• Philadelphia Phillies -- What we have here is a team that can't say the word "rebuild." So the Phillies have signed three free-agent position players ( Marlon Byrd, Carlos Ruiz and Wil Nieves) who all will begin next season 34 or older. They signed a 33-year-old starter (Roberto "Don't Call Me Fausto" Hernandez) whose 5.03 ERA the past six seasons is the second-highest (behind Luke Hochevar) in baseball among pitchers with 800-plus innings. And amid all of that, they floated the names of Jonathan Papelbon, Cliff Lee and Domonic Brown as potential trade bait, to the confusion of many.
"I just don't understand exactly what they're doing," one AL exec said. "If you're seriously trying to win, you don't do it this way. And if you're trying to get younger, you don't do it this way. At some point, they've got to pick a direction and go with it."
• Baltimore Orioles -- They'd spent two years rebuilding an era of good vibes and repairing much of the damage of the lost decade that preceded it. But the vibes emanating from the Orioles' offseason so far have been anything but euphoric. The dumping of Johnson sent shock waves through the organization. Their free-agent targets have been mostly low-budget. And their biggest offseason acquisition so far has been a reliever ( Ryan Webb) who got nontendered by the Marlins.
"They look like a team that's caught in between," one executive said. "They act like they don't have any money, although I'm not sure why. They're a little short on having enough talent to keep pace in the division. And they don't seem like they're going to do much to address it. They feel like they're a team with nowhere to go."
• Atlanta Braves -- Has any team had a quieter winter than the Braves? They've lost maybe their two most important players, if you're measuring both on-field and off-field impact, in McCann and Hudson. And they've yet to acquire a single major league player, either in a trade or with their checkbook. As with all of the teams on this list, the Braves still have plenty of time to add a veteran starter, find a taker for Dan Uggla, rebuild their bullpen depth and maybe, if they get really inspired, figure out a way to trade for Price or Samardzija. But for now, this is a 96-win team that has taken a big step backward.
"I can see a big slide coming this season unless they do something substantial," one scout said. "Everyone in their division has gotten better while they have stood pat."