When you wish upon a baseball star, it makes some difference where you are.
The New York Mets can wish for a front-line starting pitcher, and every bright light in the galaxy will shoot across the sky for a peek. The Washington Nationals can dream of a starter with an ERA below 5.00, and draw hardly a twinkle.
Overall, there isn't a National League without some kind of black hole to fill. Here's a telescopic view of what each NL team is looking for the most ... whether they will succeed in their quest, heaven knows.
Click here for the American League Hot Stove preview.
Atlanta Braves Team Needs: Starting pitching Despite their most disappointing season since Hammer wasn't hurtin' 'em, the Braves are in decent shape. But John Smoltz will be 40 in May, and he's the Braves' best pitcher. There's hope for rebounds from Tim Hudson and Mike Hampton and growth from young Chuck James and Kyle Davies (despite the latter's 8.38 ERA), but like so many rotations, it could use more depth. Other observers have suggested that Atlanta's main need is better on-base percentage in the leadoff spot. Maybe so, but it's hard to get around the ifs on the mound.
Florida Marlins Team Needs: Center field The Marlins' shockingly terrific young core was undermined by guys like Reggie Abercrombie getting the most playing time in center. Florida has to be wary of rookies possibly having sophomore slumps as the league adjusts to them, but the Marlins are starting from scratch in center.
New York Mets Team Needs: Starting pitcher, right-handed bat You can't patchwork a staff for 162 games the way the Mets tried (and, admittedly, almost succeeded) doing in the playoffs. Pedro Martinez is out indefinitely, and Tom Glavine will be 41. The cupboard isn't bare, but a trip to the market is in order. Second base and left field are also concerns -- and the Mets will be looking to solve their poor 2006 performance against left-handed pitchers in addressing them.
Philadelphia Phillies Team Needs: Third baseman It's not as if the Phillies couldn't upgrade in some other places, but they have got to do better than Abraham Nunez (.576 OPS) at the hot corner.
Washington Nationals Team Needs: Pitching The Nationals' lineup isn't exactly firing on all cylinders, but on the mound, right now you're looking at a three-man staff of John Patterson, Joe Smoke and Hank Mirrors.