Stats & Info: Best team

Tango: How many wins does $100 million buy?

March, 8, 2010
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.

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

Tango: One team, one year, $100M

March, 4, 2010
Nearly $2.7 billion was spent on player salaries last season. That is an average of almost $90 million per team. This excludes minor league salaries, signing bonuses for draft picks and all other player development costs.

But what if a team decided to scrap its entire player development system, put an extra $10 million into player salaries, and tried to build a roster for under $100 million, using only players who'd sign one-year deals? What kind of team could you put together?

ESPN's free agent tracker allows you to select all players who signed one-year deals for 2010. Of those, we will remove each player who re-signed with his former team. So here is the best team $100 million can buy for one year.

Catcher: There were eight catchers in our pool, who signed for a collective $10.4 million. This is not going to be a strength. I'll go with Yorvit Torrealba and Rod Barajas.
Running cost: $1.75 million

Infielders (2B, SS and 3B): We'll go with five players here: Adrian Beltre at third, Orlando Cabrera at short and Orlando Hudson at second, with Felipe Lopez and Jerry Hairston as our utility infielders. (Hairston can also provide support in the outfield.) We've got a fairly strong bunch here, who come at a collective $21.1 million.
Running cost: $22.85 million

Outfielders: We'll go with four here. Coco Crisp in center, Johnny Damon in LF and Gabe Gross in RF, with Randy Winn as the fourth outfielder gives us an outfield costing $15.1.
Running cost: $37.95 million

1B/DH: I like Nick Johnson and Adam LaRoche for that role, who come at a collective $11.75.
Running cost: $49.7 million

Alright, we just filled up half our team, 13 position players, at just under $50 million. All we have to do is spend the other $50 million on 12 pitchers.

Starters: There's some decent starters here, and we'll grab most of them: Rich Harden, Brad Penny, Jon Garland, Doug Davis, and Brett Myers. That's a $30.65 million starting staff.
Running cost: $80.35 million

Relievers: Our closer and setup guy are Rafael Soriano and Matt Capps, who come at around $11 million, while the other five relievers are righties Kevin Gregg, Brendan Donnelly, Kelvim Escobar and Tyler Walker, with lefty Javier Lopez for a total of $7 million. That's 12 pitchers for just over $48 million.
Running cost: $98 million

There you have it: the best one-year free agent team $100 million can buy. But the question is: How many games can they win? I'll look at that in part 2.

Tom Tango writes for Inside The Book.