One New Year's Resolution for All 30 MLB Franchises in 2013
As we roll the calendar over to 2013, teams will put the past season behind them and turn their attention to the season ahead with spring training quickly approaching.
For some teams, 2013 holds hopes of contending for a World Series title, but for other teams, their goals are much more modest as they find themselves in positions of rebuilding.
In the spirit of the New Year, here is one New Year's resolution for each MLB team that would make the 2013 season a successful one.
Resolution: Lock down starting rotation spots from day one.
The Orioles surprise postseason run overshadowed the fact that they struggled to find five guys to make up their starting rotation for the bulk of the season.
In total, 12 different pitchers started a game for the Orioles, and more importantly, only one pitcher made over 20 starts, as pitchers were shuttled between Triple-A and Baltimore on a regular basis.
With Tommy Hunter and Brian Matusz finding success in the bullpen, they will likely find themselves there once again, and top prospect Dylan Bundy will likely start the season in the minors.
Jason Hammel, Wei-Yin Chen, Chris Tillman, Miguel Gonzalez and Zach Britton are the team's likely five-man staff as of now, and those five guys will need to lock down their rotation spots form the get-go if the Orioles want to make another run at the playoffs.
Boston Red Sox
Resolution: Pretend 2012 never happened.
The Red Sox 2012 season was a rough one, as they went 69-93 and finished last in the American League East.
In late August, the team shipped Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford to the Dodgers in a massive cost-cutting move, and at the end of the year, manager Bobby Valentine was understandably fired.
That trade coupled with the team acquiring eight key veterans this offseason gives the team an entirely new look entering the 2013 season.
With a new manager and a third of the team made up of new additions, it should be all that much easier to put the awful 2012 season in the rearview mirror.
New York Yankees
Resolution: Stay healthy, whatever it takes.
The Yankees core of superstars is getting up there in years, and the team as a whole is greatly lacking in depth entering the 2013 season.
Alex Rodriguez is expected to be out until midseason and Derek Jeter is coming back from ankle surgery, and the season hasn't even started yet.
They have virtually no depth in the lineup or in the pitching staff, and a major injury or two could be the end of their postseason hopes this time around.
The roster still has the pieces to make a serious title run, but they will have to avoid the injury bug at all costs to have a real chance.
Tampa Bay Rays
Resolution: Score more runs, simple as that.
The Rays finally pulled the trigger on dealing for a hitter this offseason, as they traded pitchers James Shields and Wade Davis to the Royals for a package of prospects built around Wil Myers.
He will likely start the season in the minors, which means the team will need to get an offensive boost from somewhere else.
Yunel Escobar and James Loney were brought aboard to improve the offense, and Ryan Roberts will be around for a full season. Still, that may not be enough for the team to back their solid pitching staff as they look to make a run at a postseason spot.
A healthy Evan Longoria coupled with those new additions and the imminent arrival of Myers gives plenty or reason for optimism surrounding the team's offense, and one way or another they'll need to find ways to score more runs.
Toronto Blue Jays
Resolution: Buy into John Gibbons and come together as a team.
The Blue Jays roster has undergone more turnover this offseason than any team in recent memory, as they've added Jose Reyes, Melky Cabrera, Emilio Bonifacio, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle and R.A. Dickey to an already solid roster.
The team was hit hard by injuries last season and fell short of expectations, but now their remaining players are healthy and their new additions give them a roster that on paper stacks up to any in baseball.
They'll need to come together as a team and buy into new manager John Gibbons quickly if they are to make a serious run at the AL East title and more.
Chicago White Sox
Resolution: Find a way to improve the farm system.
For years now, the White Sox have had one of the weakest farm systems in all of baseball, and this year is no different.
Last year's first-round pick, Courtney Hawkins, has terrific upside, and slugging outfield prospect Trayce Thompson has potential, but aside from that there's not much to look forward to.
At the deadline last season, the team dealt a pair of solid prospects in Eduardo Escobar and Pedro Hernandez to the Twins for Francisco Liriano, but if the team is to build a foundation for future success, they need to start building up their farm system.
Resolution: Begin the rebuilding process.
The Indians have added a handful of solid pieces this offseason, signing Mark Reynolds and Nick Swisher and acquiring Drew Stubbs and Trevor Bauer in the trade that shipped out Shin-Soo Choo.
That could put the Indians in a solid position to improve on their 94-loss performance from a year ago, but long-term, they could be in line for an overhaul.
Veteran pieces like Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez, Asdrubal Cabrera and Chris Perez don't figure to be a part of the team's long-term future plans, so they could look to move those guys at some point this coming season to improve a thin farm system.
A slight improvement over last season can't keep the team from rebuilding, so they need to avoid getting sidetracked from the long-term goal of rebuilding the team's core.
Resolution: Don't play down to the rest of the division.
The Tigers were absolutely dominated by the Giants in the World Series, but they are as talented as any team in the league and should have a real chance at returning to the Fall Classic this season.
They return all of the major pieces from last season's team and should be even better with the return of Victor Martinez and the signing of Torii Hunter.
It took a late-season push for them to win the AL Central last season, as they passed the White Sox in the season's final week.
On paper, there is as big of a gap between them and the rest of their division as any team in baseball, but they went just 8-10 against the Indians and 10-8 against the Twins last season. They need to dominate the lesser teams in the Central this season to avoid having to press so hard down the stretch.
Kansas City Royals
Resolution: Finish over .500.
It's a simple goal, but one that the Royals have not achieved since they went 83-79 in 2003, as it's been a long road of rebuilding.
The team has built a strong core of position players, but their pitching has held them back for the past several years. That should change with a completely revamped rotation built around James Shields, Ervin Santana, Wade Davis and re-signed Jeremy Guthrie.
The Tigers, White Sox and possibly even Indians may still finish above them in the AL Central, but the Royals should be able to improve on last year's 72-win season, and a winning record would be another step in the right direction for this young Royals team.
Resolution: Support the offense with some pitching.
Last season, the Twins quietly put together a solid offensive season, with Josh Willingham serving as a force in the middle of the lineup, a healthy Joe Mauer turning in a good season and a number of other players exceeding expectations.
However, unheralded Scott Diamond was the only Twins starter with an ERA under 4.00, as their 4.77 ERA as a staff was second-worst in the American League. That was a big reason for the team losing 96 games, and they took steps to improve this offseason.
Kevin Correia and Mike Pelfrey were signed as free agents and Vance Worley was acquired in a trade with the Phillies, and while they may not contend for a division title, they should be much better than a 96-loss team this time around.
Resolution: Ignore the standings.
The Astros are in a position of rebuilding like few teams before, as they essentially stripped the team down to nothing and have nothing in the way of impact players to build around.
They lost 107 games last season and will likely be in store for another rough season, as they'll be led by the likes of Jed Lowrie, Jose Altuve, Lucas Harrell and Carlos Pena.
They've slowly built a solid minor league system with impact prospects like Jonathan Singleton, Jarred Cosart and George Springer capable of making an impact soon.
It'll be a major shock if they don't lose 100 games, especially with their move to the AL West, but that doesn't matter as their victories will come in the continued development of homegrown talent.
Los Angeles Angels
Resolution: Start the season with a bang.
The Angels were one of the biggest disappointments of 2012, as they spent big to acquire Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson but failed to make the playoffs.
They stumbled out of the gates, opening the season 6-14, and Pujols was abysmal for the first month of the season.
They eventually righted the ship, but they were never able to overcome the Athletics and Rangers in the AL West.
Another big-spending offseason has seen them sign Josh Hamilton and overhaul their rotation behind Jered Weaver and Wilson. That should put them in a great position to contend not only for the division but for a title, but they need to start the season on a much better note than last year.
Resolution: Continue to give the fans a reason to come.
Despite their impressive season, Oakland ranked 27th in the league in attendance at 20,728 fans per game (h/t ESPN).
Bad as that looks, it was an improvement over 2011 when they ranked dead last at 18,232 fans per game, and if the team can continue to put a exciting product on the field, that total will inevitably start to rise.
These are the first steps in the team shedding it's small-market tag and ideally laying the groundwork for a shiny new stadium.
The fanbase is growing, and the team needs to continue to give them something to be excited about or risk slipping to the bottom of the pack in attendance once again.
Resolution: Commit fully to the youth movement.
While the major league product has not been pretty the past few seasons, the Mariners have built perhaps the best minor league system in all of baseball, and they should begin reaping the rewards of that this coming season.
Starters Taijuan Walker, Danny Hultzen and James Paxton all rank among the best pitching prospects in the game, Nick Franklin should shore up the shortstop position and make an impact with his bat, 2012 first-round pick Mike Zunino is arguably the top catching prospect in all of baseball and both Stephen Pryor and Carter Capps have back-of-the-bullpen stuff.
Those players could all see significant action this coming season, and alongside Felix Hernandez, Dustin Ackley, Kyle Seager and Kendrys Morales, they have as impressive a core as any team in the league.
It may not result in success in 2013, but the future is now in Seattle and the fanbase should be excited for what's to come.
Resolution: Focus on what they have, not what they lost.
It's been a tough offseason for the Rangers, as they have parted ways with Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli, Ryan Dempster, Mike Adams and Michael Young, while missing out on a number of free-agency targets.
They have signed A.J. Pierzynski to offset some of the lost production, but as a team they would appear to be trending downward after a late-season collapse last year and a tough winter.
However, the Rangers still have the pieces to contend with a solid starting rotation, deep bullpen improved by the signing of Joakim Soria and a lineup that still features Ian Kinsler, Elvis Andrus, Nelson Cruz and MVP candidate Adrian Beltre.
That group should also get a boost from two of the top offensive prospects in the game in Jurickson Profar and Mike Olt. So while they may not be quite as scary on paper, the Rangers are still a team with plenty of reason for optimism entering 2013.
Resolution: Get consistent performance from starting rotation.
The Braves again had one of the best bullpens in baseball last season, and their offense is in good shape and could be great if Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman take the next step and B.J. Upton thrives in a new uniform.
However, the rotation was a question mark last season and can't be again this year if the team hopes to make a serious run at the Nationals in the NL East.
Kris Medlen emerged as the staff ace in the second half, and Paul Maholm was acquired from the Cubs to fill out the staff, but in total, the team used 10 different starters last season.
Tommy Hanson and Jair Jurrjens are gone, and first-half breakout star Brandon Beachy is still recovering from Tommy John surgery, so the team doesn't have the depth they once did. Medlen will need to duplicate his 2012 performance, and youngsters Randall Delgado and Mike Minor will need to take the next step.
Resolution: Somehow find a way to excite the fanbase.
Not much went right in Miami this past season, as the team spent big in the offseason to try to usher in their new stadium with a winner, but they fell flat and wound up selling at the deadline.
The team ranked just 18th in the league in attendance with an average of 27,400 fans per game, and that coupled with their 69-93 record on the season led to a fire sale this offseason.
Five core veterans were shipped to the Blue Jays, and a fanbase that was promised a competitive, high-payroll team was left wondering why they agreed to help pay for the new stadium.
With the gutting of the team, expect that low attendance number to plummet even further. The Marlins will need to do something to inspire some hope in a fanbase that is fed up to say the least.
New York Mets
Resolution: Be patient with young pitching.
With the trade of R.A. Dickey, and with Johan Santana likely to have his $25 million option declined at the end of the season, the Mets are set to usher in a new wave of starting pitchers.
Matt Harvey (10 GS, 2.73 ERA, 10.6 K/9) turned heads in his debut last season, and he'll be a lock for a rotation spot this coming year alongside a pair of established youngsters in Jon Niese and Dillon Gee.
The fifth spot in the rotation is up for grabs, though, and top prospects Jenrry Mejia and Zack Wheeler should both get a look this spring.
One way or another, they'll both likely spend time in the rotation this coming season, and while there could be some growing pains with such a young staff, it's a group that could carry the team back to contention in the near future, so the coaching staff needs to be patient.
Resolution: Stay healthy for one last run.
Despite their disappointing performance last season, the Phillies still have a solid core of superstars with Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard in the lineup and the trio of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels leading the rotation.
Injuries and ineffectiveness by those guys (Hamels excluded) were a major reason why the team came up short last season.
They're not getting any younger, and 2013 could be their last chance to make a serious run at a title before they need to begin rebuilding their core. A healthy, productive season from the above six guys should put the team right in the thick of things in the National League.
Resolution: Play like the best team in the league.
The Nationals finished last season with the best record in the majors, going 98-64 before falling to the Cardinals 3-2 in the NLDS.
This offseason, they've added Denard Span and Dan Haren to a roster that was already among the most complete in all of baseball. Span gives them a bona fide leadoff hitter, and Haren should have no problem replacing the departed Edwin Jackson as the No. 4 starter.
Closer Drew Storen and slugger Michael Morse will be healthy for a full season, and catcher Wilson Ramos will be eased back into the starting role. Youngsters Bryce Harper, Steve Lombardozzi and Tyler Moore are another year older and should only get better moving forward.
The best team in baseball last season appears, at least on paper, to be the best team in the league entering the 2013 season. They need to come into the season with the swagger of a team that expects to be the best in baseball.
Resolution: Stay patient and aggressive in rebuilding efforts.
The Cubs scuffled through a 101-loss season in the first year of the Theo Epstein-Jed Hoyer era, as the new front office duo continues to reshape the organization from the ground up.
Though they've been aggressive this offseason in adding pieces, only Edwin Jackson figures to be a part of the team's future plans, as the rest are little more than stopgap options.
Cubs fans need to stay patient, as there is plenty of reason for hope down the line with Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro set to be joined by the likes of Javier Baez, Albert Almora and Dan Vogelbach to form what should be a potent lineup.
At the same time, the team needs to remain aggressive on the trade market and continue to stockpile pitching prospects, as the team has little to speak of in the way of pitching for the long-term outside of Jeff Samardzija. Guys like Matt Garza, David DeJesus, Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Marmol and Scott Feldman should all be aggressively shopped at the deadline this year.
Resolution: Improve on 2012, remain the class of the NL Central.
The Reds went 97-65 last season to win the NL Central title, but fell to the Giants 3-2 in the NLDS as they squandered a 2-0 series lead.
The team benefited greatly from the health of their starting rotation, as their Opening Day rotation made all but one start on the year.
However, they played as well as they did with a gaping hole in the leadoff spot in the lineup and with Joey Votto missing significant time.
They've brought back Ryan Ludwick and Jonathan Broxton, moved Aroldis Chapman to the rotation with Mike Leake still around as a fallback option and, perhaps most importantly, acquired Shin-Soo Choo in a three-team trade to fill the leadoff void.
On paper, they're a better team than 2012, and they need to take a step forward this season and improve on last season. At this point anything short of another NL Central title and the NL pennant would be a disappointment.
Resolution: Grow up quickly in the starting rotation.
The Brewers traded Zack Greinke at the deadline last season, but were still able to make a late season run thanks to their high-powered offense and unexpected contributions from a handful of young arms.
Michael Fiers, Mark Rogers, Wily Peralta and Tyler Thornburg all made solid contributions last season, and with Greinke gone and Shaun Marcum departed in free agency, those guys will be relied upon even more this coming season behind Yovani Gallardo in the team's rotation.
With all the pieces from the highest-scoring offense in the National League back, the pitching staff will be what determines how much success the Brewers have this coming season, and the youngsters will have to grow up fast if they hope to make the postseason.
Resolution: Break through with their first winning season since 1992.
The Pirates have put together solid first halves in the past two seasons, but fell short of the .500 mark with 72 wins in 2011 and 79 wins in 2012.
With their young core of hitters led by Andrew McCutchen improving by the year, it will fall to the pitching staff to determine whether the team can get over the hump with a winning season.
A.J. Burnett, Wandy Rodriguez and James McDonald will be joined by free-agent signing Francisco Liriano, but the team will likely turn to one of their prospects to fill the fifth starter role.
Kyle McPherson, Jeff Locke and perhaps even Gerrit Cole have a chance at winning the job, and if that group can hold it's own, the team appears to be in as good a position as ever to top the 81-win mark.
St. Louis Cardinals
Resolution: Keep finding ways to overcome adversity.
A year after losing Adam Wainwright in spring training, the Cardinals lost Chris Carpenter for the bulk of last season before Opening Day even rolled around.
Again, however, they found a way to overcome it, as Kyle Lohse assumed the role of staff ace and turned in a career year while Lance Lynn filled Carpenter's spot in the rotation and won 18 games.
They dealt with injuries all season, but always found a way to overcome them, as guys like Matt Carpenter and Pete Kozma made names for themselves.
With Lohse leaving in free agency and Jaime Garcia questionable to start the season, they'll once again need to piece together their rotation to open the season. Joe Kelly, Shelby Miller and Lynn should be able to do that, and the Cardinals will need to continue to find ways to overcome injury as they look to return to the postseason.
Resolution: End the Justin Upton saga.
Justin Upton has been at the center of trade rumors a number of times during his career, and he has ruled the headlines again this offseason.
The team has yet to pull the trigger on a move for him and has really never made him officially available beyond a willingness to listen to offers.
Upton had a down year in 2012, but he is still just 25 years old and has all the tools to be a superstar in this league. At this point, one has to imagine the constant trade rumors have at least become a slight distraction.
Before the new season starts, the Diamondbacks would be best to either trade him or officially take him off the market and give him a vote of confidence for the sake of his future success.
Resolution: Don't finish last in the MLB in team ERA.
The Rockies had one of the league's best offenses last season, ranking third in the NL in runs scored, but they suffered through a 98-loss season due to a pitching staff that posted an MLB-worst 5.22 ERA.
Injuries to Jorge De La Rosa, Jhoulys Chacin and Juan Nicasio certainly played a role, and those guys will be counted on to turn things around, as the team has done nothing to improve their staff this offseason aside from re-signing Jeff Francis.
With their offense, they don't have to lead the league in ERA by any means, especially with Troy Tulowitzki returning, and if they can get their team ERA down under 5.00 and climb out of last place in that category, it may well be enough for them to be relevant in 2013.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Resolution: Come together as a team.
The Dodgers have been busy—to put it lightly—since the new ownership group took office, acquiring a trio of high-priced stars from the Red Sox last August, acquiring Hanley Ramirez from the Marlins and signing a pair of arms this offseason in Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu.
Right now, they're a group of big-name players thrown together, and while they have tons of talent, they'll need to come together as a team if they hope to legitimately contend in a deep NL West that could be a three-team race between the Giants, Diamondbacks and Dodgers.
Don Mattingly will have the job of captaining this group together, and some early season success would go a long way toward bringing the club together.
San Diego Padres
Resolution: Begin to implement the minor league talent.
The Padres record didn't necessarily show it at 76-86 last season, but the 2012 campaign was a productive one for them, as they acquired a terrific package of core players from the Reds for Mat Latos and saw Chase Headley emerge as a bona fide superstar.
The team took steps toward the future in re-signing Huston Street and Carlos Quentin, and they will now turn to one of the deepest farm systems in baseball to improve the big league squad.
Jedd Gyorko has a shot at the starting second base job this spring, and a handful of pitchers led by Casey Kelly could vie for a spot in the rotation behind Edinson Volquez and Clayton Richard.
They aren't likely to contend, but getting their young players some experience and finding out where they fit into the team's future should be the Padres focus in 2013.
San Francisco Giants
Resolution: Avoid a World Series hangover.
The Giants return essentially the same roster that won the World Series last season, as they re-signed Angel Pagan, Marco Scutaro and Jeremy Affeldt.
A full season of Hunter Pence and Scutaro should give the team a boost, and while they didn't make the offseason splash some thought they would, they still have one of the best pitching staffs in baseball and an offense led by MVP Buster Posey.
All the pieces are there for them to return to the postseason, but they will need to stay healthy and hungry to hold off the Dodgers and the rest of the NL if they want a chance at defending their title.