SIGN JETAH, RIVERA AND LEE! AND CRAWFORD! AND WERTH! AND MANNY! AND MORA! (aww this last one is gone)
AH, AND TRAYD DAVID WRONGZ!
FIRE SM SANDY AND HIRE FRIEDMAN!
"The one mistake we can't make is treat each year like a disparate event and try to be as good as we can that year without being mindful of the future years," Friedman said. "And so people talk a lot about 2010, that we went all in and I would agree with that from a financial standpoint. We way over-extended ourselves to field the team that we did, but we definitely didn’t from a talent standpoint. We didn’t trade off a lot of guys that are going to be key members of the 2011 and beyond."
(SM Sandy MS Paintz wouldn't pass the AA censorship)
1) Keeping prospects (and not signing Type A Free Agents)
The farm is generally the main source of surplus value to build a competitive team. IMO we are not at that point of the projected win curve to push over a big trade, nor our farm is deep enough to withstand it. Yeah, not all prospects pan out (in fact only a few do), and if there was an opportunity to trade for a superstar under a team friendly contract it should be considered. Then to the next point,
2) Avoiding large trades with too many moving pieces (trying to keep it realistic)
Based on the money available, go bargain shopping (non-tenders, 2nd/3rd tier Free Agents, Rule 5 picks, exploring the possibility of cheap trades). Prepare backup options in case the trades proposals are refused. Preference to trade with dumb GMs (or in win-now disillusion) or try to involve them in a 3-way trade. This is not always possible since teams with depth generally have smart GMs. (Yeah, I'd like to avoid it but it won't be possible)
3) Signing short term deals, with low base salaries
Keeping the payroll clear for the exodus and getting under appreciated/undervalued complementary players. The projected roster might not be +90 winz, instead of adding superstar type players, attempt to round up the roster and add average players. Not spending much on the pen. Some FA signings might net draft picks in the future (Type B, borderline qualified players).
4) Increasing depth, particularly at SP and C
Starters can always get hurt, miss a few games or be generally ineffective. It's uncommon for a team to have only 5 or 6 pitchers making starts during one year. Johan might take longer to recover. Instead of giving starts to replacement level players, it would be preferable to have fall back options. Try not to rush prospects, start them at the minors and call them up if someone is hurt or doesn't produce. Priority to get SP, SP, C, SP, pen (our depth and replacements at those positions are non-existent/worse than at the other positions; pitchers break down). Try to solve 2B and OF in-house.
5) Beware of the "if healthy" tag
Beware of the danger of upside, the production probability curve might be misunderstood by the market. It's not just a matter of "if healthy" = 6 WAR, "if not healthy" = 0 WAR, by the flip of a coin. A former star could produce +6 WAR again, but the probability might be really low (like 5-10%), specially for pitchers. It's not just a matter of "being healthy", but being as effective as before. Low base salaries plus incentives, with backup options.
6) Digging pitchers
Instead of looking just at WAR or FIP, try to find value in other peripherals: ugly ERA, high BABIP, pitchers playing in hitters park, good pitchers buried in the depth chart etc. Even though a high GB% is generally preferred, sometimes it's not taken into account. Another thing to keep in mind is infield flyouts (IFF or pop ups). They are converted into outs in 98.5% of the times and have the run value equivalent of a strikeout. Usually flyball pitchers have the tendency to produce more IFF, but there might be cases when a pitcher has a moderate GB% and above-average IFF%. This worked all in theory, but when applying those filters the search results didn't go exactly as planned. Most of the time, the filter displayed the already-superstars pitchers.
1) Try to trade for Kenshin Kawakami (1y/4m)
Yeah, their FO is not stupid and it might be hard to trade within the division, but he is buried deep in their SP chart, he didn't pitch much this year, seems like he was the Nick Evans of the Braves. They are basically paying $ 6.7m for a relief pitcher next year. After he was demoted to AA, some Japanese teams showed interested to trade for him, assuming $ 3m of his salary. Assuming $ 4m to $ 5m is not out of the question for a pitcher who could produce average numbers (all his peripherals are average-ish across the board, K%, BB%, GB%, IFF%). Braves get salary relief (and a PTBNL) for a pitcher they don't plan to use much (or at all) and he gets the opportunity to be a starter again. It might take less than $ 4m, but I'll keep the number high for conservative projections.
2) Sign Vicente Padilla (1y/4m)
Type B, not offered arbitration. Average-ish across the board, decent peripherals, track record is meh outside of the last 2 years.
3) Sign Russell Martin (1y/2m)
He is coming from an injury in August (torn labrum in his right hip), so low base salary + incentives. Playing time between 55%-25%. Ask around about Chris Iannetta or Mike Napoli. Dioner Navarro as fallback option.
33) Sign Chris Capuano (1y/2.5m)
Reasonable K%, GB% and IFF%, bad BB%. Will compete for a SP slot. Long man/spot starter most likely. Insurance if another starter is ineffective or hurt.
50) Pen moves
Uehara is a candidate, but I don't want to pay more than 1y/2.5m + incentives.
78) Make Rickroll the official 7th inning song and introduce the orange unis.
81) Rule V picks
If chosen in the Rule 5 draft, a player must be kept on the selecting team's 25-man major league roster for the entire season after the draft—he may not be optioned or designated to the minors. The selecting team may, at any time, waive the Rule 5 draftee. If a Rule 5 draftee clears waivers by not signing with a new MLB team, he must be offered back to the original team, effectively canceling the Rule 5 draft choice. Once a Rule 5 draftee spends an entire season on his new team's 25-man roster, his status reverts to normal and he may be optioned or designated for assignment.
I'm not sure if it's possible, but I'd try to trade one of our unprotected Rule V picks to another team's pick, to avoid putting the prospect in on the 25-man roster for the year, and let them develop in the minors until we can them up. Or get them in the Rule V and try to evaluate them until ST. Or get them in the minor league version of the Rule V draft. Or else.
Aneury Rodriguez, Adam Miller (RP)
95) Hire Jaime Cevallos to fix Dub's hitting in 5 minutes
96) Relocate KB to the tacos' stand
97) Ollie and Castillo
Give them the GMJ solution: try to trade them away paying all but $ 2m of their contracts. If even Dayton Moore doesn't want them, DFA. Those roster spots have value too, you know what I'm sayin'?
99) Call Socks!, go back in time and sign Matt Murton (insert unicorn flavored picture here)
Roster and Projections
I'm sure I've screwed many projections (ouch for calculating pitchers numbers, they don't really match up) and salaries too, but the OD roster would be:
Depth readily available (AAA)
Tejada (SS/2B), Pridie (CF, in case Beltran or Pagan go to the DL), Gee (SP), Misch (SP), Acosta (RP),Manuel Alvarez (RP), Mike O'Connor (RP), Nickeas (C).
That's basically a mid-80 winz team with a $ 145m~150m payroll. At this point, the team is basically forced to buy some risk, hoping for a huge production at a gamble (SP, 2B or OF), minor league signing or prospect breakout. With the remaining money, you can accommodate some mistakes I made with the salaries and with whatever is left I guess I'll buy a "Brad Penny" lottery ticket.
Sure, there is the chance that players overperform those ruff projections, but I'm not counting on the "if everything goes right", nor with a +90 wins team. The hitting/fielding improvement would come basically from not giving PA's or innings to below-replacement level players (Francoeur, Cora, Barajas, etc). And not-Jerry.