Matthew Reed pointed out that the Ramon Hernandez signing is now official: 4 years, 27.5 million from the Orioles. I guess they'll be trying to move Javy Lopez or maybe mix him in at DH / 1B? Either way, this is a good signing for the O's, though it would be a lot better if it were something like 3 years / 21 million. That extra year for a catcher who will be 33 is dangerous. Hernandez has hit in pitcher's parks his entire career (Oakland, San Diego), has truly good defensive statistics (as opposed to the unprovable 'he handles a staff well' Ausmus nonsense), and has been durable (and hit well after his wrist injury last year). I probably would have given Hernandez this exact same contract for the Astros if I knew that he would take it. It looks like we may have to sre-sign Ausmus - who else is there?
Ever since the Rangers traded Alfonso Soriano to the Nationals for Brad Wilkerson, Termel Sledge, and a PTBNL (which is an absolute steal, because Soriano has sucked away from Texas, is poor defensively, and is expensive), there have been rumors regarding their outfielders. As of right now, they have Kevin Mench, Brad Wilkerson, Terrmel Sledge (yep, two r's), David Dellucci, Laynce Nix, and Gary Matthews Jr. They're going to trade a few of those guys, and it looks like Kevin Mench is drawing a lot of interest from teams, including the Astros.
Let's take a look at Mench's career stats:
Home: .286 / .356 / .505, 92 XBH, 72 BB
Away: .256 / .310 / .461, 79 XBH, 52 BB
Those away numbers aren't quite as attractice, are they? I don't mean to say Mench isn't a decent player - he'll be 28 to start the '06 season, and still has one more year of arbitration, so he won't break the bank. But he is partly a product of his home field.
I'd be more interested in Brad Wilkerson or Terrmel Sledge, for different reasons:
Wilkerson is a walkin' fool. 89, 104, and 84 walks the last three years. He has a career .365 OBP (and with Biggio, Lane, and Taveras in the line-up, we need some OBP from somebody), and a career 817 OPS. He's bettre defensively than Mench (he's played games in CF). It looks like he had a down year last year because he only had 11 home runs, but he had 42 doubles and 9 tripled in a huge home park, and part of that was due to an ugly 2nd half. Oh, and he even hits lefties well (career .837 OPS). The only bad news about Wilkerson is he earned 3.5 million last year compared to Mench's 345,000. He's worth it if he keeps drawing 80 walks a year, though. Just make him stop running (45 SB, 38 CS).
Ah, Terrmel Sledge. He's basically a poor man's Jacque Jones with more patience and less defense. He only got 37 AB's in the majors last year but he had a solid year in '04: (.269 / .336 / .462, 41 XBH, 40 BB in 398 AB). He's 28, just like Mench and Wilkerson. He rips on righties (career 832 OPS) and is still 2 years away from arbitration. He can't hit lefties but he and Chris Burke would make a kick-ass platoon in LF. Unfortunately, it might take Burke to get Sledge.
I'd rank them like this:
1. Sledge (cheap for at least 2 more years, poor man's Jacque Jones)
2. Wilkerson (tons of walks, the most expensive)
3. Mench (cheap for 1 more year, not that great away from Texas)
Keep talking to people, Purpura!