What Needs to Happen in 2013 for Each MLB Team to Validate Offseason Decisions
Whether it's signing a free agent or making a trade, the decisions that front offices around baseball make when constructing a roster for the upcoming season don't always work out as planned.
It could be a catastrophic injury, age catching up to a player or a situation in which there's a personality clash between the newcomer and those already entrenched in the clubhouse that stands in the way of success on the field.
Expectations come along with every move, and meeting those expectations is often easier said than done.
With that in mind, let's take a look at what every team in baseball was up to this winter and what needs to happen for those decisions to pay off.
New York Yankees
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Key Additions: LF Matt Diaz, DH Travis Hafner, 3B/1B Kevin Youkilis
Key Losses: OF/DH Raul Ibanez, C Russell Martin, RF Nick Swisher
It was no secret that the honeymoon between the Yankees and Nick Swisher was over, so his departure came as no surprise to anyone. Russell Martin's did.
Martin doesn't hit for average, but he added power to the lineup and was a solid defensive catcher who called a good game.
The two-year, $17 million deal that Martin signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates wasn't outlandish or way over market value by any means—nor would it have drastically impacted the team's stated goal of getting under the $189 million luxury tax for 2014.
In his place will be Francisco Cervelli. Cervelli spent the bulk of the 2012 season in Triple-A filling in for the injured Austin Romine, who missed significant time with a back injury and will start the 2013 season in the minors.
Cervelli, backup Chris Stewart and Romine, when needed, must be as good, if not better, than Martin was for the Yankees' decision to let him walk to be a wise one.
I don't necessarily mean that, combined, 20 home runs and 70 RBI are a necessity, but it'd be nice.
Chris Davis shouldn't be in the field.
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Key Additions: RHP Jair Jurrjens, INF Alexei Casilla
Key Losses: 1B/3B Mark Reynolds, LHP Joe Saunders
Baltimore managed to take a step back this winter, making a repeat of the team's surprising playoff run in 2012 look less likely than anyone expected that it would.
The decision to not re-sign Mark Reynolds, who many figured would earn around $9 million in arbitration, could prove to be a costly one.
Not only has the team not addressed how it will replace Reynolds' power, but defensively and on the bench, this team is weaker than it was in 2012.
Chris Davis, a mediocre fielder on a good day, now takes over as the everyday first baseman. That pushes Wilson Betemit into the designated hitter spot.
Since 2005, his first full season in the majors, Betemit has averaged nine home runs and 35 RBI a season. Could he give the Orioles 15-20 home runs and 70-80 RBI with his bat in the lineup every day?
He's going to have to—and Davis will have to be significantly improved with the glove—for the decision to let Reynolds walk make any sense.
Boston Red Sox
Shane Victorino needs to play like he did with the Phillies, not the Dodgers, in 2013.
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Key Additions: RHP Ryan Dempster, RHP Joel Hanrahan, 1B Mike Napoli, C David Ross, RHP Koji Uehara, OF Shane Victorino
Key Losses: RHP Mark Melancon, RF Cody Ross, RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka
Boston could have gone two ways this winter: continue to build towards the future and move impending free agents like catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia and center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, or sign veterans and make a run at a wide-open AL East.
The Red Sox chose the latter, and anything less than a division title will make that decision a mistake.
Ellsbury, who is represented by Scott Boras, is going to test free agency. Even if he signs elsewhere and Boston gets a compensatory draft pick, that pales in comparison to the package the Red Sox could have landed for a full season of Ellsbury's services.
Keeping Saltalamacchia around after signing David Ross makes little sense, as prospect Ryan Lavarnway is ready to take over behind the plate and Ross would be an excellent mentor for the young backstop.
Shane Victorino, coming off of the worst season of his career, must finish the season with an on-base percentage over .340 and contribute far more offensively than he did for the Philadelphia Phillies or Los Angeles Dodgers in 2012, when he posted a .255/.321/.383 slash line.
Tampa Bay Rays
Moore needs to step up as a sophomore.
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Key Additions: SS Yunel Escobar, 1B James Loney, OF Wil Myers
Key Losses: RHP Wade Davis, RHP James Shields, OF B.J. Upton
Tampa Bay's track record of churning out quality pitching will be tested again in 2013.
With the trade of the workhorse of the staff, James Shields—who averaged 222 innings per year for the Rays—along with Wade Davis, either top prospect Chris Archer or Alex Cobb will be counted on to take the ball every fifth day and contribute to the cause.
All eyes will be on sophomore southpaw Matt Moore, who had a solid rookie campaign. It is imperative to Tampa Bay's success that he take the next step in his development.
Outfielder Wil Myers, who is almost a lock to start the season in Triple-A, must produce from the moment he arrives on the scene. With the expected departure of B.J. Upton, Myers needs to show that he is the big bat that will not only replace, but surpass Upton's offensive contributions in the middle of the lineup.
Toronto Blue Jays
Will the real Melky Cabrera please stand up?
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Key Additions: 2B Emilio Bonifacio, LHP Mark Buerhle, LF Melky Cabrera, RHP R.A. Dickey, RHP Josh Johnson, SS Jose Reyes
Key Losses: SS Yunel Escobar, RHP Jason Frasor, 2B Adeinny Hechavarria,
No team in baseball improved as dramatically as the Blue Jays did, revamping their entire starting rotation, shoring up the middle of the infield and adding speed and the ability to get on base at both the top and bottom of the lineup.
If there was a questionable decision, though, it was to give Melky Cabrera a multi-year deal on the heels of his 50-game PED suspension. It doesn't take an Ivy League degree to look at his numbers and figure out when he may have started experimenting.
For that signing to be worthwhile, Cabrera's going to need to finish the season with far better numbers than a .265 batting average, an OPS of .700 and eight to 10 home runs—what he averaged per year prior to the 2011 season.
The Upton brothers must produce with the bat and the glove.
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Key Additions: 3B Chris Johnson, CF B.J. Upton, RF Justin Upton, RHP Jordan Walden
Key Losses: CF Michael Bourn, RHP Randall Delgado, RHP Tommy Hanson, IF/OF Martin Prado
Simply put, talk about the Upton brothers and their potential needs to end, replaced by consistent production, as the two now share an outfield on an excellent team.
For Justin, that means playing at a MVP-caliber level; for B.J., it means improved plate discipline and consistently getting on base.
Anything less than that will lead to the Braves not winning the National League East—and that's the minimum to be expected from this group in 2013.
Giancarlo Stanton is pissed.
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Key Additions: 2B Adeinny Hechavarria, C Jeff Mathis, LF Juan Pierre, 3B Placido Polanco
Key Losses: RHP Heath Bell, IF/OF Emilio Bonifacio, LHP Mark Buehrle, RHP Josh Johnson, SS Jose Reyes
Would Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria sell out Marlins Park if he gave the tickets away for free?
Maybe...but he'd have to offer free concessions as well.
After pulling the rug out from under Marlins fans feet once again, Miami is left with Giancarlo Stanton, an oft-injured Logan Morrison and a promising catcher in Rob Brantly. I suppose fans can get excited about the return of Juan Pierre...No, I can't. Juan Pierre coming back does nothing for anyone, really.
The future might be bright (prospect RHP Jose Fernandez is the future ace of the staff), but that isn't going to make the 2013 season any less painful for those paying attention to the team in South Florida.
New York Mets
Travis d'Arnaud needs to show that he's major league ready.
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Key Additions: C Travis d'Arnaud, LHP Pedro Feliciano, RHP LaTroy Hawkins, RHP Shaun Marcum,
Key Losses: OF Jason Bay, RHP R.A. Dickey, C Josh Thole, OF Andres Torres
On paper, the Mets did very well for themselves in the R.A. Dickey trade, acquiring their catcher of the future in Travis d'Arnaud and a solid pitching prospect in RHP Noah Syndergaard.
While Syndergaard is still years away from making an impact, d'Arnaud's impact should be felt early. When he does arrive, he must prove to be capable behind the plate and a big-time hitter when the catching gear comes off.
The Mets simply aren't yet ready to contend with the Atlanta Braves or the Washington Nationals in the National League East, so a division title is shooting too high.
The outfield remains a weakness, but the rotation is solid (I love the Marcum addition) and the bullpen can't help but be better than it was in 2012.
A run at one of the two wild-card spots is necessary to at least show Mets fans that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Delmon Young has to do more than hit in Philly.
Key Additions: RHP Mike Adams, LHP John Lannan, CF Ben Revere, RF Delmon Young, 3B Michael Young
Key Losses: LF Juan Pierre, 3B Placido Polanco, RHP Vance Worley
The Phillies plugged two holes with the addition of center fielder Ben Revere and third baseman Michael Young.
While nobody has ever questioned Delmon Young's natural talents, he has never lived up to expectations—especially in the field. His minus-30.9 UZR/150 ranked dead last out of the 65 outfielders who spent at least 200 innings in left field during the 2012 season.
While he'll be in right field for Philadelphia, he simply isn't a good defensive player.
Young will need to not only shore up his defense, but take advantage of the short porches in both left and right for his signing to pay dividends for the Phillies.
Dan Haren needs to bounce back a bit from 2012.
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Key Additions: RHP Dan Haren, RHP Rafael Soriano, CF Denard Span
Key Losses: LHP Sean Burnett, LHP Mike Gonzalez, LHP Tom Gorzelanny, RHP Edwin Jackson, 1B/OF Michael Morse
Coming off of the first division title and playoff appearance in franchise history, the Nationals went out and landed the center fielder they needed in Denard Span, who seems like a perfect fit for the team.
The pitching staff lost much of the bullpen from the left side of the mound, while No. 4 starter Edwin Jackson departed for a multi-year deal with the Chicago Cubs, replaced by veteran Dan Haren.
Haren, 32, saw his ERA (4.33) and WHIP (1.29) take a jump in the wrong direction in 2012, up significantly from the 3.17 and 1.02 marks he posted for the Los Angeles Angels in 2011.
While the Nationals' rotation is tremendous, Haren needs to get his game back on track to make the loss of Jackson sting a bit less.
A sub-4.00 ERA and a WHIP closer to the 1.15 mark would go a long way towards making that happen.
Chicago White Sox
Tyler Flowers must blossom in 2013.
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Key Additions: IF Jeff Keppinger, RHP Matt Lindstrom,
Key Losses: RHP Francisco Liriano, RHP Brett Myers, C A.J. Pierzynski, 3B Kevin Youkilis
Longtime catcher A.J. Pierzynski is gone, leaving longtime catcher of the future Tyler Flowers to handle the everyday duties behind the plate for the White Sox.
Flowers, 27, has never shown the ability to hit major league pitching, posting a .205/.307/.388 slash line in just over 300 plate appearances over parts of the past four seasons.
If Flowers can't up his production at the plate—significantly—any chance the White Sox have of contending for the AL Central crown or a wild-card spot goes out the window and the decision to let Pierzynski walk becomes even more puzzling.
Trevor Bauer needs to show maturity in 2013.
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Key Additions: RHP Matt Albers, RHP Trevor Bauer, 1B Mark Reynolds, RHP Bryan Shaw, OF Drew Stubbs, OF Nick Swisher
Key Losses: OF Shin-Soo Choo, IF Jason Donald, 1B/OF Shelley Duncan, DH Travis Hafner
The Indians were busy this winter. They landed the power-hitting outfielder they sought in Nick Swisher, an answer at first base in Mark Reynolds and no longer have Shin-Shoo Choo's impending free agency hanging over their heads.
Of the pieces the Indians acquired for Choo, none are more important to the team's current and future success than Trevor Bauer.
One of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball, Bauer struggled in his short time with Arizona in 2012. He also rubbed veteran teammates the wrong way with his cocky attitude and resistance to constructive criticism from the coaching staff.
Bauer, 22, will need to show an increased level of maturity—and the ability to tweak his mechanics when needed—so that he can help an Indians rotation that went 48-76 with a 5.25 ERA in 2013, surpassed only by the Colorado Rockies and Minnesota Twins.
Bruce Rondon must prove that he's ready for prime time.
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Key Additions: OF Torii Hunter, C Brayan Pena
Key Losses: C Gerald Laird, IF/OF Ryan Rayburn, RHP Daniel Schlereth, RHP Jose Valverde
There was little doubt that Detroit would have a new closer in 2013, but most expected it to be a veteran via free agency, whether that be Ryan Madson, Jonathan Broxton or Rafael Soriano.
Instead, the Tigers are handing the ninth inning to 22-year-old Bruce Rondon, who has thrown a total of eight innings above Double-A and has never seen the major leagues.
One of the best closers in the minor leagues, Rondon, armed with a fastball that routinely hits triple digits, has to show that he's capable of handling major league hitting. While Detroit has other options to close should he falter, moving any of those from their current roles weakens the bullpen.
Rondon doesn't need to win the Rookie of the Year wward, but a sub-3.00 ERA and WHIP around 1.00 would go a long way towards ensuring that the Tigers made the right choice to pass on the veteran options available to them this winter.
Kansas City Royals
Ervin Santana must get back into form.
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Key Additions: RHP Wade Davis, RHP Ervin Santana, RHP James Shields
Key Losses: OF Wil Myers, RHP Jake Odorizzi, RHP Joakim Soria
While the Royals paid a steep price to bolster the starting rotation, sending top prospects Wil Myers, Jake Odorizzi and Mike Montgomery to Tampa Bay in exchange for James Shields and Wade Davis, you can't argue with the team's thinking.
With a revamped starting rotation, an excellent bullpen and a lineup featuring some of the best young talent in the game, the Royals have positioned themselves to make a run at a playoff spot in 2013.
Of the newcomers to the rotation, 31-year-old Ervin Santana must prove that his miserable 2012 season was an outlier and not a sign of things to come.
After going 28-22 with a 3.65 ERA and 1.27 WHIP for the Los Angeles Angels from 2010 through 2011, Santana posted a 9-13 record, 5.16 ERA and 1.27 WHIP in 2012.
Some of that was bad luck, but much of it was Santana not being able to hit his spots consistently and losing confidence.
For the Royals to truly have a chance at a playoff spot, Santana needs to pitch like he did prior to 2012, posting a sub-4.00 ERA and keeping his mistakes to a minimum.
The Twins should have moved Justin Morneau before the season.
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Key Additions: RHP Kevin Correia, RHP Mike Pelfrey, RHP Vance Worley
Key Losses: RHP Scott Baker, RHP Matt Capps, RHP Carl Pavano, OF Ben Revere, CF Denard Span
While Minnesota added some quality young pitching to bolster one of the worst rotations in baseball, the Twins figure to be on the outside of the playoff picture yet again in 2013, making the decision to not move their impending free agents something of a surprise.
Namely, first baseman Justin Morneau, who has battled injury and post-concussion symptoms for years before finally getting back on track in 2012. Healthy and going through his first normal offseason in three years, trading Morneau would have bought back a package of players to aid in the rebuilding.
Morneau will need to stay healthy and productive throughout the first half of the season so that the Twins can flip him at the non-waiver trade deadline for something substantial.
Otherwise, the decision to hold onto him will have blown up in the team's face, as it'll be left with an expensive member of the disabled list.
These guys know that slow and steady wins the race.
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Key Additions: RHP Scott Feldman, RHP Kyuji Fujikawa, RHP Edwin Jackson, OF Nate Schierholtz, RHP Carlos Villanueva
Key Losses: RHP Manny Corpas, RHP Justin Germano, 1B/OF Bryan LaHair
The rebuilding of the Cubs continues, and with no real expectations of fielding a contender comes no need to validate the decisions the team made this winter.
Edwin Jackson gives the team a solid innings-eater in the middle of the rotation, making things a bit easier should the team decide to trade Matt Garza this summer.
Japanese closer Kyuji Fujikawa will push incumbent closer Carlos Marmol, hopefully to a more consistent performance and a stronger bullpen, but there's little to dissect when it comes to the Cubs' offseason moves.
Shin-Soo Choo's glove will be scrutinized.
Jason Miller/Getty Images
Key Additions: OF Shin-Soo Choo, IF Jason Donald, 3B/1B Jack Hannahan, RHP Manny Parra
Key Losses: OF Willie Harris, RHP Ryan Madson, 3B Scott Rolen, CF Drew Stubbs
While he might not be the prototypical leadoff hitter, Shin-Soo Choo knows how to get on base and has enough speed to not be an albatross on base ahead of the heart of the Reds' potent lineup.
It's his defense, however, that will be under the microscope in 2013.
Choo, who has primarily played right field for the Indians, where he posted a terrible minus-16.1 UZR/150 in 2012 (and a minus-2.7 for his career), will be asked to take over in center field—a position he hasn't played since 2009.
For the Reds to repeat as National League Central champions, Choo will have to play far better defense than advanced metrics show he's played over the course of his career.
He doesn't need to win a Gold Glove, but he's got to get to balls in the gaps and keep his defensive miscues to a minimum.
Shaun Marcum was solid for the Brewers.
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Key Additions: RHP Burke Badenhop, LHP Mike Gonzalez, LHP Tom Gorzelanny, OF Reed Johnson
Key Losses: RHP Shaun Marcum, OF Nyjer Morgan, RHP Manny Parra, RHP Francisco Rodriguez, RHP Jose Veras
After finishing 2012 with the worst bullpen in baseball, the Brewers went out and revamped the unit, adding three quality veteran relievers
But it's the other side of the pitching staff, the starting rotation, where the team's decision to not bring in—or keep—a veteran could be problematic.
Michael Fiers, Wily Peralta and Mark Rogers all have significant upside, but none of them have extensive track records of success in the major leagues.
Couple that with veteran Chris Narveson—who is mediocre at best and is coming off of rotator cuff surgery—and it makes the decision to not re-sign Shaun Marcum or go after another mid-level starter, someone like Joe Saunders, a bit puzzling.
Fiers and Peralta, specifically, must take the next step in their development and emerge as legitimate starting pitchers who give the team a chance to win every fifth day.
Should they take a step backwards in 2013, the Brewers' potent offense and rebuilt bullpen will be hard-pressed to make up for those shortcomings.
Francisco Liriano must be better than he's been.
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Key Additions: RHP Francisco Liriano, C Russell Martin, RHP Mark Melancon
Key Losses: C Rod Barajas, RHP Joel Hanrahan
Russell Martin represents a huge upgrade behind the plate. While he doesn't hit for a high average, his added power will boost the Pirates offense to more production in 2013.
But the team still lacks a big-time bat to pair with All-Star center fielder Andrew McCutchen, meaning that the pitching staff must be on top of its game if Pittsburgh is going to contend for a playoff berth in 2013.
Rather than sign someone along the lines of Shaun Marcum, Joe Saunders or even Chris Young, the Pirates decided to try their luck with Francisco Liriano, now seven years removed from his breakout season with the Minnesota Twins.
It's been two years since Liriano posted an ERA under 5.00 or a WHIP below 1.40, and he'll need to do both in Pittsburgh to make his signing worthwhile.
If Liriano puts up the same numbers he has over the past two seasons—a 5.23 ERA, 1.48 WHIP and five walks per nine innings of work—his signing will have been a major mistake and a waste of the Pirates' limited resources.
St. Louis Cardinals
Randy Choate shores up the Cards bullpen.
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Key Additions: IF Ronny Cedeno, LHP Randy Choate, IF Ty Wigginton
Key Losses: 1B Lance Berkman, RHP Kyle Lohse
The Cardinals didn't do anything unexpected this winter. Kyle Lohse and Lance Berkman were expected to depart, and adding a second left-handed reliever—the primary goal of the winter—was achieved with the signing of veteran Randy Choate.
With no real options on the free-agent market to solidify the middle of the infield, St. Louis heads into the 2013 season counting on shortstop Rafael Furcal to remain healthy and second baseman Daniel Descalso to improve at the plate.
There's really nothing that St. Louis did this winter that needs validation. The Cardinals will find themselves in the thick of the playoff race once again in 2013.
Alex White could be a useful piece down the road for Houston.
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Key Additions: LHP Eric Bedard, RHP Phil Humber, 1B Carlos Pena, RHP Jose Veras, RHP Alex White
Key Losses: RHP Wilton Lopez, C Chris Snyder
Remember that scene in Naked Gun where Leslie Nielsen is standing in front of an exploding fireworks factory, telling the gathering crowd that "There's nothing to see here?"
That sums up Houston's offseason.
Nothing to see here.
And with the team still years away from contending, the only move made this winter that could have a long-term impact was the acquisition of Alex White, who clearly needs more seasoning in the minor leagues before he's ready to contribute as a member of the starting rotation.
Los Angeles Angels
It's all on Hamilton now.
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Key Additions: RHP Joe Blanton, LHP Sean Burnett, OF Josh Hamilton, RHP Tommy Hanson, RHP Ryan Madson, LHP Jason Vargas
Key Losses: RHP Zack Greinke, RHP Dan Haren, RF Torii Hunter, 1B/DH Kendrys Morales, RHP Ervin Santana, RHP Jordan Walden
It all comes down to Josh Hamilton.
One of the best players in all of baseball, Hamilton must stay healthy, sober and productive with the Angels.
With the AL West wide open for the taking, Hamilton's defection from Texas to Los Angeles must bring with it a division title and a deep playoff run.
Anything less will be viewed as a complete and utter failure.
Nakajima must be the answer at shortstop in Oakland.
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Key Additions: C John Jaso, SS Hiroyuki Nakajima, RHP Chris Resop, OF Chris Young
Key Losses: OF Collin Cowgill, SS Stephen Drew, OF/DH Jonny Gomes, RHP Brandon McCarthy
After shocking the world with an improbable American League West division title in 2012, the A's made two major changes to the roster: the addition of catcher John Jaso and shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima.
Of the two, Nakajima is the more important addition, as the team has been looking for a long-term answer at shortstop for quite some time.
The 30-year-old Japanese All-Star must adapt to the major league game quickly, not losing his ability to get on base and take the ball over the fence on occasion while playing solid defense.
If he falters, his signing will have been a waste of Oakland's limited resources and find the team hard-pressed to repeat its success of a year ago in a division where the competition (except the Astros) has improved.
Jesus Montero must be better in all aspects of the game in 2013.
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Key Additions: OF Jason Bay, OF Raul Ibanez, 1B/DH Kendrys Morales, 1B/OF Michael Morse, C Kelly Shoppach
Key Losses: IF/OF Chone Figgins, C John Jaso, RHP Kevin Millwood, C Miguel Olivo, LHP Jason Vargas
Seattle tried desperately to land a big-time slugger this winter. But it was rebuffed twice—first on the free-agent market by Josh Hamilton, then in the trade market by Justin Upton, who blocked a deal to the Mariners before he was traded to Atlanta.
Offensively, Seattle is a better team than it was last season. The additions of Michael Morse and Kendrys Morales will pay dividends and improve the team's lethargic offense.
But it's defensively where questions abound, none more so than behind the plate, where the departure of John Jaso forces Jesus Montero into everyday duty.
It became evident quickly that Montero wasn't up to the task of catching on a daily basis in 2012. And unless he makes major strides forward behind the plate in 2013, the decision to trade incumbent John Jaso will prove to be a costly one.
While über-prospect Mike Zunino tore through the minors last season and seems to be on a fast track to the Emerald City, he isn't likely to contribute in 2013.
Montero must step up all aspects of his game this season for the decision to cut ties with Jaso to make any sense whatsoever.
I still say the Rangers should have traded Elvis Andrus.
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Key Additions: 1B/DH Lance Berkman, RHP Jason Frasor, C A.J. Pierzynski, RHP Joakim Soria
Key Losses: RHP Mike Adams, RHP Ryan Dempster, RHP Scott Feldman, OF Josh Hamilton, 1B/C Mike Napoli, RHP Koji Uehara, IF Michael Young
It all comes down to two decisions: not making a real effort to re-sign Josh Hamilton and not trading shortstop Elvis Andrus for right fielder Justin Upton.
For months, the Rangers tried to add Upton's bat to the middle of the lineup. The team offered all sorts of different packages built around third base prospect Mike Olt, only to get the same answer every time from Arizona: any deal for Upton must include Andrus.
With top prospect Jurickson Profar ready to take over at shortstop on a daily basis, the Rangers could have mitigated the production they lost with Josh Hamilton's departure by adding Upton and getting Profar's bat into the lineup on a daily basis.
Now, Profar still has nowhere to play on a daily basis, and the Rangers are hoping that the surgically-repaired knee of Lance Berkman can hold up and allow him to become a productive member of the lineup.
Simply put, the Rangers must finish above the Los Angeles Angels for this offseason to have not been a complete and total disaster.
Cody Ross must continue to play at a high level.
Key Additions: RHP Randall Delgado, SS Didi Gregorius, RHP Brandon McCarthy, 3B Martin Prado, RF Cody Ross
Key Losses: RHP Trevor Bauer, 3B Chris Johnson, RF Justin Upton, CF Chris Young
Mercifully, the Justin Upton saga has come to an end. While many of B/R's faithful readers agreed with me in grading the Diamondbacks' return on the deal a B, whether or not the Diamondbacks are a better team without Upton in the lineup remains to be seen.
Martin Prado is a huge upgrade at third base, but the onus for replacing Upton's production will fall on the shoulders of right fielder Cody Ross, signed as a free agent shortly before the trade went down.
Ross must continue to play solid defense in right field (not always a given with him, as he posted a UZR/150 of minus-23.1 with the Giants in 2011) while contributing 20-plus home runs and 80-plus RBI at the plate.
Anything less will make the Diamondbacks and their fans long for the days of an inconsistent but talented Upton roaming the outfield. And the Diamondbacks will find themselves on the outside of the playoff picture in the National League.
Jorge de la Rosa is the ace of a pretty mediocre staff.
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Key Additions: RHP Manny Corpas, RHP Wilton Lopez
Key Losses: 1B Jason Giambi, RHP Alex White
Colorado did little this winter, instead hoping that the return of shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and starting pitchers Jorge de la Rosa, Jhoulys Chacin and Juan Nicasio from injuries will be enough to get the team back into playoff contention.
The best thing to come from the winter was the decision to abandon the failed four-man rotation. But the fact of the matter is that Colorado simply doesn't have the pitching necessary to compete for a playoff spot.
It's going to be another long season in Colorado, and only a playoff berth will justify the moves—or lack thereof—by Colorado's front office.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Zack Greinke must be magic in Los Angeles.
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Key Additions: RHP Zack Greinke, LHP J.P. Howell, LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu, IF/OF Skip Schumacher
Key Losses: RHP Joe Blanton, OF Shane Victorino
Between the team's late-season blockbuster with the Boston Red Sox and the addition of Zack Greinke, the best pitcher available this winter, it's simple for the Dodgers in 2013: Either the team wins the National League West and makes a deep playoff run, or manager Don Mattingly, among others, will be looking for work come 2014.
Greinke must pitch like an ace alongside Clayton Kershaw atop the Dodgers' rotation.
Anything less will be a major disappointment.
San Diego Padres
Freddy Garcia could help bolster the back-end of San Diego's rotation.
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Key Additions: RHP Freddy Garcia, RHP Tyson Ross
Key Losses: None
The Padres didn't do much of anything this winter, adding bit pieces in pitchers Freddy Garcia and Tyson Ross while re-signing the bulk of their own free agents, namely starter Jason Marquis.
San Diego's biggest problem is the division in which it plays. Arizona, Los Angeles and San Francisco are all significantly better than the Padres. And while San Diego has some talented pieces, the bulk of the team is young and is still finding its way in the majors.
The addition of a front-line starter would significantly boost this team's chances to contend for a playoff spot, but that wasn't in the cards this winter.
Signs of improvement from the youngsters on the team will validate San Diego's decision to pretty much take this winter off.
San Francisco Giants
Angel Pagan and the Giants return largely intact to defend their World Series championship.
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
Key Additions: OF Andres Torres
Key Losses: OF Melky Cabrera, 1B/OF Aubrey Huff, IF Ryan Theriot, RHP Brian Wilson
After wining the World Series for the second time in three years, there's little questioning or criticism of the Giants to be had.
You can't argue with wins, and the Giants have done that when it counts.
Sure, they probably overpaid to keep Jeremy Affeldt, Angel Pagan and Marco Scutaro in the fold, but with the exception of center field, the available options via free agency or trade weren't significant upgrades over what the Giants had.
Another division crown and playoff run will validate what GM Brian Sabean did, which was really just keep the band together for another tour.