Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Horror Show

As I follow the reports of the Twins' on-going discussions with Casey Blake's agent, I feel like I'm watching a cheap horror movie. You know, the type that makes you want to yell things at the screen, like:

"Don't split up!" or
"Don't get out of the car!" or
"Don't guarantee him 3 years!"

Blake is 35. He's not going to get any better, and will probably get worse. Over the past 3 seasons, he has averaged an .803 OPS, 31 doubles, 2 triples, 19 HR, 49 BB, (8 HBP), and 112 K. For his career as a 3B, he has a .952 fielding percentage and .749 zone rating. Those are the numbers we can expect from Blake - though a decline is likely the further he gets into his 30s.

As Aaron Gleeman and I simultaneously concluded a few weeks ago, the Brian Buscher/Brendan Harris platoon can be expected to match that production. Buscher had a .799 OPS vs. RHP last year, Harris has a career .800 OPS vs. LHP, with 8 doubles, 0.3 triples, 2 HR, 10 BB and 20 K per 100 AB. It's tough to project Buscher based on only 300 MLB ABs, but he put up about 6 doubles and 6 HR with about an 11/10 BB/K rate vs. RHP at AAA. Give Harris 200 ABs and Buscher 350, and it's not hard to see them matching Blake's numbers. Last year, Buscher had a .938 fielding percentage and .774 zone rating; Harris is at .949 and .753 for his career.

Basically, Bill Smith is proposing to pay Blake $6 million a year to do no better than Buscher and Harris will do for league minimum. That's a bad idea by itself - but it gets worse! The Twins have a guy in Rochester named Luke Hughes. He's a RH batter with decent power and a so-so glove at 3B. He's been spending about a year and a half at each level of the minors, meaning he should be MLB ready by 2010. And then there's Danny Valencia, recently named the Twins' #5 prospect by Baseball America. He's also a RH batter with good pop and an OK glove. He's in AA now, and will probably be ready to join the Twins by 2011. Should a fading Casey Blake get paid $6 million/year to stand in front of both those guys?

Signing Blake for 2009 is probably not worth it. Having him around in 2010 is almost certainly not worth it. Having him around in 2011 is definitely not worth it. You might as well shovel money on the fire. Or throw it out the window. Or take a crap on it. Don't do it, Bill! Let the Dodgers keep him - they've shown that they're more than happy to plug aging players in front of their young prospects (Nomar Garciaparra, Andruw Jones, Jeff Kent). If you want to upgrade third base, that's great, but actually upgrade it!

In other news, Gardy has leaked that he thinks next year's starting OF should be Michael Cuddyer, Denard Span and Carlos Gomez. Wrong! Unless Gomez magically figures out how to shorten his swing or lay off pitches out of the strike zone, he's not good enough to play in the Major Leagues at all, let alone displace Delmon Young. Gomez was one of the 5 worst hitters in the league last year. Young, though not as good as advertised, hit .290 and showed improvement over the course of the season. At this point, giving up Young's spot in the lineup to Gomez costs the Twins about 80 points of OPS. Young's BB/K ratio: 1/3. Gomez': almost 1/6! Don't start Gomez, Gardy! Eeeeeeeek!

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