I am not a general manager of any MLB team, but I am going to try and play one.
With the Winter Meetings in the rearview mirror, the MLB offseason winding down, before we know it, pitchers and catchers are going to be reporting to spring training in just a couple of months.
But until then, teams will be looking to improve their rosters. Whether its via free agency or trading for a player, each team has a need in which they need to fill before the season begins.
It might not be at the most important position, or in the clean-up spot in lineup, but this one move could be the difference between a World Series championship and a disappointing season.
Everyone is entitled to their own opinion about what their favorite team needs to do before next season to become contenders, but this is mine.
Sit back, relax, and enjoy.
Let's play ball.
Need(s): Bullpen Help
Now that the most talked about non-free agent during this offseason, 23-year old Justin Upton, is staying in the desert, the Arizona Diamondback can continue to focus on setting their roster for next season.
Thurs far, Arizona traded for Pirates LHP Zach Duke and Yankees 1B Juan Miranda, and traded slugger Mark Reynolds to Baltimore, but no matter who's on the move, or who's staying put, the Diamondbacks must turn their attention towards improving a bullpen that ranked last in ERA (5.74) and opponents batting average (.282) in 2010.
Signing J.J. Putz, who had a 2.83 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and a 10.8 K/9 in 54 innings, is a small step in the right direction, and a building block to what Diamondback fans are hoping is a major renovation.
For now, Towers has his bullpen heading in the right direction. The orginzation must hope he remains on the right path.
Need(s): A Back-up Third Baseman, A Veteran First Baseman
Now that the Braves filled their most pressing need in their lineup, after acquiring Dan Uggla from the Florida Marlins, Uggla provides a right-handed, middle-of-the-order power bat to help balance out a predominantly left-handed lineup.
Although their starting lineup appears to be set with 37-year old Chipper Jones returning after tearing his ACL, and rookie phenom Freddie Freeman ready take over the reign at first base, , a lot of questions surround both of these players.
Jones might not be ready for Opening Day, and Freeman might not be the everyday first baseman, he's expected to be. If neither of these players are able to make it through the season, the Braves must have a back-up plan.
Re-signing Troy Glaus or Derrek Lee might have been expensive, but at least they would've had a reliable backup at first. Now, they're all in on Freeman with hopes that his first full season isn't a flop.
Need(s) : None (Yes, You are reading that correctly)
Heading into this offseason, the Orioles needed to add a power bat to their lineup. Ideally, a run producing hitter at first or third base would've made the most sense, and Baltimore has attempted to solve their corner-infield and power-void troubles by acquiring third baseman Mark Reynolds from Arizona.
While leading the NL in strikeouts in each of his three full seasons, totaling 211 last year in 494 at-bats, Reynolds has also hit 121 home run in 563 big league games, including a career-high 44 in 2009.
He batted just .198 on the season with a .320 on-base percentage.
While Reynolds is considered an average, but durable defensive third baseman, appearing in 145 games last season, the O's are hoping Reynolds can excel playing in Camden Yards.
Obviously the O's need more help than just Reynolds, and although Manager Buck Showalter has this team heading in the right direction, the O's won't become contenders during one offseason.
Trading for Reynolds is a start. Let's see where they go from here.
Need(s): Let's see...
First they acquired Adrian Gonzalez.
Then the Boston Red Sox signed Carl Crawford.
Need I say more.
Need(s): Arms in the Bullpen
Although the Chicago White Sox took care of all their off-season needs by signing Adam Dunn, and resigning Paul Konerko, don't be surprised if the White Sox improve a bullpen that has lost two of its top three arms, after non-tendering closer Bobby Jenks and losing main setup man J.J. Putz to free agency.
Free agent reliever Kerry Wood is an option, but a lot will depend on left-hander Chris Sale, who showed late in the season that he has the stuff to be a quality reliever, but he might be asked to start if Jake Peavy isn't fully recovered from surgery to repair a muscle beneath his right shoulder.
Despite having the two lefties in Sale and Matt Thornton, the White Sox are expected to pursue another reliever who can pitch from the left side. It's possible Gavin Floyd and Edwin Jackson could be traded for younger, less expensive pitchers, but that is yet to be scene.
If general manager Kenny Williams doesn't get help in the bullpen, at least he improved their lineup, which is now, one of the best in the American League.
Need(s): Starting pitcher, Set-up Man
By acquiring free-agent first baseman, Carlos Pena, not only did the Chicago Cubs find their $10 million dollar man to be the next "Derrek Lee" at first, but they also added left handed power bat to their lineup.
Coming off a 28 home run, 84 RBI season for the Tampa Bay Rays, Pena will certainly be a offensive spark in the lineup, but need for a starting pitcher in the Cubs rotation is glaring.
Ryan Dempster, Tom Gorzelanny, Carlos Zambrano, Randy Wells and Carlos Silva is the current rotation for the Cubs. Not the all-star staff Cubs fans would like to see. And besides for closer Carlos Marmol, the Cubs need help in the bullpen.
If the price is right, the Cubs would love to have Kerry Wood if they can afford to sign him.
It's a good thing the Cubs signed Pena, otherwise, it could be a long-offseason
Need(s): Leadoff hitter, Shortstop
After finishing the 2010 season with a record of 91-71, first in the NL Central, the Cincinnati Reds were swept by the Philadelphia Phillies in the NL Wild Card, forcing their offseason to begin earlier than expected.
Thurs far, with the Winter Meetings in the rear-view mirror, general manager Walt Jocketty has failed to make a major splash during this offseason. Alongside league MVP, Joey Votto, the Reds have a solid roster heading into 2011, but there need to replace Orlando Cabrera at shortstop must be a priority, as well as their need for a reliable leadoff hitter which evident during last season.
To go along with Brandon Phillips, who batted.272 with a OBP of .332, while Drew Stubbs compiled a batting average of .255 and a .329 OBP while hitting out of the leadoff spot. Both players numbers proved that neither is a good fit for the leadoff spot, and the Reds should entertain other options.
One possible target could be Stephen Drew of the Arizona Diamondbacks. The 27-year-old shortstop could fill two potential needs for the 2011 Reds. He would be a good option at shortstop to replace Cabrera, and with his career on-base percentage of .332, he would make for a decent leadoff hitter.
But as the Reds get deeper into the offseason, it appears Jocketty and the Reds are perfectly content heading into 2011 with the team they already have.
Based on the 2010 season, many fans feel the same. With a little more consistency from guys like Jonny Gomes, Jay Bruce and Edinson Volquez and this team could easily make a deep run in the 2011 playoffs.
Don't be surprised if that happens.
Need(s): Does it Really Matter....
...When you're this bad.
Need(s): It's a Simple Math Equation
Ubaldo Jimenez + Troy Tulowitzki + Carlos Gonzalez = 2011 World Series Champions
Need(s): Corner Outfielder
With the addition of catcher Victor Martinez, the Detroit Tigers arguably made the biggest signing this offseason. However, the team’s shopping may not be done, as general manager Dave Dombrowski has reported the team is still looking for a corner outfielder.
This season the Tigers have already addressed their holes at third base, shortstop, catcher/DH, and have added set up man in the bullpen. However, heading deep into the offseason, the Tigers need to decide if veteran Ryan Raburn, young Brennan Boesch or the talent they acquire via free agency or trade will be starting in the outfield.
In 2010 Raburn posted a batting average of .280, hit 15 home runs, drove in 62 RBIs, had an OBP of .340 and a slugging percentage of .474 in 113 games. Meanwhile in his rookie season, Brennan Boesch batted .256, hit 14 home runs, drove in 67 RBIs, had an OBP of .320 and a slugging percentage of .416.
While the Tigers love having a left handed power hitter in their lineup Boesch’s struggles during the second half of the season raise concerns for what kind of player he really is. If the Tigers plan on being contenders next season, the front office must address the two question marks in the outfield.
But as of now, those questions remain unanswered.
Need(s): Starting Pitcher
With an impressive 1-2 punch of Josh Johnson and Ricky Nolasco, the Florida Marlins are set at the top of the rotation heading into next season, for now.
During this offseason, Florida has been baseball's busiest team by signing free agent Javier Vazquez and catcher John Buck and also trading Dan Uggla for Omar Infante and Mike Dunn and Cameron Maybin to San Diego for relievers Ryan Webb and Edward Mujica.
While the Marlins look to improve on their defense, Nolasco could be the focus of trade talks to possible acquire Zack Greinke from the Royals.
If the Marlins were to acquire Greinke, the combo of Johnson and Greinke could be the best in baseball. And although the Marlins are the second youngest team in baseball with an average age of 26.2, they could be one of the best.
Need(s): Left Fielder, First Base
After establishing a career low in OBP (.710), Carlos Lee is not the answer at first base or in the outfield for the Houston Astros heading into next season.
Hoping to trade the 34-year old, general manager Ed Wade is going to need to find a team that is willing to take on some of Lee's remaining $37 million on his contract over the next two season. Well, since that is most likely not going to happen, Lee might find himself as the starting first baseman when the season begins, only if the Astros added an outfielder.
However, if the Astros do not acquire someone, that would leave Brett Wallace, who enter his first full season in the majors, as the starting first baseman. The Astros' needs still remain question, pending if they acquire an outfielder or not.
Either way, Lee is on the decline, and Wallace proved last season, hitting .251 in 55 games, that he has a lot of work to do.
Although Wallace might be given a chance to become the starting first baseman, the Astros shouldn't expect a lot from him. It's going to be a long season in Houston anyway, and with Wallace at first, it might be even longer.
Need(s): Trade Zack Greinke...
And hope for the best.
Need(s): Trade Mike Napoli
After winning three consecutive AL West division titles, the 2010 season was extremely disappointing for the Angels, finishing 80--82 - a rarity for this organization. The Angels were hoping this offseason would get them back to the top of the American League, but after failing to sign free-agent Carl Crawford, who established career highs in home runs (19) and OPS (.851) in 2010, and the most coveted free-agent prize Cliff Lee, the Angels are searching for answers.
They could elect to sign Adrian Beltre, who would become the everyday third baseman, since players like Brandon Wood, Maicer Izturis, Kevin Frandsen and Alberto Callaspo can't seem to keep the job.
They could sign Rafael Soriano to stabilize the bullpen, after trading closer Brian Fuentes to Minnesota.
But if the Angels were to make one move, it would be to sell high on Mike Napoli, while the time is right. The Angels will have no problem finding a team willing to trade for him because of his position flexibility and power. If Soriano is too expensive to sign, perhaps Napoli could be traded to acquire a new arm for the bullpen.
The Angels always seem to make the right move, in order to be contenders. Let's see if that still holds true during this offseason.
Need(s): Just Ask GM Ned Colleti
"We would still like to find a right-handed-hitting outfielder to play left field, somebody who has a little bit of power with the bat. Plus, if we can find a good reliever, we will continue to add to our pitching depth."
You didn't hear it from me...
Need(s): Starting Pitching
The clock is ticking in Milwaukee...
For several years, Brewers general manager Doug Melvin has been trying to upgrade the team’s pitching staff, and heading into 2011, this coming season is the Brewers’ last chance to win a championship with Prince Fielder before the star first baseman files for free agency.
Melvin already traded for former Toronto Blue Jay Shaun Marcum, who is coming off a 13-win season, but a source indicated that further upgrades to his staff will need to come via free agency.
Reports out of Milwaukee are that the Brewers are interested in signing Carl Pavano, but in all likelihood, Pavano will be returning to Minnesota.
If the Brewers aren’t optimistic about their chances of trading for Kansas City’s Greinke or Tampa Bay’s Matt Garza, why not trade Prince Fielder for a quality arm like the White Sox's John Danks.
The Brewers are going to lose Fielder after next season anyway. It would certainly make sense to get something in return, before it's too late.
Need(s): Middle infield, Starting Pitching (maybe...)
Now that former all-star J.J. Hardy is packing his bags for Baltimore, the Minnesota Twins will be looking for a replacement at shortstop.
Not having many options to turn too, it appears Alexi Casilla will be Hardy's replacement, or someone from within the organization.
Hardy, who was a National League All-Star in 2007 for the Milwaukee Brewers when he belted 26 home runs, in 20101, he hit .268 with six homers and 38 runs batted in during an injury-slowed campaign in Minnesota, hopes to rejuvenate his career in Baltimore.
But for now, the Twins off-season is currently in limbo. They have yet to re-sign free-agent Carl Pavano, leaving the Twins pitching staff with many unanswered questions. Their only certainly is the reigning AL Comeback Player of the Year and arguably the ace of the staff, Francisco Liriano.
If Pavano is re-signed , the Twins might trade to trade either Kevin Slowey or Scott Baker. In the next day or so, Pavano’s decision will start to get the ball rolling, and the Twins can start to plan ahead for 2011.
Need(s): Improving the Starting Rotation
This past offseason, a new regime has been hired to lead the New York Mets back to the playoffs. General Manager Sandy Alderson was hired to replace Omar Minaya and manager Terry Collins replaced Jerry Manuel.
The Mets appeared to have fixed the problems in the front office, but what about the players on the baseball field. The Mets need to add a catcher to protect Josh Thole, but Alderson and Collins must realize their need for a starting pitcher.
With questions surrounding Johan Santana and wondering if he'll be ready for opening day, the Mets will call upon Jon Niese and Mike Pelfrey to keep this team afloat until Santana returns to the mound.
If Alderson doesn't trade for another pitcher, this season might already be lost by the time Santana returns. Then again, with the lack of movement that's taking place in the Mets organization during this offseason, the season might be over before it even begins.
Need(s): There's only one...
Sign Cliff Lee
Need(s): Adding Power to the Lineup
Last season the A's finished near the bottom of the American League in home runs (13th), RBI (11th), slugging percentage (13th), and OPS (10th).
With hopes of adding an offensive bat to their lineup after making a major play for 3B Adrian Beltre by offering him at least $64 million over five years, the A's now need to turn elsewhere. Unless the price is right, playing in a non-hitter's park, a slugger would opt to play elsewhere, than to spend any of his career playing half of a season in Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.
Besides for Hideki Matsui, the options are extremely limited for the A's. Reports out of Oakland are that the A's are on the verge of signing Matsui to a one-year deal.
After starting slow in 2010, Matsui finished the year with a .274 average, with 21 homers and 84 RBI. With age being a factor, and playing in a rough hitters, the A's should't expect Matsui to replicate those numbers.
But when you're the A's, sometimes you have no choice - even if it means signing Matsui to become the team's everyday DH.
They lost Jayson Werth.
If you forget about Domonic Brown, do the names Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels ring a bell?
For argument sake, let's say you forgot about them too. Do you remember Ryan Howard, a healthy Chase Utley and a healthy Jimmy Rollins?
I think I'm finished here. Next.
Need(s): Starting Pitching
After coming off a season that saw their starting rotation go 34-84 with a major league-worst 5.28 ERA last season, the Pittsburgh Pirates are trying to improve, but still, have long ways to go.
A minor improvement was made after the Pirates signed free-agent left-hander Scott Olsen to a one-year contract. While Olsen is expected to fill a spot in Pittsburgh's rotation after Paul Maholm, James McDonald and the newly acquired Kevin Correia, the Pirate faithful shouldn't expect much from this rotation.
"The Pirates recently expressed interest in lefty Jorge De La Rosa before he re-signed with the Colorado Rockies, and have been linked to free agents Brandon Webb and Jeff Francis, among others." (espn.com)
While there's talk in about moving Pedro Alvarez to first base and adding a third baseman, the Pirates must go do whatever it takes to get better.
Then again, there's always the Steelers.
Need(s): A Replacement For Adrian Gonzalez
Let's be honest.
No matter who the Padres acquire via a trade or sign via free agency, this team is in trouble.
They need a player who's going to replace the production that Adrian Gonzalez took with home to Boston, and unfortunately for them, that player isn't out there.
Good luck in 2010. They're going to need it.
Need(s): If It's Not Broken, Don't Fix It
No one thought the San Francisco Giants had the offense to win the 2010 World Series.
You're right. They didn't, but they certainly had the pitching.
And if they continue to pitch in 2011, like the way they did in 2010, don't be surprised if their champions, once again.
Heading into the Winter Meetings, the Seattle Mariners needed to fill the DH role, bring in a catcher and add an infielder.
They signed Jack Cust, who hit .272 with 13 homers and 52 RBIs in 112 games last season to a $2.5 million dollar, one-year contract to become the primary designated hitter.
They also filled the void at catcher.
After spending parts of the 2004 and 2005 seasons in Seattle, Miguel Olivo, who hit a career-best .269 with 14 homers and 58 RBIs in Colorado in 2010, will return to Seattle to become the starting catcher.
Lastly, the Mariners appeared to find the middle infielder they were looking for by acquiring Brendan Ryan from St. Louis. Ryan, who hit .223 with a poor .279 on-base percentage and 11 steals in just fewer than 500 plate appearances last season, hopes to resurrect his career in Seattle.
Not one of these players are going to be an all-star in 2011, but for a lineup than was one of the worst in the league's last season, at least it's a start.
Need(s): Upgrade The Infield
Despite the need to re-tool an infield that was sub-par at second, short and third, the St. Louis Cardinals most pressing need heading into the 2011 season, isn't on the baseball field - it's at the negotiating table.
With Albert Pujols' contract set to expire at the end of next season, the countdown is on to resign the three-time league Most Valuable Player. That's what's most important because no matter who else is on their roster, without Pujols, the Cardinals are no longer a contender.
But in the meantime, before Pujols officially become a free-agent, there's a full season to be played. While the city of St. Louis sits anxiously with trepidation, that this might be the last season of Pujols in a Cardinals uniform, they wonder what the 2011 roster is going to look like.
The Cardinals have had a busy off-season thus far, re-signing Jake Westbrook, trading RHP Blake Hawksworth to Dodgers for Ryan Theriot, and signing 1B/OF Lance Berkman, Berkman, will primarily play left field, and most likely will be used at first base when Albert Pujols is given off-days.
But who's going to play shortstop?
It's no secret, after hitting.246 with 10 homeruns, 47 RBI and 24 doubles in 2010, to go along with the emergence of Reid Brignac, Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Jason Bartlett is a trade target. And since the Cardinals traded shortstop Brendan Ryan, maybe Bartlett is on his way to St. Louis.
It appears Theriot will be the team's shortstop, with Skip Schumaker sticking at second base, but if the opportunity presents itself to acquire Bartlett, while moving Theriot to second, that is a deal that must be finalized.
But before any trades are made, the most important deal is signing Pujols. Then, and only then, will this offseason be complete.
Need(s): Replacing The Bullpen
Rafael Soriano, who finished the season with 45 saves (1st in AL), a 1.73 ERA, and 57 strikeouts, won't be returning to the Rays.
Eighth inning set-up man, Joaquin Benoit, who finished the season with a 1.34 ERA, a .680 WHIP, 75 SO, and 60.1 innings pitched signed with the Detroit Tigers.
Grant Balfour, Randy Choate and Dan Wheeler also might be leaving.
Andy Sonnastine, Mike Ekstrom, and Jake McGee are now at the top of Tampa Bay's bullpen depth chart.
Good Luck Tampa in 2010.
Sign Cliff Lee or trade for Zack Greinke.
For Texas, it's one or the other.
No other options.
Need(s): Building A Team For The Future
Playing in the AL East, the Toronto Blue Jays are going to be fighting for third place behind the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees next season, but it appears, Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos is certainly content with that idea.
The Blue Jays are building for the future, and are willing to forego their 2011 season, with hopes of building a nucleus that will one day, be able to compete with the "Big Boys" of the AL East.
Alongside Kyle Drabek, Ricky Romero, and newly acquired 20-year old Brett Lawrie have created a solid core of young talent in Toronto.
You won't see Anthopoulos go out and spend one-hundred million dollars on a free agent, or trade his entire team away for a superstar pitcher.
He plans on building his team from the bottom up, and one-day, the long-wait will hopefully pay off.
In the meantime, Blue Jay fans should be patient. There's a plan in place. It's only a matter of time until its implemented.
Need(s): First Base, Starting Pitcher
Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburgh are the future of this team. But what's in store for 2011?
The Washington Nationals replaced Adam Dunn's production in the lineup by signing Jayson Werth to a seven year/$126 million dollar contract.
That's great and all now that they have their starting right fielder, but who's going to be the starting first baseman when the season begins.
If the Nationals fail to sign a free-agent, Michael Morse will get the call at first. How can a team spend over $120 million on one player, and have Morse playing first?
Now that Aubrey Huff, Paul Konerko, and Carlos Pena have already signed elsewhere, everyone will now turn their attention towards Derrek Lee and Adam LaRoche. But while you might be wondering why the Nationals haven't replaced Dunn's power that he took with him to Chicago, general manager Mike Rizzo understands the Nationals can't rush to any decisions.
Because as he told MLB.com, he's, "looking for a long- or short-term solution", but, "he is not going to be rushed into any deal."
Even if that means starting the season with a no-name at first base.