We're just under two weeks away from the July 31 MLB trade deadline, and one of the funnest parts of this time of year is that we get to ruminate, speculate and pontificate on which teams might be making big moves in the near future.
Nearly every team in baseball has an area in which they can improve their team and by extension, their chances at a World Series championship.
The teams that are able to fill in whatever holes they have on their rosters must be prepared to part with some talent, but the potential return is great enough that making a midseason deal for an impact player is a good idea.
With all that in mind, here are some teams that should be going shopping at the trade deadline.
Tony La Russa and the St. Louis Cardinals have been hit with a bit of an injury bug so far this season. Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday, Adam Wainright and others have all spent time on the disabled list.
However, that is nothing in comparison to the problems the Cardinals have had in the bullpen.
Ryan Franklin started the year as the closer for the Cards, but he quickly imploded. Mitchell Boggs was given a shot at the job and didn't fare much better.
Fernando Salas eventually settled into the role and has performed admirably, but that doesn't mean the Cards don't need to improve the back end of their bullpen.
The San Diego Padres would make a great trade partner, being that they have a multitude of available options in Heath Bell, Mike Adams and Luke Gregerson.
Before the season, the New York Yankees' starting rotation was considered an area of need, and it was all but a given that they would eventually trade for an impact starter at the deadline.
Over the course of the first half of the season, that need waned due to the stellar performances of Bartolo Colon, Freddy Garcia and Ivan Nova.
However, Colon wound up on the disabled list and has struggled in each of his two starts since returning. Garcia also struggled in his first start after the All-Star Game.
Phil Hughes was put on the disabled list earlier in the season with a dead arm, and although he's performed admirably since returning, it's unknown whether he can be counted on down the stretch.
That leaves the Yankees with just two reliable starters every time out in C.C. Sabathia and A.J. Burnett, and it was just a year ago when Burnett was not so reliable himself.
Potential targets include Wandy Rodriguez of the Houston Astros, Francisco Liriano of the Minnesota Twins and Ubaldo Jimenez of the Colorado Rockies.
The Detroit Tiger sit just a half-game back of the Cleveland Indians for first place in the American League Central as of today.
They have a couple of the best hitters in the American League in Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez, but they could really use another big bat if they want to make noise in the playoffs.
Jhonny Peralta and Alex Avila had strong first halves, but they have never sustained this level of performance before. If they have a drop off, the Tigers could be in trouble.
That's why they should be looking for an impact hitter at the trade deadline to drop in the middle of their lineup.
The New York Mets' Carlos Beltran would be an especially good target. He's a switch-hitter, has experience playing in the American League Central—he started his career in Kansas City—and he can man either of the corner outfield spots or DH on some days.
The San Francisco Giants are another team that can use some help in their lineup.
Last year, on their way to a World Series, the Giants picked up Cody Ross from the Florida Marlins at the deadline, and he wound up playing a crucial role in their championship run.
They'd be wise to look at another outfield bat this year. Last year's breakout star Andres Torres was injured for part of this season and hasn't been as effective when he's been on the field, and Pat Burrell, Aaron Rowand and Nate Schierholtz haven't fared much better.
Carlos Beltran is also an attractive piece for the Giants, and if the Cardinals are really dangling Colby Rasmus, maybe they could give him a shot as well.
B.J. Upton could be a player who would be a nice fit in San Francisco as well if the Rays are at all ready to move on from him. The Rays have Desmond Jennings waiting in the wings, and Upton has been under performing for them for a while.
The vaunted Philadelphia Phillies rotation has been about as good as could have been expected this season, as Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels have all put together excellent seasons thus far.
However, their bullpen has been ravaged by injuries to Brad Lidge, Jose Conteras and Ryan Madson.
Antonio Bastardo has filled in admirably as the closer, as did Contreras and Madson prior to their injuries.
Lidge has long since been unable to be counted on in any real way, and the Phillies could be in trouble if one or all of these players gets hurt again.
The Phillies would also be wise to contract the Padres about any of their relief pitchers who could potentially be available. Other possible targets include Baltimore's Kevin Gregg, Toronto's Frank Francisco, Kansas City's Joakim Soria and Seattle's Brandon League.