Monday, November 27, 2006

I've spent a lot of time thinking and talking about the Carlos Lee deal, and I think I've finally come to a conclusion: it's a mistake. It was a deal that we "had" to make based on our inadequate offense the last few years. But wait a sec - why has it been inadequate? Has it been because of our production from left field? Nope. It's been our 'production' from center field, shortstop, catcher, and even second base to some extent. Let me play a little Devil's Advocate for a second. Consider these outfielders:

Player A, 29 years old, 294 career AB's, career 133 OPS+
Player B, 30 years old, 1037 career AB's, career 105 OPS+
Player C, 31 years old, 4570 career AB's, career 113 OPS+

It's probably fairly obvious based on the AB's, but Player A is Luke Scott, Player B is Jason Lane, and Player C is Carlos Lee. Ignore Lee's counting stats for a minute (HR, RBI, etc.) - they're nice, but they're a product of hitting in the middle of the order and being very durable. Lee's percentage statistics are not significantly better than Jason Lane's, and Luke Scott has been much better than either of them (although that's probably a little bit of a fluke). Now I know that Scott or Lane is still going to play RF - Lee's signing doesn't mean they're both out of a job. But it's meant to show that Lee is really not a $100 million dollar guy. I would have MUCH preferred signing Moises Alou to the 1 year / 8.5 million dollar deal the Mets gave him. Because in about a year, our best prospect, Hunter Pence, is going to be ready to play right field. But we have Scott AND Lane there right now (although honestly Lane is probably as good as gone, in my opinion.) , and Lee isn't going anywhere. If we signed someone like Alou or Luis Gonzalez to a short deal, it's not a huge loss if they don't work out, and then you've got Pence coming to take that spot soon. If for whatever reason Lee doesn't work out, he's an albatross.
A really expensive one.

Just for the heck of it, Lee's career numbers at Minute Maid:

58 AB, .276 / .333 / .552, 4 HR, 8 RBI, 5 BB

The Woody Williams signing is also a little dangerous, but it's one that we can afford to have go badly. See a post from about a month ago where I compared Williams, Rodrigo Lopez, and Brian Lawrence. Interestingly, Williams is better against left-handed batters than right-handed batters, and he also gives up a LOT of flyballs. Not great against righties + flyballs + 1/2 his starts at Minute Maid = uh-oh. This could get ugly. Maybe it won't, but Williams is 39 - he's unlikely to suddenly get better.

Just for the heck of it, Williams's career numbers at Minute Maid:

75.1 IP, 4.42 ERA, 12 HR, 23 BB, 47 K, 9 wins / 3 losses

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