Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Who You Callin' A Bust? The Dumb Bleacher Report Call To Dump Aybar
The demotions of Jose Arredondo and Howie Kendrick sent a message to the team that they needed to right things in a hurry. However, those demotions should only be the beginning of the transformation of the offense.Note author Bill Martinez provides not one piece of statistical evidence for any of these assertions, save the stolen base totals, and even that one's pretty easy to punch holes in. Aybar is valuable, but the stolen base is not one of the things you ought to be looking at necessarily:
Sean Rodriguez should stay and be given the second base job for good. Brandon Wood should be promoted and handed the job at shortstop. Matt Brown should be tabbed for the outfield.
Those three moves alone would necessitate the moving of Erick Aybar, Gary Matthews and Kendrick.
Aybar is an unqualified bust at the major league level, a speedster in the minors who has taken the running game out of his attack.
In five seasons of minor-league ball, the 25-year-old reached double digits in stolen bases every year and had three seasons with at least 10 triples.
Last season, Aybar had five triples and seven stolen bases in 98 games. He has just 14 thefts in 257 major league appearances after ringing up 250 in 543 contests in the minors.
The only thing that's saved Aybar from being sent back down or dealt is his defensive prowess, and in an era where one tool is a waste of a roster space, the glove alone should not be enough for either Mike Scioscia or Tony Reagins.
- He's had a positive UZR at his position the last two years, 0.9 this year and 6.2 last.
- Maybe Martinez hasn't noticed, but the era of offensive-minded shortstops is coming to a close, or at least, is in a lull. Derek Jeter isn't what he used to be, and the league no longer contains Nomar Garciaparra as a power bat at the position, either. In fact, if you rank AL shortstops by VORP, Aybar is actually fourth with a 7.7 VORP. That puts him on pace for a roughly 15-16ish VORP by the end of the year.
- The stolen base part of his game has always been rough. His SB/CS ratios were
Year Level SB CS =================== 2006 AAA 32 18 2005 AA 49 23 2004 A+ 51 36 2003 A 32 9 2002 A- 15 10So he's always been on the cusp of having the stolen base be an effective part of his game, and in general is under the 70% threshold you need for that to be even breakeven. Cutting down on his steals only makes sense, especially if he's running into outs consistently. (From my observation this is exactly what's happened.)
- Did I mention he's only 25, only a year older than either of purported replacements S-Rod or Brandon Wood? There's room to improve his game.
Getting back to Aybar, he might not be the best player in the world, but he's a useful young one who can keep himself on the field. That's far from a bust, and if the Angels do decide to do something with him, they ought to be able to get some value.
In addition to the very positive UZR from the past seasons, he had 6.1 fielding win shares last season, which put him at #6 among all qualified and unqualified major league shortstops. Meanwhile, his batting average has steadily increased, while his K-rate has steadily decreased.
We already know that Aybar will never be a walk champ, but he's showing the sort of contact tendencies that a Howard Kendrick could only hope to achieve.
This is a fairly balanced view of Howie.
By no means is it time to dump Kendrick or sell him at .10 cents on the dollar. He's not as bad as his current .245 AVG says. It is time to suppress dreams of a .330 AVG though.
Figgins has shown remarkable adaptability and persistence. I think few people assumed he would develop as much defensively as he did at 3B, or that he could improve his plate discipline as much as he has. Outside of a short stint on the DL due to hamstring strain, all of his recent injuries have been finger and hand fractures, which are incidental, not the sign of some age-related breakdown.
If Figgins can still deliver 30-50 bags a year and maintain his OBP in the .360-.380 range, as he has for the past three years, I'm don't see how he isn't a plus player at 2B from age 32-34.