17 December 2009

Projected Win Total: Post Gonzalez and Atkins Signings

Last night saw a flurry of activity for the Baltimore Orioles with really none of it expected. Press reports had mentioned the Orioles being in the market for a closer and a third baseman. On the closer front, the Orioles were mentioned to being heavily involved in the Matt Capps and Fernando Rodney markets. Meanwhile, with third basemen it appeared that after Pedro Feliz was snatched up that Joe Crede was the target. The idea behind that was a professed desire by MacPhail to sign a defense oriented talent at third base. Atkins is not that. Then again, Atkins may be seeing more time at first base depending on how the rest of the off season goes.

So where are we now using the CHONE projections?
Garrett Atkins - 258/329/410, below average defense
1/4.5MM with 1/8MM opt (0.5MM buyout)
Mike Gonzalez - 3.67 era
2/12MM (up to 4MM in incentives)

Using those numbers . . . we raise our win total from 74.5 to 76.8.

More after the jump.

As was mentioned in our post with Jose Valverde, the likely impact of losing a second round pick is not something that is generally noticeable. The loss of a top second round pick typically generates a prospect with decent projection, but that value is typically about 2.5MM worth of play when you average everything out. It just is not a huge loss. This seems particularly true when our last two second rounds picks were Mychal Givens and Xavier Avery. Both are high potential, low probability type of prospects of the C+ variety. That said, you can also find great talent in the second round. As was mentioned, Chris Tillman was a second round selection. In this light, sacrificing a second round pick should be for a component that whose value dwarfs that of the potential gain of a second round selection. Under that criteria, a relief pitcher (even a closer) just is not valuable enough. The difference between Gonzalez and Rodney is maybe at most 2 or 3 blown saves. That probably is not the difference between watching the playoffs and making the playoffs for the Orioles.

Then again, Gonzalez may not cost the Orioles a second round pick. He may wind up costing them a third round pick. Ken Rosenthal and Fox sports reported that the Orioles have inquired on Matt Holliday. Holliday is also a type A pick and would punt the Braves second round pick to a third round pick as Gonzalez has a lower Elias ranking. In this scenario, Holliday is very much worth giving up a second round pick and Gonzalez is worth a third rounder. Roch Kobatko has mentioned though that such a possibility is unlikely. He has heard very little about the Orioles being interested in Matt Holliday as well as in another rumor involving Adrian Gonzalez. Andy MacPhail runs a pretty tight ship these days, but one would expect Roch would have a good handle on this.

How does the Gonzalez signing make sense for the Orioles?
The Orioles were in "need" of a closer. I think they had internal options that were not incredibly worse than Gonzalez, so I do not think this is entirely true. What the signing does accomplish is via a push down effect. By bringing in a top tier reliever it pushes everyone else down in their role, strengthening the pen in general by casting out the 7th member. This means that although there is minimal improvement from Uehara/Johnson to Gonzalez. There is improvement of about a win from Sarfate/Albers to Gonzalez. Still it is about a win.

I have his next two years at a value of 13.8MM and his baseline is 12MM. Add in the average value of a second round pick and that is essentially a push at a loss of 0.7MM in value. Now, if he hits his incentives, which are probably based on appearances and awards, this might be a worse deal if the Orioles are paying 8MM a year to Gonzalez.

How does Garrett Atkins make sense?
Atkins is both easier and harder to evaluate in terms of worth. First off, he signed a one year deal, which helps keep the roster flexible. Second, he is adequate defensively at both first and third base. The difficulty in evaluating this move is that we do not know what the cost was and we do not really know what Atkins is capable of. Atkins is basically in a four year slide. True, his BABIP was about 70 points lower than it should have been given his hit type peripherals, but he has seen a noticeable decline in his home run per fly rate. That is a rather large red flag. Atkins is supposed to come in as a power oriented right handed bat, but it is difficult to see how that really differs from what we already have in Ty Wigginton.

What does make this move work for the Orioles is that it does two things: 1) it removes Mike Aubrey from the lineup and 2) it moves Ty Wigginton from third base to first base, replacing him with Atkins whose glove is slightly better than Ty's. The difference between Aubrey and Atkins as predicted by CHONE is a difference of about 40ops coming mainly from on base percentage, which is worth slightly more than slugging. About half a win in runs is saved by moving Ty Wigginton off of third base.

Where we stand?

Batting Wins Above Average: 22.0 (20.8)
Pitching Wins Above Average: 11.3 (10.2)

Total Wins Above Average: 33.3 (+2.3 wins from Millwood acquistion)
Predicted Wins: 76.8 (74.5)

AL East Playoff (95 wins): 18.2 wins to go

No comments: