Fairy Tales seem to end in a similar fashion–conflict resolved, happiness acquired, vague conclusion indicating permanence of victory. Real life is rarely this way. Take for instance the parallel misery of the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs. Decades of failure stacked upon each other, lined with mishaps and blunders that hold more to their franchise legends than the players themselves.

“Not yet.”

I think of those two words when looking at the 2015 St. Louis Cardinals. Their run since 2000 (11 playoff appearances, four pennants, two World Series titles, and only one losing season) has been remarkable. The roster has completely turned over and yet the Cardinals keep on winning. As a fan, it’s been amazingly satisfying. But alas, nothing lasts forever.

The Tigers featured the 2nd best offense in baseball in 2014, scoring 757 runs and accumulating an MLB-best 1557 hits.

The Tigers had the 2nd most extra-base hits in the majors in 2014 (506), were 4th in isolated power (.150), and 7th in home runs (155). The offense was led by superstar Miguel Cabrera, who was 10th in MLB in wOBA (.384) and wRC+ (147) and 16th in ISO (.211) despite a pedestrian (for him) 25 HRs.

The Mets started this offseason with a bang, making the first signing of a free agent, Michael Cuddyer from the Colorado Rockies for 2 years and $21 million. As a player who received a qualifying offer, the Mets forfeited their 2015 1st round draft pick (#15 overall). However, after signing Cuddyer, the Mets only added two other players, outfielder John Mayberry Jr. and rule 5 pick LHP Sean Gilmartin. They lost a few players of which most notable were Eric Young Jr., who stole 46 bases in 2013 and 30 in 2014, and Gonzalez Germen (yes, he began the offseason as a Met). Besides these small moves it has been a very quiet offseason. The team added only two pitchers (including Gilmartin), an anomaly in the league as most teams stock up on pitchers (the average team added 15 according to the WSJ).

After a 2012-2013 offseason that involved two franchise-altering trades, the signing of disgraced-but-effective outfielder Melky Cabrera and a reunion with former skipper John Gibbons, the Blue Jays and their fans hoped that the team would be positioned to make a trip to the post-season for the first time in two decades. The 2013 Blue Jays were so well regarded that they entered the season as Vegas favourite to win the World Series.

Instead, a sell-out Rogers Centre crowd (to which I tried and failed to obtain tickets) was treated to watching new staff “ace” R.A. Dickey surrender four runs in six innings as part of a 4-1 loss to Cleveland.

A year ago the Miami Marlins entered the season with the smallest opening day payroll in baseball ($41.8 M). They ended the season with their best player suffering a gruesome injury and with the lowest attendance in the National League. Their 77-85 record landed them fourth in the NL East.

What a difference an off-season makes. There are a lot of reasons for optimism around Miami heading in to 2015 and what follows is a 2015 season preview for the Marlins.

Are you ready, Marlins fans?

In 2014, the Cincinnati Reds were a tale of two seasons. After a victory over the Pirates on July 13 the Reds were 51-44, and firmly in the playoff race, half of a game out of a wildcard spot, and only 1.5 games out of first place in the NL Central. Well, then the wheels fell off. After that day they were 25-42, finishing with a 76-86 record.

The Brewers, coming off of a monumental collapse to miss the playoffs in 2014, made two major changes over the offseason. First, the team moved Marco Estrada to the Blue Jays for Adam Lind to fill the black hole that has been first base since Corey Hart’s knees failed him in 2013, most recently filled by Mark Reynolds and Lyle Overbay. Second, they traded rotation stalwart Yovani Gallardo to the Rangers for RHP Corey Knebel, SS Luis Sardinas, and pitching prospect Marcos Diplan to bolster their bullpen, infield, and system depth.

The Orioles have been a good, if not great offensive team for three years in a row now. Despite a mediocre ability to get on base, the Orioles finished the 2014 season 9th in batting average, 3rd in slugging, 6th in OPS, and 1st in home runs. The O’s were middle of the pack in getting on base, as many of their full time players are impatient at the plate and embrace a free swinging approach. This approach has worked well for them over the past 4 seasons, averaging 207 home runs, 717 runs, and a .734 OPS per 162 games.

Fans of mediocre teams have, from time immemorial, dreamed of trading all their high-priced talent for prospects, and then “giving the kids” a chance to show what they can do in the majors.  But this is better in theory than in practice, just ask the 1998 Marlins (54 wins) or 2003 Tigers (43 wins).  After losing 106 games in 2011, the Astros hired GM Jeff Luhnow, who promised to rely heavily on advanced metrics to rebuild the entire franchise, from the farm system out.