Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Baseline

Alright, we've just taken an exhaustive look at each position on the team to see what they did, with a slight nod to what we might be able to expect from each slot next year. There's reason for optimism at some of the spots -- third, right, etc -- and reasons for pessimism at others (read: Guzman, Cristian).

Before we go too much further, we need to figure out what we're locked into and what's probably going forward. Here's my best guess (and, yeah, I've done something like this a billion times before, but deal, dammit).

Starters:
Lopez, ~$7 million (arb, $3.9 last year)
Guzman, $4.2 million
Zimmerman, $.5 million (potential for a multi-year extension)
Young, $5 million
Kearns, $5 million
Pena, ~$4 million (arb, $1.9 last year)
Church, ~$.6 million (pre-arb)
Schneider, $4.9 million
TOTAL: $31.2 million

Reserves
2B, Belliard, $1.6 million
1B, Johnson, $5.5 million
C, Flores, $.4 million
OF, Logan/backup, ~$.5 million
MI, Jiminez/backup, ~$.5 million
TOTAL: $8.5 million

Starting Pitching:
Hill, $.5 million
Bergmann, $.5 million
Patterson, ~$1.5 million (arb, $.85 last year)
Redding, ~$1 million (arb, first time eligible -- non-tender candidate?)
Mystery Man...
TOTAL: $3.5 million, plus...

Relievers
Cordero, ~$6.5 million (arb, $4.15 last year)
Rauch, ~$1.5 million (arb, first time eligible)
Ayala, ~$1.5 million (arb, first time thru process, was $1.1)
Rivera, $.4 million
Colome, ~1 million (arb eligible, was $.6 -- non-tender candidate?)
Schroder, $.4 million
TOTAL: $11.3 million.

OFFENSE: $39.7 million
PITCHING: $14.8 million
GRAND TOTAL: $54.5 million

It's been claimed, most frequently by Svrulga at the Post, that the team is going to bump up payroll to about $70 million or so. That means that the team has about $15-20 million to upgrade what we've got.

Seems like the most obvious solution would be to upgrade the starting pitching, but it's not clear who to target, especially when mediocrities like Carlos Silva are going to make something like $50 million over 5 years.

I was going to recommend one particular name (and it's not Livan), but USS Mariner beat me to it -- and they made a better and more convincing argument than I'd be able to do anyway. I'll look at that a bit closer sometime later this week/month/year/millennium.

But I just wanted to get a baseline, to see how much of Uncle Teddy's money we'd be looking at spending as we head into the offseason.

  • Side note...

    As one of the originators of the LERNER IS CHEAP!!111! storyline, that $70 million figure is THE example of what I was most afraid of with their plan from last year. Who can criticize them for nearly doubling the major league payroll? It's a sizable bump up that certainly should be applauded (assuming, of course, that it comes to fruition, and wasn't just the product of a beat writer's fertile imagination.)

    But just $70 million? Seriously? With a cash cow of a stadium opening, a pleasure palace that was specifically designed with the fattest of cats in mind, with every conceivable device to suck every last nickel out of their wallets and their companies' expense accounts? They're going to make money hand over fist next year with revenues they couldn't have even dreamed of at RFK, and the entire league is awash in revenue like never before.

    So, yeah, be grateful that $70 million is bigger than $40 million, or whatever the hell they ended up spending this year, but it's likely not what they could be spending given the revenues they're extracting from this nation's finest defense contractors and lobbyists.

    I realize that it has to be a ramp-up. You can't simply decide to spend $50 million one offseason -- especially if there's not $50 million worth of junk to buy. But it's just something that, in general, concerns me, and something I'll be watching in the future.

  • 48 Comments:

    • Let me start by saying I love Bartolo (unless he costs us Sizemore, damn you Minaya). If we could somehow swing him and Glavine and a dietitian I'd feel good about our rotation.

      Is Miguel Tejada an impossibility. I know we don't have many prospects to trade, but the Orioles are really dumb. He never gets hurt and is a little better than what the Nats have at SS.

      JT

      By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10/30/2007 11:21 PM  

    • Tejada's a good idea.

      That's an idea I've been tooling around with, and I'll probably expand that into a post.

      I can see the Nats being much more agressive in the trade market, getting players who their teams are sick of.

      Tejada's an example. So is Crisp, Damon, Baldelli, etc. I'm not saying those would all be great fits or that we should do them, but they're examples of players we should at least consider and investigate.

      By Blogger Chris Needham, at 10/30/2007 11:26 PM  

    • I really think the Zimmerman extension will happen to. And I bet it happens early. So that'll add a few mill this season, or more if they somewhat frontload since they need to up payroll but there's not good players to sign.

      Tejada is a great idea, though overlapping the $4.2M owed to Guzman is a little hard to see.

      By Blogger Sam, at 10/30/2007 11:42 PM  

    • I'm sure that Baltimore would LOVE to have Guzman.

      By Blogger Chris Needham, at 10/30/2007 11:44 PM  

    • I also have to agree with JT. The Nats can do much more through trades than they possibly can through free agency, particularly considering that free agents really aren't going to help a club in the Nats state (i.e. several years out of contention).

      Perhaps we should splurge on a few free agents such as Hunter and Rowand and then try to move them for some prospects while picking up a bit of their contracts. This would be an unusual way to do business, but if it's the only thing we can do to get other teams to cough up their prospects, then we should take that route.

      By Blogger Michael, at 10/30/2007 11:50 PM  

    • If you sign free agents -- the better kind like Rowand/Hunter, etc -- just to trade them, you're never going to get a FA to sign with you in the future.

      It works with the stopgaps like Belliard and Dmitri...well, in theory, at least! The catch is to not sign them to extensions!

      By Blogger Chris Needham, at 10/30/2007 11:52 PM  

    • That's a valid point, but you have to admit, it would take a lot of cash to get most A-list free agents in DC and that combined with possibly being moved to a contender might actually provide more of an incentive than a problem.

      Also, anyone considering Kerry Wood as a possible retread attempt. God knows the Nats need starters, and if they can get him on the cheap and he ends up being healthy it might be steal. Plus, he's 4 years younger than Colon.

      By Blogger Michael, at 10/31/2007 12:04 AM  

    • I'm not sure Wood would be able to start anymore. We really don't need any relievers, either. And if we did, I'd rather Bowden go to the scrapheap; he's had great luck there.

      By Blogger Chris Needham, at 10/31/2007 12:05 AM  

    • How 'bout we sign some big FA's and keep them here?
      Everybody's been shitting on the Yankees for their free-spending ways, but they make the post-season EVERY year, and Boston seems to be doing okay by the open market. Why shouldn't we take advantage of our big-market status and improve immediately?
      I love how two weeks ago everyone was pointing to the D-backs and Rockies as shining examples of how to build within the organization.....and right now Colorado probably feels like a toddler after a weekend vacation at the Neverland Ranch.

      By Blogger Rob B, at 10/31/2007 12:25 AM  

    • ...and the Red Sox didn't build within their organization, how?

      Some examples of key Sox organizational players:
      (Post-Season stats)
      1)Jon Lester(SP) 0.00 ERA
      2)Jacoby Ellsbury (CF) .438 avg.
      3)Dustin Pedroia (2B) .278 avg.
      4)Kevin Youkilis (1B) .222 avg.
      5)Jonathon Papelbon (CL) 0.00 ERA

      (Non-Post-Season)
      6) Clay Bucholz 1.59 ERA (he tossed a no-hitter in his second start during the regular season before being shut down)

      By Blogger Michael, at 10/31/2007 12:40 AM  

    • Ortiz, Manny, Schilling, Beckett, Dice-K, Lowell......these hired guns won them the Series, not to mention go them there in the first place.
      The guys you previously mentioned are role-players, not difference-makers. (You bring up Youkilis and his stellar .222 avg??? He was on the BENCH in Coors cuz Big Papi couldn't DH.)
      Every stat you quoted was from an extremely small sample, compared with what it takes to be successful over an entire season.

      By Blogger Rob B, at 10/31/2007 1:06 AM  

    • Hey, Chris, did you tend towards the upper bounds in your arb guesses? $7m seems like a lot for Felipe, since his '07 performance seems unlikely to produce that big a jump. Same with JP - getting nearly double in arb seems like a longshot. Offset that, sure, with the likelihood of a longterm deal for Zimm, and maybe it all washes, but it seems like you're looking for a "minimum amount available" to spend.

      By Anonymous Marc, at 10/31/2007 5:06 AM  

    • $7 Million for Lopez?????

      If they pay him instead of putting that money to use in the pitching staff or CF then they deserve what they get....E and E (errors and attitude).

      By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10/31/2007 5:10 AM  

    • Lopez - that's what I don't understand about the arbitration system. How could any arbitrator award his ANY raise.

      If I had the kind of year at work he had, I'd be lucky to still be employed.

      By Anonymous bdrube, at 10/31/2007 7:52 AM  

    • You complain about the arbitration system when it looks like he's getting paid too much, but you didn't complain about it his first 3 or 4 years when you had him for $300K or his first two years of arb when he probably made $5 million combined, did you? ;)

      Arbitration compares players to what a player with similar stats over HIS CAREER and not just season, as well as his experience, would have.

      Lopez is a solid shortstop, a former All-Star, who's hit for power, played every day, and stolen a ton of bases. That's a valuable player on paper, even if he stunk to hell last year.

      As far as doubling salaries, that's not that unusual in baseball. That's how arb works. You've gotta pay on the back end, because you've had 5 years (not to mention all the time served in the minors) where you were woefully underpaying them.

      By Blogger Chris Needham, at 10/31/2007 8:38 AM  

    • Chris -

      While I normally follow your wisdom blindly, I have some experience in the arbitration area, but I will refrain from quibbling with some of your numbers.

      HOW-EV-AH (channeling Stephen A.), Church is arb-eligible this year as a Super 2 this year. He just got a lot more expensive. Given the analysis you have done about Church's value being above replacement level for a CF, I think he will rise into the $1.5M -$2.0M range.

      By Anonymous WebberDC, at 10/31/2007 9:01 AM  

    • You've had experience with MLB arbitration? It's a slightly different animal than many other types.

      You're right on Church. He's a strong possibility to be a Super-2. Have you seen FOR SURE that he is?

      By Blogger Chris Needham, at 10/31/2007 9:04 AM  

    • (If he is, $1.5 is probably a fair estimate)

      What's your guess on the other numbers? I'm just pulling them out of my butt, for the most part.

      By Blogger Chris Needham, at 10/31/2007 9:05 AM  

    • Where would you include the $2.5m they are giving to the Mariners so I hit singles and make outs for them next year?

      By Anonymous Jose Vidro, at 10/31/2007 10:16 AM  

    • BUCHOLZ IS NOT THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST BECAUSE HE PITCHED AN NO HITTER.

      remember Bud Smith?

      By Anonymous hoagie, at 10/31/2007 10:45 AM  

    • frankly, i think lopez is a nontender candidate. maybe that's just wishful thinking on my part.

      to michael, who thinks the blowsox won a WS with home grown talent, i would like to give him a homework assignment of adding up the season's worth of major hitting (BA, OPB, SLG, HR, RBI) and pitching stats (ERA, WHIP, W, K, S, and maybe one of those cool stats that only Chris knows about!) and allocating between home grown and FA/trade acquired talent. He should only be to allowed to post again if any stat (except for saves) is more than 10-15%. But I could just be a bitter Indians fan!

      Re FAs, we should not spend this year just to spend!!! The FA market is particularly weak and overpriced this offseason. Trades are the way to go, especially picking up expensive guys that their existing teams are tired of (several listed in these comments). Stan has repeatedly said we are not interested in many FAs but will be very active in the trade market.

      That will be our best chance for (a) more spending and (b) major improvement at any given position.

      By Blogger Bill, at 10/31/2007 10:47 AM  

    • Yep, my experience is with MLB arbitration.

      I've seen the list and Church is on it.

      I think your numbers for Lopez and Wily Mo are a tad high. Both have mediocre plaform years, and while Lopez has good bulk (career counting numbers) Wily Mo does not.

      Chief's number looks close to right since his numbers are still well above average for a closer. Patterson is too high because he didn't pitch (low bulk for a 4+ pitcher). Ayala's number will be higher since he is in the 5+ class, but he missed more than a year of bulk.

      I don't think your overall payroll numbers are too out of whack with what will happen.

      By Anonymous WebberDC, at 10/31/2007 10:55 AM  

    • Webber - very interesting, thanks for sharing your perspective.

      Is it possible Lopez could receive a negative or a zero raise via MLB arbitration? Or do you get a raise just for falling off a log?

      By Blogger Bill, at 10/31/2007 11:08 AM  

    • I love hot stove talk. How about this for MLB trade rumors;

      Nats give up Guzman and Cordero to the Orioles for Tejada?

      Nats need power and have a surplus of relievers. Tejada is a least young enough to be a bridge to the arrival of Smiley, Desmond or King.

      O's need relievers badly and although "fragile" Guzman is a much better clubhouse guy than Tejada (at least for Balmer).

      Payroll would be about even (estimated because of arb. for and Cordero).

      Of course it makes too much sense to actually happen...

      By Anonymous estuartj, at 10/31/2007 11:32 AM  

    • the Orioles would laugh and hang up if you offered them that.

      By Blogger Chris Needham, at 10/31/2007 11:35 AM  

    • Ortiz, Manny, Schilling, Beckett, Dice-K, Lowell......these hired guns won them the Series

      I'll grant you Manny & Dice-K but the others were not hired guns in the true sense of the term. And the other hired guns not mentioned (Drew and Lugo) were no great shakes given their compensation.

      Ortiz was signed after the Twins non-tendered him. There were plenty of teams that passed him by.

      Schilling, Beckett and Lowell were all acquired by trade. Something that has been discussed here. The Red Sox traded their prospects (or "prospects") to get each of those three.

      Building a team into a World Series contender given the Nationals market conditions should reflect what the Red Sox did. Develop the farm, plug in your own players as the older players skills erode, trade some prospects for other pieces and finally complement the roster with a few targeted free agents.

      By Blogger Brian, at 10/31/2007 11:45 AM  

    • What is fair market value for Tejada via trade? For that matter what other hard hitting SSs might be available via trade?

      By Anonymous estuartj, at 10/31/2007 11:50 AM  

    • How many hard-hitting shortstops are there period?

      Tejada's definitely an interesting target, and he'd be a huge upgrade for the Nats. But it's going to take a few of our top prospects... probably 2 or so from our top 10 list -- with the caveat that our top 10 is still worse than most other teams.

      By Blogger Chris Needham, at 10/31/2007 11:52 AM  

    • Bill -

      Lopez will get a raise because he was on the field for all of 2007. You can't go backwards, but his raise could have been minimal if he was hurt or didn't play. Instead, he had 681 (mostly crappy) plate appearances. So, to an extent, you do get paid for just showing up.

      I just don't think he's going to slot in at $7M given his mediocre platform year performance. He's already been paid for his all-star year and 20+ homer season, and his career .724 OPS is sucktastic.

      By Anonymous WebberDC, at 10/31/2007 12:05 PM  

    • So what's your best guess?

      $6 or so? Think the Nats will come in at $5?

      By Blogger Chris Needham, at 10/31/2007 12:06 PM  

    • What type of prospects are we talking about for Tejada? Ballester and Whitesell or Detwiler and Marrero?

      How would you rate Tejada vs. Renteria?

      By Anonymous estuartj, at 10/31/2007 12:36 PM  

    • Whitesell had a solid season, but to call him a prospect shows how far this team has to go.

      Tejada, I'd suspect, has more value than Renteria. And they package the Tigers gave up wasn't anything we'd be able to afford to match.

      Jair Jurjens, one of the kids who went to ATL, was one of the guys the Tigers refused to give up in the Soriano negotiations.

      By Blogger Chris Needham, at 10/31/2007 12:40 PM  

    • I'm surprised to hear you say Tejada has more value than Renteria.

      Renteria totaled 5 more TB on 20 fewer ABs.

      Renteria had a better avg (.332 vs .296), obp (.390 vs .357) and surprisingly out slugged Tejada (.470 vs .442).

      Tejada did have more HRs (18 vs 12), but Renteria had far more doubles (30 vs 19).

      I don't have a feel for the defensive differential between the two so I won't comment.

      Finally, Tejada is seen by most as an attitude problem in the clubhouse while Renteria has a fairly sterling reputation from my perspective.

      Good point on Whitesell, I only added him since he was added to the 40man roster. Maybe Ian Desmond, Michael Burgess if we're talking postion players or Glenn Gibson or Jordan Zimmerman if we're talking pitchers.

      By Anonymous estuartj, at 10/31/2007 12:54 PM  

    • If we're comparing '07 Tejada, sure.

      I can't say that I've followed him closely enough to see whether his decline was real or just a one-year blip. coughsteroidscough.

      But over his career, Tejada's been more valuable, on average.

      But it's a good comparison... it'd be like giving up 2 of our top 5 or 6 prospects. I don't think we could afford to do that at this point.

      By Blogger Chris Needham, at 10/31/2007 12:59 PM  

    • I agree, right now I don't think I would be in favor (as if anyone cared) of any trade that meant giving up anyone below AA. Those are the guys we need to compete for the WS in '10 and beyond, let's now ship them out just so we can come up 5 games short of a wild card slot in '08 or '09

      By Anonymous estuartj, at 10/31/2007 1:06 PM  

    • I agree to a point.

      Our scouting guys supposedly have a knack for pitching... and they'd know our guys best. If they're as good as they could be, they should knwo which of those guys have a better chance of panning out, and which are overrated.

      If that's the case, they could trade the junk. Look at all the players Atlanta shipped out over the years that never amounted to anything.

      By Blogger Chris Needham, at 10/31/2007 1:09 PM  

    • Like I would agree to trade my most accomplished and well known player to the Nationals.

      By Anonymous Darth Angelos, at 10/31/2007 1:10 PM  

    • Sorry Pete, I mean Darth - that was more of an intellectual exercise. I'm still trying to wrap my brain around the Renteria trade and what that mean for the trade market in general, and specifically for young pitchers and middle infielders.

      A more intersting question may be given the Orioles desperate need for relievers and the Nats potential surplus of said talent; what pieces might Angelos be willing to part with that migth interest the Nats?

      By Anonymous estuartj, at 10/31/2007 1:21 PM  

    • Tejada's old, we don't need him.

      PUT SMILEY IN!!!!!!

      By Blogger Rob B, at 10/31/2007 1:30 PM  

    • As an asinine voice coming from the UK, wouldn't Jason Jennings be a reasonably cheap (HELLO TED LERNER) pitching option? He sucked in Houston but if he's 90% of the pitcher he was in Coors he'd be worth the gamble for $4m.

      Randy St Claire has proven he can make alchemy when it comes to pitching and he'd be available at half the price of a Carlos Silva.

      By Anonymous Neil UK, at 10/31/2007 2:17 PM  

    • i like the idea of jennings -- he's the type they should take a flier on -- but I think he had TJ surgery and will miss most of the year, if not all of it.

      By Blogger Chris Needham, at 10/31/2007 2:19 PM  

    • So we could sign Jennings for chickenfeed for this season - make him the new Brandon Claussen.

      Isn't Zimmerman waiting to see what kind of trades/ free agents are bought in before committing to a big extension?

      Or is the extension something that can effectively be imposed on him by the club, given his lack of experience?

      By Anonymous Neil UK, at 10/31/2007 2:25 PM  

    • thanks again webber for your arbitration insight and use of the word "sucktastic"!

      By Blogger Bill, at 10/31/2007 3:24 PM  

    • Chris -

      If J-Roll had a 2005 platform year salary $3.925 with a 12 HR, 41 SB, .769 OPS year and got $5M (albeit as part of a multi-year), I have a hard time seeing FeLo getting too far past that. I'd guess $5.5-5.75M as the top end.

      Bill -

      You are welcome. I struggled between "sucktastic" and "craptacular," but thought that "craptacular" gave FeLo too much credit.

      By Anonymous WebberDC, at 10/31/2007 3:34 PM  

    • Love the site.

      You do not have one lefthanded pitcher on the staff! I think we may have seen the last of Colome as it appears management was impressed with Alabedjo (sp?).

      Your listing makes one thing abundantly clear. You do not need Cordero when you have Rausch, Rivera, Colome/Alabedgo and Schroeder. They have got to trade Cordero.

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