Since Jim's last post on our possible 2011 roster, not much has changed for the Dbacks. We're still losing. Our season is still pretty much over. And the same guys are basically on our roster, minus one CoJack and plus one Demel. Much of this is due to the upheaval in our front office, and with news reports indicating that DiPoto's hands are tied since he's only an interim GM, it seems highly unlikely that our team is going to blow up the roster. So what will next year look like?
After the jump, I've marked out the roster I think most likely, the players' contract situations for next year (with guesstimates for people with arbitration raises due, using the $1.5 million rule of thumb increase Jim previously used), as well as my estimate of their Wins Above Replacement value for next year. Contract numbers are taken from Cot's Baseball Contracts, while WAR values were inferred from Fangraphs.
Starting Position Players
C Miguel Montero $3.5 million (Arb 2) WAR 4.0
1B Brandon Allen $0.4 million WAR 1.0
2B Kelly Johnson $3.8 million (Arb 3) WAR 3.5
SS Stephen Drew $4.9 million (Arb 2) WAR 3.5
3B Mark Reynolds $5.3 million WAR 3.5
LF Gerardo Parra $0.4 million WAR 1.5
CF Chris Young $5.2 million WAR 3.5
RF Justin Upton $4.5 million WAR 4.5
Total $28.0 million WAR 25.0
Miguel Montero. What. A. Beast. According to Fangraphs, Montero has generated 1.2 WAR in only 98 PA. If given a whole year's worth of PA (Brian McCann usually gets around 550) that would equate to a monstrous 6.6 WAR. That's basically the type of value you'd get from Adrian Gonzalez/Ryan Zimmerman at their respective positions. To put it into perspective, last year Brian McCann and Victor Martinez only generated 4.2 WAR each. Unfortunately, Miggy's been benefitting tremendously from an insane BABIP of 0.433 and when his luck comes back to Earth next year, I suspect his WAR will decrease as well. Still, given a full year of PA, Miggy should be good for around 4.0 WAR, as a full year of PA would have had him at 3.5 WAR last year.
Brandon Allen will assuredly replace Adam LaRoche at 1B next year. Currently at AAA, Allen is batting with a triple slash of .264/.405/.505 for an OPS of .910 that's good for 10th overall in the PCL. And that's including his terrible start to the season when he was injured. The PCL can be very deceiving when it comes to power numbers, but Allen has already proved he has the power at the major league level, when he was called up last year. More importantly, Allen's high OPS in the PCL is driven by his OBP. His plate discipline is drastically better this year, as he's taken 47 walks to 53 strikeouts, which bodes well for the majors. I expect Allen to perform at least as well as LaRoche has so far this year (LaRoche is projected at 1.0 WAR this year, which of course doesn't include him turning into Pujols in the second half), which isn't saying much, as a 1.0 WAR 1B would place him among the worst 1B in the majors. Still, better to keep your expectations low.
In my mind, KJ and Drew are very unlikely to be traded. For one, we just aren't going to get the return we want, which is a top pitching prospect in the upper minors (assuming one even exists that we like). And two, Abreu isn't really as good of a replacement as we might think. Granted, Abreu's been snakebit this year, what with that freak injury completely tanking his production. However, he's never shown an ability to take a walk and doesn't have much power. Which means he's basically a .290/.340/.390 middle infielder when healthy. Admittedly, he plays solid defense, which means he's acceptable. But he doesn't quite generate the same amount of value KJ or Drew does. KJ and Drew are each on pace for 4.0+ WAR. I expect regression next year, as Drew's BABIP is high relative to his career. It's worrisome that Drew's power has seemingly vanished since his 20 HR year in 2008, but he should still be able to get to 3.5 WAR next year, and at SS, that is irreplaceable. KJ's BABIP is pretty normal but his power numbers should regress next year, as his HR/FB rate is much higher than it should be, so I've downgraded him to 3.5 WAR as well.
Mark Reynolds earned 3.5 WAR last year, and is on pace for slightly more than that this year, though he's doing it with his glove and not his bat this time around. I'm not quite sure what to make of this. Will his bat regress to what we saw last year? Will his defense continue to be a plus? I think there are a lot of questions about what Reynolds's value will be next year, so I just stuck with the two-year average of 3.5 WAR. However, this value has the potential for a lot of fluctuation.
Parra has no bat, but his plus defense in left field compensates for that. He's on pace for over 1.5 WAR this year, and I see no reason why that would change next year.
Chris Young is on pace for over 4.0 WAR this year. I've allowed for some regression next year to 3.5 WAR, as his BABIP is well above his career, though that may be due to a different approach at the plate.
Justin Upton, like Mark Reynolds, could see a lot of variation in his WAR for next year. Everyone admits he has talent, but can he really harness it? He generated 4.5 WAR last year, and I'm hoping he can return to those levels or better. This year, his defense has actually improved, which is why he's still on pace for 3.5 WAR. It'd be nice to see the bat catch fire as well.
C John Hester $0.4 million WAR 0.2
IF Tony Abreu $0.4 million WAR 0.2
IF Rusty Ryal $0.4 million WAR 0.2
IF/OF Ryan Roberts $0.4 million WAR 0.2
OF Cole Gillespie $0.4 million WAR 0.2
Total $2.0 million WAR 1.0
I honestly have no idea how to assign WAR values to bench players, so if someone can come up with a better method, please make changes. I just assumed our bench would combine for around 1 WAR over the course of next year. We're actually due for more than that this year, though that's not really a fair comparison, as one of Snyder/Miggy has come "off the bench" for 1 WAR each. I don't think we'll have that same luxury next year.
SP1 Dan Haren $12.8 million WAR 5.5
SP2 Edwin Jackson $8.8 million WAR 3.5
SP3 Ian Kennedy $0.4 million WAR 2.0
SP4 ??? (FA) $6.0 million WAR 1.5
SP5 ??? (farm) $0.4 million WAR 1.0
Total $30.4 million WAR 13.5
It's still going to be a bit weak next year, even if we don't trade Edwin Jackson. It looks like Dan Haren has almost no chance at being traded away, and I hope we trade neither, as I feel like we'd be selling low and they'll be due for a regression next year. Haren has gotten us over 6 WAR each year he's been in the desert and I'm hoping next year he'll be closer to that than he was this year. His yearly increasing home run rates are a bit disturbing, but he's kept up his K rates and BB rates. Edwin has gotten extremely unlucky, as his ERA is 4.92 while his FIP is 4.15. Given that, it's amazing he's still on pace for 3.5 WAR, which is what he generated last year for Detroit. I'm expecting at least 3.5 WAR for next year, if not better. Kennedy is on pace for around 1.7 WAR this year, though he probably won't make it as we're limiting his innings. Hopefully, he can improve upon that for next year, though that will be questionable as well as more NL hitters have tape of him and become more familiar with his offerings. I expect we'll sign a FA starting pitcher in the offseason as well. Hopefully we can spend money and find somebody like Jorge de la Rosa, or Carl Pavano. The market price for WAR is supposedly $4 million per 1.0 WAR. The last opening in the rotation will probably be filled by someone from the farm. I'm envisioning one guy out of the four of Matt Torra/Josh Collmenter/Barry Enright/Wes Roemer competing. I'd actually sort of prefer Enright in the bullpen. Torra/Roemer have not been terribly exciting in AAA, though Torra has performed marginally better. Collmenter might be the best option, as he's dominated AA, but he also didn't shine that much in his short stint in the PCL. If we get lucky and some of our pitchers (whether it be free agents we pick up, or members of the farm) completely outperform expectations, then this WAR total might go up. Otherwise, we'll be looking at a pretty average starting rotation.
RP1 ??? (FA) $8.0 million WAR 2.0
RP2 Sam Demel $0.4 million WAR 1.5
RP3 Juan Gutierrez $0.4 million WAR 1.0
RP4 Essie Vasquez $0.4 million WAR 0.5
RP5 Leo Rosales $0.4 million WAR 0.5
RP6 Jordan Norberto $0.4 million WAR 0.0
RP7 Carlos Rosa $0.4 million WAR 0.0
Total $8.4 million WAR 5.5
Ah. The bullpen. What to do? I'm very much against spending a ton of money on the bullpen, as I feel it is the most luck-based of the three main constituents of position players/starting pitching/relief pitching. However, I think the fans will be clamoring for the front office to sign a marquee closer, and we'll be hard pressed to not oblige. For good reason too, unfortunately. Maybe a Rafael Soriano? He'll be expensive, but he might be worth $8 million a year. Frank Francisco is another option, who we might be able to get for cheaper because he's been unlucky which has resulted in a higher ERA. Texas probably won't be inclined to resign him either, because they've got a kid there by the name of Neftali Feliz. Rauch should also be available. Depending on how well Gutierrez performs for the remainder of the year, we might be looking at trying to buy a second arm on the market. If somehow we managed to pry Matt Thornton away from the White Sox that would make me so happy. Maybe a combo of LaRoche and Snyder? I would even throw in Qualls. Unfortunately, reality usually doesn't work to satisfy my wishes.
Bob Howry $0.25 million
Adam LaRoche $1.5 million
Total $1.75 million
Grand Total $71 million WAR 45.0
There's no doubt in my mind that we'll be cutting costs next year, it's just a matter of how much. If we can maintain a budget of $70 million, we could still be a good team (this team is a $71 million team). Not necessarily a championship team, but we'd at least contend for a playoff spot. Dave Cameron says that a replacement level team is a 48 win team. The team that I outlined is a 45 WAR team, which would give us 93 wins on the year. That should be good enough to vie for a playoff spot, assuming everything works out perfectly. On the flip side, a number of our hitters could outperform my current expectations and bring us even more wins.
With regard to the budget, after dropping Webb and Byrnes off the books, as well as trading away Snyder (which is another almost guarantee) we should have $13-14 million left over for free agency in the summer (assuming a $70-71 million budget). I've split it up so that we spend $6 million on starting pitching and $8 million on relief pitching, but it's possible and likely that the money will be spent differently. Perhaps we try to resign Rodrigo Lopez for cheap, and spend more on the bullpen? Or perhaps we end up trading pieces for the bullpen and spend more on a starting pitcher? Whatever it is, I don't think the answer is to spend on offense, as not blowing up the team means we'll be alright with regard to our position players. Of course, it is entirely possible that we spend very little if at all, and cut the budget to $65 million. That would create much more difficult constraints for our team's possibilities for next year.