It has been a busy and exciting offseason in Major League Baseball. Big name players such as Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and Sammy Sosa departed from their former beloved teams to seek success elsewhere.

As the season opener approaches, let’s examine some of the big winners and losers in offseason trading.

First, the winners.

St. Louis Cardinals – you may be wondering why they need to improve because they had such potent offense last year with Walker, Pujols, Rolen and Edmonds filling in the middle of the lineup. However, the team’s Achille’s heel was its starting rotation. The number one answer to this problem is Mark Mulder.

Mulder adds depth to the Cardinal pitching staff, joining prominent pitchers Matt Morris and Chris Carpenter, who finally recovered from last season’s forearm strain.

Although Tony Womack and Edgar Renteria departed, the Cards’ hitting staff is still alive and kicking. Mark Grudzielanek, who is replacing Womack, has a higher on-base percentage than Womack.

Although David Eckstein is not a Renteria, the Cardinals still have the versatile Albert Pujols, Jim Edmonds and Scott Rolen.

Cincinnati Reds – Eric Milton’s and Ramon Ortiz’s arrivals may boost the Reds’ confidence. Let’s hope that Ortiz can bring his A-game back and Jose Acevedo improves to achieve his first double-digit win season to complement the team’s top two starters.

Also, they gained former San Francisco Giants shortstop star Rich Aurilia and consistent Joe Randa at third.

This is a good addition to rising outfielders Adam Dunn and Austin Kearns.

New York Mets – yes, you guessed it, Pedro Martinez. Al Leiter’s performance was not worth the money the Mets were paying him. His 10-8 record from the 2004 season didn’t warrant a new contract.

Although Martinez may be losing his groove, he will probably lead the Mets with another 15-game winning season, making the team a contender in National League East. The Mets also signed Carlos Beltran, increasing their hitting power.

With an outfield lineup including Beltran, Cliff Floyd and Mike Cameron, they can’t go wrong. They also signed seven-year veteran Doug Mientkiewicz, improving their infield with a Golden Glove winner at first base and beefing up their lineup, which includes young stars Jose Reyes and David Wright.

On the opposite end of the spectrum are the losers.

Oakland Athletics – trading two of their former Big Three will be their downfall. Billy Bean has started over by building up his team with young pitching starters. The only real threat the A’s possess is former Cy Young winner Barry Zito.

Oakland’s bullpen also has many holes. Signing closer Arthur Rhodes was a bust and picking up Octavio Dotel from the Houston Astros also turned out to be a flop.

Their offense has weakened due to the loss of Jermaine Dye to the Chicago White Sox retired veteran Mark McLemore.

Baltimore Orioles – Sammy Sosa may be an excellent power hitter, but the Orioles will still lack the ability to win enough games to contend with the likes of the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox.

They were the losers in a surprising trade with the Chicago Cubs because they will be spending an excessive amount on the salary of Sosa, when they could have spent the money on a more promising pitching staff.

Chicago White Sox – the team will lose a lot of offense by trading away Roberto Alomar, Carlos Lee, Magglio Ordonez and Jose Valentin.

Although their bullpen is still intact with Freddy Garcia, Jose Contreras and Mark Buehrle, the White Sox need a strong lineup to be able compete with a stronger Minnesota Twins team.

Lee can be reached at

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