Friday, October 16, 2009

Don't Expect Miracles This Offseason: Part 2

This is the second part of the offseason outlook. To read part 1, click here.

Obviously the offense was the biggest issue last year. We all know that. But fortunately (or unfortunately, however you look at it), pitching is going to be our strength again in 2010.

Most of the pitching staff is intact, and very little will have to be done with it.

Here's what we've got going on:

Guaranteed deals: Barry Zito ($18.5M),
Jeremy Affeldt($4.5M)

Arbitration Eligible Pitchers: Tim Lincecum, Brian Wilson, Jonathan Sanchez, Justin Miller, Brandon Medders

Players under control (minimum deals): Merkin Valdez, Sergio Romo, Joe Martinez, Dan Runzler, Alex Hinshaw, Madison Bumgarner etc.

True Free Agents: Noah Lowry, Bobby Howry, Brad Penny

What we're looking at here is certainly not the mess that the offense is. We already have 80% of the starting rotation locked up (Lincecum, Cain, Sanchez, Zito), and the back end of the bullpen is settled. Basically, this offseason, we need to determine who the fifth starter will be, and to fill out the front end of the bullpen. First, we must discuss our arbitration eligible stars.

Tim Lincecum, Jonathan Sanchez, and Brian Wilson are all up for arbitration for the first time. This means, that they're all in line for raises-- Timmy especially. We're looking at a Ryan Howard type situation for Lincecum, and his salary is seriously going to cut into our ability to chase the un-chaseable free agent bats you've all been clamoring for. This is what it looks like:

2009 ($650k), 2010 $9-12M

2009 ($480k), 2010 $5-7M

2009 ($455k), 2010 $3-6M

So you see the Gyros' situation for what it is. Remember in part 1, where I said that with all the salaries coming off the books added up to about $42.5M?

Well you can take that number, and really slice into it hard with the arbitration awards that this trio of flamethrowers will get. We're talking about between $17-25M already off the top of that number.

So, let's take the average of that range, let's say, conservatively that it's $21M. Then you add in the rest of the 30 dudes on the 40 man roster making minimum deals (around $450k on average--$13.5M total), and Freddy Sanchez, who will almost certainly be back at a number like $6M, you've already gotten to $40.5M.

Now, in my original estimate in the last article, I didn't include the minimum salary guys like Sergio Romo, etc. With last year's payroll of the 25 man roster around $82M, but actually more like $90+, we're talking about having between $12-16M to spend on free agents (including our own minus F. Sanchez) during the offseason.

That is of course, unless Neukom okays a wild spending spree that puts the payroll around $100M.

I don't count on that happening. Whether you like to hear it or not, it's not wise. The team is still paying off AT&T park, and we are not like the Red Sox or Angels, where we can afford to make any more free agent mistakes and then just fix it the next season by spending more. There is a tangible budget for player salaries, and they must work within those confines. Yes, I wish we had absurdly deep pocketed ownership too, but we don't.

So, with all of this in mind, I expect a good deal of our bullpen fillers to come from in house. Dan Runzler and Waldis Joaquin come to mind as youngsters who may be ready to fill spots.

I'm not sure what will happen with Justin Miller, Brandon Medders, and Bobby Howry. Miller and Medders pitched pretty damn well, but Miller is coming off an injury, and both would be due raises. Howry drove us crazy last year, and I don't see him coming back, especially because his $2.75M price wouldn't come down too far.

The big question here is whether or not Madison Bumgarner is ready to enter the rotation, whether he starts in the pen, or whether he's best served starting in Fresno.

As much as I'd like to see him take that 5th starter spot, I just don't think he's quite ready, just like Buster Posey. Both of these guys are on the cusp of major league readiness, but are just a bit too green.

Yes, I know that their clocks have already started, but it would be detrimental to both of them to have them up before they're fully confident. The Carolina Kid pitched well, but still had a tough time keeping the ball down in the strike zone at times, and needs to work on his changeup a little bit more.

As for Posey, the guy was overmatched at the plate and he's a little small in the upper body. I mean, in limited call up duty last year he had two singles in 17 at bats and struck out 4 times.

Both these guys need to start in Fresno, Bumgarner being more ready than Posey.

We'll see a more definite answer in Spring Training.

As for the rest of these pitching questions, I trust that Sabean will find a new round of Medderses and Millers. He seems to be best at finding cheap diamonds in the rough, and overspending on the well-known veterans. You know it's true.

Go Phillies. BEAT LA.

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