MLB Free Agency 2012: Identifying Each Team's Weakness GMs Failed to Address
We're only a few weeks into the regular season, and there are already a number of compelling storylines out there as an offseason full of big-name moves has finally come to fruition with teams setting their sights on a World Series berth.
A number of teams made great strides to make their teams successful immediately, while others traded away veterans in hopes for future returns. Others still failed to address issues with external movement, assuming internal help could be the best remedy for any gaps.
Any way you look at it, all of these moves bring some risks along with them. Here are some moves (or non-moves) that may pay off, but could also fail to pan out as the season continues to unfold.
Arizona Diamondbacks: Starting Pitching
It seems as though you can never have enough arms at your disposal, and as the Arizona Diamondbacks look to make another postseason appearance this year, they'll want to add to their solid front-end starters.
With a number of top-level starters set to enter free agency prior to 2013, teams may be unloading early.
If the D-Backs' 2011 performance turns out to be a fluke, these moves clearly won't happen, but if they're in the NL West picture, a starter would help give fans another reason to cheer this fall.
Atlanta Braves: Veteran Help in the Infield
With prospect Tyler Pastornicky manning the shortstop position, the team is taking a bit of a gamble on the left side of the infield.
He's gotten off to a slow start early on, with only three hits in 21 plate appearances so far in 2012.
Dan Uggla is set at second base, and the team doesn't have a lot of options around the league to add depth at Pastornicky's position, but it'll likely be on the lookout for insurance as the deadline approaches.
Baltimore Orioles: Pitching
With the Baltimore Orioles signing of Tsuyoshi Wada, you have to think they're taking a risk in not utilizing a proven major league pitcher.
The success rate of Pacific League players isn't the highest, and with Wada drawing comparisons to a slightly lower-level Dallas Braden, the acquisition may not live up to its billing, though the Orioles staff as a whole has gotten off to a pretty good start considering their mainstay, Jeremy Guthrie, is now taking the mound for the Rockies.
Boston Red Sox: More Starting Pitching
Heading into the offseason, everyone expected that the Boston Red Sox would make a play on one of the many starting pitchers available on the free-agent market.
With a new GM in tow, the team made no such move, leaving many to wonder if the team would wait until next offseason to bolster the rotation.
Chicago Cubs: Pitching
When Theo Epstein became a part of the Chicago Cubs organization this fall, there was a renewed sense of hope for the future of Wrigley Field.
Whether it's a measure of calculation or not, the Cubs haven't made that big splash that the fanbase has been waiting for.
There continues to be talk of Matt Garza leaving the Chicago, and if that happens, they'll certainly need to address the depth of their starting rotation.
Chicago White Sox: Outfield
The Chicago White Sox have a number of individual players on their roster that could help the team make a run towards the postseason in 2012, though it doesn't seem many are predicting such successes for them.
With the continually disappointing Alex Rios as well as Alejandro De Aza and Dayan Viciedo manning the outfield, it takes on a different look than a year ago and may represent a weakness for the team as the year continues to unfold.
Cincinnati Reds: Depth
The Cincinnati Reds clearly wanted to add a big-name starting pitcher to their rotation before heading into spring training, and they definitely did that with the acquisition of Mat Latos from the San Diego Padres.
While they'll like the productivity that Latos brings to the mound, it seems that even in Ohio the consensus is that the Reds appear to have gotten the short end of the stick in the deal.
They appear poised to contend in the NL Central for years to come. However, with a number of top pieces being sent to San Diego, they, much like any team, could use the depth.
Cleveland Indians: Steadiness in the Outfield
Grady Sizemore stands to have plenty of incentive to produce in 2012 after playing in fewer than 100 games over the past two seasons combined.
However, he still may not represent the Indians' long-term solution in the outfield. There are enough options out there in the potential trade market to give Sizemore plenty of cause for concern regarding job security.
Colorado Rockies: Starting Pitching
The Colorado Rockies shipped out a pitcher with a high upside in trading Ubaldo Jimenez to the Cleveland Indians in exchange for some high-value prospects.
They now have a number of talented young pitchers who can certainly perform, and while the team added Jeremy Guthrie into the fold, they still could have added another pitcher who can eat up innings while dominating batters.
Detroit Tigers: Starting Pitching
With one of the best in the game heading up the rotation in Justin Verlander, the Detroit Tigers added one of the second-half surprises of the season in 2011, bringing Doug Fister over for their October run.
The top of their rotation is obviously in a good spot, but with less consistency expected from Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello, the team could complement its offensive abilities nicely with the addition of another well-established arm. Danny Knobler of CBSsports.com is convinced they still may trade for one.
Houston Astros: Starting Pitching
Nobody expected the Houston Astros to be actively acquiring players this offseason, as more thought they'd be likely to ship out veterans like Carlos Lee and Wandy Rodriguez in favor of prospects.
One player that the team is reportedly considering trading for is John Lannan of the Washington Nationals. His presence would give the team a formidable arm in the rotation that would need the help if Rodriguez leaves.
Kansas City Royals: Top-Notch Starter
With Bruce Chen back in 2012 and Jonathan Sanchez added in exchange for Melky Cabrera this offseason, the Kansas City Royals have some pieces in the rotation to complement their young but talented position players.
The prospect of continuing their rise in the AL Central could still eventually be enough to coax the team into adding a top-level starter that they haven't had since Zack Greinke was shipped off to Milwaukee.
Los Angeles Angels: Trading Aging Outfielders
As an aging Torii Hunter enters the final season of his contract with the Los Angeles Angels, you have to wonder if he'll stick with the team through all of 2012 or if the Angels could cut ties.
He'll be making $18 million this year, and with the salary that the team took on this offseason, his move could provide some breathing room as it adds depth in other areas.
In the final year of a three-year, $27 million deal, Bobby Abreu wants to play an important part in 2012, even taking his case so far as to tell ESPN Deportes he wanted to be traded if he wasn't given an everyday role.
The team was close to sending him to Cleveland recently, though the deal would ultimately fall through.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Pitching
With Clayton Kershaw locked in for 2012 and Chris Capuano and Aaron Harang brought in, the Los Angeles Dodgers may be somewhat set in the starting rotation.
But with Hiroki Kuroda now in the Bronx and a less-than-stellar Ted Lilly, the team still could use additional help in a rotation that could be leading the Dodgers to a postseason appearance this year.
Miami Marlins: More Rotation Help
Questions surrounding the health of Josh Johnson will linger until he proves himself to be a consistent option for an extended period of time, so the Miami Marlins would possibly benefit from making a midseason acquisition for another starting pitcher as they look to overtake the pitching-heavy Phillies and the rest of the division.
Fausto Carmona, who appeared to be headed in the direction of some of the best young pitchers in the league, as he won 13 games and posted an ERA of 3.77 in 2010 with the Cleveland Indians, could be an option.
With Wade LeBlanc in the picture, they may be set at the back end, but someone like Carmona may provide a more formidable arm for the Fins.
Milwaukee Brewers: Solidifying Left Side of Infield
Taking over for Yuniesky Betancourt in the Brewers' infield, the bar hasn't exactly been set high for Alex Gonzalez this season, who the Brewers signed amid speculation that the team would possibly make a play for Jose Reyes.
Coming off a season in which he batted only .241 with the Atlanta Braves, he'll look to rebound in a new-look infield that will only have Rickie Weeks returning from last season.
Minnesota Twins: Starting Rotation
The Minnesota Twins have never really been a team that prided itself on having starting pitchers that had a reputation for missing bats, so it wasn't all together surprising to see them sign Jason Marquis this past offseason.
With Scott Baker out for the season and Nick Blackburn leaving Saturday's start early with shoulder discomfort, things are looking less and less certain in the Twin rotation.
New York Mets: Replacing Jose Reyes
The New York Mets fanbase is already unhappy with the team's unwillingness to work seriously on making a contract extension for Jose Reyes a reality, and while Ruben Tejada is looking like his replacement at shortstop, a more formidable option wasn't acquired after Reyes' departure.
New York Yankees: DH Role
Raul Ibanez made a move away from the NL East this offseason, trading places to another high-profile northeast city as he signed a contract with the New York Yankees, where he's found a place as the team's designated hitter.
Having played in the field for the vast majority of his career, he could find some troubles adjusting to life watching from the dugout, though the confines of Yankee Stadium should help him ease into his new-found role.
Oakland Athletics: Left Side of the Infield
With Scott Sizemore out as the Oakland Athletics third baseman for the 2012 season, the team will certainly be weighing its options.
If the A's are unable to find an internal replacement that's fit to take Sizemore's place for the duration of the season, they may look at a player like Brandon Inge, who may be attainable given his place in the Tigers infield.
Philadelphia Phillies: Bench
Throughout the course of a 162-game season, there are inevitably going to be times when a team needs to take a look at their bench and their farm system in order to do the best possible job of filling temporary holes in the lineup and rotations.
The Philadelphia Phillies got an early look at that situation as second baseman Chase Utley still has yet to play for the team this season, shedding light on a potential weak spot for the NL East power.
Pittsburgh Pirates: More Starting Pitching
It doesn't appear that any trade talks for Atlanta's Mike Minor have taken place yet, but he has been vocal about his status with the team, stating that he'd like to be traded if he isn't put in the rotation, according to MLB.com's Mark Bowman.
The Pittsburgh Pirates did just make a move to acquire A.J. Burnett, but with him being sidelined, someone like Minor could fill a role in the middle of the Bucs rotation if they could put the right package together to obtain him.
San Diego Padres: Offensive Security
The San Diego Padres made a great move this offseason in acquiring slugger Carlos Quentin from the Chicago White Sox.
Quentin is in his final year before free agency, though, and keeping in mind that he'll be looking to cash in on his first opportunity at a lucrative deal, you would think the Padres may be quick to flip him to the highest bidder rather than letting him walk free.
If they have the best interests for their offensive longevity in mind, the team may find enough benefit in having Quentin around to finally make a commitment and sign him to a long-term deal.
San Francisco Giants: Rotation?
When your starting rotation features both Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum, it's hard to think you could use some additional arms, but even with those two in tow, the team's ERA has inflated early on, ranking towards the bottom of the league.
They certainly needed to address offense, and they did to an extent in acquiring Melky Cabrera, though they were forced to move Jonathan Sanchez in the process.
Seattle Mariners: More Offense
In an offseason that saw one of baseball's more promising young pitchers leave for the Big Apple, the Seattle Mariners did get a great bat in return, with Jesus Montero entering the fray at Safeco.
His offense will surely help a lineup that's struggled to score runs, but the moves can't stop there, as the team still needs more pieces to pull their way towards the top of what promises to be a tough division in 2012.
St. Louis Cardinals: Starting Pitching
With a no-trade clause in tow, it wouldn't be entirely surprising to see Kyle Lohse stay in St. Louis throughout 2012.
The team did, however, make it known this winter that it would like to move either him or Jake Westbrook, and if Lohse could warm up to the idea of some new scenery, there would likely be some takers for his services.
Playing in his first season since 2010, it was somewhat unclear what to expect from Adam Wainwright, and while he could very well return to form, he's lost his first two starts this season.
Tampa Bay Rays: Looking Forward
A number of great starting pitchers should be available next offseason, and strong consideration should be given to James Shields (though he does have a 2013 option), who led the league with 11 complete games in 2011 en route to a 16-win season and a sub-3.00 ERA.
Additional Rays players like B.J. Upton are also set to enter free agency, and if the team isn't able to keep these pieces around long-term, the Rays could benefit the organization over the long term if they would be more proactive on getting deals done.
Texas Rangers: More Bullpen Insurance
The Texas Rangers quickly made up for the loss of C.J. Wilson this offseason with their signing of Pacific League star Yu Darvish to a rich contract.
With Neftali Feliz moving to the starting rotation, Joe Nathan is assuming closer duties.
He's shown inconsistency since returning from Tommy John surgery, so the Rangers could use insurance in the bullpen to cover in the event Nathan, who has already lost two games in this young season, doesn't live up to expectations.
Toronto Blue Jays: Front End Rotation Help
The Toronto Blue Jays seem like a team on the cusp of something great, with an offense that's as dangerous as some of the best in the game and some pitching talent that looks to have a high ceiling.
After narrowly missing out on the posting of Yu Darvish this offseason, the Blue Jays missed out on what some thought could've been one of the final pieces in a postseason puzzle.
Options are few and far between, but adding an ace via trade or free agency would further the excitement of the Blue Jays fanbase.
Washington Nationals: Outfield Stability
As the 2012 season progresses, Marlon Byrd could be a formidable option for the Washington Nationals, a team that would be a logical fit given its past inquiry on Byrd.
With the contract extensions and acquisitions the Nationals were making leading up to this season, there's no reason to think they won't strike again this summer.