Well, I have returned to Bleacher Report, and you all know I like pretending to be a baseball General Manager. So, the odd proposals return. Let's start out with one of the largest I have ever thought up.
Seattle Mariners receive: OF Rick Ankiel, OF Jon Jay, 1B/OF Chris Duncan, RHP Brad Thompson
St. Louis Cardinals receive: RHP Brandon Morrow, RHP Michael Pineda
There's a second part to this, so sit tight. Here is the second and final part:
Baltimore Orioles receive: 1B Lyle Overbay, 2B Adam Kennedy, OF Darryl Jones, 1B/3B/OF Allen Craig, RHP Michael Pineda, LHP Marc Rzepczynski
St. Louis Cardinals receive: 2B Brian Roberts, LHP Scott Downs
Okay, now this will never happen in a perfect world, or a non-perfect world for that matter. If you look at this though, it is very balanced and fills holes for each team involved. So, lets break it down from each team's point of view.
Mariners: Sure, they lose one of their 2009 Top 10 prospects and a starter/reliever that is very good. What they get in return is far better. They add an outfielder for a season that hits from the left side with power.
Ankiel is also very solid defensive player with a great arm (former pitcher, remember?) and would complement Ichiro very well.
Thompson and Duncan are both throw-ins in this deal, but still fill out the Mariners' roster. Thompson adds a sinker to a bullpen that could use some strengthening. Their infield defense would also stay the same with Jose Lopez staying at second instead of moving to first.
Duncan isn't anyone's first option for a starting job, but if healthy and playing first with some designated hitter thrown in, his bat could revive.
Blue Jays: Well, they're a team that likes taking the Cardinals "trash" players. Note Scott Rolen, Kelvin Jimenez, Cody Haerther. Piniero would add depth to their starting staff that has taken a huge hit. A.J. Burnett opted out and signed with the Blue Jays' American East rival New York Yankees.
Shaun Marcum and Dustin McGowan will be missing most of or all of the 2009 season. Mortenson and Patton would also add very talented depth that could make the 2010 Toronto rotation very talented and lethal. Motte's blazing fastball would be a good complement to their young bullpen arms.
Solano is another throw-in that adds infield depth to the Blue Jays system.
Orioles: They lost out on the Mark Teixiera sweepstakes, not to mention the Burnett derby. What do they add? Defense and offense. Overbay gives the Orioles a defensive first baseman with great doubles power and he's a 20-home-run threat.
Kennedy gives them a stopgap at second that provides above-average defense (and Ceasar Izturis' double play partner from 2009) and gives a .280 average.
Added into the deal is Pineda, the pitching prospect from the Mariners, with Rzepcynski, a left handed starter from Toronto's system, for added starting depth to an already improving, young rotation.
Let's not forget that Allen Craig can win the 2011 starting first base job (or left field, or third base, or DH) and provide 20 home run power. Jones can take the everyday left field job in 2010 or 2011 and match up well with Adam Jones at the top of the Orioles lineup.
Cardinals: Well, they do have to deal 11 players to land the three in return, but these two deals pay big dividends. Morrow can be a starting pitcher for 2009, or take the closers job in 2009 (if he wins the spring competition). He adds quality depth and insurance on both sides.
Roberts gives the Cardinals that much needed lead off man and if signed to a three year extension, would fill an organizational hole. He also provides above-average defense. Downs would fill the second left-handed bullpen arm and is signed through 2010, allowing for Tyler Johnson and his shoulder to fully heal while pitching at Memphis for 2009.
Jones, Jay, Motte, Mortenson, Ankiel, and Craig are the only, truly players of substance sacrificed. Kennedy, Thompson, Duncan, Piniero, and Solano are more part of a salary dump and system cleaning.
What these trades really do is hack a path through the overcrowded fields for the minor-league prospects to make their impacts known without "favorites" clogging the hole.
The Bottom Dollar: Well, here is the payroll implications on these trades:
Mariners - adds $463,000 to payroll, plus the arbitration case of Rick Ankiel
Blue Jays - dumps $2,470,000 from payroll
Orioles - add $2,610,000 to payroll
Cardinals - dumps $1,503,000 from payroll
Okay, so that is out of the way. As I said, this will never happen, but it's fun to dream, right? The fun doesn't stop here though, folks.
According to Derrick Goold and his audit of the Cardinals payroll, the Cardinals had $20.6 million left to spend after re-signing Kyle Lohse. With the additions of Khalil Greene and Trevor Miller, the Cardinals have around $13.6 million to spend (minus the arbitration case outcomes).
With that knowledge, let's take my trades into account. The Cardinals would have one pending arbitration case (Ryan Ludwick), with $15.1 million left to spend. Assuming he receives a $2.6 million raise (from $411K to $3 million), the Cardinals would have $12.5 million left to spend. Where does it go? Right here:
Cardinals sign RHP Jon Garland to a two-year, $16 million deal.
2009: $6.5 million; 2010: $8.5 million; 2011: $10 million, $1 million buyout (club option)
That free-agent signing would complete the offseason. Garland would give the Cardinals four starters penciled in, with Chris Carpenter and Morrow vying for the No. 5 spot. After 2009, the Cardinals let Todd Wellemeyer walk and have a spring competition for the No. 5 spot between Morrow and Jess Todd.
Well, I am back at Bleacher Report. Moral of the story folks :-)
Happy New Year!