Ways to improve teams.

I envision myself as a little bit of a General Manager, devouring all sorts of information from writers and sabermetricians and coming up with trades and moves to improve teams, so I figured, why not try a post or two on how to improve some struggling teams. First up are my hometown Cardinals.

The cards are middling along at a 19-20 pace, not terrible, but not very good either, so here’s a couple of moves to possibly improve the team. To be a little different I’ll avoid the obvious solutions (Oscar Taveras, anyone?) and come up with other ideas.

One solution is to move Carpenter back to 2nd base, then acquire a 3rd baseman via promotion or trade. Carpenter is more valuable as a 2nd baseman. While I realize we have Wong, I’d rather have him on the bench or trade him for some power at a different position. (More on that later)

3B Prospects in the minors: The only one that stood out with a combination of youth and decent all around stats was a player for the High A Palm Beach Cardinals, Breyvic Valera. He’s obviously a few years off, so he’s not an immediate solution, so we’re left with the trade option, unless we turn one of our many outfield prospects into a 3rd baseman, but that process would take time as well.

Trade prospects: The problem here is quite a few teams are still in the race at this early juncture, and most that aren’t are in rebuilding mode. The only team truly out of it and not in rebuilding mode yet are the Arizona Diamondbacks. Their 3rd baseman, Prado is off to a slow start (though alot of hitters are, in this seemingly pitching heavy year) and is signed until 2016 at 10 million a year. He had a solid year last year, with 14 homeruns, 82 RBI’s and a .282 average.

Another need for the Cardinals is some thump in the lineup, and again we turn to the Diamondbacks. They have Paul Goldschmidt. The problem there is 2-fold, he’s their star, the bright spot on an otherwise performing team as he’s producing, and he’s signed to a team friendly contract.

So this is my bold solution…Trade for Goldschmidt and Prado by sending our team friendly contract, Allen Craig, as well as Wong and Adams and another prospect or two. We have a deep farm system, so we can take the hit. Slide Taveras into Craig’s spot, Goldschmidt takes over 1st base, Carpenter slides back to 2nd and Prado serves as 3rd base filler until Valera develops or we find a better solution in the offseason.

This trade may seem one sided, but as I said, we can fill the holes, and plus, that may be what it takes to acquire a superstar on a team friendly contract.

What do you think? Comments please.

Finishing off the Greediest teams thing…

Let’s finish this off so I can return to more fun topics.

First up is a team in the past many would’ve called very greedy. I’m actually reserving judgement now though, based on one player. The team is the Kansas City Royals, and that player is a rookie by the name of Yordano Ventura. Here’s brief story on him. I want to see how they handle him, provided his arm doesn’t blow out and he doesn’t regress. If they flip him once he becomes even remotely too pricey once he starts getting arbitration, then yes, I’ll go back to calling them very greedy. If, on the other hand, they try to keep him around with at least a decent offer, then my mind will be changed a little. Either way, keep an eye on this kid.

Next, we’ll flip the definition of greedy around a little. Instead of focusing on profit, let’s ask, which teams are greedy in terms of players, to the point of damaging themselves? IE ruining their farm system?

The first, an obvious one: The Yankees. While they signed 4 very prominent players this off-season (McCann, Ellsbury, Beltran and Tanaka) they still had plenty of holes thanks to their threadbare farm system. Right now the AL East is a tight division, but if the Yankees fade, as I think they will, they’ll either try to beef up at the trade deadline (meaning they’ll trade any semblance of talent they have in the minors, or future draft picks.) or sign more free agents in the off-season. Perhaps they should look into this farm system thing…

Finally, a team that combines overall greed with the win now thing, which is actually hard to do. Yet the Dodgers have done it. They signed a 330 million dollar TV deal! Good gravy! I realize they’re in a large market, but that is beyond ridiculous. Compare that to say, the Cardinals TV deal, which is 25 million and it looks even more outlandish. Add to that having 4 outfielders for 3 spots, plus another decent outfielder on the bench in Scott Van Slyke, and you’re blocking the progress of your best prospect, outfielder Joc Pederson. Then there’s the whole sign everyone who’s ever been a closer approach to the bullpen, as the closer thing makes those pitchers cost more, not that the Dodgers seem to care. They could develop relievers in the minors, but nah, that’s too cost effective.

Anyhow, that’s the end of my greedy teams rant. Here soon I’ll return to more fun topics, and continue to work on developing a better writing style.

Part two of the greed series

Let’s do a comparison between two teams from the same state:

Team A plays in an old stadium on a minimal budget, relies on the draft, trades, loyalty (hometown discounts) and low cost free agent signings and is consistently competitive, winning their division several times within the past five years. When it comes to their own impending free agents, they sign who they can, but flip the unaffordable ones for prospects and pieces that will help them continue to compete. Ultimately they rely on roster depth to compete. They need a new stadium, but it’s unlikely to happen anytime soon.

Team B plays in a brand new stadium, operates mainly for profit, relies on prospects and low budget fill ins for the rest of their holes, using basically a stars and scrubs approach. While currently competitive this year, it is an outlier, as they have finished out of the race for most of the past decade. They don’t bother trying to retain their stars, flipping them for prospects.

Both of these teams reside in Florida, I’ll let you figure out which is which.

The 5 Greediest Teams

I hear all the time about certain teams being greedy, and playing for profit, so I thought I’d look into it a little and see which ones really are the greediest and create a series of posts on the subject. Keep in mind this is just my opinion. While I will use some stats, I’m not going overboard on stats here. This series is in no particular order.

First up are the San Francisco Giants: In some cases, the greed isn’t purely about baseball transactions. It’s about refusing to share with your fellow man. The Giants won’t play nice and let the A’s move into San Jose, which they consider part of their territory, and thus have gone to court over this issue. The city of San Jose has 1.9 million people in it’s metro area. San Francisco has 4.5 million in it’s metro area. That’s 6.4 million people! Surely that’s enough to share. Add Oakland’s 400,000 people, and you get 6.8 million people.If you split it directly down the middle, that’s 3.4 million for each team. It won’t work out that way of course, but that’s quite a few people per team. (By comparison, St. Louis, the town of one of the most popular teams in the game, has 2.8 million people in it’s metro area, 41 % of the population of the Bay Area, less than that 50 % split.) Heck, even if only the people from San Jose and Oakland followed the A’s, that’s about 500,000 people more than Milwaukee, another baseball town. Thus the A’s are stuck trying to find another solution while playing at a stadium where the sewers back up raw sewage into the dugout. Way to be a team player San Francisco.

Low Scoring Baseball and Tension

There have been more than a few complaints about how baseball has turned back into a total pitchers game this year, resulting in a ton of low scoring games. I view it as a good thing, for one reason: Tension.

Recently, in the basketball playoffs, there was a game featuring the San Antonio Spurs and the Dallas Mavericks, where a player named Vince Carter hit a winning 3 pointer at the last second. This happened because the game was close, so the opportunity was there. It was a taut moment in a tense ballgame, and just before it happened, everyone was on the edge of their seats, anticipating something might happen, for good or bad.

Well, with all of these close, low scoring games, there is constant tension that something might happen. My Cardinals lost last night, 2 to 1. That slim margin kept my focus, made me keep an eye on the game via espn gamecast. There was always a good possibility the Cardinals could come back. They didn’t, but the possibility was there, and it was very real, as opposed to say, being down 5 runs in an 11 to 6 slugfest.

My favorite moments are the walk-off wins in tight ball games, where heroes like Kirk Gibson and David Freese emerge. Close games waiting for that magic moment, which doesn’t often happen, but when it does…

Don’t get me wrong, I like good hitting as much as the next guy, but to me, nothing beats a good pitchers duel whether they match each other zero for zero, or one pitcher only gives up one or even two runs. Because those leads are easily surmountable with the right bounce, with the right bad hop or wild pitch. The possibility is there. The tension is there.

Does speed matter when it comes to hitting high in the batting order?

In last night’s Cards-Cubs game, the number two hitter in the lineup came up with the bases loaded and two out. That hitter was Yadier Molina. Now, Yadi, as he’s affectionately known, is not known for his speed (an understatement, to say the least) He’s also one of the hottest hitters in the lineup. Manager Mike Matheny, in an effort to jump start the offense, put Yadi in the 2 hole last night. While admittedly he was 0 for 4 before this at bat, he delivered a 2 run single which lead to the Cardinals winning the game.

All of this leads to the question: Do you need speedy guys in the 2 hole? Heck, do you need average runners in the 2 hole? Isn’t a semi-clogged base better than an empty base?

Sabremetricians have stated recently that the 1st, 2nd, and 4th spots in the lineup are the most valuable. It makes sense, then, that Yadi, one of the Cardinals best hitters of late, would hit in one of those spots.

There’s 2 problems though, that eliminate 2 of those spots.

Yadi, for all of his hitting skills these past few years, is not a slugger. He did hit 22 homeruns in 2012, but before that his career high was 14, and last year he hit 12, so those 22 might be an anomaly. He did hit 44 doubles last year though, leading to a respectable .477 slugging percentage. Still, that’s not very high for a number 4 hitter.

As for the number one hole…He’s, as noted above, pretty slow. So he would clog the bases. Plus his OBP, while better than average at .361 last year, isn’t high enough to override the slow speed, at least for the number one spot in the order. While the Cardinals current leadoff hitter, Matt Carpenter, is just an average runner himself, he got on base last year at a .392 clip.

So that leaves the 2-hole. Yadi hit .319 last year with that .477 slugging percentage, so he’d obviously be able to move Carpenter along the bases while getting on himself at a decent clip with a .364 OBP average over the past 3 years, and the number 2 hitter doesn’t necessarily need as much speed as the number one hitter. Plus, it goes back to one of the overlying questions: Isn’t a semi-clogged base better than an empty base? I’d say yes. Hitting there, he can move Carpenter along, and be a baserunner for the sluggers following him, in this case, Matt Holliday and Matt Adams.

And last night, hitting Yadi in the 2-hole worked when it mattered, giving the Cardinals the win. It may not work every time, but I’d say last night proved that he should be given the chance to see if it would work over the long haul.

Posts about baseball in general, the cardinals specifically, and anything else that comes to mind.