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  1. $10M for a guy coming off a .196 season seems bizarre but at least it’s only a one-year deal for a guy with a high power ceiling, and compared to the Jayson Werth contract, looks like a lesson in fiscal sanity.

    Comment by Eric — December 8, 2010 @ 11:14 am

  2. It has to be concerning when a high strikeout hitter in his 30s sees a big dip in his LD rate. Is it a random abberation or evidence of a slowing bat? He sustained his contact rate, but at the apparent cost of quality (and thus power). It’s hard to go wrong with a 1-year deal, but were I a Cubs fan, I’d keep my expectations tempered.

    Comment by Rick — December 8, 2010 @ 11:19 am

  3. A 1 year deal? Wow how did the Cubs manage that in this market?

    Comment by Matt — December 8, 2010 @ 11:31 am

  4. The race to lead the Cubs in strikeouts just got much more compelling…

    Comment by James — December 8, 2010 @ 11:32 am

  5. Probably a good risk with a 1 year deal.

    What are the chances of Pena being a type A/B next year if he has a good year?

    Comment by Rich — December 8, 2010 @ 11:41 am

  6. Got to say, I prefer Pena at one-year, 10mm much more than Dunn at four years, 14mm per. The Ricketts seem to recognize that the Cubs will not be competitive next season, so they are signing some short contracts to bridge to the likes of Jay Jackson, Andrew Cashner, and Chris Carpenter. If they can build a strong young rotation and pair it will strong homegrown defensive players at traditionally weak positions, then they should flex their payroll to bring in corner studs and staff aces.

    The problem is that those players aren’t hitting the market in the next couple years, since I can’t see Pujols coming to Wrigley and A-Gone was a huge loss from the free agent pool that I bet the Cubs were counting on. The chance of a huge deal to Prince Fielder is positively terrifying, and after Cliff Lee, I don’t see any studs hitting the market for awhile. They really might have to make a trade for a guy like Greinke.

    Comment by CubsFan — December 8, 2010 @ 11:42 am

  7. As a Cubs fan, I like the deal. Is it an over-payment, yes, but it’s on a one year deal. I’d rather see that than a longer term over-payment like the Cubs have a history of doing recently (Soriano, Zambrano, Dempster). But it’s a decent move that could turn in their favor. Are they expected to win next year, no, but if things go well and Pena does turn things around, they are right in the mix in a weak division like Joe said. Then it frees them up for free agency next year when a bunch of money comes off the books and they can make a splash.

    Comment by Dan — December 8, 2010 @ 11:51 am

  8. Its probably a “prove yourself” type deal, ala Adrian Beltre last year.

    Rebound in a friendly NL hitters’ park, then play somewhere else with a multi year deal.

    Comment by BX — December 8, 2010 @ 12:04 pm

  9. Yeah, that’s exactly what it looks like. It’s just that “prove yourself” deals are so last year.

    Comment by Matt — December 8, 2010 @ 12:10 pm

  10. This is Fangraphs and we’re talking about batting average?

    Comment by mb21 — December 8, 2010 @ 12:26 pm

  11. Contrary to a lot of people’s opinions, Batting Average is a relevant stat. Its less relevant than OBP, but OBP and SLG are directly derived from BA.

    Its tough to be a decent hitter while hitting .196, no matter how much plate discipline or power you have.

    Comment by Rich — December 8, 2010 @ 12:35 pm

  12. Yes, we are.

    It’s .196, which most people understand is such an extreme that it cannot be due to simply good/bad luck on BABIP.

    When it’s that extreme, it’s significant.

    If someone were hitting .446, we’d be discussing that “batting average” as well, as it’s very likely someone could “good luck BABIP” there was to .446

    There’s no need to so self-limited other that stat-snobbery is empowering?

    Comment by CircleChange11 — December 8, 2010 @ 12:49 pm

  13. “There’s no need to so self-limited other that stat-snobbery is empowering?”

    What?!? I demand an apology.

    Comment by The English Language — December 8, 2010 @ 1:45 pm

  14. .196 or not…he’ll still make less out than Tyler Colvin given the same # of at bats.

    $10 mill is overpaying, but this still sticks with the plan of shedding payroll AFTER the 2011 season.

    Comment by Boomer — December 8, 2010 @ 1:59 pm

  15. Some of the money is deferred (I’ve read as much as half). This makes this a screaming deal. The Cubs could also hedge their bets with the rumored Davis/O’Day deal from the Rangers. In that deal, O’Day would be good enough. So, Davis would be “gilding the lilly.” He goes to Iowa or provides the Cubs with a good LH pinch hitter and spells Pena occasionally. This is good work for the Cubs on almost all levels.

    Comment by JamesDaBear — December 8, 2010 @ 2:01 pm

  16. Probably the .300 point drop in OPS in the last 4 years is how. Carlos Pena certainly seems like one of the aging sluggers who at some point fall off a cliff.

    Comment by Mr. Sanchez — December 8, 2010 @ 2:12 pm

  17. “he’ll still make less out than Tyler Colvin given the same # of at bats” So you assume his numbers don’t continue in their extremely downward direction? I’d expect his numbers from last year to get worse, even considering a bump to the NL Central and it’s plentiful hitter’s parks.

    Comment by Mr. Sanchez — December 8, 2010 @ 2:13 pm

  18. But Carlos Pena batting .196–while awful, to be sure–is not as big a deal as Vlad Guerrero (or to take an even more extreme example, Jeff Francoeur) batting .196 because Pena’s value does not rely on him being a high-contact or high-average hitter. He can provide plenty of offensive value and only hit for a .235 average.

    Citing his BA in isolation doesn’t make sense because of his particular skill set, and BA is only marginally relevant to the discussion.

    Comment by Ben — December 8, 2010 @ 2:33 pm

  19. only if he continues to have an isoP in the .300+ range, which he hasn’t.

    As BA lowers, so does isoP and isoD. If you can’t get good contact, you’re not going to hit for power, or walk much.

    As a first baseman, he needs an OPS in the high 800s to be valuable, and thats real tough to do when you hit .195. Essentially you need an isoD of .150+, and an isoP in the .350+ range. Thats tough to do when you’re hitting a ton of weak ground balls.

    Comment by Synovia — December 8, 2010 @ 2:41 pm

  20. Well, I don’t think that 1 year of 1.072 OPS was anyting other than a fluke. He’s been a consistent .800- .875 OPS guy,

    Seriously though, his three highest OPS years have been his 29,30,31year seasons, and now hes showing some decline at 32. Color me surprised.

    Slow? Check. Value based on HRs and Walks? Check. Lots of Ks? Check. Low BA? Check.

    Early decline? Check.

    Comment by Synovia — December 8, 2010 @ 2:44 pm

  21. Tyler Colvin is young. His plate discipline should get better. Pena on the other hand, projects to just decline more.

    Comment by Synovia — December 8, 2010 @ 2:45 pm

  22. I think that Pena is going to be worth the $10 million contract (albeit with substantial risk associated, given all of the very accurate comments about his old-player skills likely leading at some point to an earlier-and-steeper-than-average decline), but I’m surprised that he got that much – I expected nobody to give him more than $8 million given his struggles last year.

    Comment by AustinRHL — December 8, 2010 @ 3:12 pm

  23. What?!? I demand an apology.

    You’re sorry. *grin*

    Not sure an apology is warranted, despite the demand for one.

    I’m not a big fan of the disregarding comments in reference to a specific stat, without addressing the accuracy (or not) of the overall conclusion. Seems to me that the only reason for comments like these are to let people know that certain stats or ideas are beneath discussion … at least here at FG (Do you read all the articles and comments here?)

    Rather than just make a snarky comment, why not provide a point or counterpoint that shows the inaccuracy of the comment?

    Describing that even though his BA was .196, his wOBA was .326 and close to league average. Pena generally has a very good wOBA for such a lowish BA (but usually better than .196).

    There are some reasons to refer to BA from time to time, especially if a specific point is being made. I don’t see many reasons never to discuss certain stats.

    I apologize for assuming the reason for your comments (empowerment).

    Comment by CircleChange11 — December 8, 2010 @ 3:55 pm

  24. Pena’s swing path is “home run or nothing” (simply stated).

    Throw him in the Mark Reynolds category.

    You keep measuring the good v. bad, and when the bad takes over, you cut bait.

    But despite the low average, he’s still rather valuable.

    Of course he just moved to a division that features Albert Pujols, Joey Votto, Prince Fielder at 1B … but I think he’ll be league average or better (2.0 – 2.8 WAR) even while hitting .230. He’ll dump 30 homers and walk 80-95 times.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — December 8, 2010 @ 4:01 pm

  25. I don’t see why people are surprised at the contract given the market this off-season. Pena had several offers to choose from and the Cubs had to pay the most to get him. It’s not really that difficult to understand. Supply/Demand. Also, given that Jaramillo (the premiere hitting coach in MLB) is there, you’d have to think Pena would benefit…

    Some of you people really don’t see “big picture” at all. There are reasons behind a guy coming off a downyear getting $10 million. The Cubs paid a premium for their one year and you can bet that most of the other offers were probably for 6-8 million/2 years. Pena wasn’t getting money AND security, so he took the money.

    That was hard to understand?

    Comment by DIVISION — December 8, 2010 @ 4:31 pm

  26. Jaramillo (the premiere hitting coach in MLB)

    What is that comment based on?

    Comment by CircleChange11 — December 8, 2010 @ 4:44 pm

  27. I’d guess Pena just wanted a 1 year deal thinking he can rebound and get a better contract next year.

    You’re focused way too much on a 196 average. He’ll likely do better. I’d give him a 250ish average 350 OBP mnimum

    35 jacks.

    Somewhere around that. He can obviously hit less than 35 jacks, but he can also hit 40.

    Lots more lefty starters in AL East than NL. I like this deal for the cubs.

    Plus if the Cubs call out of contention, they can deal him if he’s doing ok.

    Comment by JoeIQ — December 8, 2010 @ 4:57 pm

  28. My will, CircleChange……… will.

    Now back to your cave.

    We (Phoenix) send our regards to young Clay Zavada……and his lil’ mustache.

    Comment by DIVISION — December 8, 2010 @ 5:05 pm

  29. Carlos Pena has only had a 250+ batting average once in his career.

    Comment by Synovia — December 8, 2010 @ 5:36 pm

  30. Heh Heh.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — December 8, 2010 @ 5:51 pm

  31. That likely equates to a 4.5 WAR season.

    That’s, at the very least, a bold projection.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — December 8, 2010 @ 5:53 pm

  32. Pena gets $5 million this year and $5 million in January 2012. For what it’s worth.

    Comment by Doug — December 8, 2010 @ 6:29 pm

  33. Anyone else read the fanhouse article that explains the 1-year deal for Pena allows the Cubs to be in competition for Pujols?

    As a Cardinal fan, I quickly printed that article … and burned it.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — December 8, 2010 @ 7:00 pm

  34. The last 4 seasons his “dollars” (salary earned) has averaged 15 mil per, and that’s including his down year in 2010. AFAICT, the only thing that changed in 2010 in his profile was his BABIP. Everything else–his BB%, K/AB, TB/H, stayed the same. And didn’t he supposedly have an injury in 2010 (not sure about this part)?

    Given all that, the 10 mil/season seems reasonable, and getting it for only one year of commitment is the cat’s meow.

    Great deal for the Cubs.

    Comment by dcs — December 8, 2010 @ 7:43 pm

  35. Its ironic when Cubs fans constantly bash a player like Dunn, claiming “old-player skills” despite his constantly defying that theory with one of the most consistent career performances we have ever seen. Then when they sign a player like Pena they turn around and praise him, a Pena who fits that “old-player skills” mold absolutely perfectly with the expected early career peak and continued sharp decline post 30.

    As far as Pena and his BAbip though

    2002 – .286 BAbip – 21.2% LD% – 18.5% Swing Outside Zone
    2003 – .298 BAbip – 20.9% LD% – 20.9% Swing Outside Zone
    2004 – .284 BAbip – 16.5% LD% – 15.9% Swing Outside Zone
    2005 – .293 BAbip – 18.3% LD% – 26.3% Swing Outside Zone (injured 1/2 season)
    2007 – .297 BAbip – 18.0% LD% – 19.8% Swing Outside Zone
    2008 – .298 BAbip – 18.0% LD% – 20.8% Swing Outside Zone
    2009 – .250 BAbip – 16.8% LD% – 23.5% Swing Outside Zone
    2010 – .222 BAbip – 14.5% LD% – 26.6% Swing Outside Zone

    6-year track record of 285-295 BAbip and 18%+ LD% before two huge drops; drops which also coincide with big increases in swings on pitches outside the zone.

    Some might see this as a correctable problem – just get him to stop chasing bad pitches right? This thinking almost certainly discounts the most likely reason behind the change though.

    But the biggest problem here for the Cubs actually comes in the fact that Jaramillo is a “see ball, hit ball” hitting coach, getting players to really focus on separation and recognition of the pitch no matter its location. This is the very problem Pena is experiencing to begin with. Younger players with great bat speed and the ability to make adjustments will often thrive under this type of teaching, but aging players with declining bat speed and strength don’t (and generally end up producing problematic swing% and LD numbers like those of Pena already). Look no further then 2010 Cubs players fitting into that category like Lee, Ramirez, Soriano and Nady – all seeing huge jumps on swings and contact outside zone with weaker overall contact (especially on fastballs) and poor, sub-par seasons produced.

    Of course there is always that outside possibility there is just a quick adjustment needed that somehow the Rays missed the last two years; but that is improbable. And while Pena’s BAbip was so low that its unlikely repeatable if left alone, Rudy is probably the last hitting coach I would want him working with considering his current problem.

    I say
    .216/.335/.456/.791, 450 AB, 29 HR, 14.3 BB%, 34.9 K%, .252 BAbip

    Comment by JoeyO — December 8, 2010 @ 9:01 pm

  36. In a bubble, maybe.

    But he can never be “worth” 10 million when you have someone like Colvin in-house who can produce similar end results for you for about 500K total. Its throwing away 9.5 million which could have been spent elseware on the club.

    Colvin + 9.5MM worth of other players >>>>> Pena alone

    Comment by JoeyO — December 8, 2010 @ 9:06 pm

  37. Nice post, JoeyO.

    Comment by RotoChamp — December 8, 2010 @ 10:41 pm

  38. Holy cow Circle, that apology line went ten feet over your head…it was made by the English language, because you had just mangled it six ways from Sunday. Wasn’t a serious request in the least.

    Comment by Jason B — December 9, 2010 @ 10:12 am

  39. Not so fast, Joseph.

    Just because Jaramillo employs one particular strategy doesn’t necessarily mean he won’t be able to fix what ails Pena. I doubt he’s earned a reputation for being a healer of bats all these years simply for being an “inside the box” type coach.

    He’ll look at film and break down what needs to change and I seriously doubt we see another mendoza-esque line from Pena this year in Chi-town.

    .257/.385/.500/.850, 38HR/100RBI

    Chicago will get a quality year production-wise that will resemble something between his ’08/09′ seasons in Tampa.

    Comment by DIVISION — December 9, 2010 @ 2:49 pm

  40. Like Rudy “fixed” Lee, Ramirez, Soriano, Nady, Tracy, Fontenot, Baker, Theriot, Hill, etc, right?

    Like I mentioned before, Pena would have to have a 2+ year hole which Tampa has just blatantly missed. That is extremely improbable. And Rudy has never been considered a “healer of bats” – he has always been one who has been praised for getting the absolute most out of pre-prime/prime hitters who still possessed their natural bat speed and strength. His resume:

    1983-1989 Rangers Minor Leagues
    1990-1993 Astros Hitting Coach
    1994-2009 Rangers Hitting Coach
    2010 Cubs Hitting Coach

    With his success stories being players like Bagwell, Biggio, Finley, Caminiti, L.Gonzalez, J.Gonzalez, Pudge, Stevens, Dellucci, Teixeira, Barajas, DeRosa, Young, Byrd, etc.

    Please feel free to list all the post-30 players he turned around on those clubs though. I’ll even give you the post-injury Ruben Sierra, and wish you good luck in finding any others…

    As far as your projected stats? Complete nonsense. Here’s why:
    - .257 BA – Would be third highest of career and best since 2007
    - .385 OBP – Would be second highest of career and best since 2006
    - .500 OBP – Would be third best of his career
    - .850 OBP – (.385+.500 doesn’t equal .850, it equals .885 – which would be the 3rd highest of his career)
    - 38 HR – would be third highest of his career
    - 100 RBI – that’s a possibility depending on where he hits in lineup and how other produce around him. But RBI really has little to do with what he would be producing himself. (Afterall, LaRoche posted 100 with merely a slightly above average .261/.320/.468 line last season)

    And it would also mean this (assuming his 4 year average of 480 AB)
    - 124 Hits (2nd best career)
    - 97 BB (3rd best career)
    - 2 Doubles and 0 Triples (which is clearly an impossible outcome. If he is to really have a .257 BA and 38 HR, his SLG would have to be at the very least .538, which would be the 2nd highest of his career. It would also mean a .923 OPS, again his second best)
    - .388 wOBA (with those impossible 2 2B and 0 3B outcomes) or .398 (if corrected to a more realistic XBH line.) Either wOBA would be the second highest of his career and would mean at least a 4.0+ WAR (once more, second highest of career)

    In the end, your expectation seems to be a career year from a now 33 year old with really just one similar, truly impressive season (4 years ago) under his belt over a 10 year career. Therefore, nonsense.

    Comment by JoeyO — December 9, 2010 @ 5:45 pm

  41. How did he get that much money?
    It’s called “Scott Boras” and he rapes MLB teams. (oh, and he was also Maddux’s agent—when the left the Cubs.)

    Comment by G in Big D — December 10, 2010 @ 10:37 am

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