Sunday, January 13, 2008

Under the Radar - The Week That Was

"What are you a wizard? A genius? Why didn't you tell me that before?" Best in Show (2000)

I'm not going to lie. Nothing happened in baseball that I care to report on. Certainly there were Under the Radar signings, but nothing of real substance. Given that I am not a 'wizard' or a 'genius', I have no ability to spin nothing into something.

Here are three angles I tried to play off of:

First, the Colorado Rockies and Marcus Giles agreed on a minor league contract. The soon-to-be 30 year old second bagger will come to Spring Training fighting for his major league career. Rookie, Jayson Nix apparently has the inside track at the starting job with Quintanilla and Barmes around, outside from an absolute monster spring, Giles will be looking for a job elsewhere.

Although, I have to admit, lets say Giles plays incredible in Spring Training, avoids being arrested, the idea of playing in Colorado has to have Giles salivating. Consider in 2005, Giles hit .291/.365/.461 in Atlanta. Which is legitimized by Giles' .288 EQA.

What changed in the two season's since then? I had hypothesized that the 2006 move to lead off was negatively affecting his play, however that was squashed upon discovering that he actually 'led off', less frequent then he had in previous years. The big thing, Giles' BABIP dropped from a 2003-05 average of .347, to .306 and .275 the last two seasons. The .306 figure is not terrible, although it can be understood as worse then expected. The .275 mark however, was extremely unlucky. I guarantee that this drop in BABIP has cost Giles upwards of $10M the last two years.

The most disturbing issue with Giles' BABIP is that there is no explanation for it. His line drive, ground ball and fly ball percentages stayed essentially on course with his career averages.

Second, and something I have very little to say about, is the Rangers signing Eddie Guardado to a one year contract of up to $6M. According to the article, $2.5M of that money is locked in to the amount of games Guardado finishes. With CJ Wilson entrenched as the Rangers closer for 2008, it will take an injury and an incredible season from Eddie to acheive those bonus'.

Guardado is nothing more then a name at this point in his career. The 37 year old has not had extended success since 2005. Infact, 'Everyday' Eddie has shown an enormous downward trend in his ability to strike batters out, as well as keeping them off the base paths.

Despite this, Guardado is still guaranteed $2M. This just goes to show how long a name can last in baseball. I don't see Guardado being anything more then a 4.50 ERA pitcher and at best, a replacement level mop up man. Not a great way to spend $2M-unless the Rangers intend on making him their pitching coach or something?

Lastly, the Athletics add outfielder Emil Brown. This move seemed to be the precursor to the Atheltics moving Kotsay to the Braves, however it still doesn't make much sense. Where does Brown play?

Here is what Christina Kahrl of Baseball Prospectus had to say about this move:
"Brown's recently turned 33 and is widely considered a defensive liability in even left, so this move isn't exactly redolent of upside potential. Anyone else feel nostalgic? I remember when the A's drafted him back in 1994 (in the sixth round), and also remember regretting the fact that the A's had lost him to the Pirates in the '96 Rule 5 draft after he'd lost most of what seemed like a breakout season in the Cal League to a broken hamate. I can't say I feel any special vibe over this reunion, though; this is sort of the left field equivalent of last year's step down from Frank Thomas to Mike Piazza at DH, with Brown playing Piazza and A's fans left wishing he was as good as his predecessor, Shannon Stewart. Thrown into an outfield corner mix with one position open, Brown will contend with a comebacking Chris Denorfia, recent pickup Ryan Sweeney, and perhaps also Snakes prospect Carlos Gonzalez, if he isn't already slotted for center should the A's actually find a taker for Mark Kotsay. It's possible that Brown might make an adequate platoon partner for either Gonzalez or Sweeney, but that's about the extent of the positive."
Anyway you slice it, the Atheltics really threw away some cash with this signing. Even if Emil Brown plays at a career high level, his inability to play the field limits his value in a trade. It is not as if the A's are one bench player away from being a contender, or Brown will have substantial trade value at the deadline. With that in mind, the Athletics would have been better served signing a Jorge Julio.

There was other news in baseball this week, but given the lack of meaningful moves, everything got full play.

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