Three Random Comparisons

Just some stuff that’s been on my mind of late… stats are through July 22.

Nick Hundley, Ron Karkovice, Jason LaRue, Mike Macfarlane

In the Ducksnorts 2009 Baseball Annual, I compared Hundley to a couple of defense-first, swing-for-the-fences catchers. In the interest of accountability, I thought I’d see how these guys stack up at the same stage in their respective careers. I threw in Macfarlane as well, since I’d compared Hundley to him in the 2008 Annual. The following are through roughly 722 career plate appearances:

Player     Age   G  AB  R   H 2B 3B HR RBI BB  SO   BA  OBP  SLG
Hundley     26 196 646 72 157 34  5 18  83 60 174 .243 .307 .395
Karkovice   26 255 644 78 141 30  2 18  73 46 210 .219 .273 .356
LaRue       28 219 650 71 152 35  2 21  77 49 186 .234 .306 .391
Macfarlane  26 230 662 66 173 41  3 10  93 45 110 .261 .314 .378

What does all this mean? No clue, but I find it interesting.

Chase Headley, Kevin Kouzmanoff

We were talking on Friarhood Radio earlier in the week about the perception that Headley has been a disappointment. It is my opinion that much of this perception is based on false expectations raised as a result of his monster 2007 campaign at San Antonio, as well as the fact that are no marquee bats to surround Adrian Gonzalez in the Padres lineup.

I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s pretty clear now — as it was at the time — that the Padres moved the right third baseman. For as much as I love Kouz, the fact is that Headley is younger, cheaper, and better. Here’s how both have fared so far in 2010:

Player     Age     $M  PA   BA  OBP  SLG OPS+  Fld% RF/9 WAR
Headley     26  .4277 407 .271 .323 .381 100  .967  2.51 2.5
Kouzmanoff  28 3.1000 382 .270 .304 .398  90  .967  2.67 0.7

They’re basically the same player right now, but one costs a lot less and has upside. He’s the one still playing in San Diego.

Jerry Hairston Jr., Miguel Tejada

We also talked about rumors that the Padres might be looking to acquire Baltimore third baseman Miguel Tejada. I admitted that Tejada didn’t excite me much, mainly because he isn’t really a shortstop anymore and he isn’t really a hitter anymore. I noted that Tejada is having Hairston’s season and that such a comparison wasn’t a compliment.

Allow me to clarify for a moment: I love what Hairston has brought to the Padres. He’s done a fine job and helped pick up the club when Everth Cabrera couldn’t get it done at shortstop this year. That said, Hairston came here as a utility player. There were no illusions about what kind of player he was and is.

On the other hand, as we’ve seen with Headley (and many other guys), once you acquire a tag, it can be hard to shake. With Tejada, people may be tempted to think of him as a former MVP rather than as a badly fading star. The point in comparing him with Hairston is that you can (as the Padres did with Hairston) find players of that caliber without giving anything of value and it would be a mistake to pay much beyond, say, a Double-A reliever.

Anyway, I didn’t mean to disparage Hairston in my comments on Friarhood Radio. I just wanted to explain that Tejada, at this stage in his career, is not a difference maker. To the comparison:

Player   Age    $M  PA   BA  OBP  SLG OPS+  WAR
Hairston  34 2.125 343 .253 .312 .360  91   0.9
Tejada    36 6.000 402 .271 .311 .370  83  -0.2

Add in the fact that Tejada has yet to play a single inning at shortstop this year, and I’m not sure I see the point in acquiring him. I understand that David Eckstein is hurt, but why not just bring back Lance Zawadzki? He’s not great, but neither is Tejada. One of those guys is cheap, already in the organization, and able to play the middle infield.

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10 Responses »

  1. Nice work, GY. I especially like the quick and concise analysis of Headley v. Kouz and even moreso the comparison of Tejada to Hairston. It’s not uncommon for fans to overrate a name like Tejada without looking closely at what he is now v. what he was when he made that name recognizable.

  2. Passing on Tejada in favor of bringing up Zawadzki would be way too practical to make sense to most people. If we starting making decisions like that, we are on a fast track to being the 90+mil 2008 Giants. A lot of familiar names but no production (sells tickets though, but that may just be people in the bay having more money than they know what to do with).

  3. I think the comparison is not Kouz vs Headley, but Headley vs all of the warm bodies the Pads have tried in LF, who, collectively, are hitting .208/.297/.289 BA/OBP/SLG…I know that it was a big deal for him to feel comfortable, but hitters hit, regardless of their position, and he definitely wouldn’t be the first 3B to move to OF.

    I agree, Tejada is at best a lateral move, and if we’re going to get a middle INF, we’re better off targeting his teammate Ty Wigginton, or better yet, trying to pry Kelly Johnson or Stephen Drew from AZ.

    How about Stauffer, Frieri and Venable for Chris Young and Kelly Johnson? Seems like a win all the way around, though I hate parting with any of those guys

  4. No way the Dbacks deal Young, especially for a struggling Venable, a middle reliever and an unknown commodity in Frieri. They’re going to want Castro or Decker for sure.

    A better deal might be Castro and Frieri straight up for Young – although I’m still not sure the Diamondbacks do that. Young is really really good.

    Johnson is chaff – his road numbers this year are 238/317/375. He was in major decline before the D-Backs picked him up and their hitter-friendly park has made the decline look a little less obvious, but he still pretty much sucks. Awful second baseman, too.

  5. @Adam: In a certain sense, you are correct about Headley vs this year’s left fielders, who have been terrible. In terms of the bigger picture, however, the Padres needed to commit to either Headley (who absolutely is not an outfielder) or Kouz as their third baseman going forward. Given that fact, I think they chose the right guy.

    As for trade targets, Wigginton isn’t a bad idea… better than Tejada, anyway. Although I would love to see Johnson or Drew come to San Diego, it’s hard for me to imagine Arizona letting either go cheaply to a division rival. Your proposed trade looks wonderful from the Padres’ standpoint, but I don’t see what’s in it for the D’backs.

  6. This year’s LF haven’t been great, but that’s almost entirely on Kyle Blanks. I don’t recall much (if any) support for sending Blanks back to Portland so that we could use Headley in LF.

    Hairston’s OPS+ is 99, Denorfia 139. Those are the main LF since Blanks went down. They’ve each provided better offense than Kouzmanoff and much better LF defense than Headley.

    Wiggington’s defense everywhere but 1b scares me. And this is Chris Young’s first full season with an OPS+ over 100. He’s been more valuable than Gwynn (2.8 WAR vs 1.9), but more valuable enough to move Castro and more? There are several players I’d “spend” Castro on, but Chris Young isn’t one of them.

  7. I think the Dbacks will at least consider the deal, because 1) their bullpen sports an ERA close to 7 and 2) those 3 guys combined make less that Johnson, who was a one year fix anyway. It might take an extra piece to pry away Young, but everything I’ve read says that the DBacks are pretty motivated to move Drew or Johnson, to save a few dollars and make room for Tony Abreu…I know deals don’t get done that often within a division, but the Dbacks and Padres seemed pretty well aligned to make a deal this year.

  8. I shuddered when I read the Stauffer/Frieri/Venable for Young/Johnson trade. The Arizona players are good hitters, but not that good defensively, and strike out a lot. Both would have less impressive numbers at Petco.

    Stauffer looks like a solid mid-rotation starter and Frieri could be a very reliable 7th inning specialist or 8th inning setup man. Every time I think Venable has reached his ceiling, he shows more potential, and I would be strongly inclined to keep him long enough (2+ more years) to see if he can be the .280/20-25 homer/30 steals/gold glover he looks like he could become.

    With Correia a FA after this year, I’d expect Stauffer to have a rotation spot next year, and Frieri and Venable are under control at reasonable cost. For a budget conscious team, that might overrule the combined $6 million cost of Young and Johnson.

  9. @Tom: It’s on Blanks and pretty much everyone else who has played LF this year:

    Blanks: 113 PA, .156/.283/.302
    others: 302 PA, .227/.302/.283

    Still, your larger point holds; moving Headley back to the outfield was never a serious option.

    The thing is, this was supposed to be a rebuilding year, where some developmental growing pains would have been acceptable from Blanks. Not that I’m complaining, but all this winning has created “problems” that couldn’t have been anticipated back in March.

  10. D’oh! I didn’t bother to look at their positional breakdowns. On the other hand, I don’t see why a pair of league-average offensive OF won’t hit as well playing LF as they do playing elsewhere in the grass.

    I wish DeJesus was healthy.