Wednesday, January 23, 2013

What could the Astros have looked like this offseason?

There's been some increasing chatter amongst some of the fanbase that Luhnow shouldn't have sat on his hands so much this offseason. Even those that buy into the rebuild say that we should have been more active in signing the guys that were willing to take one year deals this offseason. So, let's see what might have been.

I was trying to wait out the final ZIPS projections before making this post, but given the response we've received from this post I thought I'd go ahead and throw this out there now. For any player that doesn't have a projection already available, I took their average WAR from the past three seasons. Not very scientific, but good enough for these exercises.

Right now the Astros are sitting on a roughly $21.5M payroll (not including amounts owed for players no longer on the team) and, according to ZIPS, that buys us a team WAR of about 18. A zero WAR team should be expected to win about 45.5 games. Let's go with 45. So the roster, as constructed today, should expect to go 63-99.

Next, let's see who signed one year deals that would offer a projected upgrade over the current roster. For these purposes let's assume that Houston would have had to offer ten percent more than what the player actually signed for in order to woo them away from their true destination.

Pitching makes the biggest difference here, so let's look at that first. The biggest signing would have been Dan Haren is the biggest splash here, good for 4.1 WAR. We'll give him $14.3M to steal him from Washington and replace Phil Humber's .8 WAR and $800k. Next we'll take Scott Baker's 3 WAR away from the Cubs for $6M and let Jordan Lyles ($500K and .6 WAR) spend the season in AAA. Our next signing will be Koji Uehara at $4.7M for 1.2 WAR, replacing Hector Ambriz at $500K and (-) .9 WAR. Rounding out the bullpen, let's sign Ryan Madson for $3.9 M with 1.4 WAR and take Josh Fields off the roster ($500K and (-).2 WAR).

Now that we've spent $28.9M (minus $2.3M on the guys we bumped out, for a net $26.6M increase) on upgrading the pitching staff by 10.3 WAR, let's turn to the position players.

Congrats fans, Houston has resigned Lance Berkman at 1B! Though it cost us $12.1M, the massive increase in ticket sales more than makes up for it, right? His 2.4 WAR means we move Wallace to the bench and don't have room on the roster anymore for Nate Freiman's $500K and (-) .3 WAR. Next let's sign a whole new outfield!! We'll take Juan Pierre in left at $1.8M and 1.3 WAR, Andres Torres in center at $2.2M and 2 WAR (removing his outlier 2010 season), and Nate Schierholtz in right at $2.5M and 1 WAR. This takes the Martinii off the roster (combined $1M and 1.1 WAR) and means we don't sign Ankiel at $500K with .7 WAR.

There we just spent another net $16.5M for an increase of 5.3 WAR.

Here's the new depth chart:

1B: Berkman
2B: Altuve
SS: Lowrie
3B: Dominguez
LF: Pierre
CF: Torres
RF: Schierholtz
DH: Pena

BE: Corporan
BE: Wallace
BE: Greene
BE: Maxwell

SP: Haren
SP: Baker
SP: Norris
SP: Bedard
SP: Harrell

RP: Ely
RP: Cedeno
RP: Rodriguez
RP: Veras
RP: Uehara
RP: Wright
CL: Madson

We added $43.1M to payroll, for a total of $64.6M and increased our projected WAR by 15.6 to 33.6. Now we're talking! The new team should go 79-83!!

Is it worth it?