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  1. I think Dayton is extremely outmatched in said contest.

    Comment by Chris — January 29, 2010 @ 5:06 pm

  2. Dayton has the small market excuse. He simply has less money to throw away. He’s overmatched.

    Comment by Bill — January 29, 2010 @ 5:10 pm

  3. Minor quibble:

    Can you really hit Thome for Punto late in games? Gardenhire hasn’t shown he’s really prone to doing that, and since it would require then taking Thome out and replacing him with someone else afield, it just doesn’t seem that likely in the era of 20 men pitching staffs.

    How often does this happen over the course of the season, maybe 3 times?

    WE would be doing this more, but in reality I’m not sure we can truly count it as a benefit. Thome’s just as likely to lose PAs by being lifted for a PR in the 7th inning.

    Comment by Will — January 29, 2010 @ 5:19 pm

  4. Randy Winn kind of confused me too, but maybe the Yankees are quietly on board the defense train. The Red Sox got the pub because they signed the two poster boys of the class, but the Yanks chose not to pony up for Damon’s offense, instead relying on Gardner’s defensive value. In unrelated deals, they essentially went from a poor defensive CF in Melky to a plus one in Granderson, and Jamie Hoffman is supposedly a quality defender. Even Swisher, who looks comically lost out there at times, is average in right.

    Comment by Kevin S. — January 29, 2010 @ 5:22 pm

  5. What about the Nady deal?

    Comment by Jeremy — January 29, 2010 @ 5:22 pm

  6. Ryan Garko is not good. Fernando Tatis is a better and (probably) slightly cheaper option. Criticize Omar for a lot of things but not for re-signing a guy who can play a bunch of positions capably and projects to be a league average hitter.

    Comment by James Kannengieser — January 29, 2010 @ 5:36 pm

  7. I understand you weren’t addressing the signing itself, but the Mets’ larger 1B plan, but did you really need to evoke “the contest” here? Minaya signed a 1.5 WAR bench player for less than a million. If any other GM besides Moore or Minaya did that, it would be a great little move.

    Also, with the disparity in fielding ability between Murphy and Garko, I have a hard time imagining Garko being any more than a few runs better, if that.

    Comment by Sam — January 29, 2010 @ 5:38 pm

  8. How does Thome give the Twins depth at 2 positions? PH and DH? Is that really 2 positions? You can’t mean first base.

    Comment by MikeS — January 29, 2010 @ 5:45 pm

  9. I think The Contest was a fair point to raise. Tatis is very unlikely to be a 1.5 WAR player next year at 1B. You have to factor in some regression, playing time factors, injury concerns and also the fact that he simply isn’t a first baseman for a serious team, or at least one not engaged in The Contest.

    Comment by EnglishMariner — January 29, 2010 @ 5:58 pm

  10. …but he’s not the starting first baseman, the primary firstbaseman, or even in a full time platoon. He’s an option against lefties who can play all the corner positions and secondbase somewhat competently. Basically, he’s Mark DeRosa for a lot less money.

    If you have an issue with Murphy as the firstbaseman–fine, but he’s a young player with the potential to be just as good or better than Ryan Garko or even ya boy Kotchman, if you consider him a firstbaseman for a serious team. Still, that’s not a reason to hate this relatively harmless, dare I say smart, move.

    Comment by Sam — January 29, 2010 @ 6:15 pm

  11. I would rather see Nick Evans platoon with Murphy but he’s dead to Jerry so he probably won’t even make the team.

    Comment by gravy — January 29, 2010 @ 6:48 pm

  12. Here’s how I’d do it when Thome’s in the lineup for Delmon: Span-L, Mauer-L, Cuddyer-R, Morneau-L, Kubel-L, Hardy-R, Thome-L, Harris-R, Punto-S. Delmon would then be a reasonable threat off the bench against lefties. (Damn we’re going to kill RHP. MmmMmmMmm.)

    And don’t you dare suggest that Thome should bat before Kubel! Woe to anyone who disrespects the bearded one! (actually I agree that they’re very similar, but I’m happy that the proKubelian forces have you chastened)

    Comment by Luke in MN — January 29, 2010 @ 6:50 pm

  13. Let’s not taint the snarkastic beauty of Klaassen’s “Contest” by referencing it for moves that don’t warrant said referencing. Tatis was a smart signing.

    Comment by Logan — January 29, 2010 @ 7:23 pm

  14. No “Mark Hendrickson signs with O’s”?

    Comment by GTWMA — January 29, 2010 @ 7:24 pm

  15. Seems to me that Cashman found a no-brainer way to add a Winn to his current roster.

    Comment by Basil Ganglia — January 29, 2010 @ 7:28 pm

  16. …”disparity in fielding ability”?

    I never knew Murphy was a regular Keith Hernandez. Ask Mets fans, check Tango’s FSR, the kid sucks.

    Or you could continue trusting UZR as gospel truth (despite the accepted reality that 88 Defensive Games means nothing).

    Comment by Logan — January 29, 2010 @ 7:31 pm

  17. Mother of god, that was bad.

    I laughed, though.

    Comment by TCQ — January 29, 2010 @ 7:40 pm

  18. Corner outfield. If Thome DHs, either Kubel gets the day off or he plays the outfield and gives one of those guys a blow.

    Comment by Kevin S. — January 29, 2010 @ 7:56 pm

  19. Let me echo the other Mets fans here who think you’re wrong on Tatis, Dave.

    1) If your objection is to the “fact” that Tatis makes for a bad platoon-mate at 1B, it’s wrongly placed. There’s no reason to think the Mets signed Tatis to platoon with Murphy. Rather, all the evidence points to the contrary. The quotes from Minaya are clear that the intent is to use Murphy as the every-day guy and use Tatis as a super-sub. The usage last year was 100 games at 1B for Murphy to 36 for Tatis.

    2) If your objection is that the Tatis signing is bad because it means Murphy is the Mets 120+ game starting 1B, that’s odd at best. The Tatis signing is, perhaps, *evidence* that the Mets are going to use Murphy 80% of the time, but not a *cause* of that malady. Blaming Tatis is misplace criticism.

    Comment by Dan Lewis — January 29, 2010 @ 8:06 pm

  20. I think that one was more recent. As an O’s fan, I’m fine with the move. Obviously it’s pretty much inconsequential, but Hendrickson’s a good pitcher and the price (1 year / $1.2 million + equal option for 2011) is hard to beat. I think I calculated that he had a 3.40 FIP throwing out of the bullpen. If he throws, say, 75 low to medium-leverage innings out of the pen, that’s probably around 0.5 wins, so it’s a good value signing.

    There is, of course, the argument that he’s blocking some young pitcher who could be eased into the majors as a long reliever. Well I will tell you right now – Mark Hendrickson will not block anyone. If David Hernandez or Jake Arrieta or whomever has a great season, we’ll find a place for him. Whether it means sending Tillman back down to AAA for more seasoning, trading someone (like Guthrie), or whatever, we’ll find a way. Last season, our bullpen was mediocre with Sherrill, and undoubtedly one of the worst in the majors without him. Sure, we probably overpaid for Gonzalez (of course, if he throws a 3.00 ERA with 40 saves this season, he will more than make up his salary with trade value), and yeah, guys like Meredith and Hendrickson aren’t gonna improve in the long-term, but I think this is a decent compromise between improving the bullpen and maintaining financial prudence (no 3 year deals to Jamie Walker and Danys Baez here).

    Comment by David — January 29, 2010 @ 8:12 pm

  21. While I would tend to agree that this signing wasn’t bad, I think you’re mischaracterizing Dave’s argument a bit. He is arguing that the signing of Tatis proves that Minaya is an idiot. I don’t think he was really making a judgment about Tatis’s skill per se. If a team like, I dunno, the Yankees had signed him for the exact same contract – you’re right, Dave wouldn’t have criticized them. You know why? Because we can be reasonably certain that the Yankees didn’t sign him to be Mark Teixeira’s platoon partner at 1B. The fact is, Minaya has made enough bad decisions in the past that we can’t be sure he won’t do something silly like a 50/50 Tatis/Murphy platoon.

    You also bring up the point that Tatis is just evidence that Murphy is the starter, not the cause. That’s completely true, and I think that’s precisely the point Dave was trying to make. The Mets signing Tatis is *evidence*, as you say, of Minaya’s plan – a bad one in his opinion (and there, I have to agree with him).

    Comment by David — January 29, 2010 @ 8:16 pm

  22. Dan-

    Good points, but too much work. The main problem is that the entire Murphy/Tatis/Garko situation amounts to the difference between ~0.5 WAR and ~$1M. We can argue all day about which arrangement would work best, but the difference is pretty small at best.

    “Contest” worthy? I don’t think so. Not with Oliver Perez, Francisco Rodriguez, Jose Guillen, and Yuniesky Betancourt still combining for negative production.

    Comment by Logan — January 29, 2010 @ 8:35 pm

  23. We already knew Minaya was an idiot. I don’t think re-signing Tatis makes that any more clear.

    But, really, I did not mischaracterize Dave at all. He says, explicitly that the Mets “are apparently going to go into 2010 with a first base platoon of Tatis and Daniel Murphy”. He heavily implies that Tatis is one of those “guys who just don’t deserve jobs” the Mets happen to have on hand for 2010.

    Comment by Dan Lewis — January 29, 2010 @ 8:41 pm

  24. Logan –

    You’re missing Tatis’ value because you’re assuming he’s a 1B. He’s not. He’s a corner IF/corner OF guy who, in a pinch, can also play 2B (51.1 innings there last year) and, in an apocalypse, SS. Basically, he’s a league-average utility man, and is easily worth the roughly $1.5MM he’s getting. Not by a lot, but it’s also not really a close call.

    Comment by Dan Lewis — January 29, 2010 @ 8:48 pm

  25. Dave,

    Aaron Gleeman has pointed out several times that the Twins as a team had a better OPS against LHP than RHP last year (2nd to last paragraph):

    Comment by Bryz — January 29, 2010 @ 8:55 pm

  26. Yeah, Tatis in a vacuum is fine, but I canèt hate the Metsè handling of their offseason, especially 1B, any more than I do. Omar Minaya seems intent on wasting an excellent core.

    Comment by Brown — January 29, 2010 @ 9:00 pm

  27. Ooops, my keyboard is set en français maintenant. Pardon.

    Comment by Brown — January 29, 2010 @ 9:02 pm

  28. On a scale of fail, this one’s pretty epic.

    Comment by Large Talons — January 29, 2010 @ 9:23 pm

  29. I didn’t look at UZR. You think those fan scouting reports are any more reliable?

    Comment by Sam — January 29, 2010 @ 10:57 pm

  30. It depends on the sample size. If Murphy had played 3 seasons of 150 games each at 1B and posted a positive UZR, I’d say he’s probably a pretty good fielder at the position.

    He didn’t. He only played 88.

    UZR measures plays made in a zone(s), without regard to the speed or difficulty of the balls hit. So in a sample that’s ~1/5th the ideal size, it’s very possible that he wasn’t really faced with very many challenging plays.

    If you have to make an assessment of defensive ability based on a very small sample, then you need to use less-than-ideal methods, i.e. scouting reports and observation.

    As it stands however, we don’t have to make an assessment yet. You did. You said “…given the disparity in fielding ability…”. On what are you basing this? As far as I can see, there’s no significant evidence to show that Murphy is a decent 1B.

    Comment by Logan — January 29, 2010 @ 11:23 pm

  31. Also, defensive metrics are poor at evaluating first basemen.

    Comment by Kevin S. — January 29, 2010 @ 11:25 pm

  32. Yeah I agree. Tatis is a very solid move, much better than getting Garko.

    Comment by vivaelpujols — January 30, 2010 @ 2:35 am

  33. Sam just said he wasn’t evaluating Murphy’s defense based on UZR, I’m not sure why you are so hung up on that. Sam is a Mets fan, and runs one of the best Saber oriented Mets blogs on the net. I trust his observations of Murphy’s fielding.

    UZR measures plays made in a zone(s), without regard to the speed or difficulty of the balls hit

    That is simply just not true at all. I have no idea where you got that notion from. UZR breaks down each batted ball seen by a fielder into a certain “bin” of estimated out percentage. Those bins are determined using hit location data, and estimated quality of those batted balls, as well as other adjustments.

    You are correct that UZR is a poor judge of both retrospective and future defensive performance in 88 games, however, let’s not make up stuff shall we?

    Comment by vivaelpujols — January 30, 2010 @ 2:44 am

  34. Let’s see. Tatis and Murphy both project to be right around league average with the bat, and a little above average with the glove. When you give them each the platoon advantage, their offensive value goes up a bit. Essentially, they should combine to be right around 1.5 WAR for about 1.5 million. I have no idea why this is considered a bad move by Minaya, essentially, it’s the exact same situation with the M’s and Kotchman. First base was a hole for both of the teams, and they both opted to fill it with cheaper, below average but not terrible options.

    Comment by vivaelpujols — January 30, 2010 @ 2:57 am

  35. Tatis signing in a vaccum is actually quiet fine. I think Dave invoking Garko is probably a bit off the mark, but the real issue here is that the Met’s current situation is sort of like a blazing inferno while Tatis at best represent a bucket of water. said inferno was also mostly due to the Mets FO throwing a bunch of gasolines into their campfire.

    Comment by RollingWave — January 30, 2010 @ 3:35 am

  36. Tatis is being rewarded for his versatility, and for being a good trooper with the Mets. He’s a useful player, but the Mets will end up playing him too much.

    I like the Randy Winn signing. He’s going to be just good enough to stick in that line up. At a bargain price, too.

    Comment by jirish — January 30, 2010 @ 8:49 am

  37. Whoops, my mistake on UZR. I’m still not sure how we can conclude that there’s a fielding disparity between Murphy and Garko though.

    Comment by Logan — January 30, 2010 @ 10:02 am

  38. i think “poor defensive CFer” is a bit of an exaggeration with regard to Melky. he grades out a bit below average, but he’s improved every single year in CF and was a plus CFer in 2009. we’re talking about a guy that spent his formative years in the majors instead of the minors and is still only 25. b/c of his service time, i think the Yankees were wise to trade him, but i think you are being way too harsh on his glove.

    don’t disagree with your overall point though.

    Comment by Steve — January 30, 2010 @ 11:18 am

  39. league average for all players, or league average for 1B?

    b/c there’s a pretty big difference.

    the reason this is a bad move is b/c it’s the Mets, and there is no reason that they need to only spend $1.5 for 1B. they are rich. this isn’t the Royals. even if the 1.5 WAR is obtained at a good price, it’s still ONLY 1.5 WAR from 1B.

    Comment by Steve — January 30, 2010 @ 11:22 am

  40. Another minor transaction: Mariners sign Eric Byrnes. looks like infield pop ups are the new market inefficiency.

    Comment by Steve — January 30, 2010 @ 11:25 am

  41. Well we know how bad Garko is, and we can guess how good Murphy is. This isn’t a court of law – players aren’t considered equal until proven different.

    Garko has been -5 runs at UZR/150 for over 3,000 innings. Plus, he’s past his defensive prime and everyone thinks he sucks. Murphy is 4 years younger than Garko, and right about at his defensive prime. He’s much more athletic than Garko, and has put up +7 runs at UZR/150 in a little less than 1,000 innings. The fans here at FanGraphs projected him to be a +2 fielder.

    I think it’s pretty clear there is a disparity.

    Comment by vivaelpujols — January 30, 2010 @ 11:27 am

  42. Where else are they going to get a 1.5 + WAR first baseman?

    Comment by vivaelpujols — January 30, 2010 @ 11:41 am

  43. Eh, he was awful in ’07 (samples before them are inconsequentially small), then average-ish in ’08-’09. Given that none of those three years really present a particularly decent sample by themselves, I’d still go with his career total of -5/150, which, relative to the position, is poor. Maybe he really was improving, though. He’s always had the athleticism and the arm to be a good outfielder, and reads/routerunning are easier to improve than overall speed.

    Comment by Kevin S. — January 30, 2010 @ 1:23 pm

  44. They could have brought in Branyan or gone after LaRoche earlier this offseason. CHONE doesn’t think either is a 1.5-win player in 2010, projecting Branyan for only about 300 PAs and LaRoche to lose potency at the plate, but I think there is a case to be made for 2-3 WAR from either of them. It would start with Branyan’s production (2.8) in his first year of real opportunity and LaRoche’s averaging over 2 wins in the last 4 seasons.

    CHONE has Murphy at 0.7 WAR, by the way (and Branyan and LaRoche at 1.2 each). Is LaRoche’s extra 1/2 win worth the $5.5M difference in salary? Probably not. But I think he’s going to be a full win better than Murphy or Murphy+Tatis’s time at 1B, and that win may be worth more than the usual $4-$4.5M to the Mets.

    All that said, VEP, I have to agree that there weren’t many reliable 1B options this year, even if we’re asking for only 1.5 WAR. That sucks. I’d be upset if my 1B was good for that few wins, so I’m counting on the Braves’ Glaus gamble paying off with more than the 1.7 CHONE projects (or at least more than 1 batting win).

    Maybe Nick Johnson (CHONE says 2.2) with Murphy as insurance?

    Comment by MBD — January 30, 2010 @ 3:41 pm

  45. I mean Johnson was an option before the Yankees got him.

    Comment by MBD — January 30, 2010 @ 3:42 pm

  46. Moore still has 2 months to make his move. Greinke for JA Happ maybe?

    Comment by David MVP Eckstein — January 30, 2010 @ 4:15 pm

  47. I guess. Maybe it’s semantics, but I would say that increases their flexibility rather than increases depth at two positions. Someone like Jermaine Dye or Ken Griffey Jr can fill in for an outfielder in a pinch and increase depth. Putting Thome in the field would only be entertaining. And not in a good way for Twins fans.

    Comment by MikeS — January 30, 2010 @ 4:17 pm

  48. Totally agree with this.

    I don’t think the signing of Tatis addresses the 1B hole at all. He’s a very flexible utility guy who provides depth at all positions. He shouldn’t be starting, but he’s well worth his contract since injuries and rest days will almost guarantee that he gets almost a full season’s worth of PAs whether it be spelling someone in the OF or 1B.

    I do agree with “Tatis doesn’t deserve a starting job” though. Signing a useful player for the right price is good, but misusing him is stupid. Using him in a starting capacity is stupid.

    Comment by BX — January 30, 2010 @ 5:05 pm

  49. lol @ referencing Tatis as a guy who “doesn’t deserve a job.” Is that a serious statement?

    Tatis has been worth +1.6 and +1.5 wins in roughly 300+ PA each of the past 2 seasons. I’ll take that from someone from my bench any day.

    Comment by NM — January 30, 2010 @ 5:50 pm

  50. Kevin,

    What are you basing that off of?

    Comment by vivaelpujols — January 30, 2010 @ 8:20 pm

  51. 20 men pitching staffs? That’ll make for a short bench.

    Also, since when has gardy been reluctant to pinch hit? He’s pinch hit himself into some weird defensive rotations, and that was when they didn’t have a legit pinch hitter.

    Comment by Steven Ellingson — January 31, 2010 @ 12:46 am

  52. I’m not sure why that really matters. The point is, that most of our good hitters are lefties and an ideal construction not factoring in handedness would end with four or 5 lefties hitting in a row. The reason why this isn’t a big deal is that Thome will probably only play against RHP, and can be pinch hit for if need be if a loogy comes in.

    Comment by Steven Ellingson — January 31, 2010 @ 12:53 am

  53. A couple of things. Logically, a stat that gets most of its value from a player’s defensive range is going to have difficulty evaluating a position where defense isn’t primarily judged by range. It’s why UZR doesn’t even try to rate catcher defense. Keith Law has said that first base is where there’s a large discrepancy between his evaluations and advanced defensive statistics. Finally, I think even MGL himself has said (though I don’t have a link to this) that UZR’s rating of 1B is its weak link.

    Comment by Kevin S. — January 31, 2010 @ 1:10 am

  54. Minaya is a moron. He signs Matthews, then platoons Tatis and Murphy at first, did everyone forget about RUSSELL BRANYAN. Hello!? Average 1B. Defense, 31 HR
    SLG%=.520 OB%=.347 OPS=.867


    How about doing a piece on Branyan?

    Comment by crix — January 31, 2010 @ 3:35 am

  55. An outifield with Kubel and one of Young/Cuddyer is already pretty entertaining, and not in a good way for the Twins fans.

    Comment by BX — January 31, 2010 @ 11:50 am

  56. You could potentially say that Thome gives the team depth at 4 positions instead of 2. This is due to Kubel’s ability to play OF and Cuddyer’s ability to play 1B and not Thome’s defense (does he even own a glove?).

    Comment by Kirk — January 31, 2010 @ 12:24 pm

  57. so….

    that tatis/garko point was embarrassing.

    almost as embarrassing as the flood of “thumbs down” for anyone who disagreed with it. FANGRAPHS GROUP THINK AHHHHHHHH.

    Comment by fire jerry manuel — January 31, 2010 @ 9:12 pm

  58. ummm…. im pretty sure Randy Winns BABIP against lefties was .178. thats .123 under his career norm. Its called unfathomable bad luck. Considering that all but guarentees a rebound, id say it was a sensible smart choice for the Yankees, who obviously did there homework.

    Comment by Louis Rizzo — January 31, 2010 @ 11:53 pm

  59. I have to think Winn had some sort of injury that made it impossible to swing from the right side last year. Those numbers are just too bad to be attributed to luck, I think. If he’s over that, it’s a very good signing for the Yankees.

    Garko’s defense has improved steadily at first, but he’s living with a first impression made shortly after being moved from catcher. (I wonder if he can still catch — he’d have quite a bit more value that way.) Murphy has made some highlight-reel gaffes, but his range is actually good. There’s nothing wrong with Tatis as a bench player, but a Branyan/Garko platoon would cost $5M or less at this point, so why commit to Murphy/Tatis?

    Comment by Scott Gianelli — February 1, 2010 @ 10:16 am

  60. I think Sabean has pulled ahead in The Contest.

    Garko signs for 550K while Sabean signed Huff for 3MM.

    So the Giants are out 3MM and one Scott Barnes.

    Comment by BX — February 1, 2010 @ 7:14 pm

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