Sunday, November 22, 2009

11/22/09: Crewture's Hypothetical Guide To The Offseason

A little past 10 p.m. tonight when either the LA Galaxy or Royal Salt Lake are crowned MLS Cup Champions, the long offseason officially begins for 16 teams. No doubts Mr. Bliss, Mr. McCullers, and Mr. Warzycha already have their offseason manifesto at the ready. On Monday the 23rd at 3 p.m. the Crew braintrust will begin to show their cards; And, depending upon who is left on and who is left off the list, Crew fans can begin to get a feel on who will be in the fold in 2010 and who will not be.

And, depending on that list, Crew fans can either shrug and say "well, that's what I would of done" or yell at their computer and have a hissy fit on the interwebs, like a four year old in Wal-Mart..

So, on Montag, the Crew's first goal is to leave a mixture of players unprotected that the Philadelphia Union and Peter Nowak will have no interest in. As five teams will have no players selected in the expansion draft on this upcoming Wednesday. However, if Nowak is smart enough (and he is) he'll want to pluck just about any player who has been a part of a championship squad. Also, the Crew (no matter the list) are going to have some scintillating players for Nowak to choose from; as Warzycha has said, this is a deep squad, much deeper than just eleven players.

Therefore, the Crew can only minimalize the damage of the expansion draft. So, here is my best attempt at a list, along with my rationale (in order of importance):

1.) Chad Marshall- Hands down the best central defender in the league and has been rewarded as such for the past two seasons. Without him oddly, the Crew's offensive attack went into hibernation the second half of the year. Crucial player.

2.) Eddie Gaven- Unprotected last year, won't be the case this year despite his high salary. Was the Crew's most consistent midfielder and quite possibly most consistent player. Never really had a bad game.

3.) Danny O'Rourke- Rewarded as team MVP, local boy, can play several defensive positions. Definitely not going nowhere. Although, he should go back to central defense with Chad Marshall.
4.) Brian Carroll- Not sure if we could find anyone better than Brian Carroll at DM in MLS, and not sure if you want to spend the money on an international at the DM spot. Important player and someone Nowak is familiar with, and thus might pick. So, have to protect him.

5.) Gino Padula- Played more minutes than anyone in 2009. Padula is still only 33 years old. Also, it took the Crew forever to find someone who could play left back. That was an issue for the Crew since 2005. I also could see PU (great acroynym) taking a couple older guys who can be team leaders.

6.) Jed Zayner- Has shown that he is a credible replacement to Frankie Hejduk, once Hejduk departs from the game (well if he ever does). I have more faith in Zayner than Brunner, despite Brunner having more playing time.

7.) Emmanuel Ekpo- Still inconsistent, but only 21 and will continue to develop, a lot of years ahead of him. Too electric of a player to be left unprotected as I could see the Union picking him up easily. Still needs to be more consistent, but when he is on at times, Ekpo looks like the best player on the field.

8.) Guillermo Barros Schelotto- Should be number one on this list, but it should be very interesting to see whether he is on or off the list on Monday. Could be a crazy day come 3 p.m. If GBS is left off, there is no doubt in my mind that the Philadelphia Union will give GBS a better salary than $227,000 dollars. I say the Crew live to fight another negotiation day and protect Guillermo.

9.) Emilio Renteria- I think Renteria may be our best striker option that we have now. I also think that the Crew are going to get a new striker in 2010 that is a proven goalscorer. But, I think Renteria could be a strong number two. Warzycha will play two strikers in 2010.

Anyways, overall, Renteria may not have blown our socks off, but he had a great strike in Champions League that was more impressive than any other shot taken by the rest of our strikers the entire year. He is also strong and physical. He is also, compared to Moreno and many other options, much cheaper. Therefore, I would like to see more of him in 2010 before making a decision on whether he is a long term fit for the Crew. However, for the most part, I saw promise in his starts in the latter half of the 2009 season. Further, it wouldn't have made sense for the Crew to bring Renteria into the fold so late in the 2009 season if he wasn't part of their 2010 plans.

10.) Steven Lenhart- Fan favorite, hard worker, good player. You'll need at least three strikers in 2010. I think Lenhart has improved every season instead of plateauing like Moreno and possibly Garey. I would like to hold onto Lenhart and Renteria, drop the rest of our strikers, and bring in a third in 2010.

11.) Robbie Rogers (if in the fold and not headed to Europe) and if headed to Europe or elsewhere than Frankie Hejduk- Rumor is that Robbie Rogers will be left unprotected and may be on his way back to Europe anyways. I don't think that Rogers had a good enough 2009 to garner that much interest from Europe. But, Rogers is out of contract and if the Crew want to keep him, it is going to cost them a lot more money. Money they don't have if they keep Guillermo. I rather have Rogers on the squad as the more we can keep the trio of Ekpo, Gaven, and Rogers the better (which by the way should of been our midfield tandem for the whole of 2009! I don't know why they don't just play Gaven at CM! Get all of your best players on the field.)

As much as it hates me to say it, I'm leaving Hejduk out for now, unless Rogers is headed elsewhere. Frankie Hejduk was the heart and soul of the team in 2008. In 2009, Hejduk was elsewhere, half of the time, with either the national team or out injured. Hejduk only made 14 appearances in 2009. Further, 2010 may be Hejduk's last or next to last season. And if Hejduk is a part of the U.S. National camps, I'm not sure if it would be worthwhile to keep him when we have Zayner who can play his position as well, full time. And, O'Rourke who can play that position if Zayner goes down.

Unprotected

1.) William Hesmer- I don't think Hesmer had a solid enough of a 2009 to protect him, although I know the Crew will protect him. I just do not think it is dire to protect a goalkeeper. Especially with the ammount of quality goalkeepers in the USL (and with most of them likely looking to go to MLS even more so right now) with the mess that the USL is in. I have seen Bill Gaudette (Puerto Rico Islanders), Sam Cronin (Portland Timbers/D.C. United), and Matt Jordan (Montreal) on multiple occassions this year and I think all of them would not be much of a drop off, all three have improved vastly since they were last seen in MLS.

Also, possibly Brad Friedel could come back to MLS with the Crew in 2010. There have been rumors that he would like to come back next season and if he does come back he would like to be back with the Crew. Both as a former member and with his development camp close by. It would be a pretty decent stituation to pick up Friedel for the CONCACAF run, sign Guillermo for around $300,000, and then sign one more striker. I think we could all live with that.

But, the Crew have to be careful, as this could bite us in the ass. As any new keeper deal could fall through and then we are left with a Noah Palmer stituation. So, if left unprotected, the Crew better make sure they have an option elsewhere. Although, like I said, it is easiest to find keepers for MLS. It is much harder to find skilled attacking players. Therefore, I find it more important to hang onto our field players.

Also, I find it doubtful that the Philadelphia Union will pick Hesmer if left unprotected.

2.) Frankie Hejduk, if Rogers in in fold- Like I said before, only 14 games played in 2009, his age, and national team commitments. Would hate to see him play for another team in MLS. But, we do have cover there with Zayner and O'Rourke. I could see the Philadelphia Union picking Hejduk for veteran leadership and because he is marketable. But, I could also see the Philadelphia Union passing on Hejduk because of the aforementioned injury, age, and national team commitments.

It is a tough business and it is a tough call. But, were going to lose someone.

3.) Eric Brunner- More than likely has a good future in MLS and with the Crew. I just do not think he is there yet. I thought he played well the first half of the year, but struggled the second half. Got a lot of experience as a rookie but I also think that O'Rourke should be played back at central defense and Brunner, at this time in his career is a solid backup to Marshall and O'Rourke. Nothing wrong with that. I just don't think he is there yet to protect him.

I also don't think Nowak is going to look at Brunner's second half and see him as a starter on his back line. I could be wrong and Brunner could end up being an all star in 2010, but I just don't see it yet. If he is and is taken, I'm still fine with a backline of Hejduk/Zayner----Marshall----O'Rourke----Padula in 2010.

Further, the whole Brunner and New York Red Bull saga might turn other teams off. Because they might think that if Brunner doesn't want to be anywhere except Columbus, that Brunner will just play in the USL for a year and then come back to the Crew.

4.)Andy Iro- Just didn't have a big enough role in 2009 and we have enough cover in defense, not to protect him. Iro will not be picked anyways.

5.) Adam Moffat- Think he still has an important role with the Crew and 2010 may be his comeback year if Moffat can keep injury free. But, too oft injured and not enough minutes, so Moffat will be overlooked by Philadelphia Union.

6.) Kevin Burns- Played his way into Warzycha's good graces late in 2009. I think he possibly has done enough to secure a spot on the 2010 roster. More likely than not at his salary. But, think there is no chance PU picks him.

7.) Alejandro Moreno- Disappointing 2009. It is not very good when your top striker only has four goals on the season. Whether Philadelphia Union picks Moreno or not, I think he is gone in 2010. Only way I can see the Crew keeping Moreno is if he takes an extreme pay cut and plays for $50,000. Honestly, watching his 2009, he isn't worth that much more.

8.) Jason Garey- Had his moments during the Bash Brothers summer. But, unlike Lenhart, Garey has already had his chance to be the man. And, every time it looks as if he will revive himself (as he did this Summer), Garey goes back into a funk and lacks the ability to score again (as he did this Fall). I think he is gone as well. Trade bait with Moreno.

9.) Duncan Oughton- Great soldier and locker room guy. Played a role at some points in the season. Not going to be picked by the Philadelphia Union. I think it is 60-75% percent whether the Crew will even bring him back for one more year.

10.) Andy Grunebaum- Won't be selected, maybe he has what it takes to be a starter again though.

11.) Cory Elenio- Likely to be waived, draft pick will take his spot.

12.) Alex Grendi- Likely to be waived, draft pick will take his spot.

13.) Kenny Scheoni- Played pretty well against New England. May get a shot or either him or Grunebaum will get waived for a draft pick. The lesser of the two at the start of 2010.

Who will Philadelphia Union select? The above list of 13 players leaves no one that will make Nowak shake with joy. I think their best option is a 36 year old Hejduk (in terms of a big name to make Philadelphia Union fans happy), even though Hejduk might not even be around for two months of their season because of national team duty. And, as much as I would hate to see Hejduk in a Union shirt, I think we would survive without him. I mean Zayner will play at least half of Hejduk's starts anyways in 2010, since Zayner isn't in the NT picture.

If Hejduk was to retire from the NT before the season and was definitely with us for 30 games in 2010 I would protect him in a second. I just don't see that happening.

In the fold in 2010 (plus their expected salary for 2010 if same as there 2009 salary, I know some players are out of contract and their proposed gain or demotion in salary is listed. I'm not sure if other contracted players have an increase in their contract, if so most of them would be minimal I would imagine):
1. Chad Marshall- $250,000
2. Eddie Gaven- $173,250
3. Danny O'Rourke- $90,000
4. Brian Carroll- $133,875
5. Gino Padula- $150,000
6. Jed Zayner $39,930
7. Emmanuel Ekpo- $125,000
8. Guillermo Barros Schelotto- $227,000 offered (likely settle around $325,000)
9. Emilio Renteria- $90,000
10. Steven Lenhart- $34,000
11. Robbie Rogers- $92,500 currently (apparently out of contract, will at least go up to $150,000 to $200,000)
12. William Hesmer- $77,000
13. Eric Brunner- $34,000
14. Adam Moffat- $48,000
15. Kevin Burns- $20,100 *
16. Andy Greunebaum- $34,650
17. Andy Iro- $45,100 *
18. Duncan Oughton- $42,140 *

Total salary: $1,754,805 out of $2,300,000 without *. With * $1,862,145 out of $2,300,000

* denotes bubble players, the thinking is that there either going to be kept or replaced by a better player.

OUT and their salaries:
1. Alejandro Moreno $132,500
2. Frankie Hejduk $150,000
3. Jason Garey $52,937
4. Kenny Scheoni $34,000
5. Alex Grendi $20,100
6. Corey Elenio $20,100
7. Kevin Burns- $20,100 *
8. Andy Iro- $45,100 *
9. Duncan Oughton- $42,140 *

* Possibly out, could go either way

Total salary to play with in offseason: $409,637 without *. With * $516,977

I'm guessing the Crew will likely hold onto Burns, Iro, and Oughton because they will likely be cheaper than other depth players. This leaves the Crew with $409,637 to $437,855 to play with for six players.

Warzycha and Bliss were down in Miami recently to scout the Honduras national team. Here is the Honduras lineup for that game: Noel Valladares, Mauricio Sabillon, Víctor Bernardez, Erick Norales, Emilio Izaguirre, Hendry Thomas, Wilson Palacios, Dani Turcios, Walter Martínez, Carlos Pavón (lol, hopefully not him), David Suazo. The Crew are unlikely to be looking for a defender. Possibly a CM or striker or winger depending on the stituation with Rogers. Or even an AM depending on the Schelotto stituation.

The following players play for high profile teams and are completely unlikely to come to the Crew: Edgar Alvarez (Bari), Amado Guevara (too expensive at TFC), Julio Cesar De Leon (Torino), Ramon Nunez (Cruz Azul), Wilson Palacios (Tottenham Hotspur), Hendry Thomas (Wigan Athletic), David Suazo (Internazionale).

Which leaves Danilo Turcios (age 31), Melvin Valladares (25), Walter Martinez (27), Jerry Palacios (28), Georgie Welcome (24), and possibly Carlos Costly (27). All of them play in Honduras except Costly. And, here
are the attacking and midfield players worth by USD via transfermarkt (only a few were available):

1. Carlos Costly $1,185,000 with GKS Belchatow according to transfermarkt. However, Guevara is also listed at $1,185,000 market value yet only makes $300,000 with TFC.
2. Walter Martinez is possibly affordable enough at $296,000 USD market value. If Guevara is $1,185,000 maybe Martinez is $200,000. I would say possibly Danilo Turcios, Melvin Valladares, Jerry Palacios, and Georgie Welcome hold a similiar or slightly lesser price tag.

I'm guessing since they played in the game, Bliss is either interested in Danilo Turcios or Walter Martinez.

So, lets say player 19 is a Honduran at $200,000 dollars.
19. Honduran, probably a Walter Martinez type $200,000
20. First Round Draft Pick No. 1 $80,000
21. First Round Draft Pick No. 2 $60,000
22. 2010's version of Elenio, late draft pick $20,000
23. 2010's version of Grendi, late draft pick $20,000
24. The final $40,000 spent on someone of Moffat's quality.

DRAFT PICKS: I do not want the Crew to trade either of their first round draft picks. I do not get why the Crew are so scared to use their draft picks. The last draft TFC received some solid, young talent that I think will pay dividends, even more so, for them next year in Stefan Frei, O'Brien White, and Sam Cronin. Also, the LA Galaxy have built most of their back line off of the draft in the last two years, with Sean Franklin, Omar Gonzalez, and A.J. De La Garza.

So, if you don't draft duds, you could build some talented depth and starters. Use both of your draft picks. You rarely have to pay a draft pick over $100,000, and usually closer to $50,000, even in the first round. That is cheap, young talent. And, if the Crew picks wisely they could come away with two guys who could contribute greatly in 2010. USE THEM! The talent pool in the draft gets better every year. It is better to get two solid, young players instead of trading them up to afford one good, established MLS player in my opinion.

Plus, give the fans something to look forward to on draft day. The last draft was so excruciatingly boring for Crew fans.

2010 LINEUP'S:
----------------Hesmer----------------
Zayner----Marshall----O'Rourke--Padula
---------------Carroll----------------
Ekpo------------Gaven-----------Rogers
--------------Guillermo---------------
-----Honduran Striker(Someone like Martinez)

--------------Hesmer-----------------
Zayner----Marshall---O'Rourke--Padula
--------------Carroll----------------
Ekpo-----------Gaven-----------Rogers
------Renteria--------Martinez-------

Bench:
Lenhart
Renteria
Brunner
Moffat
Burns
Sam Cronin-type first round pick
O'Brien White-type first round pick
Iro
Oughton
Greunebaum

I don't think something like that would be too shabby for 2010. Add two draft picks and we are much deeper as well.

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