With the main rush of free-agent signings done, teams are beginning to take shape. Some are pretty much done with free-agent signings, while others are still trying to make their teams into contenders.
It's at about this time each year that one can really start evaluating teams as to how they'll perform the following year, dependent of course on how they spend the next month.
Here are the best and worst-case scenarios for each MLB team, both for the rest of the offseason and taking into account next season.
The best-case scenario for the Orioles would be to pick up a solid free-agent pitcher or two and hope that a couple of the young guns can actually show up this year to go with a decent hitting core.
Worst-case scenario would be a repeat of Brian Matusz's struggles, as well as Adam Jones and J.J. Hardy taking a step back. If their young core somehow gets worse, then this could be a 100-loss team.
The best-case scenario, first and foremost, would be that the managerial change goes smoothly for the Red Sox, which is not a common occurrence. Beyond that, acquiring Hiroki Kuroda and having a healthy Clay Buchholz could turn them into the World Series champions they were designed to be.
The worst-case scenario is that they don't gel as a team. If Carl Crawford continues his struggles, Josh Beckett goes back to a bad year and David Ortiz starts to show his age, that could mean being stuck in third place again, which is unacceptable given the team on paper.
Acquiring Hiroki Kuroda or a similar pitcher to solidify the rotation would be the best-case scenario for the Yankees, as that could be the difference between a World Series win in 2012 or watching from home again.
The worst-case scenario would be pitchers continuing to spurn the Yankees in free agency, which would be made worse if A.J. Burnett, Phil Hughes and others continue their struggles. It would be embarrassing if the Yankees fell out of the playoff picture with their lineup.
The Tampa Bay Rays pretty much hit their best-case scenario last year, making the playoffs despite losing a load of talent. That makes their best-case scenario this season keeping what talent they still have and making the playoffs again. David Price being a Cy Young candidate again would be nice as well.
As for their worst-case scenario, it would be the rotation struggling, as well as Evan Longoria being unable to keep his batting average up. The Rays seem a bad injury or two away from falling under .500, and need to be careful.
The Blue Jays are improving and transitioning, but based on their offseason moves, this year is likely to either go very well or terribly.
Best-case scenario would be another MVP-type season by Jose Bautista, as well as finding a quality closer and watching the young talent emerge as they make a late playoff run.
Worst-case scenario would be no further improvements, J.P. Arencibia and others taking a step back, and falling back under .500, which is unacceptable since they're trying to continually improve.
Despite losing Mark Buehrle, if Adam Dunn has an ultimate bounce-back season and the White Sox pick up another starter, then they still have enough firepower to make the playoffs in the AL Central.
However, the White Sox will be reeling from losing Mark Buehrle and Ozzie Guillen. As a result, the team as a whole could struggle big time and fall well under .500 while trying to rebuild in 2012.
The best-case scenario for the Indians would be acquiring a solid first baseman like Carlos Pena to solidify the lineup. From there, as long as the bullpen, Travis Hafner, and Fausto Carmona show themselves in their old form, they could certainly grab the AL Central.
However, if they don't acquire a first baseman and Matt LaPorta struggles, as well as Ubaldo Jimenez, then it will have a ripple effect. Plus, if injuries take their toll again, they will be mired in the .500 range yet again.
The best-case scenario for the Tigers would be that the fifth starter they should acquire delivers as promised. As long as the hitting remains strong and Justin Verlander has another great year, the Tigers should be able to make a World Series run.
Given the AL Central, the worst-case scenario isn't all that bad. Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera would have to fall apart or get injured, and even then the Tigers have enough pieces to stay over .500.
Much of the 2012 season will be riding on the young talent for the Kansas City Royals, and record-wise, the season will likely be good or bad due to that.
If Mike Moustakas, Aaron Crow, Billy Butler, and others have great years, then the Royals could be a surprising force and be in contention late. If not, they'll be stuck in the AL Central cellar.
The 2011 Twins were so unbelievably injury-riddled that, despite the questionable moves made in free agency, it's very difficult to predict how they will fare this season.
Best-case scenario would be a return to the AL Central title with bounce-back years from everyone, while the worst-case scenario would be an even worse season due to the departures of Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel, especially if Josh Willingham and others don't step up.
The Angels signed Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson in the offseason. As such, the best-case scenario is obvious: Both have career years in their new environment to give the Angels a World Series win.
I find it tough to think those two will struggle in 2012, but stranger things have happened, and if that's the case, worst-case scenario is they're stuck in second place in the AL West another year.
The Oakland Athletics sold off so much top talent this offseason that it's difficult to have high hopes for them. In fact, It's tough to think that they will improve on this past season's record.
As for a worst-case scenario, how about the worst MLB record once 2012's done? At least they'll have the first overall pick in 2013's draft.
The obvious best-case scenario for the Mariners would be acquiring Prince Fielder. That would make their team far more competitive in the AL West. Besides that, another Cy Young season from Felix Hernandez and another great year from the pitching staff should keep them in the mix.
The worst-case scenario would be a repeat of last year, especially from the horrendous hitting staff. Namely, if the Mariners don't pick up any big bats, then they'll be in the cellar along with the Athletics this year.
Most of their 2012 season will rest on Yu Darvish. The best-case scenario will be that they sign him to a reasonable deal, he has a great season and the Rangers actually win the World Series this time after almost doing so for two years.
I don't see the hitting taking a step back, but it's a possibility that the loss of C.J. Wilson could rattle the starting rotation, causing ERAs to inflate and the team to fall out of playoff contention. Neftali Feliz may have some growing pains in his first season as a starter if they go that route as well.
The Braves' collapse in September was not reminiscent of most of their season, when their young rookies looked great. If Jason Heyward bounces back and the bullpen remains elite, then they can compete with the Phillies just with what they have.
Worst-case scenario is that the big three in the bullpen struggle, causing a meltdown that could be felt in the rotation as well. If they undersell Martin Prado or Jair Jurrjens, then they could end up taking a step back, though it's nearly impossible to see them falling under .500.
The Marlins made such a big splash in this year's free-agency pool that they are an interesting team to predict, since like many they signed, they could place first through fifth in the NL East.
If Jose Reyes and company play like MVPs, then they could win the division more quickly than expected. If Reyes gets hurt, and Heath Bell and Mark Buehrle struggle in unfamiliar territory, then they won't be too much better than last season.
It's tough to rate the Mets too highly since they lost Jose Reyes, though they got Frank Francisco to help bolster their bullpen. Best-case scenario is that Johan Santana's return helps reform their pitching staff, and if they can get a nice bat to replace Reyes, they should be alright.
The Mets went 77-85 last season, and with minimal improvements to the pitching staff outside of Francisco and Jon Rauch, I see them doing a bit worse, likely finishing last in the NL East.
On paper, the Phillies should have been able to make it to the World Series. The additions of Jonathan Papelbon and Jim Thome mean that the best-case scenario of a World Series ring isn't all that far out of reach.
Honestly, unless something goes incredibly wrong in the bullpen and the lineup is mediocre, the worst-case scenario is a 90-win season and a late-season playoff battle; they're too good on paper to have any serious issues.
The Nationals made a big move in acquiring Gio Gonzalez but have been quiet on the free-agent side. I see them making another big move yet to bolster their lineup. If it improves and Stephen Strasburg develops into an ace, then they will surprise and should contend late into the year.
If injuries cause trouble in the starting rotation yet again, and if the lineup is even worse than last season with Jayson Werth continuing to struggle, then they'll take a step back and fall to fourth in the NL East.
The Cubs are going to be in full rebuilding mode for the next season or two, and despite losing Aramis Ramirez, they made some solid moves. As long as Starlin Castro and other young players continue to develop into great players, then that's all the Cubs can ask for as a best-case scenario.
The worst-case scenario would be Carlos Zambrano and other players in a contract year falling apart, making them impossible to trade. They're relying on those future prospects more then they are willing to let on, and that could be an issue if they don't pan out.
The Reds took a step backwards in 2011 after having a great 2010, and bringing in Mat Latos while getting rid of Edinson Volquez, sacrificing prospects in the process, shows they want to win now.
Best-case scenario would be a return to the NL Central title with Joey Votto having another MVP-type season, while worst-case scenario would be another third-place finish, since while the Reds improved, the Brewers and Cardinals made sure they wouldn't lose ground.
It's tough to consider a best-case or worst-case scenario for the Astros, as a lot of it depends whether or not you believe they need to trade Brett Myers and Wandy Rodriguez now to go into full rebuilding mode.
Either way, their best bet is that those two perform well, they get high-end prospects for them and they finish around .500. Worst-case scenario would naturally be another bottom-of-the-barrel finish.
Despite likely losing Prince Fielder this offseason, the Milwaukee Brewers did not flinch, simply signing Aramis Ramirez to play at third base, though they still need a first baseman.
Best-case scenario is another division win and a further playoff run, since they should still have enough power in the lineup. However, the lack of Prince Fielder and possibly Ryan Braun could hurt morale, causing the team to slump and lose out to the Reds or Cardinals for the NL Central crown.
The Pirates may not have made huge splashes, but they made some nice underrated moves this past offseason. As a result, as long as the rotation improves, the best scenario of a .500 record may finally happen.
However, they regressed late in the year, and I'm not sure if they have the pieces to bounce back. They could end up sliding back down to where they usually are in 2012 as a worst-case scenario.
Losing someone as great as Albert Pujols could cripple many teams, but adding in Carlos Beltran and getting Adam Wainwright back should make the Cardinals just as competitive as they were last year.
Best-case scenario would be another World Series title, while worst case would be falling short after barely making it in the playoffs last year. Watching the Angels win a title might hurt a bit too.
The Arizona Diamondbacks were a living incarnation of a best-case scenario last year, coming out of nowhere to win the NL West thanks to career years from Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson.
The fact that they got Trevor Cahill as well makes the best-case scenario another division crown with a potential World Series bid, while the worst-case scenario would be falling back into 2010 form and sliding back under .500.
The Rockies are always going to be a team that's near the top in batting and near the bottom in pitching. Still, the best-case scenario for them would be that the pitching prospects they have actually work out and pitch well despite playing in Coors Field.
Worst case would be the lineup struggling somewhat, including Todd Helton showing his age again. In either case, I don't see them moving beyond eight games of .500 either way.
The Dodgers actually made a lot of moves this past offseason, adding Aaron Harang and Chris Capuano in hopes that they can keep the loss of Hiroki Kuroda from being too bad.
Best-case scenario is that Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw have career years again and that the rest of the cast steps it up as well, ideally pushing the Dodgers close to a playoff spot, as the NL West is actually quite winnable.
The worst-case scenario would be a regression, especially from Kemp and Kershaw. If that were to happen, then the Dodgers could easily tumble down the NL West.
The worst-case scenario seems easy for the Padres, since they lost 91 games last year and are now without their ace starter and closer, Mat Latos and Heath Bell.
If Clayton Richard and others can keep the team ERA down, then they may be able to stay competitive as the team's prospects grow, especially new one Yonder Alonso. Having said that, losing 100 games is not just a worst-case scenario but realistic given all the holes in the lineup.
The Giants are only a year removed from winning a World Series, so despite missing the playoffs, they have the pitching staff to win yet again, especially now that they've added Angel Pagan and Melky Cabrera to a depleted outfield.
The worst-case scenario, however, would be the lineup shutting down, like most of them did last year. They should have little trouble finishing over .500 unless Pablo Sandoval regresses too.