November 30th, 2010
by hofrewrite

It’s been busy times around these parts of late. Hence the delay in posting. But who cares? Vamanos!

Tigers sign Victor Martinez for 4 years, $50MM and Joaquin Benoit for 3 years, $16.5MM

I don’t much care for these deals, but they’re not bad per se. If that makes any sense. Let’s start with Martinez: .300/.369/.469 is really, really good for a catcher, but the Tigers intend to use him as a DH. Now, those numbers are a lot better than your average DH (which surprises me to no end), but when you commit a four-year deal to a guy who’s been a catcher his whole career, and he’s 32 when he starts the contract…well, you’d like to see him keep playing catcher.

To be fair, I don’t think the Tigers were so delusional as to think they were getting a catcher for the next four seasons. But they couldn’t even steel themselves for one or two? My thought is, if you’re going to pay a guy $50MM to hit, he should be a bit better than Victor Martinez. That said, it’s not a gross overpay, the Tigers are contenders, and beyond Martinez, Carl Crawford and Jayson Werth, there weren’t a ton of impact bats available. Martinez should help the team, so I can see where the Tigers are coming from, but I’d just like to have seen them make him a catcher primarily with a DH rotation to keep him fresh. More bat for the buck that way.

As for Benoit…well, it’s obviously a big overpay. You don’t need me to tell you that a reliever who can’t stay healthy shouldn’t be cashing in on one (admittedly fantastic) season to the tune of a three-year contract. And you’d think the Tigers would know something about the nature of injury-prone relievers given their experience with one Joel Zumaya. But, like with Martinez, there are reasons to like the deal. For one, Benoit was so, so good last season. 60 innings of 1.34 ERA baseball will help any bullpen, and strong peripherals – 11.2 K/9 and 1.6 BB/9, with less than a homer per 9 – that he was probably going to command more money than he deserved anyway. For another, I wouldn’t be surprised if Dave Dombrowski kind of has to overpay players to get them to come to Detroit. Think about it: you’re an MLB free agent with some combination of the 30 MLB cities to pick from. Would you go to Detroit for anything less than an overpay?

Of course, even if Benoit is healthy all three years, it’s unlikely he makes up that $16.5MM. Relievers are just too fungible and volatile for my taste. Benoit’s only going to throw 50-70 innings per year; in such a small sample – particularly when it’s in one-inning spurts – he seems just as likely to be mediocre as stellar.

Dodgers sign Juan Uribe for 3 years, $21MM

I don’t care for this deal one bit. People who support it are going to say that Uribe hits for power and plays good defense, which is only partially true. See, he hits for power if you consider him as a shortstop and not just as a hitter; a .176 ISO and a .431 SLG aren’t gonna be satisfactory at, say, first base. And he plays good defense if he’s at second or third; going by UZR, he’s not been a really good shortstop since 2006, and he’s only getting older and more out of shape.

The plus side for the Dodgers is that they already have an “everyday” shortstop in Rafael Furcal, so the only time Uribe will need to play short is when – not if – Furcal spends time on the shelf. So the glove should play well enough over there. But you’re still talking about a guy with a .312 career wOBA now who’ll be pulling down around $7MM when he’s 33 years old. Does anyone think that he’ll hit well enough to cover that? Or is his defense supposed to make up the entire balance? And if so, how can you justify that contract in 2012 or 2013?

This also means that Brian Sabean can’t overpay him. I consider that a lost opportunity. The bright side to that, though, is that Sabean’s gonna have to scramble to find an option at shortstop. Miguel Tejada and Edgar Renteria’s are unbelievably excited right now.

Marlins sign Javier Vazquez for 1 year, $7MM, NTC

Don’t like this deal either. Stay positive, y’all!

For realies though…much has been made of Vazquez’s drop in velocity from 2009 to 2010, only…the velo’s been down for 3 or 4 years now. Dave Cameron already covered the topic excellently, and has me convinced that Javy’s heater is indeed gone for good. Which is too bad, because I really enjoyed his stint on the Braves. But, hey, he gets at least one more big payday! Or, as they mentioned on SportsCenter this morning, he gets the benefit of living closer to his home. In Puerto Rico.

Well, that makes at least as much sense as the Marlins shelling out $7MM for a reclamation project whose only hope at reclamation is the benefit of facing National League lineups.

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