Now that the dust has seemingly settled from the winter meetings, it is a perfect time to get back into our “If I Were General Manager...” series. For a few teams (e.g. Angels, Cardinals, Marlins) the landscape has been drastically altered, and many free agent names are off the board. But that doesn’t mean that there still isn’t plenty of work to do for teams. So it is time for me to sit down at the desk of the American League Central general managers and get to work.
If I were general manager of the…
- Figure out what is broken with Grady Sizemore and fix it.
- Sign a corner outfielder with mash potential--someone like Jason Kubel, Josh Willingham, Michael Cuddyer. That player could function in a number of roles. He could share time with both Travis Hafner at designated hitter and Matt LaPorta at first base. He could function as "backup" of sorts for Grady Sizemore, who will inevitably get hurt/disappoint, starting at a corner outfield spot and moving Michael Brantley to center field.
- Let Chisenhall and Kipnis start at third and second, respectively, but find someone who can be a serviceable backup at both spots in case they hit the sophomore slump. Somebody like Bill Hall or Jose Lopez might fit the bill.
- Cross your fingers and hope that Ubaldo Jimenez returns to Cy Young caliber form. You need him to be an ace, especially for the price paid for him.
Kansas City Royals
- Stay the course! Recent publications asserted that the Royals had among the highest concentration of top-tier prospects in history. Let the young guys play and grow.
- Shortstop Alcides Escobar could still grow into a solid player, but I’m going to try and upgrade the middle infield talent. There is not a lot worthwhile on the free agent market, so I will try to acquire some young prospects perhaps not in the center of their team’s plans for the future. Guys like Tyler Greene with the Cardinals or Gordon Beckham with the White Sox would be on my radar
- With a lot of big time starting pitching prospects on the near horizon, I’m looking for a veteran starting pitcher to help groom the young guns. Roy Oswalt fits the bill, and I’m willing to overpay to get him because I’m not just investing in Roy in the here and now, but in the future maturation of my talented young starting rotation. If I can’t convince Roy, maybe a trade for a guy like Jair Jurjjens would make sense
- I like Lorenzo Cain enough in CF, but I’d like a guy who can push him for the starting spot, who can also be a decent fourth outfielder. Coco Crisp?
- Having signed Jonathon Broxton as a potential closer, assuming Broxton’s health and trust in Aaron Crow as a fill-in, look to leverage the value of Joakim Soria, my incumbent closer. This approach was described in a previous post (“Transaction Reaction: Jonathon Broxton”). After exploring Soria’s value on the trade market (maybe looking for a starter), look to convert him to the starting rotation, as starters are, in my opinion, inherently more valuable than relievers. This plan has recently been proven successful in the case of C.J. Wilson with, formerly with the Texas Rangers. Adding a couple solid starting pitchers at the top of the rotation (Oswalt, Soria) would dramatically enhance the look of this team
- Find a starting second baseman. I'm working real hard to get Martin Prado from the Braves, and if I can't, maybe I'm hoping the Cardinals non-tender Ryan Theriot. He's a horrible shortstop, but his defensive is passable as a second baseman. Plus, he feels like a Jim Leyland kind of player.
- As I have a number of young, volatile guys (Scherzer, Porcello, Turner) slotted into my rotation, I'm looking to add a number two/three type starting pitcher for depth. Zach Duke, Jeff Francis, Joel Piniero? Maybe swing a trade with the Cardinals who are trying to dump Kyle Lohse or Jake Westbrook.
- I'm not thrilled that Brandon Inge is my starting third baseman, but with Aramis Ramirez recently signing with the Brewers, the market at the position is thin. So look to sign someone like Kevin Kouzmanoff or Jorge Cantu to push Inge.
- Think about adding another outfielder to the mix, preferable someone who can play centerfield, when streaky Austin Jackson is slumping. High end would be a guy like Yoenis Cepedes, low end somebody like Rick Ankiel or Cody Ross.
Chicago White Sox
- The White Sox front office has been saying that they are in full rebuild mode. I do think that it is probably wise to trade some older names for some younger ones, but there is enough talent on this roster to compete, so a full overhaul might be an overreaction.
- First off, hope that Carlos Quentin can stay healthy. When he is healthy, he is a game-changer.
- Also hope that Adam Dunn and Alex Rios can bounce back from horrible 2011 seasons. They are premier players being paid premier dollars. In order to re-invigorate Dunn for 2012, look to get him in the field more often (even though his defense is brutal), mixing him in at first base and left field, and giving Quentin and Konerko some pseudo off days playing DH.
- This is the year for Gordon Beckham to finally break out. He was a big-time prospect that was probably brought up too soon, but the time has arrived.
- I'm also giving the starting right field job to Dayan Viciedo. The guy has mashed wherever he has been, so I want to see what he can do with a full-time gig.
- Try to acquire an outfielder that can help set the table, and can also play center field. Look hard at trying to get speedy table-setter Julio Borbon from the Texas Rangers. He will give me some flexibility to move other outfielders around as needed, and will do what Juan Pierre was supposed to do last year. Also check in with free agent Coco Crisp.
- While I do expect Jake Peavy to get hurt at some point during the season, the plan is to let young stud Zach Stewart take his spot. But I'm also going to acquire some inexpensive starting pitching depth like Paul Maholm or Zach Duke.
- Pray that Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau stay healthy. Without the two of them, it will be near impossible to win. To "bubble-wrap" them, give them both lots of days at DH, and let Ryan Doumit and backup first baseman (see below) fill in.
- For Morneau insurance, give to sign a veteran first baseman who can provide value. Carlos Pena makes a ton of sense.
- Try to re-sign Michael Cuddyer on a hometown discount. He is a solid player who provides depth at a number of important positions (corner outfield, first, second, third). But I'm not really expecting to get a worthwhile deal done, because Cuddyer is a hot commodity.
- Short of Cuddyer, I'm trying hard to add another outfielder with some mash potential on the cheap. Ryan Ludwick, Xavier Nady, and old friend Jason Kubel all fit the bill.
- Francisco Liriano needs to fix what is broken, and go back to the guy that made us think it was okay to trade Johan Santana.
- Old-style Liriano is a great pitcher, but for the sake of his mental health, I'd like for him to be the number two, so I'm working hard to convince Roy Oswalt to join the staff as the veteran ace, bumping Liriano and Pavano to numbers two and three respectively.
- The middle infield is really weak. But don't pay an arm and a leg for Jimmy Rollins. Instead, call the Tampa Bay Rays to find out the asking price for Ben Zobrist. His production has dropped off since they gave him a multi-year contract. Also call the Chicago White Sox about Alexei Ramirez, as they are supposedly in rebuilding mode, and the Braves about Martin Prado.
- There is a lot to be done here, and frankly, there isn't the resources to do all that has been discussed. Just do as many as possible.