The other day on the radio, I heard some argument as to whether or not the Orioles should sign Matt Wieters to a $10 M a year contract. The part that got me was that even the people in favor seemed to assume that Wieters would take such a deal. When I expressed that idea, I received a fair bit of push-back - it seems like people don't think that Wieters is actually that good. These people are mistaken.
The bar for offense at the catcher postilion is not very high. The bar for offense at the catcher position is really not very high when said catcher also saves you upwards of 10 runs a season with the glove. Therefore even a league-average hitter is going to be quite valuable (in the neighborhood of 3-3.5 wins above replacement), if he's also a plus defensive catcher. Such a player, if he were a free agent now, might be expected to sign for something like $15 M a year (with the influx of money into the sport recently driving up salaries it seems).
So, is Matt Wieters such a player? Maybe, but he's probably better. In 2011, Wieters started to hit for some more power. Over the next two seasons, he hit a combined .255/.329/.442. That doesn't look that impressive, but it's good enough for an above average .335 wOBA. Combined with his plus defense, that allowed him to average 4.3 fWAR over the two years. That's quite good, obviously - tied for the third highest mark for all catchers for '11-'12, behind Yadier Molina (signed a 5 year, $75 M deal; is four years older than Wieters) and Buster Posey (signed for 9 years and $167 M; not arguing Wieters is in Posey's class).
But Wieters' poor start to 2013 means he's no longer that guy, right?
The batting line is down, but the walks, strike-outs, and power numbers are all pretty much the same. The only real difference is a drop in BABIP. Wieters is hitting more flyballs so far this year, which probably has something to do with it. I imagine it will come up though, and if it was actually at the .275 level like the last two years then his batting line would be more like .249/.320/.443 - not too far off from the first line in the table. And once again, while that doesn't look like much it's actually a bit better than what the average Major League batter has done this year - walks plus power makes up for a mediocre batting average quite well. On the other hand, the BABIP might come in a bit lower if Wieters keeps hitting a lot of flyballs, but the flip side to that is that the extra balls in the air might allow him to a few extra home runs. Either way, I expect him to finish the season as around a league average hitter, and that's after getting off to a slow start.
Someone actually suggested to me that Wieters has gotten worse as a hitter since he came up, which I guess is based on his batting average being .288 as a rookie (buoyed by a .356 BABIP that was just not going to be sustainable for a slow-as-molasses catcher). He's mostly the same guy, but just double the home run power - which seems like a plus to me. Maybe people allow their expectations to get the better of them - Wieters surely isn't the guy we thought he might be given his Minor League numbers (and that's unlikely to happen). But judging him just based on what he's doing as a player, I don't think it's reasonable to call him a "bad" hitter; he's solid - average-ish to a bit above. And he's just turning 27 this season, which in no way precludes him from getting better. Not that he'd need to to make signing him for $10 M a year a very easy decision for the Orioles.
I'm not the only one noticing. Even your sliced bread buddy has turned on you.
Chris Davis was intentionally walked last night to pitch to Wieters. Shows you what other teams think of their abilities. I know I know, facepalm. His current .299 w/OBA and 82wRC+ are not the lowest of his career. He is really improving. And aren't the Emperor's threads marvelous....
Only response at this point: http://i.stack.imgur.com/jiFfM.jpg
I think we're done here.
Exactly because the facts aren't on your side. You think Wieters is much better than Martin? Show me how. And remember that since low BABIP is so important to you to MW that is also needs to be factored into Martin.
Look, I agree with you that I would rather have Wieters than not have him. I think when I say he is a decent player and above average that means I do not think he is Jose Molina.
However, building a baseball team is all about costs and benefits. A team like the Orioles cannot have 3-4 max type contract players and survive. Jones already got paid (I'm not a huge fan of the deal but at least it doesn't go on deep into his decline). Machado will get paid. Davis I think they need to keep considering the alternatives and considering he has carried the team for big stretches so far. You have a bunch of arb eligible guys coming up. A decision will need to be made on Markakis. Right now they have no pitching next year beyond Chen and nothing beyond 2014. Gausman will help but they will obviously need to pay something for that. They have other competing priorities. If Angelos wants to stretch payroll significantly then go ahead and sign him. I do not think Wieters is a 15 million dollar player worthy of a super long term commitment, especially since he plays a position prone to injury and that you would be buying his 28-33 or whatever decline phase. Obviously Wieters and Boras agree with you and not me, we will see how other teams feel about him or what the O's feel about him. Superstar money to non-superstar players is not a pool I want to swim in.
For example, who was a better player in their first 4 seasons, Russell Martin or Matt Wieters? Age very comparable. Wieters worth 12.1 WAR per fangraphs. Martin 14.4 WAR. Now Martin had some injuries and the one admirable thing about Wieters is he has been healthy but where is Russell Martin's huge contract? The last 4 years he has made 6 million, 7.5 million and then got a 2 year 17.5 million dollar contract. And if you want to get into the weeds Martin's BABIP in 11 and 12 was tremendously low - especially 12. Martin and Wieters are very comparable players. No one thinks of Russell Martin as being great. He is a decent, above average player. Therefore if the O's want to give Wieters what Martin got at the same age - 35 million 4 years I'm all for it. But this Wieters would be insane to sign for 10 milliion? It is not going to be a bargain for a team to give Wieters 6 years 90 million or whatever you are thinking. Not unless he takes a major step forward and he has shown no signs of that. O's can offer him arbitration and get the pick, he and Boras can come to their senses, they can trade him. Plenty of options and plenty of time. Machado on the other hand is a star who has all the marbles in his corner.
The way you win is to get stars with top picks and then fill in behind. Duquette/MacPhail did a nice job filling in with Hardy, Jones (not a star but solid), McLouth, Davis and all the pitcher signings off the scrap heap. If you have 2 great stars and solid players everywhere else that is a very good team. Problem is the O's have 1 star. That is what is so frustrating because Wieters has the talent to be great, it is motivation or work ethic or something.
1. I don't think you can simply gloss over the fact that he hasn't come anywhere near to performing at a level expected. It wasn't unrealistic hype expectations. It was expectations that a guy getting a 6 million dollar bonus who was widely considered the BPA in the draft who tore up the minors is a decent big league player. Nothing more. He was not in the top 35 in baseball in WAR last season. He isn't close to being a superstar and when you are a medium market team you need to hit on those types of picks with a much more than he has done up to this point.
2. Machado's arm and glove aren't going into hibernation. He has a chance to be Jeter offensively or more and Beltre or more defensively. When Jeter was the same age he was in AAA. That is what a star looks like. Wieters is what a non-star looks like. I understand his BABIP but you assume he isn't going to vastly improve over the course of the season. He started slow at Bowie last year and really heated up as the season went on. I expect more walks, fewer K's and continued great defense. He isn't getting many bloop hits either, he is putting it hard in play. He is at 2.3 WAR at the quarter pole, his defense alone almost assures he has a floor over the next 3/4 barring injury.
3. I just don't see what you see. His power went up from 10 which is nice but his best offensive year was 2011 when he had a nice reduction in Ks. That has spiked the past two years. And since 11 his power hasn't increased. I don't see much improvement and most players get substantially better from 25 to 27 if they are ever going to. He is on pace for 3.2 WAR this year. Like I said 2-4 win player. 3 win players are not endangered species and making a habit of paying them huge sums (especially for decline years) is usually not a good idea.
4. It isn't a matter of whether Wieters will be better than Davis this year though the odds are overwhelming he won't. Davis has made great strides. He went from 6 percent walk rate to 13.6. He has cut his Ks. He is improving. He works hard at the game. He is the exact same age as Wieters. Why would I give Wieters huge money when he hasn't shown improvement? If someone is willing and able to work and chooses food stamps that is a moral hazard. And giving Wieters 15 million a year to run in place doesn't seem wise and is a moral hazard. 5 mill per win may be the going rate, it isn't a great bargain and the club would be assuming all injury risk plus decline year risk. 10 seems about right to me if that. If they could trade him for say Ramos and Anthony Rendon I would do that. It depends on Boras but if Wieters thinks he is a superstar he is delusional.
5. What I'm saying is Manny is priority 1-100 for this team. He will be 26 at FA, he has a chance to be the greatest player of the modern era or maybe any era. You don't let him get away. If Angelos wants to stretch fine, Wieters is good enough but I wouldn't go longer than Jones contract and I wouldn't give him as much as Jones got. Not my money. But it is frustrating that he obviously doesn't work hard at the game or something otherwise tangible improvement during prime years would have been readily noticeable by now. Keith Law complains that the O's are overrated but then never mentions that if he had been correct on Wieters they would be in first place easily last year and this year.
No offense but you have a severe blind spot when it comes to Wieters.
1. He was not hyped as a decent player, he was hyped as a great Joe Mauer type player. He was the number 1 overall prospect according to Keith Law in 2009 preseason. You devoted an entire website to how great he was going to be. You can't pretend to view him as some in a vacuum player who the Orioles stumbled across like Jeff Tackett or something. Under your logic Ben McDonald was a tremendous success because he had a lifetime 3.91 ERA and an above .500 winning percentage.
2. Manny Machado was ultra-hyped and guess what....he is 10 times better than anyone thought including me and I watched him play in the minors and thought he was going to be an immediate superstar. The last O's position player to post 7 WAR in a season was Hoiles in 1993. Machado is going to blow by that like a Lamborghini racing a car with a flat tire at age 20/21. Machado probably wasn't as hyped as Wieters however and Wieters has never exceeded 4.7 WAR. He just isn't getting it done.
3. It is questionable at best your logic on Wieters' improvement. He was less valuable in 2012 than he was in 2011. His peripherals right now look very similar to 2010 except more power and less BABIP and in 2010 his w/OBA was .305. He was a 2.2 win player that year. He is basically what he is at this point, a 2-4 WAR player who thinks he is a superstar and deserves superstar money.
4. The O's have other things to take care of. Jones makes good money, Davis will make good money (and has actually made significant improvement both peripherally and otherwise this year and deserves it), Machado in 3 years will get a tremendous arbitration bump, Johnson makes a lot of money, etc. If the O's are staying in the 100 million dollar range I do not think you can commit 15-20% of your payroll to a player that can't run or hit all that much. I also have serious moral concerns about rewarding a guy for not improving. It is like food stamps for people who don't work.
5. Let's just put it this way, regardless of how good you or I think Wieters is. I would rather give Machado 15 years 300 million and lose Wieters via trade or free agency than offer Machado 280 million and have even a .00000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000001 percent chance he might test free agency at age 26.
1) I addressed the hype issue above - judging Wieters based on unrealistic expectations isn't remotely fair. I didn't devote a website to how great he would be - I went to great lengths trying to make clear that the Matt Wieters Facts was just for fun, and that I didn't actually buy into the hype quite as much as many people did.
2) A big LOL at the expectation that Machado will blow past 7 fWAR this year - because a .384 BABIP and +26 UZR/150 games are definitely going to continue. Machado has been better than I expected, but that's nuts. Extra lol at the bar for "getting it done" apparently being set at almost 5 WAR (only 14 position players in the Majors have averaged more than 4.7 fWAR over the last three years).
3) Like how "more power" is glossed over there - he's doubled his home run output. His wOBA went up about 30 points from '10 to '11-'12. And he's batting better so far in 2013 than he did in 2010 despite a low BABIP. And with that low BABIP he's still on pace for over 3 fWAR this year. His three year average (since he started hitting for more power) would then still be 3.9 fWAR per season. That's in the 2-4 win range only on a technicality.
4) Not going into the moral thing (but people who get fired in a bad economy should starve?), but he very clearly has improved. You're just plain wrong here. And nowhere did I suggest giving Wieters a Buster Posey like contract, And there's a very good chance Wieters ends up having a better season than Davis, to boot.
5) This is pretty stupid. You're not willing to give Wieters just over $1 M a year over 15 years?