To discuss the Wilson Valdez trade to the Reds, we brought back an avid supporter of “Exxon,” former Phillies Nation contributor, Mike Baumann. He engaged in an email exchange with our own Ian Riccaboni, and this is what we have – a Blog Battle.
Do yourself a favor and check out Crashburn Alley, Mike Baumann’s new landing spot. Our old friend Paul Boye is also a writer there.
Ian Riccaboni, Phillies Nation: Wednesday, the Phils shipped super-utility infielder Wilson Valdez to the Reds for lefty reliever Jeremy Horst. Valdez, cited after the 2010 season as Charlie Manuel’s choice for team MVP, became a cult hero for retiring the heart of the Reds line-up in the 19th inning on Wednesday May 25/Thursday May 26, 2011. I am joined by Crashburn Alley‘s Michael Baumann to discuss what this means for the team and its effects on the fan base, as we swap emails back and forth.
Mike, as you may or may not know, last Friday, I inferred Valdez avoiding arbitration with the Phils for $930K signaled the end of Michael Martinez, as Valdez’s presence on the team made Mini-Mart redundant. I speculated that because Valdez was kept on the roster, Martinez no longer had a place and was squeezed out in a number’s crunch by the signings of Laynce Nix and Jim Thome and the trade for Ty Wigginton. This trade changes everything, however. It’s worth noting that while Martinez provides less value with the bat, it is a marginal difference in a small sample (0 fWAR v. -0.4) and Martinez out-fielded Valdez at every position over the course of last season according to UZR/150. Warm and gooey feelings for Valdez aside, this appears to be a cost-effective move that you stated in your Tuesday piece you wished to see the Phillies do more of, as the move saves the Phils around $1 mil as they inch closer to the luxury tax.
I ask you this: With the seemingly fragile health of the aging Phillies infield, is the value of the saving ~$1 million worth the difference between the relative consistency Valdez has provided and the more unknown entity that is Martinez?
Mike Baumann, Crashburn Alley: I don’t think Mini-Mart is the answer. He’s an even worse offensive player than Val dez, and while UZR favors him this year, I don’t know that one season of part-time duty is enough to say conclusively that he’s a better defender than Valdez. Utility infielder is perhaps a more important position on the Phillies than on most teams, because the Phillies, in Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, and Placido Polanco, have three good two-way players to start, but all three will need to be spelled for significant periods of time to prevent injury as they get older.
I’m kind of happy to be rid of the cult hero aspect of Valdez, but if the Phillies’ utility infielder is going to make, for the sake of argument, 50 starts in 2012 (20 each for Utley and Polanco, and 10 for Rollins), he’s going to have to be better offensively than Martinez’s career 48 OPS+ or Valdez’s 20 double plays in 2010. Out of the names Pat suggested, I would probably like Ryan Theriot the best. He’s a better hitter than either Valdez or Martinez, and while he leaves something to be desired both on the bases and in the field, he can be a C- at second, third, or short on an interim basis. Or they could just bring up Freddy Galvis for the major league minimum and accept that he’s going to field but can’t really hit that well. So what do you think: Theriot, Galvis, some other option? Or will we wish the Phillies had just stayed the course?
IR: The availability of Ryan Theriot stuns me. He’s got a career triple-slash of .283/.344/.353, plays a good-enough middle infield, and has above-average base-running skills. He has very little power, but his competent glove and ability to get base hits outweighs that for me. For the amount of teams that entered this year looking for budget solutions at short, it knocks me out that he is still available this late in the off-season and likely will have to settle for a one year deal. I think Theriot is the kind of utility player that adds value to the team on a multi-year deal instead of an outfielder like Nix. If he’s cheap enough, I would have his agent on the phone immediately and figure out how to get him to Clearwater.
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