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Monday, November 29, 2004

Two From BPro: What'll They Make, Another Guillen Take

Baseball Prospectus has a couple articles of interest today. The first has Ben Murphy and Jered Weiss discussing what free agents will likely make in the offseason. (You can find their earlier work deriving these numbers here.) Unfortunately, they won't get to outfielders until tomorrow, but I'll eat my Angels 2002 World Series Champions hat if Carlos Beltran breaks $20M/year. Another article, this time by an anonymous contributor(s), is almost effusive in its love for Bill Stoneman in the wake of the Guillen trade:
Basically, these are two right-handed hitters who play a pretty good right field, so I wouldn't exactly call Rivera a prospect. The man's already shown he can play. But the two of them are also not separated by all that much age: Rivera was born in July of '78, Jose Guillen in May of '76. Even if you give credit to Rivera for his being buried in a Yankees system that wasn't going to give him many chances, he's not that young, he's in the middle of his career. Angels fans might take particular pleasure in knowing that Rivera busted out in the last two months of the season after finally being entrusted with a full-time job, hitting .370 and slugging .549. Will that good stuff continue next year? To an extent, but not really any more than what the Angels could have reasonably expected from Guillen if his issues with management weren't in play.

So they really haven't changed what they can expect offensively, with the added benefits of cutting payroll (since losing Guillen gives them almost $4 million extra to kick into the pile they're offering to whatever shortstop is on their must-have list) and they get Izturis. Picking up Izturis is handy on a couple of levels: even if Adam Kennedy's injury encourages the Angels to bump David Eckstein across the keystone to second base, somebody needs to be the utility infielder. Alfredo Amezaga certainly didn't stake any claims, but admittedly, having Izturis is more insurance than anything else.

Of course, there's also Chone Figgins, but he can probably bet on a continued multi-task job on the roster, where he moves among third base, second base and the outfield; Izturis should spare him from any work at short. But now that they have Izturis, they don't have to rush Alberto Callaspo or rely on Amezaga, while also having the freedom to deal Eckstein once Kennedy's healthy, if not before.

All in all, a nifty bit of clubhouse politics, payroll savings, depth acquisition, and all while giving up very little to achieve it. Hats off to Bill Stoneman, even if it's understood he's exploiting an industry-wide understanding of Jim Bowden's sense of taste.

I'm almost getting to the point where I believe him on Rivera, but I'd need more than a couple good months to believe the former Yankee is more than a reserve. Richard is a bit more insistent: "the Angels need Carlos Beltran", and I agree. The problem is, of course, the Angels have a little competition for his services.


There were two other things about Rivera that caught my eye after I had time to digest it. Take a look at his doubles from last year. Very high percentage per at-bats. We like gap-hittin' doublemakers. Also, if I'm not mistaken, he led the NL in outfield assists, despite not playing a full season.

I think this could work out well for the Halos.

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