For the second year in a row, I participated in the SB Nation MLB 2014 offseason simulation project. I have made two Monty Python references already today, and I recently gave my daughter a Nien Numb figure with instructions to be careful with it, but this is still the nerdiest thing I've done in a long time. I love it so.
Note: You already know if this sort of thing appeals to you. If you think you might read 1,200 words about a fake GM's fake moves to make a fake team, look up, and wonder why in the heck you did that, you may be excused. This is fanfic. You're looking for reality, which is in the next room.
That written, here's a look into the fictional offseason that was put together by the worst Giants GM in decades.
Having not checked my email in a few days, I forgot the simulation was starting. This is probably how things work in real life. Brian Sabean probably checks his voicemail from a Sbarro and realizes, oh man, it's the offseason. The Cubs GM sent out an email asking if anyone wanted Kyuji Fujikawa and a $5 million salary for a low-level minor leaguer. He's pitched in 25 major league innings over the last two years because of injury, but I love his splitter and NPB statistics.
Then I made an offer for Jake Peavy, and the sucker tried to strong-arm me. So I said, fine, I'll offer a deal for twice as long and twice as much to Jason Hammel, and the first person to accept will ...
Hammel accepted within .4 seconds. This is because I clearly didn't understand the market for him. Four years, $48 million. I like Hammel. I like his fastball, and he misses bats. I think he's a great fit for AT&T Park. But everyone was laughing at me. I deserved it.
Then I decided to, you know, look at the Giants' budget for the first time. This is also probably how real life works. In December, right before the Winter Meetings, Sabean will check in with ownership for the first time. "Oh, right, one last thing ... how much can I spend?" This epiphany was the inspiration for this post. Now that I had grossly overpaid for Hammel, I had no money to sign Pablo Sandoval (or Yasmany Tomas or ...)
A pitcher I instantly regretted and a semi-expensive reliever who has never pitched well in the majors, both of whom possibly came at the expense of Pablo Sandoval. Solid start. Buy a 10-game ticket plan.
In which I traded Tim Lincecum to the Phillies. Sorry.
I needed cash. The move saved $13 million. Couldn't we just raise the price of panda hats, I asked? Alas, that's not how supply and demand works. I acquired Colton Murray, and I still don't know what position he plays. He might be in sales. With the newfound money, I was a player for Sandoval again. And others. I was going to mystery team the hell out of the place.
But if I didn't get Sandoval, I was worried that all the outfielders would be gone, too. I can live with a stopgap at third if the (real) Giants get a good left fielder with the extra money. So I tried that strategy in real life. I poked around the Yankees and came away with Carlos Beltran and $8 million for Gregor Blanco and Jean Machi. It's possibly -- perhaps likely -- that Blanco is better right now and much cheaper. But think of it like a wild swing for the fences. Both cheeks in it, as Mike Krukow says. Blanco would likely remain competent. Beltran is a possible Hall of Famer with a chance at a final season or two of respectable glory.
Plus, it trolls Giants fans so danged hard.
Before the Beltran trade, I put Kyle Crick on the market, asking for a young outfielder. The Red Sox responded with Jackie Bradley, Jr. It was a sell-low trade for both sides, but I wasn't too eager to just plug Bradley into the starting lineup. He's not the win-nowiest player in the world. Once I got Beltran, though, I traded Crick and Mike Kickham for Bradley. It was Pagan insurance, mostly. It's also a deal I'd love in real life, with Bradley much more likely to help the 2015 Giants. Crick might be a beast in 2017, but the Giants might be awful then. Go for the birds in the hand.
I'm not sure how much time Bradley will get, though.
/Pagan pulls hamstring while running through room with lobster hanging from nose
I wouldn't want to stunt his development.
/Beltran pulls hamstrings in each leg, then pulls hamstrings in his cheeks and forearms
Kind of worried about Bradley's potential playing time. It would be counterproductive to have him waste away on the bench.
/Beltran and Pagan are somehow stuck together, trying to get through the same doorway and hitting each other's heads in the door jamb
But I'll worry about that later.
I also put a nine-figure offer in for Sandoval because I'm not just a GM, but a fanboy.
Sandoval accepts. Six years, $100 million. I'm happy with it. It's the Pence, but with an extra year at $10 million. That's reasonable, I think. And it was my last big move. With Yusmeiro Petit in the rotation, I traded Christian Jones for Josh Tomlin, an Indians righty with the potential and command to be the next Petit at AT&T.
I signed C/1B/OF Ryan Doumit for $1 million because a) switch-hitting dingers off the bench, b) his eyeballs of imminent doom, and c) his ability to catch better than Pedro Feliz would allow the Giants the freedom to use Andrew Susac as a pinch-hitter whenever they want. Doumit's not a good fielder at all, but if he were, he'd probably have been making eight figures a while ago. Both Tomlin and Doumit would be moves I would root for in the meat world.
Travis Ishikawa agreed to a minor-league deal, which I offered because I felt super guilty for non-tendering him. Nate Schierholtz also agreed to a minor-league deal because he was treated so fairly the entire time he was here, and I wanted outfield depth in Fresno when/when Pagan and/or Beltran were hurt. Ronald Belisario got a minor-league deal, too, because I still don't understand how a guy throwing 96-mph fastballs that move 40 feet horizontally can suck so much, even if he's an amphibian.
I was slightly over budget, but look at this:
There are at least three people with credit cards out, buying that right now. I was okay with being a little over budget.
All told, I didn't totally hate the fake offseason that started so horribly. Eventually someone signed Justin Masterson for $30 million, so I didn't feel so crazy for signing Hammel for way too much. I started to wrap it up, but I thought I'd check on Andrew Miller, my unrealistic white whale of the offseason. He was going to get almost $50 million. Nope. Then I asked about Pat Neshek, Koji Uehara, and Sergio Romo.
Romo was reasonable! Two years, $12 million. But I needed money. The real Giants would probably have said nuts to the budget to get Romo on a reasonable deal, but I was the fake Giants. I offered Javier Lopez to the rest of the league for free if they would take his salary. I got a former first-round pick! A 28-year-old catcher with PCL-inflated stats. I'll take it.
The final fake roster:
Angel Pagan - CF
Joe Panik - 2B
Buster Posey - C
Pablo Sandoval - 3B
Hunter Pence - RF
Brandon Belt - 1B
Carlos Beltran - LF
Brandon Crawford - SS
Jackie Bradley, Jr.
Hunter Strickland (or Steven Okert or Erik Cordier or ...)
I call the bottom of the order "Brandon Beltrandon Crawford."
I'd be lot more okay with the roster with a better pitcher than Hammel on a better contract, but I do like the idea of the Giants exploring the Hammel market this year, so I'm not too grossed out by it. A franchise legend was jettisoned, as well as the good luck charm who was next to him in the parade. But it was to make room for two other fan favorites with three rings, and those two were better bets to contribute more toward a fourth.
If you read that whole thing, you're a bigger nerd than me. Ni! Ni! Ni! Now yell at me in the comments.