Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Free Agent Notes

If Texas is unable to re-sign Cliff Lee or trade for a premier starter, I wonder if TX would be inclined to sign someone like Carl Pavano or trade for someone like him. I wouldn't be opposed to signing Pavano who has pitched 420 innings the last 2 years with an average FIP of 4. Given Texas' tendencies over the last few years, they might instead opt to go with a high risk/upside reclamation project like Brandon Webb or Jeremy Bonderman.

A lower upside RECPRO might be Kevin Correia. Despite his struggles this year, some of which are due to the death of his brother in May, my gut tells me that he might be worth the risk. Other RECPRO candidates: Chien-Ming Wang, Aaron Harang, Jeff Francis, Brad Penny.

I would bet that TX acquires a reliable #3_#4 innings eater should it prove unable to acquire a top shelf guy, trading away some of the depth in the low minors. They will probably also sign a RECPRO.

As I've stated previously, I think taking Feliz out of the bullpen in 2011 would be a mistake. I also think that all the talk by national writers who are "sourcing" insiders claiming that TX would likely move him to the rotation if they fail to acquire a top arm is exaggerated if not bogus. This would be a questionable move for a championship-caliber team. However, I also think that the criticism of Feliz' secondary stuff by some is also exaggerated. While his secondary stuff is inconsistent, it still flashes plus (just take a look at last year's Futures Game if you have forgotten). I also have to think, for my own sanity, that the rumors about Texas considering Alexi Ogando for the rotation are also exaggerated or bogus, given that he has never started a game in his entire career. Though I often forget how ridiculous the off-season rumor-mongering can get, particularly among national writers, I am, without fail, quickly reminded of this fact each and every year right around the time of the Winter Meetings.

Anyways...If the team was hoping to upgrade in CF, the only way to do this would seem to be via trade. BJ Upton and Jacoby Ellsbury are rumored to be available, but I bet TX elects to stick with a Borbon/Hambone platoon in CF next year, despite the risks. I just don't see many other viable alternatives out there. You can't have the best players at every position and Borbon's struggles at the plate can be compensated for by effectively filling the other spots in the lineup that can be improved upon and sitting him vs LHP. His defense is above average and he presence keeps Hambone out of CF for 100games, which is enough of a contribution in my book with a balanced lineup.

As for the DH spot, I previously wrote that I wouldn't mind if Vladdy came back, and while I prefer him over a David Murphy/TBD platoon arrangement that some have expressed some puzzling enthusiasm for, I'm a little less keen on the option now. I'm more concerned about his declining performance against RHP during the last 2 years than his second half swoon: 907; 831; 807(OPS). Not great.

What is the first option at DH on the FA Market. Adam Dunn (now) it seems. Though Adam Dunn sucked vs LHP in 2010 (719; 781 prior 2 yrs)and his walk rate took a nose dive (to a still AA 12%), it will take a monster deal to sign him one would imagine. I didn't consider him an option previously but he is reportedly willing to play DH now for the highest bidder. I just think it will be too much $$$ tied up in a spot with zero defensive value that can usually be jury-rigged to league average production each year. I don't want a lot of money tied up at the DH spot I guess. Call it a first principle. Unless you want to sign him to be your 1B...

What are the other alternatives? The DH pool is rather unimpressive when you dig a little deeper so it would seem that the best value at the DH spot this winter would be to sign a couple of platoon players. Jim Thome had an OPS of 1.2 vs RHP last year (872 and 881 prior to that) while Paul Konerko (825; 1.01; 1.1) mashed lefties. Johnny Gomes was also alright vs LHP the last 2 years at 914/881. Those are the only 3 players that really do it for me and Konerko won't likely sign on to a platoon role and less than a 3 yr deal. So that leave Thome and Gomes as the best FA platoon bats to pursue in my book.

Everyone else is uninspiring. Matsui is not impressive enough vs RHP nor are Ordonez (injured to boot), LaRoche, Lee and Berkman. Troy Glaus is or should be done. Russell Branyan and Jack Cust are not really dominant enough vs RHP (~855) to warrant putting up with their contact issues. Jermaine Dye hit 890 vs LHP in....2009.

So the pickings are slim at DH it would seem, and unless TX goes the platoon route, they might just elect to re-sign Vladdy, instead of caving into the contract demands of someone like Dunn or Konerko, who don't seem worth the price. Hopefully Texas finds some platoon arrangement that will offer up league average DH production (809 OPS, min 12 players/400pa) over the course of the entire season.

I think it would be wise if TX could find a RHH platoon bat to pair with Moreland as well unless it feels he can put up league average 1B numbers in 2011 while staying in vs Lefties, which they didn't allow him to do during his debut. The league average OPS for AL 1B with a minimum of 420pa was 811 in 2010. I don't think he will be productive enough to man that spot alone but fringe average numbers (say 770ops; 700/810, L/R splits) will be better than what Davis and Smoak put up last year by a long shot. So I would still consider Moreland an upgrade, who, when paired with a platoon partner would make a for a nice 1B combo, though I think his ISO will plummet or at least his HR rate is likely too.

What they will do about the need for a RHH outfielder is anyone's guess.

Dunn is angling for 4/60 per some reports. PASS.


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