Offseason Needs for Every MLB Team

Adam WellsFeatured ColumnistDecember 9, 2010

Off-Season Needs For Every MLB Team

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    With the MLB Winter Meetings over with we have seen a lot of movement from a lot of big name players. There are certainly winners (Boston, Jayson Werth) and losers (Yankees, Nationals). However, there are still needs that every team has. Here is a look at the biggest needs for all 30 teams and ways that they might fix them.

Baltimore Orioles

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    Biggest Weakness: Power

    The Orioles are nearing the end of their rebuilding process and waiting for the prospects to provide the results that the organization expects them to. They have young starting pitchers who have great attributes, it's just a matter of getting them acclimated to the majors.

    Matt Wieters needs to take the next step in his progression, he improved in the second half of the season but was still not the player that everyone believes he can be. He is only 24, so there is plenty of time.

    They traded for Mark Reynolds to bring some power into that lineup. Unfortunately, he won't bring anything else. He strikeouts waaaaaaaaaaay too much and his defense doesn't make up for his offensive deficiencies.

    If Adam Jones can be the player that he was in the first half of 2009, and Wieters shows improvement to go along with their young starters the Orioles can have their foundation for 2012 and beyond.

Boston Red Sox

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    Biggest Weakness: Bullpen

    It's hard to point out a weakness on a team that just acquired the best LF in baseball, Carl Crawford, and one of the best 1B in baseball, Adrian Gonzalez. However, there is a glaring weakness in the Red Sox bullpen.

    Daniel Bard is a closer in the making and Jonathan Papelbon will look to have a bounce back year after struggling at times in 2010. Beyond those two guys there are some question marks in the Sox 'Pen. They need a lefty really bad. Okajima struggled mightily in 2010 and the Red Sox declined his option.

    They could take a run at Scott Downs but may not want to give up another draft pick for a reliever. They have been linked to Brian Fuentes but he is looking for $6-8 million a year and that's a lot of money for a guy who can only get lefties out.

    Really the best possible scenario for Boston would be getting a healthy Josh Beckett and an improved John Lackey so that they wouldn't have to use the bullpen a lot.

New York Yankees

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    Biggest Weakness: Starting Pitching

    They got their captain resigned, though he wasn't happy with the way things went down (nor should he be). Now they are trying to answer the Red Sox moves with their own HUGE move by making a big push for Cliff Lee.

    In 2010, after CC Sabathia there was no one else that the Yankees could depend on. Andy Pettitte was good, but he was hurt for much of the second half. He may come back to the Yankees or he may retire, who knows right now. AJ Burnett was a disaster, Phil Hughes wore down as the year went on, and the fifth spot was a revolving door of prospects and journeymen.

    If they are able to sign Cliff Lee they will move back into a tie with the Red Sox for best team in baseball. If they get Lee and Pettitte back, they could move slightly ahead of Boston. One thing is for sure, the Yankees will do anything and everything they can to make sure that Boston doesn't get all the headlines this winter.

Tampa Bay Rays

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    Biggest Weakness: Lineup

    During this 3-year run that the Rays have put together since 2008, they have never had a great lineup. They have a great hitter in Evan Longoria but beyond that they haven't had a whole lot. Carl Crawford is a dynamic player but not an elite hitter. Ben Zobrist was great in 2009 but took a big step back in 2010. They have a lot of guys that can work the count but don't do much else.

    Now they have lost Crawford and their offense is even weaker now. Desmond Jennings has the tools to be a good replacement for Crawford but he didn't inspire a lot of confidence with his 2010 performance in the minors or majors. They have no money to spend, so any replacements will have to come from within or a small trade.

    The bullpen will be completely different. Rafael Soriano, Joaquin Benoit, Grant Balfour are all free agents and unlikely to come back. They will have to rebuild that on the fly.

    The rotation will be good. They are likely to deal either Matt Garza or James Shields but they have Baseball America Minor League Player of The Year, Jeremy Hellickson, to throw into the rotation for whomever they decide to move. David Price came into his own in 2010 and will continue to get better.

    One thing that Rays fans can take comfort in they will get a ton of draft picks for losing Crawford, Soriano, et al and this team has drafted and developed better than any team in the last decade. So the Rays will take a step back this year but it won't be long before they are right back up there with Boston and New York.

Toronto Blue Jays

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    Biggest Weakness: Bullpen

    After years of entertaining the idea of rebuilding the Blue Jays are finally ready to get things started on turning around their franchise. It started last year when they traded Roy Halladay, it will get into full swing in 2011 now that Cito Gaston isn't there to keep sitting the young guys and playing veterans to add a couple wins to his record.

    The lineup will be fine even with the regression of Jose Bautista, who will not match his 2010 performance again. A return to form for guys like Adam Lind and Aaron Hill to go along with the development of Travis Snider and J.P. Arencibia will give the Blue Jays a very good lineup.

    The rotation is strong, though it was hurt a bit by the trade of Shaun Marcum. Ricky Romero is an ace in the making. If Brandon Morrow can maintain his control throughout a whole season, he has #1 starter stuff. Kyle Drabek, the centerpiece of the Halladay trade, has ace potential, he just needs time to develop. Dustin McGowan has a high ceiling, he just needs to stay healthy.

    The bullpen, which was 21st in baseball in 2010, could lose it's two best components, Scott Downs and Jason Frasor. They will have to find pieces to plug into the bullpen to be successful in 2011.

Chicago White Sox

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    Biggest Weakness: Starting Pitching

    The White Sox have addressed their biggest offensive need with the signing of Adam Dunn to be their DH. Now they go into 2011 as a likely favorite in the AL Central because of how good their offense can be and the back of their bullpen being strong.

    The bullpen will be good, possibly better with the subtraction of Bobby Jenks. They have two of the hardest throwing lefties in baseball with Matt Thornton and 2010 first-round pick, Chris Sale. The Sox have said that they are going to give Sale a chance to start but his motion is best suited in the bullpen.

    The rotation has issues that will need to be answered as the 2011 season progresses. Is Jake Peavy ever going to be healthy? Will John Danks be more consistent in 2011? Was Edwin Jackson for real (probably not)? Can Gavin Floyd find some consistency? If they can get positive answers to all these questions they will likely own the AL Central in 2011. If they don't get positive answers, it will be a long summer in Chicago.

Cleveland Indians

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    Biggest Weakness: Starting Pitching

    The Indians have fallen on really hard times the last two years. Now only have they lost 190 games in 2009 and 2010 combined but they had to watch as Cliff Lee and CC Sabathia pitched in the world series. This team has a number of holes right now but they have answers at most of them in the minors.

    They need a second baseman and third baseman right now. Two of their best prospects are 3B Lonnie Chisenhall and 2B Jason Kipnis but neither guy will be ready for opening day. They need Grady Sizemore to come back and be the player he was from 2006-2008. They need Carlos Santana to stay healthy, he probably would have won AL Rookie of the Year if not for a nasty knee injury against Boston. Shin-Soo Choo is one of the best all around players in the AL. If they can keep Sizemore and Santana healthy and Matt LaPorta develops into a consistent power hitter they could have a good lineup.

    The bullpen really came into its own last year after trading Kerry Wood. Chris Perez was dominant in the closers role. Guys like Tony Sipp, Rafael Perez, and Joe Smith threw really well in the second half of the season. Plus, they have a number of relievers in their system to help if needed.

    The rotation is a complete mess. Fausto Carmona had a nice comeback year in 2010 but he still struggled with control often times. With that said, Carmona looks like a stud compared to everyone else. Justin Masterson is a reliever in a starters role, David Huff got roughed up, Mitch Talbot and Jeanmar Gomez were OK at times. Carlos Carrasco did look promising but he has makeup issues that he will need to answer. Top pitching prospect Hector Rondon had to have Tommy John Surgery and is likely out until at least August. If this team wants to get back into contention sooner rather than later, they need their last two first-round draft picks, Alex White and Drew Pomeranz, to develop into top of the rotation starters. If they don't it will be a long time before Cleveland is near the top of the Central.

Detroit Tigers

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    Biggest Weakness: Starting Pitching

    After Justin Verlander, the Tiger rotation was a problem for them in 2010. Max Scherzer was sent down to the minors and when he came back he looked really, really good. Can he do it for a whole season? Rick Porcello had a disastrous start to the year and he was sent down. He came back up later in the season and looked improved, plus he is only 21 years old. If the Tigers want to contend in the AL Central, they will need these three guys to have great years.

    The lineup will get a little better with the addition of Victor Martinez to go with Miguel Cabrera in the 3-4 spots. Defensively, with Jhonny Peralta playing short and Martinez at catcher, things will be very sketchy up the middle for the Tigers.

Kansas City Royals

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    Biggest Weakness: Lineup

    The Royals lineup is unbelievably bad. They have Billy Butler who is a nice hitter but beyond that they don't have one guy on the roster who is even average. They don't get on-base and they don't draw walks. Fortunately, there is a TON of help on the way. Their system really came along this year and their prospects took huge steps forward. Guys like Eric Hosmer, Wil Myers, Mike Moustakas will likely make their Royal debut in late 2011. It's going to take a little more time but for the first time in a long time, there is reason for optimism in Kansas City.

    Even if they were to trade Zack Greinke, they would not be that bad off. If anything, it would benefit them greatly. It's unlikely that they contend before he is a free agent after the 2012 season. By moving him they could add more arms to a system that already includes highly touted prospects like Mike Montgomery, Aaron Crow, and Danny Duffy.

Minnesota Twins

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    Biggest Weakness: Starting Pitching

    The Twins biggest undoing every year is their starting pitching. Francisco Liriano has ace caliber stuff and looked like he was finally all the way back from his 2007 Tommy John Surgery. Behind him there are a bunch of #4-5 starters, guys with fringe-average stuff who get by. To win in October you need to have guys who can miss bats and get strikeouts. The Twins don't have those guys and don't draft those kinds of guys and until they do they will always exit the postseason in the first round.

     

Los Angeles Angels

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    Biggest Weakness: Lineup

    The Angels lineup in 2010 was pretty bad. They posted the 27th ranked on-base percentage and 20th ranked slugging percentage in baseball. They will get a boost with the return of Kendry Morales, who injured himself celebrating a walk-off homerun. They were hoping to get Carl Crawford but he spurned them for Boston. They have the best prospect in baseball right now in Mike Trout but he is probably a year away from making his debut so their best bet to improve the lineup would be to add pieces through free agency and get good years from Morales, Torii Hunter, and Bobby Abreu.

Oakland Athletics

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    Biggest Weakness: Lineup

    The A's will always have at least a solid pitching staff because their ballpark is so big. Right now they have a very good rotation, led by Brett Anderson. They just need a lineup to support that pitching. They have little power in the lineup and don't make enough consistent contact to make up for that lack of power. They have talked about adding Adrian Beltre to bolster that lineup, but he says that he doesn't want to play there because of their ballpark. Maybe if he can't find what he is looking for he will take the A's up on their deal.

Seattle Mariners

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    Biggest Weakness: Lineup

    The Mariners offense in 2010 was historically bad. So much so that it made Felix Hernandez, the best pitcher in the league last year, post a mediocre record. (Sidebar: Can we finally move past W-L record as a gauge for determining how good a pitcher is? Steps have been taken but there is still work to do) They have holes at basically every position offensively. They have one of the best hitting prospects in 2B Dustin Ackley but he will not be enough to change everything. They are not likely to do anything via trade or free agency this year so they will have to draft and develop hitters on their own. Last year's trade of Cliff Lee brought another good looking, young hitter Justin Smoak. The Mariners will need Smoak and Ackley to develop to make a difference in Seattle when they are ready for the show.

Texas Rangers

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    Biggest Weakness: Starting Pitching

    The Rangers know just how valuable Cliff Lee was to this team in 2010. He carried the team, along with MVP Josh Hamilton, in the postseason and he is going to get paid handsomely by someone for his efforts. With Lee, the Rangers are favorites in the West and can challenge for a World Series. Without him, they can win the West but will be unlikely to win a series in the playoffs. They are going to throw a ton of money at Lee and hope that it is enough to keep him in Texas.

Atlanta Braves

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    Biggest Weakness: Bullpen

    The Braves addressed their biggest weakness last year (lineup) by adding Dan Uggla to go along with Jason Heyward, Chipper Jones, and Brian McCann. With Billy Wagner retiring, the Braves have a big hole to plug at the back of their bullpen. They got some good performances last year from Johnny Venters and Craig Kimbrel. If they have the money, they could look to bring Rafael Soriano back to add another arm to their pen.

Florida Marlins

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    Biggest Weakness: Lineup

    The Marlins are very top heavy in terms of talent, especially in their lineup. What I mean is that they have a couple of elite level or elite caliber players and a bunch of journeyman after that. Hanley Ramirez is a superstar. Mike Stanton is a star in the making with unbelievable raw power. Logan Morrison has high upside. They need to lengthen their lineup if they want to be successful. They won't spend money to do it so they need Stanton and Morrison to really develop in their first full years.

New York Mets

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    Biggest Weakness: Their Market

    Maybe it's more of a hindrance than a weakness, but New York is making it impossible for the Mets to do what they have to do. This team, as presently constructed, is not going to win. They need to rebuild their depleted farm system and get rid of expensive, aging veterans like Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes. Their market won't let them do that because if they get rid of the big names they will fall into 65-70 win territory for a couple years and that will kill them. It would benefit them greatly in the long run if they were able to find suitable trade partners for some of those players so this team can get younger and not have so much dead money on the team.

Philadelphia Phillies

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    Biggest Weakness: Bullpen

    The Phillies, despite their loss in the NLCS and Jayson Werth going to the Nationals, are still the best and deepest team in the National League. They will enter 2011 as the favorites to win the NL pennant. That said, the back end of their bullpen is worrisome. Ryan Madson has been good for the last three or four years. Other than that, they have a lot of shaky guys back there. Brad Lidge is an enigma, he can look like the best reliever on the planet one day and one of the worst pitchers ever the next. They have exhausted their finances and are unlikely to get a top-end free agent reliever. They could make a small move in free agency or make a small trade for a reliever.

Washington Nationals

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    Biggest Weakness: Pitching

    Starting or relieving, it doesn't matter, the Nationals need pitching help. They addressed some of their lineup problems by signing Jayson Werth, though the loss of Adam Dunn hurts. Pitching phenom Stephen Strasburg will likely not pitch until August, if at all in 2011, after having Tommy John Surgery. When Strasburg comes back, he and Jordan Zimmerman will make a very good 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation. Washington has said that they will make a play for Cliff Lee but it's doubtful that they will match Texas or New York's offer, but I wouldn't have thought they would sign Jayson Werth either. The Nationals are building something, it's just going to take a little longer for them to get there.

Chicago Cubs

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    Biggest Weakness: Lineup

    The Cubs have big holes at a bunch of spots in their lineup. If Carlos Pena is the 2008 version, the Cubs would be getting a good player (still not worth $10 million though) and that can help the lineup. Soriano is a disaster, who hits homers but does nothing else. Second base and left field are mysteries. They don't have any money to go get a hitter and their system is pretty dry right now. The Cubs will likely see how things play out early in the year. If they fall out of contention look for them to be big-time sellers at the trade deadline to replenish a weak system.

Cincinnati Reds

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    Biggest Weakness: Starting Pitching

    The Reds have an incredibly deep lineup and their bullpen is solid. They have little quality in their rotation right now. Johnny Cueto and Edinson Volquez have top of the rotation stuff but Volquez is coming back from Tommy John Surgery and Cueto is inconsistent. Bronson Arroyo can throw a lot of innings but is a back-of-the-rotation guy who is their number 2. Aroldis Chapman has the stuff to be a starter but his mechanics and delivery seem to be more suited to the bullpen. Mike Leake and Travis Wood have potential but need time to develop more.

Houston Astros

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    Biggest Weakness: Lineup

    The Astros finished near the bottom of baseball in every major offensive category including runs (28th), average (26th), on-base percentage (29th), and slugging (29th). They finally entered full rebuild mode last July trading Lance Berkman and Roy Oswalt. Their farm system is very dry right now and it's going to take a while for them to improve. That's no need for them to panic as they have been wont to do. Stay the course, build from the draft and add pieces as necessary.

Milwaukee Brewers

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    Biggest Weakness: Pitching

    The Brewers helped address their biggest need when they were able to acquire Shaun Marcum from the Blue Jays. He immediately gives them a legit number 2 to go along with Yovani Gallardo at the top of their rotation. They overpaid Randy Wolf last offseason and the results showed. Their bullpen isn't very good either. They have been trying to trade Prince Fielder for young pitching for two years now with no success. Maybe this July some team will be desperate enough to offer something for the Brewers to jump at and deal the power-hitting first baseman.

Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Biggest Weakness: Anyone on the team not named Andrew McCutchen

    The Pirates are shifting their draft philosophy and it looks like it can pay dividends later on. By all accounts they had one of the best, if not the best, drafts in 2010. They need to develop their homegrown talent and hope that guys like Pedro Alvarez, Tony Sanchez, et al work out and can play along side Andrew McCutchen, who is a star lost in a bad environment. The best advice for Pittsburgh is to keep doing what you did in 2010 that's scout well, put together a good draft and before long the results will show up on the field.

St Louis Cardinals

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    Biggest Weakness: Bullpen

    One through five, the Cardinals have one of the best rotations in baseball. They have the best player on the planet, Albert Pujols. They are solid at a lot of positions on the field. Their glaring weakness is in the pen. Ryan Franklin is adequate and Jason Motte was good but other than that they don't have a lot in their bullpen right now. They try to patch things together throughout the year with guys that get released but that didn't work. They have made a number of trades the last two years gutting their farm system. They will have to rely on guys like Trever Miller and Mike MacDougal. It helps when you have two horses like Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainright at the top of the rotation.

Arizona Diamondbacks

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    Biggest Weakness: Pitching

    Arizona has fallen off a cliff since they went to the NLCS in 2007. Things are a mess right now but with new GM Kevin Towers there is reason for optimism in the desert. They will suffer for a couple of years but if Towers history is any indication, things will get better faster. They need to rebuild a pitching staff that is a disaster right now. Joe Saunders has some talent and the D-Backs are hoping he can be the pitcher he was in 2008. They have entertained the idea of trading Justin Upton but it's doubtful that he will be moved because he has a reasonable contract for the next 5 years and it would take a truckload of top prospects to get him out of Arizona.

Colorado Rockies

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    Biggest Weakness: Starting Pitching

    Ubaldo Jimenez was the best pitcher in baseball from April-June. He tailed off in the second half of the season and the Rockies struggled. They don't have a good second option behind Jimenez, they resigned Jorge de La Rosa who has top line stuff but hasn't shown consistency in the big leagues. They hope that he can develop into the top of the rotation starter that they need.

Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Biggest Weakness: Ownership

    The Dodgers are one of the flagship teams in baseball. They should have money the way that the Yankees and Red Sox do. Unfortunately the owners of the Dodgers, Frank and Jamie McCourt, are in the midst of a nasty divorce and it has made it impossible for them to be able to do anything. They have to cut payroll a lot because now the owners can't afford to pay the team. Something will have to be done about this soon because baseball is so much better with the Dodgers in contention.

San Diego Padres

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    Biggest Weakness: Lineup

    The Padres have been one of the worst offensive teams in baseball since they moved into Petco Park. Their offensive numbers are going to go down with the trade of Adrian Gonzalez, as hard as that might be for some to believe. The pitching is always going to be really good because the park is so big. The return for Adrian Gonzalez will determine when this team is able to get back into contention in the NL West. If two of the three players that they got work out, the Padres could be back in contention in a year or two.

San Francisco Giants

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    Biggest Weakness: Lineup

    The Giants won the World Series in spite of their offense. Their pitching in the postseason was so unreal that it made up for any and all their offensive shortcomings. In fact aside from Buster Posey no one else in the lineup is better than replacement level. Aubrey Huff had a good year but he is unlikely to put up those numbers again, plus he really struggled after July last year. Pablo Sandoval has the talent but his work ethic, or lack thereof, took a huge step back in 2010 and he needs to work on his conditioning. Pat Burrell is a disaster in the outfield and overachieved in his time with the Giants last year. Their pitching is so good and so deep that even if their lineup stays the same they could still win the West.