What does each MLB club want in their Christmas stocking? Part Two

Welcome to part two of our guide to gifts for each MLB club.

If you missed part one, be sure to check it out and if you caught it, welcome to the rest…

Milwaukee Brewers

The Brewers won a division title, got through the NLDS and were unlucky to eventually be beaten in the NLCS by the Dodgers.

What they will want under the tree is the final piece of the puzzle to help them get over the line and see them go one further this time.

Quite what you think it is remains open to each person’s interpretation. Their bullpen is lights out, headed by Josh Hader, Corey Knebel and Jeremy Jeffress so no help is needed there.

They should be able to call upon a fully fit Zach Davies for 2019 in their rotation so that is a help but more quality could certainly be added in that area.

With Mike Moustakas in free agency, they may also need to strengthen in the infield and shuffle things around, particularly if Travis Shaw moves back to the hot corner.

Catching is also an option so their are plenty of possibilities open to the Miller Park management as they look to build on a position of strength.

You’ll have to make your own mind up on the specifics of what should be found in the Brewers stocking but a big free agent or two would not go amiss.

Minnesota Twins

Byron Buxton just hasn’t panned out like Twins fans, and the larger baseball public, had hoped for and expected.

In the 2012 draft, he was the second overall pick and big things were expected of him but a combination of injuries and inconsistency have hampered that progress.

Things haven’t worked out like the Twins had hoped for with Buxton.

However, he is still just 24 and there is still time for him to explode and recover the form that made him so highly touted and that would be the perfect present for a Minnesota side who need a talisman to step up following the departure of Joe Mauer.

New York Yankees

Whisper it.

But dare I say that in recent years, the evil empire that is the New York Yankees have became, well, likeable (No they haven’t – Ed.).

They have some exciting youngsters who can crush balls with the best of them, the baseballing rarity of a reliable bullpen and fun players to watch with a smile on their face like Didi Gregorius and a personable manager in Aaron Boone.

That shouldn’t be their role though should it? This is the Yankees – the team who seem to thrive in the role of the bad guys of baseball and the side who others love to hate.

So what gift to give the Yankees to bring them back to that status as the villains?

Well how about the man who, particularly over the course of the postseason, has perhaps established himself as MLB’s biggest pantomime villain?

Particularly with Gregorius down at shortstop following surgery, you know you want to do it Yankees… embrace the role of the villains once more. Sign Manny Machado of course.

New York Mets

If there was one thing that really pained you watching the Mets in 2018, aside from David Wright‘s tearful farewell, it was witnessing Jacob deGrom pitch.

Through no fault of him either. It was a pleasure. He was dialled in, unstoppable and unhittable for so much of his well deserved Cy Young season.

Pitcher wins and losses matter little of course but the Mets starter had a 1.70 ERA across 217 innings of which in which he registered a 0.912 WHIP in addition to 269 strikeouts.

Yet after all that, his win loss record at the end of the year stood at 10-9, such was the worrying lack of support he received from his teammates.

That was tough to watch for a man who deserved so much more than the 3.60 runs of support he received from his teammates.

In 12 of his starts, he received two or fewer runs of support and lost seven of those games and even at the end of the season, he admitted it was a source of frustration.

“It is what it is but I wish I had more wins,” he admitted. “I feel like I put myself in a good position to do that.”

You did Jacob but your team’s offence let you down.

I don’t care how you do it Mets but this is a gift more to deGrom than the club. Find this man some run support in 2019 – by any means necessary. His talent is too good to go without it.

Oakland Athletics

You’d think they need to add to a starting rotation that appears weak on paper.

You’d think they need to invest in the free agency market to give them some more bats and strength in depth.

You’d think that wouldn’t you?

But in 2018, their payroll was the lowest in baseball at $71.6 million, an amount just slightly more than the annual salaries for Clayton Kershaw and Mike Trout put together in the same year.

How do they do it? It defies all logic. It is incredible. A team like that should be basement boys, as a side with similar payroll in the Chicago White Sox are.

But while they finished up with a 62-100 record in a weak AL Central, the A’s finished up with a staggering 97-65 record in a difficult AL West to reach the postseason, where they were beaten in the Wild Card game.

What does a team like this need? For me, quite simply, the biggest round of applause and pat on the back you can muster. Boy did they earn it.

Philadelphia Phillies

There is one thing all Phillies fans are hoping for this winter.

When it comes to what they want under the tree at Citizens Bank Park this year, snaring baseball’s top free agent remains the big dream.

Bryce Harper remains the dream for the Phillies faithful.

He’s still out there on the market. There’s no need to delve too deep on this one, and what a signing he would be.

Pittsburgh Pirates

The fans in Pittsburgh aren’t happy with the current direction the side is headed in. Not in the slightest.

They are in a difficult position in the NL Central, a long way off top dogs Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago Cubs, further still behind the St Louis Cardinals but not bad enough to be bottom, meaning they are stuck in a state of limbo.

That apathy has been reflected in the seats at PNC Park and in 2018, they registered their lowest ever attendance figures for 20 years, which comes just three years after registering their best ever numbers in that regard.

In total, they brought in 1,465,316 paying fans across 78 games for an average of just 18,786, which had them third worst in the league.

Big free agent arrivals are unlikely to improve on those figures so what is the old tactic for increasing attendances in that event? Promotional nights, of course, and the Christmas gift from the Pirates to fans can be lots more of them to boost those ailing numbers.

There are already plenty of free shirt Friday and fireworks nights arranged but you feel more may be needed!

San Diego Padres

It isn’t an exciting answer but the one thing that everyone concerned with the San Diego Padres needs going into next year and the seasons ahead is patience.

That could be the most important gift for a club who seem to be on the edge, given the multitude of exciting talents in their system.

Fernando Tatis Jr, Luis Urias, MacKenzie Gore and Cal Quantrill are just some of the names who appear to be nearing a breakthrough in the near future at the major league level.

Things can be volatile and don’t always pan out as you hope when you rely on youth which is why a degree of patience is needed.

Their position at the foot of the NL West gives that time and opportunity to build on that promising future and all they need to do is exercise patience (although they may need quite a bit of it).

San Francisco Giants

Roster constraints put an already struggling club in an even more difficult position going into 2019.

That means they are being forced to work largely with what they have and hope that injuries don’t play a big part going forward.

To that end, what would make a nice boost and gift for the Giants franchise and fanbase would be to retain the services of legacy player Madison Bumgarner.

He has been in the Bay Area for his entire career since breaking through at the age of 19 but his deal is up next winter and he could test free agency, although both he and the club appear keen to have him stay.

After Bumgarner claimed after the end of the season that he wants to see out his career at AT&T Park, chief executive Larry Baer also admitted that a ‘good chat’ had taken place between them and they will talk further over the offseason.

Such a deal is of course almost impossible to conceive happening before Christmas, but what a gift it would be.

Seattle Mariners

Well what a winter it has been in Seattle already.

Jerry Dipoto has launched the full scale teardown at Safeco Field and before the majority of fans had even put their Christmas trees up, Edwin Diaz, Robinson Cano, Jean Segura, James Paxton, Nelson Cruz, Alex Colome and Mike Zunino had all departed. Carlos Santana has been and gone, with Edwin Encarnacion surely soon to follow him through the revolving door.

The Mariners GM just can’t help himself. He is drawn to trading like a moth to a flame and should be given something to occupy that space and prevent any other stars from moving on.

Someone give that man a deluxe set of Major League Baseball trading cards in order to try and wean him off his addiction.

St Louis Cardinals

Repeat the 2017 Christmas gift to fans.

That’s the task for the front office at Busch Stadium and it certainly isn’t an easy one.

In December of 2017, the Cardinals recruited 29-year-old pitcher Miles Mikolas from Nippon Professional Baseball, penning a two-year, $15.5m deal.

Fanfare to that deal was mooted at best and it was largely met with a resounding ‘who?’ or ‘meh’, but he has gone on to show that deal was a bargain.

In 2018, he was the only Cards pitcher to hit double figures for wins by reaching 18 in total which was enough to lead the NL and was the only starter at the club to have a sub 3 ERA by reaching 2.83, as well as claiming All Star status.

It certainly isn’t easy. Far from it. But can the front office unearth another gem for Christmas again this year? It would be another perfect present.

Tampa Bay Rays

The plans have been unveiled but there appears to be other issues (funding among them) holding up the construction of the Rays’ new stadium in Petersburg.

That’s a real shame and the ideal gift for Tampa Bay this Christmas would be real and serious progress on the new stadium front.

Whatever can get them out of Tropicana Field quicker will be a big boost.

A dome without a retractable roof, it is a soulless venue that is disliked strongly by fans and players alike.

Texas Rangers

Farewell Adrian Beltre.

His retirement didn’t only deprive us of one of the game’s great characters, it also took away one of the great bromances in baseball: the one he enjoys with Elvis Andrus.

We have now been deprived of that and it just doesn’t seem fair.

What is needed for the Texas Rangers is to bring him in back in any kind of bench coach role to keep it going, or at least commission a buddy-cop drama that would keep one of the funniest duos in baseball in business.

Toronto Blue Jays

The starting rotation in Toronto was a big let down in 2018 and in fact only two other teams boasted a worse ERA than their alarmingly high 5.14.

That must be fixed this off season as their starters were a big reason for their dip to being a 73-win team and a nice solid rotation piece would be much welcomed in the Christmas stocking.

Derek Holland enjoyed a bounceback campaign in 2018 and could be an option, as could Wade Miley after impressing in the Milwaukee Brewers’ run to the NLCS.

If Ross Atkins can take on the Santa role and deliver that, then things might look a little better heading into spring training north of the border.

Washington Nationals

Last but not least, the Nationals.

It is fitting perhaps, given that their Christmas present actually arrived early.

Forget the departed Harper for a moment. What the Nats needed to add both strength and depth to a starting rotation that already has Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Tanner Roark.

On December 4, they got their man and the gift that fans had been hoping for when the club agreed to a deal with the market’s prized starting pitcher free agent Patrick Corbin.

Pending a medical, he will move to Washington on a six-year deal worth $140m and once more makes the Nationals rotation a formidable one for the rest of the National League.

They’ll need him too in a division in which much of their rivals are active in strengthening but the arrival of Corbin is the best early Christmas present anyone at the club could have hoped for, aside maybe from the return of their former right fielder. What was his name again?

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