Last week, we built a team of 25 free agents on one-year deals for a total cost of less than $100 million. The obvious next question is: How many games could this team win?
To figure it out, let's examine each player, come up with a reasonable assessment of where they stand relative to other players at their positions, and see how much better or worse they are than average.
First let's start with the infield, which is probably where the team is strongest. We have four infielders for second base, shortstop, and third base (Orlando Hudson, Orlando Cabrera, Adrian Beltre, and Felipe Lopez), plus a utility player that can also play in the outfield (Jerry Hairston). Offensively, these players are a tick above average for their position group, and defensively, they are well above average. It's fair to say that this group would be one or two wins above average.
One Year, $100 Million
We also have a small strength in our first baseman and designated hitter (Nick Johnson, Adam Laroche). They are average to slightly above-average hitters for their positions. And both have a capable glove at first base. Overall, a slight positive, maybe gaining us another win above average.
Our catchers (Yorvit Torreabla and Rod Barajas) make up a roughly average tandem among catchers. They are neither an advantage or a disadvantage for this team, relatively-speaking.
Our outfield (Johnny Damon, Coco Crisp, Gabe Gross, and Randy Winn) is going to hurt us a little bit on the hitting side. As a group, they are passable hitters, but they're all slick with the leather, so that makes up for it a little bit. Overall, this group is a slight negative, maybe one win below average.
Among our position players, we have pretty much a team that is barely above average.
With our starting staff, we have one star in Rich Harden, and four pitchers who are pretty much the definition of a league-average starter. Given the health-risk that Harden poses, we can say that our starting staff is about as average as it gets.
Our top relief tandem (Rafael Soriano, Matt Capps) offers us about average performance for a relief ace and set-up guy. Once again, these pitchers will neither hurt or help us relative to the average team.
The rest of our bullpen is fungible, just like it is for most teams. We have Kelvim Escobar who's effective when healthy, but rarely healthy. Kevin Gregg and Tyler Walker are fairly reliable, and Brendan Donnelly and Javier Lopez can handle mop-up duty.
Overall, we have ourselves pretty close to a .500 team. And we built this team with zero cost in future years, as they all signed to one-year deals. And though we have no player development system to speak of, the combination of quality free agents available this off-season, coupled with the slowdown in the economy, gave us a chance to build a bargain-level competitive team. With a little more cash for a Matt Holliday or John Lackey, this team could compete in some divisions.
Tom Tango writes for Inside The Book