A's undergo the offseason's most substantial makeover
In his first game as the manager of the Oakland A's on June 9, 2011, Bob Melvin posted a lineup card with Coco Crisp hitting leadoff. That hasn't changed since.
Everything else about the A's roster has, however.
Crisp is the only remaining player from Melvin's first day on the job.
Never has the roster realignment been more pronounced than the one Melvin will be working with at the start of Spring Training later this month.
The A's have enjoyed success under Melvin's direction. They advanced to the postseason in each of the past three campaigns. But after being eliminated in a five-game American League Division Series in 2012 and '13, they were knocked out in the AL Wild Card Game last season.
That's not enough to satisfy the A's, who are looking for their first World Series championship since 1989, after coming up short in their last 10 postseason appearances. General manager Billy Beane tried to change that in the middle of last season, when he dealt three prospects to the Cubs on July 5 for pitchers Jason Hammel and Jeff Samardzija. He followed up on that bold move on July 31, when he not only sent Tommy Milone to the Twins for outfielder Sam Fuld, but he also traded outfielder Yoenis Cespedes to the Red Sox for left-hander Jon Lester and outfielder Jonny Gomes.
Fuld is the only one of the five in-season additions still with the A's, who head to Arizona with only two members of last year's Opening Day lineup projected to be on the card Melvin fills out for this year's April 6 opener against the Rangers (center fielder Crisp and right fielder Josh Reddick).
Fuld has taken over in left field and Stephen Vogt at catcher. Offseason additions Billy Butler (DH), Ike Davis (first base), Marcus Semien (shortstop) and Ben Zobrist (second base) all project as starters, too.
No team in the big leagues has undergone a bigger makeover than the A's.
With a new front office in San Diego, the Padres have shaken things up in an effort to earn their first postseason berth since 2006. Every other National League West team has made at least two postseason appearances since then.
The Padres have a new outfield, with the additions of Justin Upton in left, Wil Myers in center and Matt Kemp in right. They also picked up third baseman Will Middlebrooks and catcher Derek Norris.
The defending NL West champion Dodgers, meanwhile, have a new look up the middle, with the additions of Yasmani Grandal at catcher, Howie Kendrick at second base and Jimmy Rollins at shortstop -- along with the planned promotion of rookie Joc Pederson to play center field.
106 years and counting
Not only have the Cubs not won a World Series since 1908, but they are coming off five consecutive losing seasons in which they have finished a combined 125 games out of first. Looking to speed up the massive rebuilding effort they began three years ago, the Cubs signed free-agent starting pitchers Lester and Hammel, and added center fielder Dexter Fowler and catcher Miguel Montero -- which is almost as many rotation/lineup additions as the four other NL Central teams combined.
The Reds added outfielder Marlon Byrd, the Brewers first baseman Adam Lind, the Cardinals outfielder Jason Heyward and the Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli and starting pitcher A.J. Burnett.
The Marlins shook up the baseball world when they signed outfielder Giancarlo Stanton, who was two years away from free agency, to a record-setting 13-year, $325 million deal. They didn't stop there. They revamped their infield with the additions of first baseman Michael Morse, second baseman Dee Gordon and third baseman Martin Prado, and upgraded the rotation with starting pitchers Dan Haren and Mat Latos.
Looking for a repeat of their 2012-13 worst-to-first routine, the Red Sox revamped their rotation with the addition of starting pitchers Rick Porcello, Wade Miley and Justin Masterson. On offense, they signed free-agent third baseman Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez, whom they are planning to move from shortstop to left field.
The Blue Jays, meanwhile, retooled their offense with catcher Russell Martin, third baseman Josh Donaldson, left fielder Michael Saunders and first baseman Justin Smoak.
No white flag
The White Sox signed a new closer, David Robertson, added a top-of-the-rotation arm in Samardzija, and supplemented their offense with the signings of designated hitter/first baseman Adam LaRoche and left fielder Melky Cabrera.
The Sox, who have one championship since 1917, knew they needed to shake things up if they were going to compete in the AL Central. The Tigers have made four consecutive postseason appearances, while the Royals ended a 29-year playoff drought in 2014, winning the AL pennant.
The Astros have lost 416 games over the past four seasons, and they haven't finished above .500 since they finished in third place in 2008. They are looking to turn that around this season, after an offseason in which they added left fielder Evan Gattis, center fielder Colby Rasmus, third baseman Luis Valbuena, shortstop Jed Lowrie and starting pitcher Dan Straily.
The Mariners, meanwhile, are looking to build off a 2014 season in which they finished one game out of the postseason. They landed the right-handed, run-producing bat they were lacking by signing DH Nelson Cruz.