Let's say that we need 86 wins to make the playoffs (probably too low). We're 4-14 now; that means we'd have to go 82-62 for the rest of the season. That's a .569 winning percentage, or the pace of a 92 win team over the course of the whole season. FanGraphs has our playoff odds at 4.1% (somehow) and Baseball Prospectus has us at 3.8%. So do we keep trying to turn things around and maybe, just maybe, become a contender? Or do we sell, sell, sell and try again in 2015?
I've been a pretty big optimist on this site, especially for this year's team, but I'm also a huge advocate of long-term thinking. I will gladly sacrifice the now, if it makes sense, to make the future better. So, I think there is only one clear path for this year: keep the roster in tact for the next month or so and re-evaluate. If we're not close to contending, then we should sell, sell, sell. And we have some pretty good pieces.
Pieces we should move:
- I know this is gonna upset many fans, but he is by far one of most valuable pieces. He has one year of arbitration left, so trading him this summer could still yield us a decent player. With Cody Ross coming back and some serviceable OF pieces (Alfredo Marte, Ender Inciarte, Roger Kieschnick), we have enough pieces to get by until we get an improvement.
2) The entire bullpen, starting with Reed
- If we're out of it, there's little reason to keep a closer that's going to increase in price. Many contenders are going to have a hole in their bullpen that they are going to want to plug. We could arguably get more than what we gave up for Reed (Davidson), since Reed would still have 3 more years of control left. Putz, Ziegler, Thatcher, and Perez should all be looked to move. Relievers might be our biggest strength in the farm right now (at least, in what's MLB ready) and we can bring up Stites, Sherfy, and Barret right away to fill those roles. Other possible bullpen candidates could include Meo, Daniel Gibson, and Zeke Spruill.
3) Aaron Hill or Didi Gregorious, but not both
- There are several teams out there with holes at 2B and Aaron Hill is certainly a top ten 2B right now. His contract is reasonable and he is under control for two more years. In the case of Didi, you trade him if you can get more for him than Hill. If we trade Hill, then we'll run a 2B/SS duo of Chris Owings and Didi.
4) Trumbo and Ross, if you can
- This one is pretty obvious, find a team that needs a power boost and try to trade Trumbo or Ross. Don't expect to get Skaggs/Eaton in return, but they should net something. Something to consider would be AL teams in need of a DH, like Tampa Bay and Seattle for Trumbo. Ross is actually an above-average fielder, but his lack of power probably means he'll net less than Trumbo. Ross would be good to keep around as a depth piece for next season.
5) Wade Miley
- Miley could certainly fetch a good price this summer as a solid #2/3 for many teams. The reason I'm saying we sell is that I think he's already at his peak and because we should be able to fill our rotation. See my plan below.
6) Trade Cahill for pennies on the dollar and McCarthy for whatever we can get
- If we're out of it, there's no point in keeping McCarthy. He's been looking better and some team would be interested. Cahill is another animal. He's been good in the past and still has potential - a perfect change of scenery guy. Trade him for cheap or eat salary for a prospect.
The plan for next year:
1) Keep Goldy, Owings, Didi/Hill, Prado, Montero, and Pollock
- This is a mixture of great and good players, but all of these players should be at least above average at their respective position and a good core to keep building around. The main reason to keep Prado is for his position versatility, dependent on what prospects we get.
2) Target positional prospects in the trades above
- We're flush with pitching prospects but our positional prospects are lacking. We have two solid prospects at 3B and two in the OF (Trahan and Justin Williams) that are a ways off, but we're pretty lacking beyond that. For the pieces that I'm suggesting we move, try to go after impact players at 2B, OF, and C.
3) Target starting pitching in free agency
- If we are able to trade away Cahill, Putz, Ziegler, Reed, Parra, Hill, Trumbo, we've wiped off roughly $40 million from our payroll. Losing Putz, McCarthy, Thatcher, and Chavez saves us another $20 million. Suddenly, we're looking at ~$60 million in payroll (and a new TV contract). Let's go get some pitching! I would try for Scherzer, but not if it exceeded $25 million AAV. Instead, I'd be going after James Shields, Justin Masterson, Ervin Santana, and Francisco Liriano. Combine two of those with Corbin, Bradley, and Arroyo, and we've suddenly got a pretty solid rotation for next season, with more to come from our farm.
4) Our farm players
- If we're gonna sell, might as well bring up some guys and see if we can get some to turn into everyday players. If Jake Lamb continues to improve, I would test him at third. I would certainly see what Roger Kierschnick has to offer in the OF. Marte is absolutely killing it right now and he deserves a second chance. As I mentioned above, I would rebuild the bullpen with Barret, Stites, and Sherfy. Don't forget David Hernandez and Will Harris for next year as well.
- With this plan, we certainly could be contenders again by 2015. At the very least, it restocks our farm and makes the future considerably brighter going forward. I kind of typed this in a stream-of-consciousness style so there might have been things I missed or forgotten. But I think it gives us a more defined path forward.