rostermania Ia: giles variations

the yankees may get into the bidding for brian giles, arresting news for any other team that might want him. not clear how strong the bronxers' interest is; the new york daily news reports hideki matsui is the team's top priority and slated for a corner-outfield slot. "If the Yanks re-sign Matsui but don't want to use him regularly in center," the news muses, "then it's unlikely they would pursue Giles further."

i'm getting more comfortable with the idea of a high-dollar giles signing -- a sensible move for the short-term, and not necessarily a bad long-term acquisition. let's just say for sake of the discussion that he can be had for 3 years, $30 million. for 2006 the cards would be extremely top-heavy, with four 8-digit salaries (pujols rolen edmonds giles) in the everyday lineup. but assuming they let edmonds go elsewhere in 2007, the cards would be back down to three mega-contracts, which is about what they've carried every year since 2003. as for giles' age -- yes he'll be 35, but he had a 1.008 ops away from petco last year, and his obp has topped .400 in 6 of the last 7 years; his career low in the category is .368. can't think of a better player to hit second behind eckstein and ahead of pujols edmonds and rolen. by the end of his deal he'll be 37 years old, but even if his slugging has dipped to .450 by then (and i doubt it will) he should still be getting on base enough to be a big offensive contributor.

that said, i think a giles signing would work best if the cardinals paired it with an attempt to get younger and cheaper in the other vacant outfield slot -- ie, no sanders, as postulated in the default roster i roughed out last friday. there are various ways they might go about that, the easiest being to platoon taguchi and rodriguez in left field, with gall and luna (and mabry if re-signed) picking up some at-bats there too. the cards did much the same in 2004, entering the season with a medley of lankford cedeno and marlon anderson; that worked out alright. with the savings, the cardinals could beef up the bullpen:

GILES VARIATION #1: LF MEDLEY

EVERYDAY BENCH ROTATION PEN
molina c
~$600K
taguchi of
$1m
carpenter rhp
$5m
is'hausen rhp
$8.5m
pujols 1b
$14m
luna if
$350K
mulder lhp
$7.5m
gordon rhp
$4.5m
grud'k 2b
$2.5m
gall 1b-of
$320K
suppan rhp
$4m
eyre lhp
$3m
rolen 3b
$11m
schumaker of
$320K
an reyes rhp
$320K
flores lhp
~$500k
eckstein ss
$3.5m
stinnett c
$650k
marquis
$4.5m
thompson rhp
$350K
rodriguez lf
$350K
seabol 3b
Memphis
wainwright
Memphis
ty johnson lhp
$320K
edmonds cf
$9.5m
duncan 1b
Memphis
cali lhp
$320K
giles lf
$10m
lincoln rhp
still rehabbin
TOTAL
$51.5m
TOTAL
$2.6m
TOTAL
$21.3m
TOTAL
$17.5m
OVERALL PAYROLL: $93m

this looks like the best of the giles variations to me (there are more after the jump) -- ie, it looks the most to me like a competitive playoff roster. and by keeping marquis and wainwright on the roster, the cards retain what little trade leverage they possess for the midseason deadline. little is said of lhrp scott eyre but he's that most prized of talents, a reliable left-handed reliever; the yankees will surely be bidding, but since LOOGY acquisitions don't make the back page of the post the boss is unlikely to red-flag the pursuit. however, note that the cards' bottom line in this scenario exceeds jocketty's putative budget by $3 million -- ie, the amount of the putative eyre contract. even if they skimp in left field, the cards will have to flex if they want both giles and a better bullpen.

another possibility, much discussed during the the weekend thread, would be to offer one or more pitchers for somebody like vernon wells or kevin mench.

i'm going to plug in mench simply because i think he's the most readily available; while his value is debatable (see danup's analysis for the case against mench), he is a 20-something outfielder with some power -- a talent the cards need more right now than a pouty, pricey 4th/5th starter:

GILES VARIATION #2: MENCH

EVERYDAY BENCH ROTATION PEN
molina c
~$600K
taguchi of
$1m
carpenter rhp
$5m
is'hausen rhp
$8.5m
pujols 1b
$14m
luna if
$350K
mulder lhp
$7.5m
mota rhp
$3m
grud'k 2b
$2.5m
gall 1b-of
$320K
suppan rhp
$4m
eyre lhp
$3m
rolen 3b
$11m
rodriguez of
$350K
an reyes rhp
$320K
flores lhp
~$500k
eckstein ss
$3.5m
stinnett c
$650k
helling rhp
$750K
thompson rhp
$350K
mench lf
$3m
seabol 3b
Memphis
wainwright
Memphis
ty johnson lhp
$320K
edmonds cf
$9.5m
schumaker of
Memphis
cali lhp
$320K
giles rf
$10m
duncan 1b
Memphis
lincoln rhp
still rehabbin
TOTAL
$53m
TOTAL
$2.6m
TOTAL
$18m
TOTAL
$17m
OVERALL PAYROLL: $90m

you'll note that i've slotted retread rick helling into marquis' rotation spot; click on his stats before you reject the idea. or substitute pedro astacio, jamey wright, or some other bad cheap retread. the point of that slot isn't to improve the team; it's to clear salary for more pressing needs. all you need there is somebody who can make 15 starts and give the team a chance to win half of 'em; come the 2d half his slot goes (if necessary) to wainwright, chris gissell, or some veteran the cardinals find on the trade market.

an even more ambitious variation features blue jays outfielder vernon wells, who at 26 still has some room to grow and could take over for edmonds in center in 2007. the jays need pitching and may offer wells to acquire it; i'm not sure the cardinals could or would meet the blue jays' price in that regard. let's fantasize for a moment that toronto would give him up for marquis, wainwright, and brad thompson -- not likely to happen, but let's just pretend:

GILES VARIATION #3: WELLS

EVERYDAY BENCH ROTATION PEN
molina c
~$600K
taguchi of
$1m
carpenter rhp
$5m
is'hausen rhp
$8.5m
pujols 1b
$14m
luna if
$350K
mulder lhp
$7.5m
mota rhp
$3m
grud'k 2b
$2.5m
gall 1b-of
$320K
suppan rhp
$4m
looper rhp
$4m
rolen 3b
$11m
rodriguez of
$350K
an reyes rhp
$320K
flores lhp
~$500k
eckstein ss
$3.5m
stinnett c
$650k
helling rhp
$750K
eldred rhp
$750K
giles lf
$10m
seabol 3b
Memphis
ty johnson lhp
$320K
edmonds cf
$9.5m
schumaker of
Memphis
cali lhp
$320K
wells rf
$4.3m
duncan 1b
Memphis
lincoln rhp
still rehabbin
TOTAL
$54.4m
TOTAL
$2.6m
TOTAL
$18m
TOTAL
$16.5m
OVERALL PAYROLL: $91.5m

making this far-fetched scenario even more far-fetched, consider this: vernon wells had a pretty bad 2005. his overall line isn't terrible, but he had some awful splits: .722 ops away from home, .689 ops vs right-handed pitching. so if you like the thought of acquiring this guy, you have to stake a lot on wells' age -- he'll be 27 in 2006 -- and believe that he's just reaching his peak seasons. or maybe you think a 27-year-old wells at $4.5 million is less of a risk than a 38-year-old sanders at $3 million. by the way, braden looper's presence in this chart is in no way an endorsement; i'm just playing around with variables. i may have overpriced him, but the guy did save 28 games last year and can throw 95 mph. . . . .

ray king is invisible in all these scenarios because, frankly, i have no idea what the cardinals can get for him. he's a left-handed relief pitcher with a reliable track record, so he has value; but he's under contract for $2.5 million, so he's pricey. likeliest he's not going to provide much return to the major-league roster, but if jocketty's lucky maybe he can get a grade-b prospect for the guy.

for that matter, jock may be best served to trade marquis for a prospect or two -- clear his salary off the books, put the money into the bullpen, and try to restock the system. i'm not about to start speculating about who those prospects might be, but the major-league roster might then look something like this:

GILES VARIATION #4: BULLPEN BEEF

EVERYDAY BENCH ROTATION PEN
molina c
~$600K
taguchi of
$1m
carpenter rhp
$5m
is'hausen rhp
$8.5m
pujols 1b
$14m
luna if
$350K
mulder lhp
$7.5m
todd jones rhp
$3.5m
grud'k 2b
$2.5m
gall 1b-of
$320K
suppan rhp
$4m
mota rhp
$3m
rolen 3b
$11m
schumaker of
$320K
an reyes rhp
$320K
hammond lhp
$1.5m
eckstein ss
$3.5m
stinnett c
$650k
helling rhp
$750K
thompson rhp
$350K
rodriguez lf
$350K
seabol 3b
Memphis
wainwright
Memphis
flores lhp
~$500k
edmonds cf
$9.5m
duncan 1b
Memphis
ty johnson lhp
$320K
giles lf
$10m
lincoln rhp
still rehabbin
TOTAL
$51.5m
TOTAL
$2.6m
TOTAL
$18m
TOTAL
$18m
OVERALL PAYROLL: $93m

i like this type of structure too, partic where postseason is concerned -- a solid top of rotation, a deep bullpen with some hard-throwing veterans for the late innings, and a lineup with power and on-base ability.

love to hear ev'ybody's thoughts on any/all these giles variants. coming soon: aj burnett as the centerpiece acquisition.

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