As the 2012 MLB season continues to wind down, a number of non-contenders will begin to shift their focus to 2013. General mangers will be working hard on their plans to improve their teams over the winter.
Throughout the winter, teams will pursue a number of players, and many will not land their top choices. However, that does not mean that their team can not be made better by another team on the market.
Here is a little piece of advice for every non-contender as they head into the winter. These tips will help the teams put themselves in a better position in 2013.
It always seems that both the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees are in on each and every big-name free agent that hits the market. The Red Sox are currently chasing the Yankees this year, and they are going to need to be the team that makes the biggest move this winter.
With a number of talented players available, the Red Sox are going to need to make sure that they are able to bring in the talent that they need to go after the AL East crown in 2013. With all of the money that the Red Sox freed up by dealing Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez and Josh Beckett, Boston can make a huge splash this winter.
With their performance early this season, the Toronto Blue Jays made it clear that they will not be an easy team to beat in the American League East. While the Blue Jays are getting close to having a chance at the postseason, they are missing a piece or two.
Injuries derailed the Jays rotation this season, but with their pitchers at full strength next year, they should be contenders if they make the right moves. Josh Hamilton may be a reach for the Blue Jays, but they should certainly make sure that they are players for him and at least one or two other big names.
The Cleveland Indians will find themselves in an interesting situation this offseason. They have a lot of young talent, but they are not exactly in a rebuilding mode.
What this means is that the Indians will need to be patient when they are going after free agents. Cleveland will miss out on the top-tier guys, but there are a number of guys on next tier such as Scott Hairston that could be nice improvements for the Indians.
With one of the top farm systems in all of baseball, there is certainly the talent within the Kansas City Royals organization that could help them turn the corner. The key is that the Royals need to let those talent young players show what they can do in the majors.
Wil Myers has been stuck in the minor leagues despite the fact that he has been dominated because the Royals have decided to use Jeff Francoeur instead. The Royals should not be afraid to have their youngsters fill the openings on their roster.
Pitching has been a big problem for the Minnesota Twins in 2012. Their best starter has been Scott Diamond, and other than him, their starting rotation has been nothing short of a mess.
For Minnesota to try to turn things around next season, it is going to need to pick up one, if not two starting pitchers. While this might not be enough to make the Twins a playoff contender, it would certainly help push them in the right direction.
The biggest thing that the Seattle Mariners should look to accomplish during the 2013 offseason is signing Felix Hernandez to an extension. Seattle will certainly have a few other goals during the free-agency period.
The Mariners are going to want to go after some of the younger players on the market that can be a part of their core for a long time. While signing young talent will not be cheap, the Mariners will be much better off in 2013 if they are willing to spend the money.
New York Mets fans are already past the point of frustration when it comes to their team’s struggles. The Mets payroll has dropped over the past few seasons, and so has their win total.
General manager Sandy Alderson has mentioned that he uncertain how much cash he will have to spend during the 2013 offseason (h/t Brian Costa of The Wall Street Journal). This could be a big problem for the Mets, as they will not be able to make significant improvements without spending a lot of cash.
Attendance has dropped for Mets home games this season, and it could get even worse if the team does not spend money this winter (h/t MetsBlog). With less fans coming to the games, the team will bring in less money, and it could mean that their struggles continue.
Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell were big-name signings, but they have not led the Marlins to the postseason.
Instead, the Marlins had a small fire sale prior to the 2012 MLB trade deadline. Hanley Ramirez and Anibal Sanchez found themselves playing for new teams.
If the Marlins spend too much cash once again this winter, then they may once again end up making number of trades next year.
After trading away Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino prior to the 2012 MLB trade deadline, the Philadelphia Phillies were left without two of their best players. While John Mayberry, Jr. and Domonic Brown may be solutions now, the Phillies will need better outfielders if they are going to turn things around in 2013.
There are a number of quality outfielders that will be available during the winter. Philadelphia will need to make a decision in regards to if it wants to go after one star outfielder or two talented ones that will command between $8-12 million a year.
The National League Central could be a very open division next season, and the Milwaukee Brewers, St. Louis Cardinals, Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates will all have a chance to win the division.
For that team to be the Brewers, they are going to need to improve their starting rotation. Yovanni Gallardo is doing a fine job as the Brewers’ No. 1, but they are going to need to sign at least one or two solid starters to be behind him in the rotation.
The first year of the Theo Epstein era has not gone very well in Chicago, but building a competitive team takes time. Epstein will certainly have a few tricks up his sleeve this winter.
Signing a big free-agent bat and a No. 2 starter will be keys for the Chicago Cubs this winter. Epstein will also try to find a way to rid himself of Alfonso Soriano's contract. If the Cubs can pull it off, then they could challenge for the NL Central title or a wild-card spot next year.
Rebuilding is not an easy process, and the Houston Astros' record this season is a testament to that. Houston will likely be in for more of the same next year.
During the 2013 MLB offseason, the Astros should look to bring in low-cost players that will not only help them during the year, but that will also have some trade value at midseason.
PETCO Park is one of the toughest places in baseball to hit a home run (h/t ESPN). This certainly means that the San Diego Padres should focus on pitching, which is something that they have done fairly well.
During the 2013 offseason, the Padres should look to sign a power bat or two. Having a few 20 home-run threats in their lineup could give the Padres the edge that they are looking for.
Pitching is vital to any team's success. Given the struggles that the Colorado Rockies’ starting rotation has had, it should be no surprise that they are one of the worst teams in baseball this season.
It is clear that the Rockies will need to focus on pitching this offseason if they are going to turn things around in 2013. They should look for at least two starters that could make a difference for their staff. Bullpen help should also be on the way for the Rockies this winter.