Let’s first quickly revisit the REBUILD THE ROX theory first presented in early May. Here were the fundamental guidelines presented at the time:
1. Commit to scouting. Poach the best scouts from other Clubs. If we’re rebuilding, we need elite evaluators.
2. Commit (I mean COMMIT) to sabermetrics. We’ve made a step in the right direction, but more needs to be done.
3. Commit to foreign free agents (related to #1). If we are to believe the rumors, we were close to signing Jose Dariel Abreu. But to my knowledge, that’s the only foreign player we seriously pursued in recent years. The floodgates from Cuba are open.
4. Adopt “best player available” philosophy in amateur draft. It’s OK if we draft 3 OFers with our first 3 picks. We can trade them later to address needs. (9/12/2015 update – mission accomplished with this one).
5. Commit (I mean COMMIT) to player development. Use the St. Louis Cardinals as the benchmark.
The Rox (and Fans of the Rox) Need to Keep These Fundamental Truths in Mind:
1. In the post PED era, a player’s peak appears to be 28 years old, and the decline from that point is significant. Injuries occur more often. Player’s salaries are escalating and the teams are being protective of their investments. Organizational depth is more important than ever.
2. Pitchers that throw sliders and cutters are more prone to TJ surgeries. (9/12/2015 update – sadly – I predicted Ottavino’s elbow issues. This one is more true than ever).
3. Post TJ pitchers seem to be good for about 700 IP before the injury re-appears. (9/12/2015 update – very small sample size for pitchers returning after 2nd TJ – but the outlook isn’t good.)
4. Pitchers are reaching the majors younger than ever before. They’re not just arriving, they’re making big contributions.
5. Bull Pens are more important than ever.
6. I define “difference maker” as a Matt Harvey, Kris Bryant, Mookie Betts, Noah Syndergaard type talent. David Dahl (our best current prospect) is a nice player, but falls short of “difference maker.” Jon Gray is probably our next best prospect. Again……not a “difference maker.” But guys like Dahl and Gray will play up very well alongside “difference makers.” (9/12/2015 update – Brendan Rogers might just be a “difference maker.”)
Key Decisions Need to be Made Based on a Realistic, Focused Time Horizon
So now let’s fast-forward to mid-September and review a bit.
First – the Rox score an A+ on the initial phase of the Tulo trade. The dumped roughly 50% of his salary and picked up three (that’s right – that 3rd guy – Tinoco – looks like a bad ass) much needed pitching Prospects. Phase II will be dumping Reyes. Phase III will be/is developing the three pitchers.
Second – A+ to the Rox on the initial phase of the 2015 Amateur Draft. They picked best player available, regardless of position, in the first two rounds. Then they went heavy pitching. Not only that – they went the High School route. This seems to indicate that the BSCS correctly realizes that the contention window is a few years out. Then…….to top it off…….they got EVERYONE signed quickly and into summer league action. This last part is a big deal. Phase II of the Amateur Draft (grade yet to be determined) will be developing these guys.
Now – let’s revisit the “1500 LB Conventional Bomb Rebuild” and maybe scale it down to a 1000 LB bomb.
1. Tulo is gone – and as noted above – the initial results are excellent.
2. Cargo. Mr. Gonzalez has re-established his value in spades and is the primary reason I’m contemplating downsizing to the 1000 LB bomb. Unlike when first presented in May – I’m now going to suggest a very specific trade.
a. Cargo to the St. Louis Cardinals for Marco Gonzalez, Jack Flaherty, and Sam Tuivailala. As stated in numerous previous posts on this message board – IMO – Cargo’s trade value will be fantastic this offseason due to the 2016 FA OF class. The top shelf guys (Justin Upton, Jason Heyward, Alex Gordon, Yoenis Cespedes) will command (and mostly get) 5-7 year, 100-120M contracts. I don’t see the Cards playing that game with Heyward. Cargo’s 2 years, 37M looks FANTASTIC. We’ll come back to two of these three pitchers in a minute.
3. Trade Nick Hundley. Our new found, relative Catcher depth can be used to our advantage. Ag will be quick to point out that Hundley’s offensive numbers FAR over-perform his career. When you consider that and his age – there’s no way he replicates what he did this year again. His contract for next year (3-4M) is reasonable. Don’t expect much in return. Maybe an “A” level pitcher.
4. Dump Reyes. We’ll have to eat 30M of the owed 47M. Expect nothing in return other than a (very valuable) 40 man roster spot.
5. DO NOT, DO NOT, DO NOT bring back Justin Morneau (under current terms), Wilin Rosario, Kyle Kendrick, and John Axford.
So by my count – rough estimate – we’re saving Cargo’s 37M (18M per), maybe 12M of Reyes 47M (let’s amortize that over two years and say 6M per year), Morneau’s 8M, Kendrick’s 6M, and Axford’s 3M. So that’s about 41M for 2016.
Now – let’s assemble a team for 2016. We’ve got +/- 41M to work with – although a chunk of that will go to arbitration eligible such as Charlie Blackmon.
Marco Gonzalez (obtained in the Cargo trade)
Sam Tuivailala (obtained in the Cargo trade)
Loone Bogan (it’s just asking too much for the Rox to become really smart overnight and come to grips with the sunk cost concept)
One of Rusin/Flande
Two of McHenry, Garneau, Murphy
Ben Paulsen/I’m receptive to resigning Morneau for 1 year if it’s less than 5M. FWIW – the FA 1B class is weak sauce. One way, way out-of-the-box thought (for the Rockies – not others – see International Players comment above) is Byung Ho Park from Korea. Massive power. Close friends with the Pirates SS Kang who has done so well this year. Pirates front-runners if he’s posted. No compensation picks relinquished with this one.
Descalso (we have him, he’s relatively cheap, he’s performed better in the 2nd half)
This is where it gets interesting.
Aggressively pursue a FA that doesn’t require a qualifying offer (and hence a compensation pick). I love Geraldo Parra – but he’ll be in the qualifying offer group. Someone to watch is Austin Jackson. He may fall below the qualifying offer group and is a perfect candidate for a 1 year pillow contract. Guess what – his agent is Scott Boras – the inventor or the pillow contract. Jackson is a solid defensive player. Brings some speed. Will “only” be 29. Really the 2016 poster child for a pillow contract. I’m guessing he can be had for 8-10M for 1 year. This is one place where playing at Coors is really an advantage. Another pillow candidate is Ian Desmond. Not an OFer (yet) – but an out-of-the-box thought that provides SS insurance as well.
Ag – this gives you some material for PAT 2K16.
My thoughts – this proposed SP group isn’t historically bad. It’s not good – but there is some upside. Park adjusted – PAT – it could be league average. The BP is loaded with largely unproven power arms. It will need to be managed perfectly, and will also need some luck. My hope is that the improved SP will hide some of the warts early.
Offensively – this lineup is relying on a healthy Dickerson and LeMahieu proving this season wasn’t a fluke. A LeMahieu/Blackmon/Austin Jackson lineup would give us some speed. Trevor Story producing at a WAR of 2.0 would be a bonus.
Defensively – probably lucky to be average.
Finally – and very importantly – we’ve got to get rid of WW. Here are my three Managerial choices in order:
1. JR House
2. Brad Ausmus
3. Mike Maddux
I’ve long liked Maddux – and still do. But since this is becoming a rebuilding project, I think there are others that might be better.
Parting thought I – signing a pillow contract FA has the added advantage (if it works) of having a flippable player at the 2016 trade deadline. Another reason I like (it’s far from love) Austin Jackson is that Scott Boras is his Agent. Giving his client a pillow contract, and trading Cargo (Boras client) to a contender, could score some points with Mr. Boras. That brings us to parting thought II
Parting Thought II – re-assess after the 2016 amateur draft. If things are going well – make a bold move with NoDo/Boras. Propose a 6-8 year contract that buys his 17/18/19 arbitration years. If he says “yes,” the face of the franchise will be on board when the contention window opens in 2019. If he says “no,” trade him at the deadline or next off-season and he can watch the Rox in the playoffs in 2019 and winning the Series in 2020 from afar.