2009 Position Players
One of the first tasks the new GM will have to do when taking over is do a real analysis of what he can expect going forward from the players already here. Since I’m a helpful kind of guy, I figured I’d just do it for him, using win values (as explained here) to gauge the true talent levels of each player on the roster and their relative value to the club. Also included is a comparison of their free market value compared to their current salary. Let’s just go right to the spreadsheet, with a tip of the hat to Colin Wyers for making this process much easier than the last time I did it.
To answer what should be the most popular questions ahead of time:
1. I included Ibanez in order to give context to whether the team should re-sign him or not. The answer is clearly no.
2. If you didn’t read the explanation in the linked post, here’s the short version: WAR is “Wins Above Replacement”, and tells how many wins that player would add over a theoretical league minimum Triple-A guy who could be acquired for free. A 25 man roster that equaled 0 WAR would finish something like 50-112, so you need about 40-45 WAR to be competitive.
3. WAR$ is our estimate of how much a player would get per season if he were a free agent and all 30 MLB teams valued him correctly, given that MLB as a whole is paying about $5 million per win in the free agent market right now. Actual is his real 2009 salary (or our estimate of that number) and the difference column is how much underpaid or overpaid he is relative to his free agent value. Obviously, guys who haven’t gotten to free agency yet will be underpaid – that’s how the system works.
4. Johjima and Morse work well enough as proxies for the bench players. This isn’t meant to be exact, and reserves don’t matter enough for anyone to flip out about the fact that I don’t have a full 13 or 14 player group here.
Okay, now, on to the Mariner specific points.
This group of position players is unbelievably horrible. As a group, they total about 11.5 wins above replacement. Beltre, Ichiro, and Clement are the only guys on the roster who would be starters for most contending clubs, and the Clement projection is pretty optimistic, honestly. LaHair doesn’t belong in the majors, so you can pick up ground by replacing him with a real first baseman, but there’s serious problems everywhere besides 3B and RF.
This team won’t win anything while hoping to get offense from all four of Lopez/Betancourt/Reed/Balentien. You might be able to get away with having one in your line-up, two if you surround them with a few all-stars. But if you give all four regular jobs, you might as well just punt the season.
Realistically, this team needs to replace one (or both) of Lopez and Betancourt with a +3 win infielder(s), acquire a +3 win outfielder, and find a +3 win first baseman, plus find a DH who doesn’t totally suck. Or, to put another way, the team needs about four more position players of Beltre/Ichiro quality.
I’ll do the pitching staff next. The news is a lot better there, thankfully, but it doesn’t make up for the fact that this group of position players is awful.