Friday, August 21, 2009

Season 6 Free Agency Review

Perhaps more appropriately titled "Detroit's offseason recap," this is the Type A/B free agency review for season 6. Because of a mediocre free agent pool this offseason, there are multiple Type A/B free agents still unsigned due to teams' unwillingness to lose picks for mediocre free agents.

Type A Free Agents

Francis Munoz
Dirt Dogs
Age: 36B/T: R/R
Born: Porterville, CA
Position(s): P (SP1)
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4 years/$35M + $3.5M bonus
Pick lost: 2nd Round

Former two-time Cy Young winner Francis Munoz joins his third team in three years after signing with the Detroit Dirt Dogs. At age 36, signing Munoz is a risky proposition, but Detroit appears to making a push to go for it. Munoz is coming off of a modest season (4.31 ERA / 1.29 WHIP), but still has the talent to be a top-tier starter in the league if everything goes his way.

In the end, Detroit overpaid on paper, but the signing really depends on whether their multiple other signings work. If Detroit becomes a contender, then Munoz will certainly have something to do with it, but if Detroit can't turn the corner, then this will be wasted salary and Munoz will be a drain for years.

Final analysis: To be determined (yes, this is a cop out). You can't ever blame anyone for going for it. If Detroit has a big season, this signing will look brilliant for the time being. If not, the signing is going to be a detriment. This will be either a really good or really bad signing. At the very least, Detroit was first round protected, so they only have to give up a second rounder.

Type B Free Agents

Reid Walton, RF, Los Angeles -- 4 years/$23M; The 31-year old slap hitter has elite speed and a career .749 OPS. If Walton can have increase his .322 OBP from last season, he cuold be very valuable, but will need to do so to negate his below average SLG.

Mo Spiezio, RP, Detroit -- 1 year/$6M; Despite not being a fan of paying this much money for a RP, this signing is an exception. Spiezio has elite control and the one-year deal is ideal. Spiezio is a former All-Star, but has been average/below-average for the past two seasons. However, despite being on the downslope of his career, he is a great power/control pitcher and could be very tough on LHBs.

Hunter Osbourne, SP/RP, Boise -- 3 years/$15.6M; Osbourne could be a great addition for Boise, a team looking to make a push this season. Osbourne has only mediocre splits, but has good velocity/command, and is coming off of an above average season (4.33 ERA/1.31 WHIP). Osbourne's real value is in his versatility - if he can be effective as a swing starter/long reliever, he could have real value to Boise.

Todd Gibbons, SS, Charleston -- 4 years/$21.2M; Gibbons is an above average defensive SS and a below average offensive hitter. He has a career .681 OPS and hasn't had a .700+ OPS since season 2.

Calvin Pong, SP, Detroit -- 3 years/$27M + $4.5M bonus; Detroit's second 36-year old pitcher signed to a multi-year deal this offseason. Again, it's tough to blame Detroit for wanting to go for it, but these contracts might be tough to unload in a couple of years. Despite his age, however, Pong is still an effective starter. Detroit has to hope that Pong is still the pitcher he was in seasons 2-4 and not the pitcher he was last season. His solid 1.21 WHIP last season suggests that even though his ERA was the highest in his career, it is very possible that he will return to his pre-season 5 numbers.

Carlos Gonzalez, 2B, Detroit -- 3 years/$13M; Gonzalez had his best season since season 2 last year (10HR/73RBI, .273/.338/.363/.701). He has decent splits and is a good contact hitter.

Steven Coco, CF, NY Primetimers -- 3 years/$13.5M; Coco is another above average defender with below average bat. Coco is coming off the worst season of his career, so it's likely that his numbers will improve, although he is 34-years old.

Malachi Carey, 3B, Charleston -- 4 years/$28M; Carey has good splits, but is coming off of two below-average seasons. His .338 OBP is average, and if he can raise that a little (or repeat his season 4 numbers), he could be very valuable with his speed at the top of the lineup.

Super Sleepers (super under-the-radar signings that could have a positive impact)

Javier Concepcion, LF, Cincinnati -- 1 year/$1.4M; Concepcion has a career .388 OBP and .893 OPS. Even if his numbers continue to dip this season because of age, he could be incredibly value off the bench (or even as a starter).

Kevin Byrd, 1B, Boise -- 2 years/$3.6M; Byrd can absolutely terrorize LHP. He could be huge as a platoon player, bench player, and can be good even as a full-time player. He is coming off of the worst season of his career, but he still has the power to be incredibly useful.

Head Scratcher of the Offseason

I'm sure that most will think that D.T. Hamilton will be the winner of this award. It's tough to question giving $10M/year for a guy coming off of a season with a .433 OBP with all of the other money being thrown around at mediocre/above average players.

Instead, this goes to the Detroit Dogs for the $326 million they spent on Team Old Man River. In all honesty, this could end up being a great job of general managing by Detroit, but that doesn't change the immediate confusion. If Munoz and Pong can avoid infection from the new hips they received, Detroit may end up looking like geniuses. If they happen to develop arthritis during the season, a likely possibility for 86-year olds, then the contracts are going to look awful going forward (and I should know, I've had to watch Jeff Suppan for the past three seasons).

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