2013 was fun, but it wasn’t enough, was it? I used to think that I only wanted “one,” but now that I have 3, I want 4…or 20. So, we at Fire Brand of the American League have gleefully turned to 2014. Some are not happy that we are talking Stanton. Others are concerned of Kemp. Others have visions of Braun dancing in their dreams.
Most are, more or less, happy to watch the Yankees pay 35 year old Brian McCann.
But we are ready for more than Burke Badenhop, right?
So, what does the team need in order to become a legit contender? How close are they, with the options on their 40 man roster, right now? Well….
A team full of replacement players would go 47-115, in theory. This pretty much assumes that the AAA champs, were they promoted European soccer style, and made no moves to improve would finish with 47 wins.
Let’s start there as a base. We can count on that, before we add how much more valuable actual Major League players are, that we were guaranteed that level of wins. Now, how many wins should this current crop of Red Sox be worth, if we added no one
Well, first, let us determine who our 25 likely are, plus their fWAR – Steamer projections in parenthesis.
C: Christian Vazquez (0.0), David Ross (1.8)
OF: Jonny “I let Peralta borrow my H” Gomes (1.1), Jackie Bradley, Jr. (2.3), Shane Victorino (3.3)
DH: David Ortiz (2.8)
Now, take this for what it is worth. Someone may break out: Xander, WMB, JBJ, and ever Garin Cecchini are all possibilities. Someone could get traded: Dempster, Peavy, Lackey, and Nava are all candidates. Some could decline: Papi, Shanf, Lackey, Peavy are all candidates. Some are expected to decline by Steamer that may maintain their level: Uehara, Pedroia, Victorino are examples.
But, what the Red Sox have is 42.2 Wins Above Replacement, without spending the money to replace Napoli, Ellsbury, and Drew. That means, with only promotions from the minors to replace three major contributors from last years 97 Win World Series champions, the Red Sox can reasonably expect an 89 win team in 2014.
In 2013, 93 wins would have been enough to win the AL East. Which means, by and large, that the Red Sox need to find four more wins, minimum, and 8 maximum (to replicate last years 97) before pitchers and catchers report.
There are three very obvious places for this to happen: catcher, 1st base and left field. Adding Mike Napoli would add 1.4 wins expected over Mike Carp. Trading for Ryan Hanigan would add 2.3 wins over Vazquez. That is 3.7 wins. Signing Carlos Beltran (2.0) to take Gomes’ at bats would hand us another .9 wins. A 4.6 win upgrade, plus taking the upside of Xander Bogaerts should make us feel good about our 2014 chances.
Of course, we can guarantee neither, but even if Ellsbury leaves, we are close to taking another serious shot at the World Series. Now, if we ponied up for Giancarlo Stanton’s 4.9, found a scenario where we added Ryan Braun’s 4.1, or rolled the dice on Matt Kemp’s 2.5 we could really be talking.
Some of the players will change: Some will be traded, some will get injured, some will underperform. But, this is an early template. Time will tell what moves the Red Sox make this World Series, but suffice it so, we are an early player with legitimate designs on the 2014 postseason.