Monday, January 14, 2008

We have a Centerfielder

Meet Mark Kotsay. Kotsay was hurt for most of 2007 and when he was healthy, he was abysmal, racking up a .575 OPS. So the Braves are buying low on Kotsay, which is nice. The good news is that his three most similar batters through age 31 all had downturns in the middles of their careers before righting the ship to a degree. Kotsay doesn't need to return to his peak form of his late 20s for this deal to work. Rather, he simply needs to give the Braves good defense and about 500 plate appearances of league average OPS. This deal is all about avoiding a weakness. It's about making sure that the Braves don't have an out machine at the bottom of the order and they must be concerned that Josh Anderson would be exactly that.

As for giving up on Joey Devine, I'm not overly upset. He was dreadful in 2005 and 2006 in a small sample size and then was good last year in a similarly small sample size. His numbers at Richmond last year were excellent, so the A's might be getting a valuable product. A change of scenery might be good for Devine, as he must have some pretty negative associations with the Ted. Generally, the Braves have a good track record of not giving up quality pitchers, so I'll give them the benefit of the doubt on this one. Again, if the Braves get a league-average offensive performance (.335 OBP, .765 OPS) from Kotsay at a premium defensive position, then the deal will be a success.

By the way, Joe Sheehan of the Baseball Prospectus has tabbed Jeff Francoeur as his break-out player for 2008($). Here's his reasoning:

Take a player who has top-tier tools (save speed), who has lots of experience at a young age, and who has clearly improved the biggest hole in his game—that’s a player who projects for a significant leap forward. It Francoeur merely redistributes his XBH and adds 10 walks and five singles, you’re looking at a .300/.350/.500 player with plus defense. If he takes a leap forward—which is what I can see happening—you’re talking about a mid-ballot MVP candidate. Given the RBI he’ll end up with as a product of batting behind Chipper Jones and Mark Teixeira, and the bonus given to a player who comes out of nowhere, and he might actually be the BBWAA MVP.

I'd personally like to see Sheehan come up with one or two comparable players who solved their major weakness at the plate and then went on to achieve great things, but that would be icing on top of the cake. Sheehan's overall point is that we shouldn't worry about the drop in homers last year because Francouer's extra-base hit rate remained roughly the same and power hitters typically see some variance in terms of their mix of doubles, triples, and homers. The important point is that Francoeur finally starting being selective at the plate in 2007 and that was one of the best developments in the Braves' season.

1 comment:

peacedog said...

It's the fact that we're far more likely to get 120 games (or less) than 140 (or more) that bothers me. That and the fact that he was never even a very good hitter, and he's aging.