Thursday, February 02, 2006

Signings Galore

Jim Bowden has had his red contractin' pen out a lot lately, ensuring that the New Orleans Zephyrs will have the highest average age in the PCL.

In order of usefulness:

  • Felix Rodriguez officially signed. Frodo, a right-handed reliever, got a one-year $600K contract, which contains a wacky bonus structure which pays another $650K if he's still floating around the team at various points of the season.

    Rodriguez appears to be this season's Hector Carrasco or Antonio Osuna (remember him?) veteran arm signing. Hopefully for the Nats, he'll be a lot closer to the former than to the latter.

    Frodo had a bad year last year, but that's expected when you go to the Yankees. Between their all-world horrid defense, a manager who hates relievers not named Rivera or Stanton, and a pitching coach who's obsessed with pitching to contact, there's little margin for error. A few bad appearances early, and a wonky knee later, and he found himself as the 14th man on a 12-man pitching staff.

    Instead, look to his previous seasons, where he was excellent. Dominant, at times. His strikeout rate was down last year (always a red flag), but the injury and pitching coach are strong possibilities for that. For his career, opposing hitters have batted .238/ .331/ .357 against him, the mark of an excellent reliever.

    My only question about the signing is wondering where he fits in. Obviously he should be one of the top relievers, but the pen now has Cordero, Ayala, Majewski, Frodo, Eischen and Stanton all with guaranteed contracts. There's no room for Bergmann, Hughes, Rasner, Bray, etc. And there's no room for the loser of the Rauch/Drese/Armas starter battle. It's been mentioned that Bowden could use some as trade bate, but how much is a bullpen arm not named Gagne/Wagner/Lidge really going to get you? Just like second base (and the entire infield) there are too many warm bodies making too much money for the slots on the team.

  • Royce Clayton signed a minor league contract, and apparently is content with being a backup. Clayton, in some circles, is being looked on as some kind of saviour. He's more of a false idol.

    He turns 36 next year, and hasn't had a good offensive season (non-Coors-aided) since 2001. Worse, his OPS+ (which compares him to league average and adjusts for park) over the last four years has been 73, 64, 76, 73. Cristian Guzman's career OPS+? 73. So even if Clayton doesn't suffer any more age-related decline, the best we can hope for is a typical Cristian Guzman season. Still, a typicaly Cristian Guzman season is literally worth 2 or 3 more wins than last year's version.

    Defensively, it'd probably be a stretch to say he's better than Guzman. Guzman's not especially good, but he's not horrible either. I just don't have much faith in a 36-year old being a good defensive shortstop, especially when he was never considered a gold-glover in his prime. For what it's worth he's ranked below Guzman in the Probablistic Model of Range (yeah, I think that's a clunky name, too). I'm not completely comfortable with his methodology, and I sure wouldn't rely on it as the sole tool of evaluation.

    Having Clayton around isn't going to kill anyone, but if you're counting on him to be anything other than replacement level, you're asking too much. He's definitely not the saviour.

  • Daryle Ward was officially signed a minor-league deal (I don't think I mentioned it after becoming official). Ward's a decent left-handed bat off the bench, but he, too, doesn't seem to have a place on the roster. He'd be behind NJ, Fick, and Anderson on the first-base depth chart. I just can't see a way he'd be able to make the roster barring catastrophic injury. (and if there was a serious injury, maybe the team would want to give Larry Broadway a tryout?)

    Ward's not much of a defensive player. He's played some corner outfield in the past, but was pretty horrible. (Did you know that Nick Johnson has played the outfield, too?)

    Offensively, he's passable. He's strictly a platoon hitter, though. He's hit just .238/ .281/ .329 against lefties over the last three years. Against righties he's markedly better: .248/ .304/ .420. That's not really good for someone who doesn't play defense, but part of that also reflects the difficult home parks he's had over that period: PNC and Dodgers Stadium.

  • Valerio de los Santos also earned himself a minor-league deal. Were it not for the fact that he throws left-handed, he'd be looking for a real-world job now.

    Unfortunately, he's not especially good against lefties. Over the last three years, they've knocked him around: .277/ .343/ .437. Against righties, he's even worse.

    With Eischen and Stanton entrenched on the roster, he's going to have to hope that Joey Eischen does his Flipper impersonation again. If one of those two goes down, de los Santos will get his chance to do a Joe Horgan impersonation.

  • George Lombard earned himself a minor-league deal, where he'll be sure to entertain the Zephyrs fans with his all-or-nothing swing.

    Lombard, who was once a hot prospect for the Braves, turns 31 next year. He's only seen extended playing time in one Major League season, despite having cracks at 5. In 2002, he hit .241/ .300/ .373 in over 200 ABs for the Tigers. He spent the last two seasons having moderate success smacking the ball around Rhode Island.

    Purely a depth signing, Lombard bats lefty, so if something breaks with the Church/Watson/Byrd/Soriano/Sosa/Hondo logjam in the outfield, he could sneak a few ABs as a 6th outfielder.

  • I've lost track of all the 40-man roster comings and goings, but they outrighted Francis Beltran today, taking him off the roster. Beltran visited the good doctor Andrews in March, finding himself with a brand new elbow. It'll be a long season of rehab for him.

  • I'm sure glad I didn't have to type Sammy Sosa's name. (And I hope that that doesn't jinx it.) The Post says he's waiting for a guaranteed deal. Am I the only one who thinks he'd look great in a jersey for the Nippon Ham Fighters?


    • 2 years ago Royce played a full season in Colorado and slugged .397. .397!

      By Blogger Harper, at 2/03/2006 2:01 AM  

    • I'll be sure to spam it soon! ;)

      (At least you're not selling impotence drugs)

      By Blogger Chris Needham, at 2/03/2006 9:03 AM  

    • The Nationals Farm Authority Big Board has been updated for all of your 40-man roster needs and more!

      By Blogger Scott M. Collins, at 2/03/2006 9:04 AM  

    • I like the Clayton signing. It's time to light some fire under Guzman, and if a little healthy competition helps, the whole team will benefit.

      By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2/03/2006 1:57 PM  

    • Great stragegy - forget developing the farm system, just stock it with aged has-beens.

      With Linda Crapp at the helm, there might not be a future anyway...

      Clayton could help Guzman out as a full time mentor. (Although you can't get much better than Larkin as a mentor.)

      By Blogger Cathie, at 2/05/2006 3:56 PM  

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