Terry Ryans Rules for constructing a low cost, risk averse winner as i see it part I
I am going to breakdown the concepts I introduced the other day into a series so we can go more in depth into each area of what I mean exactly with each rule. The goal is to construct a team with the most cumulative talent at the lowest cost with the lowest amount of risk in the process. When you consider the costs we need to be mindful of, the Twins have stated they will use up to 52% of their revenues and we have seen them go as high as 110 million. So that’s our ceiling. So with that in the back of our minds let’s start with pitching since it is the biggest issue. What does out staff ERA need to look like to give us a chance at 90 wins next year? Teams 2-7 in the AL team ERA all won 90+ games. Kansas City led the League but only won 86. Cleveland was 7th with a 3.82 and Detroit was 3rd at 3.61. So I think it is safe to say that a 3.70 ERA would give us a great chance at 90 wins next season if all things remain the same. How do we get to a 3.70 team ERA? Detroit’s starters had a 3.45 ERA while their bullpen era is closer to 4.01 (from espn.com stats 2013 MLB Team Pitching Stats - Major League Baseball - ESPN ). Our bullpen had an era at 3.50 because of the late season swoon from pitching by far the most innings this season so I am going to use 3.30 for this exercise (you can debate the numbers I am using these for this exercise regardless). This allows us to have a higher ERA for the rotation and still achieve our goal of a 3.70 team ERA. This brings us to the equation I introduced the other day. (I was surprised no one talked about this more or considered tweaking the numbers)
(Number of innings per game X earned runs per game) / 9 = weighted average of earned runs per game
Starters = (6 innings X N) / 9 = Unknown #
Relievers = (3 innings X 3.30 ERA) / 9 = 1.1 earned runs per game
Total earned runs should be 3.70
That would make the starters averaging 2.6 earned runs per game. Now we can solve the whole equation and get the following needed rotation ERA to reach our goal.
Starters = (6 innings X 3.90 earned runs) /9 = 2.6 Earned runs per game.
So we need a rotation ERA of 3.90 to end up with the team ERA of 3.70. The most cost effective way to achieve this goal is to find 5 starting pitchers who all average 6 innings per start with a 3.90 era capability. There are costs associated up or down depending on performance and likely continued performance on the FA market. And those costs do not go in a linear line. A pitcher who can pitch to a 2.50 ERA is likely to command a 20+ million per season and 5+ years like Kershaw, Greinke, Verlander. The next tier is someone who can be in the low 3.00’s will command 15-20 million like Sanchez (Schertzer is about to get paid too). Then you have the 3.5 ish pitchers like Edwin Jackson who got 4 years 52 million. Then there are those from last offseason who got 2 year deals in the 10-15 million. Those are good budget pitchers if you get the right ones. (these examples are not exact) The most ideal pitcher coming on the market this offseason is Scott Feldman who had 181.2 innings with a 3.86 ERA. MLBtraderumors.com is estimating a 2 year 17 or 3 year 25 tops for him (this is great because the contract is less money per year and less years for the risk averse) AL East Notes: Orioles, Matusz, Casilla, Red Sox: MLB Rumors - MLBTradeRumors.com
If we signed Feldman this offseason we would have a rotation of Feldman, Corriea, and Dedunno with 1 spot for a free agent and one for the 5th/6th/ and 7th starters next season Gibson, Albers, Diamond, Hendriks, and potential future ace Meyer when he is ready. So we have room for 1 more FA. We can go expensive and get Tanaka or Ervin Santana or go down a tier and there are several to choose from, or a buy low candidate like Hughes with high upside and lower risk, Pelfry is more stable at a lower cost as well. This will make for an interesting debate. But I propose we hold off to the end of the exercise and determine our other needs and options available at likely costs and how we want to allocate them with this offseason and beyond in mind.
Some side notes on this topic. While getting 5 pitchers close to the aggregate is in theory the lowest risk and lowest cost way to build a rotation, we can do other things too such as sign an expensive FA and a minor league FA to compete for a spot. Or an even better idea is a market efficiency such as Santana’s first contract extension of 4 years and 42 million which was a bargain while his next extension of over 120 million was not. Meyer is the hope for an ace in that regards but his extension is a few years away. Radke was also a market efficiency for us as he signed below market deals to remain here.
Last post I pointed out the 2010 Twins rotation to prove that an ace is not needed to be a winning team. Also that a low cost bullpen can be valuable. Who was more valuable this season? Verlander with a 3.46 era in 218 innings at 20 million salary or our bullpen with a 3.50 era in 579 innings at a total lower cost than Verlander…. You decide.