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rostermania VI: aj redux

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conventional wisdom from si's tom verducci: aj burnett is the most overvalued free agent on the market. but hardball times' david gassko isn't so sure; he thinks burnett may not be such a bad investment even at 5 years, $50 million. per gassko's projections, burnett is actually worth about $38 million for 5 years, so you're overpaying by about $2.5 mill a year -- a 25 percent premium. costly to be sure, but not bank-breaking. the only real chance of crapping out entirely lies in the injury scenario, where you're overpaying by the full $10 million per annum. but gassko's numbers already factor that in to an extent; he only has burnett throwing 160 innings a year over the life of the contract, ie missing the equivalent of one full season.

the implicit point is that, just as burnett's value is being overestimated, so too is the risk of the 5 yr / $50 m pact being bandied about. you're not really risking the full $50m, because even in a worst-case scenario you're still likely to get $25m worth of pitching over the life of the deal -- and if the guy stays reasonably healthy you may actually get your money's worth.

here's another way to look at this: forget years two through five of the contract and just focus on year 1. edmonds is in the final year of his deal and perhaps the final year of his effectiveness. mulder and suppan are both in their walk years. rolen's body is older than his chronological age. the window is closing; the future is now. adding burnett to carpenter and reyes gives st louis three power-pitching starters for postseason 2006; add one decent setup man, a league-avg corner outfielder, and a gloveman at 2d and go for it. like i say all the time, sometimes you have to roll `em. . . . .

so forget what i said the other day in the how to spend $15m post. yes burnett's risky, but caution rarely wins championships. so here's another run at this:

  1. sign burnett
  2. re-sign sanders and sign matt lawton
  3. trade marquis for a healthy set-up man (i've plugged in the previously discussed jason frasor, but it might be mota or somebody else
  4. get benoit from the rangers (discussed in the same post as frasor), groom him to become the main setup guy by midseason
  5. get wee willie harris from the chisox, platoon him at 2b with luna
  6. sign d'angelo jimenez for insurance
and what you get looks something like this:

BURNETT VARIATION #3: MATT N REGGIE

STARTING 8 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
frasor rhp
$1m
harris 2b
$600K
rodriguez of
$320K
burnett rhp
$10m
benoit rhp
$500K
rolen 3b
$11m
jimenez 2b
$900K
suppan rhp
$4m
eldred rhp
$750K
eckstein ss
$3.5m
fick c
$650k
an reyes rhp
$320K
flores lhp
$400k
sanders lf
$4m
duncan 1b
Memphis
thompson rhp
$350K
edmonds cf
$9.5m
gall 1b-of
$320K
ty johnson lhp
$320K
lawton rf
$4m
schumaker of
Memphis
cali lhp
Memphis
TOTAL
$47m
TOTAL
$3.1m
TOTAL
$27m
TOTAL
$12m
OVERALL PAYROLL: $89.1m

i'm assuming wainwright and king have departed in trade for benoit and harris. if jock could pull all this off, he'd field the following lineup in '06:

eck
lawton
pu
j-ed
rolen
sanders
molina
harris

with a top-shelf rotation, a proven closer, and a setup corps stocked with live young arms. he'd even preserve some flex in the payroll for midseason acquisitions (viz, a veteran reliever). risky, but with some hedges.

i'll leave this up for the holiday weekend as a discussion thread -- shoot it down, sign on, whatever. but i could get excited about that team like that.

happy turkey day ev'ybody.