Moves for the AL East
Vladimir Guerrero actually fits in Toronto, Westbrook in New York, and other ideas
Pitchers and catchers report in less than two weeks, but many MLB rosters still have some holes -- even in baseball's most expensive division. Here's a team-by-team look at the AL East and moves that should have happened this winter; in some cases, the moves could still happen.
Even after the recent Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez signings, the Rays have a glaring hole in their lineup at first base. They let Carlos Pena depart as a free agent after a subpar season and appear ready to rely on some combination of lefties Dan Johnson and Casey Kotchman and switch-hitter Ben Zobrist to man first base, an arrangement which doesn't inspire much confidence. Johnson hit a Pena-like .198/.343/.414 in 140 plate appearances with the Rays late last year, with his OBP and SLG virtual ringers for his career marks. Kotchman is coming off a .217/.280/.336 belly flop with the Mariners, and owns an un-first-basemanly .259/.326/.392 lifetime line. Zobrist plummeted from .297/.405/.543 with 27 homers in his breakout 2009 to .238/.346/.353 with 10 homers last year; stationing him at first base would compromise the flexibility he provides manager Joe Maddon, particularly with regards to his spot in a multiposition platoon at second base with Sean Rodriguez and in right field with Matt Joyce. Branyan is a 35-year-old lefty who can mash; he has hit .244/.336/.504 with 56 homers over the past two years while earning less than $3 million in base salary. A career .207/.287/.446 hitter against southpaws, he doesn't solve the platoon problem, but he offers cheap, reliable production -- and he's still available.