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A Look Ahead: 2011 Roster Construction

  Now that the 2010 beginning-of-season-payroll is essentially set at $85 million, I asked myself a question.

Is it too early to start looking at the 2011 roster?

I mean, the 2010 roster isn't even set yet.  Pitchers and Catchers have yet to report to Maryvale, AZ.  There's so much that can change with this team in the next 6 months, let alone the next year.  However, I started to think about all the chatter that's been going on here, and elsewhere, about whether or not Prince Fielder should be traded or signed to an extension.  People have questioned whether or not the club will have money to offer to him.  Really, both sides have made some pretty compelling cases.  So I decided that, if we are going to begin to analyze next year's roster, we need to take a look at the financial situation before we go any further.  In other words, the answer to the above question is, "Yes, I decided to write this piece."  And since you're reading it, you already figured that out.

I didn't intend for this to be a thread about the merits of keeping/trading Prince, but I'm pretty sure that's what it will turn out to be.  And really, any move you make for next year has to start with deciding to either keep Prince or trade him.

I'd like to start by seeing what the Brewers will look like with Prince around next year because there are fewer question marks.  Just like last time, I had to make several assumptions/guesses.  For instance, we're not sure how much a player will make in arbitration, so I had to make a guess at it.  I tend to be a little more conservative with my guess at how much money will be available than guys like Charlie Marlow or sjlee, so I tend to guess a little bit high on purpose.  I guessed $17,000,000.  It might be a little high, but I think it's a reasonable estimate. 

I also had to make an assumption about options.  I think it's pretty safe to assume that Zaun and Riske's options will not be picked up.  Davis on the other hand has a questionable option at $6.5MM or a $1MM buyout.  I assumed it gets picked up.  We can work from there.  I also assumed Hoffman's would be picked up.

I also assumed that both Lucroy and Salome will be ready for the majors next season.  This might not be a fair assumption to make, and it could play into the Zaun option.

I had no idea where to start with Gallardo's first year of arbitration.  Personally, I think he'll get a deal to buy out some of those arb years, but I have no idea for how much.  I guessed $3 MM.

I'm not exactly sure how the $4 MM in deferred Randy Wolf money is going to get paid out.  I assumed that it'll be an extra $2 MM in both 2011 and 2012.

And, lastly, I assumed an opening day payroll of somewhere between $85-$90 MM.

 

  2011 Name 2011 Salary
POSITION    

 

C Lucroy $400,000
1B Fielder $17,000,000
2B Weeks $3,500,000
SS Escobar $400,000
3B McGehee/Gamel $400,000
LF Braun $4,288,000
CF Gomez $2,250,000
RF Hart $5,500,000
BENCH Gamel/McGehee $400,000
BENCH Prospect IF $400,000
BENCH Salome $400,000
BENCH Prospect OF $400,000
BENCH Veteran OF $1,000,000
PITCHING    
SP1 Gallardo $3,000,000
SP2 Wolf $11,500,000
SP3 Davis $6,500,000
SP4 Parra $1,500,000

 

SP5 SP5  
SP6/PEN Long Relief/SP6  
PEN Hawkins $4,250,000
PEN Coffey $2,500,000
PEN Villanueva $1,500,000
PEN Stetter $400,000
PEN    
CLOSER Hoffman $7,500,000
OTHER    
BUYOUT Suppan $2,000,000
BUYOUT Riske $250,000
BUYOUT Zaun $250,000
     
  TOTAL $77,488,000

 

Now, it looks like if we keep Prince, we'll have roughly $10MM to spend on 1 SP, and 2 bullpen spots.  If we can fill the bullpen spots from within with Axford, Butler, Rogers, Peralta types, we're left with $8-10 MM to spend on a starting pitcher.  Despite Roy Halladay signing an extension, and Lee looking as if he will do the same, the starting pitching market looks to be pretty strong next offseason.  $8-10 MM could net us one of the second tier guys like Millwood, De La Rosa, Francis, Duchscherer, Bedard, or Harden.  I think any of those guys could potentially slot in as a #2.  This would leave us with a pretty good team.  On offense, we'll have Braun, Fielder, Hart, Gamel, Escobar, and Gomez.  The pitching will feature Gallardo, #2, Wolf, Davis, and Hoffman.  This team would certainly be a contender in the NL.

 However, there's some room for flexibility with this roster.  If Corey Hart doesn't improve upon last year, there's a good chance he'll be non-tendered, freeing up an extra $5 MM or so.  Gamel could possibly make the move to RF, and we'd have about $13-15 MM to spend on a Starting Pitcher.  That type of money could conceivably net you Javier Vazquez.  Now, imagine that team.  Braun, Fielder, Gamel, Escobar, and Gomez coupled with Vazquez, Gallardo, Wolf, Davis, and Hoffman.  That's a WS contender.  Or maybe instead of Vazquez, you can then take 2 guys from the Millwood/Francis bin to give you some depth.

There are other ways to free up money, as well.  Davis could be let go, freeing up another $5.5 MM.  Add that to the Hart non-tender, and you've got yourself about $20 MM to spend on 2 pitchers.

While it looks like we could field a very talented team with Fielder in 2011, it'd be silly to think that Doug Melvin won't at least listen to offers before the deadline, and in the offseason.  So let's take a look at constructing a team without Prince.

 

  2011 Name 2011 Salary
POSITION    
C Lucroy $400,000
1B Gamel $400,000
2B Weeks $3,500,000
SS Escobar $400,000
3B McGehee $400,000
LF Braun $4,288,000
CF Gomez $2,250,000
RF Hart $5,500,000
BENCH Veteran IF $1,000,000
BENCH Prospect IF $400,000
BENCH Salome $400,000
BENCH Prospect OF $400,000
BENCH Veteran OF $1,000,000
PITCHING    
SP1 Gallardo $3,000,000
SP2 SP2  
SP3 Wolf $11,500,000
SP4 Davis $6,500,000
SP5 Parra $1,500,000
SP6/PEN Long Relief/SP6  
PEN Hawkins $4,250,000
PEN Coffey $2,500,000
PEN Villanueva $1,500,000
PEN Stetter $400,000
PEN    
CLOSER Hoffman $7,500,000
OTHER    
BUYOUT Suppan $2,000,000
BUYOUT Riske $250,000
BUYOUT Zaun $250,000
     
    $61,488,000

 

That leaves us with about $25MM to spend on a starting pitcher, 2 bullpen spots, and some bench slots.  Once again, those bullpen spots can be filled for next to nothing from within.  We may want to add a some power on the bench, so we could potentially spend a little more than the $1,000,000 set aside for a veteran bench player, but that's still about $25 mil.

$25 MM is a lot of money.  It shouldn't be spent in 1 place.  This is where it gets fun.

Let's just add 2 starting pitchers.  Parra can move into the bullpen as pitching depth, and Gallardo, Wolf, and Davis can say hello to the likes of Javier Vazquez and Jorge De La Rosa.  There's still a little cash to spend on a bullpen arm, or some quality bench players.

Since there aren't really any starting positions available, why don't we create them?  Let's non tender Corey Hart.  Now we've got $30MM to spend on a SP and a RF.  But let's look at another factor.  Chances are, if Prince is traded, a top pitching prospect will be part of the return package.  Let's imagine a scenario where that prospect is major league ready.

The Brewers could decline the Davis option, and have $35MM to spend on a starting pitcher and a RF.  How good would the team look with Brandon Webb and Carl Crawford?  Or how about moving Gamel to RF instead of 1B, and adding Vazquez and Carlos Pena.  The lineup would be:

Crawford Weeks Braun Gamel McGehee Escobar Gomez Lucroy

or

Weeks Escobar Braun Pena Gamel McGehee Gomez Lucroy

The rotation would be:

Gallardo Webb Wolf Top Prospect Parra.

All that with Coffey, Hawkins, and Hoffman finishing the games out.  And there's still a little bit of money to spend!

So, there you have it.  If you hold onto Prince next year, you have anywhere from $8-$20 MM to spend on a Pitcher and possibly an Outfielder.  If you trade Prince, you'll have anywhere from $25-$35MM to spend on a Pitcher or two and an Outfielder or First Baseman.

What would I do?  I would start next offseason by shopping Prince as hard as I can.  If I get the right offer, I pull the trigger.  If it doesn't come, I add a solid pitcher and make a push for the World Series. Either way, I think the Brewers end up alright in 2011 and on.

So how about you?  How would you construct 2011's roster?

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