What are wishing for under your Christmas tree this year? Here are Christmas wishes across the major leagues:
Baltimore Orioles -- A healthy Manny Machado for Opening Day. A repeat season from Chris Davis. The old Nick Markakis. A closer. An ace. Production from designated hitter. At least one more hitter with an on-base percentage above .330. Wait, is that more than one wish?
Boston Red Sox –- That Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr. become this generation’s Jim Rice and Fred Lynn -- you know, an overrated Hall of Famer and a guy who had two great seasons. I kid, Red Sox fans, I kid! But these two guys could form the core of the next run of playoff teams in Boston.
New York Yankees -- A time machine.
Tampa Bay Rays -- How about not trading David Price. Instead, he remains in Tampa for one more season, wins 20 games and another Cy Young Award and the Rays win the AL East. Remember: They didn’t trade Carl Crawford or B.J. Upton before free agency, so they won’t necessarily trade their ace.
Toronto Blue Jays -- Brett Lawrie and Melky Cabrera combining for more than 14 home runs and 195 games played. In fact, the Jays would just like good health throughout the roster. Only Adam Lind, Edwin Encarnacion and the departed J.P. Arencibia played 120 games last season, as Lawrie, Cabrera, Jose Bautista and Jose Reyes all missed significant time.
Cleveland Indians -- The same clutch hitting that allowed the team to go 30-17 in one-run games in 2013, with 11 walk-off wins.
Kansas City Royals -- Important games in October. Many important games in October.
Minnesota Twins -- A September lineup with Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano and Eddie Rosario.
Houston Astros –- A time machine.
Los Angeles Angels –- An MVP season from Mike Trout. (Well, you know what I mean.) And less Joe Blanton. Much less Joe Blanton. In 2013, he was kind of like the fruitcake of Christmas desserts -- completely inedible and bad for the stomach.
Oakland A’s -- Not having to face Justin Verlander twice in the Division Series.
Seattle Mariners –- A World Series title to follow the Seahawks’ Super Bowl win. Too much?
Texas Rangers –- More walks. OK, maybe that doesn’t sound like an exciting wish, but that’s what the additions of Prince Fielder and Shin-Soo Choo are all about: Improving the team’s on-base percentage, especially against right-handed pitching. The Rangers were eighth in the AL in OBP against righties with a .317 mark. Playing in Texas, that’s not good enough. Two years ago, the Rangers scored 855 runs; last season, 730. They need to get back closer to 800 to wrestle the division title back from the A’s.
Atlanta Braves –- More smiles and high-fives from Freddie Freeman -- especially delivered to B.J. Upton and Dan Uggla. Or, conversely: A one-way ticket for Uggla to the North Pole. Or maybe this: A playoff trip that goes past the NLDS. The Braves haven’t made it past the Division Series their past seven postseason appearances.
New York Mets –- Juan Lagares and Chris Young running everything down in the outfield, Curtis Granderson hitting 35 home runs, Bartolo Colon winning 20 games, Travis d’Arnaud staying healthy and hitting .280 with 20 home runs, Lucas Duda getting on base, David Wright having an MVP-caliber season and Fred Wilpon selling the team. OK, maybe that last one is wishful thinking.
Philadelphia Phillies -- Ryan Howard hits 52 home runs, Chase Utley hits .315, Jimmy Rollins scores 120 runs, new Cuban starter Miguel Gonzalez wins 18 games and Ruben Amaro wins executive of the year honors.
Los Angeles Dodgers –- Not to be greedy or anything, but how about another Cy Young season from Clayton Kershaw plus a $250 million contract, a Cy Young-caliber season from Zack Greinke, a return to health and dominance for Matt Kemp, MVP-caliber seasons from Yasiel Puig and Hanley Ramirez, more unhittable ninth innings from Kenley Jansen, lights-out eighth innings from Brian Wilson, a repeat performance from Juan Uribe, Hyun-jin Ryu pitching even better ... and Don Mattingly not screwing anything up.
Colorado Rockies -- A plan? I joke! Imagine if the Rockies get better production from the back end of the rotation and 150 games from both Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki, a surprise season from Justin Morneau, improved offense from Nolan Arenado to go with his masterful defense, a stellar bullpen and maybe a little luck ... and well, you never know.
Which is the point at this time of year. Every general manager and every fan can still wish for the improbable.