It has been a good Thanksgiving break, but Major League teams and fans are getting back to work.
It's high time we get back to work ourselves. The winter meetings will convene in less than two weeks, and teams are moving into high gear, so we will begin a series of looking at what each team would like to add based on the total player ratings we saw earlier.
As we move through each team, we will look generally at four phases: infield, outfield, starting rotation and bullpen. Even though we can give very specific information, I have chosen to leave that out for now. Consider it an attempt to protect some data as proprietary.
Instead we will examine the teams in general terms.
The Arizona Diamondbacks won the NL West in 2011, but the West has seen different winners over the past three seasons.
In fact, all five teams have claimed at least one title in the last decade. The Padres appear to be in rebuilding mode, but otherwise it could be anyone's division under the right circumstances.
Where do the Diamondbacks stand heading into the winter meetings?
When we include the catcher position we see that the Dbacks have an impressive array of depth in the infield.
Both catchers and all of the regulars are positive impact players except Aaron Hill. Most of the time, that would be a place to start when looking at where they can improve, but Kevin Towers re-signed him to a two-year deal. The terms were reasonable and an indication that they expect his last six weeks to be more of the norm in 2012.
Both Willie Bloomquist and John McDonald were re-signed as well, so the infield will remain intact.
Furthermore, there don't appear to be any extra parts. When looking at last year's data, we can expect the unit to improve slightly overall. Miguel Montero and Ryan Roberts may see some slippage, but Stephen Drew, Aaron Hill and Paul Goldschmidt should improve.
Player to Watch: Paul Goldschmidt
The Dbacks may not have the best outfield in baseball, but they probably have the most consistent one.
All three regulars are positive impact performers with Justin Upton finishing in the top five of the MVP voting. Of course, when you see out-of-context seasons like that you are left wondering whether it is a sign of a player taking the next step or simply a career season.
2012 will tell the tale there.
The Dbacks have two decent reserves, but this could be an area of concern if any of the regulars go down.
Chris Young is one of those maddening players that seems to be so talented but can never quite put it together. Gerardo Parra is a brilliant defender and seemed to be coming into his own offensively by the end of the season. It will be interesting to see what happens when he gets a full season's worth of plate appearances.
Player to Watch: Gerardo Parra
This will be a point of emphasis at the winter meetings.
The Dbacks had three very good pitchers and two so-so pitchers in 2011. Jason Marquis might or might not be back. Jarrod Parker seems poised to take one spot in the rotation. If he does then they can let Marquis go and slip Joe Saunders down to the fifth spot in the rotation. They have some more young pitching available as well.
This is where GMs earn their stripes.
Does Towers cash in some of those young arms for an established arm or does he roll the dice on them? He seemed to make the right moves last year, so it will be interesting to see what he does this time around.
The smart money is on the Dbacks keeping Parker, but they may want to trade up from Saunders.
Player to Watch: Jarrod Parker
One of Towers' underrated moves from this past season was picking up Brad Ziegler from the Athletics.
He wasn't brilliant, but he was solid. The Dbacks had only three positive impact relievers. While you can't expect everyone in your bullpen to be above average, you should have at least four or five to compete in the playoffs. The Cardinals and Rangers showed us that in the World Series.
Since they have J.J. Putz, they don't have to spend big money or big-time prospects to get a quality reliever. There are several solid relievers either on the trade or free agent market. Look for the Dbacks to add at least one reliever some way during the winter meetings.
If they do, they should be the favorite again in the NL West.
Player to Watch: Brad Ziegler
Winter Meetings Success
The Diamondbacks will be successful if they are able to add at least one solid relief pitcher to their stable of relievers. If they can add a lefty capable of pitching an inning at a time (not a LOOGY) they could be a force to be reckoned with. It will be tempting for them to add a starter, but Jarrod Parker could be better than anyone on the free agent or trade market.