One Man's Team
Normally I write a column after the first round of the amateur draft
analyzing how well each team did. However, this year didn't seem
like a particularly strong draft class and I just didn't see any stars
coming out of it, much less players who will have an impact in the next
year or so.
So instead, I'm going to do something different.
After much consideration, I have decided to abandon my career in
baseball and move into show business. I'm going to write a
musical for Broadway based on the movie "Ben Hur". Hey, it worked
Titanic, why not Ben Hur? And similar to the way "Mamma Mia" used
the music of ABBA to tell the story, I will be using the music of
Christopher Cross to tell the story of Judah Ben-Hur with "Sailing" as
the theme music for the galley scenes and "Ride Like the
Wind" as the
musical accompaniment for the chariot race.
Ok, so maybe I should think about this career change a little more.
Hairston v Roberts
While I'm thinking about it, I'll offer some food for thought.
The Orioles may or may not have a big decision soon regarding whether
to trade one of their second basemen. Either Brian Roberts or
Jerry Hairston could be valuable in trade, especially when the O's
could get some decent pitching in return. Speaking of which,
there are rumors of a Buddy Groom for Ramon Ortiz trade with
Anaheim. It seems like a good fit as the Angels could use a lefty
in the pen and the O's could use a more experienced arm in the
rotation. However, I'm not sure it's going to happen because
Ortiz has so much more upside than Groom. But it's a decent
Anyway, back to Hairston and Roberts. Last year, I took a cursory look at the
Baltimore rotation after Hairston went down
with his injury.
I didn't and still don't think Roberts is a bad fielding second
baseman. He's not. He's actually pretty good. But
Hairston is so spectacular that I wanted to see if their was a
significant difference. The results were striking: they were much
better with Hairston at second, in some cases more than a run
better. Here's how the season ultimately played out.
of season ERA
Just something to think about.
2005 Red Sox
I was in Boston a couple weekends ago and caught a game
Fenway with a very good friend of mine. Wouldn't you know it,
it was the game in which Simon
Pond homered and doubled
that's neither here nor there. I asked my friend to play GM of
the Red Sox for a day and to tell me what he'd do with their impending
free agent exodus and how he would shape the next generation Red
Sox. I don't think he hesitated for more than a second before
beginning a bold and detailed plan for his hometown team. And I
was so impressed with the depth and daring of his thoughts, that I
got his OK to post his plan here. And so, without further adieu,
I give you GM Greg Kaden's Red Sox:
The first thing on the agenda is to summarily cut off all contact with
the representatives for Pedro and Nomar. See ya. Bye.
Good luck in your new city. You're too whiny and with your injury
histories, you're just not worth the money you're asking for.
Regarding Nomar absence so far this season, my friend couldn't remember
time he's seen so many double plays turned at Fenway. Pokey has
been a great glove
at short. The New Red Sox will be built with more emphasis on
strong middle defense than an over-abundance
DH types. Also leaving town will be Gabe Kapler
Bill Mueller. In both cases, they simply aren't as much of an
asset on offense as they are liabilities on defense.
Also leaving town will be Derek Lowe, who has been comparable to Jesse
Jefferson and Dave Lemanczyk at times this year. He simply isn't
as good as he looked two years ago and there's no point in deluding the
Red Sox Nation with wishful thinking otherwise.
Johnny Damon appears to have lost several steps in the outfield.
He's never had a good arm, but had made himself adequate by running
most everything down. Physically, it doesn't look like he can do
that anymore, so trade him for anything if only to get his salary off
OK, now the rebuilding begins. Re-sign Varitek. There just
aren't that many good
receivers with quality offensive skills floating around.
Likewise, keep Mirabelli as his back-up. Both guys are old
school, no-nonsense type players that the fans in Boston really
gravitate to. And both seem to come up big when the stage and the
jackpot is the biggest.
Next, take a large portion of the
money set aside for Pedro
and Nomar and spend it on a long-term contract for Carlos
Spend up to $18 million per year if necessary. But get him in
center field and in front of Ortiz and
Manny in the line-up.
Then sign a solid defensive first baseman to make the infielders look
good. Travis Lee was the name he came up with. Lee has a
great glove and if last season is any indicator, won't be too bad of an
option down in the order for some offense. Follow that signing by
offensively-minded second baseman to allow Bellhorn to maximize his
usefulness as a utility player. Kaden's vote was to bring Todd
back to Boston.
Given the postseason Walker had last year, I can't blame him.
The last piece of the offense would take the form of a speedy
utilityman capable of playing middle infield or outfield
competently. "A Damian Jackson with more consistent defense" were
his exact words. But rather than go for a utility guy with
limited offense like Craig Counsel (who'd cost in the neighborhood of
$3+ million), if I'm playing assistant GM, I'd opt for a quality
starter like Jerry Hairston, who
speed, superb defense and an on base percentage the last two years of
.360. He might also cost a little less.
Now comes the heavy lifting: revamping the rotation. With a good
infield defense and Fenway being favorable to lefties, big lefties
and/or pitchers with extreme groundball tendencies were his primary
targets. His first choices were
Mark Buerhle and Odalis Perez. Buerhle isn't a free agent, but
Perez will be. Jake
Westbrook was next on the wish list but
Cleveland will be reluctant to part with him. Jon Lieber was
another choice, but I doubt the Yankees are going to let him go.
names that didn't come up but that might be intriguing are Mike Hampton
Darren Dreifort. There would have to be some salary
shuffling to get them to Boston as both are owed a collective sum of
$25 million next year, but both fit the new Fenway extreme
groundballing profile. Hampton is a lefty, which helps his cause,
Dreifort is a very good strikeout pitcher. An easier path would
be to look at some of the impending free agents, a few of which could
make a nice fit here. Matt Clement, Eric Milton and Matt Morris
the best of what's available. For the sake of argument, I will
because he's much more of a groundball pitcher than Milton and more of
strikeout pitcher than Morris.
By not bringing back Pedro ($15 million), Lowe ($5 million), Mueller
($2 million), Damon ($8 million) and Nomar ($15 million), the Red Sox
would save around $45 million to spend on Beltran ($18 million), Odalis
Perez and Matt Clement ($15-17 million combined), Travis Lee ($500,000)
and Todd Walker ($3 million) with enough left over to give Varitek a
decent raise and a few million left over for bench and role
players. Hairston's salary probably wouldn't top $3 million
So here are the 2005 Red Sox (with this year's OPS except where
noted due to injury or unusual year):
Catcher - Jason Varitek (.880)
First base - Travis Lee (.807 last year)
Second base - Todd Walker (.808)
Shortstop - Pokey Reese (.667)
Third base - Kevin Youkilis (.829)
Outfield OF - Manny Ramirez (1.097)
Carlos Beltran (.875)
Trot Nixon (.975 last year)
DH - David Ortiz (.883)
Doug Mirabelli (1.069, career .748)
Kevin Millar (.739, career .847)
Jerry Hairston (.734)
Mark Bellhorn (.817)
Rotation (with current ERA and WHIP except where player is injured)
Curt Schilling (3.03/1.10)
Odalis Perez (3.20/1.13)
Matt Clement (3.28/1.12)
Tim Wakefield (3.71/1.31)
Bronson Arroyo (5.01/1.33)
Keith Foulke (1.15/0.80)
Scott Williamson (1.69/1.00)
Mike Timlin (3.45/1.09)
Alan Embree (3.75/1.08)
Ramiro Mendoza (career 4.31/1.36)
The offense wouldn't be quite as deep as last year but it'd still be
very good. The
middle-field defense would
be brilliant when Hairston was playing second, very solid at other
times. The front four in the rotation would be the
best in baseball. Three of those guys could realistically be
to shut down an opponent in the playoffs. With their current
that is a huge advantage. And all for pretty much the same money
as they're spending now.
Anyone can be a GM with an unlimited budget. The hard part is
building a winner using the given materials and a budget.
Incorporating the on-the-field numbers with what the scouts say and
then fitting it together when the dollars are finite is not something
everyone can do. Boston currently has a front office that does a
good job with this. But if they are ever need some fresh talent,
they won't have far to look.
If you feel you know how to fix your favorite team, send me an email
game plan. Work within the team's current budget and with
the contracts they already have. Limit yourself to one dump
trade. I'll post the good ones here. Who knows... maybe
some enterprising front office will be scouring the net for new ideas
and be impressed with your work.