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Balance of power tilts towards NL this winter

Dec 19, 2010, 7:00 PM EDT

Cliff Lee phillies throwing

Just not the power itself, because that’s mostly AL bound. But a review of the players switching leagues so far this winter definitely favors the NL, mostly because that’s where the pitching is going.

AL to NL
Cliff Lee – Phillies
Zack Greinke – Brewers
Shaun Marcum – Brewers
Javier Vazquez – Marlins
Kerry Wood – Cubs
J.J. Putz – Diamondbacks
Matt Guerrier – Dodgers

Carlos Pena – Cubs
Orlando Hudson – Padres
Lance Berkman – Cardinals
John Buck – Marlins
Jason Bartlett – Padres
Bill Hall – Astros
Lyle Overbay – Pirates
Ty Wigginton – Rockies
Jose Lopez – Rockies

NL to AL
Pedro Feliciano – Yankees
Hisanori Takahashi – Angels

Adrian Gonzalez – Red Sox
Adam Dunn – White Sox
Josh Willingham – Athletics
Mark Reynolds – Orioles
Tsuyoshi Nishioka – Twins (from Japan)
Russell Martin – Yankees
Miguel Olivo – Mariners
Alcides Escobar – Royals

The AL’s top imports so far are a pair of former Mets relievers and it could enter 2011 missing a full quarter of its top 20 starting pitchers. Lee and Greinke were certainly among the top 10, and Marcum belonged in the next 10. Next is Andy Pettitte, who still might opt to call it a career. Also, there’s Carl Pavano. I wouldn’t really put Pavano in the top 20, but he did go 17-11 with a 3.75 ERA for the Twins last season. He and Lee tied for the AL lead in complete games with seven.

All of that pitching making its way out of the league would seem to be good news for the offensive imports. Gonzalez, Dunn and Reynolds could combine for 110 homers next year. The AL hasn’t lost a whole lot offensively. I hesitated to even include Berkman, who has spent his entire career in the NL outside of two unproductive months with the Yankees. Pena could bounce back and Buck was an All-Star last season, but the hitting side of things definitely favors the AL.

The rest of the winter should belong to the AL as well. The Yankees, Angels and Rangers all appear to have more money to spend than any NL team. It’s unlikely that Adrian Beltre will switch leagues, and bats like Derrek Lee and Adam LaRoche may make their way to the AL. We could also see AL contenders make plays for Carlos Zambrano, Wandy Rodriguez, Ricky Nolasco and others in trade talks.

  1. Ari Collins - Dec 19, 2010 at 7:14 PM

    But aren’t Vazquez and most of those AL->NL hitters actually a mark on the AL’s side? Not saying the NL didn’t still win the offseason, but I think the fact that NL teams are going to be playing some AL castoffs should be factored in too. More of the NL->AL hitters are actually, you know, any good at all.

    In other words, it’s not just the good players switching leagues that make up the balance of power, it’s the bad ones as well.

  2. apbaguy - Dec 20, 2010 at 1:22 AM

    Also, last year’s rookies favored the NL substantially. Heyward, Strasburg, Stanton, et al, a major talent infusion for the NL.

    • Ari Collins - Dec 20, 2010 at 9:55 AM

      Oh, excellent point! I think the AL rookies might be underrated since none of them made huge contributions this year, with Feliz, Davis, and Matusz projected to be excellent starting pitchers down the line, but even your “et al” of Buster Posey, Logan Morrison, Starlin Castro, Gaby Sanchez, and Jaime Garcia probably beats the AL crowd.

      • apbaguy - Dec 20, 2010 at 11:32 AM

        Thanks, and Madison Bumgardner for SF is in the”et al” also. Big, big year for the NL.

  3. hasbeen5 - Dec 20, 2010 at 8:39 AM

    You forgot Melky Cabrera to KC, which further supports your point.

  4. BC - Dec 20, 2010 at 9:12 AM

    Meanwhile my mediocre Mets meander, muck-mired.

    • Ari Collins - Dec 20, 2010 at 10:26 AM

      At least Alderson is awesome. And alliterative?

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