12.29.2005

Vizcaino Signed for $1.25M

Sorry if this is late but it's the season plus, really, I don't have much angst over utility players - though others apparently do, from what I've seen in various discussions. I don't see what the problem is. He signed for a little more than I would have paid but I can understand why he got more - he can play all four IF positions and he switch hits. Of course, he does not hit well overall but that is not that big a deal because, well, he's only a utility middle IF and if he could hit, well, you wouldn't get him for $1.25M and he would be a utility player, he'd be a starter.

Looking at his hitting, he's played at hitters haven Houston the past five seasons so his road numbers are probably the best indicator of what he can do: .261/.296/.345/.642, which is Neifi like without the gold glove fielding - but without the $4M/2 year contract either! I then took the ratio of his hitting vs. LHP and RHP and applied it to his road numbers and while he hits for a better average against LHP, he hits for more power against RHP (he walks about the same against either), resulting in almost no change in OPS (.643 LHP vs. .641 RHP).

Then I compared him to Vizquel, his main replacement, he's not that far off as a replacement for what Vizquel did overall last season: .271/.341/.350/.691, though he's mainly missing in the all important OBP area, so that makes it a bit worse (some view OBP as anywhere from 1.5 to 3.0 times as valuable as SLG). That's not too bad a drop for a replacement. Plus it's a middle infield position, so hitting is hard to get there anyway.

However, I think the key to Vizcaino for the Giants is his ability to give Vizquel frequent rests during the season. Vizquel hit .305/.359/.397/.756, which is adequate offense for a #2 hitter, pre-All Star Game, but only .229/.318/.292/.611 post-ASG. That's a result of him playing 152 games last season. Thus Vizcaino is an upgrade over the tired Vizquel we saw in the second half of 2005 and if he allows Vizquel to keep his strength throughout the season, that would be a big boost against what Vizquel did last season.

Defensively, I turn to my newly arrived Bill James Handbook and see that Vizcaino did OK overall. He took some games at 1B and didn't do great there, but given that Niekro hit .206/.251/.335/.587 vs. RHP, he'd be an offensive upgrade over Niekro at 1B (I don't see how Sweeney will get all the RHP ABs at 1B, nobody has ever played him over 200 AB in a season until last season, and he was barely over. Plus his fielding percentage would have been last in the MLB for starting 1B, .988 vs. .989 and .991 and .992). At 2B, his FP was 1.000 and Range was 5.66 in 109.2 innings played at 2B - obviously his FP won't stay that good but his range would have ranged 2nd in the MLB. At 3B, his FP was .786 and his range was 2.45 in 40.1 innings- I don't think his FP would stay that lousy and his range would have been last, whereas Feliz' FP was .970 and range 2.91, good for a tie for 7th and 5th, respectively. At SS, his FP was 1.000 and range of 3.82 in 101.1 innings - again obviously his FP won't stay that good but his range would have ranged 2nd to last in the MLB (ouch!). Hmmm, let's see, his 2004 stats show a little better with FP of .969 and Range of 4.31 in 455.1 innings, which is a bit better, ranking tied with Izturis for 20th in 2004.

So overall, he's an adequate offensive replacement at SS and perhaps could lead to Vizquel hitting much better (quality over quantity), would be a defensive upgrade at 2B though obviously a downgrade in hitting vs. Durham, and would help take away RHP AB from Niekro at 1B when Sweeney is not starting there. All for only $1.25M. Looks like a good deal to me. Let's worry more about who we're going to have as our #5 starter or perhaps picking up a better lefty hitting 1B.

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