What will the Rangers be without Josh Hamilton?
As the 2013 season gets closer, there are a few teams that can see their production decline in the upcoming season as a result of a clubhouse-clearing trade or Father Time creeping up.
The New York Yankees and Miami Marlins are two teams that could be on the decline next season. The Yankees are old and show no signs of getting younger. The Marlins cleared house with a 12-player deal with the Toronto Blue Jays.
With many teams losing players to free agency, they will have a hard time replacing their stars. The Texas Rangers could see a drop in wins if Josh Hamilton decides to play elsewhere.
The 2012 season saw a couple surprise teams make it to the playoffs for the first time in years. The Baltimore Orioles made it to the playoffs for the first time since 1997. The Oakland Athletics ended a five-year playoff drought when they won the AL West.
The 2013 season could see a couple more teams make a run for the playoffs. However, there are a few teams that could join the Marlins and Yankees as declining teams next year.
The Yankees may not be the favorites in the AL East in 2013.
The New York Yankees won the AL East for a record 18th time in 2012.
However, the most recent one wasn’t the easiest to win. They were either tied or leading the Baltimore Orioles by no more than two games for the last month of the season.
The Yankees are the 12th-oldest team in the league with an average age of 27.1, according to ESPN. After this past season, it would seem like they were a lot older. Alex Rodriguez is 37, Derek Jeter is 38 and star closer Mariano Rivera—assuming he decides to return—will be 43 on Thursday.
The Yankees are now in arguably the toughest division after the Blue Jays acquired Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson and others. The Rays and Orioles look to continue their success from last year, when they almost dethroned the Yankees for the AL East title.
With the AL East that much tougher, the Yankees will need every division win they can get if they want to get their 19th division title.
The Marlins traded away two of their blockbuster free agents Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle less than a year after signing in Miami. They also traded Josh Johnson, John Buck and Emilio Bonifacio.
The Marlins were 80-82 in 2010, 72-90 in 2011 and 69-93 last year. Now with Giancarlo Stanton possibly the only star on the team, Miami could have even more losses in 2013.
The Nationals came from the basement of the NL East in 2010 to win their first division title this past year. The Atlanta Braves have cemented their spot in the top of the division as well.
The Marlins received four young players from the Blue Jays, but they won’t have an effect in 2013.
The Marlins have a ton of cap room now, but will any free agent want to sign after the trade? Miami will have a hard time attracting free agents to South Beach, which will cause their decline.
The Phillies are in the same boat as the Yankees in terms of age. ESPN ranked Philadelphia as the fifth-oldest team in the league.
They have also been plagued with injuries. Ryan Howard missed the first half of the 2012 season with a torn Achilles' tendon. Chase Utley missed the first two months as he dealt with knee issues.
The Phillies are not a team of depth, especially in the outfield. Domonic Brown, John Mayberry Jr. and Nate Schierholtz are the remaining outfielders for the Phillies. Laynce Nix is the only backup for all three positions.
The Phillies have a lot of holes to fill this offseason. They need players who can get on base and hit for power. They scored 684 runs in 2012, 19th in the league, and had an on-base percentage of .317, which was 15th in the league.
Jim Bowden of ESPN.com tweeted that the Phillies are in the running for BJ Upton. However, it will take more than Upton to make the Phillies a World Series contender in 2013.
It’s no surprise that the Rangers rely on Josh Hamilton’s success.
He is arguably the team’s best hitter, and when he struggled at the end of 2012, the other hitters couldn’t pick up the slack.
In the last six games of the 2012 season, Hamilton went 7-for-26 with zero home runs and only three RBI. The Rangers went 1-5 in those six games. Hamilton had only 14 home runs in August, September and October total.
Hamilton’s status is still up in the air, as Buster Olney reports that he could end up with the Brewers, Rangers, Red Sox, Mariners or Orioles.
Each team would benefit greatly with the addition of Hamilton, but the Rangers need him the most. He led the team with 43 home runs and 128 RBI in 2012. The next closest was Adrian Beltre with 36 home runs and 102 RBI.
Without Hamilton’s production, the Rangers would not be the offensive powerhouse that they were and could fall further away from the A’s and possibly the Angels.
The Astros have been struggling for a few years.
Their last winning season was back in 2009 when they finished 86-75 and third in the NL Central.
Since then, the Astros have finished fifth, fourth and sixth (twice) from 2009 to 2012 with a combined record of 261-387.
The Astros are set to change divisions and leagues as they become a part of the AL West. However, the change of divisions won’t help the struggling Astros.
In 2012, they did not have a hitter reach 20 home runs or 60 RBI. Their pitching wasn’t any better, as Lucas Harrell was the only pitcher to reach at least 10 wins.
According to Joseph Duarte of the Houston Chronicle, the Astros are looking at Lance Berkman to give the team some power in 2013, but he will certainly not be enough (h/t Alex Speier of WEEI.com).
The Astros need to sign a lot of players in order to be competitive again. The Astros lost 107 games in 2012. That can quite possibly get to 110 or 115 next season as they play their first season in the AL West.