Friday, March 24, 2006


Mr. Ned Goes Shopping

Update: It appears that Mr. Ned chose the wrong backup at 1b, as Dodger Thoughts reports that Choi has been waived. So the final roster spot will likely go to Martinez.

* * * * *

As opening day draws near, Mr. Ned is a few roster cuts away from closing out his first offseason. So how did he do? In this post I'll ignore the pitching side and just look at some of the hitters he signed.

Mr. Ned's first big free agent signing was Furcal for ss. Then he added 3b Mueller, c Alomar, 1b?! Garciaparra and cf Lofton. How do these guys stack up to what we had last year? Here's how the 2005 Dodgers players hit:

2005 Dodger Performance

as ss .310 .338 .648
as 3b .344 .378 .722
as c .314 .357 .671
as 1b .341 .487 .828
as cf .364 .481 .845

And here's Zips 2006 projections for Mr. Ned's guys:

Zips 2006 Projections

Furcal# ss .352 .431 .783
Mueller# 3b .369 .441 .810
Alomar c .273 .328 .601
Garciaparra 1b .321 .469 .790
Lofton* cf .333 .368 .701

Looks like an upgrade at ss and 3b, and a downgrade a c, 1b and cf. Before we get into the analysis though, note that the Zips projections are based upon where these guys came from. Later in the offseason, the Zips were revised to take into account Dodger Stadium park effects, which put a sizeable bite in some of the numbers. Here are the revised projections:

Revised Zips 2006 Projections

Furcal# ss .340 .419 .759
Mueller# 3b .350 .416 .766
Alomar c .273 .328 .601
Garciaparra 1b .321 .469 .790
Lofton* cf .320 .352 .672

So we have the same upgrades and downgrades, but the upside isn't as high and the downside is worse.

Of course there are some playing time adjustments that need to be made. Alomar won't play very much, really he replaces Bako who managed a .662 OPS last year. So Alomar is a downgrade at backup catcher, but Navarro (and Martin) will get the bulk of ABs available for catchers.

On the other hand, it's equally unfair to think Furcal, Mueller and the other starters will take every AB at their positions. For example, without Edwards and Robles 3b sub-.650 OPS ABs, the Dodgers would have had a very strong 3b last year. So if we factor in some Izzy and Robles as ss and some (probably more) Robles and who knows at 3b, the upgrades at ss and are reduced even further. Even with these adjustments, Furcal is still a significant upgrade at ss. Mueller begins to look like a wash.

Lofton and Garciaparra not playing everyday should actually increase overall production at their respective positions -- assuming, of course, that Mr. Ned and Grady spell them with the best subs (Zips projected OPS: Cruz .761, Werth .757, and Choi .822) rather than Tracy's friends (Zips projected OPS: Repko .698, Robles .684 and Martinez .652).

So where does that leave us? A material upgrade at ss, a wash at 3b and 1b, and a material downgrade at cf. And a downgrade a backup catcher, to the extent that makes much difference at all. All this for only about $20 million in added salary.

There is also the idea that when Izzy is healthy he will play 2b and move Kent over to 1b. Such stupidity would effectively replace the nearly .800 OPS of Garciaparra/Choi/Saenz with Izzy's projected .662. No way this could really happen. I mean, who would possible replace a platoon OPSing around .800 with someone with an OPS in the mid six hundreds? Oh yeah, he's managing in Pittsburgh now.

but you can't quantify "intangibles"!
or "heart and soul"!
and definitely not "leadership"!!

in all seriousness, i think what colletti DID do well was filling immediate holes by successfully (and quickly) negotiating short term deals. depodesta wasn't too successful at this. the market ran away from him and he was forced into multiyear $$$ contracts as the FA market dried up.

of course, i'm not too happy about having about 20 middle infielders on the roster, either.
Depo was a good judge of talent, but he needs work on his negotiating skills. Boras took him to the cleaners a couple of times. I suspect he would have improved over time if McCourt hadn't canned him. On the other hand, I don't have a heap of faith that Mr. Ned is going to sharpen up his player evaluations.
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