a) put some time in at the major league level, probably schlep around as a scout for a dozen years or so, stay on top of the free agent market, and experience the joy of negotiating with Satan, er, Scott Boras. Or…
b) stop by TwinsGeek.com.
It looks like you chose (b), so we know you’re smart, but let’s see how smart. Your job is to create a competitive 2009 team while keeping the payroll under $85 million (a pretty realistic estimate as to next year’s salary level).
We’ll give you the tools you need, including lists of the positions, the players who will most likely be back, their approximate salaries, and a list of the other assumptions we’re making in case you want to challenge them.
Then you come in. We’ll list the open positions and some of the options you have (including how much they cost). You can build your own team and compare it to the job Bill Smith does this offseason. Just make sure the total is under $85 million, because your boss isn’t known as the freest spender in the world.
These numbers are estimates, but they’re awfully close. Nick Punto is a free agent this year so we’re leaving his spot open, but you can try and sign him later if you like. You could also plug Brian Buscher in at 3B, or even platoon him with someone like Brendan Harris. More on that below.
By the way, you’ve spent $33 million so far.
Wow. Look at all those beautiful low salaries. You know it must bring a tear to Carl’s eye. The Twins entire starting rotation is making less than half of what the Mariners gave Carlos Silva as a signing bonus.
You may want to consider trading one of these arms for something you need next year. Otherwise, this staff is set, and you’ve spent $35.25 million.
Again, most of this is taken care of. Carlos Gomez is listed as the 4th OF, because we have Michael Cuddyer back in the outfield. You’ll notice that Randy Ruiz isn’t on this list yet, either. You could carry him as your 5th outfielder and a right-handed platoon for Jason Kubel. Or you could sign a veteran bench player ala Craig Monroe.
Otherwise, you’ve spent $37.55 million so far.
Dennys Reyes is a free agent this off-season, and with Craig Breslow and Jose Mijares doing well, I’ll leave him and Eddie Guardado out of next year’s plans. You’ll also notice that Matt Guerrier isn’t on the list either. He could be, but who does he bump? And is the roster spot worth the $2 million he’ll be due if you offer him arbitration?
Without Guerrier, your total is a shade over $49 million.
You’re most of the way there! 22 of the 25 roster spots are spoken for, and $49 million, er, $52.35 million is spent. Where did that other $3.3 million come from? Unfortunately, that is money you still owe the departed Mike Lamb. Still, you have almost $33 million to spend. Let’s see what your options are:
- You can bring back Nick Punto with a two-year contract for $3 million per year.
- You can start Matt Tolbert at SS and replace his bench spot with a utility infielder for just a half million dollars.
- You can sign one of the free agent shortstops. Options include:
a. Rafael Furcal – a speedy lead-off hitter who will demand $15 million/year for four years
b. Orlando Cabrera - solid veteran and #2 hitter on the White Sox who will demand $11 million/year for three years
c. Edgar Renteria – Tigers veteran whose defense is shaky and will want $8 million/year for two years
d. David Eckstien – veteran spark plug who will want $4 million for 1 year
- You can move Alexi Casilla to shortstop and sign one of these free agent second basemen:
a. Orlando Hudson – Switch-hitter who hit .305 this year and will command $11 million/year for four years
b. Mark Ellis – Great player, but bad shoulder. If he’s healthy, he’ll get $5 million to provie it for one year.
c. Pick-A-Vet (Mark Grudzielanek, Mark Loretta, Ray Durham) - $3 million for one year of an old guy
- Finally, you could trade for a shortstop:
a. The Brewers might trade JJ Hardy ($5M) to make room for prospect Alcides Escobar. And with Ben Sheets and CC Sabathia likely on their way out of town, they could use a young effective pitcher.
b. The Red Sox will shop Julio Lugo. He'll make $9 million over each of the next two years and is a veteran shortstop, but has struggled in Boston.
- You could have Brian Buscher and Brendan Harris platoon at the position, for just a half million dollars. You could even include prospects like Matt Macri, Luke Hughes or Danny Valencia in the competition in spring training.
- You could sign a free agent:
Casey Blake – He’s right-handed and 35 years old, and will probably get a three-year deal for $6 million per year.
Joe Crede – Had a great year until his back sidelined him for the last two months; he’ll ask for $7 million for one year.
Pick-A-Vet (Rich Aurilia, Russell Branyan, Wes Helms)—$3 million for one season of questionable production.
- You could make a trade:
a. Adrian Beltre – He’ll cost you $11 million and one of your young pitchers.
b. Garrett Atkins – He’ll cost you $7 million and one of your young pitchers, and he hasn’t hit outside Coors.
c. Kevin Kouzmanoff – He’ll cost you a half million dollars and one of your young pitchers. He’s 27 with a career .267 average.
- You could have Randy Ruiz occasionally play right field and be a right-handed bat off the bench. He’ll cost the major league minimum.
- You could pick up a veteran free agent for backing up the OF:
a. Cliff Floyd – LH veteran will likely get about $2.5 million next year.
b. Jonny Gomes – RH reserve might be a nice gamble for $3M.
c. So Taguchi – Probably not the bench bat Gardy would like but he sure will hustle for his $1 million.
Great. Now let us see how you did in the comments below. (Unless, of course, it involves re-signing Mike Lamb. Then you might want to try again.)