Tuesday, December 14, 2004

More Pierzysnki

In my last Pierzynski post, I said I wasn't sure he'd be worth trading for. I had assumed at the time that the Giants would put him on the block; I wasn't expecting them to waive him. Now that he's on waivers, the equation is different.

Before: does (Pierzynski) + (Rose/Wilson) -$4,200,000 -$320,000 = 2(Rose/Ross/Wilson) - 2($320,000) - (Carrara) ?

Now: does (Pierzynski) + (Rose/Ross/Wilson) -$4,200,000 -$320,000 = 2(Rose/Ross/Wilson) - 2($320,000) ?

To be honest, I don't know exactly why I suggested Giovanni Carrara as an example of someone who could be traded; I really couldn't think of who the Dodgers could offer that fits SF's paradigm.

How to answer this? Well, I used Tangotiger's formula for linear weights rate runs created, which should be a good approximation of value. I have ZiPS data for Mike Rose, Dave Ross, and Tom Wilson, but I don't have it for Pierzynski. So to compile A.J.'s numbers, I took his 2005 stats, converted his two triples into doubles, converted one of his HBP into an out, took away one home run, and made his batting average on balls in play equal .300. Some would call that arbitrary; I'd prefer the term ad hoc adjustment.

Using these numbers, per 650 plate appearances, Pierzynski is good for 76.6 runs, Wilson 73.6, Rose 73.3, and Ross 66.3. A combo of Pierzynski and Wilson would thus fare best offensively, and they'd be platooned. That would mean about 225 PA for Wilson and 450 for Pierzynski, with Wilson's numbers improving since he'd face mostly southpaws. Wilson actually has a very big platoon split, so I adjusted his numbers up to 85 RC/650 PA. Their combined total, then, is 82.5 runs over 675 plate appearances. Pierzynski's defense is pretty average, and Wilson's is fairly poor, so that duo would be about 5 runs below average, so we'll credit them with 77.5 runs.

Mike Rose is a switch-hitter, so a Rose/Wilson platoon could also optimize Wilson's production. However, I don't know what Rose's left/right splits are, so I'll be conservative and use Wilson's overall numbers. With the same 225/450 split, they'd provide 76.2 runs over 675 PA. I don't have any substantial data on Rose's defense; I've heard it's not bad, so let's pencil him in for -5 runs, bringing this duo's total to 66 runs.

Ross' defense isn't good enough to make up the gap vis-a-vis that duo, so I didn't run the data for him.

Based on this, it looks like Pierzynski's marginal value relative to what the Dodgers have on hand is about one and a half wins. Not bad, but given the likely size of his contract in arbitration, probably not worth it. Three million for an extra win is a poor investment. Now, there are other intangibles involved: Tracy might not entrust the job to Mike Rose and/or Tom Wilson, fans might not appreciate Rose/Wilson, and so forth. However, Pierzynski isn't exactly an Intangibles All-Star, either, so I don't think that's grounds for a decision. Moreover, ZiPS is certainly not the end-all, be-all of future performance, so you can take this analysis with a pinch of pepper. That being said, I think ZiPS' projections for Rose and Wilson are pretty reasonable, and the margin of reasonable error is not large enough to make Pierzynski a prudent investment.

I think, all told, that Pierzynski is likely undervalued. However, the Dodgers have done a good job of amassing talent that is even more undervalued already, and the extra money for Pierzynski would be better off helping out the pitching staff.

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