2007 roster matrix

i alluded last week to the roster matrix; today's as good a day as any to roll that old contraption out of the workshop.

a quick disclaimer: this instrument is meant to function as a notepad for working out roster/payroll scenarios, not as a salary or personnel predictor. the point is to get a rough but realistic sense of what jock's options are --- how much money is available, and how he might slice/dice that budget to fill the holes on the roster. it's also a way to see what ripple effect any given move might have on the rest of the roster; for example, if the cards give carlos lee $10m this year to play left field, how much money is left over for the rotation and the middle infield, and what types of players could plug those holes within the remaining budget?

note that i said types of players. when i build a roster scenario, i start with one or two key acquisitions, slot them in, and then fill out the rest of the matrix with names pulled from the free-agent pool more or less to hold space. for instance, if i slot miguel batista into the starting rotation at $4m, that doesn't mean i think the cardinals should, or are likely to, sign that particular player; it simply means that if the cards want or need to find a starter for about $4m, miguel batista is about the type of pitcher you can get for that money. if the cards want a better pitcher, they'll have to allocate more money to that rotation slot --- and commensurately decrease the money allocated elsewhere --- or they'll have to make a trade for a better, cheaper pitcher.

i'm assuming a payroll of $95 million, up about $5m from last year --- but i can easily imagine that the payroll might stay at about $90m. in truth, there probably is no hard figure allocated for the roster. jock almost surely has prior authorization to operate within a certain payroll range and can seek special authorization to exceed the ceiling if a particular transaction requires it. so the assumption of an absolute ceiling is unrealistic --- but i plug one in anyway to give the matrix some structure. for now let's set the parameters at $90 to $95m; we can alter that later if more information becomes available.

just as the overall payroll is roughed out, so too are many of the individual salaries. for example, i've got carpenter penciled in for a $7.8m salary this year, which is based on his base salary ($7m) and the likelihood of his making his 1st incentive bonus ($750K for 200 innings pitched). carp can earn another $750K if he gets to 220 innings --- and since he passed that threshold in each of the last two seasons, there's a very good chance he'll pick up the 2d bonus and make $8.5m in 2007. i'm taking the easy way out and splitting the difference; in an exercise like this, there's no need for more precise accounting. the salary data come from two sources: the cards' page at mlb4u.com, and their page at cot's contracts.

above all, the roster matrix is a toy to help us pass the time between now and january 1 or so. it isn't meant to be taken all that seriously; it's strictly for entertainment purposes. for those of you who're still with me after that long-winded introduction, here's the current state of the roster/payroll:

2007 ROSTER MATRIX
THE BASELINE

STARTING 8 BENCH ROTATION PEN
molina c
$600K
rodriguez of
$400K
carpenter rhp
$7.8m
is'hausen rhp
$9m
pujols 1b
$15m
schumaker of
$350K
wainwright rhp
$350K
looper rhp
$4.5m
2b VACANT
---
miles if
$800K
reyes rhp
$350K
kinney rhp
$350K
rolen 3b
$12m
taguchi of
arb
---
---
johnson lhp
$350K
eckstein ss
$4.5m
bigbie of
arb
---
---
flores rhp
$500K
duncan lf
$350K
---
---
---
---
hancock rhp
$350k
edmonds cf
$10m
ryan if
memphis
narveson lhp
memphis
thompson rhp
$400k
encarnacion rf
$5m
---
---
---
---
rincon lhp
$1.5m
---
---
---
---
---
---
sosa rhp
arb
TOTAL
$47.6m
TOTAL
$1.6m
TOTAL
$8.5m
TOTAL
$17.0m
OVERALL PAYROLL: $74.7m

note that these are the players the cardinals have under their control for 2007; they're not all under contract. taguchi, sosa, and bigbie are arbitration eligible, but i'm assuming that none of these three will be offered a contract. aaron miles is also arb-eligible but probably will be retained; i've roughed him in at $800K, which is about where a part-time middle infielder in his first year of eligibility should wind up. and of course there's edmonds, who probably won't make $10m if he plays for st louis next season; he'll either agree to a deal that pays him $7m or so next year (including the $3m buyout), or he'll be gone. for the time being i've got him in there at $10m, which is the option the cardinals currently hold on him; that situation will resolve by next week.

based on current assumptions, the cardinals have between $15m and $20m to spend. with those resources they need to buy, at a minimum, two starting pitchers, a 2bman, and a bench that includes a right-handed hitting outfielder who can spell edmonds and platoon with duncan. they might also need to acquire somebody who can replace is'hausen as the closer; for now, let's assume that izzy will eventually reclaim his job as the closer at some point next year, and that looper et al can hold down the fort until he returns. let's just plug in some familiar names and see how it looks:

2007 ROSTER MATRIX
TRIED N TRUE

STARTING 8 BENCH ROTATION PEN
molina c
$600K
p wilson of
$2.5m
carpenter rhp
$7.8m
is'hausen rhp
$9m
pujols 1b
$15m
schumaker of
$350K
wainwright rhp
$350K
looper rhp
$4.5m
belliard 2b
$4m
bennett c
$650K
reyes rhp
$350K
kinney rhp
$350K
rolen 3b
$12m
miles 2b
$800K
weaver rhp
$6m
johnson lhp
$350K
eckstein ss
$4.5m
rodriguez of
$400K
mulder lhp
$3m
flores rhp
$500K
duncan lf
$350K
---
---
batista rhp
$4m
hancock rhp
$350k
edmonds cf
$7m
ryan if
memphis
narveson lhp
memphis
thompson rhp
$400k
encarnacion rf
$5m
---
---
---
---
rincon lhp
$1.5m
TOTAL
$48.5m
TOTAL
$4.7m
TOTAL
$22.5m
TOTAL
$17.0m
OVERALL PAYROLL: $92.7m

if edmonds agrees to a pay cut, the cards can bring back their championship team without bumping the payroll significantly. to be painfully clear about this, i'm NOT advocating that they should re-sign all these guys; i'm asking whether or not it's an option. the $6m for weaver might be optimistic; his world series performance no doubt will stir some interest and increase his market value. but we shouldn't overlook the fact that weaver went 8-14 last year with a 5.76 era --- below replacement level. his market value after 2005, when he had a 4.22 era and went 14-11 for a lousy team, was only $8m; it's realistic to set his 2006 salary a few rungs below that. i have no idea what type of offers mulder will get; i just used matt morris's 2005 contract ($2.5m base, plus incentives) as a guide. i also added miguel batista to this roster as insurance; between mulder and anthony reyes, you'd have to factor in downtime for the rotation. batista's an innings eater with an extreme groundball tendency who can either start or relieve; he'd be useful to have around with this type of a roster, and his durability, affordability, and groundballiness make him a possible fit for this organization.

ok, now let's take a different tack. let's say the cards go after jason schmidt. i know, i know: he wants to play in seattle; st louis probably isn't even an option for him. let's just pretend, ok? we'll assume a backloaded 4-year deal at $60m, with a $13m salary for 2006. edmonds stays in the mix at a reduced salary:

2007 ROSTER MATRIX
ACQUIRE JASON SCHMIDT !!!

STARTING 8 BENCH ROTATION PEN
molina c
$600K
p wilson of
$2.5m
carpenter rhp
$7.8m
is'hausen rhp
$9m
pujols 1b
$15m
schumaker of
$350K
wainwright rhp
$350K
looper rhp
$4.5m
kennedy 2b
$3m
bennett c
$650K
reyes rhp
$350K
kinney rhp
$350K
rolen 3b
$12m
miles 2b
$800K
schmidt rhp
$13m
johnson lhp
$350K
eckstein ss
$4.5m
rodriguez of
$400K
batista rhp
$4m
flores rhp
$500K
duncan lf
$350K
---
---
---
---
hancock rhp
$350k
edmonds cf
$7m
ryan if
memphis
narveson lhp
memphis
thompson rhp
$400k
encarnacion rf
$5m
---
---
---
---
rincon lhp
$1.5m
TOTAL
$47.5m
TOTAL
$4.7m
TOTAL
$25.5m
TOTAL
$17.0m
OVERALL PAYROLL: $94.7m

that extra $5m in the payroll really makes a difference; at $95m, the cardinals could sign a blue-chip f.a. pitcher without skimping anywhere. i think this is a highly unlikely scenario, but at least we know it's not completely beyond the realm of possibility.

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