2011 MLB Preview: Offseason Moves, Power Rankings, and Overall Predictions

Dallas DavisCorrespondent INovember 24, 2010

2011 MLB Preview: Offseason Moves, Power Rankings, and Overall Predictions

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    As the 2010 season wound down, people like myself couldn't help but check the transaction wires around the league. The playoffs serve as a chance for some teams to be victorious, but for most, it's a chance to jump start their 2011 campaign.

    In the following pages, I have outlined nearly every move that every club has made since their season ended.

    Keep in mind, as the off-season progresses, so will this article. I will update it weekly, adding notes to every team with every new transaction or roster move.

    I've decided to wait on power rankings until more activity happens; reason being teams like the Rays could fall more then five spots due to the fact of how many players they may lose. 

    Rejoice baseball fans, the season has already started.

LA Angels Of Anaheim

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    The Angels from Anaheim are still shell shocked from their first losing season since 2003, and in what better fashion then to give up their customary division crown to the Texas Rangers on the last game of the Angels season.

    The question for the Angels is whether or not management can obtain Rays outfielder Carl Crawford. Reports are rumored to mention a 100 million dollar deal should he come to Anaheim.

    Scott Shields, the last player remaining from the 2002 World Series Angels squad had felt discomfort at the end of last season, and his retirement is likely, paving the way for a new look Angels team come 2011.

    The Angels return the strikeout king of last year in Jered Weaver. He beat out AL Cy Young winner Felix Hernandez by one strikeout. Weaver also finished fifth in ERA in the AL with 3.01.

    Reports state that Hideki Matsui will not be offered arbitration, making him available in the offseason market. Several teams have shown interest, so I will be updating these pages frequently as the offseason progresses.

    Owner Arte Moreno told the LA Times at the conclusion of the 2010 season that he 'will do whatever it takes' to get the Halos back to the playoffs. What could that mean? Well, it definitely gives credence to the rumors of signing Carl Crawford.

    Bench coach Ron Roenicke took the job over at Milwaukee as the manager of the Brewers.

    On the radar:

    • Negotiations are under way with Rangers pitching star Cliff Lee. The Angels are one of six teams to discuss contracts with him.
    • Carl Crawford looks to be the top option this off-season.
    • It's been hypothesized that if Crawford gets offered more elsewhere, the Angels will try to target other outfielders Brett Gardner, Colby Rasmus, and free agent Bill Hall.
    • Eric Chavez has been rumored to sign a one-year deal will Anaheim.

    Strong points for a solid 2011 season:

    • Kendry Morales will return, and based on his attitude from a shaky 2010 season, he looks poised to return to form
    • Bobby Abreu takes a role as DH, and will allow the Angels to search for a strong bat, prefferably an outfielder.
    • OF Jeremy Moore was selected to be on the 40-man roster, which allows the Angels to retain his services. He has the potential to make a name for himself in the 2011 campaign.
    • Scott Kazmir has doubters, respectively. If he returns and can get back to form, the Angels pitching staff will improve exponentially. The concern is the bullpen, but even with uncertainty, the Angels had a team ERA of 4.04.

Houston Astros

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    The Astros' enter the 2011 season ready to shake off the cobwebs.

    To start the process, they acquired infielder Clint Barmes from the Rockies for starting pitcher Felipe Paulino.

    There is a lot of positive to be taken away from last season, most notably the emergence of two solid closers, Brandon Lyon and Matt Lindstrom. Both pitchers racked up over 20 saves, which is a first in the league since 1992.

    Hunter Pence returns after being crowned Houston's MVP, and outfielder Michael Bourn will be back in pursuit of his third straight gold glove award.

    Manager Brad Mills signed a contract extension in October, and will be the shot caller until at least the 2012 campaign.

    On the radar:

    • Koby Clemens, son of Roger Clemens, continues to dominate the minor leagues, hitting for over 20 homers and 85 RBI's. His counterpart, Drew Locke has also been putting up monster numbers. Both players were awarded MVP awards for their performances in the minor leagues.
    • Houston has been rumored to start Barmes at shortstop, which would give earlier addition Angel Sanchez a shot to man second base.
    • Houston declined the option to keep C Geoff Blum around.

    Strong points for a solid 2011 season:

    • Jeff Bagwell remains in the organization as a special adviser, and if he can stick around in some capacity, the Astros' will benefit greatly.
    • The return of their stars Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn will be monumental in building up a lineup around them.
    • The addition of Clint Barmes, who albeit had some struggles in Colorado, makes it possible for Houston to remain versatile with their infield slots.

Oakland Athletics

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    Oakland has already started the process of maintaining Billy Beane's normal off-season activities.

    The A's traded Vin Mazzaro for David Dejesus, Rajai Davis for some pitching help, and released Eric Chavez into free agency.

    Their pitching couldn't look any better then it does on paper. The real question is Brett Anderson. Are you for real? If so, the A's will make the playoffs. If not, the A's will struggle for .500...again.

    Oakland bolstered the fourth best pitching staff in the league last year, giving up 3.56 runs a game. Their run scoring? Horrendous.

    They managed only 663 runs, good enough to be in the bottom half of the league. Billy Beane told the Oakland Tribune newspaper that he will address power, and rumor has it that he's being truthful.

    On the radar:

    • With Lance Berkman on the list of players to approach, it's starting to look very plausible. The Yankees declined offering him arbitration which means the A's can make a run for him and not worry about giving up Beane's coveted draft picks.
    • Oakland will decided on the possibility of Adrian Beltre and Hideki Matsui as well. Safe to say, only one of these three will be able to fit into a modest Oakland Athletics salary.
    • With talks of bringing in a start from the Japanese league starting to dwindle, It's becoming more and more likely that Oakland takes a chance, and shells some cash to a big name free agent.

    Strong points for a solid 2011 season:

    • As their rivals across the bay have shown, pitching can win a World Series. The A's have been following that motto, and in the A's last playoff run, they featured the likes of Barry Zito, Dan Haren, and Rich Harden, and Joe Blanton. After trading everything but the shirt on their backs year after year, the possibility of having a solid rotation this early in the off-season is nothing short of amazing.
    • The signing of Dejesus is crucial. The pitching is there, the Athletics just need some run support, and Dejesus has the capability to get on base and knock runs in. An addition of any of the three possible signings mentioned above could lead to a 90+ win season in Oakland.

Toronto Blue Jays

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    Last season marked the emergence of slugger Jose Bautista, who cranked 54 homers and 124 RBI's. That was 12 more home runs then the next person behind him.

    Jays new manager John Farrell has entered his role with confidence. As the Blue Jays tried but failed to get Dan Uggla, it's becoming apparent that this season will be marked by added firepower to the lineup.

    Earlier this month, OF Rajai Davis joined the squad in Toronto and will most likely be the new lead-off hitter should he impress the staff leading up until opening day. The Jays gave up two minor league relief pitchers, a category marked with extreme depth within the organization.

    On the radar:

    • The Blue Jays part ways with C John Buck, who is known as a power hitting catcher, and hopes to contribute in 2011 for the Marlins after visiting the DL last season.
    • OF Justin Upton remains on the radar, and the Blue Jays are leading the campaign to bring him in. Stay tuned, as this would be a huge move for the 2011 season.
    • After losing 3B Edwin Encarnacion to free agency and SS Alex Gonzalez during the waning months of last season, the Blue Jays power driven offense must seek new employment. Eric Chavez remains on the radar, as they could use a veteran third basemen.

    Strong points for a solid 2011 season:

    • If the Jays can have a another solid year out of Bautista, the addition of Rajai Davis could be an eye opener.
    • Toronto finished ninth in the league with 755 runs scored, but was near the bottom of the rankings in team ERA, allowing roughly 4.5 runs a game. The Jays had the firepower, but couldn't contain opposing teams lineups.

Atlanta Braves

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    Atlanta was one of the teams last season who certainly capitalized in the addition of talent to the roster.

    This trend is far from being solidified.

    2B Martin Prado finished the season at 9th in NL MVP voting, and with Uggla stepping in as the new second basemen, Prado will take his talents to left field. Prado has said he's more then happy to accommodate.

    New manager Fredi Gonzalez, previously in charge of the Florida Marlins, has gone with some talent that he knows a lot about. Dan Uggla will join the Braves 2011 roster, and the Braves squad couldn't be more exited.

    Brian McCann explained it in one phrase, "He's exactly who we needed".

    In possibly the best addition of the off-season in Uggla, the Braves had to make some decisions, parting ways with 1B Derek Lee, and former first round draft pick outfielder Cody Johnson. Lee becomes a free agent, and the Yankees will try to groom Johnson after picking him up for some cash considerations.

    On the radar:

    • The Braves have been moving quick this off-season, don't look for it to slow up anytime soon. They added Alex Gonzalez from Toronto last season, and will happily add in Dan Uggla to a high powered infield.
    • After getting rid of infielder Omar Infante and left handed pitcher Mike Dunn, The Braves will no doubt target another big name, possibly Zach Greinke from the Royals. The Braves already have six or seven potential starters in the mix, but Greinke

    Strong points for a solid 2011 season:

    • Jason Heyward finished runner-up for NL rookie of the year, and can only grow from here. He joins a top of the lineup which will feature 5 potential all-stars in Uggla, Prado, McCann, Alex Gonzalez, and Heyward.
    • Can Tim Hudson have a dominant season in 2011? All signs point to yes, and if that's the case, the Braves will have an ace to work around.

Milwaukee Brewers

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    Brewers fans may disagree, but I feel as if the re-signing of pitcher Yovani Gallardo to a five year deal could be the best move made last season. He will work with new pitching coach Rick Kranitz, who was once a draft pick in 1979 by Milwaukee.

    They also wrapped up OF Corey Hart for three more years.

    Ken Macha was disposed of, and new manager Ron Roenicke has filled the empty spot in the dugout.

    There is a lot of positive going around the Milwaukee clubhouse. Pitcher Manny Parra is recovering well from surgery, and looks ready to hit spring training with a bang.

    The Brewers declined options on closer Trevor Hoffman and left handed pitcher Dave Bush. Other free agents include Craig Counsell, who will not be a problem for the Brewers considering he most likely will sign back with the team.

    Catcher Greg Zaun's 2011 contract was not picked up either, and I will give constant updates on the Brewers off-season activities.

    On the radar:

    • Both Upton's are on the radar. Prince Fielder has been announced as a player who will not be available in free agency, and the Brew Crew has made it clear that they would like to make a play on either BJ or Justin Upton.
    • Pitcher Jon Garland was waived by the San Diego Padres, and it's been reported that Milwaukee would like to take a chance on him.
    • John Axford will be in his second year and will take over the closer role for the Brewers

    Strong points for a solid 2011 season:

    • Trevor Hoffman actually helped the team by not accepting arbitration, meaning that Milwaukee will not have to give up a draft pick to deal with his contract. He will become a unrestricted free agent, and wants to sign somewhere else. This was big for the Brewers.
    • As stated above, the Brewers used their allowance of keeping a draft pick and moved up catcher Martin Maldonado.
    • RHP Justin James was claimed off waivers from Oakland. He could be someone to fill some vacancies in the bullpen.
    • The Brewers are poised to score runs next season. With Braun, Fielder, Weeks, and Hart returning, look for the top of the lineup to be effective. 
    • Yovani Gallardo gets 15 or more wins and the  Brew Crew are in business. Let's see if they can add others to join LaTroy Hawkins and Randy Wolf, and make the Brewers a solid rotation team.

Chicago Cubs

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    There is no reason why the Cubs were dormant last year. They boast an outfield that features Alfonso Soriano, Marlon Byrd, and the overpaid, Kusuke Fukudome.

    And with Carlos Zambrano...oh wait, in lies the the problem.

    The Cubs have  to figure out what they are going to do with Zambrano. Is he going to be the number one guy in the starting rotation? Is he a relief pitcher?

    The Cubs manager Mike Quade has been wrapped up for at least two years, and his first line of duty will be to figure out how the contracts will effect his lineup strategy.

    On the radar:

    • Cliff Lee was on the radar, but because of the salaries that the Cubs bolster, he is pretty much out of the picture.
    • Adam Dunn is rumored to join the Cubs by the end of the 2010 calendar year.
    • Free agent Bill Hall from Boston is certainly an option, should he choose to accept a modest contract.

    Strong points for solid 2011 season:

    • Alfonso Soriano simply will have to play like he is supposed to. He needs to revert to his Yankee days, and must play solid for a Cubs playoff berth.
    • Figure out Zambrano and his role in the clubhouse. Will they trade him?
    • Carlos Marmol is a vital role in the bullpen. If he can play solid, the Cubs will have enough help from the bat to protect their leads; as long as Marmol stay healthy.
    • The Cubs were in the bottom rung of the league in both runs scored and runs allowed. A lot of this has to do with Zambrano and his shakiness. The Cubs have to find an ace.

St. Louis Cardinals

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    The Cardinals are one the most impressive teams on paper this off-season, considering their diligent work in securing a solid rotation for the foreseeable future.

    The rotation will consist of Jake Westbrook (who was recently signed to a two year extension), Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter, Jaime Garcia, and Kyle Lohse.

    Even though Albert Pujols got blown up in the NL-MVP race by Joey Votto, Pujols remains one of the most instrumental players in all of baseball. But will he stay with St. Louis? The talks are becoming heated, but all signs point to the idea of him coming back.

    23-year old OF sensation Daryl Jones, who was once voted 'player of the organization' in 2008, will be available for other teams to shop. He could be a big name guy in a few years should he live up to his potential.

    On the radar:

    • After releasing infielder Felipe Lopez and not being proactive enough to gain rights to Dan Uggla, the Cardinals will shop the market for a big name guy. The Cardinals are highly clouted, so look for a big splash, possibly through trade.
    • Tony La Russa and Mark McGwire are back as coaches for the Cardinals.
    • Cardinals signed LHP Ryan Valdes from the NY Mets.

    Strong points for a solid 2011 season:

    • This is simple for the Cards: Remain healthy, predominantly in the bullpen. 
    • Pujols plays possessed. One of the hardest working players, Pujols will look to make sure he is the topic of discussion as a possible triple crown winner. If Pujols decides to leave, the Cards will be hampered.
    • The Cardinals have a host of minor league talent ready to explode. Check back for updates on their progress and maturity, as I will give updates on the Cardinals roster expansion.

Arizona Diamondbacks

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    The D-backs made a ton of trades during the 2010 MLB season.

    They parted ways with pitchers Dan Haren and Edwin Jackson, infielder Pedro Ciriaco and catcher Chris Snyder.

    In return, they received infielder Bobby Crosby, OF Ryan Church, and pitcher D.J. Carasco

    On the radar:

    • Upton will be traded, there is no decision there. As far as the radar for the D-backs, it has largely been taken care of during last season by opening up big contract money.
    • Arizona claimed the rights to two RHP's, Juan Jaime and Brian Sweeney. They could be key additions in a battered Arizona bullpen.
    • Arizona declined their option on 1B Adam Laroche.
    • Vladamir Guerrero is a very plausible option for the D-backs, but his terrible outfield play in the playoffs most likely eliminates him from the National League.

    Strong points for a solid 2011 season:

    • Can Brandon Webb come back from his injury prone season?
    • Can the Heilman, Webb, and Saunders be a dominant three man rotation? I don't think so, but it could happen if Webb gets back into early career form.
    • The addition to veteran Mike Hampton, a one time Astro and Met, could be big for the growth of the pitching staff. He could also play a vital role...but not likely.


    11/26/2010-- D-backs acquire pitcher Zach Duke from Pittsburgh.

Los Angeles Dodgers

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    The Dodgers are playing there own style of 'moneyball'. In an off-season marked with lots of doubt, there is some real positive parts of the organization.

    The Dodges agreed to a three year deal with Ted Lilly, which solidifies the rotation: Lilly, Kuroda, Billingsly, Kershaw and Padilla.

    That's not the end of the pitching search for the Dodgers however. They have put their bids in for two highly praised pitchers from Japan.

    On the radar:

    • First and foremost, catcher Russell Martin is of major concern. They must work out an extension for him, as I feel as if he is a big role in their success for next season.
    • Scott Posednik has turned down an option for the Dodgers, and will be a free agent. The Dodger will align themselves with several other teams for the consideration of any free agent who can work under their budget.
    • Catcher Brad Ausmus has officially retired. The Dodgers will try to solidify a backup.

    Strong points for a solid 2011 season:

    • This is known by all Dodger fans: Matt Kemp, James Loney, and Russell Martin all have to play as a cohesive unit. They played well in some stages of last season, but with disarray around Manny Ramirez, the Dodgers have been preoccupied with things that shouldn't take much time.
    • OF Jay Gibbons will be around next year, and if he can do what Posednik couldn't do last year, then the Dodgers could have a pretty solid outfield.
    • Once again, as the Giants proved, pitching will prevail in the post-season, so health is of paramount concern.


    11/26/2010-- Dodgers come to terms with pitcher Jon Garland. 1-yr deal worth $5 million.

San Francisco Giants

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    The Giants are movers and shakers.

    With an all-star caliber pitching rotation, the need for power was found in a trio of unsung heroes consisting of Aubrey Huff, Buster Posey, and Pat Burrell.

    Add in Juan Uribe and Edgar Renteria with the playoff experience they possess, and there you have it: A World Series championship team.

    The Giants have already been doing work in the off-season.

    Edgar Renteria is out, Aubrey Huff has been signed to a two year deal, and the Giants have been shopping around for a new shortstop.

    In other news, which is really exciting considering I think he is the best play-by-play guy in the game, Jon Miller has decided to leave ESPN and be the main guy for the Giants. He will commentate all 162 games next season.

    On the radar:

    • Two words: Brandon Belt. The Giants farm system is resembling their rivals across the bay, and Brandon Belt is the latest 'Buster Posey', if you will. Belt plays 1B, and has been tearing it up on every level of the farm system.
    • The Giants want a shortstop. Topping the list, Arizona's Stephen Drew has been declared unavailable, making the Giants look elsewhere. Other names on the wish list include Marco Scutaro and Jason Bartlett.

    Strong points for a solid 2011 season:

    • Obtaining a shortstop will solidify an already cohesive bunch, and give added support for a lights out pitching staff who gave up 3.36 runs a game, and posted 17 shutouts.
    • If they can sign Juan Uribe back, the Giants will be the team to beat in the NL, being mentioned in the same sentence as the Phillies and the Cardinals.

Cleveland Indians

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    The Indians have remained relatively quiet so far this off-season, as most teams have been up until this point.

    However, Indians CEO Paul Dolan has declared that this is not the right time to be talking about free agents, sighting in-house issues that must be taken care of first.

    One of those issues is Korean star, Sin Choo Choo. All Korean men are required to serve two years in the military, and Soo Choo has just been declared exempt from all of this, partly because of his recent gold medal campaign in the Asian Games for South Korea.

    Another issue that must be dealt with is the rehab progress of OF Grady Sizemore and Carlos Santana from recent knee surgeries. They are progressing as planned, and are expected to both make their debut on opening day.

    On the radar:

    • The Indians have made no mention of marquee players in which they plan on targeting, but earlier this month the Indians hinted towards bringing in a 'strong arm pitcher'. I think Jon Garland would be a good fit for Cleveland, considering he fits the job description. Bottom line: The Indians aren't going to put out the money necessary to reel in a big catch.
    • Pitcher Anthony Reyes has joined the 40-man roster once again after being dropped in late October.

    Strong points for a solid 2011 season:

    • First and foremost, Grady Sizemore has to be healthy by opening day. He has the ability to hit anywhere in the lineup and brings solid defense to a shaky outfield.
    • Sin Choo Choo could have been inactive for two years, but thanks to the South Korean government office, he is able to return to the Indians without serving his obligatory military stint.
    • Cleveland was in the bottom tier of runs allowed and runs scored last season, mostly due to unhealthy players. If the Indians want a shot, the pitchers they have in place (Fausto Carmona, Justin Masterson) must get some help from somewhere.
    • The acquisition of OF Preston Mattingly for OF Roman Pena could be a highlight from the end of the 2010 season. I will be observing his progress, and if he has a solid spring league outing, he could be a hot topic come April.

Seattle Mariners

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    The Mariners remain in the chase for OF Justin Upton from the Arizona D-backs. He is by far their most prevalent option in free agency.

    Felix Hernandez is still in the hangover stages of winning the AL Cy Young. It was nice to see him win the award after his frustrating season on the 'unable to win' Mariners.

    Ichiro Suzuki is fresh off his 10th straight Gold Glove award. That is tied for the all-time MLB record, and I wouldn't be surprised if Suzuki makes it 12 or 13 in a row by the time he's done. His play is remarkable, and if on any other team, he'd be the pillar of foundation. 

    With Eric Wedge as the new manager of the team, they have already began to clean house. Russell Branyon, Eric Bedard, and Jose Lopez were all released either because they refused their assignments to the farm leagues or they couldn't come to an agreement with management.

    Here is a name you should keep in mind: Dustin Ackley. He just won the Arizona fall league MVP award with a .424 batting average. He's coming along beautifully, and as of now, can play both infield and outfield. He is another modern day Buster Posey, and plan on seeing more of these players hit the scene in the next few years as players are increasing their visibility by playing more positions.

    On the radar:

    • Russell Branyon is waiting until Christmas before he declares himself a free agent, but he refuses to be assigned in the farm leagues. He wants to come back, but realizes that if he's not wanted, he will take his bat elsewhere.
    • With no Bedard in the rotation, Felix Hernandez will be the guy in Seattle. They have to add someone else to help him out.

    Strong points for a solid 2011 season:

    • Ichiro is back, so there will be runners on base. Now if only Seattle can pull a free agent out of the mix.
    • Branyon needs to come back, and if not, they have to go after Vladamir Guerrero or Adam Dunn.
    • Rookie Dustin Ackley will be in the mix this year, and I will be awaiting his big league splash at some point this year, should he choose to make the jump to the bigs. 

Florida Marlins

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    The Marlins are in a tough spot already in the off-season.

    Dan Uggla, arguably the face of the franchise, was traded to the Braves because of his desire for a more lengthy contract. On the flip side, Omar Infante is not a bad pawn piece to have on the board.

    The Marlins are in the market for another starting pitcher, and as the off-season progresses, so do talks with Javier Vasquez and Jared Washburn.

    The Marlins recently finalized a three year deal with catcher John Buck, worth about $18-million.

    On the radar:

    • Jon Garland, Jared Washburn, and Javier Vasquez top the list as of now.
    • The Marlins will seek help to fill the spot that departing Dan Uggla left behind. As of now, Omar Infante will look to be penciled in. He finished third in the NL in batting average, hitting for a .321 average. Not to shabby.

    Strong points for a solid 2011 season:

    • The addition of John Buck is huge for Florida. If he can play well, the Marlins will be ahead of schedule in the production of runs for the 2011 season.
    • Since giving up Cody Ross and being witness to what he did in his supporting cast to bring home a title for the Giants, the Marlins are hoping that the departure of Cameron Maybin doesn't come back to haunt them as well.
    • The Marlins were in the middle of the pack last season in runs scored and runs allowed, and with Josh Johnson returning to the staff, the Marlins future could be jubilant if Annibal Sanchez has a solid season in 2011.

New York Mets

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    Welcome, Terry Collins. You''ve inherited a team on the brink of mutiny.

    But how is a team with so much talent constantly in a discussion about leagues worst managed teams?

    The Mets got rid of Jeff Francoeur and Rod Barajas last season in an effort to clean house a little early, preparing for some big moves this off-season.

    The rumors of Derek Jeter have been swirling, but reports indicate that even if Jeter tests the market, the Mets will not be one of his future homes.

    On the radar:

    • As of yet, the Mets haven't done much more then find a new manager and hire a whole slew of coaches within the organization. As usual, check back for the latest off-season updates for the Mets.

    Strong points for a solid 2011 season:

    • David Wright and Jose Reyes. That's all that needs to be said about the infield talent that the Mets bolster. But why haven't the produced to the point of a playoff berth? The Mets pitching must be the problem right? Wrong. The Mets were seventh in the major leagues in runs allowed last year. It's the run production that has been lacking, hence a need for some power.
    • Mike Pelfrey, Jon Niese, and R.A. Dickey will be back as the headliners for the Mets staff. The Mets have yet to make a lot of moves, so when they do, expect them to address power needs. The Pitching staff looks pretty solid.
    • The question of when Johan Santana will be effecive in the 2011 season is of major concern as well.

Washington Nationals

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    The Nats were dealt a significant blow when right handed hurler Stephen Strasburg went in for Tommy-John Surgery last season.

    With him on the shelf for the foreseeable future, Washington must roll with the punches.

    Ryan Zimmerman, the clubs MVP, will look to function as the premiere player on a very young team. Pitchers Jason Marquis and Scott Olsen look to set the pace, with grizzled vet Livan Hernandez adding a much needed leadership role within the staff.

    Adam Dunn has been targeted by several teams, but his lack of defense is certainly a deal breaker for some teams.

    On the radar:

    • With Matt Capps out of the picture, the Nationals will focus their attention on starting pitcher Carl Pavano on the Twins.
    • The Nationals were in the preliminary running for Cliff Lee, but once Cliff saw their name on the list, he quickly became more serious with other 'title shot' teams.

    Strong points for a solid 2011 season:

    • Reel in Carl Pavano. The Nats could have a decent rotation if they could attract Pavano.
    • Stephen Strasburg has to have a good recovery for the sake of the franchise. I'm looking forward to his rehab, and It couldn't have come at a worse time for the Nationals. Come to think of it, there is no 'worst' time for the Nats--It's always pretty grim.
    • After failing to pick up the contract for Adam Kennedy, the penciled in replacement, Danny Espinosa, is going to miss some time. He is having hand surgery, and will miss up to six weeks, if not more.

Baltimore Orioles

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    Where to start, where to start.

    The Orioles have until midnight to decide if they want to offer pitchers Kevin Millwood and Koji Uehara arbitration. If not, they will hit the market and will be available for draft pick compensation.

    Jeremy Guthrie is probably the O's best trading pawn, and Nick Markakis is probably the player with the most value, but he is hot and cold as far as consistency. The O's would love to keep Wiggington, but it's highly unlikely.

    Baltimore was third to last in the league, giving up a staggering 4.7 runs a game. With no offense on the flip side, the Orioles suffered a dismal year.

    On the radar:

    • The Orioles put out a hefty deal for C Victor Martinez only to be shot down by the Detroit Tigers. While the O's get over themselves for losing out, the off-season radar is pretty bleak. 
    • The O's have some money to spend, and after dealing Tejada to the Padres last season. Pitcher Wynn Pelzer looks to help out for the Orioles next season.
    • The arbitration deals for the pitchers as mentioned above headline the O's off-season concerns.

    Strong points to a solid 2011 season:

    • C Matt Weiters is a beast. Due to a couple injuries suffered last season, he didn't fulfill the stat sheet projections laid out for him. However, he is solid catcher and will have a big season next year regardless of the O's success.
    • If OF Luke Scott returns completely healthy next season, the O's could be in business. The infield is solid, boasting the likes of Ty Wiggington, Julio Lugo, Cesar Izturis, and Brian Roberts. The question is, can they sign them back? Wiggington, Lugo and Izturis all filed for free agency in early November.
    • The pitching has been horrid for Baltimore, and they must make some trades/free agent pick ups to address this concern if they want to be competitive in 2011.

San Diego Padres

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    The Padres finished a great season in dreadful fashion, allowing the Giants to make the playoffs on the last game of the season. How did that turn out for the rest of the Playoff teams? Just ask the Rangers.

    The addition of Miguel Tejada seemed to be the perfect move, as the Padres resurgence to take the division took center stage. It turned out to be "too little, too late."

    The Pad Squad has made the headlines so far in the off-season, announcing that pitchers Jon Garland, Chris Young and catcher Yorvit Torreabla have declined their options to rejoin the club.

    This is in large part to the Padres interest in making sure that Adrian Gonzalez sticks around. However, a trade for Adrian is not completely out of the picture.

    On the radar:

    • With the moves made so far, the Padres have obviously moved towards a rebuild phase. The Padres were second in the league behind SF in runs allowed per game with 3.39, and even with the changes made, the Padres are favored to keep pace with last seasons ranking.
    • I believe Eric Chavez is a very likely possibility for San Diego
    • With the addition of Cameron Maybin, the Padres will have some speed at the front of the lineup, with the young son of Tony Gwynn batting lead-off.

    Strong points for a solid 2011 season:

    • Retain Adrian Gonzalez. He is split at the moment, but maybe if the money is right, he will stay. If not, the Pads could be in some power trouble. Ryan Ludwick spent some time on the DL last season, but if he can stay healthy, he can play a vital role in scoring runs.
    • Arbitration was offered to pitcher Kevin Correia, and his re-signing with the club is monumental in keeping up with last seasons pitching dominance.

Philadelphia Phillies

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    The Phillies finished off a great season by looking at a strike-three call as it whizzed by Ryan Howard.

    The big three pitchers couldn't seal the deal, and the Phills lacks of run support proved costly.

    As far as off-season moves and ideas, the Phillies only have one: Keep the current team in order.

    On the radar:

    • Make sure Jayson Werth rejoins the 2011 Phillies squad. He has been offered arbitration, and because of his 'type A' title, his departure would mean the Phillies will receive two draft picks. However, Werth has made it clear that he wants a multi-year deal. His agent? Scott Boras. Expect Werth to sign elsewhere, and for the Phillies to receive a couple of draft picks for his departure.
    • Pitcher Chad Durbin has also been offered arbitration, but shall he choose to reject the one-year deal, the Phillies won't get much in return. Time will tell the 'Werth' of these two. Get it? I hope so.
    • The Phillies are being mum on the subject of who they will try to acquire, but one thing is for certain. Philadelphia needs help in the bullpen. J.J. Putz has been tossed around in recent reports, but certainly is not who the Phillies are gunning for. After midnight tonight, we will learn of many more free agents out there for the Phillies to pounce on.

    Strong points for a solid 2011 season:

    • Roy Oswalt, Roy Halladay, and Cole Hamels. If all three pitchers have a dominant season, the Phillies will find themselves right back in the NL championship.
    • With Ryan Howard coming back, he needs to focus on how mad his strikeout made him feel after it essentially marked the end of over 170 games played.
    • The Phillies look solid all around, but when/if Werth leaves, they will be in the market for an outfielder.

Pittsburgh Pirates

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    The Pirates gave up a league worst 5 runs a game last season. That means, obviously, that on average the Pirates were forced to score roughly six a game to win a contest.

    Pittsburgh managed to score only 587 runs, good for second worst in the league.

    The result?

    A league worst 105 losses. Similar to getting a zero out of 100 on a test, that many losses takes some effort. You actually have to try and fail that badly.

    With new manager Clint Hurdle in place, the Pirates look to improve on their horrid outing last season.

    On the radar:

    • In early September, OF John Bowker was recalled back up to the team. Why am I mentioning this? I actually got a chance to see Bowker play before he was a professional, and I really like what he brings to the table. Let's see if he can add a spark to the dead-battery Pirates.
    • The Pirates started cleaning house, designating Zach Duke, Andy LaRoche and Delwyn Young for assignment. This was a long time coming move, as all three had terrible seasons in 2010.
    • As one writer put it, Justin Upton would be a 'dream come true'. Don't hold your breathe Pittsburgh.

    Strong points for a solid 2011 season:

    • Hmmm...let me think. First and foremost, Andrew McCutchen is crucial to a season of improvement. 
    • On second glance of the roster, I can't see how Pittsburgh lost 105 times. Paul Maholm is decent, they have two solid catchers in Doumit and Snyder, and on every other day, Lastings Milledge is effective. The Pirates could be a surprise next season. By surprise, I mean they could win 70 games max.

Texas Rangers

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    Before the first pitch was even thrown in the World Series, commentators and media across the nation raved about the awesome bat talent that Texas possessed. 

    What they forgot to mention is how the Giants pitching staff possessed the ability to shut down any batter.

    And where did Cliff Lee go in the playoffs?

    The Rangers are now home to the AL MVP in Josh Hamilton, but as sweet as that is, it leaves a bitter taste in the mouth of Nolan Ryan and Ron Washington. 

    The Rangers also own the AL Rookie of the year in Nefetali Perez.

    All of this happened to be simply not enough for a ring.

    On the radar:

    • The Rangers are in the works of signing Josh Hamilton to a long term deal, but have chose to wait a little bit on the exact schematics.
    • Cliff Lee has been offered deals from several teams, but the Rangers are claiming to match whatever offer is on the table. With Rich Harden designated to assignment, the idea of him being the new man in the rotation is on the back-burners.
    • Newly added Jeff Franceour has elected free agency, and will most likely sign with a lower rung teams such as the Nationals, who desperately could use him.
    • Vladamir Guerrero was also declined from an offer of arbitration. He will go to another AL club, reason being his fielding skills are questionable at best.

    Strong points for a solid 2011 season:

    • I am under the impression that this run to the World Series was a one time deal. I know I will catch some flack for that, but I believe it's true. With the departure of Cliff Lee, CJ Wilson will become the ace in the rotation. Texas will be without their big game starter, and although the run production is certainly there, the pitching might fall sharply.
    • The big guys in the lineup are all rumored to be back. The Texas lineup is going to a problem for pitchers across the league, but with the AL West home to the promising rotation of Oakland, the Rangers will have to be a little more diligent in manufacturing runs. If they can resume their long ball tendencies, the Rangers will be right back in the playoffs.

Tampa Bay Rays

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    The Rays are in the headlines because of players rumored to leave, not players coming to the state of Florida.

    Carl Crawford has been in negotiations with several teams, as has the notion of a trade for Jason Bartlett.

    The Rays finished last year in bad fashion. Evan Longoria called out fans in Tampa Bay for selling out, and in an ironic turn, it was the Rays that were the sellouts.

    That being said, the Rays posses some of the leagues best talent. As of late, they've offered seven players arbitration. All seven are guys that could really improve a team.

    The players include OF's Carl Crawford and Brad Hawpe, and relievers Rafael Soriano, Grant Balfour, Chad Qualls, Randy Choate, and Joaquin Benoit.

    In the same breathe, the Rays didn't offer compensation for Carlos Pena and Dan Wheeler. OF's Rocco Baldelli and Gabe Kapler will also be free agents, as their contracts don't suggest compensation as necessary. They could start the season in the Rays farm system.

    On the radar:

    • Tampa Bay would like to have Balfour back, as his contract makes sense. The others are expected to decline the arbitration deal, which most players do. Because of the high quality of the players, the Rays could receive up to 10 draft picks if all seven of these players split from the Rays.
    • Other then the slew of relievers at the end of their contracts, the Rays still have one of the most dominant rotations in the league. Look for the Rays to start shopping after the midnight deadline tonight (the deadline for players to accept arbitration or just become straight up free agents).

    Strong points for a solid 2011 season:

    • If Tampa Bay can retain some of their players, the Rays will look to have a really solid 2011 season. Time will tell, and for Tampa Bay especially, we have to wait in order to decide on how their season will end up.

Boston Red Sox

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    The Red Sox are in the news after the departure of their catcher Victor Martinez. He is now a Detroit Tiger, and the Red Sox are rumored to make many moves this off-season.

    Jared Saltalamacchia will be the man behind the plate from now on, as the Red Sox put high value on his all around play.

    Adrian Beltre, Felipe Lopez, and Bill Hall have all either been denied, or have refused an arbitration offer, making them all available on the market.

    We will find out soon on the futures of David Ortiz and Scott Atchinson, as they have been offered deals by the Red Sox.

    The Red Sox are in a decent position, and unlike the Rays, many of their stars will be back in the Red Sox dugout.

    On the radar:

    • Boston has made two moves so far, one being the acquisition of Taylor Buchholtz from the waiver wire out of Toronto, the other being a trade left handed pitching move: The Red Sox deal Dustin Richardson and receive Andrew Miller from Florida.
    • With Saltamacchia being praised so highly, the Red Sox hope to have a monster year from behind the plate. $50 mil was just too much to keep Victor Martinez around.
    • Boston will be in the news soon, but for now, we must wait.

    Strong points for a solid 2011 season:

    • Boston has the ability to shut teams down with their pitching staff. Matsuzaka must stay healthy, but if he can, they have the bullpen to keep games under control, featuring the likes of Hideki Okajima and Jonathon Papelbon.
    • Should Beltre choose to leave, which is more then likely, the Red Sox could go for Juan Uribe to fill their needs.
    • The question is: How strong will the division be? If the Rays move to rebuild mode, the Red Sox might find themselves in a familiar situation, battling the Yankees for the automatic playoff bid.

Cincinnati Reds

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    The Reds stormed into the playoffs in 2010 behind the bat of Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips. They scored 790 runs, fourth most in the league last season. Jay Bruce would be angry that he wasn't mentioned in this duo, so let's include him as well.

    In the news lately, the Reds re-signed C Ramon Hernandez to a deal, and are also forced to deal with how to approach reliever Arthur Rhodes, and infielder Orlando Cabrera.

    Joey Votto is the NL MVP, and with that being said, he has the ability to take a team to the playoffs with them on his back. Check last season's stats for that.

    On the radar:

    • Dontrelle Willis signed a deal that will put him in the Reds' farm system.
    • Jay Bruce has been hinting at a long term deal, and allegedly will receive his wish once things settle down in the off-season.
    • Arroyo and Harang will be headlining the 2011 rotation, and the closer role is a lock with Francisco Cordero. The Reds may be interested in the wealth of relievers to hit the market, specifically Grant Balfour should he choose to test the market.

    Strong points for a solid 2011 season:

    • Safe to say, if Jay Bruce, Joey Votto, and Brandon Phillips can become a tandem that teams fear, the Reds will see themselves right back in the thick of a playoff race come September.
    • Bullpen help: Can the Reds make some moves to address their pitching needs? If so, Cincy could move one step further, possibly advancing in the playoffs.

Colorado Rockies

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    The Rockies start the 2011 season with one of the best pitcher in the least friendly pitchers park. Yet somehow, Ubaldo Jimenez continues to shine.

    Clint Barmes is no longer on the team after a trade sent him to Houston for righty Felipe Paulino.

    LHP Jeff Francis will also hit the market, as Colorado refuses to offer him arbitration.

    As expected, Colorado gave up a lot of runs last season, but were able to produce enough runs to be in the top 10 in 2010. This can be accredited to the where Colorado plays half of their games.

    On the radar:

    • Jorge De La Rosa is on the chop block. We still await final word, but it looks as if he has thrown his last pitches in Colorado.
    • Carlos Gonzalez looks to improve on a great 2010 campaign. Carlos finished 3rd in NL MVP voting, and solidifies the lineup with his run scoring capabilities.
    • Justin Upton is on the radar for Colorado.

    Strong points for a solid 2011 season:

    • Tulowitzki and Gonzalez are coming off their silver-slugging seasons, and with these two in the lineup they can pose a threat for any pitcher traveling to Colorado.
    • If they can get Upton or another bat in the lineup, they will be well along their way to another miracle type season, resembling their upset playoff run leading to a World Series berth against Boston Lefty Francis is no longer around, so the Rockies will have to search for a valiant LHP. If they find one, the Rockies are in business.
    • Manny Corpas, one time closer, has been released. We will check his progress in a week.

Kansas City Royals

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    The Royals dealt OF David Dejesus to Oakland and have been rumored to be in discussions involving P Zach Greinke.

    P Brian Bannister has also hit the market, as he refused arbitration.

    The Royals dealt most of their talent last season, sending Scott Posednik to the Dodgers and Jose Guillen to the Giants.

    On the radar:

    • The Royals picked up infielder Joaquin Arias off waivers from the NY Mets.
    • Jason Kendall has been reinstated to the team, and will likely serve as the teams starting catcher in 2011.
    • Kyle Davies remains in the rotation plan for now. This may change if trades start to happen.
    • Vin Mazzaro, a guy with a lot of talent and possible 4th starter will look to help out the Royals rotation.

    Strong points for a solid 2011 season:

    • The Royals have to find answers for the several players who have departed over the last calendar year.
    • If Greinke leaves, so do the Royals chances of becoming competitive down the stretch.

Minnesota Twins

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    The Twins are foaming at the mouth over last years misfortune. This year, they hope to have both of their stars for the playoffs.

    Manager Ron Gardenhire will be around for at least the next two years, which is a great thing for Minnesota. He is one of my favorite managers to listen to in post-game chats.

    The Twinkies exercised their options on Jason Kubel, but as far as Nick Punto is concerned, he can test the market. 

    Carl Pavano is rumored to leave soon, so that opens the door for a possible move that could land Chris Young or another free agent.

    On the radar:

    • Brian Fuentes looks to be more of a part of the program after his late season acquisition from the Angels.
    • Joe Nathan has told the staff he's ready for next season. This is big news in Minnesota.
    • JJ hardy has been targeted by the Orioles, and may be moving teams sooner then later.
    • Orlando Hudson was offered arbitration, and we will find out his future with Minnesota in a couple of days.

    Strong points for a solid 2011 season:

    • Joe Nathan. Enough said.
    • Morneau healthy down the stretch. His injury took the wind out of Minnesota's sails last season.
    • Can they replace Pavano if/when he leaves?

Detroit Tigers

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    The Tigers headline the news with their lucrative offer for Red Sox C Victor Martinez.

    That sets up a one-two punch with Martinez and Miguel Cabrera, who was the runner up in the AL MVP voting. That's pretty solid.

    Brandon Inge will also be back for another two years, as he signed a contract last season that will keep him around. Inge is a sold bat in the bottom half of the lineup, something that most teams don't have.

    One time released SS Johnny Peralta will rejoin the club after being offered a contract.

    The Tigers have also acquired pitcher Joaquin Benoit to help them in the bullpen.

    On the radar:

    • Well, it was Victor Martinez and it worked out beautifully. The Tigers will be poised to knock in a lot of runs early in the 2011 campaign. 
    • As for now, the Tigers will relish in their signing. Look for them to be back on the market after the weekend.
    • The Tigers failed to offer arbitration to Jeremy Bonderman. Where he will end up is a mystery at the moment, and as fans have mentioned, he's not the dominant pitcher he once was.

    Strong points for a solid 2011 season:

    • Cabrera, Martinez, and Inge. These three can carry the offense to heights rarely seen, and it they can keep the average up, the Tigers will be a real threat.
    • With the pitching staff in place featuring Justin Verlander, the Tigers could always use some help in the free agency market.

Chicago White Sox

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    The White Sox hit the off-season with some decisions to make: Do they want to keep around their veterans?

    The pitching staff is solid, but like most teams, they are a long way from deciding on a solid rotation. Jake Peavy is progressing, but even an April comeback date is unlikely.

    The White Sox offered arbitration to J.J. Putz and Paul Konerko. A.J. Pierzynski will be available, and the White Sox think that his value will continue to increase as teams asses their need for a veteran catcher.

    On the radar:

    • Putz has been rumored to leave for Arizona. The D-backs need his services like crazy.
    • It will be interesting to see what kind of deal Konerko gets. The staff has said that he will be the one guy they will put the most effort into as far as keeping him in Chicago.
    • The White Sox are in a position to make some moves, but first they have to wait what happens with Manny Ramirez and what kind deals he gets offered.
    • Omar Vizquel was signed to a contract earlier in the month.

    Strong points for a solid 2011 season:

    • The Sox can have a great season if they can get some more production from their pitching staff. They ranked 18th last season, giving up over 4 runs a game.
    • Can the Sox keep Konerko? If they can, they can have the same type of season as last year, but if not, the White Sox are in trouble.

New York Yankees

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    The Yankees.

    Always the front-runners of the MLB off-season festivities, the Yankees are back at it again.

    With allegedly the biggest contract offered to a pitcher directed at Cliff Lee, it's clear the Yankees are furious that their enormous payroll was unable to produce some rings last season.

    Derek Jeter has been offered a multi-year deal, but he feels as if $48 mil over three years is not what he really wants. If he can't find a better deal, the Yanks may be able to retain him.

    The Yankees declined to offer Lance Berkman, Kerry Wood, Chad Gaudin and Nick Johnson arbitration, making them free agents. There are a ton of teams that would benefit from these guys, so look for them to be gobbled up throughout the month.

    The Yankees are discussing life without Javier Vasquez but will wait until Cliff Lee's decision is made.

    On the radar:

    • Who isn't on the Yankees radar. Literally every player who becomes a free agents has a chance to be grabbed by the Yankees. As of late, they have only chosen to go after the big name guys. Once Lee and Jeter are off of their plate, the Yankees will focus on needs, which revolves around their bullpen.

    Strong points to a solid 2011 season:

    • They just have to show up. Texiera has to play great in the playoffs, and if Jeter leaves, they will have to find a replacement. Robinson Cano can play both positions, and considering how versatile he is, that gives the Yanks flexibility in who they look for should Jeter split.
    • Can C.C. have a strong year? Can A.J. be the guy they offered all that money for? Or is it Cliff Lee who can seal the deal for the Yanks? I think Cliff Lee is overkill, but if it does happen, the Yanks will be a lock for best rotation in the AL.