Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
The phrases that follow merely encapsulate where each team stands and what its goals ought to be as the Hot Stove warms. They are less important than the rankings assigned to each team, which rank MLB's franchises by their overall health heading into these months of important change.
Here are the criteria by which the rankings were formulated.
Does the team have a solid group of decision-makers in place—the kind who will evaluate success and failure based on process (not results) and who will lend voice to both old and new ideas about how to develop players and teams? Are their front offices stable and centralized, such that those good decisions can trickle down efficiently to the lowest rungs of the organization?
Talent in Place
Obviously, for instance, the Chicago Cubs have Theo Epstein at the top of their organizational flow chart. That's a good thing. Bad things: They have Carlos Marmol under contract for over $16 million the next two seasons. They owe Alfonso Soriano $54 million. Their best player is a very raw 21-year-old, and their pitching staff is thinner than Bud Selig's real hair.
That negates much of the value, at least this winter, of having Epstein around. What you have to work with has a lot to do with what you can do.
This is about more than whether a team can spend money on players. Can it adequately scout and vet its acquisitions? Does it have expendable pieces to make important trades? What ballpark revenues might be left unexploited that lend the team payroll upside?
This is about the long term as much as the short term and as such plays the smallest role in differentiating teams. In cases of near-ties, though, it is good to keep in mind which club is in better position to replace chaff with homegrown wheat.
The Twins and White Sox each had disappointing seasons: Both seem to face an immediate revenue crunch, have bad contracts on the books and need to cut payroll. The Twins might be in a slightly better position, though, because their farm system is not as barren as that of Chicago.