Rob Johnson (SDP). Most backup catchers hit fairly lightly, it’s true, so the Padres probably aren’t too upset at his complete lack of production, but it’s pretty rare that a Major League Baseball player has an AVG, OBP, and SLG under 250. If Johnson’s slugging falls five points, that’s exactly what he’ll be. Beyond that, he’s lost 0.2 wins defensively. Not a good combination.
Dioner Navarro (LAD). Johnson’s neighbor to the north, Navarro isn’t putting up much better numbers – especially considering he’s had two seasons with an OPS+ of 100 or better, and his 94 OPS+ in his previous stint in Los Angeles (2005). If he continues on his current pace, he will post his third consecutive negative-WAR season since his All-Star year, 2008. Unlike Johnson, however, Navarro has a positive dWAR, so at least there’s that.
Aubrey Huff (SFG). Those of you who remember watching Huff struggle in Houston in 2006, only to turn around and have a couple of strong seasons in Baltimore, already know that he is an often-frustrating player to watch. Imagine, then, Giants fans – who saw Huff post 5 Wins Above Replacement last year, only to put together a -1.3 bWAR so far this season. He’s done it by slugging worse than he ever has in his career, but the real damage has been done on defense, where he’s lost 1.2 wins.
Lyle Overbay (PIT). When the Pirates signed Overbay to a $5-million deal this offseason, they likely weren’t expecting the .230/.306/.356 line he’s put together so far this year, or the seven errors he’s accumulated at the halfway point of the season.
Jorge Cantu (SDP). Even with an offensive decline in 2010, Cantu looked like a solid offseason pickup for the Padres, who was expected to platoon at first base with Brad Hawpe and backup Chase Headley at third for the Friars. But after watching him stumble to a .194/.232/.285 line through 155 plate appearances, the Padres requested release waivers for him on June 21.
Bill Hall (HOU/SFG). Arguably the Astros’ biggest offseason acquisition, Hall’s tenure with the team only lasted 46 games, during which he hit just .224/.272/.340 before he was released from the worst team in baseball. The Giants, no doubt thinking that Hall deserved another chance after the 104 OPS+ he put up in 2010 with the Boston Red Sox. It’s still only 12 games into his San Francisco career, but he’s already lost almost half (0.4) of the Wins he lost in almost four times as many games in Houston.
Dan Uggla (ATL). Uggla is a two-time All-Star, and finished third in the ROY voting in 2006. Last season, he won a Silver Slugger award and finished in the top twenty in MVP voting. This season, he’s hitting just .175/.241/.330 while remaining the butcher in the field he’s been his entire career.
Wilson Valdez (PHI). Certainly, starting Valdez at second base thirty-one times wasn’t Plan A for the Phillies, but it hasn’t exactly hurt in their quest to be the best team in baseball, despite the 0.6 wins he’s lost for them, mostly on the defensive side of the ball.
Casey McGehee (MIL). After two consecutive seasons with an OPS+ well over 100, McGehee looked to be one of the rising stars in Milwaukee, but he’s struggled so far this season, posting just a .221/.272/.305 line, and is on pace to hit just half as many home runs as he did in 2009, his career low (16) – far off of the 23 he hit last season.
Chris Johnson (HOU). Johnson hasn’t exactly hit poorly this season, though he hasn’t hit particularly well, either. He’s well off of the pace he set his rookie season, dropping 65 points in batting average; 53 points in on-base percentage; and 88 points in slugging percentage. But he’s third among NL third basemen in errors, which has helped him lose an amazing 1.6 wins on defense alone.
Jose Lopez (COL/FLA). Another former All-Star, Lopez struggled mightily at the plate in his first season for Colorado – so much so (.208/.233/.288) that the Rockies released him. Enter the Marlins, who picked him up after his release. It took just twelve games, during which he performed even worse (.103/.161/.138) for them than he did for Colorado, before Florida decided to designate Lopez for assignment.
Yuniesky Betancourt (MIL). Sure, the right side of the Brewers’ infield are starting the All-Star game for the National League, but between Betancourt and McGehee, the other half of the infield holds down the fort in the All-Bergen team.
Edgar Renteria (CIN). 1996 ROY runner-up, 5-time All-Star, two-time MVP top twenty candidate, two-time Gold Glove winner, 3-time Silver Slugger. But his tenure in Cincinnati has been less than stellar. Just 1 home run through 150 plate appearances, a .315 OBP, and a .282 SLG is far off of his pace.
Raul Ibanez (PHI). Prior to 2011, Ibanez had posted 10 straight seasons with an OPS+, so the 84 he’s put together so far this year is pretty surprising. In fact, it’s his lowest since 2000, the last year of his first stint in Seattle. He’s on pace to lose as many wins this year defensively as last (1.2,) but is also on pace to drop his oWAR by 2.5.
Tyler Colvin (CHC). Colvin was a pleasant surprise last year in Chicago, so they can be forgiven for thinking that he would continue to grow and flourish. But he’s dropped more than 400 points in OPS this season, which hasn’t offset his improved defense. He’s currently on pace to hit one-fifth as many home runs this year as he did last year. The upside is that Colvin is just 25 this year, and has plenty of time to return to form.
Ryan Spilborghs (COL). Spilborghs has quietly put together a nice career in Colorado, including three seasons with an OPS+ over 100. He’s well off the pace this season this year, however, down in almost every offensive category and losing almost as many wins (.04) defensively as offensively (0.5).
Willie Bloomquist (ARI). What’s always amazing to me isn’t that Willie Bloomquist continues to struggle as a Major League player, but rather that he continues to get chances. The 85 OPS+ he posted last year (split between Cincinnati and Kansas City) was the highest of his career; he has a career .652 OPS; and he’s had a negative dWAR in almost every professional season in which he’s played.
Mark Kotsay (MIL). The 35-year-old Kotsay is down over a hundred points from his career OPS this season, and after posting his worst statistical season of his career in 2010, he’s brought it down even farther this year.
Willie Harris (NYM). Harris has traditionally hit fairly lightly, but this year he’s not hitting too poorly. Unfortunately, his defense has declined in recent years. He had -0.2 dWAR in 2009, -0.3 in 2010, and -0.4 so far this year.
Jerry Sands (LAD). Just 23 years old, Sands has been pressed into service this year for the Dodgers, largely because of a number of injuries they’ve faced. Sands has been a superstar in the minors, however, belting 35 home runs last year between Great Lakes and Chattanooga. He’s a bright star on Los Angeles’ horizon, but his Major League season in 2011 has been far less than stellar.
Eric Patterson (SDP). Patterson hit just .214 in 2010 between Oakland and Boston, but apparently the Padres saw enough potential in him to make him the Player To Be Named Later in the Adrian Gonzalez trade. Through 103 plate appearances, he was hitting just .180/.272/.292, and was designated for assignment on June 9 before he could do any more damage.
Up next: AL Pitchers.
Yankees superstar Alex Rodriguez will probably require surgery. When that surgery is going to take place seems to be the only consideration. With a fairly long recovery time, the Yankees are stuck with a third baseman who will be limited if he plays in the field, and DH is not necessarily an option, depending on whether or not Jorge Posada can catch.
The Dominican Republic’s team in the WBC seems as though it’s comfortable playing Astros shortstop Miguel Tejada at third base to cover for Rodriguez. My question is this:
Might the Yankees be interested in doing the same thing?
At some point – probably 2010 – Tejada is likely to become an everyday third baseman if he wants his Major League career to continue. The Yankees, if they were to lose Rodriguez’s production at third, suddenly find themselves behind the 8-Ball. There aren’t many third basemen who would even approach Rodriguez’s numbers. Though Tejada isn’t quite A-Rod at the plate, he’s a much better option than any currently-available free agent third basemen, and he comes with just one year left on his contract.
Many opinions are floating on the best way to replace Rodriguez, should the Yankees opt to do that. One of the more intriguing ones has 2B Robinson Cano moving to third base, and the Yankees acquiring either a free agent second baseman like Mark Grudzielanek or Ray Durham, or trading for a second baseman. Popular opinion puts Florida’s Dan Uggla at the top of this list.
But Uggla’s likely to come with a high price tag. The Marlins covet prospects, and the Yankees have quite a few that may interest them. Pitchers Phil Hughes and Austin Jackson are commonly referred to.
What I wonder, though, is if Tejada might entice the Bronx Bombers as an option. His albatross contract, which is currently strangling the Astros’ payroll, would be a drop in the bucket to the Yankees. He provides good defense and a solid bat for their lineup, and would no doubt cost less in prospects than would Uggla.
The Astros’ needs are simple, and they begin with starting pitching. In 2008, the Scranton-Wilkes Barre Yankees had a nice crop of pitchers that helped them place first in the North Division of the International League: Hughes, Jackson, Kei Igawa, Daniel McCutcheon, Ian Kennedy, Jeff Karstens. The list goes on, but that is a group of pitchers who logged at least 60 innings with ERAs under 4 and WHIPs under 1.20.
Assuming that the Astros want a pitcher on the younger side, under the age of 28, McCutcheon, Kennedy, and Karstens have to look mighty enticing. Unfortunately, McCutcheon and Karstens were sent to the Pirates in the Xavier Nady–Damaso Marte deal in July. That leaves Ian Kennedy, as well as some more marginal options, including 24-year-old righty Jeff Marquez, Alfredo Aceves, Phil Coke, and Zachary Kroenke, as well as youngsters Dellin Betances, Zachary McAllister, and Mark Melancon.
You can almost pick and choose any two on the list, though it’s highly unlikely the Yanks would part with Coke, who figures to be a big part of their bullpen at some point this year. Melancon, who spent time in A+, AA, and AAA ball in 2008, combined to go 8-1 with 3 saves in 95 IP, 2.27 ERA, 0.958 WHIP, 89 K, 22 BB. In my eyes, he’s easily the most intriguing option. He’ll be 24 this year, and could make a case to break into the Astros’ rotation if things falter and he stays on his current path.
The Astros would also likely want a pitcher who could pitch in the majors this year as a starter, which would be questionable for Melancon, but the Yankees are short on pitchers they might actually deal. Certainly, they won’t be giving away C.C. Sabathia, Joba Chamberlin, Andy Pettitte, A.J. Burnett, or Chien-Ming Wang without a return greater than Tejada. But what they might part with is a non-roster invitee like Brett Tomko. Tomko would be someone who might pitch a little bit at the big league level until Melancon is ready, probably in 2010.
In addition, the Astros would need to find someone to fill the gap left by Tejada. Drew Sutton, Edwin Maysonet, and Tommy Manzella would enter that debate, along with Geoff Blum. Let’s assume that Chris Johnson will become the full-time starter at third base at some point this season. I don’t think it’s unfair to ask the Yankees to send someone who can play both shortstop and third base, and they have a former Astro that fits that bill in Cody Ransom
Because Ransom would primarily be a bench utilityman, Tomko is a flyer, and Melancon would probably need time to develop, the Yankees would have to add another prospect – perhaps switch-hitting second baseman Reegie Corona – to sweeten the deal.
So there you have it: Tomko, Melancon, Ransom, and Corona for Miguel Tejada. Certainly a fair deal for the Yankees, and the Astros receive some prospects and some middling major leaguers, while ditching Tejada’s contract. The Yankees get a proven hitter who can play third base and not require them to move their established infielders around, and it would cost them a lot less than Uggla would. Sounds like a plan; let’s make it happen.