Thursday, October 21, 2004

        G  AB   H  2B  3B  HR  SO  BB  SB  CS  AVG  OBP  SLG  OPS+  EqA  ZR(CF)

2004 112 442 133 20 1 14 75 29 2 1 301 343 446 105 .278 .866(8)
Car. 112 447 134 28 2 16 61 21 5 3 299 329 477 107 .276 .874
Pro. 140 563 172 38 2 23 81 30 5 3 305 338 503 119
(The career mark is different than I did prior; it's prorated to the number of games he played last year, which is how I'll do it from now on. For an explanation of everything ever, go here.)

A few points to note:

1. As you know, Garret was much more productive over 2002-2003 than he has been for the rest of his career. Last season, injury-hobbled, happened to be pretty much exactly as good as his career numbers -- which leads me to believe that the improvement Garret sustained the previous two years would have continued, had he been healthy.

2. The projection spreadsheet has no idea that Garret has arthritis, nor does it know about his knee problems. So we're looking at a period over 2002 and 2003 and saying, "Hey, he should have more power than he demonstrated in 2004, some of that will come back in 2005," but the fact of the matter is we have no idea if that's an accurate assumption. I would suspect it's not, and that he is more likely to perform according to his career norms than what he did in those two years -- but there is also no way of knowing if his power outage resulted from the arthritis or his knee injuries, nor do we know how chronic the knee problems may become.

If it is the case that his condition will have long-term effects on his performance, his contract will prove much more of a problem than even its biggest critics may have expected.

As a product of aging and injury, Garret was a defensive liability in center field last year, often disturbingly immobile. It has been declared that Garret will return to left in 2005, where he should be adequate defensively. But unless his bat rebounds, he will not rank amongst the best hitters at his position, which will make him a liability.

Garret's status as a leftfielder is also in doubt over the course of his contract. The emergence of Casey Kotchman will chase Darin Erstad from first base, meaning that Erstad will have to find a home in either center or left. If it's left, that sticks Garret at DH, unless the team is silly enough to give away outs by putting him in center again.

And if Garret ends up at DH, that creates multiple problems: (1) He will quite possibly not be good enough of a hitter to justify that; (2) he will be grossly overpaid, even moreso as a DH than as a LF; and (3) it will mean that the Angels have essentially chosen Garret Anderson over Troy Glaus or, conceivably, Dallas McPherson (if Glaus can play third and is retained at McPherson's expense), either of which is a mistake.

Troy Glaus' health status is about as uncertain as Garret Anderson's, but there are reasons I believe that Glaus is the better bet going forward:

1. The main concern with Glaus' injury, from an offensive standpoint, is whether or not he can preserve his power. His Isolated Power (extra bases per at-bat) after his return in 2004 was .242; his career mark is .244. So that hurdle seems to have been jumped. Garret Anderson, as revealed above, had even less power than his punchless old self as a result of his injuries.

2. The main concern with Glaus' injury, from a defensive standpoint, is whether or not he can play third base. That remains to be seen. But if he cannot return to third, he can still play 1B or DH and remain a solid offensive player for those positions. As discussed above, that is not necessarily the case with Anderson.

3. Troy Glaus is younger than Garret Anderson.

4. Troy Glaus has been a better hitter than Garret Anderson over the course of his career.

Actually, I was gonna do this alphabetically, but since he has come up and their fates are intertwined, here's Troy Glaus:

        G  AB   H  2B  3B  HR  SO  BB  SB  CS  AVG  OBP  SLG  OPS+  EqA  ZR(3B)

2004 58 207 52 11 1 18 52 31 2 3 251 355 575 138 .307 .652(10)
Car. 58 208 53 12 1 13 55 33 3 2 253 357 497 119 .291 .744
Pro. 98 351 88 18 1 22 87 55 6 3 250 353 498 122
As I recently discussed at extreme length, I think the Angels should re-sign Glaus, and have him and McPherson split 3B/DH duties. If Garret Anderson is forced into the DH spot, obviously such an arrangement would be impossible.

Now the Angels clearly have more information than I do on their respective medical conditions. But let's say they know, for the sake of argument, that Garret's health problems will not resolve themselves. What can they do about it?

Nothing, because of the four-year contract he signed in April. It was a controversial signing in the Halosphere when it happened. I wasn't a big fan, but it didn't really bother me that much. I figured he would be overpaid by the end of the contract, but I can't do anything about that, and he's been underpaid the last couple of years, anyway. But the development with his arthritis has really thrown that signing's wisdom into jeopardy. Not just because his performance may suffer and cause him to be overpaid, but because it also pushes him to one end of the defensive spectrum, and blocks the Angels from making upgrades to those positions.

The lesson I draw from this is that it's not a good idea to sign a long-term extension with a veteran player in April. Things appear very different for the Angel future now than they did then, but the team is locked into a decision made on a set of assumptions very different from the circumstances they currently face.

Now, it is very possible that Glaus will be able to throw, and will want to and be able to play third base full time, and the Angels will decide that the McPherson Era must begin, and the Angels and Glaus will part ways, rendering all of my above speculation moot. But even in such a case, the Angels, if not committed to Anderson, could have re-signed Glaus to play third and given Dallas McPherson the Jack Howell treatment and taught him to play left. That option is gone.

And that, in retrospect, was the big problem with the Anderson signing; it limited the club's options. It left some financial flexibility (which I focused on at the time), but not positional flexibility. Whether or not the Angels will suffer consequences rests in the uncertain crucibles of Troy Glaus' labrum and Garret Anderson's sore back.

Do the Angels have insurance on GA's contract? If that is so, the worst case scenario for them would be for GA to play with arthritis and never feel right (ie he can't run, hit for power, strikes out more). If GA decides that he is playing in too much pain still, and decides to retire, or, say take a year off and figure things out, it will not seriously hurt the Angels long term plans. All that said, I hope that Anderson gets better (or at least as good as one can get with arthritis) and does not have much pain the rest of his life.
Insurance won't kick in until 60 days or so of DL time. I don't think this matters; Garret can "play", but not like he did. Also, IIRC Arte chose to go self-insuring (or there were whispers that he went this direction). That could be a huge problem now.
Also -- GA has never complained about pain, but I don't think that's the problem anyway: it's the loss of speed (bat and running) caused by joint malfunctions.
He didn't complain of pain when he was back in the lineup, but that doesn't mean he wasn't in pain. I agree about the bat speed and running speed, though. In the few games I was able to watch this year, it seemed like he tried sitting on the ball like he used to, except instead of one of the fastest bats in the league, he has one of the slowest. I actually was not able to catch much of what he did in the field, as nothing that I saw went over his head that wouldn;t have before (this is not doubting things did, I just never saw a ball hit like that).
Glaus' return forced Garret out of the DH role and onto the field at a time his knee tendinitis was faring up. Since Glaus was useless in the field, Garret was more worn out. the arthritis can and will be treated - the knee tendinitis - in every player - is treated with rest / Dhing. Gimpy Glaus sealed Garret's fate.
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