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Free Agent Option: Matt Diaz

Posted by Pat Gallen, Fri, December 03, 2010 11:08 AM | Comments: 57
2010-11 Free Agency, Analysis, News, Opinion, Posts


Finally, we can talk about Matt Diaz. Not about how he’s killing the Phillies or tripping trespassers wearing ridiculous spandex suits (see below), but about how he can actually help this Phillies club with his skill at the plate.

Diaz was non-tendered by the Atlanta Braves yesterday, meaning he’s a free agent and ready to mingle. Could the Phillies have interest in the 32-year old outfielder? You bet your baseballs.

For the better part of five seasons in the National League East, Diaz has had the Phillies number hitting .338 over 165 plate appearances. There’s always a guy who isn’t a stud – normally just a role player – that your team can’t get out under any circumstance. Matt Diaz was that guy.

Now, the Phillies have the opportunity to sign him to be part of the solution of losing Jayson Werth. It wouldn’t be the worst move in the world, either. For what Diaz would command on the open market, Ruben Amaro would be shrewd to thoroughly kick the tires on this right field option. With a pairing of Diaz and Dom Brown in right and Ben Francisco and Raul Ibanez in left, two platoons wouldn’t be an ideal scenario, however, it’s a risk worth taking at a time when the free agent landscape is filled with has-been outfielders. As we’ve talked about for the past few weeks, the trade market is thin as well.

Diaz is an eight-year vet, although most of his early seasons were spent shuffling between the minors and the bigs. His career .301 average from the right side would play well here, although he’s not a power alternative to Werth. In 2009, Diaz hit a career high 13 home runs in 125 games – not exactly Aaron-esque. Still, he’d surely have the opportunity to knock in runs at a healthier clip than Atlanta in this batting order.


The better news: he hits lefties well. Try .335 against them with 29 homers and 100 RBI in 735 plate appearances; basically just a shade more than a seasons-worth. Hell, Jayson Werth has only hit .292 against lefties in his career, so this move would be a bit of an upgrade to combat the left-handed problem the Phillies face every night.

An underlying factor would be his lineup-balancing. Placido Polanco is currently the only Phillie who seems to have any sense of how to use situational hitting to his advantage. Diaz is another threat to hit the ball to the opposite field with runners in scoring position, a trait missing from the DNA of this team.

As far as his glove is concerned, Diaz is just ordinary. His UZR for the past five seasons averages to roughly 1.8, meaning he’s basically a replacement-level defender. No matter who you put out there, few will have the speed and athleticism to play right field like Werth did, so even at replacement-level, Diaz will do just fine because of his prowess with the bat.

Are you on board with Diaz? He’ll likely come cheap since he’s been nothing but a platoon player. And if he and Brown co-exist together splitting at-bats, would anyone object to a .290 average with 25 total home runs and 80 RBI between the two? On the other side of the coin, signing Diaz pushes the Phillies into platoon mode. In any case, it’ll be nice to know Diaz would no longer haunt the Phillies if he’s wearing their jersey.

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About Pat Gallen

Pat Gallen has written 1684 articles on Phillies Nation.

Pat is Editor-in-Chief of Phillies Nation. He also covers the Phils for 97.5 FM in Philly.

 
 
  • Posts: 0 Geoff

    Answer…YES.

    This is your cheap safe option. Let him platoon with Brown. If something bigger is afoot…great, but otherwise this is the safe move now that he is a free agent.

     
  • Posts: 0 Andrew R.

    This is an easy, yes. “Platoon-mode” is not the worst scenario in the world. Competition will bring out the best in everybody. And if we have 4 or 5 outfielders playing really well, somebody’s going to make us an offer at the deadline. This is a win-win situation here.

     
  • Posts: 0 betasigmashag

    At the quick look I would have to agree with signing a guy like Diaz, not over the top excited about it, and it would have to be cheap enough that if something comes about during the year you could drop him. The on problem I have with a stop gap solution, is after 2011 Raul is pretty much retired or going to an AL team, we can assume he will not sign another contract with the phillies. And then you are looking for 2 corner outfielders, and if Dom Brown is just platoon guy next year will he be ready to be full time LF the next year.
    I know I am probalbly the only one on here that thinks this but I think you put Lasting Milredge in this locker room they could straighten him out, and he could be a steal in FA.
    I know I am crazy, but I think he would be a great reclaimation project for RAJ and Charlie

     
  • Posts: 0 The Dipsy

    Yes. Yes. A thousand times “yes”. It doesn’t even have to be a straight platoon with Brown. He can platoon with Ibanez, too. But he’s not your five hole hitter.

    The Dipsy

     
  • Posts: 0 Scotch Man

    Lastings Milledge? You can’t be serious!

    As Dip says, Diaz is no five hole hitter but when I saw he was non-tendered, my head shot up. Would not be a bad move.

     
  • Posts: 0 betasigmashag

    So if he is not your 5 hole hitter, who do you put there, Rollins? Vic? Chooch? And when Brown is playing would bat him 5th. Should that not be part of the discussion when looking at signing someone, where they will fit in this lineup

     
  • Posts: 0 Ted Bell

    Milledge killed LHP last season (he had a better OPS than Werth vs. lefties). He’ll only be 26 next season, and like Werth, he’s a former number one draft pick. I’d rather bring him in as a platoon player in LF & RF and see what happens. Nobody got too excited when Gillick signed Werth to platoon with Geoff Jenkins, but Werth went on to become an everyday player. Milledge is younger and has more upside than Diaz…he’s worth the gamble.

    I’m Ted Bell.

     
  • Posts: 0 betasigmashag

    now I am in trouble if Ted Bell is agreeing with me. Again, I think you can sign Lasting pretty cheap, under 6-7 million per, cheap enough to drop if he can not be handled. But with this club house I really think they can handle him and if not send him on his way.

     
  • Posts: 0 Ted Bell

    6 or 7 million?? No way. Milledge only made $452 K last season. The Pirates cut him because they were afraid he’d make $1 million in arbitration. The way the Phillies threw money around on stiffs like Adam Eaton and Freddy Garcia, spending $1 million on a guy like Milledge seems like a low risk gamble.

    I’m Ted Bell.

     
  • Posts: 0 Geoff

    I agree. Sign Diaz, but no hes not a 5-spot hitter. They still need to sign or trade for one. Need more power than that. And yes, that means someone else has to go…does anyone think Paul Konerko coudl play the corner outfield?

     
  • Posts: 0 Andrew from waldorf

    When you pay Ryan K. Howard 25 million a year and Adam Dunn makes 14 a year. You are hamstrung some.
    The 11 million could probably do something. Like get a player who wouldnt have 0 RBI batting 4th in 9 playoff games.
    Just saying
    Aubrey Huff comes to mind

     
  • Posts: 0 Ted Bell

    Andrew – Why do you feel the need to say the same thing day after day, no matter what the subject matter is? We get it already.

    I’m Ted Bell.

     
  • Posts: 0 Bart Shart

    I say YES to Diaz. and for all the reasons mentioned. My question, however, is this: How will Charlie Manuel handle platoons?

     
  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    Chuck’s responses:

    1) Diaz: Yes. Go after him. Nice stopgap measure. Platoons can work.

    2) Lastings Milledge: NO to any reclamation projects. NO. NO. NO.

    3) Andrew from Waldorf = Broken Record (And I mean REALLY broken)

     
  • Posts: 0 Dan

    I’d take this deal. Matt Diaz is a good, scrappy player. He’s not a star. But he can rake against lefties. He’s probably a better hitter than he was last year, in which he was injured. He would provide some outfield depth in case there was an injury. He was scaring me when he was with the Braves last year. They just seemed to keep winning and he was hitting walk-off homeruns and killing Johann Santana, which he has done his whole career. That’s another factor right there, although I don’t know when Santana will be back. I think this might be the guy they pick up because Manuel is pushing for it.

     
  • Posts: 0 jonnyboy

    Let’s go for it!

     
  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    I could see Diaz becoming a quick fan favorite here….the tripping incident didn’t hurt!

     
  • Posts: 0 Manny

    I’d be on board… and maybe even let him bat 5th when he plays half of the time. Frisco could also bat 5th when he plays… it’s a downgrade for our 5th spot, but what else can we do? (Ideally bump Rollins to 5th..but I doubt that’ll happen)

     
  • Posts: 0 George

    Part of the Phils’ good clubhouse atmosphere is because there aren’t any “reclamation projects” in it. The closest thing they’ve had to one in the past few years has been Adam Eaton, and no one seemed able to straighten out his whiny me-first attitude. So ABSOLUTELY NO to Lastings Milledge.

    As far as Diaz goes, he’s a safe bet in a platoon, but is he any safer than Francisco? It’s doubtful Ibanez sits much, so Diaz might make one too many outfielders when the team really needs a back-up infielder to replace the beloved Greg Dobbs.

    I’d still take a chance on Diaz, though, and let the logjam sort itself out in the spring. Francisco, Brown, Mayberry, and even Gload are all relatively cheap, as would be Diaz, and the least productive of them could be let go if need be.

     
  • Posts: 0 George

    I should clarify “let go.” Brown or Mayberry could be optioned, and there would probably be a trade market for the others, even if not a good one. Probably no one would have to be released.

     
  • Posts: 0 therookie300

    I’d be on board for picking up DYE-AZZ. Even if he is hitting 5th as long as he is getting his hits in there against lefties that’ll be just fine. I really like that split against lefty pitching.

     
  • Posts: 0 psujoe

    I like the Diaz option if you keep Brown on the big club. However, I’m still stuck on Upton(only if healthy) whose young and cheap interms of money.

    Brown, Francisco, Worley and Schwimmer for Upton. Sign Diaz to replace BenFran and spell Raul 30-40 games against lefties.

    With Upton and Diaz in the lineup they’d actually be exellent against lefties.

     
  • Posts: 0 betasigmashag

    I meant over the course of his contract not one year, I like the trade proposed for Upton if healthy, he is what like 2/3 years older then Brown. I also agree that Diaz and Ben Fran are the same players, all you people who are saying yes to this deal, is it really an upgrade from Ben, and can you really carry five outfielders and just one bench guy that can play the infield

     
  • Posts: 0 Geoff

    Brown and Upton are both 23 years old.

     
  • Posts: 0 Phylan

    The better news: he hits lefties well. Try .335 against them with 29 homers and 100 RBI in 735 plate appearances; basically just a shade more than a seasons-worth. Hell, Jayson Werth has only hit .292 against lefties in his career, so this move would be a bit of an upgrade to combat the left-handed problem the Phillies face every night.

    I have to take issue with this; the full lines vs. LHP are .335/.373/.533 for Diaz, and .292/.394/.550, so a .907 OPS for Diaz and .944 for Werth. I wouldn’t call Diaz an improvement in the hitting lefties department for that reason.

    And for all the rabble about the Phillies supposed handedness problem, Chase Utley has no platoon split for his career, and actually hit lefties better than righties for the last two years. Even Ryan Howard managed to be well above league average against lefties last year. It’s much ado about nothing.

     
  • Posts: 0 Kate

    I like Matt Diaz, and not just for his action heroics against some attention-whoring “fan.”

    The Howard bashing is beyond stale. I can’t wait for him to rip it up next year.

     
  • Posts: 0 Ted Bell

    Diaz turns 33 in March…he’ll only contribute to making the league’s oldest team even older. We’ve already seen the best he has to offer, and he’s not getting any better at 33. I’d take the player that’s 6 years younger with an upside over a career fourth outfielder anytime. Milledge is a “reclamation project” because of a couple of things he did when he was 21?? I bet some of the people posting here did some dumb things when they were 21. What has he done the past two years that makes you think he’ll be a distraction in the Phillies clubhouse? The Eagles have a QB who just got out of prison and that seems to be working out. I’m supposed to somehow believe that Lastings Milledge will disrupt a clubhouse full of veterans?

    I’m Ted Bell.

     
  • Posts: 0 Paul Boye

    What’s this obsession with age? If the guys can play and aren’t being signed to 6- and 7-year deals, who cares how old they are?

     
  • Posts: 0 mike

    no.

    it doesn’t work the other way around.

    a guy kills one team, then gets signed by that team…and then ends up sucking.

    that’ll happen here.

    there’s a reason why some of these guys have good numbers…they play under NO PRESSURE…atlanta? come on…they get 5000 ppl a game.

    the first time he hits into a DP with the bases loaded and hears boos….he’ll realize where he is

     
  • Posts: 0 George

    In his six year ML career, three teams have given up on Milledge. He apparently doesn’t have an “upside,” or else it’s buried so deeply under his attitude that his former employers haven’t found it and felt they never would. There is no reason to sign a player with baggage if you can get one who doesn’t carry any.

    And as for “there’s a reason why some of these guys have good numbers…they play under NO PRESSURE…” Thats a ridiculous generality. I suppose Chipper Jones and Greg Maddux had great numbers because they played under no pressure, or that Roy Halladay was under no pressure when he pitched for Toronto, or Hanley Ramirez hits so well because no one is ever watching him, either.

     
  • Posts: 0 jake

    better filder/hitter? diaz or burrell? diaz, and burrell won a ring, 2 kinda of. nuff said.

     
  • Posts: 0 Bruce

    Are you suggesting TWO platoons for the OF ?! That can be a messy handling for the manager especially if one of the FOUR platooned outfielders demands more playing time if he has a hot bat. That can create problems in keeping ALL the players satisfied and in a positive frame of mind. Personally I’m satisfied with Francisco as RH bat filling in for either LH bats, Brown or Ibanez when opportunity presents itself. It does give Francisco the opportunity to have MORE at bats during the season. And he does have a track record as being productive.

    The Phillies management’s number one priority should be to focus on the need of finding replacements for Romero and Durbin in the bullpen.

     
  • Posts: 0 Lefty

    Milledge would be a huge mistake! Three strikes and you’re out.

    Mets, Nats,and Pirates, three abysmal franchises were all desperate enough to give him a try, all three gave up on him- so ring him up and send him packing. We’re the Phillies, not bottom feeders banking on head cases.

    Also there is a reason ATL non tendered Matt Diaz, if he was that good and affordable I’m guessing they’d have kept him. IMO-They know something we don’t. I’d pass.

     
  • Posts: 0 brooks

    So why focus on Diaz as a RF platoon player when he played left for the Braves?

    Regardless, the guy has had some injuries that have slowed his progress some. He is a big looking guy, I’m wondering where the power is. The point is he also has hit over .300 a few times in his career and it almost looks like he could be a diamond in the rough here. In 06 & 07 his average was .333 – he had 655 atbats and 218 hits. Very slow 08, perhaps due to injury? And in 09 he once again hit .313 and finally started to walk more.

    If he comes in cheap (which it looks like he would) why not grab him up? Platooning almost sounds permanent. This is just the stepping stone for the competitors.

     
  • Posts: 0 George

    Sometimes a team non-tenders a player even though they are decent and affordable. It can depend on space on the roster, budget constraints, left or right handedness, or various combinations of the above. The Braves may have had someone they considered a slightly better fit than Diaz. They may be hoping to re-sign him at less than what he’d get in arbitration.

    I’ll point out that Chad Durbin was also pretty good, and likely affordable, yet he, too, was non-tendered.

    Brooks is correct, though. Diaz did play left, not right. But that doesn’t mean Diaz shouldn’t be considered as a part-time player. Ibanez might get injured or not play well; Francisco might have to slide to center at times to spell Victorino. One limiting factor on the Phils last year was a shortage of right handed BENCH bats (Schneider, Gload, Dobbs, and Brown are all lefties: Valdez, though batting right, was too many times a starter).

    Although I, too, think relief should be the priority, then a reserve corner infielder, I also see nothing wrong with signing a decent, affordable player when you have the chance.

     
  • Posts: 0 Lefty

    George – I understand why teams non tender, I wrote that poorly. The point is I think their is a hidden problem in this case, though I admit I don’t know what it is. Durbin BTW was no longer affordable (at least in his own mind) I hope he shops himself, finds no better bidders and comes back to us for a more reasonable price. (approx 1m)

    What I think the Braves know that we don’t might have to do with health. Last four years games played 135,43,125,84- very strange- whether health related or by Bobby C’s choice.

     
  • Posts: 0 Lefty

    There is something just not quite right about Diaz. He has only 7 assists the last three years. Maybe a sign of a poor arm? He had one single in ten AB’s in the postseason last year, if he did that here he’d be given Greg Gross status. I don’t know, I just don’t like him enough.

     
  • Posts: 0 Ted Bell

    George – Milledge has not had a “six year major league career”. The kid is only 25 and his first big league appearance was at age 21. By the way, at age 25, Utley and Howard were barely getting their major league careers started – Milledge already has over 1600 plate appearances. He’s had to develop at the big league level.

    Ages 26-28 are usually thought of as the years when a player finally “gets it” . Milledge will be 26 next year. Maybe playing in front of 45,000 people every night with a couple strong African American role models on the team will help Milledge’s maturation process.

    Milledge’s numbers against lefties were much better than those of Matt Diaz last season. Milledge will come much cheaper as well. Diaz made over $2.5 million last season…how much of a paycut do you think he’ll take? You could probably get Milledge for just under a million.

    Nobody can come up with any facts as to why Milledge will ruin the Phillies wonderful clubhouse chemistry (which helped them so much in the NLCS) – just some vague memories of his rookie season. We’re in the Google age folks – everything becomes public knowledge. Give me some links that will show me how Lastings Milledge will be such a bad teammate.

    RAJ’s infatuation with these players that are well past 30 (Ibanez, Polanco, he’s now pondering bringing back Arthur Rhodes) is very dangerous. The sport as a whole is becoming younger and more athletic, while RAJ is taking the Phillies in the opposite direction.

    I’m Ted Bell.

     
  • Posts: 0 Lefty

    Ted Bell- you don’t have to look hard, and I never said anything about clubhouse chemistry, in fact I think he’s matured a bit. There are hundreds of articles, blogs etc. questioning his work ethic, plate dicsipline,nagging injuries,defensive gaffes etc. here’s one- you can find the other 2-300 links yourself.

    http://www.minorleagueball.com/2010/7/5/1553354/prospect-retro-lastings-milledge

    IMO- Guys like him belong on bottom feeders like Pirates and Nats willing to take a chance because they’re so bad to begin with.

    I’m Lefty

     
  • Posts: 0 Marc H

    I still think that Josh Willingham is a better option than Diaz.

     
  • Posts: 0 brooks

    I’m with Marc.

    I’m Brooks

     
  • Posts: 0 Matt Kwasiborski

    I like the idea of Willingham better than Diaz. Willingham is younger and has less tread on his tires. Sure, he is coming off a knee injury but he has been pretty productive on some poor teams. Put him in our lineup and he is a much better option at #5 than Diaz or whomever else. Millidge-he is a guy you should only take a chance on at this point. He isn’t someone you sign and expect to start and hit in a key position. Phils have the talent in place to mentor him unlike the Pirates, Nats, and Mets did- but to expect him to be a major contributor is a serious risk.

    Upton- do we have the talent to get him? I am not so sure anymore. The D’Backs will want Singleton as they need 1B help. Not sure if Worley is good enough for them. They are going to want one of our stud pitchers from the AZ league since the games were in AZ. And they will want Brown, Singelton and DeFrauts at minimum. Do you do that?

     
  • Posts: 0 psujoe

    Holy hand grenades. Red Sox just traded for Adrian Gonzalez. Casey Kelly, Anthony Rizzo, Raymond Fuentes and another player. Beltre just lost some leverage.

    No way I’d trade Cosart, Singleton, Brown and Defratus for Upton. Way too steep. That’s essentially 3 top 25 players. Those is more than the Sox just traded for Gonzalez.

     
  • Posts: 0 The Dipsy

    The Phils moved Singleton to LF although there is some skepticism that he can play there. I would think that SD would want some ML ready talent. That said – Brown, Worley, and a lower minor decent prospect.

    The Dipsy

     
  • Come on andrew-HOW MUCH DID YOU LOSE????????????????

     
  • Posts: 0 George

    Gosh, I goofed by a WHOLE YEAR! Milledge has had a five year ML career, but that just makes the fact he’s now been dumped by three different teams even scarier.

    And 26-28 is not when a player “gets it,” it’s when he begins hitting his athletic prime. There have been hundreds, maybe thousands of players who started very young but haven’t had the issues Milledge has had; in fact one of them is that guy people on this site are clamoring for, Justin Upton. Upton, I’ll point out, started younger than Milledge.

    To be fair, the Pirate’s GM has spoken of the possibility of re-signing Milledge. “…if we think it’s the right fit for the team, and he thinks it’s the right fit for him.” Doesn’t sound to me like a ringing endorsement considering those “ifs.”

     
  • Posts: 0 Ryan

    Here’s what I would have done if I were Amaro:

    1. cut Ibanez
    2. ferociously persued Mariano Rivera after arbitration
    3. (assuming Rivera signed) cut Brad Lidge
    4. traded BenFran, Kendrick, and Matheison to D-Backs for Justin Upton
    5. signed Matt Diaz
    6. signed Pedro Feliciano

    My (dream) lineup for 2011:

    1. Victorino (CF)
    2. Polanco (3B)
    3. Utley (2B)
    4. Howard (1B)
    5. Upton (RF)
    6. Rollins (SS)
    7. Diaz (LF)
    8. Ruiz (C)
    9. (Pitcher)

    …But that’s just me, and I’m a risk-taker.

    Plus, I’d start Worley next season instead of KK.

     
  • Posts: 0 Ryan

    (hence that’s why I traded KK)

     
  • Posts: 0 Greg

    Ryan, no way in Hell the D-Backs would accept that for Upton. Mo would never go on any team not named the Yankees.

     
  • Posts: 0 George

    Ryan, remember that if you cut Ibanez and Werth that you still have to pay them. That’s $23 million you can’t spend on their replacements (people like Rivera, Upton, and Diaz, for instance). And Arizona certainly isn’t going to trade a future star for a fifth starter, a fourth outfielder, and an unproven reliever who may eventually set the record for Tommy John surgeries.

    And why would you just give the fifth starter job to the inexperienced Worley without ANY competition? He’s yet to pitch regularly in AAA; his ML call-up was because he was the only arm available at the time.

     
 
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