Looking Ahead to 2009 (with Bill James projections)

Ed. Note:  The writeup below includes an advance release of the 2009 projections from The Bill James Handbook 2009, which are used with the permission of the book's publisher, Acta Sports.  The book will be available on Nov. 1 and can be pre-ordered direct from the publisher by clicking this link.  We're not affiliated and aren't making a commission, just giving credit where credit is due.  Everybody knows that Bill James rocks.  [Jay]

I got an advance copy of Bill James's 2009 projections (as did Jay, I think). Here they are for Cleveland Indians hitters (AVG / OBP / SLG / OPS):  

Hafner,Travis	0.270	0.384	0.496	0.880
Sizemore,Grady	0.277	0.374	0.500	0.874
Martinez,Victor	0.300	0.374	0.463	0.837
Choo,Shin-Soo	0.282	0.365	0.452	0.816
Shoppach,Kelly	0.256	0.328	0.485	0.813
Garko,Ryan	0.282	0.358	0.449	0.807
Peralta,Jhonny	0.274	0.341	0.461	0.802
LaPorta,Matt	0.252	0.324	0.446	0.771
Francisco,Ben	0.271	0.334	0.428	0.762
Gutierrez,Fran	0.271	0.329	0.428	0.757
Cabrera,Asdr	0.277	0.349	0.404	0.753
Dellucci,David	0.241	0.329	0.409	0.738
Marte,Andy	0.248	0.314	0.408	0.722
Carroll,Jamey	0.260	0.340	0.329	0.669

And pitchers (IP / BB / SO / ERA):

Betanc,Rafael	72	18	70	3.19
Mujica,Edward	45	11	39	3.93
Lee,Cliff	194	42	146	3.90
Perez,Rafael	77	23	71	3.32
Kobayashi,Masa	51	14	37	4.31
Lewis,Jensen	70	27	70	3.84
Reyes,Anthony	168	53	135	3.88
Rincon,Juan	56	23	50	4.01
Laffey,Aaron	121	37	72	4.36
Sowers,Jeremy	83	24	45	4.28
Westbrook,Jake	64	20	35	4.14
Carmona,Fausto	141	53	88	4.17

Some early thoughts:

  • Asdrubal's numbers are perfectly acceptable... if they let him play as an elite defensive shortstop. As a second baseman, they are marginal at best. Moving Asdrubal to SS, Peralta to 3b, and trade (and negotiate an extension) for Brian Roberts would be very ideal IMO. The Orioles need a bunch of filler and league-average players. We have a lot of those.
  • We need to trade Kelly Shoppach. His value will never be higher when you combine his work in 2008 plus the fact that this year's free agent catchers have a bunch of 35+ year olds on the list who can't hack it anymore (Varitek et. al.). Yes, it would be great to have him catch 100 games while Victor catches 62, reducing the load on both, but that kind of luxury is reserved for teams that aren't the Indians. Like BPro said, "it's hard to find a backup catcher this good. Hell, it's hard to find a starting catcher this good."
  • Shin-Soo Choo
  • I am hoping for better upside from LaPorta, but who knows.
  • Our pitching is thin.

Payroll considerations on the next page ...

It looks like we'll gain a bit more payroll flexibility. Our payroll in 2008 was $78,970,066.

We drop this much in salary commitments from former players in 2008, not including losing these players entirely from the 2008 total payroll (as well as Sabathia):

$6,100,000 (Casey Blake)
$4,000,000 (Joe Borowski)
$1,500,000 (Aaron Fultz)
$1,681,148 (Jason Michaels)

Salary increases for our players falls in around $8M. I think we end up with a 2009 projected payroll of $64-66MM, meaning we have some payroll flexibility assuming that Dolan keeps payroll north of $75MM (not a foregone conclusion, unfortunately).

Signing Brian Roberts seems like the obvious and completely possible thing to do. I'd like to see a lineup of:

CF Sizemore
LF LaPorta
RF Choo / Gutierrez platoon
DH Hafner
1b Garko
2b Roberts
SS Cabrera
3b Peralta
C Martinez or Shoppach (assuming we trade one of them)

If we can get a ton of Victor, we should deal him instead of Kelly, since we have Carlos Santana tearing shit up and Shoppach is young. Max Ramirez (the catcher we dealt that ended up with Texas) might start next year - Bill James projected him to have a batting line of .308/.390/.548, vomit. Oh well.

Anyway, if they get Roberts and we end up with that lineup, I would be most happy.

However, a pitching stable of:

SP Lee
SP Carmona
SP Reyes
SP Laffey
SP Sowers
Long Mujica
Setup Lewis
Setup Rincon
Setup Kobayashi
Closer Betancourt

...does not inspire much confidence in me, mainly because I am positive that Reyes will go down with an injury and Laffey/Sowers are back-end starters, nothing more.

Meh. Even if we don't trade Roberts, we're slightly better than a .500 team and we could go on a tear. Still, we need an impact player - either LaPorta blossoming, or trading for Roberts. Preferably both.

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