Friday, December 03, 2010

Fonzie Forever's 2009 Non-Tender Candidates Review

Before I start taking a look at the 2010 non-tendered players and trying to decide who might be a good fit for this season's Met squad, I figured it would be instructive to look at a couple of posts from last year to see who I liked and didn't like from that year's scrap heap. Without further introduction:


Matt Capps
He was coming off injury last year, and there are a lot of reasons to believe that he was just unlucky. His fastball last year was the best it has ever been... He allowed only 18.7% of hits against him to be line drives... he may have been a little unlucky with home runs...The Mets should scoop this guy up quick.
Matt Capps was an enormously successful pickup for the Nationals last season. Capps signed for $3.5M, with bonuses that could bump it to $3.95M. He had a fantastic season, posting a 2.47 ERA and 42 saves and made the all star team. To add injury to another injury, when the Nationals fell out of contention, they were able to trade Capps to Minnesota for top catching prospect Wilson Ramos.

Ryan Church
He is a great defensive outfielder. His UZR/150 for his career as a left fielder is +3.7, and as a right fielder is a phenomenal +14.2... His average value from 2006-2008, per year, was around $7 million. I think Church... would make an *excellent* fourth outfielder...
Ryan Church took a pay cut to $1.5M last season but absolutely collapsed, hitting only .201 and posting a .265 OBP. He was an minor asset defensively, but was overall worth -0.2 WAR. Man, what happened to Ryan Church?

Jack Cust
Cust is another guy who would be helpful if he could be had cheaply. He could provide late power off the bench, and might want to come to New York to be part of a contender after spending his career in Arizona, Baltimore, San Diego and Oakland on bad teams.
Cust was great last season! He earned $2.8M for his work and batted .272 with a .395 OBP and 13 home runs in only 113 games. According to fangraphs he was worth $9.6M. You may be surprised to know that defensively he graded out as basically even, but only played 105 innings in the field. For his career, he was a negative fielder. Either way, Cust had a great, cheap season.

Ryan Garko: I'm confused about Ryan Garko - he was terrible last season in AAA. There's got to be something we don't know about that story. He earned just above the minimum salary.
Andrew Miller: The former first round draft pick was also a disaster last season.
Neal Cotts: Cotts signed a minor league deal this year but did not pitch anywhere because of injuries. Source.
Jonny Gomes: Jonny Gomes actually had an entire post devoted to him here at Fonzie last offseason:
The Mets absolutely NEED to be in on Jonny Gomes right now, as he is still a free agent. Gomes hit a great .267/.338/.541 for the Reds last season... his career marks are good for a 109 OPS+... he CRUSHES lefties - hitting .307/.369/.545 against them last season... His best offer on the table now is a minor league deal from the Reds. How come nobody will give this guy a major league contract or guaranteed money?

He plays a poor outfield, but did post a +2.2 UZR/150 in left field last season over 253 innings. Maybe we can slap a first baseman's mitt on him and have him back up 1B, and LF. Either way, he would be a strong option to pinch hit off the bench late in games, could grab an occasional start against lefties, and occupy the last spot on our roster.

He actually had an interesting season, did Gomes, as he got to play almost every day for the first time and posted 86 RBI with a 758 OPS. He had a down year offensively - probably a result of playing every day despite his platoon split - but was atrocious with the glove. Who knows, with these things?

Anyway, he was worth -0.1 WAR, which I believe could have been a decent sized positive WAR had he been used properly -- he actually had a 856 OPS vs lefties last year and a 709 OPS vs righties. He probably has a future career as a part-time DH as a Marcus Thames type. He earned 800K last season.

Garrett Atkins
For what it's worth, I think Atkins is done. Atkins' OPS has decreased steadily over the last four years, from 965 to 853, to 780, and then bottomed out at 650 last year. His career statistics away from Coors Field have been terrible. He is only 30 years old, but he was never the most physically fit player. Finally, he experienced a drastic jump in walks last season (from 40 in 664 ab to 41 in 339 ab) -- which is usually a bad sign for players at the end of their careers.
Get this - Atkins was the highest paid player on this entire list and was absolutely awful last year. He earned $4M for the Orioles to post a 562 OPS, hit .214, and butcher the ball defensively. He was actually worth NEGATIVE $4.4M.

You may remember that Atkins was a Metsblog obsession for a while -- good thing we dodged that one. And as for the Orioles, well, that's why they're the Orioles. It's interesting to note, however, that Fangraphs actually endorsed the move and that the fans were also wrong, projecting Atkins at $5.8M in value.


So where does that leave us? Certainly, I'd say there were more hits than misses, and especially big hits on Capps, Cust, and Atkins. Another lesson, if there is any, is that projecting a bounce-back for a hitter who is in a pattern of decline wasn't a good bet last year. Garko, Atkins, and Church were all bad. And those with big platoon splits, which would include Gomes, might not be as valuable as they appear to be on paper before they are exposed as every day players.

All in all, it appears that Capps, Cust, and Gomes, were worth their investments, while Church, Atkins, Cotts, Miller, and Garko were not. All in all, there are some big dividends to be reaped in the non-tender market with relatively little risk. I hope the 2010 Mets take a few chances.

Tune in soon for my review of the 2010 non-tender candidates!

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