Guest Writer: How to improve the roster

Bucco Blog is going to start a new feature called the Guest Writer Column. If you have something to say to Pirate fans or an idea on improving the club, send it to us using the email link on the right sidebar. Each Sunday we’ll post the best of the best right here.

BC submitted the following letter November 2cd:

— start guest column —

I was reading Nate Silver’s article at BP on a "Wins" budget – where you set a target number of victories, and then build towards that goal at the least cost.

If the Pirates goal is 85 wins (definitely enough to compete in this division), it would take about an extra 120 VORP. It could be spread roughly 50 hitting, 50 pitching, 20 defense.

First, identify the holes. In season they did a good job of improving the bench. There were quite a few less negative VORP guys in 07 than in 06.

Trade Nady, Bautista, LaRoche. We have Pearce. Get 2b, rf (prefer lefty), 4 & 5 starters. Strive for no one in lineup below avg in offense or defense.

CF might be nice too, make Nate 4th of, Nyjer 5th. Everyone in top half [Zone Rating] is either expensive or can’t hit, so search high minors for ML ready player.

I put Pearce at first. His career MLE [major league equivalency] come in just about the same as LaRoche, last year was more like Aramis Ramirez. This makes LaRoche is available in trade.

Bauitista is a hole. His hitting in the majors exactly matches his minor MLEs. This is as good as he gets, and his defense is bad.

Look for a 2nd baseman, moving Freddy back to 3rd where he is much better defensively than at 2b. Set parameters – under 27, better than average fielder, better than average hitter – guys like Aaron Hill, Mark Ellis, Ian Kinsler – LaRoche for Kinsler? There may be more in high minors, but I’m leery of trading established ML value for someone who’s not yet proven.

Nady hits lefties well, but he’s very average against righties – but there are many more righties out there. He’s also at best avg on defense. Lets find a left batter who can flip that, and who would replace LaRoche’s lefty power (with the avg RF in PNC, but long left center, LaRoche lost many left-center HRs). Fukudome would be nice, but he’ll probably be overpaid (I project him 300/380/470, good defense, ex arm, 30-40 VORP – I’d give him something like 3/25+option for 4). Going back to young, cheap, above average, Jeremy Hermida looks nice, flips Nady’s splits, and has vg ZR. Luke Scott is a little older.

Look to improve 3-5 in the rotation. Maholm might do, but Morris and Duke I have no confidence in. Just getting Maholm level (league avg, 10-15 VORP) replacing Morris and Duke would help alot.

Paulino can’t hit righties, Doumit can’t hit lefties – put then in a strict platoon, like Nicosia/Ott.