Thanks everyone for hanging in their with me. Between a busy work life at the UPS Store, and a busy life writing for everyone else, my personal website has taken a bit of a hit lately.
Nonetheless, tonight I’d like to take a peek at the departed Twins and how I feel about their prognoses in their new digs.
Michael Cuddyer – OF – Colorado Rockies
Cuddyer is a heck of a guy, and the Rockies’ fan base will take to him immediately. It’s also great that he’s wearing Harmon Killbrew’s number. In Colorado’s thin air — keep in mind that Stat Corner shows that Coors was 17 percent more conducive to home runs for RHH in 2011 — Cuddyer seems to be a good bet to drive 25-30 home runs, and probably 60-65 XBH overall. That’s pretty good production, though it probably isn’t likely to make anyone forget about Seth Smith. Cuddyer’s defensive versatility may be overstated, but with decent-sized holes in the infield too, the Rockies may press him into helping out there as well.
Well, Cuddyer’s defensive woes aren’t about to go away in an offensive launchpad like Coors, but with a staff that has a little more groundball tendencies than his previous group, they may be covered up a bit more. Again, Cuddyer’s defensive versatility is overstated; he doesn’t play any of the numerous positions particularly well, and the one that he probably played best, first base, is manned by Todd Helton with Jason Giambi as the backup. Offensively, Cuddyer has struggled against same-sided hurlers (.760 OPS against), but he has pretty good pop (career .180 ISO) and a decent .345 career wOBA. From a corner outfielder, those numbers are good but not great.
Cuddyer should be plenty useful for Colorado, but there won’t be a huge difference between him and Seth Smith, and to spend that much more money was pretty foolish. The Twins are better off with Willingham, who has a better career wOBA and a more consistent v. LHP/RHP split. Oh, and he cost over $10 million less.
Jason Kubel – OF – Arizona Diamondbacks
Well for Kubel, pulling $7-plus mill a year is a big win, considering he had an injury-marred 2011 — something I’m growing increasingly uneasy about — and really hasn’t been an effective offensive player since 2009. Kubel also wanted to go somewhere that he’d get to play the field every day, and in the National League, well, there isn’t much of a choice. Kubel’s certainly going to the right place, as park factors for left-handed hitters are off the charts for lefties at Chase Field (including an insane 172 mark for triples for left-handed hitters).
Kubel’s never been a good defender (-41.8 runs below average according to FanGraphs over his career), and he’s pushing a very good defender in Gerardo Parra off that left field spot. In fact, for as good of a hitter as he’s been, Kubel’s still only a 3.9 win player over his entire career. I don’t know what the Twins’ best offer was to Kubel, but I would hope it was something like 2/$10 or 2/$12, because I want to believe the club is trending towards thinking with its collective head rather than heart.
The best case scenario probably has Kubel hitting just like he did in 2009 — .300/.369/.539 (.383 wOBA) — but even then, Kubel was still a sub-3.0 win player. On a team whose defense is so instrumental, it’s a head-scratching move. Still, loading up on left-handed power hitters in that park is a wise move. At $5 mill per win on the WAR scale, there’s a decent chance Kubel will be worth it. Still, will his defense be too detrimental to overcome?
Joe Nathan – CL – Texas Rangers
Nathan was much improved down the stretch for the Twins. He got a second-half bump in K/BB (2.3 to 4.0), a nice drop in OPS against (.756 to .654), and a nice drop in WHIP (1.34 to 1.00) as well. The velocity in Nathan’s offerings also was almost completely back, as his fastball was the only offering that was more than 0.2 miles-per-hour off his career pace.
Nathan’s WHIP, BAA, and K% were all way down from his typical marks. Of course, coming back from UCL surgery will make that happen, but entering Nathan’s age-37 season, there’s just no guarantee that he’ll bounce back to his pre-surgery rates. In that respect, it seems like the Rangers are paying for the pitcher Nathan used to be, rather than is likely to be. Additionally, the Rangers didn’t really need Nathan, with a bullpen that currently features stalwart stoppers in Mike Adams and Koji Uehara. As far as WAR goes, Nathan was exactly break-even last year.
This is a puzzling move for a club with an already solid pitching staff. Nathan’s days of fanning 11 per nine are probably over, and only then was Nathan a two-win reliever (including peaking over three in two seasons). In a relief market that’s often conducive to over-payment, it’s not an egregious misgiving, but for a team with certain players already in place — and a purported interest in Andrew Bailey as well — it is just a bit of a head scratcher.