by Keith Glab, BaseballEvolution.com
November 15, 2006
|If I were Mark DeRosa, I'd celebrate, too|| |
It's business as usual for Jim Hendry and the Chicago Cubs. Career
utility infielder Mark DeRosa signed with the Cubs for 3 years and $13 million.
This stays true to the new Cubs tradition of signing old players coming off
career years to lucrative three-year deals before a market value for such
players is established. By doing so, the Cubs have driven up the dollar
value for every available middle infielder, starting or otherwise, just as they did with relief pitchers last year through early 3-year
offers to Ryan Dempster, Scott Eyre, and Bob Howry.
But as much as those three relievers had career years in 2005, that's nothing
compared to what Mark DeRosa accomplished in 2006. The 31-year old DeRosa,
who had never made more than $725,000 in a season until he signed this blasted
contract, set career highs in every counting stat besides triples, which he
tied. He brought career percentages of .263/.319/.380 into 2006, then went
.296/.357/.456 last season.
Is this a fluke, or an indication of improvement? Well, DeRosa's road
numbers were at least as good as his stats in Arlington, so we can't claim his
success was due to the friendly confines of Texas' ballpark. Perhaps all
he needed was a chance to play every day. We've seen recently with guys
like Raul Ibanez, John Vander Wal, and Scott Hatteberg that improvement after
the age of 30 is certainly possible with increased playing time (although Vander
Wal's improvement is more likely due to drinking from the
Fountain of Coors). So
perhaps Mark DeRosa is headed towards a Renaissance.
Maybe. But why sign him to a three year deal when it's such a gamble?
While his overall numbers improved, his strikeout rate, walk rate, and home run
rate all looked very similar to what he displayed throughout the early portion
of his career. His areas of improvement last season were in the categories
of singles and doubles. I'm not going to discount this improvement
entirely, but these are two statistics in which luck plays a heavy role.
Many bloop hits can become singles or doubles if they happen to be hit in the
right place at the right time, and without seeing a whole bunch of Rangers games
last year, I'm betting that this happened to a moderate extent.
JC Bradbury's PrOPS predicted DeRosa's percentages to be .287/.347/.432, an
overall .033 OPS points less than his actual OPS. That kind of deviation
isn't a huge red flag, but it certainly doesn't inspire blind faith that he has
turned a corner in his career, either.
Then again, to Jim Hendry, it probably does. Catcher Henry Blanco
overshot his PrOPS by .041 points in his career year last season, and just got
rewarded with a 2-year, $5.25 million deal to be their backup backstop.
Yet another market driven through the roof by Hendry and company.
But what really hurts is that the Cubs had career .289 hitter Todd Walker
signed for $2.5 million last year and traded him for practically nothing, and
that they had young Ryan Theriot hit .328 last year for the league minimum, but
want him to continue in a backup role.
It is becoming more and more difficult to continue to root for the Chicago
Disagree with something? Got something to add? Wanna bring up something totally new? Keith resides in Chicago, Illinois and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.