Monday, December 20, 2004
Put This In Your Dumb-O-Meter: Angels Sign Cabrera
- Hold on to Eckstein for another year? This makes some sense if the title of your 2005 plan is "Let The A's Win -- Again". It's not implausible; consider that the Angels already have come out and said that they're relying on McPherson to pick up the offensive slack at third -- he's batting third or fourth.
- Start Izturis? Little Cesar's little brother has so far shown a good similarity to his older brother, so much so that Cesar shows up as one of his PECOTA comparables. If it's true, that's better than what his 2004 projection had to say, essentially that he was a replacement-level player, something his -0.4 VORP this year didn't do much to dispel. This isn't a real option, and considering his glovework has been widely described as inferior to his brother's, we're probably better off not even thinking about this in public -- Stoneman and/or Scioscia might try it.
- Sign Orlando Cabrera for four years? Of the two Cabrera brothers, Orlando is unquestionably the better one. Here's his last-three-years numbers:
Year AB Line VORP =============================== 2002 563 .263/.321/.380 22.7 2003 626 .297/.347/.460 49.8 2004 618 .264/.306/.383 14.7
- The Angels believe free agent pitching is insanely overpriced, even at the middle tiers, and have given up acquiring any in this way. While this is true, it's also the case that this does not justify also overpaying for middle infielders when you have a glut of them in your farm system. That is what farm systems, in part, are supposed to do: insulate you from stupid overreactions of the free agency market. (It is also a reason why the Yankees have had to overpay virtually every free agent they've signed in the last three years, but that's a subject and a study for another day.)
- Cabrera will bring superior defense. Unfortunately, this also doesn't hold up. Looking at his Baseball Prospectus DT card, his defense has been stellar previously, but it's slipped in the last two years, and he is now slightly below average.
- The Angels do not think Eckstein will last more than 80-90 games next year. This is a more serious concern. Eckstein played 142 games this year, up from last year's 120, but his size and ongoing health concerns make him a big question mark into next year. While putting Chone Figgins in at shortstop is a decent temporary solution, with Alfredo Amezaga gone, the Angels lost their primary immediate insurance against Eckstein spending time on the DL. Kennedy's absence in the middle infield exacerbates this problem as well.
- None of the shortstops in the minors will be ready before late 2006. This I also believe is likely true. None of Collaspo, Aybar, or Wood will be in a position to help the Angels in the near term, with Collaspo probably nearest to stick-a-fork-in-'em time.
- Eckstein's average fell too low, too long. This also strikes me as plausible. 2004 marks the second year in a row his batting average was below .280 by the end of the season. For a team that lives and dies on average, this was just intolerable.
Beyond the contractual issues, however, is the looming crisis at the top of the batting order. The team is now wholly dependent on Chone Figgins' somewhat streaky bat. While I like Chone, we saw last year how dangerous that dependence can be, especially considering the Angels don't know from OBP.
Finally, the Angels surrender their first-round draft pick because Cabrera is a type A free agent. This, friends, is the signing that just keeps on taking. Frankly, I'd have rather we signed Eckstein for two years and waited for Collaspo.
... there's nothing you're getting from Cabrerra that you wouldn't get from Eckstein. And now the Angels are paying a whole lot more money for it.Oy, vey.