Archive for November, 2007

Astros In The Infield For 2008 – Part 3 – Adam Everett And The Rest

Monday, November 5th, 2007

Adam Everett, the quintessential great glove no bat shortstop. He’s going to be entering his second arb year and earned 2.8 mill last year. He’ll get some sort of raise, but it won’t be much because he’s not exactly Mr. Hit Person and because he missed half of the season thanks to Carlos Lee.

It is simply not true that in MLB, it doesn’t matter at all if fielders can catch balls, that only hitting matters. That is true only with fantasy baseball, and that is why it is called “fantasy.”

I know very well that a lot of Astros fans really do believe that Adam couldn’t get another job with any other ML team and that he couldn’t even get a job with an AAA team. I can’t help what you want to believe. But the fact is that he is now with the Houston Astros, so if you want to DFA him and replace him with someone else, let’s hear it. The Astros need SOME guy to play short and it had better not be Loretta again.

So, if all yall don’t want Adam back, then who DO you want and how do you plan to get him?
A few ground rules – IF you want to trade for some other club’s SS or even AAA SS, well then, you have to say not just who we are going to trade for BUT who we would trade to the other club AND make it work in terms of who that club wants/needs and also have it make sense in terms of contracts and money. For example, on a certain message board, a fanatical Red Sox fan (is there any other kind) was explaining how the Devil Rays should happily trade Scott Kazmir to them for Coco Crisp (the D-Rays need another OF, even a mediocre one like Crispy, like a grrrl needs a second husband) plus Jon Lester plus some AA pitcher who only threw 40 innings this year. So let’s not go suggesting Really Dumb Trades like that. Also, please remember that Carlos Lee, Lance Berkman and Roy Oswalt have FULL no-trade clauses and that Lance has made it MORE than clear that he refuses to be traded and that Drayton luuuuvvvvvvs Carlos and he is NOT going anywhere.

First, let’s ask who might could have any real value in a trade besides Lee, Oswalt and Berkman – and let’s be serious, OK? GMs are NOT calling about Dave Borkowski.) There aren’t many, are there? Hunter Pence (league minimum year 2) of course, Luke Scott (league minimum year 2, and lefty OF with a good glove and a .855 OPS even though the Astros don’t think he’s valuable), Chad Qualls (3rd year, will get a raise from his 441K salary this year), Brad Lidge (3rd arb year, received 5.35 mill), Wandy Rodriguez (YES, he IS valuable – he’s 3rd year, a lefty who will get a raise from his 401K salary) and there would be some degree of interest in pitchers Matt Albers, Brandon Backe and Troy Patton. Maybe Chris Burke. We have NO top minor league prospects to trade.

Second, IF we trade away a player, you have to either replace him in the trade, or name his replacement from either the 40 man or the minor league system. And no playing Phil Garner position switches, neither. Lance Berkman can’t play center, I don’t CARE if he did back in the day.

Only 3 FA shortstops:

David Eckstein, age 33. He just finished a 3 year contract, and earned 4.58 mill this past year. The Pest, the 2006 WS MVP. I luuuuvvvv the little guy, but fact is that he’s been on the DL quite a bit the past 2 years and has played hurt quite a bit. Actually, the only years that he spent no time at all on the DL were 2002 and 2005. He’s the Astros fans’ kind of player – very few walks – 47/average year – and very few K – 51/yr. He also averages around 10-11 GIDP/year. He isn’t a slugger, as yall might could guess, but he hits 20-25 doubles a year and gets on base at around a .350 clip. And as we know very well, he almost always takes the first pitch and he’s undaunted by 2 strikes.

Funny, I thought he hit like .400 at the Box, but I guess he only hits like that when I want him to get himself out. Actually, he’s .267/.307/.361/.668 – which isn’t exactly this great improvement over Adam Everett. Worst of all, his fielding skills seriously declined last year, perhaps because of his injuries. However, he committed 20 errors, turned approximately 15% fewer DP, saw his ZR drop from .857 to .812 and his RF drop to 4.52 from 4.73. He started his baseball career as a second baseman, then was moved to short by the Angels because their second base position was occupied. Perhaps he needs to move back to second…

Cesar Izturis, age 28. Amazing, I remember when he was supposed to be The Next Big Thing. At least according to Dusty Baker. Anyway, he spent 4 years with the Dodgers until he was traded to the Cubs at the deadline in 06 for Greg Maddux – Dusty was ecstatic. However, Lou Pinella didn’t share his ecstasy (must have been the lousy hitting and suckulous glove) and Cesar + cash was traded to the Pirates for some PTBNL. His career high OPS is .711 and his lifetime average stats – .259/.295/.334/.629. We aren’t talking a Hanley Ramirez bat here. In 2007, he had a ZR of .817 and a RF of 4.01 – worse than Eckstein. Actually, he’s always had a pretty low RF – 4.53 average. Not in ANY way better than Adam, who, in case yall curious, has a RF of 4.93 and a ZR of .880.

Omar Vizquel, age 41. Who stole 2 Gold Gloves from Adam. He just finished a 3 year contract with the Giants and was paid 5.14 mill last year. Yes, he HAS had some great years, no question. But he isn’t exactly Mr. Bat – lifetime OPS of .697 and last year, he had a line of .246/.305/.361/.621. His glove didn’t deteriorate at all – RF of 4.65 and ZR of .862. It’s not that he’s bad, it’s that he’s 10 years older than Adam and honestly, I don’t see the point of the swap.
- Let me remind all yall at this point that most shortstops are not Troy Tulowitsky, they are glove men who have an OPS in the 600s and bat 8th.

And just for fun, here are Miguel Tejada’s stats: .287/.344/.477/.821 lifetime. His BA was fine last year, .297, but his SLG was way down – he usually averages around 35 doubles and 27 homers, but last year, he only hit 19 doubles and 18 homers. He’s actually been declining since signing his 6 year contract 4 years ago. As for his glove? Well, he’s always made a LOT of errors – averaging 20-24 errors/162 games -†ZR was .824 with a RF of 4.27.  Yes, he’d be changing leagues, so he might hit better (or he might hit worse) but he is most definitely on the downside of his career and you are talking 13-14 million a year for 2 years. Oh yeah, you don’t think Baltimore would pick up part of THAT contract considering that we don’t really have any valuable trading chips, now do you?

And that is that for major leaguers.

Minor leaguers?
Well, we have Tommy Manzella, age 25, who was selected in the 3rd round in 05. He split the season between A and AA. He did better in AA, a better hitting league – .289/.343/.382/.724. BA rated him as the Astros best defensive infielder in 2006 – not that this is exactly great compliment, seeing the other minor leaguers we have in the system.

We have Cody Ransom, age 32, who I discussed a few days ago in reference to second basemen. I was informed by a reader that I didn’t see him play and I am this moron who has no idea what an incredible ballplayer he is who is highly regarded by all these baseball people who Know What They Are Talking About. Unlike me.

I see.

It does seem to explain why all these teams have been desperately trying to trade for him, why he has received all these Spring Training invitations over the past 2 years. So anyway, if anyone has any actual INFORMATION about Ransom’s incredible incredibleness and how he has made this incredible transformation over the past 2 years from the mediocre AAAA player that he was the previous 6 years that will most certainly translate to major league excellence – by all means, let’s hear it.

In the meantime, I certainly don’t see any available shortstop who would be an improvement over Adam Everett. But, of course, I AM open to suggestions…

Astros In The 2008 Infield – Part 2 – Ty Wigginton

Thursday, November 1st, 2007

This entry is going to be a little short for the simple reason that there are only 3 FA 3rd basemen (besides Mo Ensberg and we won’t go there), Pedro Feliz, Mike Lamb and Mike Lowell. Well, there is, of course, A-Rod, but I promise you he wants to play for a big money team on the coast and he already did the Texas thing and he ain’t comin back no mo. Besides, his agent is Boras and that tells you all you need to know.

Tim Purpura and the Organization decided, for some reason I STILL don’t understand, to substitute Mike Lamb, who is one of the FA 3B, with Wigginton. I would be pretty darn surprised if they decided to DFA Wiggy and sign either Feliz or Lowell. I’ve already written plenty comparing Wiggy and Lamb, but let’s do it all again.

OK, starting with the basics – Lamb is 32, just finished a 2.7 mill 1 year contract and is a FA. Wiggy is 30, just finished his 4th year so is under team control for the next 2 years and also just finished a 1 year 2.7 mill contract – who knows what he will get over the next 2 years. I can’t understand why the Astros think that Lamb will get sooooo much more over the next 2 years. Anyway, they both have lead gloves: Lamb had a RF of 2.53 and a RF of .693 (MUCH worse than last year) and Wiggy had a RF of 2.80 and a ZR of .770 (lifetime 2.66 RF and .710 ZR at third.)

As for hitting, Lamb, a lefty who hits the ball pretty well to all fields, averaged  .281/.349/.463/.831 during his 4 years in Houston, including his very down year of 2005. Lamb GIDP about 9 times an average year, walks about 40 times, Ks oround 60.

Wiggy, a righty dead pull hitter, better than†his lifetime stats .268/.327/.449/.776 in Houston – .284/.342/.462/.804 over 187 PA with 8 GIDP (which is Carlos Lee territory) and around 40 walks and 110 K a year average. Lamb has averaged around 350 ABs a year over the past 4 years as a PH and platoon guy and Wiggy has averaged around 420 AB a year over the past 4 years. Big deal.

Lamb this year hit lefties better than rightys – 1.056 OPS to .777 OPS, but lifetime, the difference is not particularly great – .748 OPS vs lefties and .770 vs rightys and that is accounted for almost entirely by BA, .268 vs leftys and .284 vs rightys – power numbers are almost exactly the same, as is the BB/K ratio. Not sure why he was platooned as the numbers really don’t justify it.

Wait – Phil was the manager – I get it. Nevermind.

Anyhow, Wiggy is really the guy who should be platooned – .935 OPS vs lefties and .741 vs rightys this year: and lifetime vs lefties, .280/.354/.494/.848 and lifetime vs rightys, .264/.317/.342/.749.

Pedro Feliz, age 32, is the best fielding 3rd baseman in the NL, and just finished his one year FA contract for 5.1 mill plus a few bonuses. He’s been the full time 3rd baseman for the Giants for the past 4 years because Edgardo Alfonso was basically constantly on the DL and he’s a great glove lousy bat kind of guy. His averages are .252./.288/.433/.751 with 20 GIDP a year with around 28 BB and 93 K. He averages 27 doubles and 20 homers. The Giants fans I know aren’t exactly crazy about this guy, but best I know, unless they sign expensive Mike Lowell, they don’t have an in house replacement for Feliz. Their farm is as empty of position players as ours.

Mike Lowell, age 34, is a GOOD third baseman with both stick and glove. He’s currently employed by the Red Sox and is in the last year of a 4 year 32 mill contract and is receiving 9 mill this year. Naturally, he’s having a career year this walk year and he’s going to get a big ol paycheck from SOMEbody, and I would bet it is going to be at least 10-12 mill a year for 3-4 years.

It will depend what happens with A-Rod, I would think. The Yanks nor the Sawks will really have an in house replacement (unless the Sawx move Youk back to third and get a 1B) and they may fight over him as he won’t get any 20-30 mill a year, as A-Rod thinks he will. I wouldn’t be real too surprised if the Dodgers and Angels go after him, too. His lifetime hitting stats – .280/.344/.468/828 and they are even better if you ignore his year from the Black Lagoon in 2005. Glove this year – RF of 2.51 (tops 2.90 – Mora) and ZR .778 (tops .803 – Inge) which shows that gloves in the AL are inferior to NL gloves. But we all knew that. I do expect that his stats will decline over the next 3-4 years, even if he comes back to the NL, and I am not sure he will be worth the 12 or so mill a year he is going to get. I don’t want to be stuck with a team of old slow fat guys who cost a fortune for the next 3-4 years.

And that, my friends, is that. We could also trade for Bill Hall (see the second base discussion) and play him at third – he’s got a MUCH better glove than any AL guy at third. I am more than happy to entertain any thoughts on trades anyone has – only they can’t be something like Miggy Cabrera for Chris Burke, OK???!!! Gotta be realistic.

And speaking of Miguel Cabrera, all I can say is – look, fantasy baseball is FANTASY, OK??? Fantasy means make believe. It’s not that Miggy couldn’t be traded for, it is that his team is owned by Jeffrey Loria, who makes Calvin Griffiths look positively benificent. Loria wouldn’t trade Miggy unless he received top notch talent in return who would be dirt cheap for years, say, Hunter Pence. Miggy has let his conditioning lapse completely and he makes Mike Lamb look like Scott Rolen at third. Miggy is headed for first or DH in the very near future. Yes I know he can hit, but this is the NL and Thank Gawd there is no DH, and also, we already have a guy who is set at first for the next 4 years who has a COMPLETE no trade and has made it more than clear that he will refuse any trade and he isn’t kidding.

Miggy just finished his 4th year and won a 7.4 mill salary in his FIRST arb year and you bet that if Drayton thought Mike Lamb would be too expensive at 3 mill a year, he’d pass out at Miggy’s salary for the next few years. I am well aware that Miggy has had a .968 OPS over the past 3 years, grounds into around 20 DP a year, walks about 75 times and Ks around 105. His glove is simply awful – he was saved from the basement only by Ryan Braun – RF of 2.51 (high of 3.27, Abraham Nunez) and a ZR of .714 (high of .859 by Feliz) and he has steadily worsened each year as he has become more and more obese.