Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Fifty Word Challenge: Arbitration and Signings

Good golly, but a lot went on yesterday. So let’s try something a little different. Buncha topics, fifty words each. Go.

Craig Monroe
A non-guaranteed contract? Is that even legal? Is that the MLBPA on line two?

Well, more evidence of admirable creativity from Bill Smith. I just hope he doesn’t learn that giving Gardenhire a “veteran bench bat” is like giving “wine for a special occasion” to a wino.

Jason Tyner – Part I
OK, this is gonna go long, because dammit, it pisses me off.

Never has a player made so many smart baseball analysts act so dumb. Dogged by his reputation in Tampa Bay, way too many of us missed what Tyner was – a great fourth outfielder, who is probably good enough to hold down the strong side of the platoon in center field.

His career line with the Twins vs. RHP? 454 AB, .311 BA, .347 OBP, 13 SB, 3 CS. All for a league minimum price. If you don’t appreciate that, you need to pull your head out of your ass.

Jason Tyner – Part II
Why, if you’re the Twins, would you NOT offer Tyner arbitration? You don’t have a center fielder yet, right? He solves 2/3 of that problem for about $800,000. I main, even if it’s just as insurance? It’s not like this team doesn’t have $18 million to spend this offseason, right?

Aaron Rowand, Kosuke Fukudome and Miguel Tejada
Ok, I’m stumped. Just what the hell are the Twins going to spend that money on? If they trade Santana, they have $30 million to spend. Yesterday they lost three top targets and all of them were fairly reasonable deals. I wonder just how Twins management is reacting in private.

More Tejada
With Tejada in Houston, shortstop Adam Everett will be non-tendered. Everett is a 30-year-old defensive specialist who has hit .242 with a 640 OPS the last three years. Plus, I hear he can take charge of an infield. Ten bucks says Gardy has already left a message on Smith’s voicemail.

22 comments:

mike said...

And just when you thought things could not get wrose, Tiny Tyner Doesn't return next year. What a bad offseason its been for us twin fans.

ubelmann said...

A "great" 4th OF? Tyner wasn't a great anything.

His career line with the Twins vs. RHP? 454 AB, .311 BA, .347 OBP, 13 SB, 3 CS. All for a league minimum price.

A resounding endorsement if I've ever heard one. "Look at this guy, he does two things well, and against only one kind of pitcher!" Just like a player with a crappy OBP can offset the benefits of his power, a player with virtually non-existent power can offset the benefits of his OBP. Even with his first home run ever this year, Tyner barely had more power than Punto did. You can choose to ignore that if you wish, but it affects his value.

Tyner had a combined VORP of 2.9 over three seasons with the Twins. He's a mediocre defender with a poor bat--the very definition of replacement level.

If you don’t appreciate that, you need to pull your head out of your ass.

Strong argument there. It's tough to disagree with you when you back up your case with facts like that.

SL__72 said...

There's also this:

2008 Chone Projections:

Tyner wOBA: .304
Pridie wOBA: .294
Ellsbury wOBA: .342

All three are left handed hitters. The Twins know that Ellsbury is a much better hitter and want him. I bet they also think Pridie will be a better hitter this year.

Anonymous said...

way too many of us missed what Tyner was – a great fourth outfielder, who is probably good enough to hold down the strong side of the platoon in center field.

I agree with the first part of that statement and its apparent some people still miss it. The problem is the Twins already have four outfielders - Cuddyer, Young, Kubel and Monroe.

And I don't think the Twins agree that Tyner can play center field regularly. Which makes him a great sixth outfielder once they add a center fielder. Even great sixth outfielders are generally playing at AAA. And, of course, the Twins will likely have Span and Pridie at AAA.

I think this move made sense. As Smith said, the Twins won't have the at bats for Tyner. Cutting him loose now made a lot more sense than offering arbitration and cutting him loose in spring training.

Anonymous said...

Ken Rosenthal is reporting that the Twins signed Everett to a one year $4.5 million dollar contract.

Nick N. said...

Got to agree with Ubelmann here. Tyner doesn't even really belong in the major-leagues. Your case for him being a "great fourth outfielder" is that he has posted a slightly above-average OBP against right-handed pitchers over the past three years, all while stealing only 13 bases despite his great speed? I'm not buying that.

Tyner is a mediocre defender in the corners and a poor defender in center field. It's not remotely difficult to find players like him on the cheap.

David Wintheiser said...

Nice work, Geek. I'll try to go you one better with ten-word responses:

Craig Monroe - The union allows for contracts with incentives. Lots of incentives.

Tyner, pt I - Gardy never seemed to trust Tyner. Did Gardy have input?

Tyner, pt II - Replacement level isn't free, but guys like Tyner are available.

Rowand, Fukudome, Tejada - Having sixteen million and spending it are two very different things.

More Tejada - Twins sign Everett. If Punto starts, worst offense in league.

Bill Lindeke said...

HAHa. I love the end of your post. Did you call that, or what?

John said...

Hold it. So Melky Cabreera is decent swag for Johan frickin Santana, because he's an above average center fielder. But Tyner, who:
- plays CF
- puts up similar numbers vs 2/3 of the pitchers in the majors
- is about the same price as Cabrera, who will be a Super 2 next year

is dreck?

I understand Melky is younger, but that doesn't mean he's projectable. I can't figure out why Cabrera is some major prize but Tyner is replacable. They're both fringe center field/4th outfield guys. They mighty beon opposite sides of the line, but the line isn't that thick.

Maybe the point is defense, but I can't agree on that either. There were times within the last two years where I would've argued that the Twins would have been better off with Tyner out there than a Hunter. I don't know what the defensive metrics say, but I don't completely trust them either.

These two aren't the same player, but they're in the same zip code. This is craziness. I feel like I'm arguing that blue is blue.

--------

Oh, and the Everett thing makes me sick. I haven't seen the terms of the deal, but I can't imagine terms that I would find acceptable. Before I cut down that paragraph to 50 words, I had the following line in there:

"Isn't one Nick Punto enough?"

Apparently not.

Nick N. said...

Cabrera is projectible though. Here's a kid that came up and hit .280 with a .360 OBP as a 21-year-old in his first big-league season, and he's currently still only 23. Check out Tyner's early major-league numbers, and check out how long it took him to post an OBP above .350. Tyner also has no semblance of power, whatsoever. Cabrera has shown the ability to hit some homers and doubles, and scouting reports I've read have projected him to be a 15-HR guy in his prime. On top of all that, I certainly believe that Cabrera is a vastly superior defender, but I suppose there's no way to prove or disprove that.

I don't see how Cabrera and Tyner are anywhere close to the same zip code. Cabrera very much has the possibility of becoming an above-average starting center fielder; Tyner is a sub par backup.

John said...

I just don't see A 5'11" 170 pound guy (Melky) starting to hit for power. And he's not going get on-base a bunch more, either, because it's not like that plate discipline can get much higher. (And it's not like he's not protected in that lineup).

The only way he becomes a real offensive asset is if he raises his BA another 20 points. And he's never hit like that at any point in the minors. So I don't know how much more projectable he really is.

Tyner IS Cabrera

Nick N. said...

No one is kidding themselves into thinking Cabrera is going to be a legitimate power threat, but he's already shown the ability to hit 7-8 homers with 25 doubles in the majors. That is a huge upgrade from Tyner who -- I repeat -- has no power whatsoever. Cabrera has superior plate discipline

The only way he becomes a real offensive asset is if he raises his BA another 20 points. And he's never hit like that at any point in the minors.

Huh? Did you not notice that he hit .385 in Triple-A in '06? In fact, he's only hit below .273 at one level in his entire career, despite being young everywhere, so I'd say it's safe to say .275 is about his floor. I think he could easily get into the .290-.300 range, at which point you're looking at some decent OPS numbers.

Cabrera has averaged 1 XBH per every 14 at-bats in his big-league career; Tyner has averaged 1 XBH per every 26 at-bats. Cabrera has drawn 99 walks in 286 major-league games, Tyner has drawn a total of 68 walks in 409 major-league games. I don't see how you can possibly claim that these players are equals when Cabrera has already accomplished so much more despite being seven years younger. The only advantage I can see with Tyner is that he's got better speed, but that doesn't even really do much considering that Cabrera has already proven himself as at least as much of a base-stealing threat.

Anonymous said...

The Twins Geek has officially jumped the shark.

John said...

For all the extr-base power that Cabrera brings to the position, his career slugging is .388. Tyner versus right-handers was .377.

Listen, I'm not saying that Tyner should be revered as a tiny little speedy god. But having a left-handed bat that can hit .300 agsint most relievers, get on base, steal bases at a high percentage and play center field IS AN ASSET. It's a legitmate weapon late in the game. Especially when you're paying him peanuts.

What's more, that's mostly how the Twins used him. I count 609 plate appearances as a Twin and only 21% of them were against lefties. He got more time in a corner outfield spot than I would like, but that was mostly because our two left fielders had been as healthy as tainted spinach the last two years. Oh, and the Metrodome's left field is cavernous.

I maintain that the vast majority of criticism leveled towards Tyner by Twins bloggers is nothing more than a holdover when the DRays considered him an everyday right fielder. And even that criticism wasn't totally fair. Tyner was a easy target for all kinds of little sabremetric morality plays, like
1) stolen bases are overvalued
2) corner OF spots should have power
3) OBP is more important than BA.

In Tampa Bay, Tyner became synonymous for 'terrible', when in fact he should have been synonymous for 'misused'. That wasn't the case with the Twins, or at least it wasn't when they didn't have guys spending months on the DL. I found, and continue to find, most of the criticism leveld towards him to be unbalanced. And based more on habit than substance.

Nick N. said...

Listen, I'm not saying that Tyner should be revered as a tiny little speedy god. But having a left-handed bat that can hit .300 agsint most relievers, get on base, steal bases at a high percentage and play center field IS AN ASSET. It's a legitmate weapon late in the game. Especially when you're paying him peanuts.

Okay TG, I can see why you value Tyner. But then let me pose this question: what's the point of keeping him around now that the Twins have Pridie in their organization? The two are essentially the same player. Pridie is (from what I've heard) a better defender in center field, and he's a better base-stealer. Granted, Pridie hasn't proven himself in the major-leagues yet, but there's no reason to think he couldn't be the same type of threat against RHP as Tyner was. In Double-A last year, Pridie had an .841 OPS vs. RHP; when he moved up to Triple-A, he had a .951 OPS vs. RHP. And as cheap as Tyner is, Pridie will be cheaper, and for longer. AND he actually has the legitimate potential to get an XBH every now and then.

John said...

Don't get me wrong - I'm excited to have Pridie in the organization. But he was mostly a non-prospect before last year. I know, I know, injurie, yadayadayada, and that was a hell of a year last year to be sure. But I'd still like to see more from him than one great summer.

Personally, I'd rather spend $1M to keep Tyner around than $4M to keep around Monroe. And, of course, paying Adam Everett $2.8M when they already are paying Punto $2.4M just kills me.

Anonymous said...

I think you are way underselling Everett's defensive prowess. The metrics all point to Everett being the best defensive shortstop in baseball. Equating Punto and Everett is beyond laughable.

Nick N. said...

Personally, I'd rather spend $1M to keep Tyner around than $4M to keep around Monroe. And, of course, paying Adam Everett $2.8M when they already are paying Punto $2.4M just kills me.

Payroll is not really a concern though, since they're going to be so far below budget anyway. There's just no point in having redundancies on the roster.

Of course, with that being the case, the Everett acquisition makes little sense.

ubelmann said...

I maintain that the vast majority of criticism leveled towards Tyner by Twins bloggers is nothing more than a holdover when the DRays considered him an everyday right fielder. And even that criticism wasn't totally fair. Tyner was a easy target for all kinds of little sabremetric morality plays, like
1) stolen bases are overvalued


Okay, who are you arguing against here, exactly? Tyner had 14 SB over three seasons. He wasn't some kind of stolen base machine, and he had a decent SB%. I know people who don't like high volume, inefficient base stealers, but who was writing about how Tyner's stolen bases were hurting the team?

2) corner OF spots should have power

This one is actually really simple. It's difficult to be a productive hitter without hitting for some power. If Tyner had a significantly above average OBP, it might make up for his lack of power. You'd rather simply turn your head and ignore his lack of power even though it clearly affects his value as a hitter.

It's not like we're talking about Doug Mientkiewicz in his prime here--a guy who was legitimately underrated because people overlooked his defense and OBP, while he hit for an average, not exceptionally low amount of power. We're talking about Jason Tyner here, who has a career OPS+ of 70.

3) OBP is more important than BA.

It is. We're not talking about someone like Ichiro Suzuki here who has such a high batting average that he automatically has very good OBP's.

You keep trying to make Tyner into some kind of case study for what is wrong with everyone but you. Sometimes a 4th outfielder is really just a 4th outfielder and not a battle against everything that ails sabermetrics.

"Isn't one Nick Punto enough?"

Apparently not for you:

.275/.314/.324 -- Jason Tyner, career
.245/.314/.321 -- Nick Punto, career

And both are overrated defenders.

John said...

Ublemann, you're misunderstanding me. What's more, you're arguing against something that Tyner hasn't been in his career in MN. So, congratulations. We get it. He's not a corner outfielder. He never was. Not here.

Tyner is a fourth outfielder at a minumum salary level who could play every OF position competently and get on-base against right-handers late in games. And yet you don't want to talk about this. You want to point out how he doesn't have any power. Again - we get it. Congrats. You've identified a 170 pound centerfielder as not likely to develop much power. See if you can find another one. Like, say, on the Yankees.

Ugh. Deep cleansing breath. This is way too combative for me. Let's try this again...

Again, Tyner was a backup CF who was paid close to the minimum, and a legitimate option to get on base late in games. And when he was on base, he was reliable. Maybe overly cautious lately, but not Lew-Ford kinda stupid. That's all he ever was. That's all the Twins wanted him to ever be.

So you tell me - why was he such a lighting rod for criticism? You and I both know that he had value - as I recall, just a few days ago you had him on the bench next year without any objection (though I admit, I had to skim that post).

I submit that he was criticized not because of what he provided, or even how he was used, but because he was an easy target for other, larger criticims for the Twins. Like Gardy's preference for clones of himself. Or the lack of power in the minor leagues. Or the aggressive baserunning that has hurt the Twins four of the last five years. Or the single-minded focus on pitching depth.

And Tyner was misused as an example for all kinds of these criticisms. For instance, he was cited as a black hole for power when, frankly, there aren't a lot of backup CFs that have power. In fact, if he did, we really would have something to criticize, because he should be starting.

The power criticism went farther. He was used to show the Twins inability to develop power throughout the organization. Despite the fact that he didn't start in the organization. In fact, if anything, his presence demonstrated an organizational strength in cherry-picking free talent from other organizations.

I feel like I could go on and on. Everytime I read a criticism of Tyner over the last two years, I had to ask myself exactly what the writer was looking for from a backup center fielder. And every time I read praise for Tyner - well, that didn't happen, did it?

In short, with respect to Tyner, I think the sabremetricians abandoned their baseball analyst hats and threw on their baseball evangelist robes. You're a pretty thorough analyst, and I would think that would piss you off as much as it does me. The coverage of him wasn't balanced, and it wasn't analytical. It was partisan and meant to drive home an agenda, or at least a paradigm of truth.

Or maybe it's just my paradigm that's offended, and I'm the partisan one. If so, so be it. I'm Ok with that, too.

ubelmann said...

Ubelmann, you're misunderstanding me. What's more, you're arguing against something that Tyner hasn't been in his career in MN. So, congratulations. We get it. He's not a corner outfielder. He never was. Not here.

What does it take to be a corner outfielder? Check out his record with the Twins:

118 G -- LF/RF
37 G -- CF
30 G -- DH

Tyner was used primarily, if not overwhelmingly, as a corner outfielder, and almost as often at DH as he was in CF.

I have no beef against Tyner, and personally I've gone out of my way to say that, and I've seen other bloggers do the same thing. He was just used inappropriately, and I think people really went out of their way to make it known they disliked his usage, or that having Ford and Tyner on the roster was redundant. I think it's totally fair to point out that Jason Tyner has shortcomings--real, meaningful shortcomings--and there's nothing special about him.

The Twins let go of Tyner when he cost more than the minimum. There's nothing wrong with that. Pridie will be just fine as the new Tyner.

For many, the lasting image of the 2006 postseason will be Mark Kotsay's "inside-the-park home run." For me, I'll remember that the Twins started Jason Tyner at DH twice while the A's started Frank Thomas, who went 5-10 with a double and two more home runs than Tyner had in his entire career to that point.

And Tyner was misused as an example for all kinds of these criticisms. For instance, he was cited as a black hole for power when, frankly, there aren't a lot of backup CFs that have power.

Most teams have backup corner outfielders with power that they can play in the corners or at DH. The Twins were repeatedly forced to put Tyner in a corner and at DH. That was a significant problem for the team over the last 2-3 years. Are all analysts supposed to ignore that because, in theory, Tyner is a backup CF?

In short, with respect to Tyner, I think the sabremetricians abandoned their baseball analyst hats and threw on their baseball evangelist robes.

I guess I missed that entirely. I saw people criticizing the Twins for poor roster construction, but maybe I was looking for what I wanted to see.

John said...

I hear you that he ended up in the corner OF spot too often, but my perception was that it was because the center fielder stayed relatively heatlth and the left fielder didn't. What's more, I can only be so critical of the roster construction that led to that.

The left fielders/DH/4th outfielders over the last two years were Jason Kubel and Rondell White with Jeff Cirllo and Shannon Stewart playing roles, too. And all four of them spent way too much time injured or recovering from injuries. The lesson that should be learned is that of the importance of everyday health, but while this was usually only mentioned, the gyst of the story was usually "Tyner sucks" or "Gardy luvs his clones" or "Twins eschew power".

Or at least that's my perception. And I gotta say, I hope you're right about Pridie, but let's not forget that:
1) last year was the first time he posted an 800+ OPS since low-A ball and
2) he has some health history issues, too.

If he's pressed into duty as much as Tyner was pressed into duty over the last two years, I wouldn't be shocked if our memories of Tyner improve significantly.