An alternate 2009 – Part two

We found in Part One that the Pirates would have won about 71 games this past season if management stood pat with the roster that began the 2008 season. Today, let’s see how the team would have done if management threw caution to the wind and tossed a mountain of cash into free agency.

Here’s how the roster might look if the Pirates could sign any free agent they wanted, with new additions in bold. (Full spreadsheet here)

Position Player PA wOBA WAR
Ryan Doumit 304 .306 0.6
Ronny Paulino 296 .334 1.3
Raul Chavez 120 .277 0.0
Mark Teixeira 707 .402 4.8
Adam LaRoche 95 .357 0.2
Freddy Sanchez 140 .322 0.2
Orlando Hudson 631 .342 2.6
Jack Wilson 402 .286 1.4
Ramon Vazquez 175 .283 -0.4
Brian Bixler 150 .269 -0.3
Jose Bautista 350 .339 1.7
Joe Crede 367 .305 1.3
Nyjer Morgan 297 .340 1.6
Manny Ramirez 431 .396 2.5
Nate McLouth 345 .356 1.3
Andrew McCutchen 493 .361 2.2
Xavier Nady 29 .320 -0.1
Jason Bay 638 .396 3.3

Pitcher IP tRA*0.92 WAR
Paul Maholm 150 3.91 2.6
Zach Duke 213 4.58 1.9
CC Sabathia 230 3.63 4.8
Derek Lowe 195 4.24 2.5
A.J. Burnett 207 4.36 2.4
Matt Capps 54 4.73 -0.2
Sean Burnett 57 5.18 -0.4
John Grabow 72 3.97 0.5
Evan Meek 47 3.96 0.2
Francisco Rodriguez 68 3.88 1.0
Denny Bautista 13 4.03 0.0
Steven Jackson 43 4.33 0.1
Ian Snell 30 5.22 -0.2
Donnie Veal 15 6.37 -0.1
Chris Bootcheck 14 4.11 0.0
Tyler Yates 12 6.46 -0.2
Phil Dumatrait 13 8.38 -0.3
Damaso Marte 13 4.92 -0.1

Eight of the best available free agents have been added to the roster. Assuming each player signed the same contract with the Pirates as he did with his actual 2009 team, an additional $111 million would be tacked onto the 2009 payroll. $601 million in total salary commitments over 34 contract years. And the expected win total is……..87.

87 wins.

If the Pirates added the top three free agent starting pitchers, the top free agent reliever, Teixeira, Manny, and etc., they would have likely finished four games behind the Cardinals and out of the postseason. The team would have had a 23.87% chance of winning 91 games and tying the Cards. And the franchise would have been bankrupt within three weeks. (Note: the previous statement is totally un-researched.)

Free agency is the least efficient method of building a team. Since the Pirates have no possible chance of competing financially with large-market teams, it is impossible for the organization to acquire a core group of players through free agency. They must continue to build through the farm system, as they have been doing for the past two seasons.

We must remain patient. The organization was a complete mess a few years ago. It will take time to clean up that mess.

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