Saturday, 29 November 2008

Because I want to . . .

. . . talk about baseball, damnit. I'm sure you've read similar remarks elsewhere over the off-season if not longer, but I want to drag them back to the front burner as the Winter Meetings approach in just nine days.

Rotoworld relayed a report from the Baltimore Sun last week that the Orioles had declined to trade LHP Garrett Olson for enigmatic SS Khalil Greene. The observation was made that while Olson had been a disappointment so far in the majors, the Orioles were not likely to be interested in a SS who was one year away from free-agency. I agree with this but I'm also struck that the price was relatively low this early in the off-season.

What makes Greene an interesting case is that the Padres have to sell him based on his overall numbers, which seem mediocre, even before you look at his awful 2008. But those numbers are deceiving. Laying aside 2008 and a lost year, let's look at Greene's four previous seasons in one key area - road stats. San Diego's Petco Park is the most notoriously pitcher friendly park in the majors.

Greene's combined stats on the road in 2006-2007 (the equivalent of a full season's worth of games) figure out to the following averages: .285 - .332 - .514 - .866, or, if you like counting stats, that's 47 doubles, 24 homers, 85 RBI, and, by the way, only 87 strikeouts. Perhaps more revealing, his Isolated Power average was .229. If you are unfamiliar with that stat and what it means, consider that in the major leagues last year only two shortstops had an IP average over .200 (Hanley Ramirez at .239 and Stephen Drew at .231) and only eight times in the past five years has a shortstops broken .200 in that stat. Was this a fluke? A peak which he is past? Not at all. if you look at the FOUR season preceding 2008 (all the full seasons he has played in the majors) his ISP is .231 and his OPS is .836 in almost 1000 at bats.

While one cannot completely ignore how desperately bad he was as a hitter in 2008, I am increasingly convinced that a team who gets Greene out of Petco is going to find themselves with one of the best shortstops in the game on their hands. As for the price, if they were willing to take Garret Olson, one assumes that Ricky Romero would get the job done easily enough. I'm intrigued by the idea of sending the Tallet and McDonald in the deal as a way to offset a little salary if indeed the Padres wanted something more than Ricky-Ro.

It is, of course, problematic that he is only under contract for one more season. But you have to wonder if the opportunity might be given to try to get him signed now, before closing the deal, to a lower-priced contract. As previously noted, the Jays have at least $18 million or so to work with. Greene is under contract for $6.5 million in 2009. If you were to include McDonald and Tallet in the deal, you'd only be looking at a net increase of about $3.5 million. Where am I going with this? It occurs to me that the Jays, having already said they are not going to spend just to be spending, might be in a position to leverage a lower annual cost to any Greene extension by paying a larger signing bonus out of the "spare" money they have this year. If you could sign him to a contract extension that was 3/$30 with $6 million up front and a 6-8-10 structure in the coming years, you might be getting a significant bargain. That would still leave you plenty of money to make the other move I want to re-address . . .

* * * * *

Milton Bradley.

Unlike the Greene idea, which waxes and wanes in the Jays blogosphere and rumor mill, Bradley's name is never far from the surface. No less an influential voice than Cito Gaston's has expressed an interest and it hasn't been long since Peter Gammons declared he was the Jays top priority when the noise about Burnett dissipated (and for the life of me I cannot comprehend why the Jays don't just admit to themselves and the world that it makes no sense for them to stay in the Burnett hunt and move on to filling real holes before they lose the chance to get the players who fit best - but I digress).

Yes, Bradley has some personality issues - though the term "clubhouse cancer" is inaccurate. His teammates do not have any complaints. Anger management is an ongoing concern, but the counter-argument is that there may be no better manager in the majors to work with that issue than Cito Gaston. Yes, he's an injury risk, but the Jays have short-term and long term options for filling in for him when the injury comes and for the right price, 130 games of Bradley can still be damned helpful.

I believe these two players can be added to the current roster without exceeding $100 million for the 2009 payroll and they will together significantly upgrade our offense.



Noxx said...

Im a bit cautious about Greene because of the nature of his injury. Hand injuries can be bad, take a look at Overbay, and if he's still feeling the effects I'd be rather cautious about getting him.

His BABIP was 20 points lower than 2007, which could just mean he had a whole lot of bad luck.

Im not sure I feel comfortable giving up Romero right now. I still think he could be a good #3 for us. I know I might just be hoping too much, but would Tallet + Mcdonald be able to acquire him?

The Southpaw said...

I'd love to think Tallet and Mcdonald or some such would get him but i can't bring myself to believe it. Even with an additional minor league prospect, my guess is that they want someone ready for the majors.

I'm not trying to run Romero out of town, but in the coming years, we have an overabundance of rotation candidates and someone is going to be pushed out of that competition.

the only good use of excess depth is trades.

I do confess to worry about the hand injury. I don't know any good answer to that concern except to say that in situations like this some risk is necessary. When you look at the FA market and the available SS trades - unless you are going to pay BIG for Hardy (if you can even get him) Greene seems far more attractive than the other options.

I'd rather deal with his hand at 6.5 than deal with Furcal's back for twice the price.


Torgen said...

It's not enough to look at a drop in BABIP and assume it's indicative of bad luck--good hitters have better BABIP. That said, Greene's BABIP dropped 2% from 2007 to 2008 while his LD% rose 2%, and from 2006 to 2007 his LD rose 1.4% without any rise in his BABIP. In other words, he really is getting less lucky with his balls in play.