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Mock GM Update: Comparing this year's Rockies to a mock GM simulation

How did the 2013 Rockies I built in last year's SBN Mock Winter Meetings Simulation compare to the actual Rockies?

Imagine him in a Rockies uniform
Imagine him in a Rockies uniform

Over the next weeks and months, many of you will be putting on your GM hat and scheming for ways to make the Rockies better. Fans of every team do this - and it's often entertaining to see what other fans think or your favorite team's players. As you might recall, last year at SB Nation blog Royals Review they ran a Mock Winter Meetings Simulation, where fan representatives of all 30 teams played mock GM for a week. It was really fun - here's my full recap of the experience. Read that link to refresh yourself on the ground rules.

I thought it would be fun to take a quick look at the moves I made as the GM of the Rockies. Obviously there's no great way to compare what, say, Brandon McCarthy would have done on the Rockies this year given the team's defense, a more challenging ballpark, and random luck. Still, it's a silly fun exercise and I'm doing it. Here's a brief log of what the Colorado Aberles did last off-season:

Trans. Gained Lost
1 None Jonathan Herrera (non-tender)
2 Rick Porcello Michael Cuddyer, Jordan Pacheco
3 Brandon McCarthy (4/55) None
4 Kris Medlen Dexter Fowler, Chad Bettis
5 Andres Torres (2/5) None
6 Yoshinora Tateyama (MiLB) None
7 Carlos Gomez Rob Scahill, Edwar Cabrera

Lets examine each transaction's effect on the Rockies in this alternate universe (universe...universe...universe):

1. Non-Tender Jonathan Herrera

While Herrera was actually a pretty useful player for the Rockies this year as a 25th man, his absence would have given more plate appearances to DJ LeMahieu early in the year (namely because he would have been on the roster). It might have also hastened the call-up of Nolan Arenado just a little bit. Herrera accumulated 0.3 rWAR in his time with the club in 2013.

Verdict: Win

2. Trade Michael Cuddyer and Jordan Pacheco to Detroit for Rick Porcello

You know how it would have been nice for the Rockies to have another good starter this year? That's what I was trying to do here. As I saw the rotation entering the year, there were two names written in pen (Chacin and De La Rosa) and both of those guys had lingering injury concerns. Therefore I aggressively worked to build a rotation the Rockies could work with.

In the case of Porcello, he had a decent year filling out the Tigers rotation, throwing 177 innings of 4.32 ERA ball and producing 2.4 rWAR. In exchange for that production (and next year's) as well as about $9 million in savings, I gave up the NL batting champion and...well, the NL batting champion.

Here's the dirty secret though: Cuddyer's poor defense brought his value down to just 2.0 rWAR. While I still think the defensive metrics are a little out of whack, where there's smoke there's fire and all of them hated Cuddy's defense. Jordan Pacheco meanwhile was one of the worst players in MLB this year at -1.6 rWAR.

In this scenario, Porcello anchors the back of Colorado's rotation while the Rockies improve on defense, allowing Charlie Blackmon or Tyler Colvin (remember, he was supposed to be good) in the outfield as well as a Reid Brignac or Charlie Culberson in the infield to break camp with the team. The Tigers do fine with Drew Smyly and everyone wins.

Verdict: Considering the cost savings and no Pacheco, Win

3. Sign Brandon McCarthy to a 4 year, $55 million deal

This one I have a few regrets about given what McCarthy's actual price was on the FA market (2 years, $15.5 million), but in terms of having him in the rotation (and the likes of Jeff Francis out) I was happy going into the year. Unfortunately McCarthy struggled through an injury-filled year with Arizona, throwing 135 replacement level innings. Better than Roy Oswalt, yes, but not by much.

In this scenario, the Rockies let him pitch through the struggles but perhaps Tyler Chatwood still manages to shine through and have his breakout year in between the DL stints of Chacin (late April/May) and McCarthy (June/July). I'm not enamored with this move though, especially given the financial commitment still owed him.

Verdict: Loss

4. Trade Dexter Fowler and Chad Bettis to Atlanta for Kris Medlen

This was the moment I really got excited about these fake Rockies - getting three years of a cost-controlled young starter that could slot near the top of the rotation was great. Yes, I had to give up a good player in Dex and a top pitching prospect to get him, but sometimes that's what you have to do to get talent.

This one worked out pretty well even though Medlen started slowly. He tossed 197 innings of 3.11 ERA ball, good for 3.3 rWAR on the year. Meanwhile, Fowler started off gangbusters but injuries got to him in the second half - he finished with 2.0 rWAR. While Bettis showed flashes of potential this year, his overall contributions were deemed to be below replacement level (-0.5 rWAR).

Verdict: Win

5. Sign Andres Torres to a 2 year, $5 million deal

This deal was done with the idea that Torres could slide into an outfield slot as a platoon starter or utility player until the prospects were ready. I was also hoping for some good defense to replace Fowler or Cuddyer. I wouldn't have gotten that from Torres this season - he was used as a utility outfielder by the Giants and he was not very good (-0.2 rWAR) in 300 plate appearances before hurting his ACL in August.

In this scenario, Torres would have been relegated to the bench early on in favor of a Blackmon or Corey Dickerson.

Verdict: Loss

6. Sign Yoshinori Tateyama to a minor league deal

Tateyama didn't pitch in the big leagues this year and he wouldn't have for my team either. Nothing to see here.

Verdict: Shrug

7. Trade Rob Scahill and Edwar Cabrera to Milwaukee for Carlos Gomez

This is the dream result for a trade - the trade that the Woody Paiges of the world think that their team can pull off. Gomez was acquired to play center field in Fowler's absence while Scahill and Cabrera were expendable given the starting pitching I'd acquired.

All Gomez did was become arguably the most valuable player in the NL this year - at least, if your argument is his 8.4 rWAR. On a team that had lost two of its top weapons in Cuddyer and Fowler, Gomez would have been a godsend with his terrific defense and bargain price. Like Milwaukee did, I would have tried to sign him through his prime in the middle of said terrific season. Meanwhile, Cabrera was hurt all year and Scahill profiles as a fungible middle reliever at the big league level.

Verdict: Win

With all of the moves above, I'm also assuming that Arenado is still called up in April, that Chatwood makes a good impression when he's called up (but not as good an impression), Juan Nicasio debuts in the bullpen, and the other players more or less replicated their performance. In such a world, the Rockies would receive about 5-7 more wins from their pitchers while Gomez's contributions allow them to pick up a few more wins on offense and in the field. That makes the Colorado Aberles about a 83-86 win squad assuming the same luck - I'll take it.

Basically, I learned that I shouldn't go on the free agent market and should just make lopsided trades. The Rockies team I assembled had a $82 million payroll. Would this team have made the playoffs? I'm not sure, but I would feel a lot better about it going forward than the current version.