Monday, October 17, 2005


Half-Baked Lineup Ideas

Tentative lineup for 06, assuming that Bradley is gone:
3B Aybar
SS Robles or Perez
CF Drew
2B Kent
LF ????
C Navarro
1B Choi + platoonmate
RF Werth

C Bako?
OF Ledee, Repko
IF Young?

Trade bait:
C Phillips
CF Bradley

Reinforcements in 07?:
3B LaRoche
?? Guzman
C Martin
1B Loney

The only regulars virtually guaranteed of starting roles next year are Kent, Navarro, and Drew. Bradley's probably gone, and his production must be replaced. An outfield acquisition is highly likely, as that fills an immediate need and doesn't hinder the long term goal of easing in the primo prospects, until Guzman is shifted to the outfield, anyway. A short term hedge in case the corner infielders do not pan out wouldn't be a bad idea, either.


The team could simply long-term either Matsui or Giles in the free agent market, but that may be cost prohibitive given the dearth of quality FAs. (The bidding has apparently started at 3 years, $35.5 million for Godzilla.) Another route would be to sign a second-tier free agent such as Lawton and hope for the best, but to do so would probably require a bigger offensive upgrade elsewhere.

The trade route may be more sensible. There are a lot of names swirling out there, including Manny Ramirez. Acquiring an mega-contract like ManRam is probably out of the question unless the other team is willing to chip in a significant dollar offset. Which raises the question: Why would a big market team like the Red Sox pay to get out of a contract when the savings cannot be efficiently reinvested to make up for the lost production?

Instead, it sure would be nice to acquire someone relatively underpaid like Dunn, as new GMs look to revamp their rosters and payrolls. Unfortunately, acquiring such a player still will cost aplenty, and DePodesta has shown great reluctance to trade the top-tier prospects for short term gain. It figures to be seen whether DePodesta's small market counterparts are more willing to trade now that free agency looks closer for Dunn, Huff, and others.

Somewhere in between the albatross contracts and the desireable ones are the likes of Jenkins, who is owed about $7 million a year until 07. While Overbay is the player most often mentioned as trade bait, he's cheaper. Overbay was an outfielder in college, and Milwaukee might be ready to call up Fielder to play 1B. Trading Jenkins instead Overbay might give the Brewers the payroll room to improve other parts of their roster and perhaps improve on their freakish .500 record last year. For LA, Jenkins is a reasonably priced #5 hitter who shouldn't cost a bundle of prospects.

On a greater scale is someone like Burrell, who is owed about $12 million a year until 2008. The Phillies just fired their GM and may be looking for a change of direction. No team will take on Thome and his bad back unless he comes steeply discounted. (Cleveland? Seattle? Dream on.) Someone else with a large contract (Abreu? Burrell?) may go instead. Too bad that ManRam just acquired 10/5 rights, because otherwise Burrell, Thome, and a prospect for Manny and Arroyo sounds about right for both teams...maybe LA can do something here?

Infield: 1B

If a big name outfielder is indeed acquired, there would be less financial wiggle room to upgrade the infield. Konerko's bat would be nice, but it would seem that an upgrade at 1B is not a priority given that the Choi/Saenz platoon did just fine offensively. (I refuse to refer to Phillips as a 1B.) Not upgrading 1B with someone like Konerko may mean better served upgrades elsewhere.

The problem is that Saenz may attract more attention from an AL team, as he seems better suited to being a DH. It's possible that Choi needs a new platoonmate.

One name that I recently noticed was Matthew LeCroy, a DH/1B/C recently outrighted off the Twins' roster. It looks as if he might be a younger version of Saenz: good righthanded bat with an .800 OPS, shaky glove, and slow as molasses. Given that no less than 3 players on the roster can play 3B, perhaps having a 1B platoonmate who can instead catch on occasion isn't a bad thing, especially when the 21 year old starting catcher will catch the bulk of the games.

Infield: "6-5-4"

LaRoche might be ready in 2007, so hopefully the 3B situation might be resolved by then, and Aybar did look smooth with the glove at the end of the season. But was his .901 OPS in 86 ABs a true indication of his abilities? His SLG and OBP are significantly higher than his minor league numbers in ANY GIVEN YEAR.

Add to this the injury to the Gold Glove shortstop, and the left side of the infield is potentially a mess. Maybe Perez, Aybar, and Robles prove themselves. If so, the problem shifts over to 2B in 2007 if Kent's bat is not retained.

It would be nice to acquire a proven hitter who could fill in at shortstop for half the season, shift over to 3B if others prove deficient, and then shift to 2B after Kent's contract ends. More or less a 6-5-4 relay...

6 then 5 then 4
6 minus 5 plus 4

Garciaparra has been rumored about for the past two offseasons, and he very well could be pursued again, especially since he has shown a willingness to switch positions this year with the Cubs. His injury history and declining range are worrysome, but it seems that he may be a good hedge against the current infield uncertainty IF he's willing to shift around according to the team's needs. A two year offer with a team option for a third sounds reasonable.

Konerko's 3-year splits when not hitting in baseball's most offense friendly park: .248/.324/.432/.756. Why again would we want to pay him apx. $8M more per year than Choi?

Also, given that Choi mashed lefties in the minors and with teh departure of Tracy will finally (I assume) not be managed by some old school micromanager, don't you think 2006 would be a nice time to just start him there every day and see what happens?
i fully agree on konerko. let the mets overpay only to see him hit 20 HRs.

choi and his loopy swing, though... i'm not saying he can't handle a full time role, but there's also a good chance he can't. i want to hedge that bet with a power hitting righty who's OK with part time status. if 2006 was a complete rebuilding year, it's a different story.
My wants-

Adam Dunn
Adam Pratt (back up catcher)

Hey if we let Olmedo go to the AL and pick up some compensasion. We could use Werth at 1st base against the occasional lefty. He crushes lefties!

I still say Kevin Brown and Darren Dreifort in 06!
I want Giles and Nomar.
NOMAR is finished as an every day player. He is fragile and a DEFENSIVE LIABILITY. LA should not be paying $$$ for an over-the-hill has been.

Aybar will be fine at 3B until LaRoche takes over in 07. Aybar can then move over to 2B to replace Kent.

Perez cannot play 3B let alone SS. He can backup 2B or be used for trade bait.

Robles will be fine at SS until Izturis returns.

Trade for Wilkerson to team with Drew and Cruz in the OF. Ledee and Young would be #4 & #5 OFs. Werth could platoon with Choi.
Perez cannot play 3B let alone SS. He can backup 2B or be used for trade bait.

Have any support for that gem or are you just taking Plaschke's word for it?
My realistic wishlist includes:

3B: Garciaparra

SP: B.K. Kim

LF: Dunn

-student of the game
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