Monday, December 22, 2014

Team Off the Street

We built a team of Hall of Fame Outsiders this morning. Now, we are looking at present day team construction. How good could a team fully comprised of late December free agents be this year? Let's see what's available right now, on the evening of Monday, December 22nd. Bringing us up to speed, the most recent transactions are:

- The Padres got Justin Upton and Aaron Northcraft from the Braves for Max Fried, Jace Peterson, Dustin Peterson, Mallex Smith, and international bonus compensation. Fried is a clear headliner in this package of potential regulars.

Derek Norris is going to San Diego

- More clearly, the Padres rebuilt their outfield by trading for Justin Upton, Wil Myers, and Matt Kemp. They also added All Star catcher Derek Norris by trading a couple of young arms to Oakland.

- The Yankees acquired Nathan Eovaldi, Garrett Jones, and Domingo German from the Marlins for Martin Prado, David Phelps, and cash.

- The Cubs signed Jon Lester's personal catcher, David Ross. They also signed Jason Motte for the bullpen and acquired Ryan Lavarnway to add organizational depth at Catcher.

Does Josh Johnson have anything
left, or is he the next Ben Sheets?
- The Mets sold Gonzalez Germen to the Yankees for cash considerations

- Pittsburgh signed Corey Hart, presumably for first base

- San Diego is getting Josh Johnson back on a heavily incentive laden 1-year contract.

- The Twins signed left-handed relief pitcher Wil Ledezma

- The Pirates won the bidding for Jung-ho Kang

Two days ago, Kang would've been our #3 hitter and starting shortstop.

Lineup:
Ichiro, dressed for his job interview
1: Ichiro Suzuki, LF
2: Everth Cabrera, SS
3: Norichika Aoki, RF
4: Gaby Sanchez, 1b
5: Colby Rasmus, CF
6: Geovany Soto, C
7: Stephen Drew, 2b
8: Kevin Kouzmanoff, 3b

Fans of this team would really need Ichiro to dig deep for “one more year in the sun”. Aoki is a decent free agent. Everth Cabrera was a surprising non-tender, but he isn’t a great hitter. The rest of the players range from underperforming former prospects, underperforming former non-prospects, and disastrous former prospects.

Bench
Amy Hundley thinks Nick is employable
C: Nick Hundley
PH Rt: Jonny Gomes
PH Lt: Nate Schierholtz
OF: Tony Gwynn, Jr.
IF: Mark Ellis
Util: Emilio Bonifacio

Everth Cabrera in place of Mark Ellis, with Jung-ho Kang at shortstop would improve the team quite a bit. Kang has real power, to drive in 18+ home runs, something that few middle-infielders can claim. Schierholtz and Gomes could play decent platoon in the style of current Cubs, A’s, and Rays regimes. It’ll be interesting to see if future clubs like the Dodgers, Red Sox, and Cubs will look to platoon positions at who will be paid like everyday starters on other teams. Heck, if the Padres could afford it, they would roll into 2015 with an outfield of Wil Myers, Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, Seth Smith, Carlos Quentin, Cameron Maybin, Will Venable, and Rymer Liriano. Instead, Smith and Quentin will probably get traded or shifted to first base.

Pitching Staff:
SP: Max Scherzer
"Hi, I'm Scott Boras. Max is your man."
SP: James Shields
SP: Hiroki Kuroda
SP: Aaron Harang
SP: Ryan Vogelsong
Swing: Carlos Villanueva
Middle: Sergio Santos
Middle: Jason Grilli
LOOGY: Joe Thatcher
Setup: Rafael Soriano
Closer: Francisco Rodriguez

This imaginary team would not score a lot of imaginary runs. The pitching would have to be tight, and this staff actually looks halfway decent. The bullpen is paper thin in the dependable category. Most of these guys have exhaustive medicals.

If our Team Off the Street could sign decent depth guys to minor league deals, like the ones listed below, I’d take this team for Over 81 wins.

Next up (alphabetical): Mike Adams, RHP; Andy Dirks, OF; Casey Janssen, RHP; Alexi Ogando, RHP; Rickie Weeks, 2b; Jamey Wright, RHP; Wesley Wright, LHP; Eric Young, Util

Hall of Fame's Best Outsiders

We did this once in 2010 and again at this time last year. The point is to construct the best team of players who have been eligible for at least one Hall of Fame vote. In other words, guys who retired after 2009, like Pedro Martinez and Randy Johnson, are not eligible for this team. After we get through this year's vote, next year's club should be even better, adding at least Gary Sheffield, Nomar Garciaparra, and maybe even Brian Giles to the mix.

3rd Occasional Non Hall of Famers Team
Batting Order
Bobby Grich was a better defender
and had a higher OPS+ than Jeff Kent
1. Kenny Lofton, CF
2. Jeff Bagwell, 1b
3. Barry Bonds, LF
4. Mike Piazza, C
5. Larry Walker, RF
6. Bobby Grich, 2b
7. Dick Allen, 3b
8. Alan Trammell, SS

Bench: Bill Freehan, C
Bench: Edgar Martinez, DH
Bench: Tim Raines, LF
The Crime Dog is worthy
Bench: Jeff Kent, 2b
Bench: Lou Whitaker, 2b
Bench: Dale Murphy, CF/RF
Bench: Fred McGriff, 1b
Bench: Craig Biggio, 2b/CF/C
Bench: Reggie Smith, CF/RF

SP: Roger Clemens
SP: Curt Schilling
SP: Mike Mussina
SP: Kevin Brown

P: Luis Tiant
Mussina is a new edition this year
P: Rick Reuschel
P: Dave Stieb
P: Dan Quisenberry

Manager: Buck O'Neil

Honorable mention goes to Norm Cash, Don Mattingly, Minnie Minoso, David Cone, Bill Dahlen, Dwight Evans, Graig Nettles, Bo Jackson, Dolf Luque, and Frank Howard. Who else deserves consideration?