Friday, July 03, 2009

Making a Winner of the Jackson Buzz: Part One

posted by Jon Williams
A few weeks back I boasted that with half the season still available any team could still make a run at first place. It would require being aggressive and taking some chances but it could be done. Steve, who owns the Jackson Buzz is willing to let me guide him in this experiment. I've broken done this process into a few steps so that they make for an interesting mini-series of articles.

Step One: Evaluating the Buzz and their situation

Step Two: Evaluating the other rosters for trade possibilities

Step Three: Scanning the Waiver Wire for Free Talent

The Jackson Buzz are part of a 14 team mixed league with 5x5 scoring. This is a fairly deep league but not so deep that we can't find the occasional gem on the free-agent list. Here is what Steve had to say about his own team:

All right Jon, you're on.

I've attached Excel spreadsheets with the rosters for the whole league, and the current standings. We've got weekly lineups, unlimited FAAB and free roster moves. So I can troll the waiver wire for whatever help I need. I've got a lot of faith in the guys I have (I just recently acquired Morneau for pretty cheap) and people in the league will deal when it makes sense.

So here's my thinking. I'd like to see if I can't craft a deal for a decent 2B. I was offered Aaron Hill in a classic sell-high deal but he wanted far too much for my taste. The offer was Hill and Micah Owings for Gavin Floyd and Matt Garza. I think that an SP for a decent 2B wouldn't be a bad idea at all. I'm also thinking that it might not be a bad idea to pick up some solid middle relief and try to cheat my WHIP and ERA down with guys like Belisario, Troncoso, Darren O'Day, Okajima, etc.

My roster is the last one on the spreadsheet. If you need these in another format just let me know. I look forward to hearing what you think. And one other thought: this is my league to experiment, so I'm down with any idea, no matter how off the wall it may seem.

- Steve
Here is the Buzz roster with salaries

C Joe Mauer 13
C John Baker 2

I expected better from John Baker this season but Joe Mauer has been pretty awesome since returning from the disabled list. I think Baker will bounce back a bit in the second half. Overall this is a solid couple of catchers.

1B Justin Morneau 27
3B Garrett Atkins 13
CI Billy Butler 6

You can immediately see a problem at the corner positions. There just isn't close to the power you need from these spots, especially in a mixed league. This is an area we will work to upgrade. Justin Morneau is great but he may help us more if he can be moved for two more boring but productive corners. Garrett Atkins has been better lately but he could also be traded and wind up on a contender's bench.

2B Ian Stewart 5
SS Christian Guzman 1
MI Willie Bloomquist 0

You have to love Ian Stewart at $5, he looks like he just might be an above-average third baseman. Christian Guzman is a very solid shortstop who hits for average and steals a few bases.

OF Fernando Martinez 0
OF Juan Rivera 1
OF B.J. Upton 29
OF Justin Upton 5
OF Shane Victorino 17

This outfield will be better in the second half than it was in the first. B.J. Upton should provide the Buzz with a large upgrade in production. Juan Rivera has been solid and is gaining the respect of the Angels coaching staff. Fernando Martinez is a weakness right now.

U1 Nate Schierholtz 0
U2 Jim Thome 3

Nate Schierholtz is moving up the rankings quickly and should be huge for us in the second half of the season. Jim Thome also seems to be heating up a bit.

SP1 Gavin Floyd 2
SP2 Matt Garza 5
SP3 Zack Greinke 9
SP4 Gil Meche 7
SP5 Rick Porcello 2
SP6 Kevin Slowey

This is a fairly good pitching staff made even stronger by Zack Greinke's hot start. Rick Porcello has been pretty good but may be even better trade bait as a hot youngster. Kevin Slowey came to the Buzz with Matt Capps in a recent trade of Dustin Pedroia.

RP1 Brad Lidge 20
RP2 LaTroy Hawkins 0
RP3 Brian Wilson 13
RP4 Dan Meyer 0

There is plenty of potential for saves here and we'll probably trade some of it for our other needs.

The Buzz Bench

1B Ryan Garko 1
OF David Dejesus 1
OF/1B Daniel Murphy 1
OF Ryan Spilborghs 1
OF Marcus Thames 1
OF Carlos Gomez 5

SP David Price 3
SP Jordan Zimmerman 1
RP Matt Capps

The Buzz Injured List

Akinori Iwamura
Connor Jackson 9
The next step is to look at the standings and identify categories where we can make progress relatively quickly. Overall the Buzz is 48points out of first place. Not ideal but with half the season left and Steve willing to take chances we can make a strong effort. It should be more fun than sucking anyway.

Batting Average is a difficult category to predict. But the Buzz is batting .275 in seventh place, just .008 out of first place. With a little luck we can gain points in this category without making radical changes.

Home Runs is the worst category for the Buzz. Steve is in last place in the category with 61 homers between the Buzz and first place. But two points are just four homers away and we'll be sure to get those points at least. Sixth place in the category is just 23 homers away and we'll make that a long term goal.

Runs is a decent category for the Buzz. Steve's team is fifth in runs and just 46 runs out of first place. The next three teams in the standings are just 20 or so runs ahead. We'll make this category a priority.

RBI is another weak category. Our team is in ninth place and 130 RBI out of first place. This will be tough. But there are a couple of teams just 30 or so RBI ahead so we'll just target those points for now.

Stolen Bases is another strong category for the Buzz. The team is in sixth place but just six stolen bases out of first and just 13 stolen bases out of first in the category. This will be another priority for the Buzz.

Offensively the Buzz is a .300 hitting, 61 homers, 46 Run, 130 RBI, 13 stolen base player out of first in every category. If we are to hit our more modest goals we need to hit around .290 and gain 23 homers, 46 runs, 40 RBI, and 13 stolen bases which is definitely doable. That alone would gain us about 23 points.

ERA is okay for the Buzz. The squad is in fifth with a 3.99 ERA, just 0.45 out of first. This is a difficult category to gain in without gaining a ton of quality innings. But we'll do our best.

Strikeouts
is not a good category for us. The Buzz is in ninth place, 100 K's out of first place. This isn't undo-able but it would require gaining a lot of innings which might work against us a bit. We can hit sixth in the category by gaining 45 strikeouts so we'll try to do that.

Saves the Buzz is okay with. Steve's team is in third with 45 saves, seven out of second and 16 out of first place. We probably won't try to gain in this category, in fact we might make it worse by trading a closer.

Wins is a tightly packed category in this league. From worst to first in the category the teams have 38, 39, 39, 40 (the Buzz), 40, 40, 44, 46, 48, 49, 50, and 54 wins. We can probably make some gains in this category without too much effort.

WHIP is pretty tightly packed as well. The best team has a 1.24 WHIP, the Buzz in tenth have a 1.39 WHIP but are just 0.09 from third place. This can be done with a little luck.

Pitching is not as serious a problem as the offense. If we could make all of our net gains in just one player he would need to pitch well over 100 innings over the balance of the season with 10-12 wins, an ERA around 3.00 or better, a WHIP of 1.15 and at least a strikeout per inning. If it happened we would gain close to 30 points which would put us way over our goal.

In Part Two we will look at the other rosters and see if we can find trades to make that will move us towards our goals.

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