One on One: Armchair GM
While sitting in the stands beats a hotel lobby any day of the week, can anyone blame us for getting a little nostalgic for the Hot Stove League? Any baseball fan can agree that even the best of May Sweeps would pale in comparison to some good trade talk. We've gone on record with our first impressions, our second and some noteworthy early season statistics, and now it's time to move the focus from the field to the front office. As contenders are hit by injuries that expose holes and bad teams watch their hopes die, it is time to start talking trade.
Make Rich General Manager for a day and this is what he would and wouldn't do:
If I am Tim Purpura, I would either trade Roger Clemens or surround him with better players. The Astros are 11-16 and they are not getting any younger or better. In fact, Houston's roster is the fourth oldest in baseball. Clemens would be an expensive acquisition as his new team would not only have to pick up the balance of his $18 million contract for the year but also pay a $3 million assignment fee.
With teammates like Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio, the Astros need to make a decision to go for it all now (a decision I think is virtually impossible at this stage) or start rebuilding. As much as I enjoy Clemens pitching for his homestate team, I would vote to trade him to a contender. Reuniting the Rocket with the Boston Red Sox would be a great way for him to go out. Absent that, how about Toronto? At 16-13, the Blue Jays are in the thick of things in the AL East, especially given the fact that the Yankees or Red Sox are no longer a lock to win the division. Let's not forget that Clemens enjoyed perhaps the two best back-to-back years of his career north of the border.
If I am Brian Cashman, I might trade for Clemens if the Rocket and George were agreeable to such a deal. However, I would not trade for Ken Griffey, as rumored, under almost any scenario. Junior is not the answer to the team's problems in center field. He is nothing more than a name at this point in his career. Peel back the onion skin and you're looking at a 35-year-old, injury prone player, making over $10 million per year, barely hitting his weight and on pace to hit 13 HR.
Speaking of the Yankees, if you want to really shake things up, why not move Derek Jeter to CF, Alex Rodriguez back to SS, and pick up a cheaper option at 3B in the form of Casey Blake (if that could be arranged) or settle for a Mike Lamb or even a Jose Hernandez? This is the type of bold move that will light a fire under the Yankees. Moving Tony Womack around only makes the team worse, not better.
If I am Dan O'Dowd, I would swoop in and trade for Zach Day. The Washington National right-hander is apparently in manger Frank Robinson's doghouse. He is the prototypical Coors Field pitcher. Granted, Day needs to throw more strikes but his sinking fastball and low salary are an ideal fit for a rebuilding Colorado franchise.
I am also of the belief that the Rockies should trade Todd Helton to any team willing to take on the rest of his contract, irrespective of the players I might get in return. Reallocating the money earmarked for Helton among a number of other players is a must in my mind.
If I am Paul DePodesta, I'm on the phone right now talking to Theo Epstein about Bill Mueller or Kevin Youkilis and Terry Ryan about Michael Cuddyer or Terry Tiffee. I think Youkilis, Cuddyer, and Tiffee are all better options than the Dodgers have now and offer decent solutions longer term. Mueller works because he would fill the void this year and perhaps for part or all of 2006, allowing the Dodgers to sit back and wait for Joel Guzman, who I think projects as a 3B, to develop.
If I am Bill Bavasi, I am on the horn with Scott Boras, working out a deal for Jered Weaver prior to the upcoming draft. Five years, $7.5 million. That's about a 50% improvement over the Angels' offer and just $600,000 below what the Weaver camp was asking for at the end.
Paying a pitcher who could be in the starting rotation as early as 2006 an average of $1.5M per year for each of the next five years is a bargain, if you ask me. You overpay in the early going but, if he pans out, you've got yourself a steal in the post-arbitration years. Weaver, on the other hand, gets to stay on the west coast and pitch in the friendly confines of Safeco Park.
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Make Bryan General Manager for a day and this is what he would and wouldn't do:
If I am Jim Hendry, I get on the phone with Chuck Lamar, quickly. Has anyone else noticed that the positions in which the Cubs are most lacking, the Devil Rays would consider trading? Aubrey Huff, Julio Lugo and Danys Baez. While I doubt the Cubs could muster a blockbuster involving all three, just grabbing Huff and Lugo would be a smart move for a team that still has a chance to get in the playoffs.
Luckily, the one kid quickly becoming the Cub's untouchable -- Felix Pie -- plays a position the Devil Rays are not interested in acquiring. But start with Angel Guzman, Jason Dubois and one of the Cubs young relief prospects. Throw in a few more decent names, and the Devil Rays will have a hard time saying no. With Huff and Lugo added to that lineup, Cub fans will slowly stop wincing every time Nomar's name is mentioned.
If I am Allard Baird, I make sure Daniel Glass is willing to pay Alex Gordon what he is asking this June. While it's a given at this point that Arizona is going to draft Justin Upton, Baird should be very excited that he will land the top player on my board. Gordon continues to prove that he is a fantastic talent, and even Mark Teixeira bonus demands should not make the Royals run away. While the Royals are slowly putting together a pitching staff that isn't laughable, they have a long way to go on offense. Gordon is the type of player that will make rebuilding easier.
After drafting Gordon, I make sure to recognize the considerable market for Jeremy Affeldt. It's amazing how ready people are to completely disregard performance and go straight by stuff, which Affeldt has plenty of. Closers are the one position that will be most sought after in the next three months, so Affeldt is a nice bargaining chip. Get a conference call going between Mr. Hendry, Mr. Sabean, Mr. Beinfest and Mr. Minaya, and let the four of them battle it out until the top bidder wins the southpaw.
If I am Ken Williams, I put some good publicity out there about Frank Thomas, who is not exactly receiving a hero's welcome in preparation for his return. I realize that this so-called "small ball" will not keep the Chisox in front of the division forever and that Frank's bat will be loads more valuable than what Jermaine Dye and Scott Podsednik are currently giving me. I also make sure that Dye and Poddy are the guys losing time, as Carl Everett is better than both of them, as well.
If I am Joe Garagiola Jr., I take advantage of the Cubs said interest in my infielder Alex Cintron. While I thought he might be a good player once, it seems like he really isn't much better than what Craig Counsell could give me. In no scenario will I back down from my current offer of one Major League reliever, though I might go as far to let Jim Hendry pick from the Mike Wuertz, Jon Leicester and Todd Wellemeyer group. If it were up to me, I would choose Wuertz.
If I am John Hart, I will undoubtedly shop Alfonso Soriano once Ian Kinsler proves to be a bit more ready. Soriano has put up some decent numbers in Texas, but with a ready contributor waiting in the wings and pitching sorely needed, you can kiss him goodbye. I'm not exactly sure who would be interested, but there has to be some market for a second baseman with great speed and plus power.
If I am every GM in baseball not named John Hart, I do not acquire Soriano. I realize that Hart will likely be asking for my best pitching prospect, and that is just not something I am willing to pay for someone who walks about as often as Jose Reyes. Soriano also plays sketchy defense, and should his OPS be lower than his .808 performance last year, that will be the fourth straight season of decline. Sure, players at 29 are supposed to be at the pinnacle of their careers, but Soriano is a perfect example of the kind that peaks at 26.
So, would you hire us? What ideas are too ridiculous, too pie-in-the-sky, or simply make too much sense? What would you do?