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.
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
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.