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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

SWEENEY VS. KONERKO
Rob links to Joe McDonnell reporting that were the Angels to fail in their misguided attempt to sign Paul Konerko, they already have "a deal ... in place" to trade Casey Kotchman for Mike Sweeney. Sweeney would slide into the DH slot, allowing Erstad to continue his reign as a weak-hitting first baseman.

Just straight-up, who is more valuable, Sweeney or Konerko? Let's look at them over the last four years.
           Sweeney                Konerko
Year PA OPS+ EqA BRAA PA OPS+ EqA BRAA
2002 545 142 .312 +30.5 630 123 .286 +18.8
2003 463 115 .286 +10.8 495 85 .237 -10.5
2004 452 123 .277 +11.5 643 123 .289 +19.3
2005 514 127 .292 +17.6 664 136 .298 +30.0
1974 127 .292 +70.4 2432 118 .279 +57.6
OPS+ as reported by BB-ref; EqA from Baseball Prospectus;
BRAA my own Batting Runs Above Average using linear weights
Looks like a landslide for Sweeney, despite the fact that he's been a less durable player. Let's say it's unfair to count Konerko's bad year against him while including Sweeney's big 2002. Take out those two seasons, and Sweeney's OPS+ over the period is 122, Konerko's 127.

Sweeney, per Cot's Baseball Contracts, is due to make $12.5M per year each of the next two seasons. That's a lot of money for a DH that hasn't played in over 150 games in a season since 2000; in fact, over the last four seasons, Sweeney has played in only five more games than Bengie Molina, a catcher who lost considerable time to injury in 2003. And Sweeney's injuries often result from chronic back problems.

So while I believe Sweeney is a better hitter than Konerko, the combination of his durability and salary make him equally undesirable, as far as I'm concerned. He may be a better fit in that he would only be under contract through 2007 against Konerko possibly being under contract through 2010 (Odyssey Two), but I think the injury concerns serve to balance that out somewhat.

Of course, that's not even considering the fact that we would have to give up Kotchman to acquire Sweeney. Here is how our futures could look under a few different scenarios:
             Sign Konerko     Trade for Sweeney      In My World             
Pos 2006 2007 2006 2007 2006 2007
C Mathis Mathis Mathis Mathis Mathis Mathis
1B Konerko Konerko Erstad Morales Kotchman Kotchman
2B Kennedy Kendrick Kennedy Kendrick Kennedy Kendrick
3B McPhrsn McPhrsn McPhrsn McPhrsn McPhrsn McPhrsn
SS Cabrera Cabrera Cabrera Cabrera Cabrera Wood/Aybar?
LF Garret Garret Garret Garret Rivera Morales?
CF Erstad Figgins? Figgins Figgins? Figgins Figgins?
RF Vlad Vlad Vlad Vlad Vlad Vlad
DH Kotchman Kotchman Sweeney Sweeney Garret Garret
I put Figgins in center In My World in expectation of Erstad getting injured.

The Sweeney scenario is very much a Win Now scenario, even moreso than acquiring Konerko would be.

But here's a serious question: who do you think will be more productive over the next two seasons, Casey Kotchman or Mike Sweeney?

If you ask me, it's a toss-up. Maybe Sweeney gets a slight edge, rate-wise, in 2006, but 2007 is all Kotch's, and signs are he'll be more durable than his older counterpart in both seasons.

Another question: who will be a better bargain over the next two seasons, Kotchman or Sweeney?

I think it's Kotchman, and I don't think it's close.

But what value is a bargain? So he's cost-effective, so what?

I think it's a huge value.

I mean, Kotchman will be around $12M less in salary than Sweeney. Instead of spending that $12M to possibly upgrade first base or DH, couldn't we better spend it, after next season, on a center fielder? Or, perhaps, a starting pitcher if Weaver or Shell doesn't develop and/or one of our current guys gets injured? Or even on the player development system that has created a core of players (in Kotch, McPherson, Kendrick, Wood, Aybar, Callaspo, Mathis, et al.) poised to keep us competitive into the next decade?

I don't want to turn this blog into Keep Our Young Players Central, but Good Lord, why are we so desperate to upgrade at the one position where we have a viable and cheap option in-house? What the hell is going on here? I'd rather trade for Manny than sign Konerko or trade Kotchman for Sweeney. Well, maybe, depending on who we'd give up ... anyway, I'm just mystified. I sure hope Bill Stoneman knows something the rest of us don't.

Comments:
I absolutely, completely, agree with everything you have just written.

However, you are simply mystified. I am panic-stricken. You stated that you hoped Stoneman knew something that you did not. I hope that Stoneman knows what we simpletons know:

Kotchman will be a FAR MORE valuable player than Konerko OR Sweeney will be over the life of the contracts.

Kotchman WILL hit and he will do so for far less money.

I can't believe Stoneman is ONCE AGAIN blocking a position we are deep in. Signing Konerko not only blocks Casey and Kendry at first, but the signing ALSO blocks Garrett from being a DH within the next two years.

The only thing that makes sense (for Cabrera as well) is that if the money continues to be spread around and the treasure chests are full, the salaries will continue to rise and Paulie's contract is going to look like a bargain to someone else in three years.

I too, would rather do a trade for Manny than Konerko at this point.
 
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