Been awhile since I posted here.
Anyhow, some random thoughts on 2009:
1. Use the assets that you have.
A lot of people want to push the payroll. Hey, if management is willing, fine. That said, we already have one of the highest payrolls in the game, and we have several backloaded deals. Spend only in key areas. For example, if you keep Wood, then I wouldn't do anything more than add a LOOGY to the pen (and that might cost 4 mil/year for a good one). Heck, if budget was really an issue, then just go with what we have internally as lefty options (Marshall, Cotts - although neither really are LOOGY's; Rich Hill, Casey Lambert, Jeremy Papelbon and so forth). Use the assets we have to fill out the pen, 5th starter, and the bench. There are options in our system fo ill out those areas.
2. Go young.
With the system lacking in impact talent that's ready, going young, looking for cost-controlled players is a thought. Now granted, you'd have to give assets to give assets, but this is a team built for the now. Look, I'm not averse to a firesale, but the chances of that happening, with the org leadership returning, is slim.
So, what does it mean to go young? You could be literal about it and target the rumored availability of Delmon Young. Or it could be, and this is my personal preference, making a run at a lefty OF like Jeremy Hermida, who is rumored available because of his struggles (mainly at home) this past year, the fact that all three Marlins OF's are hitting arbitration, and the development of Cameron Maybin allowing them the flexibility of contemplating moves (along with Mike Stanton and Logan Morrison both developing into potential sluggers). They also want to go to a more speed/defense lineup (makes sense for the park and the K's they racked up.
I don't know if we can win a bid, but I think we can make a competitive bid that keeps us in the game.
3. There are places to cut money if push came to shove.
If push came to shove, there are places to cut money. A little bit may make a difference. A guy like Randy Wells can be serviceable as a long man/spot starter/middle reliever if we need to save. I'm okay with going to Koyie Hill if they want to save 2.7 million on Henry Blanco. I am a huge DeRosa fan, but if we push came to shove and we needed to save a little by shipping him off, it's not the end of the world. Just something to keep in mind if a little savings need to happen, and if we land our targets (a lefty bat and a leadoff option would be mine).
4. Shark pen.
I'm not a big fan of Shark in the rotation. He has not had that many innings on his arm, and throwing him in the rotation might mean a strict count that limits the utility of such a move. Furthermore, if we resign Dempster (or get a comparable), then we are looking at a 5th starter, and too much is made of that role at times (for example, Marquis was fine for a 5th starter, although if we can dump his contract and save, we need to). Also, Shark may be more useful in the pen, as a 7th inning option to Marmol/Wood, and allowing Marmol/Wood to rest at times.
5. Be open to gambles.
As constituted, the team can compete in 2009. It won't be easy to fill areas of need, but we need to be open to ideas. The idea is to get over the hump ... not simply get to the hump and hope to get hot, which is what this team, as currently constituted, is, based on the offensive construction.
6. Change the equation.
The uneasy feeling I had about this team all year was that it was prone to cold streaks. Unfortunately, we hit one in the playoffs. To change this equation, we need not only more balance in the lineup, but also a leadoff hitter. Based upon the Theriot experiment at leadoff, I think we need a proven guy for Lou and Soriano to buy into it. I'm not sure Roberts will be available (gut guess says they extend him), and there aren't that many great options out there available. Ichiro might be, and I'd ask on it (although I'm lukewarm on Ichiro overall). That said, Ichiro also has 4/68 left, which is eh. Furcal is the obvious candidate that would work, but you'd need to construct a contract that makes sense for both sides, hence making it a gamble (that is, we need protection on his health; he might want years because of his health and particularly since he is 30 now). Along those lines, keep in mind number 5. If we land Furcal, my preference would be to shop Theriot, as his value is at a peak right now.
7. Resign Wood and Dempster.
The bullpen needs some veteran arms. Instead of spending on a couple setup arms to work on finding a fit with MArmol as the closer, keep Wood and Marmol as a strength, and use what we have.
Dempster is one of the top 5 FA pitching arms. Burnett and Lowe likely will get quite expensive (Yankees may pursue), and Sheets is a big ?. Sabathia is an unlikely target. If Dempster is willing to take a slight discount (perhaps an AAV in that 12/13 range, which sadly, is around middle of the rotation money these days), you might as well take it.
There's obviously more possibilities and ideas. A lot depends on the payroll. Even with some simple guesses on targets and target costs, we are looking in that 130-140 million range. It's hard to imagine that the payroll will go far beyond that.