Results tagged ‘ GM For The Day ’

GM for the Day: Tampa Bay Rays

Losing the greatest player in their brief history, Carl Crawford (arguably), was supposed to lead the Rays back to the basement in 2011.  Instead, they swiped the Wild Card from the floundering Red Sox on the last day of the season and lost in the ALDS to the AL pennant-winning Rangers, finishing 91-71 for their 4th straight winning season.  The Rays managed to keep their General Manager, Andrew Friedman, who has developed an incredible system of winning from within.  With graduates from the system like Matt Moore and Desmond Jennings joining the squad for a full season in 2012, it’s easy to see why the Rays are a team that is built to win now and in the future.  Here is a look at their current roster:

2 Catchers: Jose Molina and Jose Lobaton

1B: Carlos Pena

2B: Ben Zobrist

3B: Evan Longoria

SS: Sean Rodriguez

LF: Desmond Jennings

CF: B.J. Upton

RF: Matt Joyce

DH: Luke Scott

Bench: Sam Fuld (OF), Reid Brignac (2B/SS), Jeff Keppinger (INF)

Starting Pitchers: David Price, James Shields, Matt Moore, Jeremy Hellickson, and Jeff Niemann

Relief Pitchers: Kyle Farnsworth, Joel Peralta, J.P. Howell, Jake McGee, Juan Cruz, Andy Sonnanstine, and Fernando Rodney

In an effort to save payroll, the Rays have been shopping B.J. Upton for what feels like forever.  They should hold tight on him for 2012, as they don’t have any other prospects coming up to push him, as Jennings can man left for another season before taking over center if Upton leaves via Free Agency in 2013.  If they feel that it is necessary to move him, they could move Jennings to center, Zobrist to right, Joyce to left, and make Keppinger their everyday second baseman, which isn’t very pretty.  They could also move Rodriguez to second and start Brignac at short, hoping he isn’t as awful as he was in 2011.  They DO, however, need to do something about their catching situation.  Molina isn’t the answer there.  They let Kelly Shoppach go and they have some questions as backups.

Rumors have been all over about the Reds dealing catching depth to the Rays, but after letting Ramon Hernandez walk and dealing prospect Yasmani Grandal to San Diego, they aren’t as deep there as they once were.  For the Reds sake, though, (and especially their fans), they could deal Ryan Hanigan to Tampa, along with a solid arm or outfielder (like Daniel Corcino or Yorman Rodriguez) for Wade Davis or Jeff Niemann, preferably Niemann as Davis is locked up to a nice deal.  It would help both teams and the Reds could let Devin Mesoraco play catcher for about 120 games to see what they have there, which is apparently something special, while grabbing a veteran to handle the 1-2 games per week he would need off.  The Rays have enough pitching depth, as Alex Cobb and Davis look like they’ll either be long relief guys or Triple-A depth as it stands now, while they’d get stronger offensively at catcher by grabbing Hanigan.  At this point, making trades is about all that they are going to get value out of, as remaining Free Agents are not looking pretty.  Outside of catcher, the Rays look set.  Mikie Mahtook may need until mid-2013 before taking over in left, and the Rays have Moore, Alex Torres, Alex Colome, Chris Archer, and Taylor Guerrieri as top-level pitching prospects, so they aren’t going away anytime soon.

After dealing for Ryan Hanigan, this would be their 25-man roster:

2 Catchers: Ryan Hanigan and Jose Molina

1B: Carlos Pena

2B: Ben Zobrist

3B: Evan Longoria

SS: Sean Rodriguez

LF: Desmond Jennings

CF: B.J. Upton

RF: Matt Joyce

DH: Luke Scott

Bench: Sam Fuld (OF), Reid Brignac (2B/SS), Jeff Keppinger (INF)

Starting Pitchers: David Price, James Shields, Matt Moore, Jeremy Hellickson, and Wade Davis

Relief Pitchers: Kyle Farnsworth, Joel Peralta, J.P. Howell, Jake McGee, Juan Cruz, Andy Sonnanstine, and Fernando Rodney

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GM for the Day: New York Yankees

What a difference a weekend makes, huh?  When the Yankees were showcasing a starting rotation that looked just a little better than the dung that the Red Sox call a rotation, with Ivan Nova, Phillip Hughes, A.J. Burnett and Freddy Garcia behind C.C. Sabathia, it looked like they were heading in the wrong direction, as well.  Suddenly, the Yankees traded super-prospect Jesus Montero to Seattle for Michael Pineda and they signed Free Agent Hiroki Kuroda, then you’re wondering what role two of Burnett, Hughes, and Garcia will have with the club in 2012.  The roster is still aging, and the contracts that were forced to Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter will probably come back to bite them in the buttocks, but they still have one thing going for them.  Money…and lots of it.  Here is a look at the current 25-man roster:

2 Catchers: Russell Martin and Francisco Cervelli

1B: Mark Teixeira

2B: Robinson Cano

3B: Alex Rodriguez

SS: Derek Jeter

LF: Brett Gardner

CF: Curtis Granderson

RF: Nick Swisher

DH: Andruw Jones

Bench: Eduardo Nunez (INF), Ramiro Pena (INF) and Chris Dickerson (OF)

Starting Pitchers: C.C. Sabathia, Ivan Nova, Hiroki Kuroda, Michael Pineda, and Freddy Garcia

Relief Pitchers: Mariano Rivera, David Robertson, Rafael Soriano, Boone Logan, Corey Wade, Phillip Hughes and A.J. Burnett

You have Garcia, who can’t be traded until June due to his contract, at the back of the rotation to build value.  He could be bumped for Burnett, who still has two-years and $33 million on his deal, to see if they can get something out of their investment.  He could be bumped for Hughes, who will need to show something to become a part of the Yankees future.  It’s a nice “problem” to have, especially after looking lot a hot mess just a week ago.

The offense is an interesting blend.  They have a young, speedy left fielder in Brett Gardner (28).  They have the future of the organization, their best and most valuable asset, Robinson Cano.  They have a slugger in his prime who has changed his swing and become a menace to pitchers around the league, Curtis Granderson.  Then, they have the declining stars: Jeter, Rodriguez, and Teixeira.  Why is Teixeira’s name there?  He’ll be 32 in 2012 and his OPS since joining the Yankees in 2009: .948, .846 and .835; however, people tend to focus on Jeter’s decline and A-Rod’s decline because it has been so obvious.  When Rodriguez opted out of his contract after the 2007 season, did they really think that a 10-year deal for a 32-year-old was a good idea?  Well, do the numbers 138, 124, 137, and 99 mean anything to you?  Those are the number of games Rodriguez has played since 2008.  Not to mention his OPS has dropped from  Good luck with Pujols, Angels.  Jeter will be 38 in 2012 and he has declined since 2009; however, not as drastic as some would think.  He did have a .297 AVG and .355 OBP in 2011, but it’s the .388 SLG that is killing his “value.”  His WAR was a career worst 0.7 in 2011.  He still has value…he just isn’t driving the ball and his range stinks.  Jeter certainly isn’t worth the 3-year, $51 million deal he got before 2011.  Public relations can be a bitch.

So, what can the Yankees do from here?  They could get a DH.  Rumors have Hideki Matsui, Johnny Damon, Jorge Posada and Lou Gehrig returning to the Yankees…Actually, add Carlos Pena, Raul Ibanez, and Vladimir Guerrero to the list of “legendary” Yankees.  All of these guys can get coffee for $1 at McDonald’s all day (old…), but they could be had for pennies on that dollar.  Due to the left-handed power alley, I’d take Carlos Pena.  Pena is also a solid defender at first, so he could spell Teixeira there on occasion.  The Yankees could then put Jones into a reserve outfielder or right-handed platoon at DH-role, utilizing his power and strengthening the bench.  Chris Dickerson is a decent 4th outfielder, and suddenly, the Yankees are just as poor as the Red Sox and can’t pay a luxury-tax.  Cry me a river big market.  Welcome to reality!  They’ll settle with Dickerson there.

The rotation is set, the bullpen is loaded, and you have depth with Hughes, Burnett, and/or Garcia in the pen.  I wonder when over-working kills Robertson the way that it killed Scott Proctor, but ride him while he’s there.  The Yankees are basically locked in at this point with the roster.  A DH is about all you’ll see them reach out for, and they should be able to get a veteran that wants to win a championship to sign on the cheap to fill that role.  So, this is the new roster based on my simple moves:

2 Catchers: Russell Martin and Francisco Cervelli

1B: Mark Teixeira

2B: Robinson Cano

3B: Alex Rodriguez

SS: Derek Jeter

LF: Brett Gardner

CF: Curtis Granderson

RF: Nick Swisher

DH: Carlos Pena

Bench: Andruw Jones (DH/OF), Eduardo Nunez (INF) and Chris Dickerson (OF)

Starting Pitchers: C.C. Sabathia, Ivan Nova, Hiroki Kuroda, Michael Pineda and A.J. Burnett

Relief Pitchers: Mariano Rivera, David Robertson, Rafael Soriano, Boone Logan, Corey Wade, Phillip Hughes and Freddy Garcia

GM for the Day: Boston Red Sox

The Boston Red Sox suffered through an interesting 2011 season.  The biggest collapse in baseball history was a terrible way to end it, but fans looking for big changes aren’t getting them this offseason.  The team doesn’t look to be spending money, as ownership doesn’t want to go over the luxury-tax threshold, causing a patchwork rotation and a Winter of a lack of movement in Free Agency.  The team did make a couple of trades, grabbing some bullpen help from Houston and Oakland, along with their “right fielder of the future(?)” in Ryan Sweeney.  Let’s take a look at their current roster:

2 Catchers: Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Kelly Shoppach

1B: Adrian Gonzalez

2B: Dustin Pedroia

3B: Kevin Youkilis

SS: Marco Scutaro

LF: Carl Crawford

CF: Jacoby Ellsbury

RF: Ryan Sweeney

DH: David Ortiz

Bench: Mike Aviles (INF), Ryan Lavarnway (1B/C/DH), Nick Punto (INF), Darnell McDonald (OF)

Starting Pitchers: Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, Clay Buchholz, Daniel Bard and Vicente Padilla

Relief Pitchers: Andrew Bailey, Mark Melancon, Bobby Jenks, Franklin Morales, Alfredo Aceves and Matt Albers

The Red Sox are FINALLY out from under J.D. Drew’s contract, but they’ve invested huge amounts of money into Adrian Gonzalez (so far, so good) and Carl Crawford (huge flop).  They also gambled on John Lackey’s arm and lost, and have dealt with ups, downs and, eventually, injuries to Daisuke Matsuzaka.  Due to those monetary issues, the Red Sox find themselves in a tough situation.  If ownership isn’t going to pay the luxury-tax, are they going to be willing to face the backlash from fans who, suddenly, are used to winning?  With Lester, Beckett and Buchholz (if healthy), the Sox have a solid foundation at 1-3 in the rotation, but the rest of it is a nightmare.  The bullpen looked like a total loss, but they dealt Josh Reddick and a couple of prospect for Bailey and Sweeney, then dealt Jed Lowrie and Kyle Weiland to Houston for Mark Melancon.  However, they have Vicente Padilla, Daniel Bard, Andrew Miller, Aaron Cook and other fecal matter to fill out their rotation.  You have to wonder if they were hoping the Cubs tossed Matt Garza to them for Theo Epstein because Ben Cherington has really done nothing to address the need for starters.  Signing off the scrap heap isn’t something that the 2004-current Red Sox have done.  There isn’t anything else out there if they aren’t willing to fork over cash for Edwin Jackson.  They can wait for  Matsuzaka to come back in the middle of 2012, he is making his way back from Tommy John surgery, to see if he has anything left in the final year of his deal.  Lackey is out for all of 2012 after having Tommy John surgery in November.  The current list of “solid arms” that remain Free Agents would be: Jackson, Roy Oswalt, Javier Vazquez (he hasn’t “officially” retired), Kevin Millwood, Brad Penny, Scott Kazmir, Rich Harden, and Livan Hernandez.  Not really the “outstanding” group, eh?  For what it’s worth, they could probably get Millwoord, Penny, Harden or Hernandez on a Minor League deal at this point.  Those guys will be looking for a landing spot where they could break camp with the team, and based on Daniel Bard’s September and awful results as a starter in the Minors and Vicente Padilla’s absolutely terrible looking face, any one of them could be better fits, although, they are just more of the scrap heap-types.

The offense is solid.  There is no way that Carl Crawford is as bad as he was in 2011.  Take into account that in 2011 his K-rate was 19.3% (compared to a career 14.7% rate), his BB-rate was 4.3% (compared to a career 5.3% rate), his BABIP was .299 (his career BABIP is .328), a career low OBP (.289), a career worst in steals (18, stole 9 in 63 games in 2002 but it wasn’t a full season), and a suck-factor of “holy crap”, and you know he is going to become an average Carl Crawford in 2012, if not the actual Crawford, who can be an All-Star and change a lineup and game due to his power and speed blend.  Ryan Sweeney could be considered the weak link, as Marco Scutaro is there for his glove but is still a solid on-base guy, but is he that bad?  Sweeney has a .286/.346/.383 slash in 1,051 AB since 2009.  He has a 156/97 K/BB, 62 2B, 8 3B…but just 8 HR.  He has just 8 SB in the same time period, too.  Sweeney has a solid glove and excellent gap power.  He could create a career out of slapping the ball the opposite way off of the Green Monster.  He could also make a living by being on the field, something Drew never could do.  Sox fans shouldn’t dismiss the skills Sweeney has.  He doesn’t have the name and he may not possess the power that Josh Reddick seemed to, but in the world of statistics and an organization that uses them, Sweeney could be very, very valuable.

If the Sox don’t get some starting pitching, the least they could do is grab an outfielder.  Darnell McDonald may have been the only player who showed up in the September collapse (.382 AVG, .950 OPS), but he stinks.  He can’t hit lefties, so if they want to platoon Sweeney, who has hit just .240/.316/.312 in 221 AB vs. lefties since 2009, then they need an upgrade at the #4 outfielder spot.  A solid fit, who wouldn’t cost too much (if he’ll accept the little bit of playing time), would be Jonny Gomes.  Gomes has hit .298/.383/.492 in 356 AB vs. lefties since 2009, smashing 23 2B and 14 HR.  He could fill in at DH on occasion, but he may look ugly out in right field.  He made five starts in right last season, but hadn’t played there since 2009 prior to that.  I’m not sure the value that Ryan Lavarnway provides on the current roster.  He could get sent back down to Triple-A to get regular at bats.  They could give Ryan Kalish some time to rot on the bench to start the year, especiallly after Carl Crawford’s wrist surgery that could keep him from starting the season healthy.  I had mentioned trading him in a package to Baltimore to acquire Nick Markakis.  The O’s probably wouldn’t do the deal until they accept that they stink worse than Boston’s current rotation; however, the deal still makes sense.  If ownership will open their purses (satchels?) and spend on the Sox instead of their soccer team, this deal could happen.  Wait until the Red Sox stink and Henry and Co. keep investing in the sport that doesn’t matter to Americans!  You think the blame game on Francona and clubhouse drinking got ugly this past offseason…

I think signing Livan Hernandez in that ballpark would be a joke.  Brad Penny still has, what seems to be, a heavy fastball, so he could do well in Boston on a Minor League deal.  I think ownership is serious about playing the “broke” game, so don’t count on another deal.  Gomes would be a solid platoon partner for Sweeney.  So, making just a couple of simple deals, the roster would change to:

2 Catchers: Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Kelly Shoppach

1B: Adrian Gonzalez

2B: Dustin Pedroia

3B: Kevin Youkilis

SS: Marco Scutaro

LF: Carl Crawford

CF: Jacoby Ellsbury

RF: Ryan Sweeney

DH: David Ortiz

Bench: Mike Aviles (INF), Ryan Kalish (OF), Nick Punto (INF), Jonny Gomes (OF)

Starting Pitchers: Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, Clay Buchholz, Brad Penny and Vicente Padilla

Relief Pitchers: Andrew Bailey, Mark Melancon, Bobby Jenks, Franklin Morales, Alfredo Aceves and Daniel Bard

GM for the Day: Baltimore Orioles

Well, we finally made it to the American League.  Thanks for your patience and if you’re a Baltimore Orioles fan, I know you have some.  Baltimore finished in last place in the AL East for the 4th straight season and completed their season with a 69-93 record, their 14th straight losing season.  New management and another rebuilding effort is in the works, as the O’s look for a way to get back to the glory of the…70′s…which seems like forever ago to their fans because it was.  Who are the 25-men on the current roster?

2 Catchers: Matt Wieters and Taylor Teagarden

1B: Mark Reynolds

2B: Brian Roberts

3B: Josh Bell

SS: J.J. Hardy

LF: Nolan Reimold

CF: Adam Jones

RF: Nick Markakis

DH: Chris Davis

Bench: Endy Chavez (OF), Robert Andino (INF), Matt Angle (OF)

Starting Pitchers: Jeremy Guthrie, Zach Britton, Jake Arrieta, Wei-Yin Chen and Tsuyoshi Wada

Relief Pitchers: Jim Johnson, Kevin Gregg, Pedro Strop, Troy Patton, Alfredo Simon, Darren O’Day and Brad Bergeson

The O’s didn’t have the success that they hoped to with the young arms that they were stockpiling.  Chris Tillman and Brian Matusz have been total flops, while Arrieta and Britton seem to look like solid arms, but not really the top of the rotation guys that all four were hoped to become.  Britton still has a shot, though.  Adam Jones finally reached his potential last year, and at age 25, he is either someone to build around or someone to deal.  It sounds like Dan Duquette is in the middle of deciding what that is going to be.  Markakis is solid and average at the same time.  J.J. Hardy looks like a great piece to keep until Manny Machado is ready, and the O’s have some talent in the pipeline to look forward to until they matter again.  If only they moved to the NL Central, they could contend now.

They should probably look to deal Adam Jones.  At 25, Jones is under team control until 2014.  He would be an asset for a team that wants to contend.  He would fit perfectly in the Braves outfield, they could trade Prado and put Jones or Bourn in LF, and he could get one or two of the Braves arms back in return.  But you have to wonder if taking on arms is what the O’s need to do.  They’ve added a couple of arms from Asia this offseason in Chen and Wada, basically eliminating rotation spots for Brian Matusz, Tommy Hunter and Chris Tillman…if they even wanted them there in the first place…and their system hasn’t had much luck with developing arms.  Luckily, the Braves have Minor, Teheran, Delgado and Vizcaino ready.  Packaging one of those arms with Edward Salcedo, a highly ranked 3B prospect, would be an excellent package for Jones.

The O’s aren’t going to contend in 2012.  They won’t contend for a few more years.  They need to come to grips with that and start looking at the next wave of talent.  Manny Machado at SS, Dylan and Robert Bundy at starting pitcher, and Jonathan Schoop look like top to above average prospects.  Because of their future being two years out, they shouldn’t be starting anyone over 30.  No more Derrek Lee’s or Vladimir Guerrero’s, even if they sign on the cheap.  This team needs to invest in the draft, international signings, and player development.  With the talent in the AL East, they have no choice but to build a little and THEN start signing talent via Free Agency.  They have to have more key pieces on the field before they start filing holes.  So they should waste their money on signing guys like Edwin Jackson or even spend time checking in on Prince Fielder.  Let other teams spend now.  Trade Nick Markakis to the Red Sox for Ryan Lavarnway and Anthony Renaudo, even though he is young (28 in 2012), you aren’t going to win with him.  J.J. Hardy can help you win some games, but he could also get you a nice return from, say, the Reds, at the trade deadline in 2012 if Zack Cozart doesn’t work out.  Trade Jeremy Guthrie and Brian Roberts to the Rockies for Seth Smith and Hector Gomez, giving the Rockies the solid arm they need to contend now, while the O’s get a spot for a young arm to try to prove themselves again.

There are a lot of things that the Orioles can do in 2012, but winning isn’t one of them.  They have an interesting lineup with Jones, Markakis, Reimold, Hardy and Wieters, but they just don’t have enough consistency out of those guys to win, plus the pitching is just as questionable.  Wada is a Japanese clone of Jamie Moyer, hitting 87-88 with his fastball.  Chen can throw some heat, but he also has had some shoulder issues.  We know that their young arms haven’t been consistent…or good…as Tillman and Matusz have been busts.  But they are young enough to keep getting chances, especially when your team isn’t going to be good.

If you trade Jones, Markakis and Guthrie, it makes for an ugly roster, but after going 69-93 with them and not seeing an end to the losing with four solid teams in front of you in the AL East, you’ve got nothing to lose.  Matt Angle, Reimold, Smith, and Endy Chavez would be your outfielders.  You’ve got a 2B of the future in Gomez on the way (he spent all of 2011 in Double-A), with Machado coming up at SS, and Schoop at 3B.  Lavarnway can play 1B or DH, Reimold could do the same thing.  Draft college players early, high ceiling guys later, maybe get in on Yoennis Cespedes, the CF from Cuba and get him now.  Why not?  He’s someone to plug-in now.  How would that change the roster for 2012:

2 Catchers: Matt Wieters and Taylor Teagarden

1B: Nolan Reimold

2B: Ryan Adams (.284/.341/.454, 28 2B, 10 HR in 94 games at Triple-A in ’11)

3B: Mark Reynolds

SS: J.J. Hardy

LF: Seth Smith

CF: Yoennis Cespedes

RF: Endy Chavez

DH: Ryan Lavarnway

Bench: Robert Andino (INF), Matt Angle (OF) and Chris Davis (1B/3B)

Starting Pitching: Zach Britton, Jake Arrieta, Brian Matusz, Chris Tillman and Chen/Wada (whoever looks best in Spring)

Relief Pitchers:  Jim Johnson, Kevin Gregg, Pedro Strop, Troy Patton, Alfredo Simon, Darren O’Day and Brad Bergeson

The fake deals that I made would make Hector Gomez (2B in 2013?), Anthony Renaudo (#3 pitcher in 2013?), Randall Delgado/Arodys Vizcaino/Mike Minor (#2 pitcher in 2013?), and Edward Salcedo (3B in 2014) a part of the organization.  They’re solid guys who could force the O’s to move other players around, like Schoop to 2B or Salcedo to 1B (as his defense is still weak/raw).  It is all made up and some of the deals may not be possible, but it is worth a shot.  The O’s won’t win again until they build from within to create their own talent.  See the Blue Jays, Rangers and Rays for current examples of this type of development.

 

GM for the Day: San Francisco Giants

After winning the World Series in 2010, the Giants finished 86-76, good for 2nd in the NL West.  The team was still made up of veterans, but they did see a couple of new faces, like SS Brandon Crawford and 1B/LF Brandon Belt.  The Giants are in an interesting period in the coming seasons.  They are working on locking up Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum, while still trying to develop some offensive talent.  They have drafted well in recent seasons and they’ll be getting Buster Posey back in 2012, they still have some incredible pitching, but do they have what it takes to get back to the top?  The current 25-man roster:

2 Catchers: Buster Posey and Eli Whiteside

1B: Aubrey Huff

2B: Freddy Sanchez

3B: Pablo Sandoval

SS: Brandon Crawford

LF: Melky Cabrera

CF: Angel Pagan

RF: Nate Schierholtz

Bench: Mike Fontenot (INF), Emmanuel Burriss (INF), Justin Christian (OF) and Brett Pill (1B)

Starting Pitching: Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, Ryan Vogelsong and Barry Zito

Relief Pitching: Brian Wilson, Santiago Casilla, Sergio Romo, Jeremy Affeldt, Javier Lopez, Dan Runzler and Steve Edlefsen

The Giants have an interesting roster.  They could do better at short than Crawford and still may.  If they’re looking to upgrade there, good luck.  They’re better off hoping that Crawford’s glove makes up for his lack of hitting skills until Joe Panik, a college bat who could move quickly, is ready.  What would have been better?  Putting Nate Schierholtz and Angel Pagan on the pine, moving Aubrey Huff to RF, Brandon Belt to LF, and signing Prince Fielder to make some splashes in the bay.  This team has been in desperate need of a bat since Barry Bonds took his gigantic head home, not by choice, of course.  Honestly, I know they had good pitching, but how in THE HELL did the Giants beat the Rangers 4-1 in the 2010 World Series?  Pablo Sandoval could become the bat that the Giants need.  He’ll be 25 in 2012 and he hit 23 homers, even after breaking his wrist in 2011, in just 117 games.  He should approach 30 and become one of the few solid 3B in baseball in 2012.  The Giants would be the favorites in the NL if they got Prince Fielder, though.  I know I had Fielder going to the Cubs and I know that he is talking to the Nationals, but they could probably afford him and one of their aces, Cain or Lincecum.

I know that having a great 1-2 punch in Lincecum and Cain is fantastic, but Bumgarner is going to be capable of becoming that 2nd ace in the next couple of years and Eric Surkamp is ready to slide into the rotation.  The Giants have had great pitching for years.  The home ballpark has helped, even Ryan Vogelsong rejuvenated his career last year.  The rotation is loaded still.  They should be unbeatable in the playoffs with Lincecum, Cain and Bumgarner in 2012, so why not go for it…if that’s what it’s all about.

If the Giants made a huge splash and signed Fielder and moved their lot of first baseman to the outfield, they’d become a little less effective defensively, but they’d still have their pitching and now they have an offense.  Buster Posey is a star, Sandoval is a star, Belt could be a star, Melky Cabrera is not a star but he’ll do in center, and Aubrey Huff is only good in years ending in an even number.  Look it up.  I wouldn’t lie to you.  What do you think of a 25-man roster with a little more depth?

2 Catchers: Buster Posey and Eli Whiteside

1B: Prince Fielder

2B: Freddy Sanchez

3B: Pablo Sandoval

SS: Brandon Crawford

LF: Brandon Belt

CF: Melky Cabrera

RF: Aubrey Huff

Bench: Nate Schierholtz (OF), Angel Pagan (OF), Emmanuel Burriss (INF), Mike Fontenot (INF)

Starting Pitching: Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, Ryan Vogelsong and Barry Zito

Relief Pitching: Brian Wilson, Santiago Casilla, Sergio Romo, Jeremy Affeldt, Javier Lopez, Dan Runzler and Steve Edlefsen

Upgrade, right?

GM for the Day: San Diego Padres

The hiring of Josh Byrnes as real GM and the theft of the front office by Theo Epstein in Chicago was just the beginning of the Padres offseason.  The trade of Mat Latos to Cincinnati for four very good pieces was followed up by the trade of the team’s top prospect (2011) to Chicago, when they sent Anthony Rizzo to the Cubs for Andrew Cashner and slap hitting outfield prospect.  The influx of talent in the deal with the Reds was the team acknowledging that they can get by without an ace in Petco Park, but they needed to find some guys who could rake there.  That is where Yonder Alonso and Yasmani Grandal come in.  And, while Edinson Volquez has been awful the last couple of seasons when he wasn’t injured, he could become an ace in Petco.  The Padres are loaded with some solid prospects throughout the system, but it will be interesting to see what they do with them and how those prospects adjust to the cavern of offensive death that San Diego calls a home ballpark.  Building around Cameron Maybin and Yonder Alonso seems to be the best option at this point for the team, as far as the offense goes.  This is their current 25-man roster:

2 Catchers: Nick Hundley and John Baker

1B: Yonder Alonso

2B: Orlando Hudson

3B: Chase Headley

SS: Jason Bartlett

LF: Carlos Quentin

CF: Cameron Maybin

RF: Will Venable

Bench: Jesus Guzman (1B/3B), James Darnell (3B/OF), Logan Forsythe (INF), Chris Denorfia (OF)

Starting Pitchers: Cory Luebke, Tim Stauffer, Clayton Richard, Dustin Mosely and Edinson Volquez

Relief Pitchers: Huston Street, Luke Gregorson, Andrew Cashner, Joe Thatcher, Ernesto Frieri, Josh Spence and Anthony Bass

The Padres have a lot of things that they could do.  Signing Free Agents isn’t really one of them.  They have a lot of talent on the way, some they probably won’t have room for.  While they have James Darnell ready to take over at 3B or left field, they would need to wonder where he’s going to end up when Jedd Gyorko is ready in mid-2012.  It’s a problem many teams would like to have.  Darnell will be 25 this month and posted an OPS of .953 in Double-A and Triple-A in 2011, while Gyorko will be 23 for the entire 2012 season and he posted a .952 OPS between High-A and Double-A in 2011.  Add in that current 3B Chase Headley is just 28 this season and while he only posted an OPS of .773, his .773 OPS was the highest of all Padres with at least 300 at bats.  Sad.  If Headley could play anywhere else but Petco, like all of the Padres, his 2011 Road OPS of .864 shows the kind of player he could actually be.  The acquisition of Carlos Quentin was nice for fans who want to see some runs, but you have to wonder if Petco will destroy his value, as well.

Pitching seems like a crapshoot.  Aaron Harang was able to post a 14-7 record with a 3.64 ERA in 2011 after posting an 18-38 record and 4.71 ERA for Cincinnati from 2008-2010.  Cory Luebke moved from the bullpen to the rotation and became the Padres ace, posting a 5-9 record with a 3.48 ERA from July on when he was a starter full-time.  If the Padres are able to have Tim Stauffer (3.73), Dustin Mosely (3.30) and Clayton Richard (3.88) continue to pitch effectively, and the offense gets a little bit of life from the influx of acquired talent, the Padres could be a lot better than the 71-91 that they were in 2011.

I would change a couple of things right now.  I would put Carlos Quentin in right, move Chase Headley to left, and give James Darnell a shot to see what he can do before he is pushed off of third by Jedd Gyorko.  If Darnell flops, he could become trade bait or a nice bench bat.  This puts the best offense on the field.  I would also go ahead and put Yasmani Grandal on the Opening Day roster.  He’s only played 49 games at Double-A or higher, but he has a very advanced approach and John Baker isn’t going to make your team better now or any time in the future.  Grandal might make Nick Hundley better by providing competition and keeping him fresher.  The middle infield is aging quickly, as Orlando Hudson and Jason Bartlett become the players that no one wants to take on, as evidenced by Winter Meeting trade talks that went nowhere as the Padres hoped to shave payroll.  They could get help at 2B with Cory Spangenberg in the next year, but SS is going to be an issue as their top SS prospect was just drafted last year, Jace Peterson.  Rymer Liriano is the prospect to watch.  He could obliterate pitching in the California League and become a monster propsect in 2012.  He is a future star in the outfield, Petco or not.

Robbie Erlin and Joe Wieland, stolen from the Rangers for Mike Adams, could make an appearance in San Diego in 2012.  Erlin is a lefty with amazing Minor League stats whose control and repertoire will make him valuable to the Padres.  The pitching staff is fine right now with who they have.  I would love to see how Edinson Volquez does after another year to recover from Tommy John.  I still feel that the deal with Cincinnati was a total robbery by San Diego, as the Padres got a potential star at first and catcher, as well as a solid bullpen arm to go along with the veteran, Volquez.

After pulling a few strings, this is the 25-man roster I would have heading to San Diego:

2 Catchers: Nick Hundley and Yasmani Grandal

1B: Yonder Alonso

2B: Orlando Hudson

3B: James Darnell

SS: Jason Bartlett

LF: Chase Headley

CF: Cameron Maybin

RF: Carlos Quentin

Bench: Will Venable (OF), Chris Denorfia (OF), Jesus Guzman (1B/3B) and Logan Forsythe (INF)

Starting Pitchers: Cory Luebke, Tim Stauffer, Clayton Richard, Dustin Mosely and Edinson Volquez

Relief Pitchers: Huston Street, Luke Gregorson, Andrew Cashner, Joe Thatcher, Ernesto Frieri, Josh Spence and Anthony Bass

GM for the Day: Los Angeles Dodgers

Ownership issues have truly limited the Dodgers from taking the next step or competing in the NL West.  Ned Colletti has done well considering his inability to spend, even in a “lucrative” market in L.A., hell, they just reached the NLCS in 2009.  That seems like decades ago now!  The Dodgers continue to develop talent within the organization, seeing the arrival of young stallions like Rubby De La Rosa (who had Tommy John surgery in August) and Nate Eovaldi.  A lot of their offensive talent isn’t the Matt Kemp variety, as they feature “toolsy” guys like Alfredo Silverio and Joc Pederson, rather than Grade A guys like Brett Lawrie or Bryce Harper.  With ownership issues still up in the air, this is another patchwork type of offseason for Dodger fans to look forward to.  Here is their current 25-man roster:

2 Catchers: A.J. Ellis and Josh Bard

1B: James Loney

2B: Mark Ellis

3B: Juan Uribe

SS: Dee Gordon

LF: Juan Rivera

CF: Matt Kemp

RF: Andre Ethier

Bench: Jerry Sands (1B/OF), Jerry Hairston, Jr. (INF/OF), Tony Gwynn, Jr. (OF) and Justin Sellers (INF)

Starting Pitchers: Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, Ted Lilly, Chris Capuano and Nate Eovaldi

Relief Pitchers: Javy Guerra, Matt Guerrier, Kenley Jensen, Scott Elbert, Blake Hawksworth, Josh Lindblom and John Grabow

The Dodgers are set right now in their rotation.  They will lose Hiroki Kuroda in Free Agency, but they’ll replace him with Chris Capuano, who needs to stay healthy (doubtful after 2 TJ surgeries), and Nate Eovaldi.  Eovaldi is an interesting pitcher.  He should do well pitching in Dodger Stadium, but he doesn’t have a great strikeout rate.  He could probably use more seasoning, but the 40-man roster doesn’t have a whole lot to offer and the Dodgers aren’t going to be in on Edwin Jackson or in deals for Matt Garza anytime soon.  Allen Webster is the next closest prospect arm and he made just 17 starts in Double-A in 2011.  They could use some depth but it would have to be a journeyman or two.  They don’t have to have someone taking away starts from Eovaldi, but they need one decent guy to be there if he struggles or Capuano blows out his arm again.  Zach Duke, Rodrigo Lopez, Ramon Ortiz or a Brad Penny reunion could work for the Dodgers on a small one-year or Minor League deal.  The bullpen is loaded with hard throwing young arms.  Lindblom and Guerra could be a solid 8th and 9th duo for the next several years, once Lindblom gets moved up to the 8th inning role, which could happen in 2012.

The offense starts with Kemp and gets frustrating after that.  I can’t understand the contract being tendered to James Loney.  He is all over the place, posting a .914 OPS after the All Star break but just a .653 OPS in the first half.  Who is he?  2012 is his age 28 season, meaning he is in his prime, but he was last year when he hit just 12 homers and finished with a .755 OPS.  In fact, Loney has a career .778 OPS and 67 career homers in 3,018 plate appearances.  Loney has a .632 vs. LHP since the 2009 season started and his lack of power and consistency is reason enough to not give him a raise over the $4.88 million he made in 2011.  Speaking of guys who can’t hit lefties, remember when Andre Ethier was just as valuable as Matt Kemp?  Ethier turns 30 in April and hasn’t come close to his 2009 breakout (42 2B, 31 HR, 106 RBI and .869 OPS) the last two seasons.  His OPS fell all the way to .789 last season thanks to his Loney-like 11 homers.  Even counting his 2009 season, Ethier is hitting just .215/.279/.329 in the last three seasons, good…or is it bad…for a .608 OPS.  Juan Rivera’s signing could allow the Dodgers to put Sands in LF/RF and leave Rivera at first when the Dodgers face lefties.  The struggles that Ethier and Loney have had since the start of 2010 could be the reason why the Dodgers haven’t made it back to the playoffs since then.  Dee Gordon showed the speed that could make him a great table-setter in the long run, but it will be full of slap hitting…like a Juan Pierre at shortstop…in his prime…without the walks.  It isn’t all terrible, but they have some stopgaps in place if a 2B or 3B wants to ruin the fading careers of Mark Ellis and Juan Uribe.

Overall, there isn’t much the Dodgers can do.  They’ve stuck with what they have without making many changes because they can’t really add payroll during the sale of the team.  Due to that handcuffing, the Dodgers will hang tight and hope that a prospect or two come up to make a difference.  Nate Eovaldi, Jerry Sands and Tim Federowicz, a solid catching prospect, should carve out significant roles this year.  Since A.J. Ellis is 30 and not very good at baseball, they could go with Josh Bard at catcher and let Federowicz get a taste of the bigs early and often.  I would also like to get Eovaldi a few more starts in the Minors, though Albuquerque isn’t the best environment for that, at the Triple-A level.  Sign Brad Penny and see if he can bring his attractive wife to games and pitch well every five days on the cheap as insurance due to the loss of Kuroda and Capuano’s health record.  If he is inconsistent or crap like he was last year, cut him loose and bring Eovaldi up.  Platoon Rivera and Sands at 1B and RF with Loney and Ethier against lefties, put Hairston in LF those days, and watch the offense click.

Final 25-man Roster:

2 Catchers: Tim Federowicz and Josh Bard

1B: James Loney

2B: Mark Ellis

3B: Juan Uribe

SS: Dee Gordon

LF: Juan Rivera

CF: Matt Kemp

RF: Andre Ethier

Bench: Jerry Sands (1B/OF), Jerry Hairston, Jr. (INF/OF), Tony Gwynn, Jr. (OF) and Justin Sellers (INF)

Starting Pitchers: Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, Ted Lilly, Chris Capuano and Brad Penny

Relief Pitchers: Javy Guerra, Matt Guerrier, Kenley Jensen, Scott Elbert, Blake Hawksworth, Josh Lindblom and John Grabow

GM for the Day: Colorado Rockies

After winning the NL Wild Card in 2009, the Rockies have slipped the last two seasons, compiling a 156-168 record (.481), including a 4th place finish in NL West in 2011.  The team dealt one of the most dominating arms in baseball, Ubaldo Jimenez, to Cleveland for quite a nice package of prospects, a couple of which will help out the club by the end of the 2012 season, if they don’t start on Opening Day.  The team has a solid, young core still, built around shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, who was the main piece in the Matt Holliday deal with Oakland.  What and who do they have to work with?  Let’s take a look at the current roster:

2 Catchers: Ramon Hernandez and Jordan Pacheco

1B: Todd Helton

2B: Jonathan Herrera

3B: Chris Nelson

SS: Troy Tulowitzki

LF: Carlos Gonzalez

CF: Dexter Fowler

RF: Michael Cuddyer

Bench: Tyler Colvin (1B/OF), Seth Smith (LF/RF), Jason Giambi (1B/PH), Charlie Blackmon (OF)

Starting Pitchers: Jhoulys Chacin, Jason Hammel, Drew Pomeranz, Tyler Chatwood and Alex White

Relief Pitchers: Rafael Betancourt, Matt Belisle, Matt Lindstrom, Matt Reynolds, Rex Brothers, Edgmer Escalona and Kevin Slowey

The Rockies are loaded in the outfield and that is why they have been dangling Seth Smith all winter.  Smith is a solid hitter if you use him right.  He has smashed right-handed pitching to an .878 OPS since the start of the 2009 season, while posting a measly .616 OPS against lefties in the same time frame.  The fact that he is 29 and arbitration-eligible (estimated to make $2.6 million) makes him a great candidate to be moved, especially when you could use some help in the rotation and/or infield.  Recent reports have Smith linked to Oakland, Tampa Bay, Seattle, Atlanta, the Mets and Cincinnati.  Even trading Smith, they’ll have five outfielders, but I would look at third base, where Chris Nelson is currently listed as the starter.  Nelson is a second baseman and is not a typical third baseman as far as offensive production.  He could do a lot more as the second baseman than Jonathan Herrara, who could move to a utility role and play up the middle to give Nelson and Tulo a night off here and there.  You have to make a deal for a third baseman unless you’re going to put Cuddyer there (he’s played 171 games there in his career) until Nolan Arenado is ready, which should or could be by July.  The Rockies can use Colvin and Blackmon in the outfield and hope that Fowler doesn’t falter in center again.  If he does, Blackmon can handle center or Tim Wheeler, another solid prospect, could get the call for Colorado.  Todd Helton is still very productive and you can probably count on him for about 120-130 games.  Jason Giambi signed on again as the backup, but it would be nice to see Colvin get some at bats there, too, especially if Helton misses any significant time due to injury.

The starting rotation is full of potential but may be an issue.  Jason Hammel shouldn’t get much of a look if he continues pitching the way he has since he came up in 2006, as he holds a career 34-45 with a 4.99 ERA and 1.47 WHIP.  Chacin is very nice at the top and should only improve.  Pomeranz was the prize of the Jimenez deal with Cleveland and should fit nicely in the middle of the rotation right now.  Chatwood is more of a thrower than a pitcher, possessing a tremendous fastball with the results that aren’t typical of a power pitcher (142 IP, 74/71 K/BB).  He could use more seasoning, yet, he could have some success in the NL West.  Alex White is another work in progress, part of the deal with the Indians for Jimenez, who has a high ceiling.  Juan Nicasio should be ready by Spring Training after having surgery due to being hit in the neck by a line drive last year, and Jorge De La Rosa should be returning in May from Tommy John surgery, so if any of the youngsters or Hammel struggle, they have help on the way.  If Nicasio is ready in Spring Training, they should probably put him in the rotation and send either White or Chatwood to Triple-A.  Chad Bettis is a name to watch, a RHP with great numbers in High-A last year.  He could get a look in September as a former college arm if he succeeds at Double-A.

The bullpen is solid.  Betancourt is the new closer after Huston Street was traded to San Diego.  He was spectacular last season in a short stint as closer, but has been very good since arriving in Colorado in 2009.

Colorado could use an upgrade in the rotation but they appear to be heading towards a rebuilding mode.  Todd Helton will be retiring and the face of the franchise is now Troy Tulowitzki, who is signed through 2021.  Nolan Arenado looks like a superstar in the making, but he probably won’t be a huge factor until 2013, though he could make an appearance if he continues hitting like he did last year.  Drew Pomeranz won’t be the only rookie that will make an impact, as Tim Wheeler should get a look at some point and Wilin Rosario could hit his way into the starting catcher position.  Since the team isn’t far off but has some holes, they could see if adding Jeff Francis would be a nice reunion.  Francis spent six seasons with the Rockies and was originally drafted in the first round by the team in 2002.  He’ll be 31 in January and proved last season that his shoulder is still functioning, though his 6-16 record and 4.82 ERA is scary.  He could be a good gamble if he comes cheap enough.

I would start Wilin Rosario at catcher, splitting the position with Ramon Hernandez 50/50, as Hernandez is getting older and his split with Ryan Hanigan in Cincinnati the last few years showed what that type of rotation can do for your team.  Rosario is a potential superstar at catcher with huge offensive upside.  Trade Seth Smith and Tim Wheeler or Charlie Blackmon to the Braves for Martin Prado and Zeke Spruill, a mid-level pitching prospect in the Braves system.  This improves the team’s roster and allows the club to have flexibility with the roster, as Prado can play 2B/3B/LF.  Let’s look at what we have now:

2 Catchers: Wilin Rosario and Ramon Hernandez

1B: Todd Helton

2B: Chris Nelson

3B: Martin Prado

SS: Troy Tulowitzki

LF: Carlos Gonzalez

CF: Dexter Fowler

RF: Michael Cuddyer

Bench: Jason Giambi (1B/PH), Jonathan Herrara (2B/3B/SS), Tyler Colvin (1B/OF) and Charlie Blackmon (OF)

Starting Pitchers: Jhoulys Chacin, Drew Pomeranz, Juan Nicasio, Jeff Francis and Jason Hammel (give White and Chatwood more time in Triple-A, if Francis and/or Hammel stink, bring up the top performer)

Relief Pitchers: Rafael Betancourt, Matt Belisle, Matt Lindstrom, Matt Reynolds, Rex Brothers, Edgmer Escalona and Kevin Slowey

GM for the Day: Arizona Diamondbacks

After going 94-68 last season, the Diamondbacks are building a roster that looks like it could be a juggernaut.  With recent acquisitions and rumors of more deals that could happen, Arizona is well on their way to another AL West title, featuring young stars that could eventually create a dynasty.  Let’s take a look at their current 25-man roster:

2 Catchers: Miguel Montero and Henry Blanco

1B: Paul Goldschmidt

2B: Aaron Hill

3B: Ryan Roberts

SS: Stephen Drew

LF: Gerardo Parra

CF: Chris Young

RF: Justin Upton

Bench: Willie Bloomquist (INF/OF), John McDonald (INF), Geoff Blum (INF/OF), Lyle Overbay (1B)

Starting Pitchers: Ian Kennedy, Trevor Cahill, Daniel Hudson, Josh Collmenter and Wade Miley

Relief Pitchers: J.J. Putz, David Hernandez, Brad Ziegler, Joe Patterson, Craig Breslow, Takashi Saito and Bryan Shaw

The starting lineup is solid, presenting a blend of power and speed that would be difficult for other teams to match.  Justin Upton will win an MVP in the next three years.  At the age of 23, Upton ripped 39 2B and 31 HR while stealing 21 bases in 2011.  As he continues to mature as a hitter, those extra-base hits will increase and the steals will go down as he touches home with one swing.  If someone gets hurt, though, the Diamondbacks could be in trouble.  They have some great flexibility with their defensive lineup due to the versatility of Geoff Blum, John McDonald and Willie Bloomquist, but you have to wonder what having one of those guys starting for an extended period of time would do to your offense.  The same goes for the dropoff from Miguel Montero to Henry Blanco behind the plate.  Blanco is still a solid defender, but he is a career .228/.293/.369 hitter.

The bullpen is solid.  The rotation is stacked and it could get better.  Trevor Bauer, the team’s 1st round pick last season, is just about ready.  The UCLA-product didn’t pitch extremely well in his debut last year, but he showcased his ability to pitch.  He posted a 5.96 ERA and 1.52 WHIP in 7 starts, tossing 25 2/3 innings with a 43/12 K/BB.  15.1 K/9 IP is pretty impressive but the 4.2 BB/9 IP is something that needs to come down if he is going to be successful in the Majors.  Ian Kennedy, Daniel Hudson and Trevor Cahill are about as solid as a 1-2-3 punch you’ll find in baseball.  Josh Collmenter  is just 25 and posted a solid 3.38 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and a 100/28 K/BB in 154 1/3 IP last season.  As far as another arm for right now, the Diamondbacks appear to be in on Hiroki Kuroda.  If they were to get him and put Collmenter in the #5 spot, they would be near impossible to beat.  Kuroda has only posted a 3.45 ERA and 1.19 WHIP over 699 career innings and 114 starts.  On a one-year deal, he would bring another stable arm to the group, with Kuroda being the veteran with four years of service time.  If they do nothing, Wade Miley, who went 4-2 with a 4.50 ERA and 1.65 WHIP in 7 starts, isn’t a bad options for a few months while Bauer works out some kinks.

Overall, the team doesn’t have much to work on.  I would say that they would be better off with Hiroki Kuroda as their #4 starter and Collmenter at #5 than Collmenter at #4 and Wade Miley at #5.  Over the long-haul of the season, it could be a difference of 7-11 wins from Miley to Kuroda, so it’s worth a one-year, $11 million deal to grab him.  I would also like to see the club upgrade in the #4 outfielder role.  Ryan Roberts can handle the corners in a long-term role with Blum taking over at third, Willie Bloomquist can fill the void in the short-term, but Roberts is more valuable at third with a thin market there.  Maybe J.D. Drew will sign with the Diamondbacks to play with his brother.  He could be a solid #4 outfielder since he won’t have to play a whole lot, which may result in him staying healthy.  He’ll probably retire or want a ridiculous Boras-contract to play, though, so maybe Juan Pierre would be a good fit.  He could handle center for Young in a pinch, the corners for a shorter pinch, and he still has enough speed (68 SB in 2010, 27 in 2011) to be a pinch-runner.  Here is what the 25-man roster would end up:

2 Catchers: Miguel Montero (please stay healthy!) and Henry Blanco

1B: Paul Goldschmidt

2B: Aaron Hill

3B: Ryan Roberts

SS: Stephen Drew

LF: Gerardo Parra

CF: Chris Young

RF: Justin Upton

Bench: Juan Pierre (OF), Willie Bloomquist (INF/OF), Lyle Overbay (1B), John McDonald (INF)

Starting Pitchers: Ian Kennedy, Daniel Hudson, Trevor Cahill, Hiroki Kuroda and Josh Collmenter

Relief Pitchers: J.J. Putz, David Hernandez, Brad Ziegler, Joe Patterson, Craig Breslow, Takashi Saito and Bryan Shaw

GM for the Day: St. Louis Cardinals

It’s like having a date with the girl of your dreams and then she ditches you for Justin Bieber.  I hate you Bieber…and I’m not a fan of the Cardinals, so this offseason has been kind of interesting.  The whining birds will be without the greatest right-handed hitter of our generation, as Albert Pujols left for gobs of cash and the temperate climate that houses the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim-Orange County-California-USA-Planet Earth-Milky Way Galaxy.  What’s left and what can the defending champions do?  Lets take a look-see at their 25-man roster:

2 Catchers: Yadier Molina and Tony Cruz

1B: Lance Berkman

2B: Daniel Descalso

3B: David Freese

SS: Rafael Furcal

LF: Matt Holliday

CF: Jon Jay

RF: Allen Craig

Bench: Erik Komatsu (OF – Rule 5 pick), Skip Schumaker (INF/OF), Tyler Green (INF), Shane Robinson (OF)

Starting Pitchers: Chris Carpenter, Jaime Garcia, Kyle Lohse, Jake Westbrook and Adam Wainwright

Relief Pitchers: Jason Motte, Fernando Salas, Lance Lynn, Marc Rzepczynski, Mitchell Boggs, Eduardo Sanchez and Maikel Cleto

The Cardinals need to replace Albert Pujols.  You can’t but they have to try.  Thinking that David Freese is going to be what he was in the playoffs is stupid.  He hit .397 in the postseason, including .545 in the NLCS, hitting five homers and collecting 21 RBI in 18 games.  Billy Hatcher once hit .750 in a World Series.  He went on to negative WAR (Wins Against Replacement) in five of his last six seasons.  They are rumored to be going after Carlos Beltran.  They can plug him into right and have Berkman move to first, which is what they would do if they didn’t sign Beltran and they put Allen Craig in right full-time.  Craig posted a .917 OPS in 75 games last year, so he deserves a look, but it’s possible the Cardinals need to show signs of life in Free Agency to please “the best fans in baseball.”  They’d probably be better off without signing an aging and declining Beltran, isn’t that why they didn’t go to the extent of the Angels on Pujols?  Daniel Descalso has an amazing arm and he’ll waste it at second.  He always posted solid numbers in the Minors, but if he falters, he’ll share the gig with Schumaker, who is now a super-utility player.  The Cards sured up the infield by signing Rafael Furcal to a two-year deal.

With Adam Wainwright coming back from Tommy John, the Cardinals seem very upbeat about their rotation.  They are dangling Jake Westbrook and Kyle Lohse in deals, but neither of them really hold a lot of value.  They’ll probably hang on to both veterans and use Shelby Miller, super prospect, as a tool when one of them falter, or if Wainwright hits an innings cap coming off of surgery.

The Cardinals lost a huge piece, more valuable to them than possibly even Pujols when the Astros stole Jeff Luhnow, the Cards Vice President of Scouting and Player Development.  He created a system that has Shelby Miller, Carlos Martinez, Tyrell Jenkins, Kolten Wong and Oscar Taveras at the top of the list, all potential stars.  They’ll be spending the next few years rebuilding the franchise and hoping to stay relevent in a changing division, as the Reds deal with payroll issues due to Votto’s upcoming salary increase and the Brewers lose Prince Fielder, who could end up a Cub!

This is what I would do as the Cardinals GM.  The infield is set.  You have to work on an extension for Yadier Molina.  He will be a Free Agent after 2012 and will be 29 this year.  His defensive value isn’t easy to explain but the bat makes him worth a raise and long-term investment.  I still can’t understand the Rasmus deal long-term for this team, as his attitude and inability to follow instruction couldn’t have been worth giving up on the talent, could it?  They are trusting Jon Jay in center and he is a reasonable option.  He has a .784 OPS vs. RHP and .733 OPS vs. LHP, so he doesn’t necessarily need to platoon at this point, but it could change.  Holliday is in left due to the crazy contract and he is pretty good, too.  I would give Craig a chance if I knew he was healthy, but he isn’t.  He is coming off of surgery to his knee and probably won’t be ready until May.  Due to that issue, the Cardinals need to gamble on Beltran or another Free Agent capable of playing right.  Maybe a reunion with Ryan Ludwick, who posted some amazing stats (.857 OPS) over his earlier three-year stay in St. Louis, would be a solid idea as a stopgap?  It wouldn’t be an absurd contract, you wouldn’t have to deal with Scott Boras and you wouldn’t have to invest in a player who has played in just 59% of his team games in the last three seasons.  I would sign Ludwick on the cheap, make him a 4th outfielder off the bat, put Berkman in right for a couple of months while Craig works his way back, and give first base to Matt Adams.  Adams is 23-years-old and he hit .300/.357/.566 last year, ripping 23 2B, 32 HR and 101 RBI in Double-A.  He’s a left-handed bat, which can fit in nicely with Holliday (right) and Berkman (switch) in the middle of the order.  If he falters, move him back to Triple-A and put Berkman at first and Craig/Ludwick in right.  See what you have.  The future in St. Louis needs to happen now.

The rotation is set, you’re not getting anything for the vets and the bullpen is nice.  See what Motte can do in the closer role and quit the closer-by-commitee bullcrap that LaRussa has been pulling since he managed the White Sox.

The 25-man roster would be:

2 Catchers: Yadier Molina and Tony Cruz

1B: Matt Adams

2B: Daniel Descalso

3B: David Freese

SS: Rafael Furcal

LF: Matt Holliday

CF: Jon Jay

RF: Lance Berkman

Bench: Skip Schumaker (INF/OF), Allen Craig (INF/OF), Ryan Ludwick (LF/RF), Tyler Green (2B/SS)

Starting Pitchers: Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright, Jaime Garcia, Kyle Lohse and Jake Westbrook

Relief Pitchers: Jason Motte, Fernando Salas, Lance Lynn, Marc Rzepczynski, Mitchell Boggs, Eduardo Sanchez and Maikel Cleto

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