*Yes, it's February. Normally, rosters are pretty set by now as most of the major moving and shaking has already occurred on the free agent and trade market. However, this off season has been different. There are still many quality free agents still out there and plenty of teams with holes to fill (no dirty minds, people). So we'll break this down, division by division, to see who could still go where and what holes need some filling*
The Braves have done a good job this off season fixing up their starting rotation. By adding Derek Lowe, Kenshin Kawakami, and Javier Vazquez to their rotation, the Braves now have a deep and stable rotation that should be able give Manager Bobby Cox lots of quality innings.
However, the Braves still have a gaping hole in the outfield, where some combination of Gregor Blanco, Josh Anderson, Matt Diaz, and Brandon Jones is expected to play center field and left field. I' m not sure any of those guys have the goods to get the job done, and if the Braves are serious about competing in 2009, then they should make a strong run at Bobby Abreu.
In addition, a good fall back plan for the Braves would be to add Orlando Hudson to play second base and shifting Kelly Johnson, a defensive liability at second, to left field. This would improve the Braves infield defense and give them a quality bat in the outfield.
Do the Braves have the funds to pull off any more major moves? We'll see.
Phillies: Left Handed Relief Pitcher
The Phillies need to find a right handed hitter off the bench as well, but I think left handed relief pitcher is more of a priority at this point. With JC Romero on tap to miss the first 50 games of the season because of a failed steroid test, the Phillies need to find a suitable replacement.
Luckily for them, the market is still ripe with left handed relief pitchers. Between Joe Beimel, Will Ohman and Dennys Reyes; this market is loaded with quality yet affordable relief pitchers. The Phillies have already been linked to Ohman and Reyes, and it would not surprise me to see the Phillies add either of them.
At the same time, the Phillies could elect to go with Scott Eyre and hope that he is able to effectively fill the void. But with the way the market is going, it makes all the sense in the world for GM Ruben Amaro to go after another lefty.
Mets: Left Handed Relief Pitcher
Could the Mets and Phillies eventually compete for a left handed relief pitcher? Maybe. It depends on how much the Mets are willing to spend at this point.
Even though Omar Minaya has stated that the Mets are done going after free agents, anyone with two eyes will tell you that the Mets need another left handed relief pitcher to go along with Pedro Feliciano. The Mets bullpen has drastically improved on paper with K-Rod and JJ Putz, but adding another piece to the pen would really make the Mets competitive in 2009.
I would love to see either Ohman or Beimel added to the Mets roster, but at the same time, it would not shock me to see the Mets go the cheap route and simply hope that either Valerio De Los Santos, Casey Fossum, or Tom Martin develops into a quality option out of the bullpen.
Needless to say, Ohman or Beimel look like pretty good options right now...especially Ohman, who would not cost the Mets a draft pick.
I can say with certainty that the Marlins are not looking to spend. The always frugal club will enter 2009 with one of the lowest payrolls in baseball. Despite this, I think the Marlins have a very good roster and they could compete for the NL East title.
Their biggest weakness to me is at catcher. John Baker had a great couple months with the Marlins at the end of 2008 by hitting .299 in 197 ABs. No one knows for sure if Baker will be able to handle the starting job in 2009, so I would love to see the Marlins add Ivan Rodriguez. Sure at this point, Pudge is a shell of his former sel, but he would be a great mentor for Baker and he would be a good option against left handed pitching.
And of course, Pudge would have to come to the Marlins at a cheap price...
This off season should be looked at as a disappointment by Nationals fans. Sure, the Scott Olsen/Josh Willingham trade looks pretty good for the Nationals and yes, they made a big push to sign Mark Teixeira, but this off season could have been much better for the Nationals.
Think about it...the market stinks. There is an influx of quality free agents still available on the market because they either have had no interest or have priced themselves out of the market. Guys like Adam Dunn and Orlando Hudson came into the off season with high hopes for a big deal, but have fallen flat.
This is the point where I hoped the Nationals would have stepped in. With the market in such bad shape, the Nationals should have stepped up and blown either Hudson or Dunn (especially Hudson) away with an offer that exceed what any other team was offering. I know that the Nationals are not a hot place for free agents to come to, but money is a great reason to change people's minds. I'm not talking about a deal that is crazy, but a two-three year deal for either Hudson or Dunn would be perfectly reasonable in my eyes.
The Nationals need to add talent. If they ever want to attract a prime player like Teixeira, they need to have pieces around them. That's why I would love to see the Nats make a big play for either Dunn (who they might have already) or Hudson and pray to the baseball Gods that they get one of them.
Nationals fans need a reason to care or at least be excited...adding either guy would add some buzz to the lifeless franchise.