Monday, October 20, 2008

Diabolical genius Billy Beane strikes again - Mark Ellis re-signs with A's

In my series off offseason recommendations posts, I advocated taking a serious look at free agent 2B Mark Ellis of the A's. I touted him as a slick fielding, about average hitter who would come cheaper than Orlando Hudson. Alas, it is not to be - Ellis has re-upped with the A's for 2 more years, with a club option for a 3rd. He stands to make $5.5 million per year.

Dave Cameron at Fangraphs and the great U.S.S. Mariner posted today about what a great bargain this signing is for Oakland. He conveys some high level statistical analysis involving fielding statistics, and sums everything as he writes:

"Mark Ellis just signed for about $1.67 million per win. This is one of the best free agent bargains in the history of baseball. In an environment where Ellis’ skillset was properly valued and he had a desire to test the market, he should have gotten about three times what he signed for."

He's totally right. First off, this signing shows how wise Billy Beane is to not let Ellis make it to the free agent market. Second, he makes a valid point about how undervalued defense is in the baseball player marketplace. Most fans view defensive ability as an added bonus - if a great offensive player is a good defender, that's a plus. If not, then who cares? He can make it up with his bat right? Most advanced defensive metrics (Dewan's +/-, RZR, FRAA) say this is wrong, and defense can be quantified almost as accurately as offense can.

The undervaluing of defense has lead the casual fan to severely underrate a player like Carlos Beltran, and overrate a player like Manny Ramirez. I've posted on this already, but be warned Mets fans: Manny, by all accounts, is the worst OF in baseball. Playing poor defense costs a team runs, just as good hitting adds runs. If he is already the worst right now, do we really want him 3 years from now when the only thing on his mind is 600 (700?) home runs and how quickly he can hit the beach when the season ends?


Dawn said...

rey ordonez

Mets Tailgate said...

The Mets could've used Rey Ordonez's annual September homerun this year that's for sure. Rey hit 1 homer a year from 1996-1999, and all were in September.

Andrewdejo said...

The best move for the mets this off-season is clearly to somehow aquire Victor Zambrano and just trade him straight up for Scott Kazmir.

Mets Tailgate said...

Step 1 in the scenario is feasible as Victor is available.

Step 2 might be tough.

Seriously - wtf were the Mets thinking?!?! Hilarity from Victor's wikipedia page: "Zambrano has a good repertoire and he pitches aggressively, using his 92-95 MPH sinking fastball, a changeup, and occasionally a quality slider."

Victor's best Major League season (2003):
188.1 IP, 4.21 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 1.25 K/BB, 6.31 K/9. And his .265 BABIP suggests he got lucky that year. These stats are OK for a #4 or #5 pitcher. What made Mets execs trade their best pitching prospect???

Mike Newman said...

I like Ellis well enough. I just don't know how much money I'm willing to give a guy who plays about 120 games a season. If he was a lock for 150+ I'd say give him the cash!

Bobby said...

I think this scene would work out nicely in Tampa tonight.

Throwing out the first pitch at game 1 of the world series none other than Victor Zambrano.

Standing behind Victor on the mound could be Rick Peterson to work on his mechanics in order to "fix him in 10 minutes" should anything go wrong.

Former Mets GM Jim Duquette could set up behind the plate to catch the pitch from Zambrano

and Al Lieter and John Franco can select the music that is playing at the time (both of whom apparently complained about Kazmir's attitude to their buddy Mr Wilpon when Kazmir went into the lockeroom in spring training and changed the radio station).

That trade obviously still makes me sick

Andrewdejo said...

Although I know it was Duquette who ultimately made the move, I still like to blame Steve Phillips for every major Mets blunder.

Seriously Phillips! What were you thinking trading Nolan Ryan!?!?!?