Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Outside the Box, Part 5: Dan Uggla Instead of Bay

If the Mets are really hurting for some power in the lineup, and are hell-bent on acquiring some, then they should trade for Dan Uggla instead of signing Jason Bay. And they should play Uggla in left field or outright bench Castillo.

Jason Bay and Dan Uggla have a LOT in common. Bay is the better hitter, don't get me wrong, but they are much more similar than you would think, based on how they are discussed in the media.

Here is a comparison of the two players stats over the last four years in some important categories:

Plate Appearances: Bay 2611, Uggla 2698
Home Runs: Bay 123, Uggla 121
RBI: Bay 413, Uggla 360
Strikeouts: Bay 596, Uggla 611
Batting Line: Bay .272/.371/.503, Uggla .257/.344/.482

The major difference between the two is that over that time, Uggla walked 285 times to Bay's 336. That's 50 walks over four seasons. Twelve walks a year. Less than one walk every ten games.

Both are bad defenders, but Bay is far worse in left field than Uggla is at second base. We looked at Bay last week, where we discovered that:
Jason Bay is a horrendous defensive outfielder... 'His defense is so bad in such a non-premium defensive position that he was merely a replacement level player in 2007 when his bat disappeared.' (Fangraphs)

His fielding ratings over the last three years were -11.5, -18.4, and -13.0. Carlos Lee, a big man with a bad defensive reputation, has only posted rates of -4.4 and -5.4 the last two seasons. Bay is way worse."

Over the last three years, Uggla was -11.3, -2.0, and -9.6 at second base. Not stellar, to be sure, but with his bat he was still worth an average of $12 million per year because second base is such a difficult position to play and because his hitting was so good.

The most recent rumor involving Uggla, on December 18th, had him going to the Giants for a package surrounding mercurial lefthander Jonathan Sanchez. Sanchez, of course, is like a lefthanded Oliver Perez -- he walked 4.8 batters per nine innings last season, but also threw a no-hitter. He is young and cost controlled, and would have made a good addition for the Marlins.

Could the Mets match a package like that? They would probably be hesitant to -- but since the Marlins are primarily concerned with cutting costs, they might be able to acquire Uggla for a couple of low minor leaguers and avoid trading any of their hotter prospects.

If the Mets were to trade for Uggla, they could play him in left field and he would probably not be any worse than Bay is. Or, if they were uncomfortable with that plan, they could put him at second and bench Castillo. Castillo could then continue to be floated in trade offers.

Over the last three years, Uggla has hit 31, 32, and 31 home runs. He's got real power, which would likely translate just fine to Citifield -- for his career, he has more home runs at home in spacious Dolphin Stadium than he does on the road.

If the Mets are dead-set on making an acquisition which will improve their power, Uggla is just as good as Bay. Uggla isn't the hitter that Bay is, but he plays a MUCH more difficult defensive position and can be had in a trade. Uggla is also two years younger than Bay and will not require a $65 million dollar commitment.


Mr Cab said...

Definitely bench Castillo as soon as they get a second basemen. Out of all the dissapointments in 09, watching the replacement second basemen for 2 weeks play terrible second base is up there.

Anonymous said...

I've got to disagree with this move. I like Uggla, I really do, but Bay has much more value for the mets then Uggla does. First off, a shitty defensive 2nd basemen is much worse to have then a shitty LFer, for obvious reasons. Secondly, who is the mets 3rd outfielder without bay? A (far too young) F-mart? Angel Pagan? I dunno. Meanwhile, the much maligned Castillo is actually a decent weapon at 2nd. For a position not known for its offense, he had almost a .400 OBP last year, which is nothing to shake a stick at. Not to mention he takes a ton of pitches (he consistently leads the league in pitches taken per at bat), which is really helpful when you hit after the steal happy Reyes. I'd rather have Castillo and Bay in my lineup next year then Uggla and some random idiot in left.

Brian said...

I agree with a lot of what you are saying, Anon, but you gotta look at the whole picture. While I may also prefer Castillo/Bay to Uggla/Pagan for this year, there is more to it than that.

It's Castillo and Bay at a huge cost, at least $16 million a year for four or FIVE years.

Or Uggla and whomever, with Uggla making somewhere in the neighborhood of $7 million and not being eligible for free agency. That's $11 million extra which can be spent somewhere else.

So although I might prefer Castillo/Bay to the above, I would MOST prefer Uggla/Pagan/Sheets, or Uggla/Pagan/Pineiro/Capps, etc.