I’ve written several articles this summer outlining things I would do to turn the Rox around. The goal of my ideas has always been to field a consistent contender and win a World Series. But of course that’s just all wishful thinking. Now……I’m going to attempt to read the Front Office (as I like to say – the Blake Street Clown Show – BSCS) tea leaves and make an educated guess about what we’ll see for the remainder of the regular season and the early part of the off-season (through the Winter Meetings – held this year in DC – likely mid-December).
First – grading Jeff Bridich. This was discussed to some extent in a thread last week. In my opinion, Bridich handled the Michael Cuddyer Free Agency perfectly. He managed a great amateur draft (rated #2 by Major League Pipeline). Perhaps more importantly, he did a great job getting every single relevant player taken in that draft signed – quickly. Then………I believe he did a great job with the Tulo trade. He smartly took a clue from Jon Hart and took on Reyes’s salary to get three Prospects – two of which are elite. More importantly, he somehow talked Monfart into taking this step. And even while taking the Reyes salary – he saved 50M.
But all is not rosey. His offseason Free Agent signings basically all suck (with the exception of an over achieving Nick Hundley). Perhaps just as bad – his inability or lack of vision regarding flipping some marginal guys after great years (Morneau, Stubbs, and even Wilin) really hurt. Assuming that a 42 year old LaTroy Hawkins could be an everyday Closer was………a bad assumption! That brings us to where we are now……and the point of this article. Where do I see us going?
Based on the amateur draft (High School heavy) and the Prospects brought back in the Tulo trade, I think Bridich gets the fact that we’re a long way from contending and understands the “contention window” concept. It’s also my opinion that it was no small achievement getting Monfart to sign off on trading Tulo. So I’ll give him more kudos here. Given this seeming recognition of our distant contention window………I think we will indeed see a concerted effort to trade Cargo and Reyes this offseason (or perhaps Reyes this month during the waiver trading period). After seeing the results of all the deadline trades – I can’t fault Bridich with not trading Cargo at the deadline. The return just wasn’t there. Even so, this is still extremely risky. We need to all hope Cargo stays healthy the next two months. Beyond Cargo and Reyes – I’m not convinced we’ll see the additional moves that we need. Trading Hundley this offseason should happen. But……Morneau and Stubbs weren’t traded last offseason. Will the Front Office learn from this mistake? John Blackmon will enter next season as a 30 year old. He’ll be coming off his second consecutive very good year. Based on his age and “sell high criteria,” he should be traded also. Between Cargo and Blackmon – I can see (potentially) getting 4 more good pitching Prospects.
That brings us to pitching Prospect distribution in 2016. Here’s what I see (note – I’m only listing “significant” Prospects):
ML – Gray/Castro
AAA – Hoffman, Diaz (RP), Moll (RP)
AA – Freeland, Senzatela, Balog
A+ – Castellani, Tinoco, Rodriguez
A – Nikorak, Lambert, Hill
So Gray and Castro should lose their “Prospect” status next year – and that’s a good thing. There’s been much talk here (DD and RMH come to mind as advocates) about the need for pitching depth on the Farm – and I earlier calculated that we need at least a minimum of 20 legit pitching Prospects at any given time. As you can see from my list – as of now we project to have 12. If we net 4 more via offseason trades, we’ll be at 16. Still 4 short of the 20 minimum.
So that brings me back to the point of all this – what do I think the BSCS will do. I think they will trade Cargo and Reyes. I don’t think they’ll trade Blackmon and Hundley. They’ll be blinded by Blackmon’s present value to the Club (even if it’s a Club that will struggle to get 70 wins) and cite Hundley’s Clubhouse leadership and his expert handling of this year’s historically bad pitching staff (sarcasm intended). So we’ll will inch incrementally closer to getting the pitchers we need in the Farm – but fall short of the windfall we could have. I’ll be positive and say we’ll net out 3 more……..meaning we’ll enter 2016 with 15. Next year’s amateur draft is supposedly deeper than this past year’s – and we’ll once again have a high pick and a competitive balance pick (we’ve already drawn #3). We’re probably looking at the #3, #33, and #45 picks. I’m still adamant that we should pick “best player regardless of position” with the first couple of slots – be we can then go pitching heavy. So by this time next season – we’ll likely have 20 legit pitching prospects, mostly clustered in the low minors……..and be sitting on a 70 win season if we’re damn lucky. Monfart will likely have 30M less payroll obligation (maybe more) – and people will still be streaming to the rooftop to buy $6 beers and $12 hamburgers. So he’ll continue to laugh all the way to the bank.
It’s a process folks – a slow, painful process.