Monday, December 28, 2009

Mark DeRosa: MLB Swiss Army knife

Turns 35 in February. Became a full-time player in 2006 with the Rangers, making 59 starts in RF, 40 starts at 3B, and 26 starts at 2B. His 2008 slash line with the Cubs .285/.376/.481 (117 OPS+) is better than all 2009 Giants not named Sandoval. He had 80 starts at 2B, 53 in the OF, and 10 at 3B that year, his career best (.376 wOBA in 593 plate appearances), and was worth about 3.8 WAR.

Obviously we like his versatility. He seems like the ideal Boch/Sabes player--grizzled vet, some pop, a post-season resumé, NL pedigree, can play different spots, and hits anywhere in the lineup. It would be nice if it were a younger player with upside, but that's not our way. At least, not with position players. I like our young pitchers and their upside, but this "one-Aaron-Rowand-at-a-time" philosophy of lineup construction is a teeth-gritting affair. Aaron Rowand's career line? Glad you asked: .280/.339/.448 for a .788 OPS and 102 OPS+. And now Mr. DeRosa's: .275/.343/.424 for a .767 OPS and 97 OPS+. Toss in FSanchez and that is the very definition of "league average." In fact, the NL last season had an average line of .259/.330/.409, only a .739 OPS, so we've got surplus of average we can spread around!

I've been whining all along that we need at least a "league-average" offense to win. This assumes, of course, that our awesome pitching remains awesome. I don't abide by the "bloop-double-and-two-productive-out" school of run-scoring. Sure, it's cute and perky and all that, but three-run HRs are a LOT better, no matter how boring they are. So I think we need another serious bat to complement Sandoval. Matt Holliday just might have to take a 3-year, $40 M deal instead of the 6-year $80 M payday he says he wants, and if that happens there is no reason why the Giants couldn't court him. But I figure we'll sign Juan Uribe. He can play short if/when Renteria goes down, and can handle the other three IF spots. DeRosa would work in LF, assuming Lewis gets dumped and Project Velez is abandoned. That would give Olympic Nate his shot in RF, and we could keep Panda at 3B and give Ishikawa the bulk of the time at 1B. Fielding is important, and DeRosa would likely contribute better with the glove in LF than anywhere else, he's known as a below-average infielder.

Other than that, Swiss Army knives are pretty cool. I mean, when you are backpacking you can't carry a freakin' toolbox so you have to have a half-assed scissors, a half-assed carving knife, a half-assed Phillips-head screwdriver, and a half-assed file. Having them in one convenient package is very cool. (Personally, I'm a Leatherman guy, but that's a quibble.) But if you had a choice, would you buy a proper tool for each task or just a bunch more Swiss Army knives? The Giants are going the multiple Swiss Army knife route here, I think, in their continuing quest for "league-average." I'm reminded of that old saw: careful what you wish for.


JC Parsons said...

There are so many ways that this move is not a joyous occassion:
1. DeRosa's biggest value is his versatility yet I bet money he gets installed at third.
2. What about Uribe? Aren't these guys clones (except for price)? Right down to the "great clubhouse guy" tag. Does this mean they figure Renteria can't make the team? Why get two utility guys? Isn't Velez also a utility guy?
3. I am sad that we pay so much for such OLD AVERAGE guys (Zito, Rowand,Renteria, and now, DeRosa) when we probably have YOUNG AVERAGE guys that are blocked.
4. Basically DeRosa is taking Garko's roster spot. Sure, Mark is better, but is he Alderson and 10 million better?
5. 35 is really old...can we really expect a career year? Isn't Uribe quite younger?

I could go on but it is depressing. Perhaps the saddest part is that it is an improvement...sigh

Zo said...

Zito is not old, nor is he average. I would have expected Jon to be a little less negative, especially after the last post about addition by not subtracting. Sure DeRosa is not exciting. But did you really expect exciting? Exciting means, bye Matt, or bye Tim, maybe bye Jonathan and Madison. Did you want exciting? But less negative is not our style here at RMC. All negativity all the time. Of course we can find fault. After all DeRosa is not a premier hitter, but of course if he was, he would not cost $6 mil/yr. And we would complain about that. If the Giants had not been a sort-of contender last year, they may have been emboldened to do something splashier. Splashier is sometimes just thrashing about in no particular direction. I'm not thrilled with DeRosa either, but he is *exactly* what I expected.

M.C. O'Connor said...

Zito would be earning his money if he were "league average." Alas, that is the best we can expect from him going forward. He's not old, as you say. We will get 120 more starts out of this guy before he retires or becomes a journeyman middle reliever. It's a reason for negativity--our commitment to him seriously handicaps our ability to spend money on other talent.

Of course DeRosa is what we "expect." That does not make it any more palatable. The price will come down for Matt Holliday--I think we should go after him. WE NEED ANOTHER REAL BAT in the lineup, and I don't mean Dan Uggla. But the Giants will cry poor-mouth after the arb hearings and we'll be stuck with another agonizing season of 3-2 games and quick at-bats.

We obviously believe we are the Second Coming of Sandy Koufax and the 1965 Dodgers. They didn't have shit for offense but won the whole thing. We think the weakened NL West is ripe for the taking with 88-92 wins, which we'll squeak out 3.6 runs/game scored to 3.4 runs/game allowed. We don't go after hitting because we don't think we need it. We believe our pitching is so good all other NL teams will quake at the thought of facing us in the post-season.

I think you have to have some hitting. I think the Giants are cheapskates and are afraid to cut into their revenue stream. They know they need offense but they are going to pass off a Swiss Army knife for a K-Bar.

We don't have to trade Cain or Sanchez. We shouldn't, either. What we should do is get new management, but that's not part of the plan either. The window to win with Tim and Matt and Pablo is only a few seasons, then it will be gone. We are poised to piss it away.

I don't want to feel this way, but I do. Sabes and Co. have yet to convince me otherwise. That might change, and I hope it does. And if I'm wrong I'm prepared to publicly eat crow and be mocked by others. In fact, I'd look forward to it.

Bob said...

Fact check:
Three runs homers are not boring.

Ron said...

If ever there was a statement about this organization's easy to predict commitment to mediocrity, this is it. The Mark DeRosa signing ... one big totally expected yawn from up here. Not even a very big upgrade in the OBP Dep't., plus he fails to put the ball in play 20% of his AB's (lifetime). I want something interesting to happen to this team ... still waiting.

M.C. O'Connor said...

Jason Bay signed with the Mets for 4 years and $66 M. I think giving almost any player more than a 3-year deal is a mistake, but Bay is pretty solid and I expect he'll deliver the HRs and RBIs the Mets want. It would be nice to have a bat like his on our team. This signing, I think, makes Holliday more likely to get his 5 years and $80+ M. I would hate to see the Giants take that kind of plunge. I was hoping the market would fall for sluggers, as it seemed pretty soft so far, but the Mets were determined to throw money and they did. The Giants are still smarting from their Minaya-esque ejaculations (otherwise known as the Zito and Rowand signings), so I expect we'll take a pass on Holliday. He'd be a great acquisition, but no one other than Tim Lincecum is worth a long-term deal.

Supposedly we are going to get "another bat," but I don't think anyone is out there now that we've gobbled up DeRosa and Uribe. If we had a good lineup, I'd love those signings. Both those players are versatile and have some pop. But they will likely play full-time for us.