Around The Majors With The MLB Community Leaders

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Around The Majors With The MLB Community Leaders

We've been getting more additions to the MLB Community Leader team this past month. You may not know all of them or be familiar with any of their work.

Here's your chance to see who is saying what about their favorite team. Whether they are new or been at it here at Bleacher Report for awhile now, they've all been sounding off on their team's offseason plans and progress.

Let's take a spin throughout Bleacher Report to find out what the MLB Community Leaders are talking about.

In the American League...

Starting in the AL Central, Austin Drake of the Detroit Tigers is projecting the 2009 starters at each position.

Austin has a few interesting signings happening in the Motor City, including the addition of Orlando Cabrera to fill their shortstop void. However, his preference is Christian Guzman.

"Carlos Guillen can play shortstop, but it is highly unlikely that he will see time there next season. Christian Guzman is on the market and I’d love to see him in Detroit, but I just don’t see Dombrowski going after him."

For their division rivals, the cautious spending Indians, I've gone a little more conservative with my problems and solutions.

My ideal choice for Cleveland's open rotation spot? Freddy Garcia.

"The ideal fit would be Freddy Garcia or someone who has been a proven reliable pitcher, just coming off an injury. Carl Pavano could be in that mold, but he isn't coming off an injury, he's coming off many injuries."

Into the always active AL East, Michael Lemaire has written several pleas to Theo Epstein and the Red Sox for this offseason. Among his suggestions, don't re-sign the team's captain, Jason Varitek.

"What makes matters worse for the Red Sox is that Scott Boras is his agent, so instead of working out a hometown discount to stay with the Red Sox and become a personal catcher in the mold of Eddie Perez, he will most likely test the free agent waters and force the Red Sox to pony up the dough if they want to keep him.

Which is why they can't possibly re-sign him at his market value if they want to be competitive."

Boston's best friends in New York, the Yankees meanwhile are waiting for a CC Sabathia sighting. But, Jordan Schwartz was one of the first on the trade for Nick Swisher.

"Swisher is Giambi-Lite—a power hitter who can't get a single to save his life. The 27-year old hit just .219 with 24 homers and 69 RBI in 153 games last year and is only a .244 lifetime hitter. His .219 mark in 2008 was the worst batting average among players with at least 502 plate appearances, the number needed to qualify for the batting title."

In Baltimore, Lawrence Barreca has been busy going around the diamond. His latest position, second base.

"Roberts has been on the O's since his rookie season in 2001, and with that he has had to endure the hardships of a long, painful losing streak. Does Brian really want to stick with the squad for another season?"

Last, in terms of this article, not in last year's finish, the American League Champion Tampa Bay Rays. What are the priorities according to Scott Birchfield? For starters, pick a closer!

"The fact that Troy Percival is old and fragile is a big concern. I would not count on Percival being the man in 2009. The Rays need to either move Edwin Jackson or J.P. Howell to the closer spot, or make a deal for an established closer. Dan Wheeler is not the solution either. He is better as a set-up man."

Going west, the team with the big money free agents, the Los Angeles Angels, are certainly in the center of the offseason. Scott Fowler is keeping up with the latest rumblings.

"With his free agency already declared by uber-agent Scott Boras, the Angels started this week with some PR statements about making a sizable offer to Mark Teixeira prior to losing their exclusive bargaining rights this Friday. They then recanted, saying they weren't going to give Boras his "starting point" to shop to other teams, and decided to keep their cards a little closer to their chests for the time being."

The big news however has come out of Oakland, where the Athletics made the move to bring in Matt Holliday. However Steven Resnick believes Colorado won the deal.

"So, even as an A's fan if you asked me who got the best deal? It was the Rockies, but the trade helps both teams. It gives the Rockies the flexibility to move Willy Taveras or put Gonzalez in Right Field because he's got a great arm."

Oakland might not be rebuilding like we thought they were, but there is no question their division friends up in Seattle are. Aaron Meyer says this just the first of many offseasons in the rebuilding process.

"It's not going to help attendance to call the season lost from the beginning and bring all the youngsters up and release all the veterans, but it may hasten the rebuilding process just a little."

Fellow Seattle Community Leader Casey Michel also knows that General Manager Jack Zduriencik has his work cut out for him.

"Now, new General Manager Jack Zduriencik has a bigger workload than Hank Paulson. With M’s president Chuck Armstrong and CEO Howard Lincoln breathing down his neck, Zduriencik will be expected to fix a busted garbage truck with some worn Scotch tape. Not exactly enviable."

Here's a question for you. What does Texas have that a lot of team's do not? Matthew Irby knows the answer: Plenty of major league caliber catchers.

"Another big piece of the Rangers off-season to-do list is what to do with the four catchers.  Texas has the good problem of having four Major League ready catchers in Gerald Laird, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Taylor Teagarden, and Max Ramirez."

In the National League...

We kick off the National League look around in the Central and as always, the eyes seem to be all on the Chicago Cubs. The news out of Chicago is all about Kerry Wood's impending departure. Bob Warja says goodbye.

"Somehow, you can't help but feel that Woody kind of owes the Cubs and Hendry for their faith in him. And for paying him huge dollars even when he couldn't pitch. Ah, but there's no loyalty in the game anymore."

Could the Reds be looking to make additions? They missed out on Coco Crisp, but Michael Hinchcliffe explores the possibilities of a deal with Colorado.

"The Denver Post's initial report came as no surprise to Reds fans. The Reds have been open about their desire to land a right-handed, power-hitting outfielder and add an experienced catcher to the roster. Fans were also likely relieved to hear this morning's clarifying report that the Reds would not be trading for all three players, a deal which would likely cost a fair amount of young pitching."

Meanwhile down in Texas, Jason Cardwell is keeping up with the latest rumors surrounding the Houston Astros.

"Another spot the Astros are weak in is catcher. Humbert Quintero is currently pegged as the Astros' starting catcher. Ed Wade has said he would like to find someone who can at least tandem with Q."

If Salomon Torres was pegged as the closer in Milwaukee for 2009, they are going to have to find a new closer. Adam Lindemer looks back on the very lengthy career of Torres and where Milwaukee goes from here.

"Torres may not have been the best closer in the league, but he was definitely dependable with his rubber arm. When everybody else needed that day's rest, Torres was always ready to go."

Hey so, where's Manny Ramirez headed to this offsesaon? Los Angeles, New York, the other Los Angeles, the other New York? Nah, how about Pittsburgh? Peter Tumbas wonders what if.

"So why not add another blunder of all blunders to the list of Pirates blunders and sign Ramirez for $100 million for four blunderful years? Just an FYI, that contract would be worth more than 10 times the amount of the total salary of the 1997 team, which nearly won the Central with a losing record."

Wrapping up the Central we have the St. Louis Cardinals. Peter Fleischer looks at five possible signings for them this offseason.

"The Cardinals need a stud in the middle infield. The other one doesn't have to be above average. [Felipe] Lopez can play both middle infield spots, third base, and even dabbled in the outfield last season. He's got the versatility and contact bat to be a good fit with Tony La Russa and the Cards."

Jumping to the East, the big news surrounding the Atlanta Braves is the chatter about Jake Peavy. Brett Kettyle wonders if the Braves are giving up too much in their pursuit for the former NL Cy Young pitcher.

"While I would love to have Jake Peavy as the staff ace this year, I was beginning to wonder whether the Braves would be giving up too much. Originally, the deal would have been for three players, but, eventually, the Padres were expecting at least four players."

How about the Mets? Patrick Murray is starting his outlook on the offseason with starting pitching.

"The biggest need for the Mets this offseason is pitching. The most glaring weakness is the bullpen, but I will start with a look at the starting rotation. You know the saying, "pitching wins championships," and it all starts with the guys who take the hill to begin the game. Consistent quality starts from the rotation can work wonders for the bullpen."

Christian Karcole waisted no time looking ahead, despite the Phillies exciting 2008 World Series victory.

"But what will they do with Burrell, Moyer, Howard, Hamels, Victorino, Werth, and many others? What should that do? Well if you're out there, Ruben, pay attention: I've got the answers."

Washington may not have much hope for next season, but that's a position Tampa Bay has been in the past few years. Rob Kildoo says the Nationals should take notes.

"The true value of players happens early in their careers. Baseball players are attached to a franchise for around six years after their draft. It’s an incredibly complicated process involving terms like super-twos and arbitration, but it’s safe to say that teams get the most value (production versus cost) from the good players they draft. The draft is where a franchise finds hope."

We finally reach the West, where "if" is the word in Colorado according to David Martin.

"The Rockies' needs for this offseason shift drastically depending on the "ifs."

The Colorado Rockies went into the 2008 offseason knowing that they had holes to fill on a squad that went 74-88 and finished 10 games out of first place in the worst division in baseball."

Meanwhile, Anthony Masterson wonders if Aaron Heilman is in the Rockies' plans.

"The Rockies have long been discussed to be in the running for the 30-year-old righty, even going back to trade talks before the 2008 season.  MLB Truth & Rumors on si.com has also mentioned the Rockies as potential suitors. "

Like Wood in Chicago, it looks like the Padres are saying goodbye to their own closer. Eric Gomez looks back on the situation between San Diego and their legendary closer, Trevor Hoffman.

"And while fans bemoan the loss and hold on to great memories of Trevor, pouring feedback onto radio stations, newspapers, and the Internet that can be surmised to a city-wide "Thank You," the Padres coldly remind us that baseball isn't just a game."

Out in the Bay Area with San Francisco, Evan Aczon looks at the entire picture for the Giants, starting with the infield.

"Infield is still a big concern for this team, and Sabean plans on reinforcing it through free agency. They signed Josh Phelps, who can play first and catch in a pinch, to a minor-league deal, But the focus is on bigger fish."

The first free agent to sign with a new team was actually Jeremy Affeldt with the Giants. Andrew Nuschler said it was uneventful for fans, while Danny Penza said it was the start of the Giants' bullpen rebuild.

"San Francisco fans can rejoice. The hometown Giants have solved all their woes by bringing in...drum roll please...Jeremy Affeldt!

***crickets chirping***"

"After spending most of his seven-year career with Kansas City and Colorado, Affeldt will now be looked upon to provide late-inning help and bridge the gap between the Giants' starters and closer Brian Wilson."

There's your look around the MLB thanks to the MLB Community Leaders.

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