Unranked Free Agents

When the free agent classifications are issued at the end of the season, of immediate interest are the players who garner the Type A and Type B status. After all, these players comprise the tops of their respective positions. Additionally, signing and/or losing them may result in draft picks acquired or lost. For the most part, teams have been much less willing to spring for the Type A free agent this season given the current economic climate and the fact that they will lose a draft pick. Otherwise it makes little sense that players like Orlando Hudson and Orlando Cabrera still do not have a place to call home.

There are other free agents, however, who do not receive much attention. These players clearly did not have as great of a 2008 season as others, but still have some potential value. Let’s take a look at a few unranked free agents who might be able to help teams next season.

Joe Crede played just 97 games for the White Sox last season, mostly due to an injured back. In that time he hit 17 HR with a .330 wOBA and posted a +5.5 UZR rating. Even though he missed significant time, he still produced +1.8 wins, right around the mark of a league average player. If his injuries are healed and he can regress to somewhere between 2006 and 2008, there is no reason why Crede could not be a +2.5 win player.

Ray Durham, 37, is one of the elder statesmen of this group. Still, in 41 games with the Brewers to end the 2008 season, Ray hit .280/.369/.477, a .363 wOBA. He even played +2 defense at the keystone corner. He might not be able to handle a full season’s workload, but teams could do much worse than he as a pinch-hitter/spot starter. Of course, if Durham feels he should be starting then some contract issues will arise.

Cliff Floyd spent last season with the Tampa Bay Rays, serving as their designated hitter. The 36-yr old hit to the tune of a .349 wOBA, resulting in +0.6 wins. While it doesn’t seem like much, Floyd managed just 80 games. With Pat Burrell now slated to be their everyday DH, Floyd needs to find some new digs. He might be a liability in the field but can still hit. If he signs with a senior circuit team, a similar role to that of Daryle Ward‘s would make the most sense.

Chuck James is the most interesting of this group. His strikeout rate has hovered around the 6.7 mark for the last three years, but in 2008, his walk rate skyrocketed to 6.1. Suffice it to say, he and his 8.36 FIP struggled to stay in the major leagues. James is just 27, however, and he is a lefty who has experienced past success. Sure, Oliver Perez has a better reputation and more “proven” results, but he, himself, is a 27-yr old lefty who has yet to establish the combination of quality and consistency. Maybe James needs to utilize a pitch other than his fastball or changeup but it strikes me as odd that nobody has signed him to a minor league deal with an invitation.

Lastly, we have Pedro Martinez, one of the most dominant pitchers of all time. The issue is that his dominance has faded, but he doesn’t realize that. Well, at least to some extent he doesn’t. Realistically, Martinez is now a #4 or #5 starter on a very good team, perhaps a #3 on a bottomfeeder. His ego likely projects him as a #2 who will rebound from a crappy 2008 campaign. He very well may put together a solid season but there just are not teams out there who are that willing to pay a #5 pitcher #2 money. He eventually will sign somewhere and I would expect him to be better than last year, but the last year or so are ones you kind of wish never took place, so we can keep his dominant years in mind.

These five free agents did not garner Type A or Type B classifications, will not result in draft picks lost or acquired, but could still potentially help a team next season.




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Eric is an accountant and statistical analyst from Philadelphia. He also covers the Phillies at Phillies Nation and can be found here on Twitter.


8 Responses to “Unranked Free Agents”

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  1. Chris says:

    Isn’t Chuck James still recovering from should surgery and expected to miss most — if not all — of the 2009 season? His shoulder problems have probably scared most teams away.

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    • Eric Seidman says:

      Last I heard he was going to miss about half of the season. Could be longer now, but still, he would cost nothing and could eventually produce if his stuff is harnessed. That might never happen, and his FIPs have never been solid but he seems like the perfect kind of guy for teams to take fliers on.

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  2. John says:

    What happened to the ‘Underrated, Overrated, Annoying’ column? I check before work, see it’s there, depend on reading it for something to do this morning, and boom, it’s gone.

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    • Eric Seidman says:

      Needs further work. Focus on this one for now :-).

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    • John K. says:

      Well, since you asked so nicely…

      “Is it just me or is anyone else out there sick of hearing about players being underrated or overrated? It seems like every other day we hear about someone with plenty of value yet a lack of media attention deserving said attention. Along similar lines, the players without as much value who garner the spotlight have their credentials shot down. What does this even mean? Seriously, how do we define an underrated or overrated player? And does it matter?

      As far as I can tell, in laymans terms, a player is deemed underrated if he has value and the vast majority of fans have little or no idea that he plays major league baseball. On the other hand, one is considered overrated when large quantities of the baseball fandom can recite stats and biographical information when the numbers do not truly support such acclaim. Does it matter, though? It would seem that whether or not a player garners the under- or overrated classification lends itself more to personal taste than a set standard.

      The funny thing is that an underrated player actually becomes overrated by certain groups, while overrated players become undervalued by others. The best examples I can give for this are Derek Jeter and Adam Everett, both of whom spend their time captaining the infield. Jeter has been a solid offensive presence in his career but the defensive metrics peg him as a very poor fielder. Despite these defensive shortcomings and, in turn, decreased value, he is a surefire hall of famer and one of the most popular and recognizable athletes of the last 25 or so years.

      More casual fans tend to exaggerate his value based on his intangibles, thus technically overrating him. Statheads tend to undervalue his credentials because his defense is not up to par with the rest of the league. The solution is in the middle ground. Any stathead who discusses Jeter lacking value is one whose work I really do not want to read. Granted, the story might be different now than five years ago, but to say he lacks value is utterly ridiculous. He might not be a +5-win player like some casual fans would have us believe, but he is by no means a scrub.

      On the other hand, Adam Everett is undervalued by more casual fans because defensive metrics are in no way as prominent as offensive numbers. Those who study the numbers intently will easily point out how amazing Everett has been with the glove, but his lack of commercial of appeal and poor skills with the bat leave little to be desired with certain groups. These fans tend to underrate his skills by not understanding all aspects of player valuations. Those who do understand these aspects tend to overrate his production.

      The reason for both cases really seems to be some form of equilibrium. Statheads tend to get so angry that others don’t understand the true value of a player like Everett that they take up his cause and overrate him in the process. While more casual fans see him as perhaps a +1 win player, and he is actually a +2 win player, those in his corner exaggerate his worth to seem closer to +4 wins. The same can be said of Jeter: he may be a +3 win player, and a +5 win player in the eyes of those who love him, but those who get angry at how others do not grasp his poor defensive skills tend to talk about him as if his value is +1.5 wins.

      With that in mind, it appears like nobody can ever really be underrated. By virtue of exposing someone’s underratedness, we are eventually going to overrate that player by hopping on the bandwagon. And players who are overrated will eventually become underrated by virtue of certain groups of fans forgetting production levels in other aspects of the game. From now on, can we please try to avoid referring to players as underrated or overrated? We can talk about their production, their intangibles, or even how David Cameron is attracted to men, but please no more ratedness classifications.”

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  3. John says:

    What more do you need to know about how silly it is that Crede is unsigned than this:

    M. Bradley, GP, 2003-2008: 539
    J. Crede, GP, 2003-2008: 721

    Bradley gets 3 years at $10M/year, which is actually not a bad deal for the Cubs if he stays healthy. Yet, Crede can be an equally impactful player and will have to take a far inferior deal. Both of them have health issues that can not be hidden at their positions: Bradley’s knee (speed in the outfield) and Crede’s back (agility at the corner).

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