Posted on: November 28, 2009 10:50 pm

GM for a Day: Boston Red Sox

second I'll do the enemy, the Boston Red Sox.
Prospects:  Clay Buchholz, Casey Kelly, Ryan Westmoreland (can't be traded), Junichi Tazawa, Michael Bowden, Ryan Kalish, Josh Reddick, Lars Anderson

Potential major losses: Jason Bay

Major Free Agents after 2010: Josh Beckett, Victor Martinez, Mike Lowell, David Ortiz (club option)

Infield:  Victor Martinez, Kevin Youkilis, and Dustin Pedroia put together a very good infield.  But Mike Lowell is on the decline and I doubt that Jed Lowrie is the long term answer at SS either.  The Sox would love to put Youk at 3B and move Lowell's contract.

Outfield:  Despite the possible departure of Jason Bay, the Sox outfield would look decent if the season started today.  Ellsbury may have become the best leadoff man in the AL, Drew has been solid for years and maybe a change of scenary and a hitter friendly ballpark could turn Jeremy Hermida into the superstar he was always projected to be.  But with Hermida's uncertainty and Drew's potential for injury at the least they'll bring back a solid fourth option.

Rotation:  Beckett and Lester are grest at the front.  DiceK is right with them if healthy (although reports of him and the organization fighting over conditioning can't be good).  Buchholz has all the talent in the world if given the chance.  Wakefield is always around, although he's probably better suited for the bullpen at his age.  Tazawa and Bowden are ready for the majors as well giving the Sox one of the deepest crops of starting pitching in baseball. 

Bullpen:  Papelbon is Papelbon in the 9th.  Bard should be the 8th inning flamethrower.  Okajima is solid but should probably see less innings this year.  Delcarmen is consistent and Ramirez really got the job done last year.  I'm sure they'd love a veteran setup man back there as Saito and Wagner are both departing

Holes to fill: 3B, SS, OF.  SP isn't really a hole with their depth but you know that Boston will be looking to upgrade.

Bad Contracts:  If Mike Lowell can stay healthy his $12 million contract isn't bad.  Similarly if David Ortiz rebounds he would be a steal at $12.5 million.  I never liked the JD Drew deal, and $28 million over the next two years is a lot for him.  I'm not thrilled with what DiceK is still owed but the equivalent of $9 million a year isn't that bad considering the price of free agent pitching.  I just don't think he has three good years left in a major league uniform. 

Salary Increases:  Lester gets an extra $3 million, Victor Martinez and Varitek make a combined $5 million more than last year.  Pedroia gets $2 million more.  Hermida is probably at $4 million after arbitration.  Papelbon will probably get a $4 million raise in arbitration.  Youk gets an extra $3 million this year.  Beckett an extra $1.5 million but Wakefield takes a paycut that cancels it out.  Kotchman is likely to get $5 million.  Delcarmen and Ramirez probably cost an extra $3 million combined.  If my math is right that's an extra $27 million.  For Penny, Smoltz, Bay, Saito, Baldelli and the other FA I have the costs at $20 million, meaning that Boston is already $7 million over last year's payroll before resigning Bay or bringing in somebody like Halladay.  I really can't see them adding a big contract and ending up spending an extra $20 million in this economy so I'm going to have to start with cost cutting moves...

The Moves to Make:

1.  Sign Josh Beckett and Victor Martinez to extensions.  Get your ace and the second best offensive catcher in the league signed long term before they hit the open market. 

2.  Non-tender Casey Kotchman.  He's not an everyday player and shouldn't be paid $5 million to sit on the bench. Victor Martinez will be getting a little time at 1B/DH anyway.

3.  Trade Matsuzaka to the Brewers for Corey Hart and prospects.  I don't trust Drew to play more than 130 games and you don't know what you are getting from Hermida.  I do not think that paying $18 million a year for Bay is the right move and Hart should only cost about $5 million this year.  He had a bad 2009 but two good seasons before and will only be 28.  The Brewers need pitching and the Red Sox have young arms ready to stand in for Matsuzaka.   As I alluded to earlier, I don't think Matsuzaka can hold in the longer MLB season if all this talk about his conditioning is true.  Pick up an outfielder you can use now and reload on prospects you can use for trades later.  I had a few other options with this including to Colorado for Brad Hawpe or to Texas for Nelson Cruz but I see Hart as the best option. 

4.  Trade Lars Anderson, Casey Kelly and other low/mid level prospects for Adrian Gonzalez.  Jason Bay isn't worth the money but Gonzalez is an absolute steal making a combined $10.25 million in the next two years.  He hit a combined 50 HR in his last 160 road games and would be a lock for 45 in that park.  He's not only cheaper than Bay but better.

5.  The most controversial of my moves.....  Trade David Ortiz to the Oakland Athletics for prospects.  I think he's done as being an elite player and you need to cut salary.  Adrian Gonzalez will easily outproduce him this year anyway.  Oakland traded for Holliday last year and may be willing to make a move again, but I really don't see another fit for Ortiz.  You can probably still get a pretty good return including an extra arm for the bullpen (Wuertz?).  You know they are going to try and move Mike Lowell but I view him as untradeable at this point.  You'd have to eat 3/4 of his salary to find a taken and if you are only saving $3-4 million you are better off with Mike Lowell in the lineup. 

6.  Trade Bowden, Kalish and prospects from the Ortiz and Matsuzaka trades for Josh Johnson.  There is no way it's worth it for the Red Sox to give up prospects for Halladay and then pay him $20 million a year with the extension.  I do not believe any of the hype.  Johnson is younger and cheaper.  Theo has a great relationship with the Marlins.  It all makes sense.

7.  Sign Marco Scutaro to be your SS. 

2010 Lineup
c. Victor Martinez/Jason Varitek
1b. Adrian Gonzalez
2b. Dustin Pedroia
3b. Kevin Youkilis
ss.  Marco Scutaro
lf. JD Drew/Cory Hart
cf. Jacoby Ellsbury
rf. Jeremy Hermida/Cory Hart
dh. Mike Lowell/Cory Hart

1. Josh Beckett
2. Jon Lester
3. Josh Johnson
4. Clay Buchholz
5. Tim Wakefield
extra:  Junichi Tazawa

Closer:  Jonathan Papelbon
Major Bullpen Arms:  Daniel Bard, Hideki Okajima, Manny Delcarmen, Ramon Ramirez. Michael Wuertz

Final Notes:  The only thing I really had in my head coming into this was some kind of trade for Josh Johnson.  I simply didn't think it was worth trading for Halladay if the price is as high as reported.  Plus if they extend Halladay and give him $20 million they probably can't afford to keep Beckett next season who will be making at least $15 million a year.  That's effectively giving up Beckett and Buchholz for Halladay which is just stupid.  In the scenario I've laid out, Beckett signs a four or five year extension and the Sox control their first four guys, all of whom have ace stuff for three years or more. 

I realize there is probably no one behind the trading Ortiz idea and trading Matsuzaka would have mixed reactions at best but that saves a lot of cash and gives you enough in extra prospects to bring in both Adrien Gonzalez and Josh Johnson.  Probably every Sox fan on here is going to say there is no way you can trade Bay but I can't see how they can afford him.  Even with me getting rid of the $20 million from Ortiz and Matsuzaka, payroll would still increase about $10 million with the Scutaro signing and Josh Johnson's arbitration raise.  I do expect them to raise payroll some this year, but the most they could possibly add on is $10-15 million, which with the salary increases really only leaves about $8 million to work with.  That's basically only enough for Marco Scutaro and a 4th outfielder.  I honestly wouldn't be surprised if signing Scutaro was the biggest move the Red Sox make this year.  It's tough when you have payroll restrictions. 

To sum things up.  Gonzalez and Martinez are replacing Bay and Ortiz as the big bats.  Josh Johnson replaces Matsuzaka in the rotation.  Hart and Hermida replace Bay and Baldelli in the OF.  Scutaro is a big upgrade at SS.  Added a power arm in Michael Wuertz in the bullpen to replace the departed Saito.  Basically just made moves to get younger and cheaper but leaving the team with a similar makeup.  You still keep your best hitting prospect in Ryan Westmoreland and best pitching in Clay Buchholz.  I choose to keep Tazawa over Bowden first because I think he's better and second because I think the Sox are trying to keep Japanese players on the team to be a more attractive destination for Yu Darvish in a few years.

This was kind of a rush job, I might edit more of it later.  I'm sure I'll take a lot of heat for saying that neither the Yankees nor the Red Sox should go after Bay, Holliday, Lackey or Halladay.

Posted on: November 25, 2009 8:54 am
Edited on: November 25, 2009 4:33 pm

GM for a Day: New York Yankees

I'm starting these up with the same format I ended last year's with.  Not sure if I'll get through the whole league this year but we'll see.  Starting with my World Champion New York Yankees.  Reminding everyone, this isn't what I think will happen, but what I think should happen.

Prospects (for these I will only be listing the elite guys with high trade value or guys who should make an impact this year):  Jesus Montero, Austin Jackson, Zach McAllister, Ian Kennedy

Potential major losses: Andy Pettitte, Hideki Matsui, Johnny Damon, Jose Molina

Major Free Agents after 2010:  Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera

Infield:  Arod, Tex, and Cano are all locked up for at least another 4 years, and despite Jeter being in the last year of his contract there is no chance he's leaving NY.  Molina is a FA and Posada will likely spend more time at DH this year meaning catcher is the only area in the infield that will need to be addressed.

Outfield:  Matsui and Damon are FA's, in their late thirties and already fading defensively.  I'd be inclined to let them both walk if they are expecting 8 figures.  Last year aging corner OF came on the cheap to those who waited and there isn't much reason to think it won't be the same this year.  That leaves Swisher, Melky, Gardner and prospect Austin Jackson.  There is room to upgrade.

Rotation:  Sabathia and Burnett have spots locked up.  Joba and Hughes will be fighting for a spot.  Will Pettitte be back?  Can Chien-Ming Wang rebound?  I doubt Kennedy would last with how the balls fly out of right field.  Is Zach McAllister ready for New York?  I don't think Hirsh, Gaudin, Mitre or Igawa are real options.  They could use a replacement for Pettitte if he leaves. 

Bullpen:  Marte was bad.  Bruney was on the DL twice.  Joba and Hughes could end up both needed in the rotation yet.  Mo has one year left.  He'll be 41 at that point and with (at least) 5 World Series rings and an automatic trip to Cooperstown I think you can expect a retirement.  The rest of the young arms were up and down most of the year.  There is room to add, and with so many closers available in free agency and via trade, you'll probably get a better deal on Rivera's closer this year than next year.

Holes to fill: C, OF, SP, RP

Bad Contracts: Kei Igawa is owed $8 million over the next two years.  Marte is owed the same but will actually contribute.  Swisher and Burnett are overpaid, but considering this is the Yankees they are looking better than they have in years.

Salary Increases: I'm estimating about $8-10 million total.  Cano gets a raise of three, Melky is at his first year of arbitration and nobody else should get more than one to one and a half.  But they save $35 million from Matsui, Damon, Nady and Molina alone.  Plus another $5.5 from Pettitte and the total gets to about $45 million with the other random players (Hinske, Guzman, Hairston, etc.).  So there should be at least $30-35 million to spend if they plan on setting last year's payroll as the cap. 

The Moves to Make:

1.  I like Lackey but I don't think paying him $17-18 million is the right move.  There is a lot of money tied up in CC and Burnett already and they be able to get someone either cheaper or better next year in a loaded free agent market (Beckett, Halladay, Lee, Webb, Vazquez, Lilly).  If Pettitte comes back for $5-8 million take him although I think he retires so we'll leave him out.  The only one of the top trade candidates (Halladay, Hernandez, Johnson) that really makes sense is Felix.  If a deal can be made I'll move Montero, Hughes, and whatever other second tier prospects it takes.  Otherwise the Yanks should pass on the top tier options.  (I realize my first move of my first GM says to not do something, but it just makes more sense to start with that).

2.  Sign Erik Bedard.  2 years $14 million plus incentives.  Main reasons for Bedard over other injury recovery pitchers like Harden and Sheets are that he should be cheaper, he's already proved he can handle the AL East, and that we another LHP with all the home run balls to right field.  I honestly think he signs for 2-4 million less than this but I'm overestimating for the purposes of this.

3.  The relief market is stacked while starters are thin so my plan is going to be to keep both Joba and Hughes in the rotation and beef up the bullpen.  I'm going to put all the relievers in one post to save space.  First, sign Mike Gonzalez.  3 years, $24 million.  Possible Rivera replacement.  More valuable this year as a left handed set up man.  Wouldn't hurt to have the next closer be left handed in that stadium either.  Sign JJ Putz.  2 years, $4 million plus incentives.  Realize last year with the Mets was bad.  But if this is the price (as I've seen suggested at one rumors site) he's worth a gamble.  The past two years guys like Ron Mahay and Juan Cruz have gone into spring training unsigned and ended up going for $1.2 million and under.  I'd wait for the market to play out and sign the best guy still available at the beginning of camp for whatever they'll settle for.  We'll say one year $2 million.  Three relievers, one potential replacement for Mo and another with previous closing experience for $12 million a year. 

4.   For the OF I'm going defense first and adding Mike Cameron at 2 years $16 million.  The infield will carry the offense.  Cameron still has some pop left and can play CF.  Playing Cameron in CF and some combination of Melky, Gardner and Jackson in LF greatly improves the OF defense. 

5.  Since we skimped on offense in the outfield, we'll address it with catcher.  Sign Benjie Molina at 2 years, $12 million.  Another old catcher to split time with Posada at C/DH.  Offensive numbers could improve some leaving the big park in SF.  Decent option at DH.  If Posada gets hurt again there will at least be a major league quality bat to put behind him this year.  Watching the younger Molina and Cervelli was painful at times last year.  The argument could be made to spend this money on a LF/DH type or this combined the money I spent on Cameron on Bay or Holliday.  But with Posada's recent injury troubles when we already need a back up and the young outfielders already on the roster I feel a quality catcher is more important.  Also if you add the money from Cameron and Molina and take a better backup catcher out of it you are looking at $13-15 million left which isn't enough for Holliday or Bay.  And New York will probably be trying to get down to as close to $200 million as they can this year.

6.  Since we are at $31 million and at the low end of my estimated budget, I'll put another small addition in.  Going to the lower tier of injury starters.  Sign one of Kelvim Escobar, Jason Schmidt, Mark Mulder, Brad Penny or Mark Prior to $1 million plus incentives.  They hopefully would never pitch an inning.  But it's nice to have a vet to fill in for spot starts instead of a mid tier prospect on their Major League debut. 

2010 Lineup
c. Jorge Posada/Benjie Molina
1b. Mark Teixeira
2b. Robinson Cano
3b. Alex Rodriguez
ss. Derek Jeter
lf. Melky Cabrera/Brett Gardner/Austin Jackson
cf. Mike Cameron
rf. Nick Swisher
dh. Jorge Posada/Benjie Molina/one of the outfielders/Possibly Jesus Montero in 2nd half

1. CC Sabathia
2. AJ Burnett
3. Erik Bedard
4. Joba Chamberlain
5. Phil Hughes
extra:  Wang, Kennedy, McAllister, Injury flier

Closer:  Mariano Rivera
Major Bullpen Arms:  Mike Gonzalez, Brian Bruney, JJ Putz, Damaso Marte, Phil Coke, David Robertson

Final Notes:
Not what a lot of fans would want or expect without any marquee addition.  I think filling multiple holes makes more sense right now though.  Especially when it comes to the rotation.  Joba and Hughes both have ace stuff and we need to figure out if one, both or none are gonna put it all together.  I'd rather do that this season when some of those pending free agents will be available at the deadline or next year if things go wrong instead of waiting a year and missing out on the crop of free agents because we took too long evaluating our own guys.  Besides that rotation may not be the most reliable, but every guy in it has ace stuff.  If just one of Bedard/Joba/Hughes reach their potential this season the three man post season roation is there.  And as bad as Wang was last year, he's still a guy thats won 70% of his career decisions.  What other team has a 30 year old with that kind of record waiting in the wings as the 6th starter?

I'd love to trade for Felix Hernandez, I just don't see why the Mariners wouldn't spend another season trying to get him locked into an extension.  Josh Johnson isn't a real option.  The only prospect we can build a deal around is Jesus Montero, and he doesn't make sense for an NL team like the Marlins who already has two all bat, poor defense prospects in Cody Johnson and Logan Morrison clogging 1B and LF.  Halladay looks great.  But unless the price drops to what Santana went for it I doubt it's worth bringing him in.  You can get younger cheaper SP next year without giving up prospects.  The only way I can really see bringing in Halladay as a good thing would be if the Red Sox resign Bay and bring in two more star players like Adrien Gonzalez and John Lackey, and I really don't see that happening.

Feedback is encouraged, especially if there is something I can do to make these easier to read.

Posted on: December 1, 2008 1:51 am
Edited on: December 1, 2008 1:55 am

GM for a Day: Minnesota Twins

Untouchables on the MLB roster:
Justin Morneau, Joe Mauer, Francisco Liriano, Delmon Young

Elite Prospects (for these I will only be listing those not on the major league roster):
You could say Aaron Hicks and Ben Revere, although I don't see them as stars on the major league level.  Deolis Guerra had a rough year, but probably has the highest ceiling in the organization.

Holes to fill:
3B, SS, RP

Potential major losses:

Major Free Agents after 2009:

Bad Contracts:

Large arbitration increases:
Jason Kubel will get a decent raise, but nothing off the charts

Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer are set.  Alexi Casilla is decent at 2B.  But there are giant holes on the left side of the infield.  One of which should be a middle of the lineup bat to protect Justin Morneau. 

Delmon Young and Carlos Gomez are two young talents with tremendous upside.  I don't see how you can trade Young when you won't be getting full value after last season.  Michael Cuddyer is reasonably priced for a veteran with 2 years $16 million left on his contract.  Payroll is also increasing by $7.5 million in raises to Mauer and Morneau alone, which in itself cancels out any free cash available from expiring contracts.  When you look at the numbers Cuddyer is the obvious guy to go, not Young.  Denard Span will fill in just fine.

The rotation is set with 5 pre-arbitration players in Liriano, Scott Baker, Kevin Slowey, Nick Blackburn, and Glenn Perkins.  They also have Boof Bonser and Phil Humber waiting in the wings.  I don't see either as more than a bottom of the rotation fill in, but Blackburn and Perkins both performed over their heads last season in my opinion anyway.  I don't think trading either when their value is highest would be a bad move.

Joe Nathan is one of the most underrated closers in the league, but the bullpen took a major hit as Pat Neshek is expected to miss the entire 2009 season.  They need another arm or two to team with Jesse Crain and Matt Guerrier.  Guerrier broke down in August last year after 3.5 very good seasons.  I think limiting his innings early in the year could help a lot down the stretch.

and the moves to make.....
1.  Trade Michael Cuddyer to the Rays for Reid Brignac.  With Bartlett and Beckham he probably won't get a legitimate shot at SS in Tampa.  He is the top major league ready SS prospect right now and he may be available.  Cuddyer would solve the hole the Rays have in RF.  Would also clear the payroll needed to improve 3B and the bullpen.

2.  Trade Nick Blackburn to the Padres for Kevin Kouzmanoff.  Talks have been rumoured and it makes sense.  He hit .292/.329/.473 on the road last season, so there is reason to believe the numbers can improve when he gets out of a park where flyballs go to die.  Also that .802 road OPS is higher than both Casey Blake and Adrian Beltre's career numbers.

3.  Spend the cash saved from moving Cuddyer on the bullpen.  I'll pick Juan Cruz and Doug Brocail, but their is a lot of names to fit here.

I just don't get where all of these Delmon Young rumors are coming from.  There really isn't any legitimate bats to protect Justin Morneau on the market at 3B or SS (that's right Adrian Beltre), and I really don't know what else they could trade him for.  No he hasn't showed the power yet but at 23 he is a .292 career hitter in 1300+ AB and got better after the break.  He still has superstar talent, which is something you won't get back in a trade for him.  Also, Young doesn't need to have a superstar breakout to give the team what it needs, just a little more power.  Assume that Young and Kouzmanoff both end up with about 20 HR and 85 RBI, and Liriano is healthy all season and the Twins are easily much better than the team that lost the division in a one game playoff last year.

2009 lineup
c.  Joe Mauer
1b.  Justin Morneau
2b.  Alexi Casilla
3b.  Kevin Kouzmanoff
ss.  Reid Brignac
lf.  Delmon Young
cf.  Carlos Gomez
rf.  Denard Span
dh.  Jason Kubel

1.  Francisco Liriano
2.  Scott Baker
3.  Kevin Slowey
4.  Glenn Perkins
5.  Boof Bonser/Phil Humber
Posted on: November 28, 2008 4:41 am

GM for a Day: Texas Rangers

I'm going to update these with extra categories as they come to me, I may eventually go back and break down the first few into this manner as well.

Untouchables on the MLB roster:
Josh Hamilton, Ian Kinsler, Chris Davis, Taylor Teagarden,

Elite Prospects (for these I will only be listing those not on the major league roster):
Justin Smoak, Elvis Andrus, Derek Holland, Neftali Feliz, Michael Main, Martin Perez  (the Rangers probably have the top farm system right now, helped a lot by the fleece of Atlanta in the Teixeira trade.  The last 3 are in the low minors but are potential aces dominating their leagues)

Holes to fill:
SP, RP, Closer

Potential major losses:
Milton Bradley

Major Free Agents after 2009:
Hank Blalock, Vincente Padilla, (probably) Kevin Millwood.

Bad Contracts:
Kevin Millwood, 2 years $23 million left, can be voided after this season if Millwood pitches less than 180 innings saving $12 million.
Vincente Padilla, 1 year $13.75 million left (including buyout).
Michael Young, 5 years $80 million left, no trade thru 2009, limited no trade (8 teams) thru May 2011 when he becomes a 10 and 5 player.

Large arbitration increases:
No salary's are likely to increase more than $1-2 million thru arbitration

the infield:
The infield is filling fast.  Ian Kinsler is one of the best offensive 2B in the league.  Chris Davis looks like a real power option at 3B (not his ideal defensive position but its where his future fits).  Hank Blalock will likely keep 1B warm for a year until Justin Smoak is ready to make an impact.  Michael Young is an established (allbeit overated) star at SS, with a good prospect in Joaquin Arias major league ready, and an elite prospect in Elvis Andrus a year away.  It's probably time to explore trading Michael Young....  Catcher is set with a veteran in Laird behind a group of top young talents in Teagarden, Max Ramirez and Jarrod Saltalamacchia.  Salty is likely wearing another uniform on opening day.  The other 3 can share C and DH duties with Max Ramirez serving as Hank Blalock's backup at 1B.

the outfield:
Josh Hamilton is an emerging superstar with one spot locked in.  Nelson Cruz put up a ridiculous line of .345 125-52-144-25 in his last 545 AB  in AAA before hitting .333 with 7 HR and 26 RBI in 31 games in the majors last season.  I don't think he'll be a star or put up anywhere near those numbers next season, but he is a former top prospect so the pedigree is there.  He should be able to put up a strong .280, 30 HR, 100 RBI season hitting in a strong lineup in the home run haven that is Arlington.  David Murphy, although not very highly touted, is a solid league average player, making close to the league minimum, who fits in well for a team that already has a strong offensive presence.  Marlon Byrd is a solid defensive 4th OF, hitting .302/.361/.460 in 814 AB for Texas.  Furthermore, in case there are injuries on the field, prospects Greg Golson and Julio Borbon should be ready to fill in.  This team should not need to sign a replacement for Milton Bradley.

the rotation:
I would characterize as abysmal.  Millwood and Padilla are overpaid for little production and beyond that is a group of young unproven players.  Brandon McCarthy and Eric Hurley probably have the most upside, although neither figures to be a break out player.  Next is a group of guys whose ceiling only reaches mid-backend types in Harrison, Nippert and Gabbard.  The rotation needs a lot of work.  Padilla and likely Millwood will both be off the books next season so there will be money to spend.  They need to bring in at least one guy.

the bullpen.
The bullpen is not good, like the rotation, but there is a few bright spots.  Francisco is currently the closer, although he isn't suited for the job.  CJ Wilson and Joaqin Benoit have both closes in the past, although they are both coming off poor injury plagued seasons, and again, neither is really suited for the job.  One strong arm to close is likely a must.  The three aforementioned former closers could all be suitable setup men if they can stay healthy.  Also adding to the rotation could shift a starter or two into the bullpen giving an extra boost.

the moves to make

1.  Attempt to trade Michael Young for major league ready pitching.  He is a pretty good player yes, but there is no way he is worth $16 million a year and he is under contract until 2013 (age 36).  He's more likely to be a product of his environment than a star level talent and you have two very good young players behind him.  Try and trade him now while he is still considered a star, because I doubt he will be in 2-3 years.  Remember the old saying, it's better to trade a player a year too early than a year too late.  If he won't waive his no trade clause, wait til the end of the season and trade him to whoever will take him before his 10 and 5 kicks in and he can go block any trade.  I'd love to say Young for Matt Cain but I doubt that works.  Jonathan Sanchez (I wouldn't do) and James McDonald are probably the most realistic targets right now, so it may be worth waiting until next season.  Note:  This would also free up cash to sign one of the top pitchers from this year's market.

2.  Trade Jarrod Saltalamacchia for Clay Buchholz.  The Sox say they won't do it but I don't mind it.  I bet they change thier mind after signing Junichi Tazawa.  Hold out and they'll cave.  The Rangers stole a good group of prospects for Gagne from the Sox and they can do it again.

3.  Sign Ben Sheets.  3 years, $39 million.  They need to get some top level pitching talent badly.  CC won't go.  Lowe isn't worth the cash at his age.  Burnett isn't worth the risk for 5 years.  That basically leave Sheets and Oliver Perez as the two pitchers left with the potential to lead a rotation.

4.  Sign Mark Prior to an incentive laden deal.  It could probably be a minor league contract with an invite.  Again, they need pitching as badly as you can need pitching and should look everywhere for it.  He's still only 28 years old.

5.  Sign Mark Mulder  2 years, $4 million, with incentives, escalators and team option.  Still could have some good years ahead at only 31.  Is due for a giant pay cut from the $7 million he made last season.

6.  Sign Kerry Wood.  3 years $27 million.  From what I've heard about Kerry Wood's mindset, he is the type that would take less to play where he wants, and he has Texas ties.  This probably should be up higher, but to me the rotation is more important so I left it down.

Texas has a potent offense and will have one for years to come, but the pitching is finally on its way.  Holland should make an impact this season, with Main, Feliz, and Perez possible 2010 additions.  This team should be ready to make a serious run at a title in 2011 if it can pick up some solid veteran pitching in the mean time (Sheets this year, Bedard, Harden, and Myers are available next).  Sheets isn't the perfect fit, but he's better than the decisions they've made in the past.  Would you rather pay for 120 innings very good innings from Sheets or 170 awful innings from Millwood?  At least you know that when healthy he's as good as anyone (and 2011 will conveniently be a contract year).  I'm not expecting either Prior or Mulder to do anything but there is very little risk in the deals for a team desperate for pitching.  I don't think anyone questions the future offense built around Hamilton, Kinsler, Davis, Smoak, Andrus, Teagarden and Ramirez.  By 2011 an ideal rotation could be Sheets, Buchholz, Bedard, Holland and Feliz or Perez and could be quite formidable. There is also a lot of depth in the group they would have all of those 6, plus Michael Main having frontline potential.  If only 2 or 3 of the 7 pitch to their potential the team would be a strong playoff contender with a great chance to advance.

2009 lineup:
C.  Gerald Laird/Taylor Teagarden
1B.  Hank Blalock/Max Ramirez
2B.  Ian Kinsler
3B.  Chris Davis
SS.  Michael Young (as much as I'd like to see him traded, next year or midseason is a more realistic target)
LF.  David Murphy
CF.  Josh Hamilton
RF.  Nelson Cruz
DH.  Ramirez/Teagarden

Rotation:  Ben Sheets, Clay Buchholz, Kevin Millwood, Vincente Padilla, Hurley/Gabbard/McCarthy

LHRP.  CJ WIlson
Set up men:  Frank Francisco, Joaquin Benoit
Closer. Kerry Wood.

5 years ago how good would Sheets, Prior, Mulder and Wood look together?
Posted on: November 27, 2008 4:39 am

Gm for a Day: LA Angels

The Angels are a tough one, they have a lot of different ways to go and I'm going to break down everything a little more beforehand.  I may start doing this for all the teams, depending on how time consuming it is.

Holes to fill:
LF, 1B, SP, RP

Potential major losses:
Mark Teixeira, Francisco Rodriguez, Jon Garland, Juan Rivera, Darren Oliver

Major Free Agents after 2009:
Vlad Guerrero, John Lackey, Chone Figgins

Bad Contracts:
Gary Matthews, 3 years $33 million remaining, full no trade clause, can block trades to four teams in the final 2 years.
Kelvin Escobar, 1 year $9 million remaining.

Large arbitration increases:
Ervin Santana

the infield: 
Figgins, Wood, Aybar, Kendrick, Rodriguez and Izturis is more than enough to handle 2b, 3b, ss and whats left of DH after Vlad's 25-40 games and Hunter's 15-20 games.  Kendrick and Figgins should each get consistent DH time as well an attempt to keep them healthy.  I would strongly consider trading Figgins in season if the rest of the infield pieces perform well.  I don't like trading him before the season starts as you will get more for him if he stays healthy the first 2 months of the season.  There is still a giant hole at 1B, and Kendry Morales is not the guy to fill it.

the outfield: 
Reggie Willits and Gary Matthews are both fourth outfielders.  Vlad (30-40 games) and Hunter (15-20) should both be given more time at DH this season.  I think Willits should be traded, and another OF worth starting brought in.  Matthews can still play when Vlad/Hunter DH, and then after this season when his no trade clause is gone and his contract is short enough to be dumped he can be traded.  Vlad's 30-40 games and Hunter's 15-20 games.

the rotation: 
Their 1-2-3 of Lackey, Saunders and Santana is very formidable, I'm not sold on them needing an ace like Sabathia or Peavy.  Besides, a 30 year old Lackey will likely command $18-20 million a year next offseason, as he's better than both Lowe and Burnett.  If they would sign Sabathia, after Lackey's contract and arbitration increases from this season and next the Angels would have $50-60 million a year invested in the rotation alone in 2010, and they won't stay with a number than high.  Signing Sabathia would force the Angels to either let Lackey walk after next season or trade Ervin Santana before his second arbitration.  I don't think the risk of a $120+ million contract is worth being forced to lose a pitcher of that quality who costs significantly less.  To me, a second tier starter makes more sense, leaving more money to spend on the offense.

the bullpen: 
Like most, I don't find it necessary to sign a big money closer.  I don't mind giving Arredondo the closing duties, but I think they should at least add another reliable setup man if they do. Shields is getting up there in age and he threw way too many innings from 2003-2007 for a reliever.  I'm expecting a drop off very soon.  They will also need to resign Oliver or sign another lefty for the bullpen.

the moves to make:

1.  Sign Mark Teixeira.  8 years, $160 million.  No the terms aren't ideal, but they need one power bat for this season and another for the next season after Vlad leaves.  They essentially must sign either Manny or Tex.  I'm sure that the 10 year deal is just Boras starting the bidding high and it will only take 8 to get him.  I'm making my bet that Teixeira is a better investment from age 29-37 than Manny is from 37-41.   I realize this is a long and risky contract, but you have to overpay on the FA market for elite talents.  If I was the GM, I would have given up the prospects it would have taken to get Miguel Cabrera from the Marlins and not be stuck in this spot to begin with.  Not only that, but Cabrera is 3 years younger, so the 8 year contract that ends at age 34 would be much less of a risk.

2.  Sign Ben Sheets.  3 years, $36 million.  I realize there is a lot of risk in this deal as well but look at it comparitively.  Is investing $36 million in Sheets safer than $60 million in Lowe or $80 million on Burnett?  I think its a much better deal than overpaying for the top teir.  Also, Sheets is really only a 3 or 4 on this team with Lackey, Santana and Saunders, you aren't relying on him as an ace like Milwaukee was and Nick Adenhart should be ready to step into the rotation this season if needed.  You could probably also structure this deal in the 2 year $26-28 million range with a vesting 3rd year of $16-18 million reducing the risk.

3.  Resign Juan Rivera.  2 years $14 million.  I wanted a mid priced upside pick to play LF.  Bringing Rivera back makes the most sense to me.  I still see him capable of .280, 30 HR, 100 RBI seasons if he can stay healthy.  Plus, he could move to RF next season after Vlad walks freeing up LF......

4.  Trade Reggie Willits and Kendry Morales for a decent setup man.  I'm too lazy right now to find a perfect fit somewhere but this deal could work.  Morales is only ever going to be a platoon man against RHP, but his minor league resume and age still give him some value.  Willits speed, versatility and age will make him useful to someone as well.

5.  Resign Darren Oliver.  They need the lefty in the bullpen.  Bring Oliver back for chemistry.

No matter what moves the Angels make they will likely remain AL West favorites until the stacked pitching in Texas and Oakland's farm system starts making an impact in the big leagues.  Even without adding the big money starter this team would have 5 starters capable of 15 wins (would any team have a 4/5 with as high of a ceiling as Sheets and Weaver?).  More importantly, saving the money from not going after Sabathia, Peavy, Burnett and Lowe should make it possible to pursue Matt Holliday after next season when Vlad, Escobar and Figgins come off the books and Matthews becomes tradable. 
Posted on: November 25, 2008 4:11 am

GM for a Day: Atlanta Braves

This won't just serve as my Braves edition of GM for a Day but as my forum to bash Frank Wren.  Two awful trades both involving Mark Teixeira may have ruined the franchise for the next few years.  The first was technically under Schuerholz, but as the assistant GM and obvious successor he could have blocked the deal. 

Trade 1.

The Braves send Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Elvis Andrus, Neftali Feliz, Beau Jones and Matt Harrison to the Rangers for Mark Teixeira and Ron Mahay.
The Braves also recieve a compensation pick for Ron Mahay going to the Royals, they take Brett DeVall with the 40th pick. 

Trade 2

The Braves send Mark Teixeira to the Angels for Casey Kotchman and Stephen Marek.
The Angels will also recieve two compensation picks in the 25-35 range if Mark Teixeira signs somewhere else.

I really don't mind trade one if they would have only given up one of Feliz and Andrus.  Feliz wasn't as highly regarded at the time, but he was a 19 year old pitching lights out with ace potential.  He's the type of player that you either put off limits are count as a marquee prospect when you move.  You don't add him in as a throw in player.  He is now considered one of the top 10 pitching prospects in the game. 

I can see why they gave up Andrus when they had Escobar and Lillibridge in the system, but why Andrus of the 3?  He had the highest ceiling as a player.  If I'm a GM he is the guy I want to keep above all else.  Escobar is overrated to begin with.  He's all defense, has already topped out in the SB department, and you are looking at a max of 12-15 HR for his entire career.  Plus Escobar had more value because he was major league ready.  Lillibridge is a good prospect but nothing special.  Andrus is a great defender with plus speed and projectable on base skills.  He is now arguably the best SS prospect in the game.

I agree with trading Salty (blocked), Harrison (tops out as a #3) and Jones (probably ends up a lefty reliever).  When it comes down to it, 3 blue chip prospects is too much to give up for 1.3 seasons of Teixeira.  They could have gotten the deal done for only two of Salty/Andrus/Feliz if they'd waited a week.  There is no way another team was giving up a better 3 prospects than that group.  They bought high on Tex.....

And then they sold low on Tex a year later.  Kotchman is awful.  I'm sorry he is.  His ceiling is hitting about .300-.310 with 20 HR and 90 RBI. I honestly don't think he's going to reach those numbers with Atlanta.  Even if he does, he's a 1B, and that doesn't cut it, especially in the NL.  Can the Braves really base an offense around Kotchman, McCann and 120 games of Chipper?  Not if they expect to compete.  Frank Wren clogged what is supposed to be a power position with a below average player for the next 3 seasons.  Why?  So they could hang on to their miniscule playoff hopes last season?  A minor league journeymen 1B could have hit the .285, 18 HR, 85 RBI that Kotchman was on pace for before the trade, and replacing Tex with those numbers is throwing in the towel anyway.  Oh and Stephen Marek is failed starter converted to relief who projects as nothing more than a 7th inning guy.  Great haul.

Why didn't they just try for prospects?  They could have gotten at least one elite prospect and then a bunch of guys like Marek.  How about Nick Adenhart and Stephen Marek for Tex?  With the emergence of Saunders and Santana last year he became available.  Then they trade for someone like Hank Blalock or sign Joe Crede to incentive laden deal and move him to first to keep him healthy.  Isn't that better than Kotchman? (hel the two compensation picks and a FA would have been better than Kotchman and Marek) Then they could have tried Adenhart down the stretch, who probably would have fared better in the weaker NL than he did in his first callup with the Angels.  Maybe then the Braves only need one starting pitcher instead of two right now.

And one last point before I get to the actual intention of this article.  If the Braves don't trade for Teixeira, not only do they have the best farm system in baseball on the stregnth of Hanson, Feliz, Andrus, Heyward and Schafer, but they also likely fall a few places down the standings and their first round pick in the 2008 draft becomes protected.  Than the Tom Glavine signing looks slightly less bad when they don't have to give up their draft pick.  But really who would have thought that $8 million and the 18th overall pick for a 42 year old would have turned out bad?

OK now finally on topic and to the offseason moves

1.  Trade for Jake Peavy already.  It won't make you a playoff team, but do it anyway.  My reasoning is this.  Escobar has more value this offseason than he is likely to at any point after it.  Gorkys Hernandez will never play for Atlanta with Schafer and Heyward ahead of him.  Boyer and Morton are nothing special.  Add another prospect, upgrade one of the pitchers for someone like Kris Medlen or Randall Delgado and see if they bite.  Do something.  There is no special players in this group, but Frank Wren will be afraid to pull the trigger anyway after the Braves were fleeced in the first Teixeira trade.  It wouldn't surprise me if Wren being gunshy forced the deal to fall thru for good.  Besides, the Braves need to add someone to anchor the rotation and I guarantee they are outbid on CC, Burnett and Lowe.  It's a deal that has to be made.

2.  Sign Jon Garland.  I like sinkerballers who can eat innings, and an innings eater fits well into this team.  You can also expect a boost in his numbers in moving to the NL. 

3.  Offer Rafael Soriano to the Rays for Reid Brignac.  The Rays need help at the back of the bullpen and Brignac may have become expendable with Maddon's man crush on Jason Bartlet and the drafting of Tim Beckham.  With the rest of my moves they can't afford Furcal, and they need to spend on a power hitting OF instead of a leadoff type.  I had Renteria here for a second but changed it, his .239 average against RHP was just too bad to pay him the money he'll command.  Just let Brignac and Lillibridge fight for the spot, one of them will take over.  If that trade doesn't work Renteria is the guy to go with despite his flaws.  Something tells me he'd take less to go back to at Atlanta, and a 2 year deal would be relatively low risk.

4.  Sign Adam Dunn.  They need a power hitter in LF and I like him because he can eventually take over 1B.  In a year or two when Heyward and Schafer are both ready you play them in the OF with Francouer, move Dunn to 1B and then trade away Kotchman for whatever you get.  This could also work with Raul Ibanez, but I just think Dunn fits here better. 

I still don't think they are a playoff team in that division but they are better when they started.  Peavy, Jurrjens and Campillo are all controlled until 2013 and Tommy Hanson for longer so it at least stabilizes the rotation.  If some of the young hitters can come up and start producing they could make a few playoff runs in front of the rotaiton.  The bigger problem is that most of the top offensive prospects were HS draft picks, which normally take longer to develop at the major league level.  Really didn't know what to do with the Braves, they are in a bad spot after those two awful Tex trades.  More just picked them next so I could bash them for it.  Not sure if I did the best job, but I'm pretty confident my plan is better than Frank Wren's......
Posted on: November 24, 2008 8:22 pm
Edited on: November 25, 2008 1:12 am

GM for a Day: St. Louis Cardinals

1.  Do not under any circumstances expect Chris Carpenter to be healthy.  Plan for him to not pitch at all and if he does come back strong it's like an ace at the deadline that gives added depth to the team.  He should be considered the 6th starter when putting next year's team together.

2.  Sign Oliver Perez, 4 years $42 million.  This may seem odd, but Dave Duncan always seems to get the best out of his starters and Perez has as good of stuff as any free agent available.  I'm not saying Duncan will turn Perez back into the 2004 version of himself with a 2.98 era and 234 K's, but a small increase in command could cause a large increase in results for someone with that kind of stuff.  Plus, he's left handed, and which LHP other than Sabathia is better than Perez on the free agent market?

3.  Trade Rick Ankiel to the Rays for a package including Jeff Niemann.  It's going to cost a lot to fill both middle infield slots with above league average options and saving money by dumping an arbitration eligible player is probably a requirement to do it.  Niemann is the most major league ready pitcher in the minors (I'm not saying the best, just the most ready).  He should easily fill a 5th starter role in the weak NL.  He also is a former top 5 pick with good stuff, I'd be surprised if he struggled with Duncan as his pitching coach.

3a.  Play Colby Rasmus in CF.  He might start slow but he will play above average defense and has power and speed.  It will be an up and down year but when he gets hot it will be something to watch up. 

4.  Sign Trevor Hoffman to a 1 year deal $6 million (probably with a club or mutual option).  He'll want a two year deal, but in this market flooded with closing options no one is going to give him one.  Chris Perez is the future but he isn't ready yet.  Let him learn from the all time saves leader and then take over in 2010.

5.  Sign Rafael Furcal, 4 years $52 million.  This was the hardest decision for me to make.  Furcal is the only top player at the position, and he's going to be overbid due to the scarcity at the position.  But look at the other options.  Renteria's declining defense and .239 average against RHP isn't appealing.  Honestly, this deal is better than 3 years $24 million for Orland Cabrera isn't it?  Beyond that is a bunch of glove first and career utility players.  They need to do something to add the offense and this is probably the only place to do it.  Plus, he give a legit leadoff man, which is something the team lacks. 

6.  Sign Ramon Vazquez.  2 years $6 million.  Overspending at SS will cost some at 2B.  The market was thin behind Hudson anyway (and again, the Furcal contract would be a better deal than giving Hudson 8 figures).  Aaron Miles is a switch hitter who hit both lefties and righties well.  Make it his job to lose.  Vazquez can play 2B, 3B and SS behind three question marks, and is coming off a good offensive season.  Even if they all stay healthy a left handed utility man is always useful. 

I think I stayed around budget, they had a little over $30 million coming off the books and I moved a 2nd year arbitration player in Ankiel.  with either/both big contracts being slightly backloaded they should be around the same payroll for next season.  Wainwright, Perez, Lohse, Wellemeyer, Niemann, Carpenter and Jaime Garcia make up a pretty deep group of starters in case injuries hit the rotation again.  The bullpen can't be any worse than last year and the offense is better with Furcal replacing Ankiel.  There is a lot of questions but a lot of upside as well.  If Furcal plays like he did to start last season hitting in front of Pujols the offense will go wild.  They have 3 potential aces if Wainwright and Carpenter can stay healthy and Duncan can work his magic on Perez (I really think they'd be happy to have one ace out of the three but stranger things have happened).  A healthy Pujols could simply just play out of his mind and carry the team on his own.  I don't think they'll make the playoffs unless a lot of things go right, but they have the talent and the upside where they should be in the race until the end of the season.
Category: MLB
Posted on: November 14, 2008 6:38 pm
Edited on: November 24, 2008 8:16 pm

GM for a Day: Tampa Bay Rays

The Rays are easy to due.  Infield is complete.  Eight starting pitchers who could step in right away.  Only real place to improve are RF, DH and bullpen.  I would have put trade for Matt Holliday as #1.  They have the prospects to get it done and the spot for him.  They have extra revenue from the playoffs and can expect increased ticket sales for next season so they do have some payroll flexibility.

1.  Sign Raul Ibanez.  3 years, $36 million.   He isn't flashy but he's effective and consistent.  Consistency is important because young hitters can often by streaky.  He's a relatively safe free agent sign for a small market club and three years is not a long commitment.

2.  Sign Joe Crede to a short incentive laden contract.  No he isn't reliable but its a low risk high reward deal, and putting him at DH might keep him healthy.  Resigning Rocco Baldelli instead could be a another option or backup plan.

3.  Make a package around Edwin Jackson and Jeff Niemann to get Jose Valverde.  Percival can't be trusted and Balfour and Wheeler are better suited for 7th/8th inning work.  Houston is supposedly trying to clear payroll and has made Valverde available.  They also need numbers in the rotation and are one of few teams that isn't likely to try and hold out for Wade Davis.  He isn't the best closer in the league but he's reliable and will cost less than the free agents.  Four year deals on relievers are risky and Tampa isn't the type of team that can afford to get burned on a big contract to Krod or Fuentes.

They won the division and have a great young core, meaning it's time to start making the little additions to stay on top.  Regardless if these are the actual players they bring in or not, an experienced closer and a veteran bat for the OF are likely the only major additions this club makes.  They don't need to pay the big bucks for a star and now that they've become a desirable place to play, they won't have to rely on signing the Cliff Floyd's of the world either.
Category: MLB
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