Franken-Roster: Creating a Playoff Team from the Bargain Bin

With the vast majority of MLB free agents having found new homes, there is the temptation to dream about what life would be like if your team had somehow acquired all of the best free agents, costs be damned. Typically, teams don’t have that kind of money to spend though it seems like the Dodgers tried their hardest to do just that. However, what would a team like the Houston Astros look like if they were willing to spend in free agency in 2012 but only had a budget of $40M? Could they field a team that could reasonably compete for the playoffs with nothing but bargain bin free agents? Tampa Bay seems to be quite successful in turning cheap free agents into one-year Superstars, so it might not be as far-fetched as it sounds.

For the sake of this post, the new team will play in the AL and have exactly 0 players under contract for 2013 and nobody in the minors that would be above replacement-level. You can use nameless minor league depth (replacement-level players) in your lineup that cost the league minimum ($500k for simplicity). Players that are still unsigned can be signed for $5M X their average WAR from the last two years though the league minimum still applies (subtract .5 WAR per year if they’re over 33) or the average of those two seasons’ salary (whichever feels fairer – this is not rocket appliances). Players that have signed as minor league free agents but have accrued more than 6 years MLB service time have a salary of $1M, while those with less than 6 years get the league minimum. Don’t worry about performance bonuses. If they produce, the revenue from the gate will be put back in the team and will cover those costs. How would you spend your $50M?

Rotation:

It’s often hard for teams to acquire one quality pitcher through free agency to complement an already decent core of starters. Finding 5 of them seems an even more daunting task.

  • RHP Javier Vazquez – $4.5M (1.9 rWAR – 1.0 (aging penalty) X $5M)
    • 2011: 3.69/3.57/3.87 – ERA/FIP/xFIP – 3.2 fWAR
    • 2013: N/A
  • RHP Shaun Marcum – $4M
    • 2012: 3.7/4.1/4.21 – 1.4 fWAR
    • 2013 (Bill James): 3.63/4.01 ERA/FIP
  • RHP Bartolo Colon – $3M
    • 2012: 3.43/3.82/4.17 – 2.4 fWAR
  • RHP Rich Harden – $1M
    • 2012: 5.12/4.69/3.68 – 0.5 fWAR (82.2IP)
  • RHP Carlos Zambrano – $1M
    • 4.49/4.47/4.84 – 0.8 fWAR

Total: $13.5M

This is a rather rag-tag collection of starting pitchers, but they’re cheap and effective when healthy. Couldn’t find a left-hander, but perhaps I’ll use the gate revenue generated by mid-season to add one via trade.

Relievers:

  • RHP Brian Wilson – $2M
    • 2011: 3.11/3.33/3.91 – 0.5 fWAR
    • 2013: 3.48/3.12
  • RHP Jason Frasor – $1.5M
    • 2012: 4.12/4.10/3.76 – 0.2 fWAR
  • RHP Matt Capps – $1M
    • 2012: 3.68/4.49/4.18 – 0 fWAR
    • 2013: 3.46/3.74
  • RHP Juan Carlos Oviedo – $1M
    • 2011: 4.06/3.96/4.16 – 0.2 fWAR
  • LHP Hisanori Takahashi – $0.5M
    • 2012: 5.54/3.93/3.79 – 0.2 fWAR
    • 2013: 3.38/3.8
  • RHP Takashi Saito – $0.5M
    • 2012: 6.75/7.09/4.96
    • Career: 2.34/2.81/3.26
  • LHP – Minor League Guy (not Jean Segura) – $0.5M

Total: $7M

It’s going to be tough to fill the position players with all this money dedicated to my pitching, but I’m modelling myself after the 2012 Rays/A’s that competed on a shoestring because of their quality pitching.

Starting Position Players:

  • Kelly Shoppach – $1.5M
    • 2012: .233/.309/.425 .316 wOBA 96 wRC+ 1.2 fWAR
  • 1B Lyle Overbay – $1M
    • 2012: .259/.331/.397 .314 wOBA 91 wRC+ 0.1 fWAR
      • 2012 vs. RHP: .323 wOBA 97 wRC+
      • Career vs. RHP: .356 wOBA 116 wRC+
  • 2B Jeff Keppinger – $4M
    • 2012: .325/.367/.439 .352 wOBA 128 wRC+ 2.8 fWAR
  • 3B Placido Polanco – $2.75M
    • 2012: .257/.302/.327 .279 wOBA 71 wRC+ 4.1 FLD 0.6 fWAR
    • 2013: .279/.331/.368 .303 wOBA
  • SS Hiroyuki Nakajima – $3.25M
    • NPB: .302/.367/.475 – .834 OPS
  • LF Melky Cabrera – $8M
    • 2012: .346/.390/.516 .387 wOBA 149 wRC+ 4.6 fWAR in 501 PAs
    • 2013: .295/.348/.432 .338 wOBA (though I think that’s a little light)
  • CF Andres Torres – $2M
    • 2010: 6.9 fWAR .358 wOBA 125 wRC+
    • 2012: .230/.327/.337 .297 wOBA 87 wRC+ 1.7 fWAR
    • 2013: .240/.328/.370 .307 wOBA
  • RF Reed Johnson – $1.75M
    • 2012 vs. LHP: .311/.354/.444 .348 wOBA 117 wRC+
    • 2012 vs. RHP: .263/.315/.339 .289 wOBA 77 wRC+ (0.5 fWAR)
    • 2013: .272/.325/.382 .299 wOBA
  • DH Travis Hafner – $2M
    • 2012: .228/.346/.438 .342 wOBA 119 wRC+ 0.6 fWAR in 263 PAs
    • Career: .258/.363/.446 .347 wOBA 135 wRC+ 22.2 fWAR in 4483 PAs

Bench Players:

  • 1B/OF Juan Rivera – $1M
    • 2012: .244/.286/.375 .287 wOBA 81 wRC+ -0.8 fWAR
    • 2012 vs. LHP: .323 wOBA 106 wRC+
    • Career vs. LHP: .351 wOBA 115 wRC+
  • Henry Blanco – $0.75M
    • Career: .227/.276/.331 .286 wOBA 65 wRC+
    • 2013: .218/.276/.331 .270 wOBA
  • INF Cesar Izturis – $0.5M (Cheated here, but I don’t think he’s worth $1M. Sub in minor league depth)
    • 2012: .241/.254/.343 .259 wOBA 58 wRC+ 0 fWAR
    • Career: .255/.294/.323 .273 wOBA 62 wRC+ 54.2 FLD
  • OF Bobby Abreu – $1M
    • 2012 vs. RHP: .312 wOBA 96 wRC+
    • Career vs. RHP: .385 wOBA 136 wRC+

Total: $29.5M

Grand Total: $50M

Who says you need to have superstars making the league minimum to compete in this modern world? I’d actually prefer to change a couple guys for their opposite handed equivalents but have spent far too much time on this as it is… Do you dare assemble a team of free agents that could rival me for $50M or less?

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s