December 29, 2006

Star Quotient

Since it is a slow period in the baseball offseason, my mind has been wandering. I came up with a silly little concept that I might use throughout the offseason to rank teams and players.

In honor of the memory of Pops Willie Stargell, I have come up with a scale for a teams potential success. I call it the Star(ter) Quotient. This is totally subjective and really has nothing stat wise to back up the concept. This is based more on opinion than anything concrete.

The idea is a player earns a star if they could start on most teams in MLB or be a major contributor on the pitching staff. My belief is a team needs a minimum of 10 stars to be competitive and likely 14 to be a serious contender.

What I am going to do is start with the Pirates and try to work my way through the league as the winter continues. It all depends on how much interest and how many comments I receive as to whether I go much further than the Pirates.

Based on the current 40 man roster, according to the team page, here is my take on Star Quotient for the current Pirate roster.

Full Star Contributers:

Jason Bay (Full Star) - Bay could start on almost every team in the league. I don't think he would be the centerpiece that he is in Pittsburgh, most likely he would bat 5th or 6th in most lineups. His defense is above average, contrary to any defensive stats you look at on him.

Freddy Sanchez (Full Star) - Freddy is the best pure hitter on the Pirates. He would be an excellent number 2 hitter in any lineup in the Majors. With the Pirates, he will be the number 3 hitter, a position more suited for a best overall hitter with power. He is the type of player you find a position for as his defense is above average every position he has played.

Jack Wilson (Full Star) - While Jack may not start on some team, likely a backup to the Jeters of the world, he would start on most. His bat is average at best with one exceptional year. His real value is his defense. On most teams he would bat in the lower positions of the batting order.

Mike Gonzalez (Full Star) - Gonzo would close for a majority of teams, be a setup man for some teams. Regardless, he would be a key part of any bullpen.

Solomon Torres (Full Star) - He has the most value as a setup man and insurance if a closer gets hurt. This man deserves to inherit Teke's old nickname of "Rubber Band Man". His arm seems to get better the more he pitches.

The next category is Half Star Contributers, these are guys on the verge of being full stars, players who would play a role on most teams but not likely starters.

Half Star Contributers:

Xavier Nady (Half Star) - Of all the half stars, this is a guy who really teeters on the fence. His defense at first surprised me last season. He has a dependable bat. Most likely he would be a fourth outfielder or backup at first base on most team.

Chris Duffy (Half Star) - He has the makings of a legitimate leadoff hitter and his defense is a definite plus. He is on the verge of being either an above average to great center fielder or a complete bust. Hopefully he doesn't quit again, I'd like to see him reach full potential.

Ronnie Paulino (Half Star) - His performance last season at least deserved some rookie of the year votes, but he was snubbed. If he continues his performance in 2007, he will be a full star. The way he handles the pitching staff is his major plus, much more than offensive contributions. Hopefully his size turns into some power in 2007.

Zack Duke (Half Star) - The way he has ended his last two seasons would earn him a full star. Unfortunately there were 3 or 4 months last season he struggled. He is another on the verge of being a star. On most teams he would be a middle to bottom of the rotation guy until he performs for a full season.

Ian Snell (Half Star) - Any pitcher who racks up 14 wins in a season for a losing team deserves some respect. I don't know if he would anchor other teams rotation, but I am sure he would be a bottom of the rotation guy outside Pittsburgh more because of his age and experience than his skill.

No Stars:
Most everyone else on this team would be role players at best if they even made another MLB roster.

I am not saying Maholm or Gorzelanny would not be in another teams rotation, I think they would still be in AAA for most franchises at this point.

The same can be said of some of the bullpen arms that will likely be brought to my attention. The ones I struggled with were Capps and Grabow, they are close to half stars but not quite there yet.

Unfortunately Castillo has almost become no more than a throw in in trade rumors. I think he still has more value than a minor league middle reliever but his value is very low right now. Hopefully he can rebound and improve his value to the team as a player and as possible trade bait. DL would be insane to trade him as a filler for a deal when his value can't get much lower.

Cota, ah Humberto we hardly knew you. At one point he was Minor League Player of the Year for the franchise, unfortunately those skills diminished sitting behind Kendall for so many years.

Tally Up the Stars:

5 Full Starts
5 Half Stars

With a total of 7.5 stars, this team is not far away from being truly competitive, aka .500 team. If a few of the young pitchers continue to grow and the young positional players prove they are for real, this team could get legitimate very quickly.

Without any offseason moves, this team could surprise a few people. Proof can be found in the way they ended last season. With any young team there will be growing pains and even more questions as the year progresses. Young teams are always unpredictable, so this team could compete or they could fall flat on their faces.

Based on their current lineup, I would guess 75 wins but would not be surprised to see the streak end. Most of this depends on whether Littleclue messes things up between now and opening day.
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