Well, we're starting to get to that point in spring training now that the roster is taking what is probably pretty darn close to its final shape. We can look around at what's already here, and be fairly confident that what we see is close to what we're going to get.
Given this state of affairs, it's just about that time that we all take stock of the team and start deciding how we really feel about the job done over the offseason. In that spirit, I had thought to send off another report card to little Johnny Moz's this fine morning, but I thought better of it. Instead, I thought we might play one of the best games that anyone has ever invented: you be the GM.
The rules of said game are simple as simple can be, requiring only that you possess two things: one, a basic grasp of what constitutes reality, and two, an opinion. The basic grasp of reality portion is so that you don't simply wander off into fantasy land at the first chance, and the opinion is because, well, without one, this is sort of a boring game.
So here is what I want from you all this morning: I want you to tell me what you would have done this offseason. Prove to me, and the rest of this den of baseball passion, that you're much, much smarter than the people in charge of the team that we all care so very deeply about. Both free agent signings and trades are absolutely fair game; the only requirement is that you stick to that whole pesky reality thing. I know, it sucks, but if we don't at least attempt to keep this thing somewhat grounded in the visible world, we would probably just have a couple hundred people signing CC Sabathia, trading for Hanley Ramirez and Tim Lincecum (in a three team trade involving only Chris Duncan, no less), and bringing in the ghost of Rogers Hornsby to play second base. (On a side note, that probably would be a pretty good team, now that I think of it.)
Try to keep the monetary outlay relatively similar to what the Cardinals actually spent this offseason. A little bit over is probably okay; a little bit under and you may find a job offer in your inbox. Any trades must meet the smell test of feasibility, unless dealing with Brian Sabean, in which case I will accept trades involving players of absolutely any quality for small bits of string.
For reference, the Cardinals signed Kyle Lohse for $7 million, added K-Bot at a cost of $6.5 m, Dennys Reyes for $1 m, Jason LaRue for a cool million, Trever Miller and Royce Ring for half a mil each, and that's about it. So you've got something in the range of $16.5 million to spend in this game. I would probably think anything up to about $18-19 million is okay for our purposes here. Assume any player signed in free agency would sign for whatever he eventually signed for, if that sentence makes sense.
As for my very own moves, I would have done the following:
-Trade for Khalil Greene. I'm tempted to say I would have tried to include better players and pay less salary, but that seems overly speculative and sort of against the rules here, so no go. Cost: $6.5 million
-Keep Adam Kennedy. I didn't like the dude much, but he was a perfectly acceptable player. Better, in my eyes, than trying to turn an outfielder into a middle infielder in a month with a groundball staff. Just sayin', is all. Cost: FREE!
-Trade Skip Schumaker to the Indians for Jeremy Sowers+. I've really liked Sowers for quite a while now; I've even written about him before. He has struggled at the ML level, yes, but I still think there's a very good pitcher in there just waiting to be found. Change of scenery, new coaching staff, all that. Cost: FREE!
-Sign Kenshin Kawakami. Really like the guy, disappointed that he didn't end up here. Cost: $7.7 million
-Sign Miller and Reyes. Both good moves, in my ever so humble opinion. I probably like Ohman a little more, but these guys are both solid pitchers, and aren't expensive. Cost: $1.5 million
-Trade Rick Ankiel to the Yankees for Philip Hughes. Yes, it's speculative, but with the way that the Yankees are going about their business, I honestly believe it would have worked. Ank would be a really nice upgrade to their outfield, and I don't think Hank and co. are at all interested in how good Hughes could very well be. Cost: SAVE $2.3 million.
-Sign Rocco Baldelli. Hey, the way La Russa runs an outfield, there's plenty of days off if he needs one here and there. Cost: $500,000
-Sign Jason LaRue. I'm really tempted to use one of the kids here, but there are plenty of really solid reasons not to, so I'll bring back the 'stache. (But only if LaRue agreed to) Cost: $1 million
Total cost: $14.9 million. That gives me a little wiggle room, if necessary. Not much, mind you, but a little.
And that's about it. Under this scenario, I go into spring training with this rotation:
- Pineiro/Hughes/Sowers/McClellan/Thompson/Boggs/Pitching Machine
I let the competition play out for the fifth starter spot, hoping that someone other than El Pinata wins. Couple of weeks left in spring, I release him, giving him enough time to try and catch on with another team. Whichever of Hughes and Sowers wins the competition (I hope), becomes the fifth starter, the other either goes into long relief or down to Memphis. Either way, basically 6th starter territory. For the sake of clarity, I'll call the winner Hughes.
My outfield looks thusly: I put Rasmus in center, Ludwick in right, and Baldelli in left. Mather becomes my fourth outfielder, getting around 400 at bats, and Barton is my fifth.
The infield is Albert, Kennedy, Khalil, and the third baseman, who would likely be Freese until Glaus comes back, with Mather getting some extra playing time over there as well. Yadi catches.
The bullpen looks pretty much like it does now, except in my scenario, K-Mac goes back to Memphis to start. If he's a starter, I want to know it. If not, I want to know that, too. That leaves me with either Sowers or Thompson as the long man; I prefer Sowers, but he might also benefit from time in the minors. Either way. (If Sowers stays, I'm okay with letting Thompson get a better shot somewhere else, and good luck to him.)
My final roster looks something like this:
- Adam Kennedy
- Khalil Greene
- David Freese
- Brian Barden as the Utility Guy
- B. Ryan or Thurston as the Other Utility Guy
- Ryan Ludwick
- Colby Rasmus
- Rocco Baldelli
- Joe Mather
- Yadier Molina
- The Stache
- The Colonel
- Kenshin Kawakami
- Phil Hughes
- Chris Perez
- Jason Motte
- Ryan Franklin
- Josh Kinney
- Trever Miller
- Dennys Reyes
- Jeremy Sowers
When Glaus comes back, either Freese or one of the utility guys heads down to the minors.
I think that's about a 120 win team, right?
So, how about you? What do you do?