Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Winter Meetings update

Carlos Pena signs a 1yr/10m deal with the Cubs with Adam LaRoche as their backup plan. For those who thought that Chris Davis had some value to them as a starter or platoon partner, that proved not to be the case. Davis is a RECPRO for 2011 who likely spends the year in AAA for any club that he is with. However, Texas seems to be angling for one of their catchers if the conversations have been legit (reported since the GM meetings so there appears to be some meat on the rumors). This would mean, someone would have to headline the deal, with Chris Davis as the high riske RECPRO. Does either catching prospect being discussed - Robinson Chirinos, Wellington Castillo - project to hit lefties well enough to make a better platoon partner with Yorvit than Treanor or Teagarden, both with a career ~550 OPS against them?

Now that Minor League Splits is on hiatus, it is hard to dig up splits for prospects who are playing winter ball. In the LVBP this winter, Robinson Chirinos (26.8 in 2011) does not have enough AB to compute, playing in only 15g but sucking all the same in a league that is AAA or better (.627OPS after a 1.0 OPS in 15 AAA games to end the year).

Wellington Castillo (24yo in 2011), playing for Licey in the LBD, has been even worse over 23g, still way too small a sample, but did have an OPS of 815 in 69g for AAA in 2010 along with a cup of coffee in the majors. His walk rate is very poor for his career and for 2010 as well.

So, if TX thinks one of these guys is better than Treanor or Teagarden, I hope they acquire him. It will also afford fans another opportunity to assess whether or not there is an issue with the talent evaluation/projection of catchers by the staff in this system - will they get it right or wrong this year with Castillo or Chirinos? They've gotten it wrong for a few years now.

The only other platoon catcher who is available that I like is Russell Martin but he is likely to command a starter's deal if not a starting job rather than accept a platoon role. Though, there are some who are talking him up as a utility catcher/catchall player who can play multiple spots, but his career experience doesn't seem to support this at all.

Teagarden and Treanor are so bad vs LHP that you might see a platoon in which they only play against RH starters when they see action, with Yorvit seeing action against both LH/RH starters. Unfortunately, Washingtion doesn't seem to envision the catching spot as a platoon spot, preferring instead to play the guy he likes the most regardless of his splits and pair the backup with particular starter or play him based on some feel for some "matchup". So, it is unlikely that Warsh gets the most offensive production out of that spot anyways unless by accident, eg, both catchers outperforming their career splits.

I would be interested in Brandon Webb as a 6th starter. I would be interested in Jeff Francis as a #4 starter, maybe even for his asking price of 4-5m but not for 2 years, unless it is an option year of some sort. The Matt Garza rumors are circulating again, and I like him as a #3 starter but he's no TORP.

Add Ordonez to the list of platoon DH guys that interest TX. Will he agree to be a platoon guy, and be paid like a platoon guy (only a ~750 OPS vs RHP last 2 years)? Not sure. Thome now appears on the official rumor list as well.

The DH terrain is still wide open enough for Texas to skip out on Konerko and Guerrero by putting together some platoon arrangement that lacks sex appeal but might very likely outperform the league average 810OPS for the position. A Thome/Gomes pairing looks good on paper, but offers TX no versatility at 1b, so that would be a problem. Getting a RHH to platoon at 1B is important I think, and TX seems to feel the same way. And after all, it would be difficult to contruct a lineup with 4 platoon spots (CF, 1B, C, DH) so versatility would seem to be a critical factor in constructing the 2011 lineup. In that respect, maybe Konerko makes some sense, as there aren't too many decent options out there if you cross him off the list of 1b/DH FA. However maybe it doesn't, as it means that he likely trots out a 780 OPS vs RH starters as a DH for the next couple of years and that really isn't good enough for the money he will get (is it?). Maybe TX can trade for that guy. I'm not hearing any names on that front however.

I'm not writing anything about the Mike Young rumors, which are an annual affair, and never have any substance based in the same concrete reality that we all live in. Suffice it to say that a team would be dumb to acquire him without TX paying them off about 6m/per on the remaining 3 years of his deal, so about 18m. NOT HAPPENING. He's still a 2.5 WAR player next year and TX has more important holes to fill on their 25. You can move him to DH next year. And you can still win a pennant with him on the team. Nothing to see here.

I think that Josh Bard might be a good platoon partner to pair up with Yorvit. He has a career .783 OPS vs LHP, but only in the .700-.730 range the last 3 years - still 150 points higher than Treanor's career split vs LH. They seem to have pretty similar profiles behind the dish.


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