But I am thinking of acquiring at least one rental, if not two or three, to try to make a push this year. Before doing so, I want to lay out my case here and explore why a team in the bottom half of the standings might decide the time is right to make a run.
It starts with innings pitched. My rotation has suffered some unfortunate injuries – Michael Pineda, Cory Luebke, and Shaun Marcum are all out as we speak; Ryan Dempster is just back – and I had to wait on a couple of my guys to get called up, resulting in the fewest innings pitched in the league, by a long shot. As a result, I am dead last in Wins and K’s (a healthy pen has kept me 3rd in Saves), despite being first in ERA and WHIP. Just catching up in IP by the end of the year (which likely requires me to add a SP) would earn me at least one point in strikeouts and closer to 4 or 5 in Wins. And that is assuming the addition of my top prospect (Trevor Bauer), the return of Marcum and Dempster, and the addition of whatever pitcher I trade for don’t help me up my K-rate or Win-rate.
On offense, I am again a study in extremes, with a #2 ranking in HR, and a #12 ranking in SB. All told, I am top three in four categories and bottom three in six, with only RBI (at 6th) sitting in the middle. At just over half-way through the season, though, a couple changes could go a long way.
Replacing Nick Swisher, likely my weakest OF, with Justin Upton (overpriced and on Eno Sarris’s struggling team) would net me nine SB, 10 runs, and 25 points of batting average, while leaving me neutral in HR and -1 in RBI, based on ZiPS rest-of-season projections. Injury returns from Matt Joyce and Dee Gordon will also help in certain categories, particularly Gordon’s steals, which were really my only source of speed when he went down. Add in a solid second half average from Howie Kendrick…and who knows?
The problem of course, is that I am still 15 points out of third and 25 points out of first.
All of which brings me to this. I have a rough offer on the table to give up a $2 Will Middlebrooks for a $54 Justin Upton and a $12 JJ Putz. If I am competing for this year, this is almost a no-brainer for me. Middlebrooks is in a four player platoon (Billy Butler, Mike Moustakas, Pablo Sandoval, and Middlebrooks) at three positions (1B, 3B, and Util), and that mix will get even more crowded when Matt Joyce pushes someone out of my OF. 10 extra SB from Upton would put me in the mix for a bunch of extra points, particularly if Gordon comes back healthy and adds a few of his own. But Upton isn’t enough. Making a move like that more or less commits me to going all out and trying to push myself over the top. It probably means shopping Nolan Arenado, as well, and perhaps Julio Teheran, maybe one of my injured pitchers, and some other young talent to try to add at least one more high-average, high-speed bat and at least one more SP. It means depleting a farm system I have spent two years building and that could be on the edge of something big.
After hemming and hawing and refusing to commit, I told Eno I was crowd-sourcing this trade decision. So, faithful readers, what say you? Is the right move to look at the potential my team has for a big second half, bolster my areas of needs and try to make a run from the back? Or do I give Teheran, Bauer, Starling Marte, Domonic Brown, Travis D’Arnaud and the rest of my prospects another year to develop and set my sights on 2013?
We are reaching the point of the season when decisions have to be made – so what is mine?
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