From Coast to Coast: What Each MLB Team Needs As 2011 Draws Near

Brian Reuter@@breuter10Contributor IIDecember 22, 2010

From Coast to Coast: What Each MLB Team Needs As 2011 Draws Near

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    It has been an active and expensive off-season thus far. Teams have handed out nearly a billion dollars to free agents since the end of the 2010 season and they're not done yet. 

    Whether upgrading through free agency or via trade, each organization will look to improve their team before spring training opens in less than two months.

    Let's take a quick look at what remains on each team's shopping list during this holiday season.

Chicago Cubs

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    Primary Need: Starting Pitcher

    The Cubs rotation currently consists of Ryan Dempster, Carlos Zambrano, Randy Wells, Carlos Silva, and Tom Gorzelanny.

    Zambrano's ability to stay calm, cool, and collected is always a question mark and Silva ended the year with only one start in the last two months due to heart problems and an elbow strain.

    Wells seemingly took a step backwards in 2010 and it's unlikely that Gorzelanny will repeat his success of yester-year.

    The Cubs could use some depth.

Houston Astros

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    Primary Need: Left-handed Reliever

    The Astros have a shot to contend in 2011 if certain pieces fall into place.

    One piece that should be added to the competition for roster spots is that of a veteran southpaw with experience out of the bullpen.

    Right now, Fernando Abad is their best option and he only has 19 innings of big league experience under his belt.

    Ryan Rowland-Smith and Wesley Wright are also in-house but they are both coming off of poor seasons. It makes sense to have a contingency plan when spring training begins.

St. Louis Cardinals

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    Primary Need: Outfielder

    The Cardinals addition of Lance Berkman as a starting outfielder was questionable at best. His defense will be under a microscope all season as he hasn't played the outfield full-time since 2004.

    Bringing in a guy who can spell Berkman late in the game with great defensive skills should be a priority.

    Nate Schierholtz of San Francisco's crowded outfield could be one target for the Cards.

Cincinnati Reds

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    Primary Need: Lead-off Hitter

    The Reds struggled to find a consistent lead-off hitter in 2010 as Chris Dickerson, Drew Stubbs, Orlando Cabrera, Brandon Phillips, Chris Heisey, Jay Bruce and Willie Bloomquist all took their turn atop the lineup card for manager Dusty Baker. 

    Phillips isn't a horrible option but he's better utilized in the middle of the order with runners in scoring position. Orlando Cabrera could still return to man short and make another attempt at the lead-off spot.

    Another option could be Scott Podsednik who would then split time in left field with Jonny Gomes and Chris Heisey.

Milwaukee Brewers

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    Primary Need: Relief Pitcher

    The Brewers have shown they are looking to win now with the additions of Shaun Marcum and Zack Greinke to compliment the slugging duo of Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder.

    The rotation looks great but the bullpen still needs improvement. Another proven reliever would help solidify a young bullpen.

Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Primary Need: Shortstop

    The team sporting the worst record in baseball has plenty of needs. 

    One important area of need is shortstop. Pittsburgh has made it known they would like to at least find some competition for incumbent Ronny Cedeno before spring training begins.

    Orlando Cabrera, who is currently a free agent, could be a logical fit for a one year contract after the team missed out on J.J. Hardy and Jason Bartlett.

Minnesota Twins

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    Primary Need: Second Baseman

    Tsuyoshi Nishioka has already been added to the Twins' 2011 infield but Ron Gardenhire said he will wait until spring training to see if Nishioka will start at second or short.

    I see him earning the shortstop job.

    Alexi Casilla is in line to start opposite Nishioka at the moment but he has been inconsistent during his first five years in The Show.

    Jeff Keppinger would be a good fit at second base for the Twinkies and is presumably available with the Astros' signing of Bill Hall.

Detroit Tigers

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    Primary Need: Starting Pitcher

    The Tigers have a young, talented, hard-throwing rotation.

    Justin Verlander has been a stud throughout his career but Armando Galarraga and Rick Porcello are still works in progress. Phil Coke will attempt to make the rotation this spring as will rookie Andy Oliver.

    With so much youth, another reliable starter would be a beneficial addition to a team that will contend in 2011.

Kansas City Royals

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    Primary Need: Starting Pitcher

    The Royals have a great farm system which has created the hope for a winning team in the not-so-distant future.

    The Royals need to sign an innings eater to help limit the workload on their young arms as they ease rookies into the rotation and bullpen.

    A guy like Kevin Millwood, who has at least 29 starts in each of the last seven years, can work late into the game if nothing else.

Chicago White Sox

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    Primary Need: Outfielder

    Right now the White Sox outfield, left to right, is Juan Pierre, Alex Rios, and Carlos Quentin. Not bad. The team would be wise to have an insurance policy in case Carlos Quentin encounters another injury.

    A right-handed addition could also get some starts in left field to give Juan Pierre a rest from time to time. Marcus Thames or Scott Hairston could be a couple inexpensive options.

Cleveland Indians

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    Primary Need: Third Baseman

    The Indians are far from competing for the division title.

    Along with possibly shedding the salary of Travis Hafner or Fausto Carmona, the team should add somebody to man the hot corner.

    Jayson Nix and Andy Marte received a lot of time at third in 2010 and the team could look for an inexpensive upgrade.

    Joe Crede and Eric Chavez are looking to make comebacks and should be relatively cheap at this point in their career.

San Francisco Giants

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    Primary Need: Starting Pitcher

    Don't worry. I'm not concerned about Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez, or Madison Bumgarner.

    Barry Zito is another story.

    He has been up and down since his arrival in San Francisco and may be best suited for a long-relief role out of the bullpen at this point.

    The Giants could be a team willing to work with a pitcher coming back from injury because they wouldn't need to rush him back given the reliability of their top four starters.

    Justin Duchscherer could be a fit.

Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Primary Need: Left Fielder

    The Dodgers have been busy this off-season having already added Juan Uribe, Jon Garland, Matt Guerrier, and Tony Gwynn Jr. along with re-signing Ted Lilly, Hiroki Kuroda, Vicente Padilla, Rod Barajas and Jay Gibbons.

    Gibbons appears to be the early favorite for the left field job but he might be best-suited for a platoon situation with a right-handed compliment.

    Marcus Thames, Scott Hairston, and Lastings Milledge are all possibilities.

Colorado Rockies

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    Primary Need: Left-handed Reliever

    The Rockies have a good lineup and a deep rotation.

    The bullpen, however, is thin from the left side. Franklin Morales has had a roller coaster of a career early on (ERA's: 3.43 in 2007, 6.39 in 2008, 4.50 in 2009, and 6.28 in 2010).

    The pitching staff would benefit from another southpaw in the pen and the market for lefties is loaded with valuable experience.

San Diego Padres

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    Primary Need: First Baseman

    The Padres put together a great season despite low expectations and they'll look to contend in 2011 even after trading Adrian Gonzalez.

    The infield is in a state of change after replacing Everth Cabrera and David Eckstein with Jason Bartlett and Orlando Hudson.

    I expect the Padres to add a first baseman, but they don't seem to have a lot money to spend at the moment. Jorge Cantu, Casey Kotchman or Russell Branyan could be added to play first base at least until Kyle Blanks is able to return from Tommy John surgery.

Arizona Diamondbacks

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    Primary Need: Outfield

    Chris Young and Justin Upton will hold down center and right, respectively. Gerardo Parra is currently the starting left fielder for Arizona but he doesn't stand out in any categories at this point in his career.

    The D-Backs could look to trade for an outfielder to split time with Parra and possibly take over in right field in case Justin Upton does end up getting traded.

Oakland Athletics

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    Primary Need: Third Baseman

    Kevin Kouzmanoff disappointed in his first year with the A's.

    Billy Beane reportedly made a lucrative offer to Adrian Beltre which was not accepted by the free agent. I wouldn't be shocked if the A's prepare another offer for Beltre in the near future as their main competitor is now the rival Angels.

Los Angeles Angels

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    Primary Need: Third Baseman

    The Angels missed out on Carl Crawford and now seem focused on Adrian Beltre.

    Beltre's asking price is high but it has been noted that the Angels have money to spend at this time. He would be a good fit in their lineup and a defensive upgrade over Alberto Callaspo and Brandon Wood.

    If contract negotiations don't go well with Beltre, the Angels could continue to add to their bullpen and pursue Rafael Soriano.

Seattle Mariners

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    Primary Need: Shortstop

    The Mariners will struggle again in 2011 as their offense has not improved much this off-season. Their focus should be on rebuilding and one area which could use some attention is shortstop.

    Justin Smoak and Dustin Ackley provide a young and exciting right side of the infield and Chone Figgins will hold down the hot corner for the next couple of years.

    Jack Wilson, Josh Wilson and Brendan Ryan are slated to get time at short this year but the team could look to trade for a good prospect to take over in a couple of years.

Texas Rangers

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    Primary Need: Starting Pitcher

    After missing out on Cliff Lee and Zack Greinke, the Rangers will research other options in order to upgrade their rotation.

    The free agent market still offers Carl Pavano and Brandon Webb who could each be a difference-maker in 2011.

    Pavano seems likely to return to Minnesota but Webb could be a fit to join C.J. Wilson and Colby Lewis in the rotation.

New York Mets

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    Primary Need: Starting Pitcher

    The Mets' rotation is littered with question marks.

    Johan Santana won't return to the active roster until late in the season, R.A. Dickey's 2010 ERA of 2.84 is the only time his ERA has been under 4.62 during his eight year career, Mike Pelfrey hasn't had two good seasons in a row yet, and Oliver Perez has struggled mightily over the last two seasons.

    Jon Niese has been consistent and the Mets should look to compliment him if the right situation arises.

Atlanta Braves

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    Primary Need: Center Fielder

    The Atlanta Braves have struggled to find a center fielder since Andruw Jones left.

    Nate McClouth has regressed since his arrival in Atlanta but he is still due a sizable salary in 2011.

    Jordan Schafer is another option but he struggled with extended playing time in 2009. Matt Young is a good outfield prospect but the Braves have a team that wants to win now and may want a proven player to roam center field.

Florida Marlins

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    Primary Need: Outfield

    The outfield concern is not with Mike Stanton, who looks to be the real deal after making a great impression as a rookie in 2010.

    Left field and center field, on the other hand, are both in a state of flux as spring training nears. The Marlins have indicated that Chris Coghlan, who won the 2009 Rookie of the Year as the Marlins' left fielder, will work out at third base this spring.

    That leaves left field to Logan Morrison, a guy who is naturally a first baseman.

    Scott Cousins could enter the year as the team's center fielder but he only has 37 Major League at-bats. If nothing else, the Marlins should look to add a defensive-minded outfielder to their bench.

Philadelphia Phillies

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    Primary Need: Left-handed Reliever

    This team doesn't need much, that's for sure, but after the team's deal with Dennys Reyes didn't work out the team is on the lookout for another lefty reliever.

    I could see them re-signing J.C. Romero to fill the same role that he has performed well in over the last couple of seasons.

    If the team doesn't find an alternative to their liking, they could rely on Antonio Bastardo and Dan Meyer.

Washington Nationals

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    Primary Need: First Baseman

    The Nats top two options at first base from 2010, Adam Dunn and Josh Willingham, will now suit up for new teams in 2011.

    Matt Stairs, who recently signed a minor league deal with the team, would probably be their first baseman if the season started today.

    I don't think that's "Plan A."

    Washington has been linked to Adam LaRoche and Derrek Lee and I see them signing one of the two.

Tampa Bay Rays

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    Primary Need: Designated Hitter

    The Rays still boast one of the best rotations in baseball but their offense is lacking all of a sudden.

    Tampa Bay will have trouble replacing the power provided by Crawford and Pena and need to look outside the organization for some more pop.

    The DH market is full of power, including sluggers Jim Thome, Vladimir Guerrero and Manny Ramirez.

    Thome and Guerrero seem likely to return to their 2010 teams but nothing is imminent at the moment. Any of the three would be great fits to bat cleanup behind Evan Longoria and in front of Ben Zobrist.

Boston Red Sox

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    Primary Need: Left-handed Reliever

    After a rough season from the Boston bullpen, general manager Theo Epstein decided to make some changes.

    New to the bullpen in 2011 will be Matt Albers, Dan Wheeler and Bobby Jenks with Andrew Miller also potentially entering a relief role.

    Miller has been a starter in his young career but has not enjoyed a lot of success with the Marlins after being dealt from Detroit in the Miguel Cabrera trade.

    The Red Sox will presumably add a veteran southpaw to the pen before the season begins.

Toronto Blue Jays

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    Primary Need: Third Baseman

    The Jays' offensive power has been well-documented.

    Their defense could encounter problems this year, however, as they work with a new first baseman. After Lyle Overbay signed with the Pirates earlier in the off-season, the Jays decided to bring back Edwin Encarnacion as a first baseman where he will share time with DH Adam Lind.

    Neither player is expected to be spectacular with the glove but that could be countered with the addition of a defensively sound third baseman.

    I wonder if the Jays are preparing a large offer for free agent Adrian Beltre who would offer a great presence on the field and at the plate.

    This move would also let the Jays keep Jose Bautista in the outfield which is where he has spent the bulk of his time over the last two seasons.  

Baltimore Orioles

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    Primary Need: First Baseman

    The Orioles have already brought in a new third baseman and shortstop this off-season and are looking to upgrade at first base as well.

    They are reportedly interested in both Adam LaRoche and Derrek Lee which would make Luke Scott their full-time designated hitter.

New York Yankees

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    Primary Need: Starting Pitcher

    The Yankees face a similar situation that the Rangers are facing after both missed out on Cliff Lee.

    After C.C. Sabathia and Phil Hughes, the Yankees' rotation does not look good. Burnett could always rebound but that's far from a guarantee.

    New York has been interested in Felix Hernandez for some time but I don't see him getting traded just yet.

    The Evil Empire might have to get creative when looking to fill out the rotation and that could mean pursuing Carlos Zambrano, Edwin Jackson, Paul Maholm or Tom Gorzelanny, in addition to many other possibilities.