ESPN polled 23 said executives for top story lines going into spring training.
How do I know they're idiots?
Example No. 1 — Listing the Phillies' free agent signing of A.J. Burnett as one of the top 3 one-year offseason deals. Not even close. Hiroki Kuroda is more likely, but not a guaranteed snap. I'd certainly put Mark Ellis and the Cards' signing of him ahead of A.J. Pierzynski as well as Burnett one of the best one-year free-agent signings for the price.
Related to this? The fact that owners consider this such a great deal means that, once again, they have nobody but themselves to blame for player salaries, when they complain about them.
Plus, and since word's come out that there's a mutual option for a second year, and reportedly, even if that's turned down by Amaro, a separate player option for 2015, this contract is very much in bad contract land.
And, related to both of those last two graphs? This may, depending on mid-season call-ups and such, push the Phillies over the salary cap/lux tax limit.
Oh, and feel free to vote on how BAD the Burnett deal was in the poll at top right.
Example No. 2 — Rating the Yankees among the three most improved AL teams. I think I would just have listed two teams. Losing Curtis Granderson, Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano, Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte, among others, along with possible further decline from C.C. Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda and others, as well as unknowns about Derek Jeter, offsets a lot of gains. I fully expect the Bombers to finish in fourth again this year. I certainly wouldn't have them at No. 1 on the list.
Example No. 3 — I'm not sure I would I call their pickup of Brian McCann the top free-agent signing. Bumping it from the list would then have the Cards' signing of Jhonny Peralta on that list. (Adding to the stupidity? One exec's claim: "multiple teams thought he couldn't play shortstop every day.")
Example No. 4 — Best trade. I think the Doug Fister deal is overrated, with someone who has regressed the past two years in some ways, and Robbie Ray could be a deal for the Tigers. And, yes, I could replace it with the Cards and Peter Bourjos from the Angels. Oh, the Fister trade is "nice," but I don't think it's as much of a steal as others do. These are the same others who think Burnett isn't an overpay, both at ESPN and among execs. And, among execs looking at pitchers, these are the folks who regularly overpay for closers.
In short? Looks like a lot of AL East bias in this survey, followed by some NL East. Surprised? Not me.
Beyond that, polling sports execs on an off-the-record basis for stuff like this is about as chickenshit, maybe, as the WaPost, New York Times, and AP regularly letting White House staffers go off the record without need.