Every team plunges into the MLB offseason with unanswered questions. That’s what makes things interesting.

Some enter with a plan. Maybe they’re rebuilding, maybe they’re retooling; either way, they know which direction they’re swimming.

Other clubs, meanwhile, look lost as the calendar turns to November. Are they buying? Selling? A bit of both? 

There’s time to figure it out, but not much. Moves are already in motion, and soon, impact players and potential trade partners will begin to fall off the board.

With that in mind, here are three squads with an array of holes to fill that desperately need a course correction—before they sink like a doughnut weight.


New York Yankees

The Los Angeles Dodgers have eclipsed the Yankees as baseball’s biggest spenders, but nobody does bloated-budget offseason angst like New York.

Yes, the Bombers are losing Derek Jeter, their beloved captain, to retirement. But shortstop isn’t their only glaring need.

In fact, there are questions all over. None more burning than exactly what this team is. As the New York Post‘s Joel Sherman noted, the Yankees scored fewer runs than they allowed in each of the past two seasonsand missed the playoffs—yet they posted winning records both times.

So they’ve got to improve—in the infield, the rotation and the bullpen. No one disputes that. How much, though? Are they a few pieces away from a return to relevance, or is it time for a systemic overhaul?

“I’d just as soon act like we were a 75-win team because I feel we have to make significant improvement,” general manager Brian Cashman told Sherman. (The Yankees actually won 84 games in 2014.)

How does that translate? Certainly New York could toss money at big-name free agents. But it tried that last year, with less-than-stellar results. 

Cashman and company have learned from the recent past, per Mark Feinsand and Bill Madden of the New York Daily News.

After spending more than $450 million last winter on [Masahiro] Tanaka, Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran, the Yankees aren’t looking to add any more $100 million deals,” Feinsand and Madden noted. 

Bob Nightengale of USA Today sees the Yankees standing pat and trying “to keep their team from a year ago intact…”

Seems smart for the Yankees to take the long view and set their sights beyond 2015. But this is a franchise in perpetual win-now mode and missing the postseason again won’t sit well with an expectant, impatient fanbase.

As super-agent Scott Boras told Nightengale, “The Steinbrenner history has always been we’re going to win. It serves their brand. It serves their model to do everything they can to win.”

Does that mean going all in and risking more big-money blunders? Or will New York go against its history and hang back? 

Stay tuned.


Philadelphia Phillies

Haplessness can sneak up on you. Just ask the Phillies, who made it to two consecutive Fall Classics and a National League Championship Series between 2008 and 2010, and have now devolved into disjointed irrelevance.

It’s bad enough the Phils are coming off a last-place finish in the NL East. They’re also saddled with several albatross contracts, none heavier than the $60 million owed to fallen slugger Ryan Howard through 2016.

Philadelphia general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. told CSNPhilly.com‘s Jim Salisbury his club is “looking to improve in all areas” and is “more concerned with what we’re going to be doing down the road…”

An unnamed rival executive was much blunter: “They’re trying to blow the whole thing up. Everyone is for sale.”

That’s probably the right plan for the Phillies…in theory. But its success depends on who they get in return.

A guy like Howard’s not likely to yield much more than a modest salary dump (if that). Left-hander Cole Hamels, meanwhile, is guaranteed to draw plenty of interest. Yet Philadelphia has to make sure the haul is worth surrendering one of the NL’s premier starters.

“It’s pretty easy,” Amaro told Salisbury. “If you get the proper return, you make a deal. If you don’t, you don’t.”

Trouble is, nothing’s come easy lately for the Phillies. 


Texas Rangers

The Rangers don’t need a trainer…they need a faith healer. At least that’s how it must feel after Texas suffered through one devastating injury after another and watched a once-hyped season go down in a heap.

As Gerry Fraley of The Dallas Morning News noted, the Rangers paid more than $46 million to players who were sitting on the disabled list last year—35 percent of their total budget. 

Prince Fielder, the big offseason trade acquisition, and Shin-Soo Choo, the big free-agent fish, both missed significant time, as did ace Yu Darvish.

Not surprisingly, Texas—which Baseball Prospectus pegged for a first-place finish in the AL West—slid to the cellar.  

Partly, the Rangers can hope for improved health. But they’re stuck in an odd, unenviable positioncoming off a terrible year and crossing their fingers for vastly better results. 

At the same time, it doesn’t make sense to blow this team up before finding out what it can do if everyone stays on the field.

So, are the Rangers tweaking, rebuilding or standing pat?

Paging all Arlington-area faith healers.


All statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com

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