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)
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.
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.