This is how they should do it. Get ready Angel die hards, some sacred cows that aren't producing the milk anymore are going bye bye.
Don't trade any of our starting SPs... THIS YEAR. Assuming Colon can come back or Saunders can step in, that is a world Series caliber rotation. Just Weaver, Santana, Escobar and Lackey alone could probably take you there and carry a series with solid defense and run support. If Colon comes back all the way, it's probaby the best rotation by far.
The 2nd half of this year, we showcase them by going and getting enough support for the 2nd half to showcase what they can really do with good run support and defense. Then this off season, we target one of 3 players who'll be the star for the next decade.
(1) Miggy Cabrera - when the Marlins are trying to pencil out next year's budget when they learn what Miguel Cabrera will be getting in arbitration, we pounce. We'll have a proven #1 SP to trade instead of a proven talent who can't win because of poor d and no run support. Plus, it'll be easier for the Marlins to trade him after all their rookies have had good seasons.
(2) Jason Bay - Maybe the best young all around outfielder, that the Pirates have ZERO chance of signing when he becomes a free agent.
(3) Carl Crawford - Tampa will change their minds if we showcase Santana with a lot of wins, and not just good outings and toss in Figgins.
Or if we can't make one of those deals, we roll with what we have and are still in good shape.
Now, to pull this off, besides bringing up Kendrick to platoon at second, we need to make two deals to teams that are out of it and need to dump veterans.
Team #1 - The Pirates. They're in rebuilding mode and need to dump age and Craig Wilson, who wants to move back to socal.
Here's the deal:
We get Craig Wilson, Roberto Hernandez and Joe Randa.
Craig Wilson plays 1b and rightfield. He hits for power, low average, but a high obp. In particular, he hits lefties VERY WELL. Age 30 -
Roberto Hernandez he's thrown 37 innings, 26 Ks and 17 walks, and has a 2.43 ERA. But he's 41 and obviously not part of the Pirates future. He used to be a TOP saves guy from 1993 to 2002, now he's the set up guy and middle relief, and closes occassionally.
Joe Randa - He's an aged vet who's lost his job to Freddy Sanchez. He's a good glove, average power, and can still hit lefties pretty well.
The reason we want these guys.
Wilson is obvious. He can split time between first, the outfield and DH. He's never going to be a GREAT PLAYER, but a handy guy for his versatility and his ability to crush lefty pitching. He hit 29 homers in 2004, was injured most of 2005, and is on schedule to hit 24 homers this year. I see him as platooning with Morales and spelling Vladdy at right and DHing on occasion. I see him getting 400 to 450 at bats a year.
Now Randa and Hernandez, there are two reasons we want them. (1) Randa and Hernandez are two long time vets who were great for years but had the misfortune for playing for miserable teams. Coming to the Angels gives them one last shot at a ring, and I bet that brings their game up just a bit. This is for both almost certainly their last year, so whatever gas is still in the tank they'll use, and we won't be asking much of them. (2) They have no future with the Pirates next year. They are too old.
For Hernandez, we will need the occasional 1 inning to get to Shields, nothing more.
Randa, we need him to platoon with Izturus for now but eventually McPherson. He'll only start against lefties and can pinch hit on some other days. He's got a good glove and will be a great presence to teach McPherson the intricacies of third base.
Now to get these guys, we give up Aybar, Kotchman and Hector Carrasco. And if that's not enough, a 2nd tier pitching prospect as well. I think they'll want Aybar for the eventual replacement of Jack Wilson and Kotchman to become their 1b eventually and Carrasco to make up the loss of Hernandez. Aybar and Kotchman are potentially good players, but Wilson is a proven commodity.
The other team is the Cubs: The Cubs are really tanking badly and need to dump payroll. This one will cost us a bit more too.
We get Jaque Jones, Phil Nevin and Ryan Dempster.
Nevin we can get because Lee is back, and the cubs need to dump salary. people forget, Nevin was a great player till a few years back. With Wilson, we don't really need him, but he HAS 15 HOMERS this year, and to me, that makes him the perfect righty platoon for DH and the occasional 1b start. With fewer at bats, I think we can get a better average out of him, he's just not an everyday player anymore. We'll need to scout well to find out what kind of pitchers he can likely hit and which ones will give him problems, but 15 homers so far this year is no joke.
Ryan Dempster is about as popular as Ossama Bin Ladin in Chicago right now. Chicago will cheer when he leaves, but they'll be sorry. I think his underlying stats aren't far off from last year's great year, but some bad luck and the resulting pressured snow-balled and he's choking now. He needs a new start, a home field where he won't get booed warming up, and a lower pressure job. He will be our primary middle relief guy to get the ball to Shields. He could still be what Donnelly was in the past. He used to start too so he can go more than i inning.
Jaque Jones - He can't hit lefties to save his life, but he crushes righties and the cubs have some good young OFs anyway so won't be sad to see a platoonish OF go in the NL, where you need more well-rounded lefty/righty hitters. Platooning JONES with Juan Rivera will make for awesome left field stats, and most of all, gets GA to the DH/occasional spot start in left job that he needs. Keeping GA at DH is crucial to getting the last bit of gas he has in his tank, which is more considerable than I think most people think. When he's rested, he can put the bat on the ball pretty much like the good old days, just less power.
To get these guys, we have to give them top prospect, Jeff Mathis (who we don't need because of Napoli) Rob Quinlan, Erstadt (if he'll ever be able to play), Brendan Donnelly, and our 2nd best 2b prospects (not Kendrick) our 3rd best SP prospect and an RP prospect that has the potential to be a closer someday. It'll be worth it, because Jones is good and only 30 and Jones presence will allow GA to play longer and better.
And boy the loyalists are going to hate this, but drop Salmon and AK. Kennedy's inability to play short means we haveto keep Izturus around if OC goes down. Salmon's DH only ability is a roster hole we can't afford, if either wants to come back when we can expand the roster later this summer, great, but we need to maximize the roster until then, and Salmon andAK are too one-dimensional. It also sends a message. The old days are over. This is a new team, get used to it.
So this would be the lineup
STARTERS (Best 5 in the league maybe, definitely if Colon gets back to 2005 level)
SP - Colon
SP - Lackey
SP - Escobar
SP - Santana
SP - Weaver
Joe Saunders (If Colon takes a while to get his endurance back, switch Colon here and Saunders to SP till Colon is ready)
SETUP - SHIELD
CLOSER - K-Rod
Late summer call up, Kevin Gregg, and best p available
C - Napoli / Molina occasionally
1B Kendry Morales/Crag Wilson/Phil Nevin
2B Izturus/Kendrick platoon - Kendrick likely wins full time job
SS OC (occasional Izturus spot start to rest OC)
3B McPherson/Randa platoon
LF Jones/Rivera Platoon
CF Figgins (occasional Jones or Rivera spot start to rest Figgy)
RF VLAD / occasional spot starts for Wilson and GA
DH - PLATOON GA vs. righties / WILSON/NEVIN/VLAD vs. lefties
WIth that pitching and improved bats and gloves, I think the AL West crown is very doable and another World Series ring possible. I think the SPs and the setup/closer team are that good.
And mst importantly, the only top prospect we deal is a catcher we don't need. Napoli is the real deal.