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Tuesday, December 24, 2013
Christmas wishes for every team

By David Schoenfield

Manny Machado
The Orioles are hoping to see Manny Machado take the field on Opening Day.
What are wishing for under your Christmas tree this year? Here are Christmas wishes across the major leagues:

AL East

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.

AL Central

Chicago White Sox -- Forty home runs from Jose Abreu. Heck, it’s Christmas: 50 home runs!

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.

Detroit Tigers -- Angry Angels fans after Miguel Cabrera edges out Mike Trout for another MVP.

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.

AL West

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.

NL East

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.

Miami Marlins –- A sophomore season for the ages from Jose Fernandez.

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.

Washington Nationals -- A .300/40/120 season from Bryce Harper. And, yes, he could do it. Yes, he could be the National League MVP.

NL Central

Cincinnati Reds -- More RBIs from that bum Joey Votto.

Chicago Cubs –- For Starlin Castro to stop swinging at everything. Is that too much to hope for? OK, OK, how about a little better luck for Anthony Rizzo.

Milwaukee Brewers –- A better supporting cast for Ryan Braun, Carlos Gomez, Jean Segura and Jonathan Lucroy.

Pittsburgh Pirates -- A season that smacks regression to the mean on the backside and taunts all those so-called experts: 95 wins and a division championship.

St. Louis Cardinals -- Michael Wacha doing his thing for 30-plus starts.

NL West

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.

Arizona Diamondbacks –- All the grit and hustle a front office could ever ask for. Of course, 85 home runs combined from Paul Goldschmidt and Mark Trumbo would be nice as well.

San Francisco Giants –- That the two-year, $35 million investment in Tim Lincecum doesn’t turn out to be a two-year, $35 million folly.

San Diego Padres –- Some California dreams: The Chase Headley of 2012 and not 2013, an even better Jedd Gyorko, Andrew Cashner making the Leap, no positive PED tests.

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.