Finally you are done to the filler part of your roster. On Monday we detailed the parameters of why you are only able to spend $50 million and also reviewed the starting eight. On Tuesday we went through your starting rotation. Yesterday we looked over the bullpen. All of that has left you with $8.7 million to purchase backups and role players. Though in most seasons this would be filler and padded with minor league players developed from within, you need to make sure your backups can contribute as the majority of your starters are raging question marks.
You manager is the type that likes to play the odds early in the game, sending up a pinch hitter in the first quarter of the game if necessary to take an advantage so you want to stockpile him with the weapons that will give him the edge. In an offensive-minded team, you are not afforded the luxury of a late-innings glove man. Your team's philosophy has been to outscore and outlast your opponents - playing emphasis on scoring early and then handing the ball over to a stable bullpen.
You know that you can jump out to 5-0 leads every game and that the majority will be hard-fought contests that will require a well-timed pinch hitter in critical situations. You and your staff scour the market trying to allocate just such resources with your minimal budget.
4OF/DH | Fernando Tatis | 8 WSAB | $560k
"Fernando Tatis." One of your advanced scouts recommended at a meeting. Your mind immediately went to the scene in Major League when the front office was reviewing the list of player's invited to spring training and one staff member quipped, "Half of these guys I haven't heard of and the ones I do know are way past their prime." You lump Tatis in with the latter group. Here is a guy that has been trudging the past two seasons in AAA - hitting the ball fairly well in 2007 mind you, as evident by his 44% xbh% - but he is 33 years old. What the hell, offer him a minor league contract, you say. He might be able to play some corner infield in a pinch too. Tatis responded by hitting .311/.393/.415 off of lefties in 147 plate appearances in those times platooning for Gerut in left per the instructions to the field manager. What surprises you more is that in 159 plate appearances against right-handed pitching, Tatis does even better, hitting 10 of his 11 home runs and slugs .545 with a .409 OBP. After the 2008 season, you promoted that advanced scout to director of scouting.
C | Miguel Olivo | 3 WSAB | $2.5 M
You presented Olivo with a rather hefty offer considering that you paid what ended up being your starting catcher, Rod Barajas, a million less. The fact of the matter was you were not sure which catcher was going to win the starting spot. What probably is most telling about this is that under Olivo's Baseball-Reference page, his top comparable batter is none other than Rod Barajas. When it become apparent that Barajas's bat emerged as the everyday type while Olivo would succumb to providing Barajas with a breather during weekend day games. Olivo finishes the season emulating his historical stats with a rather pathetic on-base percentage (.278) thanks to his just seven walks in 317 plate appearances. His 12 home runs provide some pop to your lineup but is brutishly awful against right-handed pitching (2/58 BB/KK). Defensively, he throws out nearly 40% (38.7%) of attempted base-stealers and allows just four passed ball - a feat that is looked upon as a great revelation as Olivo allowed 26 passed balls in the past two years combined.
3B/1B/PH | Russell Branyan | 3 WSAB | $500k
When you saw Branyan on the market, you knew you had to get him. He is the perfect weapon in to have on the bench in a pinch against right-handed pitching. You just wish there was a way to give him more plate appearances. Your manager was convinced he was able to handled left-handed pitching as he had been pigeoned holed with for his entire career. Over the course of 11 seasons, Branyan had accumulated over 2,319 plate appearances and just 7% of those were against left-handed pitchers. It was like that everybody was convinced that Branyan couldn't hit left-handed pitching that they didn't even let him attempted to prove otherwise. And 2008 was no exception despite your pleas to the field staff. He was hitting a home run every 12.6 plate appearances, why not let him try to swing against the port-siders? Right-handed pitchers were better off pitching around him as in 138 match-ups, Branyan slugged .653.
OF/DH/PH | Cliff Floyd | 3 WSAB | $3 M
Floyd's asking price of $3 million was a lot for a man that had played in 108 and 97 games in the past two seasons. You figured that you were going to need a "professional" hitter no matter how limited a role he winds up playing. There were plenty that still admired him approach to the plate and his ability to get on base as well as hit for power. With your finances dwindling, you and Floyd reach a deal. Like Branyan, you know that Floyd's role in this organization would be to face right-handed pitchers and right-handed pitchers only. In 272 match-ups against righties, Floyd hits 11 home runs and slugs .466. Next to Kaz Matsui's 4 WSAB for $5 million, Floyd's 3 WSAB for $3 million was about the least cost efficient.
INF | Omar Infante | 3 WSAB | $1.4 M
You needed a super-utility player and you turned your sights to Omar Infante. In 2004, Infante popped 16 home runs as a shortstop/second baseman for the Detroit Tigers and finished the year batting .264/.317/.449. Because of his high strikeout rate and his inflated batting average on balls in play, this production was not sustainable and he came crashing to earth quickly. Each passing season his role was demished a bit further until he was only given 178 plate appearances in 2007. You liked that he could man just about every position good, but none great. After his pitiful 2007 campaign where he hit .271/.307/.355 that to a bad 9/29 BB/K, he rebounded to hit .293/.338/.416 with a 22/44 BB/K along with 30 extra base hits in 317 at-bats.
OF | Reggie Abercrombie | 2 WSAB | $400k
This one time top prospect for the Marlins never materialized in their organization, mostly because of his propensity to, you know, not get on base. He had shown power in his early development and then stalled out as other elite prospects passed him by. He was the epitome of the Peter Pan prospect: the one that never grows up. His 2007 season in AAA Albuquerque showed some flicker of hope as in 353 at-bats, Abercrombie had 49 extra base hits. You signed him to a minor league deal and call him up to pinch hit and provide a body for when others are injured. In his small sample size, he hits .309/.339/.509 despite his horrendous 1/29 BB/K ratio (thankfully, your manager is smart enough to not be fooled by the numbers, the walks mean everything and keep him to a pinch hitter extraordinary). On 13 occasions, Abercrombie is asked to pinch hit, where he deposits two home runs and one double among his four hits. Too bad he never realized that patiences is a virtue.
Your bench costs you $8.36 million and leaves you with a surplus of just $340,000 from your original budget.