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Thursday, November 23, 2006

Fish, Barrel, Meet Gun. Gun, Meet Fish And Barrel.

So this is how Scioscia & Co. justify the Matthews, Jr. signing:
"I think he's figured it out," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "Last year, he was consistent from both sides of the plate, his power played at home and on the road — it wasn't just a Texas thing, playing in that park — and being a premium defender, that's a priority for us…. The bottom line is he'll be productive offensively and a difference-maker in center field."
Did they not notice that he's 32? Did they not see that he's a career .249 hitter prior to 2006? The Angels are in desperation mode now; whether they want to admit it or not, this is easily the worst signing of the offseason so far.

The mental gymnastics are getting sufficiently difficult that even Stephen Smith is having a hard time explaining this one:

Will Matthews repeat his 2006 offensive numbers in 2007? Unlikely. But compared to what the market will be in future years for premiere CF's, Matthews' numbers in the long run will be pretty reasonable if he contributes superior defense and just performs a little better than his career averages. His defense protects the pitching staff, which suffered from the Angels' overall defensive ineptitude in the first half this year. His offense will be better than Figgins. And that's all that really matters.
Wow, there's a lot of howlers hiding in there; let's start with the first one, about Matthews having somehow found a new level of performance. It's not impossible, but — and Smith should certainly know this, having followed player development for years — highly unlikely. Moreover, Figgins' career marks are well above those for Matthews; unless there's some kind of "the league's caught up to him" that has gone on (and that's altogether possible), this seems rather foolish.

Second, regarding Sarge's defense: Baseball Prospectus's Rate2 figure (94) marks him below average. ESPN's .847 Zone Rating ranks him as the worst starting centerfielder in the league, and likewise his .947 fielding percentage. By contrast, Figgins scored a 100 Rate2 (exactly league average in center), an .884 Zone Rating, and a .980 fielding percentage. Those are either equal to or better than Sarge's numbers, for a player who will be 29 next year.

Furthermore, Matthews can't protect the pitching staff if he isn't in the game. At 32, injuries are more likely, and recovery time from those injuries is likely to increase. Also, Matthews can't protect the pitching staff from balls hit to Garret Anderson (because he's old and slow), or Vlad if his brain didn't get screwed on correctly that day. The last thing this team needs is more guys requiring DH time to stay fresh as the season progresses, but that's what adding Sarge does.

The ultimate problem here is that the Angels front office has a lot of self-serving excuses for what they've done, but none of them make sense. It sounds too much like fanbase placation, which, given the uniformly vitriolic reaction to this deal, isn't working.

Update 2: Perhaps the most important paragraphs of this article lay at its end:

Stoneman didn't rule out a move — White Sox third baseman Joe Crede is still a possibility — but intimated any trade won't be of the blockbuster variety.

"We might look here and there to see if there's someone who might help us," Stoneman said. "Obviously, our options are more limited than what they were."

In other words, the kind of help the Angels really need is off the table. Thanks, Bill.

I liked how Stoneman compared GMJ breakout season to when Otis Nixon played with the Expos. I just looked at Nixon's stats and I don't really see what Stoneman is talking about. I honestly think that Artie Moreno forced Stoneman to sign GMJ at whatever price. And the same goes with McCourt forcing Colletti to sign Pierre and the Tribune Co. forcing Hendry to sign Soriano. At least I hope thats what happened because otherwise the GMs in baseball are pretty pathetic.
The only thing I can think of is that the CF free agent market is so awful that even a career journeyman is due 8 mil a year.

Think of it this way, Stoneman could have paid Kenny Lofton 4 years 36 mil.

Personally, I would say let Figgins, Willits or Murphy have a chance to earn the CF position. Oh well, too late now short of the injury factor.
Miles -- I was thinking about mentioning that, too, because someone in the BTF thread about this article made the same point. This is just a crock. It's the story of a front office bereft of ideas. I suppose the one good thing it does is to expose their enablers and sycophants for what they are...
This is Stephen Smith at FutureAngels.com ... Mr. McMillan is entitled to his opinion, but if he's going to quote me, he should do it honestly and not out of context.

If people go read what I *really* wrote, you'll see that my comment was in the context of what it would cost to get Torii Hunter or Vernon Wells, both of whom could be free agents after 2007. Given what the market established for Juan Pierre, it's pretty clear that Hunter and Wells will be extremely expensive, costing a lot more than Pierre or Matthews.

Some have suggested the Angels trade for Hunter or Wells. My point was that trading a boatload of prospects for a one-year rental made less sense than signing Matthews. Keeping Hunter or Wells would cost a lot more than Matthews, and on top of that the prospects that were traded.

Matthews will never be Hunter or Wells. But he'll be an upgrade over Figgins, no matter what some people pointing to flawed defensive statistical formulas may claim. It means using those prospects for the supposed "big trade," or holding on to them for down the line.

Hopefully, Mr. McMillan will be more honest when quoting me in the future. For those who want to read what I really wrote, please feel free to visit www.futureangels.com or the blog at http://futureangels.mlblogs.com/.
Misquoting you where, Stephen? Quoting you out of context where? Make the case for your argument that Matthews represents a defensive upgrade or stand down, sir; I have not here quoted the entire universe of advanced fielding metrics. But those I rely upon most all show him worse or equal to Figgins in the field, at many times the cost.
Also, the Angels wouldn't be make a blockbuster trade without the opportunity to negotiate a contract extension with Wells or Jones. It sure as heck would be worth making one of those deals for five years of Jones or Wells, which who will both be worlds better than five years of the mediocrity that is GMJ.
Of course Jones or Wells would be worlds better, but so many of us take for granted that either of those two are even available for less than our two best prospects packaged around Santana. I certainly wouldn't condone that move, and even ol' Stoney ain't that dumb. That said, the GMJ signing is still awful all the same.

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