I recently purchased 2KSports' MLB Front Office Manager for the Xbox 360 and I now have a new path for the Brewers to make (and win) the World Series.
First move as GM: trim the fat off the roster (and I'm not talking about Prince Fielder). This was a painstaking process, but it leads to less headaches down the road. So I cleaned out unnecessary minor leaguers, since I have no use for 30+ year old players struggling at A+ Brevard County and set lineups and rotations to include players with the highest potential, not necessarily highest rating. After all, the minors are about developing that young talent. After getting that boring, but necessary, issue dealt with, on to contract negotiations.
Second move as GM: Offer arbitration to Type A and B free agents. The game does not take our current tough economic times into account and it assumes that every player wants to get paid, so what better way to get a slew of high draft picks? So long Cameron, Kendall, Sabathia, Sheets, Gagne, Mota, Shouse (for now) and Torres (for now).
Third move as GM: Offer contracts to players you want back. All players that are NOT eligible for arbitration, will accept the minimum $400K salary (Gallardo, Parra, Escobar etc...) . Arbitration eligibles are a little trickier. Bush ($3.3), Hardy ($4), Weeks ($4 don't ask me how they evaluated his talent as being worth $4 mil), Fielder ($11.7), Hart ($4) and McClung ($600K) were all worth bringing back in my opinion. So I offer the one year deal to all those players except Prince, who actually accepts a 3 year deal for $12 mil/year. Good deal, and no more arby. Capuano, Coffey, and other non-Type A or B free agents just aren't worth it.
So as it stands, I've got a lineup that goes (in no particular order) Braun at LF, Gwynn at CF, Hart at RF, Prince at 1B, Weeks at 2B, Hardy at SS, Hall at 3B and Angel Salome behind the plate (he's got more upside than Rivera or Rottino). The rotation is a little rough with Gallardo, Parra, Bush, Suppan and Villanueva. The Bullpen even rougher with McClung as closer and Dillard, Riske, DiFelice and Stetter filling the gap.
Fourth move as GM: Sign free agents. Other than CC, Sheets and Lackey (who was asking for CC money) there wasn't much on the FA starting pitcher market. And with K-Rod out of my price range, no closer caught my eye either. So I decided I'd bite the bullet and give McClung a chance to close games, but I needed an experienced backup in case he faltered. So I went back to the well and offered contracts to Shouse and Torres which they took. Also, with Lamb and Rivera as my only real bench players, I offered $400K contracts to Jose Cruz (utility outfielder) and Callix Crabbe (middle infielder).
Fifth move as GM: Address the rotation. With Suppan sucking up $11 million in payroll, a no-trade clause in his contract, and five years MLB experience blocking a minor league assignment, my hands are tied. I'm not going to pay him $11 million to release him, but I don't want him taking the ball every fifth day. So I look to the trade market. With a capable backup behind him, Hardy was my centerpiece. So after failed attempts at acquiring Matt Cain, Scott Kazmir, James Shields and Paul Maholm, I figured I'd give Detroit's Armando Galarraga a go. Throwing in Weeks to sweeten the deal, I was now $8 million lighter in payroll and I had a good young pitcher to replace Suppan with. And he's not eligible for arby for two years... sweet.
Now I have Alcides Escobar at SS and Hernan Iribarren at 2B. Season results: NL Central division title, Playoff series victories over the Mets, D-backs and Yankees to win the World Series. NLCS MVP: Gallardo. WS MVP: Iribarren. Dave Bush finish 18-4 with a 3.60 ERA, Gallardo 19-5 with a 4.10 ERA. Villanueva had lowest ERA for a starter at 3.24 but a record of 10-9. McClung got 35 saves with a 1.71 ERA and won reliever of the year. Salome, Fielder, Braun, Hall and Hart all had 20+ HRs and 90+ RBI.
Could this be foreshadowing for great things to come for our young Brewers? Time will tell. Tonight I begin my quest to defend my title.