The MLB All-Star break is nearly upon us, and while many players have their eyes on a trip to Arizona or a quick vacation on a Caribbean island, their teams have different plans.
Teams need to figure out strategies for the remainder of the year. Will they be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline? Should they promote from within or look to other organizations to bolster their respective ranks?
Just under 80 games remain in the regular season, and all 30 teams have best- and worse-case scenarios that they must consider heading into the latter stages of the season.
The Diamondbacks’ hitting remains strong, their pitchers keep dealing and perhaps they strengthen the bullpen with a few proven veterans for the stretch run.
Justin Upton turns into a 30-30 guy, and Chris Young challenges for the home run title.
The Diamondbacks win the NL West and make it to the NLCS, where they fall in six games.
The D-Backs have already peaked and now regress to the norm.
Young and Stephen Drew’s averages drop below .240, and their power numbers decline.
The starting pitching gets tired due to too many innings, and Arizona drops to fourth by the end of the year.
Jair Jurrjens leads the way to an NL East championship with a remarkable 20-4 record and wins the Cy Young by a landslide.
Chipper Jones and Dan Uggla find the Fountain of Youth, and Jason Heyward regains his stroke of last season.
The Braves add a strong middle reliever through the trade deadline and dominate throughout the playoffs for their first World Series win since 1995.
Jurrjens’ start is halted by injury, Uggla continues to struggle and their bullpen goes kaput.
The Braves slide out of contention heading into September and are forced to endure Tommy John surgery for Tommy Hanson.
The Orioles’ old guard awakens in the second half: Derrek Lee and Vlad Guerrero combine to hit 40 home runs after the All-Star break.
Their young pitching staff dominates the AL East, and the team finishes within five games of the wild card.
The pitching goes from promising to injured, Lee doesn’t produce and Adam Jones is traded to the Yankees for a replica World Series trophy.
Boston Red Sox
They continue to play as they have over the past few months.
Josh Beckett and Jon Lester finish one and two in the Cy Young voting. Adrian Gonzalez wins the Triple Crown and the AL MVP.
The Sox trample every team in their way to win the World Series in four straight games, losing only a single game throughout the playoffs.
Injuries begin to pile up much like last year.
Gonzalez gets knocked out for the season, and Beckett pitches like 2010. Jacoby Ellsbury dislocates a shoulder trying to jump over the Green Monster, and the Yankees clinch the AL East on Ted Williams Day at Fenway.
Chicago White Sox
White Sox pitchers find a way to win. Jake Peavy returns and wins seven games with an ERA under two.
Ozzie Guillen’s charm wins over local reporters, and the White Sox win the AL Central by several games.
In the playoffs, the Sox ride the hot hand to the World Series, where they lose in seven games.
Guillen finally gets fired for one too many off-color comments.
Phil Humber regresses to his career numbers. Paul Konerko remembers he is pushing 40 and begins playing like that.
Something magical happens that carries the Cubs all the way to the playoffs.
Albert Pujols defects and demands a trade to the Cubs immediately. Kerry Wood becomes the most dominating reliever in baseball, and Mark Prior magically appears out of nowhere to win eight games in the second half. Alfonso Soriano learns what a strike and ball actually look like and hits .350 the rest of the season.
Not much changes for the Cubs, but Starlin Castro gets injured trying to outrun a line-out to pitcher and tears a ligament.
Wrigley Field is condemned by the local building department, and the Cubs are forced to play the remainder of the season in Gary, Indiana.
The Reds keep slugging, and their pitchers finally get healthy.
They carry their momentum all the way through the playoffs to the World Series, where they lose a well-played series to an AL juggernaut.
Offensive injuries star to pile up, and the pitching fails to improve. The bullpen implodes, and Aroldis Chapman is reduced to Barry Zito velocity.
The Cleveland Indians regroup and play like they did the first month of the season.
Carlos Santana not only plays the guitar well, but also hits 25 home runs and 90 RBI to finish the season in the top five in MVP voting. Grady Sizemore finally recovers from injury and hits 20-20 to lead the Indians to the AL Central crown.
The Indians lose in the ALCS but gain many national fans for their heart and scrappiness.
The tailspin continues, and their young pitching staff pitches like their career numbers dictate. Fausto Carmona leads the league in losses and walks, and the Indians finish battling the Royals for last in the division.
Ubaldo Jimenez pitches like last year, and the Rockies acquire a quality starter through trade.
Mark Ellis hits .320 and forms the best double-play combination with Troy Tulowitzki both at bat and in the field.
The Rockies win the NL West and go on to win their first-ever World Series.
Ubaldo never regains his form.
Carlos Gonzalez injures his shoulder trying to set a record for triples in one game. Ellis hits below the Mendoza line and commits 13 errors in the second half.
Another starter is lost for the season, and the Padres pass the Rockies in the standings by season’s end.
The Tigers pitchers all learn from Justin Verlander and end the season with the best pitching staff in the AL.
They win the Central on the back of Magglio Ordonez and march to the ALCS, where they are unceremoniously taken down by the Red Sox or Yankees on questionable calls.
Victor Martinez and Verlander are both knocked out for the year after celebrating another no-hitter.
Miguel Cabrera gains too much weight at the post-game buffet, and his knees are permanently disabled.
The Tigers finish fourth in the Central.
Hanley Ramirez catches fire in the second half, and Josh Johnson returns to win his final 10 starts with an ERA of 1.53.
Youth prevails as Mike Stanton hits 25 homers, and the Marlins win the NL wild card.
The upstarts channel their 2003 brethren and defeat Josh Beckett twice in the World Series to win in six games.
Ramirez gets into another blowup with management and is traded for a Manny Ramirez wig.
Johnson is lost for the season, and Javier Vazquez pitches like a position player. Stanton demands a trade to a contender, and the Marlins move into their new stadium with paltry attendance numbers. (Well, that’s next year.)
Hunter Pence challenges for the MVP despite the Astros finishing third in the division.
Carlos Lee is mercifully traded for prospects, which allows the ‘Stros to sign Pence and Michael Bourn long-term.
Roger Clemens returns as pitching coach and offers to start two games every month. Attendance jumps, and the word “Enron” is made illegal in the state of Texas (now referred to as “The Company that Shall Not Be Named”).
Pence is traded to the Giants for Miguel Tejada and Aaron Rowand.
Lee eats the entire postgame buffet, and the rest of the team revolts and demands fair working standards.
The Astros are forced to forfeit the remainder of the season, which in turn voids their lease at Minute Maid Park.
Kansas City Royals
The Royals ride their plucky rookies to the playoffs, where they lose in five games to a much stronger opponent. Ticket sales rise, and they are able to sign their young talent to long-term contracts.
Kansas City declares the Royals aren’t actually royalty and are forced to abandon their royal blue color scheme.
Eric Hosmer decides to retire and pursue a career in BBQ; Luke Hochevar follows suit.
Los Angeles Angels
The Angels buy out the Dodgers and move to Chavez Ravine so they can truly be located in Los Angeles.
Jered Weaver wins the Cy Young with a gaudy 1.63 ERA and wins four playoff games through the ALCS.
The Angels resurrect the rally monkey and sweep the Giants in a 2002 World Series rematch.
Frank McCourt sues the Angels, blaming their claim of L.A. for the Dodgers’ bankruptcy. Bud Selig rules in the Dodgers’ favor, and the Angels are forced to pay Dodgers players’ salaries and throw in Weaver as a make weight.
Los Angeles Dodgers
The bankruptcy problem is somehow solved, and the Dodgers don’t have to unload their young hitters.
Their pitching rebounds, and Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp combine as World Series co-MVPs.
The team cannot combat bankruptcy and is forced to trade Ethier, Kemp and James Loney for bail bonds.
The Giants clinch the NL West at Chavez Ravine.
Zack Greinke pitches like the Cy Young winner that he is.
Prince Fielder, Rickie Weeks and Ryan Braun combine to form the most lethal group of hitters in the playoffs, and the Brewers steamroll their way to a championship.
The unthinkable happens: Fielder eats himself into a coma, but he still won’t re-sign for cheap in the offseason.
Braun decides to no longer play on the Sabbath, and the Brewers lose a crucial late-season game to miss the playoffs and decide to rebuild in 2012.
The injuries finally end.
Joe Mauer hits 15 homers in the second half, and Justin Morneau returns.
The Twins manage to win a weak AL Central and make things interesting in the playoffs.
Things stay very much as they are.
Injuries persist, pitching remains undermanned and Mauer refuses to play first upon return from injury.
Scott Cousins makes a personal visit to Minnesota and plows through Mauer at the plate, knocking him out for the next year.
New York Mets
Jose Reyes re-signs at a reasonable hometown discount.
Jason Bay begins to pretend Citi Field is Fenway.
Johan Santana returns and pitches the Mets to the playoffs, where Reyes sets a record with seven triples in eight playoff games.
The fire sale comes sooner than later.
Reyes, Francisco Rodriguez and Carlos Beltran are unloaded all to the Yankees for Derek Jeter memorabilia to placate investors.
The Mets are unable to repay their loan and are purchased for $1 by Hank Steinbrenner.
New York Yankees
Captain Jeets returns and hits .330 in the second half.
Bartolo Colon wins 12 games in the second half and wins the Cy Young unanimously.
The Red Sox miss the playoffs, and the Yankees win 11 straight to sweep the postseason.
Derek Jeter hits .180 the rest of the way, and the multitude of washed-up starters pitch as expected.
MLB mandates teams cannot design their own home run palaces, and the Yankees are forced to erect 30-foot walls around the stadium plastered with pictures of George Steinbrenner that are named the “Bronx Monster.”
The A’s use their glut of starting pitching to deal for a proven hitter.
They promote a few minor league sensations and follow a similar path of the 2010 Giants to win a World Series.
Gio Gonzalez wins the Cy Young, and Jemile Weeks wins the Rookie of the Year to top off the season.
The A’s injuries continue to persist, and they are forced to clean house before the All-Star break.
Gonzalez and Trevor Cahill are moved to the Yankees for Nick Swisher, and Moneyball is the biggest box office bust of the year.
(Who really thought sabermetrics would be appealing to the average American?)
The team stays healthy, and the Phillies ride Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels to an astounding playoff sweep. They finish first, second and third in both MVP and Cy Young voting.
Jimmy Rollins agrees to re-sign and hits 20-20 the rest of the season.
Injuries strike, and only Lee is left standing.
Chase Utley returns to the DL, and Ryan Howard is struck down with a season-ending surgery.
The Phillies fall to third in the NL East, and Giants fans continue to gloat over last year’s NLCS.
The Pirates finally assemble enough talent to make the playoffs, and after losing in the first round, they sign Andrew McCutchen to a long-term deal.
Fans return to Pirates games because, finally, the games are worth attending.
The team struggles mightily before the trade deadline and decides to clean house again.
Joel Hanrahan, Kevin Correia and McCutchen are out the door for numerous 16-year-old prospects who, while talented, will likely never see a major league field.
San Diego Padres
The Padres regain their spark of last season and battle to the final day before beating the Giants in a one-game playoff.
Mat Latos avenges his words of yesteryear and downs the Giants in that final game.
The Padres continue playing as they have all year and are cursed by having the majority of their games attended by more visiting fans than Padres fans.
Heath Bell is traded for a nice dinner in the Gaslamp district.
San Francisco Giants
The Giants continue to win a number of one-run games in the strangest of circumstances.
Miguel Tejada plays like he’s on the juice, Pablo Sandoval forgets about overeating and Tim Lincecum and co. continue to dominate all the way to a successful defense of the championship.
The Giants’ magic finally runs out, and an injury to Matt Cain or Lincecum prevails.
The offense returns to what it is, and the Giants make an ill-advised trade for Jose Reyes, who after the season signs with the Dodgers.
The Mariners offense begins to hit (sort of).
Michael Pineda, Jason Vargas and Felix Hernandez become the best three starters in the AL, and the Mariners win the AL West by three games.
In the playoffs, Seattle advances to the World Series only to be beaten in a 14-inning Game 7.
The league’s worst offense continues at its current pace, and the pitching runs out.
Pineda and Vargas throw out their arms, and Ichiro hits worse than Jack Cust for the remainder of the year.
St. Louis Cardinals
Albert Pujols returns to lead the Cardinals to the playoffs and an NLCS berth.
In the offseason, he re-signs for the league minimum, giving the Cardinals financial flexibility for the foreseeable future.
Pujols fails to return for the rest of the season and signs with the Cubs in the offseason.
The Cardinals miss the playoffs, and Lance Berkman decides to retire at season’s end with little to no warning.
Tampa Bay Rays
The youth movement continues, as B.J. Upton is traded for starting pitching.
Desmond Jennings is promoted and makes the Rays the most exciting team in baseball.
They overtake the Yankees in the wild-card standings on the final day and prevent the Bronx Bombers from reaching the playoffs.
The Rays win the World Series on a walk-off double by Johnny Damon, who declares himself no longer an idiot.=
The Rays unravel after the All-Star break and find themselves drifting into fourth place by the end of the year.
The fans leave in droves, and the team is forced to continue playing in Tropicana Field for the near future.
The story that is Alexi Ogando continues to shine, and he wins the Cy Young.
The Rangers strengthen their bullpen, and Josh Hamilton hits 20 home runs in the second half.
Texas faces the Giants in a rematch of the World Series and sweeps them, topped off by eight runs in one inning against Tim Lincecum in Game 4.
The Rangers’ pitching staff gets bitten by the injury bug, as does the middle of the order.
They fall to third in the West and finish the year under .500.
Toronto Blue Jays
Jose Bautista wins the MVP and the Triple Crown, the Blue Jays win the wild card on the strength of their starting pitching and they win a pair of playoff games before losing a tough Game 5 in the ALDS.
The Blue Jays realize they are playing in the AL East and sell off all assets.
Bautista is sold for American dollars, and the Blue Jays try to learn to share their stadium with the newly moved Toronto Bills.
Jayson Werth hits like his contract would dictate.
The Nationals find a way to win the wild card and make some noise in the playoffs.
Jordan Zimmermann finally gets a bit of run support and wins a surprising Cy Young.
Werth keeps playing like he is.
The Nationals trade Stephen Strasburg for older, less-established players, and Davey Johnson resigns after learning he had his option picked up.