06 November 2012

Nick Markakis and the Decreasing Impact of His Arm

Nick Markakis is a subject of much discussion.  Early in his career, he was lauded by scout and statistician alike for his defensive abilities.  Over time, a growing current of dissent has emerged questioning his ability in the field.  On the last podcast, Daniel and I were discussing Markakis' arm among other things.  Looking at pure numbers, Markakis threw out quite a few base runners throughout his career until this season when he killed only three runners in 926 innings.  It was a far cry from his 2008 high of 17, but has also killed 13, 14, and 14.  Defensive metrics suggest a different story with one exceptional year in 2008 and the rest rather pedestrian.  It made me wonder if defensive metrics, like counting stats tell an incomplete story.

Arm ratings in defensive metrics look at three things: holding runners, assists, and kills.  It stands to reason that the runs saved attributed to an outfielder would be greater for killing the runner as opposed to being an accomplice.  Being an accomplice to the out would then be more valuable than holding a runner.  A concern on how well runs saved represent the talent in a player's ability to throw a ball is whether or not he has the opportunity to show off that talent.  In other words, if base runners fear an outfielder's arm then the outfielder will be given fewer opportunities to wipe the runners off the base paths as a function of the runner's hesitancy to test the arm.  However, based on my conversations with baseball folk and through my own work on assessing how a pitcher's fastball velocity changes as he ages, arm strength should be relatively consistent through the majority of a player's starting career.  If the metrics trying to represent the value of a player's arm actually coincide with how talented that play is in throwing the ball, then you would expect a flat line.  Arm value should remain constant as a player ages if his arm quality remains the same.

In this post, I wanted to look at something simple.  A measure of talent is typically a good measure of talent if the measure is consistent.  That if you have an 80 arm in year 1 resulting in 20 runs saved, then, if the metric is strongly related to talent, in year two the 80 arm should result in another 20 runs saved.  I decided to take an elite group of arms and observe how their runs saved attributed to their throwing changes from year to year.  Now, this is a simple study with a population of only ten, but it may serve as a decent launching pad for further discussion.

The list below are the top ten cumulative arms using rARM (DRS methodology) from 2005-2012 using their first five seasons and by defining their first season as the first year they achieve 900 innings in the outfield.  Both Adam Jones and Nick Markakis are in this grouping.



1 2 3 4 5
Jeff Francouer 3 10 2 4 8
Shane Victorino 4 5 3 -1 3
Adam Jones 5 10 5 8 -1
Alex Rios 7 4 8 7 8
Alfonso Soriano 7 14 4 1 -4
Hunter Pence 0 8 6 -1 5
Jayson Werth 3 3 5 3 -1
Melky Cabrera 3 9 1 0 4
Nick Markakis 2 2 10 2 0
Matt Kemp 8 7 -4 4 4
Here is the same list, but with the ARM metric from the UZR methodology.



1 2 3 4 5
Jeff Francouer 3.5 16.6 2.5 5.3 9.7
Shane Victorino 5.3 3.9 3.0 -1.0 2.2
Adam Jones 3.3 6.6 2.5 5.4 1.7
Alex Rios 11.7 6.5 5.6 6.0 5.6
Alfonso Soriano 4.9 14.3 4.8 -3.5 0.5
Hunter Pence -0.1 8.2 6.6 -1.0 3.5
Jayson Werth 4.2 4.4 3.3 5.4 -1.4
Melky Cabrera 3.4 4.4 1.1 -3.9 3.0
Nick Markakis 1.1 2.7 6.7 0.9 1.1
Matt Kemp 8.0 4.3 -6.1 4.0 3.4
I took the sum of both the rARM and ARM metrics by year as well as those metrics normalized to what would be expected over 1400 innings.  What I mean normalized or adjusted values would be the following: if player A saved 10 runs over 1000 innings then he would be projected to save 14 runs over 1400 innings.  Whether right or wrong, I did this to cut down the variation in the numbers above by changing the counts into rates.  If there is an issue with doing this, then I am sure someone will be kind enough to inform me.

The difference between the cumulative runs saved looks significant.  I decided to run an ANOVA on the adjusted Runs Saved for the population (not cumulative), which resulted in significant p values for both DRS (p=0.04) and UZR (p=0.01).  Further analysis of both metrics indicated that year 2 performance was significantly greater than years 3-5.  This is illustrated below.

I am uncertain what exactly this means, if anything.  One could construct a nifty narrative about how it takes a fielder a year to learn his position to perfect his performance and then perhaps an additional year for the league to respect him.  This would account for the population to increase in their performance and then have the value associated with the arm decrease as opportunities to kill the runner decrease due to the runners holding.  As mentioned earlier, fielders are credited for holding a runner, but not to the same degree if they are able to eliminate the runner from the base paths.  It should be noted that this is less of a conclusion and more of a hypothesis based on this observation.  I do not know if what we see in the graph above would be repeatable with a more robust dataset or if there is a better hypothesis to explain this observation.

The alternative hypothesis would be playing into the early defensive peak.  It may be that around what normally would be the second year of a player having a starting job.  The narrative here would be that a player's ability peaks early in his career and then tails off.  That certainly is the case with range and it may well be that the opportunity to kill a runner has as much to do with a player's arm as it does with a player's range.  It may be that by not being able to put himself in a position to get to a ball quickly that the fielder is simply reducing the number of chances he has to impact base runners.  Additionally, it may be that ability in range or route running may decrease, resulting in the player putting himself in worse position for a throw.  That would be a situation that likely would have more affect on accuracy than arm strength.

Simply put, I have questions.  Perhaps, as my post on UZR in the Camden Yards outfield led to a great deal of words being hashed out, including by John Dewan in his Fielding Bible, maybe this post will also launch a thousand blogs just the same.

05 November 2012

Best Replacement Level Players Since 1983

Replacement level players are considered to be players that are easy to obtain, such as a non-roster invitees, or six year minor league free agents. WAR is an often used acronym these days which stands for Wins Above Replacement and is determined by a formula that includes runs above average run through a win-loss estimator. What makes the situation more muddled is that there are multiple forms of WAR right now, with Fangraphs using their own fWAR, which includes FIP for pitching and UZR for defense. Baseball Reference has rWAR which includes defensive runs saved for pitching, TotalZone for defense and base running for their calculations and WARP which is Baseball Prospectus' own calculation. For this post, we will be using the form of WAR published by Baseball Reference, which on their scale a 0.0 rating means a replacement level player, 2.0 would be a regular starter, 5.0 is all-star level, and 8.0 is an MVP candidate for each given year. 

We are going to be examining the players with the longest playing careers at near replacement level. There is something to be said for a player that averages being an easily replaceable player, yet that still manages to hang around the major leagues long enough to amass at least 4500 at bats.

#10 - Pedro Feliz - 3B/1B/OF - 11 years MLB - 1302 Games played with 4544 plate appearances. Pedro has primarily been a 3B for most of his career, he played as a starter for the majority of it averaging 118 games per season. Pedro owns 140 HR to only 13 SB and a slash line of .250/.288/.410 to go with a fairly solid glove during his career. Feliz spent most of his career with the Giants before playing his final 4 seasons with 3 different teams. Career rWAR: 3.8.

#9(tie) - Mariano Duncan - 2B/SS/LF - 12 years MLB - 1279 Games played with 4998 plate appearances. Duncan has career numbers of 87 HR, 174 SB and a slash line of .267/.300/.388 along with 1 all-star appearance. Playing a career high 142 games twice in his career, he played more than 100 games in a year 7 out of 12 years averaging 106 games per season. Career rWAR: 3.6.

#9(tie) - Joe Orsulak - OF - 14 years MLB - 1494 Games played with 4714 plate appearances. Orsulak could be considered one of the best 4th OF of the past 30 years, he only had 57 career HR and 93 career SB in 14 years averaging 107 games played per season in his career. He's never had an all-star season and he has a career stat line of .273/.324/.374 while playing all 3 OF positions regularly. Career rWAR: 3.6.

#9(tie) - Joe Girardi - C- 15 years MLB - 1277 Games played with 4535 plate appearances. Girardi may be the best back up catcher in the past 30 years, his intelligence in the game can be seen by his quick ascent to MLB manager, now with the Yankees. Always considered a capable defender who calls a good game, he had 36 career HR and 44 SB in his 15 years, while averaging 85 games played per year. Girardi also appeared as an all-star one time towards the end of his career. Career rWAR: 3.6.

#8 - Jose Guillen - OF - 14 years MLB - 1650 Games played with 6418 plate appearances. Guillen was known throughout his career as having one of the best OF arms in MLB and had 107 OF assists in his career. He was primarily a RF starter through his career where he averaged 118 games per year. Jose had some pop with 214 career HR to his 31 SB and a slash line of .270/.321/.440 in his well traveled career spending 14 years with 10 different teams. Career rWAR: 3.4.

#7 - Ed Sprague - 3B/1B - 11 years MLB - 1203 Games played with 4587 plate appearances. Sprague was a starter on some of those great Blue Jays teams of the mid 90's before becoming a part time player during the final few years of his career, he averaged 109 games per season overall. Sprague had one all-star season and ended with 152 HR, 6 SB and a line of .247/.318/.419. Career rWAR: 3.1.

#6 - Dante Bichette - OF - 14 years MLB - 1704 Games played with 6856 plate appearances. This is by far the biggest surprise for me on this list. We aren't talking about a UTL player or a guy with some power and little else, Bichette was a 4-time all-star and runner up for league MVP one year. In 14 years, Dante hit 274 HR, 401 doubles, had 152 SB and a slash line of .299/.336/.499 which are pretty terrific offensive numbers for a career. His Fangraphs WAR number was an 11.5 which means that his defensive and base running values were bad enough to wipe out a major amount of his offensive contributions. Career rWAR: 3.0.

#5 - Billy Hatcher - OF - 12 years MLB - 1233 Games played with 4752 plate appearances. Hatcher averaged 103 games played over 12 years but those numbers are skewed by 2 seasons of 11 games total, aside from those years he was a starter that played a large majority of his team's games. Billy had 54 HR to go with 218 SB and a line of .264/.312/.364. Career rWAR: 2.0.

#4 - Ty Wigginton - 3B/2B/1B/OF - 11 years MLB - 1315 Games played with 4886 plate appearances. Ty is well known in this time period for being almost the definition of utility player, playing all over the infield as well as some time in the OF. Wigginton has 169 career HR and 42 SB in his 11 seasons of MLB baseball, but he is also still active playing 2012 with PHI, so he still has a chance to move up higher on this list. His slash line reads .263/.324/.438 from his 7 teams in 11 years. Career rWAR: 1.3.

#3 - Tony Womack - 2B/SS/OF - 13 years MLB - 1303 Games played with 5389 plate appearances. Tony averaged 100 games per season, and had 36 HR in his career, but his real contributions came with his legs as he had 363 career SB. An all-star bid in his rookie year was never duplicated, and his career slash line ended up at .273/.317/.356, but he was an average defensive player who could play three up the middle positions , middle infield and center field, as well as providing speed at the top of the order. Career rWAR: 0.9.

#2 - Neifi Perez - SS/2B - 12 years MLB - 1403 Games played with 5510 plate appearances. Perez was a middle infield starter a few years and a textbook UTL player for others while racking up a .267/.297/.375 line to go with 64 HR and 57 SB. Perez was never a huge commodity with the bat, but was fairly well regarded with his glove, even winning a gold glove one of his seasons as a starter. Career rWAR: 0.7.

...and your number one player on the list, drumroll please...

#1 - Chris Gomez - SS/2B/1B - 16 years MLB - 1515 Games played with 5148 plate appearances. Gomez was a well regarded SS early in his career and was more solid than spectacular but made for a very solid UTL guy in the latter half of his career. His career stats featured 60 HR and 35 SB with a .262/.325/.360 line. Career rWAR: -3.7.

04 November 2012

Sunday Comics: Golden Boys

This is running a little late this morning due to a hurricane basically preventing me from getting much done on time this week, but there you go.

This is a digitally done background - occasionally I'll do that when the mood strikes me or, as in this case, I want to blend colors without going through too much of my marker ink.

Congratulations to Matt Wieters, Adam Jones and J.J. Hardy on their Gold Gloves! They're the subjects of this week's cartoon because awards are fun.

Camden Depot's 2013 Offseason Plan

Perhaps to call this Camden Depot's Offseason Plan is a bit of a misnomer because other writers at the Depot may disagree with my assessment here.  I am sure any quibble will be expressed in the comments section.  Anyway, here we go...

The first thing I had to figure out was the payroll of the team.  That will often decide the moves a team can make.  I assumed that there would be no decrease from the 2012 payroll of 84MM.  I am further assuming that the success of the team enabled an increase in payroll of 10MM to 94MM.  I also assume that due to the Orioles short term of being a successful team that the payroll increase is a tentative increase.  Of course, that means I have to construct a team for 86MM because Brian Roberts holds up 10MM.

Trade Players
Mark Reynolds - it is uncertain if anyone is willing to give anything up for him if they have to go to arbitration, so it may well be that the team will have to release him.  This move should free up 8.9MM.
Jim Johnson - Johnson is not an elite closer and he stands to be awarded 6.9MM in arbitration.  With the bounty of success the pen has had this past year, there is surely a much cheaper option to send to the pen.  Johnson should be tradeable.
Robert Andino - Andino stands to earn 1.8MM in arbitration.  I decided that there were easier ways to find a useful backup infielder.  Ditto for Alexi Casilla who would also cost 1.8MM in arbitration.
Omar Quintanilla - Due to earn ~800k, there simply is no room for him on my team.
Steve Pearce - Also due ~800k, he just is not valuable enough to keep him on the squad.

Unaware of what these players will fetch in a trade, I will simply assume "prospects."  To construct a team, I will need to build the rest of the team through free agency.

Melky Cabrera (1 yr, 10 MM) - Melky is not as good as he was in 2012.  His slap sticking 346/390/516 line was fueled not by PEDs (as many choose to believe), but rather a .379 BABIP.  He has average defense from left field and should hit enough to be around a 3.5 WAR hitter.  With a one year deal, Melky can regain value and the Orioles may be able to spring a draft pick in 2014.

Jeff Keppinger (2 yr, 5 MM) - Keppinger should earn a 1 MM per year raise from his salary last year.  If properly deployed, he could earn 1.5 MM.  He can make due at second against southpaw starters with Alexi Casilla coming in as a late inning replacement.  Keppinger also provides standing depth at third and left field.

Ronny Cedeno (1 yr, 1.5 MM) - Cedeno is only slightly cheaper than Andino and Casilla.  However, he plays a decent second and hits righthanders better than either of them.  Used effectively as he was with the Mets last year, he could prove to be worth a half win or so.  This is not a flashy selection, but it does not have to be.

Joakim Soria (1 yr, 4 MM) - A short term deal with the potential to bring the total up to 7 MM should be enticing for Soria.  He did not pitch last year, but he should provide competition for the 5 slot in the rotation or fit smoothly in to the back end of the bullpen.  He represents a potential big value win here.

Ryu Hyun-jin (3 yr, 9 MM) - If the team can win the posting, the South Korean could provide another arm that could work at the back end of the rotation or as another lefty arm in the pen.

My loose projection has these moves placing the Orioles as an 89.6 win team on a 91.62MM club (+3 with Soria incentives

Salary WAR
C Matt Wieters 4.6 4.4
1 Chris Davis 3.3 2.1
2 Jeff Keppinger 2.5 1.5
3 Manny Machado 0.4 2.6
S JJ Hardy 7 2.8
L Melky Cabrera 10 3.5
C Adam Jones 8.5 3.5
R Nick Markakis 15 2.4
D Wilson Betemit 1.75 2
BC Taylor Teagarden 0.8 0.2
BI Ronny Cedeno 1.5 0.5
BO Nolan Reimold 1 0.7
BO Xavier Avery 0.48 0.2
S WeiYin Chen 3.57 2.5
S Jason Hammel 6.5 2.5
S Chris Tillman 0.48 2.5
S Miguel Gonzalez 0.48 1.5
S Joakim Soria 4 1
R Darren O'Day 2.2 1
R Troy Patton 0.8 0.8
R Tommy Hunter 1.8 1
R Brian Matusz 1 0.7
R Pedro Strop 0.48 0.5
R Jake Arrieta 0.48 0.8
R Ryu Hyun-Jin 3 0.8
DL Brian Roberts 10

91.62 89.6

02 November 2012

Why is in Left? The Orioles 2013 Edition

Previously, we discussed second base.

On this blog, and I assume elsewhere, left field has been an area of argument for what the Orioles should do in 2013.  In 2012, it was an up and down year.  Nolan Reimold came out strong, but quickly was injured.  Xavier Avery and Endy Chavez took the team nowhere.  Finally, Nate McLouth settled the position.  McLouth had spent two and half troubled seasons with the Braves maligned with injuries and poor performance.  The Braves declined his 2012 option and he wound up signing with the Pirates for 1.75MM.  He scuttled with Pittsburgh, was released, and then chose the Orioles over the Yankees as he felt the Orioles had a worse situation in left.  Then Orioles Magic happened.

That said, the Orioles' production was rather lousy over the full season as shown in the graph below.

For many, the ideal solution for the Orioles would be to solve the position internally.  This often means Nate McLouth being resigned or entrusting the position again to Nolan Reimold.

LHP 40g RHP 110g

Age wRC+ wRC+ Defense WAR WAR WAR
Nate McLouth 31 70 102 0 -0.2 1.4 1.2
Xavier Avery 23 62 79 0 -0.4 0.0 -0.3
Endy Chavez 35 66 67 5 -0.1 -0.3 -0.5
Lew Ford 36 72 67 0 -0.1 -0.7 -0.8
Bill Hall 33 88 71 -5 0.1 -0.8 -0.8
LJ Hoes 23 81 77 0 0.0 -0.1 -0.1
Nolan Reimold 29 100 105 -5 0.3 1.2 1.5
Chris Davis 27 88 114 -10 -0.1 1.4 1.3
Steve Pearce 30 93 71 -5 0.2 -0.8 -0.7
Ryan Flaherty 26 64 80 0 -0.3 0.1 -0.2
Steve Tolleson 29 73 71 0 -0.1 -0.5 -0.6
The solutions within the organization are not exceptional.  The three best solutions are projected to be Nate McLouth, Nolan Reimold, and Chris Davis.  McLouth is a platoon hitter who struggles mightily against lefties and has had 55 adequate games offensively over the past three seasons.  Nolan Reimold has shown the potential to be a beast offensively, but has repeatedly had issues staying on the field throughout the minors and majors.  Chris Davis has a decent bat, but lacks the range and mechanics to be considered adequate.  Xavier Avery and LJ Hoes may be the future of the Orioles' left field, but that likely is not this year.

To improve upon the less than 1 WAR performance from last year, it may be useful to invest in a solution via free agency.

Free Agents
LHP 40g RHP 110g

Age wRC+ wRC+ Defense WAR WAR WAR
Melky Cabrera 28 118 120 0 0.9 2.5 3.3
Jonny Gomes 32 127 91 -10 0.8 0.0 0.8
Josh Hamilton 32 123 142 5 1.1 4.1 5.2
Juan Pierre 35 81 80 -5 -0.1 -0.3 -0.4
Cody Ross 32 131 92 0 1.1 0.8 1.9
Shane Victorino 32 117 86 5 1.0 0.8 1.8
Angel Pagan 31 93 108 10 0.6 2.5 3.1
Grady Sizemore 30 71 101 0 -0.2 1.3 1.2
BJ Upton 28 118 100 10 1.1 2.0 3.1
Torii Hunter 37 121 112 5 1.0 2.3 3.4
Nick Swisher 32 132 116 0 1.2 2.2 3.4
Ichiro Suzuki 39 91 85 10 0.5 1.1 1.6

Left field appears to be a wonderful bounty, potentially.  Ideal targets in this group would include Melky Cabrera, Torii Hunter, and Nick Swisher.  Solutions here can be addressed as short term (e.g., Torii Hunter, Melky Cabrera) or long term (e.g., Nick Swisher, Angel Pagan).

Cheaper options may be available in the non-tender market.

LHP 40g RHP 110g

Age wRC+ wRC+ Defense WAR WAR WAR
Kyle Blanks 26 92 105 -10 0.0 0.8 0.9
Ben Francisco 31 86 86 -5 0.0 0.1 0.1
Sam Fuld 31 78 79 5 0.1 0.4 0.5
Nyjer Morgan 32 42 84 15 -0.4 1.4 1.0
At most, these players would be worth less than 1MM for a one year deal.  All four, in fact, may be able to be had as spring training invites.


My preference would be for the Orioles to secure a short term fix.  This would mean targeting a player like Torii Hunter or Melky Cabrera.  My personal preference would be to secure Cabrera up to 14MM.  I think it would cost a few million less than that for one year of service and I think the Orioles would present him with a solid opportunity to regain value as a free agent, enabling him to go back on the market and bring in a ton of money.  Torii Hunter would also be an interesting candidate as well.  Adam Jones often mentions Hunter as a mentor and Hunter could take on the role that Jim Thome had as the elder statesman.  Hunter though would be more useful as he still has a decent bat and glove.  Two things that sadly were lacking with Thome last year.

01 November 2012

What is on Second Base? The Orioles 2013 Offseason Edition

Several years ago, I came down against the Brian Roberts extension.  It was a difficult stance for me to take as the Depot is a fan of Roberts.  We have interviewed him and think quite highly of his charity to help children suffering from cancer.  However, the cruel reality of baseball decision making led us to conclude that letting Roberts walk or dealing him was preferable to signing him long term.  Our simple analysis was based on his decreasing defensive capabilities and the overwhelming historical weight of data that suggests that almost all second basemen stop being useful past the age of 32.  Further confusing us, was Andy MacPhail's offer of four years and 40 MM, which was arguably above market value.  At the time, Orlando Hudson was a free agent of roughly equal value to Brian Roberts.  He managed to secure a one year deal from the Dodgers for 3.4 MM.  The Orioles appeared to secure their second base position by vastly overpaying and overcommitting themselves to a player type that carried a high risk of completely collapsing in terms of value.

What happened?  In 2010, Roberts' first season of his extension and at the age of 32, his value disappeared.  It was more of the same in 2011 and 2012.  Issues have been related to his back and to concussions.  The historical evidence did not suggest that Roberts would go down with any specific injury, but that it was very very likely to occur.  From my perspective, second basemen get beaten up worse than almost any other position.  Every single game, second basemen (who are typically one of your smaller players on the team) has to take double play balls blindly, pivot, and hit the first baseman.  There is a good reason why second basemen are significantly more injured around the bag than shortstops.

Anyway, the point is that the Orioles have thrown away a ton of money on second and will likely continue to do so this year as well.  Below is another one of the WAR charts I have put together for first base and left field.  It uses Fangraphs numbers to convert positional value over 150 games.  I consider 150 games to be what one should consider a full season for a player.  Regardless of that assumption, it provides a decent visual to understand the spectrum.

What the above graph shows us is that second base was an incredibly weak position for the Orioles.  Robert Andino took the lion's share of the starts (96) and was helped out a little bit by Omar Quintanilla (27), Ryan Flaherty (20), Brian Roberts (17), and Steve Tolleson (2).  Whatever the Orioles tried, it did not work and not much was enticing in Norfolk (i.e., Ryan Adams, Blake Davis).  Andino rode out the year and the team succeeded despite his performance (-0.6).

Second base is actually a position of great possibility.  As we discussed earlier, the level of talent on the Orioles was closer to an 81 win team instead of a 93 win team.  Improvements are needed and, with approximately a -1.5 WAR coming from the position, second is a great place to target for improvement.

First, what options are available internally?

LHP 40g RHP 110g

Age wRC+ wRC+ Defense WAR WAR WAR
Robert Andino 29 76 63 0 0.2 -0.1 0.1
Ryan Flaherty 26 64 80 -5 -0.2 0.5 0.3
Brian Roberts 35 49 61 -10 -0.6 -1.0 -1.6
Omar Quintanilla 31 41 74 0 -0.5 0.5 0.0
Steve Tolleson 29 73 71 0 0.2 0.3 0.5
LJ Hoes 23 81 77 -10 0.1 -0.1 0.0
Jonathan Schoop 22 68 54 0 0.1 -0.6 -0.6
Ryan Adams 26 84 75 -5 0.3 0.2 0.4
Blake Davis 30 41 62 5 -0.4 0.2 -0.2
At this moment, it is clear the organization is without much value at second base for the 2013 season.  Two players with the greatest potential here are LJ Hoes and Jonathan Schoop.  Hoes never really took to second base with the glove and now profiles more as a left fielder.  The bat might currently play at second as a marginal player, but that glove will be a severe impediment.  Schoop's defense is better than Hoes, but not special by any means.  His range is limited and might become even more limited as he fills out.  Right now though, his bat is still likely a year away for second base.

It appears that any decent solution for the Orioles at second will come from outside the organization. 
Free Agency
LHP 40g RHP 110g

Age wRC+ wRC+ Defense WAR WAR WAR
Ronny Cedeno 30 65 70 5 0.1 0.6 0.8
Mike Fontenot 33 58 95 -5 -0.3 1.3 1.0
Kelly Johnson 31 89 93 -5 0.4 1.2 1.6
Jeff Keppinger 33 116 65 -10 1.0 -0.7 0.3
Freddy Sanchez 34 75 96 0 0.2 1.8 2.0
Marco Scutaro 37 86 95 -5 0.3 1.3 1.6
* - Originally, the model I used neglected that Sanchez missed the entirety of 2012 with a back injury.  I need to rerun those numbers as it would significantly drop his value.  Off the top of my head, I am thinking that he profiles more as a spring training invite sort of player.
** - The Keppinger splits were flipped.  That has now been corrected.  Sorry for all of the post-publishing edits.  I noticed that I had flipped some values and thought I had corrected them.

All six of these free agents are projected as providing better performance than any of the Orioles' internal options.  Fontenot would need to sit against southpaw starters and Keppinger would sit against right handers.  Both provide cringe inducing defense, but the offense is good enough to compensate if deployed properly.  Johnson and Scutaro project as more full timers in the field.  Some concerns about this group is the age of the players.  Free agent second basemen are often a risk because of age.  A general manager needs to think long and hard before going ahead and offering a multi-year deal.  From my perspective, I think none of them will require a multi-year deal except for Marco Scutaro whose uber-McLouth redemption with the Giants may have raised his profile for a few teams to consider as a free agent.  I would imagine something in the neighborhood of 3-8 MM for one year would be sufficient depending on how the money rolls out this off season.

Is there a cheaper model available in the non-tender candidates?
LHP 40g RHP 110g

Age wRC+ wRC+ Defense WAR WAR WAR
E. Burriss 28 5 62 0 -1.3 -0.2 -1.4
Alexi Casilla 28 91 58 0 0.5 -0.4 0.1
Brent Lillibridge 29 41 34 -10 -0.8 -2.5 -3.3
Jayson Nix 30 86 72 5 0.6 0.8 1.3
Ian Stewart 28 70 81 -10 -0.2 0.2 0.0
Luis Valbuena 27 68 76 -5 -0.1 0.2 0.2
I would say the answer is a comfortable 'no.'  Jayson Nix might be the only player worth signing to a MLB deal.  I would entertain any of them as Spring Training invites.


If I was in control of the team, I would non-tender Robert Andino and focus on the free agent class.  I would talk with Kelly Johnson, Jeff Keppinger, Freddy Sanchez, and Marco Scutaro to determine what their asking prices would be.  I would hope to secure one of them for a one year deal at less than 5 million.  Keppinger should come at an even lower cost.  I would entertain the possibility of an option year with buyout.  As a backup, rolling the dice on is Valbuena or Alexi Casilla as a spring training invite to compete with Flaherty, Schoop, and Andino (if he accepts to come back at a lower cost).  I would also give LJ Hoes one last shot to be guided by Buck's staff in playing second base.  Additionally, I suggest the same offer as I mentioned last year, which would be to ask Brian Roberts to transition into a coaching/scouting role with the team or finding a business related position in the front office.  He is a Baltimore Oriole and has been a wonderful member of the organization.  It is unfortunate what he has had to suffer over the past few years, but he seems to be a solid individual and any organization could use someone like that.