2012 NL Central Champion Cubs, part 2

In part 1 we found that there were currently 13 players on the Cubs roster that the Cubs want to keep assuming they try to contend next year, which they will. We left off talking briefly about Aramis Ramirez and the club option the Cubs hold for $16 million (or a $2 million buyout). Using Ramirez’s .354 rest of season ZiPS and 550 plate appearances, I get about 2.7 WAR for Ramirez. We must adjust that for age and it comes down to about 2.3 WAR. The value of the win next season is estimated to be about $4.8 million. That makes him worth $11 million next season. 

That’s $3 milion more than the Cubs would have to pay if they kept him (the $2 million buyout is guaranteed). If there aren’t any other options, then Ramirez may be worth it, but it seems a good position to use as a platoon for next season. Jeff Baker kills lefties. He has a career .387 wOBA vs lefties and it’s nearly 100 points lower vs righties. We’d have to regress both numbers to get a reasonable projection, but I don’t see any reason he can’t post a .350 wOBA vs lefties next season. What about his platoon partner?

With the exception of 84 AA plate appearances in 2010 and 33 plate appearances so far at AAA, Ryan Flaherty has been a very good hitter in the minor leagues. I can only find his splits data for the current team (Iowa Cubs) and since it’s only 33 PA it’s useless, but word is that he’s a very good hitter against righties. Since we know little about him, let’s just say a league average wOBA for him against the right-handed pitchers. I’d be surprised if it isn’t higher, but whatever. 

Flaherty would get about 400 PA while Baker would get 200. We end up with a wOBA around .335 or so between the two. I didn’t include defense or baserunning in Ramirez’s projection, which would of course lower it so I won’t do it here either. Needless to say, it’s difficult to believe that these two wouldn’t be better fielders and better baserunners than Ramirez. In the end, they’re probably not quite as valuable, but the total amount paid, including the buyout for Ramirez, would be $5 million or less. That’s a savings of $11 million and they probably haven’t gotten much worse. They can use that $11 million to buy additional wins elsewhere. In fact, they could buy about 2 and a half wins. 

Now that we have 14 players on our roster, we need to organize them by position.

C: Geovany Soto
2B: Darwin Barney
3B: Ryan Flaherty, Jeff Baker
SS: Starlin Castro
Util If: 
LF: Alfonso Soriano
CF: Marlon Byrd
SP: Matt Garza
SP: Carlos Zambrano
SP: Ryan Dempster
SP: Randy Wells
CL: Carlos Marmol
SU: Sean Marshall
RP: Andrew Cashner
RP: LM1, LM2, LM3, LM4 

The last four relievers are league minimum guys bringing the roster to 18 and leaving holes at 1st, RF, 4th OF, and SP, as well as a backup catcher, middle infielder and the so-called 5th outfielder. None of the backup spots do we really want to spend much money on so we’ll use league minimum guys for those 3 spots. 

Next time we have to figure out how good or bad these players make a team and what kind of additions the Cubs need to contend. It may turn out that we have to pay Soriano a shitload of money just to free up a spot where we can add a much better ballplayer. That may be the only way this team can contend, though it makes it less likely we can do so while only increasing payroll a small amount in 2012. Before that, let’s figure out how much these players are going to be paid.

The players currently under contract or arbitration eligible will be paid roughly $93 million. Adding in league minimum guys and the 40-man roster, you’re right around $100 million. That’s a rough estimation of how much the players listed above will be paid next year. This year’s payroll is $135 million so we have plenty of flexibility here. Before we look at free agents or trade possibilities we need to figure out how good this team is and we’ll do that next time.