One of my favorite things in the world is fantasy baseball. (I know, most people prefer fantasy football. It's okay and all, but really I think its kind of light... Only one game a week for sixteen weeks? I see it more as a gateway drug to fantasy baseball--the good stuff!) Anyhow, I love fantasy baseball. But I'm not alone in this affection. Fantasy sports have reduced the productivity of workplaces across the board. The reason for this, I think, is that it gives fans a chance to do the job they have always wanted to do, and believe they could excel at--being a General Manager of a professional sports team. Drafting players, trading players, picking up free agents. All in the quest to put together a championship team.
If you are like me, with fantasy baseball, the line between fantasy and reality can sometimes get blurry. You sit and listen to a Chris Carpenter post-game interview, waiting for him to thank you for having enough trust to start him in a tough matchup. You wonder if it is appropriate to send Ryan Howard an invitation to a family function. He is, after all, one of my players.
So anyway... This morning here at The Hottest Stove, we are starting a series called, "If I Were General Manager..." The premise is exactly what you might expect from the title. With the GM winter meetings just around the corner, we are going to live out our fantasy, as we go team-by-team and play GM. By the way, we will only handle the major stuff. That is to say, there will be no notes about who will be the starting shortstop for the AAA club.
We will handle the task one division at a time, starting today with the National League Central.
If I Were General Manager of the...
- Milwaukee Brewers
- Do my best to re-sign Prince Fielder. He and Ryan Braun formed one of the more formidable duos in MLB. Without a bat like Fielder behind him, Braun will not see nearly as many opportunities to hit. The two of them led the team to a division championship this year, and perhaps the good feelings might engender Prince to bring some purple rain to Milwaukee this offseason and lock in long-term with Braun (Signed through 2020)
- If I can't resign Prince Fielder, I would give a shot at first base to long-time prospect Matt Gamel, and try to sign a value bat that can play first base everyday, but could also play somewhere else if Gamel works out. Somebody like Michael Cuddyer would fit the bill here. If Gamel works out at first, Cuddyer could take third and put McGehee on the bench where he belongs.
- Lock up Greinke and Marcum to long-term deals. Along with Gallardo, this would give the Brewers a formidable top of the rotation for years to come.
- Give Carlos Gomez a shot to start in center field, but sign a veteran backup like Rick Ankiel, Nate McClouth, or Coco Crisp.
- Find somebody to play shortstop. I'd probably go defense-first and cheap because it seems like the market is going to price the Brewers out of the top name guys.
- Build a time-machine and undo the trades in which I gave away Brett Lawrie and J.J. Hardy. That would be a pretty handsome left side of the infield.
- St. Louis Cardinals
- Make Albert Pujols a reasonable offer, and wait to see what happens.
- If nobody outbids the Cards, Albert will probably stay. In which case, only minor moves would be left.
- If anyone throws crazy money at him, let him walk. Lance Berkman slides to first base and Allen Craig to right.
- Figure out a way to dump Jake Westbrook. Then sign either Roy Oswalt or Mark Buerhle. Both have expressed an interest in coming to St. Louis, and both would be a marked upgrade.
- Re-sign Nick Punto as a backup to both middle infield positions, but give the starting jobs to in-house players Daniel Descalso and Tyler Greene.
- If Albert walks, package John Jay and some other players for an offensive upgrade in centerfield. Somebody like Adam Jones.
- Cincinnati Reds
- Trade Yonder Alonso in a package for an ace starting pitcher. Their rotation is made up of number two/three guys. They need a one. James Shields would be a good fit.
- Add a veteran pitcher. Maybe a guy like Mark Buehrle?
- Sign a third basemen for the long periods of time that Scott Rolen will be hurt (Kevin Kouzmanoff? Aramis Ramirez?)
- Make Aroldis Chapman the closer. He has lights out stuff, but his motion is probably too violent to take a starter's innings.
- Sign a right-handed left fielder like Josh Willingham
- Have Bronson Arroyo open every game with a rendition of "Wonderwall." He plays guitar, you know.
- Pittsburgh Pirates
- Find good starting pitching and lots of it. Overpay for it. Trade for it. Whatever. This is a team with some good young position players, but a lot of smoke and mirrors for a rotation.
- Sign a veteran corner outfield bat to beef up the offense. Jason Kubel would be a good fit.
- Re-Sign Derrek Lee
- Pray that Pedro Alvarez remembers how to hit. Sign a veteran third baseman in case he doesn't
- Chicago Cubs
- Slowly start the player development machine. Hope that prospects graduate to the majors and make an impact soon. Trade veteran players for valuable prospects. This team is probably not going to be contending for a title this year, so there is no use fighting for a third place divisional finish.
- Sign Albert Pujols. I know this seems to contradict the previous point, but hear me out. This team will have a lot of money to spend, and they are looking to shake the "we haven't won a world series in over a hundred years" mojo. Why not start with a proven winner, hard competing, just won a World Series face of the franchise like Albert? He can be the guy that all the young players look up to and emulate. The Cubs wouldn't be paying Albert only as a "win-now" player, but as an investment in their future.
- Only add other players that could be contributing for the long-term.
- Pay Carlos Zambrano to go away. Forever.
- Houston Astros (soon to be of the AL West, Hooray!)
- Fire present GM (done.)
- Trade whatever veteran players I have away for prospects. But this time, for good prospects.
- Wait three to five years.