Tuesday, January 18, 2005

I Can't Think of Any Pedro Feliz Puns

I've been very busy, so my apologies for not posting for the past week. I'll try to get some in-depth stuff up about the Gagne and Izturis deals soon, but in the mean time I've got a little polemic about a different NL West signing.

Brian Sabean recently inked Pedro Feliz, and here's the requisite reportage that raised my eyebrows:

The 29-year-old Feliz, considered to be one of the team's key players for the future, gets a $200,000 signing bonus and will earn base salaries of $2,225,000 in 2005 and $3,625,000 in 2006. He can also make an additional $450,000 in bonuses each season based on plate appearances, and his 2006 salary could rise to as high as $4.1 million, depending on plate appearances this year.

Giants general manager Brian Sabean and manager Felipe Alou are committed to trying to find a starting spot for Feliz this year. They believe he's ready to be an everyday player.

Feliz hit .276 with 22 homers and 84 RBI last season, playing regularly for the first time, and made $925,000. Alou had promised him 400 at-bats, but Feliz finished with 503 and Alou sees him as a 600-650 at-bat player who can drive in more than 100 runs a season.

He played 70 games at first base last season, 51 at third, 20 at shortstop and two each in left and right field.

Feliz is primarily a third baseman, and despite the friendly triple crown stats his offensive value is fairly limited because walks:Feliz::flyballs:Lowe. His offense has been pretty much league average, which makes him a below average offensive contributor at the corners. His defense is, based on most evaluations I'm familiar with, hovering just above average.

For all of this, Feliz makes $2.425 this season and $3.625 in 2006, with up to $450K per season in plate appearance-based incentives.

Now, I'm not the biggest Edgardo Alfonzo or J.T. Snow fan, but Feliz is hardly an upgrade over either one of them, and I have no clue how a player of his caliber and age can be considered "one of the team's key player's of the future." Well, I take that back: if your methods of performance analysis are limited to the triple crown stats and if you think the average player's prime is ages 36-39, then this deal makes some sense, and that may more or less represent the world Brian Sabean is functioning in.

If Feliz is a regular, then he makes $6.9m for two seasons. That, by itself, doesn't look too bad; the general rule is that a league average regular makes $4 million per, and it's not unreasonable for a 40th percentile kind of player like Feliz to be making $3.4 per. That is, unless you own exclusive negotiating rights, in which case it's ridiculous. By contrast, the Dodgers signed Jose Valentin, a similar low OBP high SLG offensive performer whose offensive projection is roughly the same (with the obvious caveat that it's more walk and less single driven). Valentin, however, also has the distinction of being one of the best defensive players in baseball. Even if it's fiated that Valentin has to be used at third instead of shortstop, Valentin should be earning more, but his 2005 salary will exceed Feliz' average annual cost over the next two seasons by between $475K and $25K, depending on Feliz' playing time. Valentin was a free agent; Feliz was offered his contract to buy out his arbitration seasons. There's no way that, given the circumstances, Feliz should be making roughly the same amount.

Now, it's also true that we might expect Feliz and Valentin to make about the same amount because Feliz possesses overvalued skills and a good chunk of Valentin's skill set is undervalued. That, however, is not a reason to pay full price on Feliz; even if the arbitors are to get gooey-eyed from Feliz's triple crown stats and "youth", that doesn't mean the Giants have to pay for him. Non-tender him and move along. Finding a right handed corner infielder on the cheap who will give you league average is pretty darn easy.

What's more is that overpaying for Feliz is largely a result of the Giants' uberveteran philosophy. If their infield had a higher health index than that of Snow, Durham, Vizquel, and Durham, they wouldn't need to spend a lot for the first guy off the bench. Instead, they've pursued a strategy that typically requires both slightly overpaying veterans in free agency and having to overpay for young backups. There's somewhat less risk involved in this strategy because a major injury will have limited effect, but it requires overpaying all around. Given that the Giants are apparently quite restricted financially, it's not a strategy that makes a lot of sense to me. It's with its merits, but I wouldn't recommend it.

Also isn't alot of Feliz's production attributed to the protection of Bonds? Take Bonds out of the lineup and does Feliz really hit anything? SLG% is suppossed to be the under valued commodity on the market, i guess the Gnats didnt get the memo.
Actually, studies have shown that the so-called protection effect doesn't actually help a hitter. Check out sabernomics.com if you want the details.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?