Friday, December 12, 2008

And It's Supposed To Be A Buyer's Market

So, the World Champion Philadelphia Phillies have replaced former #1 draft-pick Pat "The Bat" Burrell in left-field by giving a 3 year, $30 M contract to Raul Ibanez. That is, in a word, stupid.

Ibanez hit .293/.358/.479, 23 HR, .364 wOBA, 109 wOBA+ in 2008. Lets say +1.5 (bat), -1.5 (glove), -0.75 (position), +2.5 (above AL replacement), * 85% (playing time) = 1.5 WAR. That's $7.3 M for 2009, and $15.5 M for the three years. And that's if he doesn't fall off a cliff production-wise, which isn't unlikely as he's already 36 years old. Plus, he's left-handed (no more Burrell splitting up Utley and Howard) and is a Type-A free agent, which means the Phillies also lose their first round pick to the M's. Ibanez is really, really bad defensively. And I'm being optimistic about his offensive value - the four straight years with 100+ RBI don't impress me, but I still think he'll be a pretty good hitter next year.

Pat Burrell hit .250/.367/.507, 33 HR, .373 wOBA, 111 wOBA+ in 2008. +2.2 (bat), -1.5 (glove), -0.75 (position), +2 (above NL replacement), * 85% (playing time) = 1.65 WAR. $8 M for 2009 and $18 M for three years. If Burrell would have taken the same contract as Ibanez, then it made sense to take the younger, better player and save the draft-pick - though getting a player who will be worth the salary is also a possibility. Still, not offering Burrell arbitration was a bad call. One year of Burrell at $15 M (probably worst case scenario) is better than three of Ibanez at $30 M and the lost pick.

Adam Dunn hit .236/.386/.513, 40 HR (exactly, for the fourth year in a row), .385 wOBA, 114 wOBA+ in 2008. +2.3 (bat), -1.5 (glove), -0.75 (position), +2 (above NL replacement) * 85% (playing time) = 1.75 WAR. $8.5 M for 2009 and $19.5 M for three years. Dunn and Howard in the same line-up would result in a whole lot of strike-outs. But those extra walks and home runs would be nice, and he costs no draft-picks.

Bobby Abreu hit .296/.371/.471, 20 HR, .374 wOBA, 113 wOBA+ in 2008. +2.2 (bat), -1.5 (glove), -0.75 (position), +2.5 (above AL replacement) * 85% (playing time) = 2.1 WAR. $10.2 M for 2009 and $25.1 M for three years. Also a lefty, and also costs no draft-picks.

We've got four relatively similar guys who are going to get four relatively similar contracts. That Ibanez is the worst and got 3/$30 is disappointing. Plus the pick. I find it very hard to believe that Philly couldn't have gotten Burrell, Dunn, or Abreu for a similar contract. What are they going to do with Ibanez when he's 40 and making $10 M with fall-down range in left?

Or, the cheaper option:

Eric Hinske hit .247/.333/.465, 20 HR, .347 wOBA, 103 wOBA+ in 2008. +0 (bat), +0 (glove - he seems to be an OK defender in the outfield corners), -0.75 (position), +2.5 (above AL replacement) * 85% (playing time) = 1.5 WAR. There you go; just as valuable as Ibanez for a fraction of the price (and no draft-pick).

Or Juan Rivera, who's about the same. Brad Wilkerson is about 0.5 WAR worse, and I'm sure he'd be dirt cheap. Or Jerry Hariston Jr., who is a worse hitter but has a better glove. The point is that Raul Ibanez - upstanding citizen and professional hitter - is a below average baseball player who I can say with almost complete certainty won't be worth the money he'll be paid.

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