Nationals Baseball: Rating the Offseason Deals : Decision and Outcomes Part 1

Friday, August 20, 2010

Rating the Offseason Deals : Decision and Outcomes Part 1

Coming from Monday's post about bad outcomes coming from good decisions, why don't we look at the offseason moves of the Nats and see where they fit. I'll use letter grades to tell you what I think of the decision made and the result. Why? I don't know. Let's go with "The Nats Front Office goes Back to School." That seems trite enough, no?

Pudge Rodriguez (2 years - 6 million)
Decision : D- : I've gone over several times why this was too long and for too much money. Yes, it's not a lot of money and yes the Nats needed a catcher, but if I go into a mini-mart and throw down $5 for a Snickers when it cost $1, just because it's only $5 and I really really was hungry doesn't mean I wasn't a dumbass.
Result : D+ : The early super hot start and Flores' failure to come back bump it up a couple notches from the D- it would have been. He still can't hit, our pitchers aren't much better anymore (no surprise), and that veteran presence that led the Nats to all those wins has somehow disappeared! But at least he's still pegging them on the basepaths, right? He's got a whole 'nother year though so it's a more fluid grade and I guess it could go up... Ha!

Brian Bruney (1 yr - 1.5 million)
Decision : C- : Part of the Nats' bullpen arm race, Bruney is one of those "if only he could control his stuff" kind of guys. He's also 28, past the time when you give players the benefit of the doubt.
Results : F : Worthless.

Scott Olsen (1 yr - 1 million)
Decision : a gentleman's C : Nats didn't want to let him walk and obviously felt he still had some value. I'll agree. 1 million for another look at a 26 yr old lefty starter who's shown some flashes of talent is worth it.
Results : D : Injured again, spotty again. Very little time left to prove anything with all these other arms. Exactly what the Nats didn't want to have happen. Honestly I think him bombing out in 12 healthy starts would have been better.

Joel Peralta (Minor League Contract)
Decision : C : Old and terrible last year. But still it's a minor league deal and he was ok before 2009.
Results : B- : Has been as useful as the 3rd or 4th guy out of the pen could be but took a while to get back into the majors.

Jason Marquis (2yrs - 15 million)
Decision : B : We've discussed. I liked it better than others.
Results : F : Really what else, right? A strong finish and great 2011 could save this grade though.

Matt Capps (1 yr - 3.5 million)
Decision : C : I can't decide if it was dumb at the time (overpaying for a "closer" with a 5.80 ERA) or crafty (seeing the off-year from a guy who before was a very good reliever for what it was)
Results : A : All-Star or not, he was effective in the pen and he brought back a legit catcher prospect in a deal. That my friend is a good result.


Todd Boss said...

Was signing Pudge really that bad of a deal? Without him who would be our catchers at the mlb level? Nieves starting? .207 batting average and a 46 OPS+. Yeah right. And, who would be the backup? Maldonado? Burke? Come on.

Pudge was signed to be a relatively cheap stop-gap until that time at which either Flores or Norris was ready to start. You pay #3m a season for a hall of famer, a great handler of pitchers, a veteran presence in the clubhouse, a great mentor for Harper (if he continues to be a catcher), a respected elder latino voice, and a guy who actually gives you some better atbats than a AAA-quality replacement player.

You can't take these signings out of context like the above. Yeah if you look JUST at his stats its looking less than optimal. But when you factor everything else in the signing is solid. Was then, still is now.

Dave Nichols said...

Todd, since Pudge's average peaked on 4/16, he's hit .238/.259/.305 in 268 at bats. Pretty sure Maldonado could have done that for major league minimum.

Harper said...

To answer: Yes. Not sure. Hope not. Not sure. I guess that's a possibility. Or that.

There's nothing taken out of context here. Outside of an insane Jason Kendall contract all catchers, some with higher likelihood of helping a team, signed for much less than Pudge. It was a WAY above market deal for a player who was best case was going to be an offensive hole and worst case would be an offensive hole while stealing at bats from the more deserving young player. (worst case didn't happen thank god)

It's not that signing Pudge in itself was a bad move - 1 year, 1 million would have gotten a "C" or so from me - but signing Pudge for 2 years, 6 million is undisputably horrible. (well I guess not "undisputably" since you are disputing it. Maybe "should be undisputably")

But I don't think we're going to agree here - almost everything you list as Pudge's positives are opinions. I can't argue that he's not a "respected elder latino voice" and if that's worth 5 million and a year more to the Nats than I throw my hands up. I don't think it is, they (and possibly you) do.

I will say that there is no statistical proof pitchers do better with Pudge than other catchers, and there is NO WAY Hack-a-Pudge give you better at bats that a AAA-quality replacement player. (please note that Wil Nieves is worse that a AAA-quality replacement bat)

Harper said...

Dave, I like using post May 11th, .222 / .242 / .278 or a line worse than Wil Nieves. To be fair to Pudge though - could Maldanado have hit .393 /.417 .528 for a month? Probably not.

But the real point is over the course of the season, what Pudge has produced would have probably been matched or beaten by a half-dozen or so catchers that were on the market - and it was a weak market.

Hoo said...

Nats overpaid for Pudge, but I'm not too upset with it. I view it as more a strategic move than anything else. Big name, please some agents, etc.

When I think the Nats can make a run next year, I should remember that Pudge is the #6 hitter and sometimes #5 without the Hammer. That's not too good.

Harper said...

I'm curious what the Nats will do with that 8th slot. It cries out for a decent patient hitter (to take advantage of the fact he's probably going to get pitched around) but the guys the Nats have that could fill that role (Desmond, Pudge, Bernadina, Morgan) are all pretty hack-tastic and would likely struggle.

Sec 204 Row H Seat 7 said...

Completely off topic. Are you going to fill out the WaPo form and blog baseball over there?

Will said...

I'd give Peralta more than a B-. To get any value from a minor league contract is great. Peralta has been pretty great. It's hard to imagine how he could have done any better than he has so far.

I agree Pudge has been a poor signing. Resigning Josh Bard for league minimum would have yielded the same offensive numbers. 2009 Bard (.288 wOBA) was actually better than 2010 Pudge (.280 wOBA).

Harper said...

Sec 204 - No. There are several reasons but suffice to say it's not really for me.

Will - I'm kind of weighting based on the impact possible. Which is why Marquis (starting pitcher) got a B for a short market contract, while most of the others were Cs. I think the whole grade thing wasn't the best way of doing this because I think we think of Cs as bad.

Anonymous said...

I think you're a bit harsh about the Capps decision. It's true he had a lousy 2009. But given his career numbers, it was plausible to suppose he'd bounce back and be a decent ML closer (career 1.2 WHIP, 3.45 ERA, 7 K/9, 1.7 BB/9). He was reasonably cheap ($3.5 mil) and controllable for 2 years. And after 2009, the Nats needed some competent bullpen arms. I would rank it at least as good as the Marquis signing. -Mike

Harper said...

Anon - the Capps one might be the toughest to rate because the feeling about the deal was so tied to how he did in 2010. He did well so it was easy to think "Well obviously he'd bounce back - look how he did before '09". But if he collapsed this year I think we would have all said "Well obviously he'd pitch like crap - he did so last year" SO I kind of split the difference with the "C" which all it really means is that it was a perfectly reasonable signing. They didn't get a "deal" it wasn't super smart, but there was nothing wrong with it at all.

I could be tempted to push it to a C+ though - Marquis is a "B" because of the impact of a starter. Since Capps was likely to be closer from Day 1 that's more impact than just a regular reliever.