This week in the NL West we've seen the Giants sign Mark DeRosa, U-IF/OF, and Juan Uribe, U-IF, the D-backs sign Kelly Johnson, 2B, and the Rockies get closer to signing Miguel Olivo, C. The Dodgers are working out a deal with Larry Fornbogger, Credit and Debt Counselor, and the Padres.., well, I'm not sure, actually. I sort of forgot about them.
At any rate, let's hash out what this all means:
gets a baseball KJ -
As IHateSouthBend at the Snakepit points out, and as you probably already know if you read PF's NL West in Review 2nd Basemen report, Kelly Johnson or any D-back second baseman is going to be very hard pressed to duplicate the production the Snakes got from the position in 2009. So while some, like MLB.com fantasy writer Alex Cushing say this is the "most underrated move of the offseason", keep it clear that this is a downgrade for Arizona from where they were last season.
What signing Johnson does do, however, is significantly lessen the likelihood of total loss. Whereas the three players the D-backs had penciled in to the keystone before obtaining Johnson were either too young and inexperienced in the majors and not that great in the minors (Ryan Roberts and Tony Abreu) or too old and Augie Ojeda-like (Augie Ojeda) to automatically assume greater than replacement level production, with Johnson, a player in his prime a year removed from a couple of very solid seasons, I don't have the same hesitation. I think before they were likely to get better than zero production at second, I just wasn't confident enough in that to say with any certainty, particularly since so much of that prior assumed production was tied to the players' defense.
Now if this move, as is suggested in the Snakepit post via the D-backs' MLB.com writer Steve Gilbert, indicates that the Diamondbacks are likely to trade Ojeda, it would be taking the risk in the other direction because the value here in part stems from a safety in numbers thing, but Johnson does seem the safer bet of the two. All in all, it's a solid cost conscious pickup for a team on a budget.
Now, there will be an inevitable cry among some Rockies fans about why our team didn't try harder to pick up Johnson themselves. For one, he really did seem to like Arizona, and once they sweetened their initial offer, he jumped on it. What's more, there might be better bargains by waiting. Orlando Hudson's $3.38 million deal in 2009 was just $1 million more than what Johnson signed for. Hudson, Felipe Lopez, Ronnie Belliard, Adam Kennedy and several other middle infielders are still available. Second, he's another left handed bat, and that doesn't really help the team with one of its biggest offensive flaws, and Johnson is somebody you pick up for offensive purposes.
San Francisco -
Added to acquiring Mark DeRosa, this makes perfect sense because while Mark DeRosa is a mediocre hitting thirtysomething former shortstop whose most valuable current position is third base, Uribe's a mediocre hitting thirtysomething former shortstop whose most valuable current position is second base. And since the Giants don't currently have either a third or second baseman, this adds a lot to that team... oh, wait...
Yeah, I really don't know what the Giants are doing at this point. Their next target may be Adam LaRoche or Yorvit Torrealba, which continues the process of stacking more mediocrity on top of the mediocrity they already have.
As the post last night indicated, Olivo's coming in to replace Torrealba. While I was thinking about strong armed players that could home runs but provide little else at the plate, I wondered why Khalil Greene never gets mentioned as a potential utility bat. Possibly because we already have that kind of player in Barmes, only with better defense, and now another hitter like that in Olivo. At any rate, though, I don't know what Greene's prospects are this winter, but if he's down to looking at the best minor league/split contract with an NRI, I wouldn't mind if the Rockies put out a feeler.
Los Angeles -
If having to defer payments on Jamey Carroll's 2 year, $4 million wasn't a crystal clear sign that LA's finances are out of whack, I don't know what else we need to see. My hope at this point is that Frank McCourt gets to keep the team in the divorce settlement and he figures out a way to hang around as Dodgers owner for a few more seasons.
San Diego -
Who? oh, them. Yeah. Uhm... sorry, I've got to wash my hair, or do laundry or something. I'll look something up on San Diego later, I swear.