MLB 2012 Previews: 10 Rotations That Could Be Radically Different

Anthony LifrieriContributor ISeptember 13, 2011

MLB 2012 Previews: 10 Rotations That Could Be Radically Different

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    With the 2011 MLB season winding down, it's time to take a quick peek at 2012.

    If the world doesn't end, we can look forward to a wacky offseason involving baseball's best player. along with one of its best pitchers as well.

    While pitching was better in 2011, it's probably more of a sign that hitting was worse, as the Post-Steroid Era reaches fruition.

    That being said, less money will be spent on pitching, and as a result, rotations could be radically different next year.

    Here are 10 starting rotations that could be radically different in 2012...

New York Yankees

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    Bartolo Colon, Freddie Garcia and CC Sabathia will all be free agents this offseason.

    All of them have pitched admirably, and Yankee GM Brian Cashman might not pay all three players.

    Look for Sabathia and either Colon or Garcia to return, not all three of them.

    Also look for the possible salary dump of AJ Burnett, but that may be wishful thinking.

Tampa Bay Rays

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    James Shields has emerged as the ace of the Rays, but he’s approaching free agency after next season.

    Basically, it’s time for Shields to get paid which means it’s time for the perpetually cheap Rays to deal him.

    It will add to their epic farm system while giving them an excuse to bring up Matt Moore.

    Don’t be surprised if Shields and BJ Upton are dealt to the Nationals this offseason in exchange for the entire Nationals farm system not named Bryce Harper.

Boston Red sox

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    Jon Lester and Josh Beckett are set.  The rest of the Boston Rotation is not.

    Erik Bedard, Daisuke Matsuzaka, John Lackey and Tim Wakefield are all not guarantees to be on the roster next year for various reasons.

    Look for Lackey to return and Wakefield if he chooses not retire.

    As for the rest, they’ll have to be a bargain to Theo Epstein.

Minnesota Twins

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    The big question mark here is Francisco Liriano.

    The Twins have been threatening to trade him for years now, and perhaps they’ve finally had enough of him.

    Look for him to go to the Cardinals, where Dave Duncan will help him realize his potential.

Seattle Mariners

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    The Mariners are in an obvious rebuilding phase, and so too will their rotation be retooled.

    Jason Vargas is also to be a free agent, and its unlikely the Mariners bring him back.

    Then there’s the elephant in the room called Felix Hernandez.

    It’s HIGHLY unlikely the King gets traded, but wackier things have happened….

Washington Nationals

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    They’ll get a full season with Stephen Strasburg. (Hopefully)

    But starters like Livan Hernandez Chien-Ming Wang and others are up for free agency.

    They also might be inclined to make the aforementioned trade with the Rays.

Philadelphia Phillies

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    Roy Oswalt has a player option and Cole Hamels has an option for next year.

    Both will probably stick with the Phillies but there is a chance the Phillies don’t want to pay either Hamels or Oswalt.

    This could result in a trade for prospects.

    The #5 spot in the rotation will also likely be up for grabs next year.

Florida Marlins

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    Javier Vazquez has pitched better, but it’s unlikely he’ll be back in Miami next year if he wants a raise.

    Josh Johnson is an injury risk, and it’s possible the Marlins deal him if they can get fair value for him.

    Even if they hold Johnson there’s no guarantee he’s ready for opening day.

    The rest of the rotation is a crapshoot.

    There is a chance all five starters don’t return.

Saint Louis Cardinals

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    Adam Wainwright has an option that might not be picked up.

    Wainwright is also coming off Tommy John surgery and Chris Carpenter is aging and injury-prone.

    Although Carpenter got his extension, would any of you be at all surprised to hear he got hurt during the offseason or spring training and had to miss time in 2012? 

    More importantly, the Cards will need all the money they can spare to retain Albert Pujols.

    Look for one of the two pitchers to be gone or not ready for the start of the 2012 season.

Chicago Cubs

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    The only sure thing in next year’s rotation will be Matt Garza.

    Ryan Dumpster could decline his $14 million option and go elsewhere and Carlos Zambrano may never pitch again, leaving a rotation with a ton of question marks.

    Look for the Cubs’ 2012 rotation to be radically different.