MLB Teams in Need of Extreme In-Season Makeovers
Patrick Smith/Getty Images
This is not a list of the worst teams in baseball.
Sure, it includes some of them, but not all of them (the Cubs and Mets have been spared).
The following eight teams represent the rosters most desperately in need of an overhaul. Whether it's an offensive juggernaut or a shutdown reliever, a fresh-faced manager or a shuffle of the lineup—as Sam Cooke put so eloquently—a change is gonna come.
Something has gone wrong over the first half of the season for each of these eight teams and a makeover is imminent. For the lucky ones, a reboot may mean a playoff appearance. For those still rebuilding, their day will come...
8. New York Yankees
Jeter came back to hang with his teammates.
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Injuries and age have buried the 2013 New York Yankees into a pit that may be too deep to escape.
Fortunately for the broken-down Bombers, the team has compiled a 42-34 record and stands just 2.5 games out of first place. However, as fiercely competitive as the AL East is, the key down the stretch for the Yankees will be sustainability, which is something they don't have.
Mark Teixeira and Kevin Youkilis are out of commission for the foreseeable future, the former considering season-ending surgery on his right wrist and the latter on the disabled list until at least September after back surgery.
Curtis Granderson and Derek Jeter are both making progress is their rehabilitation processes. It's unlikely that Granderson will return to play before the All-Star break, so the Yankees can't expect either until mid-July.
Alex Rodriguez will begin a rehab assignment in Single-A Tampa on July 1, but does the big club even want him and his baggage back?
Veterans Lyle Overbay (.227, 0 HRs), Vernon Wells (.115, 0 HRs) and Travis Hafner (.143, 3 HRs) have all fallen back to Earth in June after hot starts to the season—as has the team itself, which is just 10-11 this month.
The Yankees won't be sellers at the trade deadline but may look to add a bat or two as Robinson Cano and Brett Gardner have been the only consistent offensive hitters in the lineup.
Did someone say Manny?
7. Philadelphia Phillies
The Phillies' infield may look different come August.
Mike Stobe/Getty Images
The Philadelphia Phillies were becoming playoff regulars until they missed the postseason with an 81-81 record last season.
Now, the same story rings true as the team from the City of Brotherly Love sits four games under .500 and eight games out of first place. If the ship doesn't straighten out by the time the July 31 trade deadline approaches, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. may decide to free up some cash.
According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, no Phillie player is untouchable, but the price for desired stars such as Cliff Lee or Jonathan Papelbon would be incredibly high. Veteran infielders Chase Utley and Michael Young, each of whom is in the final year of their contract, are going to be more useful trade chips.
Utley and Young each have around $8 million left on their expiring deals, not too much of a burden for a contending team to take on.
There is a glimmer of hope for the Phillies in the breakout season of 25-year-old Domonic Brown. On pace to hit 40-plus home runs and drive in over 100 runs, Brown may be a building piece in which the Phillies choose to mold a new team around.
6. Houston Astros
Norris fanned five batters in six innings against the Cubs over the weekend.
Stephen Brashear/Getty Images
At the start of the season, no one would have believed the Houston Astros would be keeping pace with the Los Angeles Angels nearing the midpoint of the season.
Surprisingly enough, the Astros are just 5.5 games back of the Angels. After losing six straight games in early June, Houston went on to win four straight and seven of their last 11 games, albeit against the White Sox, Brewers and Cubs.
Despite the poor record, there is no need for a change at manager. The team is in the midst of a complete overhaul and manager Bo Porter is simply along for the ride.
Starting pitcher Bud Norris seems the most likely to depart come the trade deadline. The right-hander has registered quality starts in six of his last seven outings and owns a healthy 3.60 ERA.
Norris told Brian McTaggart of MLB.com that his situation in Houston is "out of [his] control." He's aware of the trade rumors and the fact that he hasn't discussed a long-term deal with the Astros.
A budding Houston farm system is writhing with talented arms, led by Jarred Cosart, so flipping Norris for a couple of prospects isn't a bad idea. Veteran Carlos Pena could also be on the move to make room for prospects Jonathan Singleton and George Springer.
5. Milwaukee Brewers
Does Gallardo remain in Milwaukee?
Marc Serota/Getty Images
The Brewers are a fascinating team to analyze. While they have escaped the mid-2000s stigma of being a last-place team and have become viable contenders (the team won 96 games in 2011 and advanced as far as the NLCS), there seems to be little consistency in Milwaukee's play.
The Brewers are an offensive-minded team, led by the insatiable bat of Ryan Braun. Breakout stars such as Jean Segura (.336, 11 HRs, 31 RBI) and Carlos Gomez (.313, 12 HRs, 37 RBI) have helped distract Brewers fans from a struggling pitching staff in 2013.
The Brew Crew has some big decisions to make in July as to be sellers or stay put. The most attractive trade chip is starting pitcher Yovani Gallardo, an All-Star in 2010 whose season is shaping up in a similar way with an ERA right around 4.00 and a K/9 rate of 7.1.
Corey Hart and Aramis Ramirez are also both on the table. Even new Brewer Kyle Lohse has the potential to be shipped.
Keep an eye on the Brewers, as players could be sent all around the MLB or the team may stay pat.
4. Chicago White Sox
Will Alex Rios soon be saying goodbye to Chicago?
Jason Miller/Getty Images
The White Sox face a similar situation as that of the Phillies, a team that has a history of contention but has witnessed a significant drop in productivity in 2013.
Their offense, which ranks 25th in slugging percentage (.377), 27th in runs (272) and 28th in OBP (.295), has been the driving force to a 31-42 record. They have dropped 18 of their last 25 games.
The White Sox's dismal play and the team's collapse at the close of the 2012 season, in which they went 4-11 to close out the season and consequently blew a three-game division lead, brings into question the managerial ability of Robin Ventura.
Ventura took the reins after the 2011 season with zero managerial experience at any professional level. Jay Jaffe of Sports Illustrated's "The Strike Zone" notes that despite the White Sox's collapse in 2012, Ventura finished third in AL Manager of the Year voting and received a contract extension.
Whether or not there is a shift at manager, the White Sox may be on the brink of a fire sale. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tells that high-profile players such as Alex Rios, Alexei Ramirez and Jake Peavy are all fair game. A handful of solid relievers including Jesse Crain, who has currently rattled off 28 scoreless innings, will also be on the market.
3. Los Angeles Dodgers
Puig has been a bright spot in an otherwise underachieving season.
Victor Decolongon/Getty Images
Yasiel Puig has been a spark plug, but does the rookie have it in him to carry the Dodgers out of the basement?
Needless to say, it has been a disappointing season for the Dodgers—what with their 2013 payroll somewhere in the $216 million range—who sit at the bottom of the NL West, eight games under .500 at 34-42 and eight games out of first place.
There has been constant speculation that manager Don Mattingly should be sacked, but the front office and GM Ned Colletti continue to stick by his side.
Hamstring injuries to stars Matt Kemp and Carl Crawford have depleted the Dodgers' outfield depth but have opened the door for rookie sensation Puig (.442, 7 HRs, 14 RBI).
Believe it or not, the Dodgers may be buyers at the trade deadline despite their current position. Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal reported that a trade for the Marlins' Ricky Nolasco (4-7, 3.68 ERA) or the Cubs' Matt Garza (2-1, 4.25 ERA) could be on the horizon. Both pitchers could be shopped soon, even weeks before the trade deadline.
2. Miami Marlins
Ricky Nolasco should pack his bags now.
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
There were very low expectations for the Miami Marlins entering the 2013 season, especially after the fire sale that shipped Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle to Toronto.
Now, with the worst record in baseball (26-50) and very clearly out of the playoff picture, the Marlins will be aggressive sellers at and before the trade deadline.
It's no secret that owner Jeffrey Loria is desperately attempting to deal starter Rickey Nolasco, as reported by Buster Olney and Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. Nolasco has been an underrated pitcher on a subpar team that could provide quality depth to a pitching staff during the grinding months of July and August.
It's unclear whether the Marlins will play with fire in regards to Giancarlo Stanton, the 23-year-old slugger who has the ceiling to become one of the top hitters in the game. It will depend on what type of quality prospects Miami would acquire in return.
1. Los Angeles Angels
Scioscia in a June 1 loss to the Astros.
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
The All-Star caliber talent on the Angels squad has not lived up to its standard, and with each consecutive day under .500, the organization is flushing cash down the drain.
The Angels have nothing to show for big free-agent signings of Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton. They came up empty after acquiring strong arms such as Scott Kazmir, Dan Haren and Zack Greinke and instead compiled a pitching staff in 2013 ranking 28th in ERA (4.41) and WHIP (1.38). To add salt to the wound, prospects like Jean Segura and Patrick Corbin were dealt in those unfulfilling deals.
Other than the struggles of the pitching staff and the vastly underachieving Josh Hamilton (.214/.269/.382), maybe it's time to put the blame on an avoided target: manager Mike Scioscia.
Scioscia is currently the longest-serving manager in the MLB, taking control of the Angels 14 years ago in 2000. However, the Angels have missed the playoffs the last three seasons and began the 2013 campaign with the worst record during Scioscia's tenure (15-27).
It's a drastic change, but the Angels may need a fresh face filling out the lineup card if things don't straighten out soon.
Don't be surprised.