Baseball season is associated with certain smells: fresh cut grass, the dirt of the infield, pine tar on bats and so on and so on. These are smells we all know and love. But the baseball offseason has a certain smells as well. It is that time of year where a few teams begin to stink of panicky sweat and unbridled desperation. Where that stench emanates from changes every year (though some teams are more consistent than others), so let's take a look at who the most odiferous offenders are this offseason.
Armed with that forthcoming infusion of sweet, sweet TV contract money, fear of losing his job and a misplaced belief that this aging roster still has a viable shot at the World Series, Ruben Amaro is ready to unleash his stank all over the open market. Be afraid, Phillies fans. Be very afraid. The Phillies have gone a few years without a playoff berth now and it has put Ruben Amaro's job on the line. Instead of smartly starting a rebuilding project and trading away the likes of Lee, Utley, Papelbon and Rollins to try and get younger and clear payroll, Amaro is set up perfectly to use the infusion of TV money to try and put some lipstick on this pig. Really, there is no telling what Ruben could do in order to save his job and that has to make Scott Boras giddy with excitement.
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers are a different kind of desperate than the other teams on this list. They are actually coming off of a very successful season, but with their payroll, it wasn't successful enough. The mandate now for the Dodgers is win at all costs, literally. They already have $167 million in committed payroll for 2014 but if the rumor mill is to be believed, the Dodgers will try to bring in Japanese ace Masahiro Tanaka and trade for Tampa's David Price. They've also been linked to Hiroki Kuroda, Matt Garza, Ervin Santana and Felix Hernadez's first-born male child… probably. There is always the chance that they could get involved on Robinson Cano despite their earlier signing of Cuban Alex Guerrero because why not, right? They are also expected to be in on Brian McCann, so there is a pretty good shot that Ned Colletti could be giving out as many as three nine-figure contract in the next few months and that is before we even take into consideration the rumored $300+ million extension he has been trying to give to Clayton Kershaw.
Seattle made some desperation moves last season, like the highly questionable Jaso-for-Morse trade, and are primed to double down this winter. Jack Z. seemingly made a left turn in his team building philosophy by suddenly shunning pitching and defense in order to infuse the lineup with power. That didn't go so well, but it didn't cost the GM his job… yet. Now, Zduriencik is getting one more chance to make the Mariners relevant both in terms of being a winning team but also as a viable destination for top flight free agents after getting rejected by Justin Upton and Mike Napoli last offseason. It is the perfect recipe for someone like Jacoby Ellsbury to end up with a $180 million contract and for Seattle to wind up as a very expensive failure in a division that is no stranger to such fates.
Los Angeles Angels
Speaking of which, the Angels. They've been the poster child for teams who are so desperate to win a championship that they have made very expensive and very short-sighted personnel moves. You'd think that they have learned from their past sins, but with both GM Jerry Dipoto and manager Mike Scioscia on the chopping block if they miss the playoffs for a fifth straight season, they find themselves right back in position to make yet another costly mistake. In an odd way, their poor investments the last two offseasons has made it even easier to make another poor investment in the next few months. The Halos are so boxed in by their long-term financial obligations that rebuilding simply isn't an option. Their choices are to stand pat in their mediocrity or do something reckless and hope against hope that the third time is a charm.
Wow, the AL West is really on a roll here. The Rangers have had a great run the last few years, but the wheels are starting to come off. They have holes in their lineup, holes in their rotation and logjams to clear in other parts of their roster. The real issue though might be the emerging turmoil in management. Texas already saw Nolan Ryan get forced out… err, I mean "retire" and Ron Washington is likely managing to save his job this year. There is an unrest with the Rangers that could lead them to do what they have been very good about avoiding during their run which is throwing insane money at a free agent. They've made some big offers the last few winters, but they always seemed to know where to draw the line. But with the desperation to return to prominence setting in, that line could get awfully blurry awfully fast.