Thursday, November 14, 2013

What Should Your Team Do: St. Louis Cardinals

Next up in our "What Should Your Team Do?" series, the St. Louis Cardinals.  For a primer on the intended purpose of this series, see the first edition on the Boston Red Sox.  Quick confession: I mistakenly went out of order, as the Boston Red Sox will actually be picking before the Cardinals in next year's draft.  Anyhow, let's get after it.

As much as any team in baseball, the 2013 National League Champion Cardinals have a foundation in place to make it back to the World Series in 2014 and years to come.  They are in the enviable position of having a few clear problems to address and the resources (money, prospects) to address them.  Here is what the Cardinals should do this offseason:

  • Let Carlos Beltran walk.  He was a great player the past two years, and has the ability to turn into "Super Beltran" in the postseason.  But the fact that he is looking for a 3-4 year deal and everyday playing time is unappealing for the Cardinals, for whom right field is not a problem spot (more on this in a moment).
  • Trade for Elvis Andrus.  The Rangers have the motivation to move him with Jurickson Profar needing playing time, and several other high profile middle infield prospects waiting in the wings.  Offer to pick up the whole contract, rather than give up more players.  With money coming off the books, the Cards have money to spend.  In terms of return, a package centered around Carlos Martinez seems to make sense for both sides.  He has #1-2 starter upside, and the Cards are flush with starting pitching options.  He would keep the Rangers from having to acquire guys like Matt Garza at the deadline at high prospect cost.  For the Cardinals, Andrus becomes the shortstop for the foreseeable future, and batting leadoff, he lengthens the lineup.
  • Shift Matt Carpenter to third base, and let top prospect Kolten Wong play second.  This certainly improves the infield defense, and potentially improves the offense as well.
  • Hope Oscar Taveras can play better defensive center field than Jon Jay (not a high bar to jump over). Sign Chris Young as a backup centerfielder/bench bat.  He adds pop, and the ability to hit lefties, which was a problem for the Cards last year.
  • Keep David Freese as "Hometown Hero" (c) and bench bat.
  • Let Trevor Rosenthal start.  He wants to start, and has multiple plus pitches in addition to his fastball.  The Cards have other guys (Siegrest, Motte when healthy, Lynn) that can close.  Rosenthal is wasted in the bullpen.
  • Re-sign John Axford to be a veteran presence in the bullpen/mustache aficionado.  
Here's what the lineup and rotation look like:

Pitcher's Spot

SP1: Wainwright
SP2: Wacha
SP3: Miller
SP4: Garcia
SP5: Rosenthal

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

What Should Your Team Do: Boston Red Sox

The day has arrived...  New material from The Hottest Stove is here!  Today begins a new series titled "What Should Your Team Do?"  That "Should" is in italics because this series is not meant to be predictive, but prescriptive.  Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, teams don't always do what they should.  That's what we are here for; to give ideas to all of our readers that also happen to be general managers of Major League Baseball teams.

Each post will feature one MLB team, and just for the sake of some organizational structure, we will be going in reverse order of next year's draft.  That means that first up is... The Boston Red Sox!

Boston Red Sox
  • This team just won the World Series, so a foundation is in place.  But that doesn't mean that they don't have work to do.  Along with players like David Ortiz getting a year older, the Red Sox have decisions to make about several significant contributors--Jacoby Ellsbury, Mike Napoli, Johnny Gomes, Stephen Drew, etc.--who are free agents.
  • Re-sign Jacoby Ellsbury, Jarrod Saltalamaccia, and Mike Napoli.  All of them contributed positively on both offense and defense last year, and all are still in their athletic prime.  In addition, free agency doesn't have any better options at their respective positions.
  • Let Stephen Drew walk, collect the draft pick, and let Xander Bogaerts play shortstop every day. The kid can play some ball.
  • In shifting Bogaerts to short, give Middlebrooks a legitimate shot to start at third base.  He's shown potential, and any chance for this team to get younger is a positive.  
  • Sign a veteran backup at first/third base like old friend Kevin Youkilis, Mark Reynolds, or Eric Chavez.
  • Sign Michael Morse to function as a bench bat/platoon partner with Daniel Nava.  Johnny Gomes would be preferable in this role, but is likely to be overvalued as a free agent due to his enhanced World Series profile.  Morse is undervalued due to an injury ridden year last year.
  • Move Doubront into the starting rotation.  He is a more than serviceable fifth starter.
Here's what the lineup and rotation look like:


SP1: Lester
SP2: Lackey
SP3: Bucholz
SP4: Peavey
SP5: Doubront

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Rising from the Ashes?

Like the mighty Kraken stirring from slumber, the legendary behemoth of baseball acumen that is The Hottest Stove has begun to rouse.  Will a stream of baseball gold once again stream forth, or will the leviathan return to hibernation?  Only time will tell, as the quiet before the storm of the MLB offseason is upon us.  Stay tuned.