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Saturday, January 31, 2009

Evaluating the Remaining corner OF's: Abreu, Dunn, ManRam

Whether it is economic conditions, outrageous salary demands, or something else, spring training is just around the corner and several impact free agents remained unsigned.  Perhaps none are more surprising than Bobby Abreu, Adam Dunn, and Manny Ramirez.  All three play a corner outfield position and all three are middle of the order hitters.  However each player's game varies from the others causing teams to evaluate them differently.

Age: 33
Bats: Left
Abreu has rated as a plus offensive player since he got the starting job with the Phillies in 1998.  He has good patience, medium power, and stolen at least 22 bases in eleven consecutive seasons.  These skills allowed him to put up an EqA of .299 last year (EqA takes all offensive contributions into consideration including stolen bases except for other baserunning.  It is park and league adjusted and is modified to resemble batting average.)  and finish in the top ten in pitches seen per plate appearance.  The big concerns with Abreu are his slowly evaporating power and speed.  His days of slugging .500 are probably gone and if he steals 20 bases it's likely he won't have a success rate that warrants the attempts.  His defense on the other hand can be described as mediocre at best since he was 10 fielding runs below average last year.  This is a guy who could be washed up in four years.  I think Abreu's would be best served by signing a two year deal but in this market conditions I doubt that happens.
Best fits: Atlanta, Minnesota, Cincinnati
Where he'll land: Atlanta

Age: 29
Bats: Left
Adam Dunn is a guy you either hate or love.  There is no in-between.  Reds fans hated the guy for the ridiculous number of strikeouts and his infamously bad outfield defense.  Stat geeks love him for being a three true outcomes player (at bats that end with a walk, whiff, or homer).  Dunn is probably the guy whose batting average has the greatest variance from season to season due to his insane number of plate appearances ending with him failing to put the ball in play (286 BBs + K's over the last 3 seasons).  These are the kind of things which drive managers crazy but still have value.  He has only grounded into 26 double plays over the last three seasons despite his less than blazing speed and those walks allowed him to compile a career .381 OBP.  This coupled with five consecutive 40 homer seasons and you've got yourself a player.  With his large build and old players skills, teams are cautious to give him a contract for multiple years because of his awful defense and risk of rapid decline.  Latest reports have him demanding a $14 million per year contract and a starting spot in the outfield.  Teams that are willing to pony up that kind of money want him to DH.  Seems something's gotta give.
Best fits: Cincinnati (yeah, right), Baltimore (as DH), Atlanta, Minnesota (DH), Toronto, Dodgers
Likely destination: I have no idea.  Texas?

Age: 37 in May
Bats: Right
Possibly best known for his eccentric behavior, Manny Ramirez is a sure thing Hall of Famer that has alienated teammates and general managers with his me-first attitude and Scott Boras led contract demands.  Despite the allegations of Manny quitting in Boston last year, there is no statistical evidence to support this.  Once traded to the Dodgers, he took off, thrusting himself into MVP talk and helping the Dodgers make the playoffs.  When motivated there is little doubt that he is still a hitter who can carry a team for weeks at a time.  But a team should also be prepared to see him walk to first on routine groundouts and play "defense"--an art where he is just as likely to catch the ball as he is to turn it into a circus act.  Needless to say twelve 30+ homer seasons and a career .327 EqA will eventually get him a contract on a competitive team.  Hopefully they have a patient manager and an open DH slot too.
Best fits:  Angels, Giants, Dodgers, Yankees
Where he'll sign: Dodgers

OBP Rank:            Power rank:
1. Ramirez            1. Dunn
2. Dunn                2. Ramirez
3. Abreu               3. Abreu

Baserunning rank:    Defensive rank:
1. Abreu                     1. Abreu
2. Ramirez                 2. Dunn
3. Dunn                      3. Ramirez

Overall:
1. Ramirez
2. Dunn
3. Abreu

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