Tuesday, February 03, 2004

A Few Baseball Notes:

Pudge Rodriguez officially agreed to a 4-year, $40 million deal with the Detroit Tigers yesterday. He immediately said, "I don't think of the Tigers as a bad team...they just had a bad year." Conversely, a poster on Baseball Primer wrote If all the moves the Tigers have made over the offseason result in 20 more wins...the Tigers will still lose 99 games. I don't think this is a great move, though - $10 million a year for 4 years to a 32-year old catcher? Pudge is a Hall-of-Famer, yes; his last six season have produced OPS+ values (OPS+ = OPS compared to the rest of the league, taking ballparks into account - 100 is average) of 120, 125, 152, 130, 123, and 124. He's still got a great throwing arm, and his Defensive Range Factor is well above league average. But, as has been mentioned elsewhere...he's a 32-year old catcher, and 32-year old catchers simply do not age well. Pudge is such a unique player that he's not truly similar to anybody, but according to Baseball Reference, his most similar players include Ted Simmons, Yogi Berra, Gary Carter, and Joe Torre. All of these players experienced a fairly significant offensive decline following their age-32 season, particularly Simmons and Carter. The human body wasn't meant to squat for two hours a day, 162 days a year, which doesn't include practice, postseason, spring training, etc. It's hard on the legs, thighs, and ankles, and it's gotta make you hella stiff. Although it is true that sports medicine is much better than it was during the careers of the four previous catchers, I still don't believe Pudge will be the same player four years from now that he is today. Would I love to have Pudge on my team. Hell yeah! For 4 years @ 40 million? Nope. Not even to replace Brad Ausmus.

There have been murmurs that the Astros might go after Ugueth Urbina as either a closer or a set-up man. First things first: yeah, he's still pretty good - he averages well over a strikeout an inning for his career, he's only (about to be) 30 years old, and he was lights-out after joining the Marlins midway through the year. BUT: He'll be expensive. He's earned 4.2, 6.7, and 4.5 million the last 3 years, and now he's got World Series Ace Reliever stamped on him. There was also a very nice study done over at BPRo that argued NO reliever is worth that much money, simply because: even great relievers don't last long, they get injured often (Robb Nen, Wagner in '00), and they only pitch 80 (at most) innings a year. I'm sure Urbina will get a multi-year deal somewhere, probably something like 2 years, 10 million. I hope it's not in Houston.

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