Saturday, December 11, 2004

The other day, I mentioned that I would prefer one of Randy Johnson and Carlos Beltran to both of Steve Finley and Matt Clement/Carl Pavano/et al. I figured I should explain why I think that, and why I'm unenthused about the Finley acquisition.

The Hardball Times Baseball Annual, which you should all buy from their website, publishes Lee Sinins' calculations of Runs Created Above Average (for hitters) and Runs Saved Above Average (for pitchers). Here's some people from last season:

Player   2004 RCAA/RSAA

Johnson +50
Beltran +46
Pavano +27
Clement +18
Finley +3
Now, I'm pretty sure that's not park-adjusted, but you can mentally adjust them all by a run or two and it doesn't really change things. Oh, what the hell, I'll just do it for you, using the park factors from BB-ref:

Johnson  +52

Beltran +47
Pavano +26
Clement +19
Finley +3
Oh, well there's a big difference. But I did it, so there it is.

I think that's really self-explanatory -- especially when you consider that the above does not account for defense at all, where Beltran pretty much kicks Finley in the patootie. Here are the total Win Shares and Win Shares Above Average for those guys for 2004, as reported by the Hardball Times website, and total Wins Above Replacement (1) from BPro:

Player      WS    WSAA  WARP1

Johnson 25 13 11.0
Beltran 31 13 8.4
Pavano 20 9 8.3
Clement 11 2 5.5
Finley 18 0 5.0
In terms of absolute wins, Pavano plus another guy looks good, but remember that this is a banner year for Pavano, who had nearly twice as many WARP1 last year as he had in any other single season of his career. You wanna bet on that happening again?

I just don't think that Anderson-Finley-Guerrero is going to be a better offensive outfield than Guillen-Anderson-Guerrero, and I don't think that Anderson-Finley-Guerrero is going to be a better defensive outfield than Guillen-Anderson-Guerrero. Just looking at these guys in 2004:

                2004 OF                      2005 OF

Guillen 21 6 5.2 Garrett 15 4 2.5
Garret 15 4 2.5 Finley 18 0 5.0
Vlad 29 12 9.2 Vlad 29 12 9.2
TOT. 65 22 16.9 62 16 16.7
The 2005 outfield will struggle to perform as well as the 2004 incarnation -- but the above demonstrates that while I do not like it, I'm not going to go all Cassandra on it. Even if Finley declines, Garret should be a bit healthier and improve. We would hope.

At first I thought the OF was also a bit more expensive, but I'm not sure. Finley makes $4.5M more than Guillen; Garrett, I believe will actually be making slightly less this year (at least per Dugout Dollars) and the same goes for Vlad (signing bonuses and the like, I believe). So maybe it's about the same. I don't know about paying $7.5M to a guy that was essentially an average contributor last year, even though there is value in being average, but maybe, if everything breaks right, Garret will pick up the slack between Guillen and Father Time, and the outfield production will be about the same.

And that's what I object to -- signing at Finley, at best, makes us the same. We need to get better.

At the beginning of last season, Anderson was making about $5 million, but I think he got a few million in a signing bonus as part of that contract extension (so it isn't $14 million per year as was reported, but an extra $4-5 million the first year and only $10-12 million each year over the life of the extension).
IMO GA's career is essentially over. I know, I know, I said that about Shawn Green, but he at least had the excuse of a scary sounding shoulder problem. GA has arthritis to deal with. That ain't going away, as we saw up to the last day of the season.
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