



A Video Game Company Bought A Baseball Team. For Years, They Did Nothing. You'll Never Believe What Happens Next.

Nobody expected the Seattle Mariners. Amongst their weaponry are such diverse elements as: apathy, complacency, boredom ...

Sure, any dork could see that they had the money to get goofy. But how often does a team really spring out of the bushes like that?



For A Few Seconds, The Worst Team In Baseball Thought They Could Sign One Of The Best Pitchers In The World. They Got Scott Feldman Instead. Whoops.

For a brief moment in time, the Astros had Masahiro Tanaka. While the grown-ups were hashing out the posting rules for Japanese players, there was a rumor that it was all settled, and the tiebreaker for the $20 million max bid was going to be lowest winning percentage. Helllllooooo, rotation of Mark Appel, Tanaka, and Carlos Rodon. That was going to be completely unfair.

As is, Scott Feldman is a pretty nice pickup for the Astros. But he's a bit of a consolation prize compared to what the Astros were thinking they had for a moment.



After Getting The Biggest Free Agents In Baseball The Last Two Years, This Team Signed A Guy Named Joe Smith. Literally.

Albert Pujols to Josh Hamilton to Joe Smith. Technically, if you're looking for a logical progression of sensible free-agent moves, that's a trend going in the right direction.

And the Angels turned Mark Trumbo into two viable and inexpensive major-league starting pitchers. That's actually pretty impressive. If we can't laugh at the Angels,



This Team Was Supposed To Be A Small-Market Team Content With Last Place. Their Spending Spree On Pitchers Will Make You Think Again.

Seriously, what are the Twins doing? This is some serious underwear-gnome stuff. But if you had to watch a rotation of four-strikeouts-per-nine starters, maybe you'd want to spend millions on new pitchers, too.

I'm just going to feel awful when one of the Twins' new pitchers is awful, one is kinda okay, and one is sorta okay. You pick which one's going to do which. But I'm not sure the Hughes/Nolasco/other trifecta is going to lead to the kind of return the Twins are hoping.

It's kind of exciting they're trying, though. The old rotation was really, really frustrating.



The Tigers Were Favorites To Win The World Series. They Failed. What They Did Next Doesn't Make Any Sense.

There will be time for a list of the worst moves of the offseason closer to the spring. It's hard to see how the Doug Fister trade isn't #1 with a bullet, though. If the Prince Fielder trade saved a little money, fine. But unless Fister was making Fielder money (or, heck, Anibal Sanchez money), there was no reason to deal him and spend the savings on Joe Nathan.

The Tigers aren't done making moves, and you have to commend them for being so proactive. But to trade such an important cog so cheaply ... it's incredibly un-Dombrowski.


White Sox

12 Cuban Hitters Will Play Major League Baseball Next Year. Meet The Team That Has A Quarter Of Them.

Of all the teams having good offseasons, the one that surprises me the most is the White Sox. They were aggressive with Jose Dariel Abreu, and they sold high on Hector Santiago to bring in a potential long-term outfield solution. Nice moves, both.

All Abreu has to do is hit. which he might not do. But we'll quibble with that later.



A Surprise Contender Lost Two Of Their Best Pitchers. They Can't Just Sit There. Can They?

I don't blame the Indians for not wanting to pay market prices for Ubaldo Jimenez and Scott Kazmir. But it's hard to see what they're going to do now, as low-commitment options like Josh Johnson and Dan Haren fly off the shelves.

The default isn't exactly bad -- a host of familiar names, like Zach McAllister, Danny Salazar, and Josh Tomlin. It's not exactly good, though, not for a team with heightened expectations after a successful 2013. Not that I'd want them to re-sign Ubaldo or pay nine figures for Matt Garza.

What I'm trying to say is that I'm glad I'm not a GM.



Everyone Keeps Waiting For This Team To Screw Up. See Why.

Come on, Royals. Do something hilarious. A sensible move to acquire Norichika Aoki? That's not hilarious. There are aces out there in trade and expensive free agents. Do something funny. DO SOMETHING FUNNY.

The Royals had a substantial offer in to Carlos Beltran, and it probably would have ended in tears, but it was an interesting play. They're considering trading Billy Butler at something close to peak value. DO SOMETHING FUNNY.

Royals sign GM Dayton Moore to two-year extension

Okay, that's not what I was thinking of, but it'll do in a pinch.



People Figured This Team Was Done Spending. Not So Fast. They Spent More Than Anyone.

The Yankees traded Robinson Cano for Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann, and Carlos Beltran. That's a pretty nifty MLB: The Show trade, but it's weird to see it in real life. While I'm not wild with the Yankees' kick-the-can philosophy, it makes far, far more sense to spread that kind of money across three excellent players rather than give it to one over-30 superstar, even if he was on his way to a shiny plaque beyond the outfield.


Blue Jays

Last Offseason, One Team Was On Fire. This Year, They're On Sedatives. What Gives?

Dunno. What do you want the Blue Jays to do? They got a new catcher (Dioner Navarro). They signed Roy Halladay. Technically. And now they have Tomo Ohka, who's a knuckleballer now.

Last year at this time, the Blue Jays were the "it team." The Nats/Jays World Series was going to be wild, a metaphorical fight for Canada's soul. Would the awful carpetbaggers prevail, or would the last Canadian team remaining, oh, never mind, they're both disappointing.

I follow a lot of Jays fans on Twitter. Half of them are freaking out, and the other half are freaking out at the first half for freaking out. If you get a second, it's worth it.



The Rays Are The Trap Door Spiders Of Baseball. Here Are 14 GIFs Of Trap Door Spiders That Will Blow Your Mind.

Here's a trapdoor spider.


Oh, hell no.

But that's what's going to happen to the team that trades for David Price. It's going to be a bloodbath. A prospecty bloodbath. It's going to GOOD LORD WILL SOMEONE ADBLOCK THAT GIF PLEASE.

Okay, better. The Rays are waiting. Waiting waiting waiting. And there are some things in their way, like the Phillies possibly offering Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee around. The Tigers messing around with Max Scherzer doesn't help, either.

Still, the Rays are lurking. Lurking lurking lurking. And they're going to turn Price into two Prices, but only if they want to.



One Team That Missed The Playoffs Said They Were Going To Spend Money. They Did The Opposite. They Traded Their Closer.

Even stranger, the Orioles are probably going to take the savings from Jim Johnson and spend them on Grant Balfour, essentially trading closers with the A's. It's not a done deal, but it makes sense. The O's are getting an extra year for a similar price, but they're trading the relatively consistency of Johnson for the sketchier past of Balfour.

Boooooorrrrrring. You don't even have a fifth starter on your official depth chart, Orioles. Stop juggling closers and sign Johan Santana, or something.


Red Sox

I Swear To God, I Want Shane Victorino And A.J. Pierzynski To Get Stuck In An Elevator For Several Days Until One Of Them Has To Eat The Other And Face Charges When He's Eventually Rescued.

Not exactly fundamentalist Upworthy format, but I'm proud of it.