BOTTOMFEEDER BASEBALL BLOG

Dedicated to the constructive criticism of the Washington Nationals.

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

So I Guess We Can Cross Furcal Off The Wish List

This article today by Bill Ladson of MLB.com brings the news that the Nats are in negotiation with Cristian Guzman on a two-year contract extension. Guzman's previous contract, given by GM Jim Bowden after the 2004 season, was for four years and $16MM. Guzman's performance during that four-year stretch has been well documented, and if you want to examine the grizzly numbers before this season, please feel free. They aren't pretty.

He is a lifetime .267/.304/.382 hitter with 50 home runs in nine seasons. Since his laser eye surgery after the 2006 season, however, he's hit .316. He's been the Nats best hitter so far this season, and Manny Acta has gone on record advocating his all-star criteria. But a closer look tells us that even though Guzman is hitting the ball, he's still not that great a hitter, and certainly lacking as a lead-off hitter. Ladson opines:

Guzman is having the best year of his career, hitting .312 with five home runs and 26 RBIs entering Wednesday's action. He is on pace to collect 200 hits and score 100 runs.

His OBP so far this season is .335, terrible for someone who is supposed to be the "table setter". The reason his OBP is just a few points higher than his average is, obviously, he never walks. He has 12 walks so far this season in 356 plate appearances. Since returning to the lead-off spot at the begining of June, he's hitting .340/.366/.371. The OBP is higher because a few more hits have dropped. He's only walked twice since June 5.

His OPS+ is 101 for the season. OPS+ is measured with 100 being the base for all players--a specific player's value is in relationship to that base. So Guzman's value is one point higher than the base. He leads the NL in hits and singles, and is fifth in doubles.

As for defense, his range factor places him in the bottom third of starting shortstops in the NL and his fielding percentage is in the middle of the pack. Strangely, he's near the top of the NL in double plays turned, which is probably a mechanic of the pitchers in front of him. So statistically, he's below average overall in the field as well.

Negatives: He's 30. His OBP is low. He doesn't steal bases anymore (3 in 6 attempts this year).

Positives: He hits for average. He's got decent pop for an NL SS. He doesn't strike out a lot. No one in the minors to push him.

On the face of it, the Nats could do worse than Guz at short IF they had a legitimate lead-off hitter, allowing Guz to hit second -- or better yet -- eighth. If Bowden re-signs Guzman expecting him to lead-off for the next two years with further declining defensive skills as he gets older, then Bowden--and the team--will regret this contract as much as the last.

1 comment:

Wigi said...

I like that they're talking to Guzman... in fact, I wrote about it just before the Nats offer was made public. I don't think the Nats (and especially not Manny) want Guzzie as a leadoff guy.

Wonder if Guzzie could play second? Furcal is back in the mix then...

All in all, if the Nats could get Guzman for two years, I think it would be highway robbery, especially since the pipeline is bereft of middle infield prospects of any consequence.