Wednesday, December 08, 2004

In a shocking revelation, the LA Times informs us today that Carlos Beltran is the Angels' number one target this offseason.

What is new, and disturbing, is the fact that Steve Finley is the back-up plan. This is true of practically every team chasing Beltran, of course, but I'm not too excited about the prospect of Finley in Angel red.

Look, Finley had a pretty good year with the bat last year. He had a 110 OPS+ and ranked 10th amongst CF in the majors with 28.9 Runs Above Replacement. He had a total of 18 Win Shares last season, which is solid.

The knocks against Finley are these: he's Methuseleh and he can't play defense anymore. Let's look at the defense.

From 2000-2003, Mitchel Lichtman's UZR ranks him as a total of -63 runs against average with the glove. MGL hasn't published, and likely won't be publishing, UZR for 2004, but his .855 Zone Rating last season was mediocre, ranking 15th out of 20 major league qualifiers at CF.

In 2003, he was even worse, with his .837 ranking next-to-last. He was mediocre again in 2002, and next-to-last again in 2001.

Clay Davenport's figures are a lot more moderate than Lichtman's, with -16 runs since 2000. Finley had a poor year in Defensive Win Shares last year, too, which I got from the Hardball Times Baseball Annual, which I heartily recommend.

So, at best he's mediocre in CF, and at worst he's horrible. Add that to the fact that he'll be 40 in March and his bat is in likely decline, and you have to wonder what the big deal is, especially given that he wants a two-year deal.

Other names mentioned as potential targets, and none of which are a particular surprise, are Carl Pavano, Matt Clement, and Orlando Cabrera.

I am not sold on Pavano. Last season, at age 28, was the first time he had an above-average ERA since he was 24 -- and he only pitched 97 innings that year. He's an innings-eater, an okay guy to have in the middle of a roatation. But don't we have enough of those guys? Are we trying to be the St. Louis Cardinals or something? Let the Orioles take him and his no-taste Eminem-loving ways.

I have more belief in Clement, but only barely. He's been a bit better than Pavano over the last three years, with ERA+s of 112, 103, and 123. But he's already 30, and that stretch served to drag his career ERA+ up to 98, still short of Pavano's lifetime 100. But where Pavano has managed 423.3 IP in the last two years, Clement has 382.7. You add that up, and Pavano has prevented 21.1 more than average in the two years, and Clement 20.0. I'm slightly more confident in Clement's track record for going forward, but it's almost a coin flip.

I mean, over the last two years, neither of these guys is has been as good as Kelvim Escobar. I like Kelvim, but shouldn't we be trying to get guys better than him? I know it's tough ... but, honestly, there's a reason that Pedro and Unit make the money they do. Pedro was +23 last year alone, in a bad year, which is roughly what Kelvim has done over the last two years combined and just ahead of the other guys. And as old as he is, Randy Johnson was +50 in 2004*. He was about as much better than average in one year as Kelvim Escobar would be in four!

I honestly don't think the Angels would be all that well-served to get another decent pitcher. Adding an impact starter would be a great thing for the club. Yes, you have to pay (in money for both, and in players for Randy), but that's how life works.

As for Orlando Cabrera ... it seems to me that you only get a SS if you can't get a CF. I'm willing to bet The Legs can learn SS, as he has enough raw tools for Alfredo Griffin to work with. Or maybe Maicer Izturis will be ready.

The Angels could make some Blah moves this winter, and they could make some Wow moves. I think the Boston series revealed that we need to be better to make it in the post-season, and you don't get better by making Blah moves and picking up decent middle-of-the-rotation starters. Bill Stoneman: wow us.

*I'm using the figures at Baseball Reference to make these calculations, by the way. Randy Johnson had a 2.60 ERA last year in the context of 4.44, so he was 1.84 better than average for nine innings. Divide that by nine to get .20 per inning, and multiply by his 245.7 innings to get 50.

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