In 2007, Baseball America projected the Pittsburgh Pirates 2010 lineup as:
C: Ronny Paulino
1B: Adam LaRoche
2B: Freddy Sanchez
SS: Jack Wilson
3B: Neil Walker
LF: Jason Bay
CF: Andrew McCutchen
RF: Xavier Nady
SP1: Brad Lincoln
SP2: Ian Snell
SP3: Zach Duke
SP4: Tom Gorzelanny
SP5: Paul Maholm
CL: Matt Capps
How would those Pittsburgh Pirates have done compared to the ones we're watching now? Well, thanks to the magic of Baseball Reference, we can take a look.
First, a top-level comparison.
Six position players (Paulino, LaRoche, Sanchez, Wilson, Bay, and Nady) are no longer with the Pirates. These players have a total WAR of 1.5, with a 2010 payroll of $28.525M.
Three pitchers (Snell, Gorzelanny, and Capps) are no longer with the Pirates. These three pitchers have a total WAR of 1.0, with a 2010 payroll of $8.55M.
Keeping these nine players would have contributed 2.5 WAR at a cost of $37.075M for the year.
Instead, we have the following (treated as if the players were with Pittsburgh for the whole year, which isn't necessarily the case):
C: Chris Snyder, at $2.25M ($5.25 salary, less $3M received from Arizona in the trade), gives 0.5 WAR
1B: Garret Jones, at $425k, gives -0.3 WAR.
SS: Ronny Cedeno, at $1.125M, gives 0.7 WAR
3B: Pedro Alvarez, at $500k, gives 0.2 WAR. (Walker replaces Sanchez at 2B.)
LF: Jose Tabata, at $400k, gives 1.0 WAR
RF: Lastings MIlledge, at $452k, gives -1.3 WAR.
SP: Ross Ohlendorf, at $439k, gives 1.7 WAR
SP: Jeff Karstens or James McDonald, at $400k, gives about 1.0 WAR (Karstens is at 1.1, McDonald after three starts at 0.6)
CL: Joel Hanrahan, at $453k, gives 0.7 WAR.
The total is a combined 4.2 WAR at a cost of about $6.9M.
Yes, compared to BA's 2007 projection, the actual Pirates prorate to about 2 wins better - and about $31M cheaper.
That doesn't even take into consideration the rest of the talent that was acquired in exchange for the players that are no longer with the Pirates:
Paulino: $1.1M, 0.4 WAR, traded for Jason Jaramillo, $417k, -0.7 WAR.
LaRoche: $4.5M, 0.6 WAR, traded for Hunter Strickland (A+) and Argenis Diaz.($400k, -0.1 WAR in the majors)
Sanchez: $6M, -0.2 WAR, traded for Tim Alderson (AA)
Xavier Nady: $3.3M, -1.3 WAR, traded (with Damaso Marte, $4M, 0.2 WAR) for Jeff Karstens ($400k, 1.1 WAR), Daniel McCutchen ($400k, -0.7 WAR), Ross Ohlendorf ($439k, 1.7 WAR), Jose Tabata ($400k, 1.0 WAR)
Ian Snell: $4.45M, -1.2 WAR, in AAA, traded with Wilson (above)
Matt Capps: Non-tendered.
Even with perfect foreknowledge of outcomes, the only moves that can be considered to have been bad deals for the Pirates are Gorzo and maybe Paulino, who would have both been serviceable starters at reasonable prices.
- LaRoche is slightly better than the other 1B options, but at 10x the price.
- Sanchez is replacement level at 15x the price, and would have blocked Walker from 2B.
- Wilson and Snell - Cedeno is performing the same as Wilson for 1/4 the price, so that exchanges a $4.5M AAA pitcher for three prospects in A/A+ plus Jeff Clement, which is a deal the Pirates should take any day and twice on Sundays.
- Bay would have been a serviceable RF (assuming he'd move there with Tabata in LF), but again at 20x the price of the other myriad RF options.
- Nady is 2.3 WAR worse, $3M more expensive, and ten years older than Tabata. Marte is 0.9 WAR worse, $2.6M more expensive, and eight years older than Karstens. Even straight up, that deal is a swindle - and that doesn't count Ohlendorf and Dan McCutchen
Even non-tendering Capps was at worst a net wash and at best a win, as it opened the space to get Dotel, who turned into Lambo and McDonald.
So eight "major decisions" (seven trades and one non-tender involving the players that BA considered to be the Pirates' starting-level talent as of 2010), of which five are wins (one - Nady - huge), one a loss (Gorzo), and two somewhere around washes (Paulino slightly negative, the Capps non-tender slightly positive).
That's not bad management.