Looking At The Needs Of Some Contenders

With Spring Training wrapping up around the country, teams are finalizing their rosters and picking the 25 players they'll start the season with. There's always room for improvement, but some contenders have some very obvious weak spots on their rosters. Here's a look at some of them, which may need to be addressed during the season…

  • Angels, third base: Brandon Wood and Maicer Izturis will get the first cracks at replacing Chone Figgins, but if neither is up to par, the Halos might be looking for a fill-in at the hot corner.
  • Braves, outfielder: Superstar in training Jason Heyward will start the year in right, but incumbent centerfielder Nate McLouth had a brutal spring (6-for-51), which may push Melky Cabrera into full-time duty.
  • Rays, setup man: With J.P. Howell on the shelf due to a bum shoulder, the team has no obvious candidate to hand the ball off to new closer Rafael Soriano. Dan Wheeler and Grant Balfour represent solid options, but if Howell misses more time than expected, the Rays might be looking to add a reliever.
  • Twins, closer: This is the most obvious hole of them all. Joe Nathan is out for the season after having elbow surgery, and Jon Rauch will get the first chance to replace him. 
  • Yankees, left field: The team is breaking camp with Brett Gardner, Randy Winn, and Marcus Thames set to share time in left, but we've already seen a scenario laid out in which they might need help sooner rather than later.

That doesn't include all of the clubs that could very well be looking to add a starting pitcher at some point, like the Mariners, Mets, Phillies, Cubs, and Dodgers. Some other holes aren't so obvious though. Maybe the Red Sox could use another reliever (who couldn't?), or perhaps Seattle will go looking for a big bat that fits into their extreme run prevention plan. 

What other areas of need to do you see out there for contenders?

50 Responses to Looking At The Needs Of Some Contenders Leave a Reply

  1. Guest 5 years ago

    The Yankees should try to get Freddy Lewis.

    • Nicolas_C 5 years ago

      Another bad former Giant outfielder is all they need

  2. switchhitingjesus 5 years ago

    The Angels need Wood to step up big time.

  3. BIGPELF 5 years ago

    the braves really need a miracle to win a championship

    • Guest 5 years ago

      Really? I don’t think so at all. First of all, they have the best pitching in the National League. Second of all, if Jason Heyward plays well, they have one of the better lineups in Baseball, 3rd of all, their is a lot of motivation because this is Bobby Cox’s last season with the Braves.

      I really think the Braves will be a really good team this season.

      • sfgiants1 5 years ago

        Since when did the Braves have the best pitching staff in the NL? They dont even have the best staff in the NL east. The NL west is loaded with pitching with the Giants leading the way.

        • Zack23 5 years ago

          Jurrjens, Hanson, Hudson, Kawakami & Lowe is better than the Mets, Nationals and Marlins. Sure Phils have Doc and Hamels, then what? Blanton (DL), Moyer, and Happy? 1-5 Braves have a better rotation.

          • BaseballFan0707 5 years ago

            You need at least 3 above average pitchers, or else you’ll get killed in the playoffs. Doc can’t pitch every game.

            Plus, we don’t even know if Hamels will return to form. He had a very bad spring (I think a 6 ERA?) If Hamels isn’t back to 3/4ths of his old self, the Phillies all of a sudden become the 04 Yankees plus Doc.

            I agree that the Braves have a great rotation. I question their overall hitting (no worries, I believe in Heyward), but if Glaus pans out as desired and McClouth has a good year, that won’t be much of an issue.

        • Jason_F 5 years ago

          Hudson, Lowe, Hanson, Kawakami and Jurrjens is easily the best in the East. And, honestly, I’d give the edge to the Braves over the Giants right now, especially given the presence of Wellemeyer in the 5th spot. If Bumgarner comes up down the road and pitches to his potential, that could change. For now, I think it’s pretty safe to say that the Braves are the class of NL rotations on paper to begin the season.

        • Guest 5 years ago

          The Braves have better pitching than the Giants just by a bit.

          No one in the NL East has better pitching than the Braves.

        • bravescountry 5 years ago

          since when did the giants have the better ptching staff than the braves wellemeyer at the bottom and sanchez at 4 and dont bring up that no hitter it was against the padres

      • TimotheusATL 5 years ago

        I’m still big-time anxious about the Braves’ ability to score runs.

        • Guest 5 years ago

          I wouldn’t be if I were you.

          • TimotheusATL 5 years ago

            It’s the lack of homerun power mixed with Cox’s management style that makes me anxious. Glaus is having a GREAT spring, but you’ll notice 0 HR. If he’s truly become a singles/doubles hitter, the middle of our lineup looks eerily similar to last year. Whenever Chipper or McCann struggled, the one who was doing better got pitched around. Glaus’ power stroke is going to be key.

          • ryankrol 5 years ago

            Don’t be too anxious about Glaus. Despite his inability to hit better than .250 most years, he always seems to find a way to produce runs. Notice 2008: 27 HR, 99 RBI. That was a season where he hit I think 0 HR in April. In 2002, he set his career high in RBI at 111 with just 30 HR, after hitting 47 and 41. Glaus thrives on hitting doubles, and his homeruns usually have come from him getting into that groove. Right-center is his strength. With Jones, Glaus, and McCann all healthy, I think the Braves will just need to get on base at the top as much as they can.

  4. jb1996 5 years ago

    I think the Pirates need help with pitching. I mean D. McCutchen is o.k, and Kevin Hart needs help,and they just traded Virgil Vasquez yesterday which ain’t making anything better for the Buccos

  5. baseballjw 5 years ago

    The Cardinals need a closer. Franklin’s not gonna cut it.

  6. the mets were looking to add a starting pitcher but it loooks like they are happy with the bums in their rotation. i feel bad for johan

    • The title of the article was “Looking at the Needs of Some Contenders.” No way the Mets fall into the category of contender. Let’s stay focused here people!

  7. Steve_in_MA 5 years ago

    Actually, I would argue that the Red Sox’ need for additional bullpen help is rather flagrant. Manny Delcarmen has been awful this spring. So bad, he was, that Peter Abraham (Globe Staff) surmised he’s either injured or forgotten how to pitch. To me, this is not surprising in the least, as Manny had a stellar first half, then fell apart for the entire second half of the season last year. I would not be surprised to see him hit the DL and be replaced, at least temporarily, by Joe Nelson, if Joe has the foresight to accept an initial assignment to AAA Pawtucket. If he doesn’t, then the Sox will have to go into the market and find a middle reliever.

    • BentoBox 5 years ago

      Dustin Richardson ? Hopefully, Alan Embree won’t make a single appearance out of the bullpen.

      • Steve_in_MA 5 years ago

        Dustin is very young and was not good this spring. His pitching, like that of Shouse (who got released) was described as flat and lifeless. I doubt that Dustin will be looked to for help this season. He needs more development work. Embree is doubtful to remain with the team past 4/15, so I think your hope will come true.

        • jgmaynard 5 years ago

          I don’t know about Embree. While I don’t see him being in the majors by 4/15, I am willing to bet that he will accept a minor league contract, and is that he is hoping he will be called up later in the year. That’s just a hunch, based on my belief that he has a love of baseball, and this is his only way to keep playing.


          • Steve_in_MA 5 years ago

            You’re hunch could be right, but let’s look at it from Embree’s perspective. He’s an aged lefty with 11 more days to work out at Sox facilities before he makes his call. If he strengthens in those 11 days, he can re-enter the FA market and probably get a roster spot somewhere in the ML. Otherwise, he has to share an apartment with a 25-year old kid in Providence and keep praying that one of Schoeneweis or Okajima encounters problems along the way. That might be too much for a guy who recently turned 40 to endure. I suppose we’ll just have to wait the 11 days and see which guess is right.

    • ryankrol 5 years ago

      That’s exactly why they’ve been looking for lefties, and I think Scot Schoeneweis made the team.

      • Steve_in_MA 5 years ago

        Agreed, Schoeneweis is up to fill our need for the situational lefty. But Delcarmen has been our middle-innings workhorse. If he is no longer effective and is not replaced, we’re going to lose alot of winnable games in the 6th and 7th innings. The report is he’s lost 4-5 mph off his fastball, developed problem mechanics, and the result has been the ball has been up in the zone. Up and slower usually results in opposing batters knocking the ball over the wall. Who replaces Delcarmen for that middle-innings role if these problems persist?

        One correction to my previous post. Joe Nelson can only request release between now and June 1. He can unilaterally opt out and become a FA on June 1. So he will likely be available to the Sox, should the wheels come off for Delcarmen. Still, I think we are smart to be in the market for a quality middle reliever.

  8. sfgiants1 5 years ago

    Since when did the Braves have the best pitching staff in the NL? They dont even have the best staff in their division. The NL west is packed with great pitching with the Giants leading they way.

    • cookmeister 5 years ago

      you do know that the Braves are not in the NL west right? maybe you meant the national league and not division

  9. What? The Angels aren’t shopping 3B at all. They’re completely fine with Wood and Izturis. If Wood doesn’t play up to par, Scioscia will go with Izturis. That shouldn’t even be on this list, really?

    • EdinsonPickle 5 years ago

      Well neither of them have started at 3rd for a full season, and while I’m sure they’ll handle the job just fine, you can’t necessarily say it’s a strength for the Angels.

      • bjsguess 5 years ago

        I don’t think it’s a strength. I also don’t think it’s a huge issue either.

        All Wood needs to do is hit 250 with 20-25 HR’s. That’s easily within his reach. Playing decent defense that works out to roughly a 2 Win player. Angels will take that. If Wood falters Izturis is a solid replacement. 750-800 OPS. Good glove. Decent speed.

        Everyone is down on Wood. Sound familiar? Read what people wrote about Kendry Morales last year. The Angels were killed by most for letting Teixeira get away and going with an unproven Morales. I think the Angels are very happy with how things turned out.

        • EdinsonPickle 5 years ago

          I don’t think it’s a big issue either. Wood seems like a capable replacement and his time has finally come. The only knock on the tandem of Wood and Izturis is the experience, but I don’t think that is going to be a huge factor.

        • ryankrol 5 years ago

          Keep in mind that Wood will be hitting either 8th or 9th, and so would Izturis. If Wood had to hit 6th, I’d be concerned. But the organization is in a lucky position to wher they can just let Wood develop down there, evaluate, and see if they need to deal. Also, keep in mind that in all of MLB, 3B is as shallow in 2010 as it has been in years.

    • dizzle4 5 years ago

      If Edwin Encarnacion gets off to a good start, similar to his 2008 results, he could be a 3B with a bit of value, as I think he’s under control until after the 2011 season. His 2008 is probably the best case scenario the Angels can hope for out of Wood, so if Edwin looks closer to hitting that while Wood struggles out of the gate, it may be a logical place for them to look.

      • mrsjohnmiltonrocks 5 years ago

        Except Edwin Encarnacion can’t play third base. Really, he can’t.

    • ryankrol 5 years ago

      Have you looked at Izturis’ batting average with runners in scoring position?

  10. Bravoboy10 5 years ago

    I think the Atlanta outfield will be fine assuming Heyward takes care of business. I’m not worried about McClouth, he needs to bat lower in the order anyways. Melky will start the year in the leadoff role apparently but expect him to get bumped from the everyday line-up early and McClouth take over and Prado move to leadoff makes since. I think Scaffer will be up in August to assist as well.

    • BIGPELF 5 years ago

      i dont understand the melky trade

      hows that good for the braves?

      • BentoBox 5 years ago

        The Braves also got Arodys Viscaino who was one of the Yankees top pitching prospects.

      • NL_East_Rivalry 5 years ago

        Vizcaino was the main piece. Apparently Melky was needed here as well until Young or Schafer is ready. Dunn is also a decent reliever who is under team control for 5 years. Not to mention the payroll flexibility. The trade will get even better in July when the Braves rent a piece.

  11. drewharen9 5 years ago

    Diamondbacks need pitching with Webb out indefinetely.

  12. Are the Cardinals not contenders or do they not have any needs worthy of mention?

    The Cubs rotation has been pimped as nearly as good as the Cardinals, so I was surprised to see them in that list. I tend to agree that their rotation is thin and hoping for a lot, but I’m curious why they made that list?

  13. How about the White Sox need for a legit DH? If the Twins are only a Closer away, the Sox are only a DH away.

  14. Ben Sheets will probably be the coup de grace at the trade deadline for pitching.

    • Steve_in_MA 5 years ago

      I’d be shocked if Sheets was marketable to a contender in July, carrying $4-5MM in payroll still due him. He’s a reclamation project. Unless he’s stellar from beginning through the All-Star break, I think the A’s will get stuck with his hefty tab.

      • mrsjohnmiltonrocks 5 years ago

        I was surprised by Oakland signing Sheets. I’m more surprised they are sticking with their plan to start him on opening day. He seems to need more time-his spring was awful.

        I guess will see tomorrow.

    • markjsunz 5 years ago

      Or based on his history he will be on the DL. Total crapshoot on this guy.

  15. Taskmaster75 5 years ago

    The Cardinals might need bullpen help if Franklin falters. We have a bunch of young guys, but none of them are very consistent.

  16. aap212 5 years ago

    Fifty spring training at bats make McLouth a concern? Give me a break. He’s not a great player, but between his track record and his contract, he’s starting for Atlanta this year. If Melky starts, the spot isn’t coming at McLouth’s expense.

  17. Montero1220 5 years ago

    The Yanks really need to either work hard on helping Gardner hit or get Crawford already.

    Personally I’d rather take Desmond Jennings, a top Rays prospect, who looks to be equal if not better then Crawford (Jennings : 11HR 62RBI 50SB+ .318AVG .400OBS)

    Brian Cashman really has not impressed me this offseason. Getting Curtis Granderson was the only move that I applauded him for. Cashman and Giradi need to step their game up because we are competing in the toughest division in baseball!

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