We are a fantasy baseball league whose draft is scheduled for April 14. Ten men enter (or nine or eight), and one man leaves.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

You Gibbons Lovers Take a Look

Baltimore Orioles
Garage Sale: Call us cruel if you will, but that seems to be an apt description of the Orioles' 2004 free agent class: mostly old and useless, and not likely to sell for much.
'04 VORP '04 Sal. Status
David Segui 4.3 $7.0MM Filed
Omar Daal DNP $4.5MM Filed
Marty Cordova DNP $3.5MM Retired
Buddy Groom 6.8 $3.0MM Filed
B.J. Surhoff 16.7 $800K Filed
Luis Lopez -7.7 $365K FA after cut from 40-man
Jose Leon -5.3 $305K FA after cut from 40-man
Robert Machado -7.0 $300K FA after cut from 40-man
Darnell McDonald -3.5 $300K FA after cut from 40-man
The Orioles aren't looking to bring any of these players, except Surhoff, back in 2005. What they hope instead is that the passing of names like Segui and Cordova caps the purging of the old guard of bloated contracts from their roster. The performance of Miguel Tejada and Javy Lopez is helping to ensure that the old unpleasantness is not immediately renewed. Sidney Ponson, on the other hand....
With money to burn, who will the Orioles look to sign? Tops on their list is Carl Pavano, scheduled for a December 6 visit to Camden Yards. Pavano's merits have been detailed elsewhere on this site, but we'll add this: he is an excellent example of a player over whom scouts and statheads will clash, and his great 2004 will give the scouts more ammo. You might look at Pavano and see a guy who's been healthy and effective for a full year exactly once in his career, with a declining strikeout rate and a career year probably helped by a fluky low BABIP. I might look at Pavano and see a workhorse with the cojones for big-game success and some serious heat that he can bring again and again.
This writer will throw a dissenting voice into the mix and say that there is something to what the scouts see. Some pitchers are just late bloomers, and don't deserve to have their history held against them too strictly. Unfortunately, the attention being lavished upon Pavano right now all but guarantees that whichever team signs him will fall prey to the Winner's Curse.
Decline and Fall: There are two Gibbonses in the big leagues. John is retired and manages the Blue Jays. Jay turned 27 this year and plays right field. Would you believe that John had the higher VORP in '04?
Here's the younger Gibbons' line for the last three years:
2002 .247 .311 .482 17.0 $232,500
2003 .277 .330 .456 26.5 $375,000
2004 .246 .303 .379 -1.7 $2,600,000
Gibbons figures to make around $4,000,000 in arbitration this winter. If he could return to his 2003 form, that wouldn't be all that bad, especially for a one-year commitment; look where that 2003 VORP would have placed among corner outfielders in '04:
VORP Salary
Kevin Mench 29.0 not yet arb-eligible
Matt Lawton 28.1 $7,250,000
Sammy Sosa 27.9 $16,000,000
Craig Monroe 26.7 not yet arb-eligible
GIBBONS '03 26.5 ($4,000,000)
Geoff Jenkins 26.1 $8,737,500
Matt Stairs 25.1 $1,000,000
Shannon Stewart 24.4 $5,500,000
Luis Gonzalez 23.7 $8,250,000
It's not the easiest thing in the world to find a 25+ VORP. (We ought to note that this is not the most scientific way to be looking at our question; there were better bargains further up the VORP scale.) Still, Gibbons' 2003 screams CAREER YEAR!, especially when you consider that he's now trying to come back from a torn hip flexor and a bulging disc. He says he's OK, but with Magglio Ordonez, Jermaine Dye, Richard Hidalgo and Moises Alou all available, the O's may try to deal Gibbons, and might non-tender him if they can't.
That wouldn't be a bad move. Gibbons wouldn't see four million a year as a free agent; the only attractive thing about keeping him at that price is the one-year commitment

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