Monday, January 1, 2007

Doug Mientkiewicz

Word on the internet lately is that the Yankees are trying to sign Doug Mientkiewicz to be their everyday 1st baseman. The move would force Jason Giambi to the designated hitter spot.

I think that Mientkiewicz would be a good pickup on a small, one year deal. He hit .283/.359/.411 last season, close to he career averages. That is a decent little line - a little above league average - but isn't too impressive for a 1st baseman.

Mientkiewicz makes up for it with his glove. It's hard to quantify defense, but the consensus among people who attempt is that Mientkiewicz is the 2nd or 3rd best defensive 1st baseman in the game. BaseballThinkFactory rates him +12 runs.The Fielding Bible rates him about +9 runs. My instinct is that these numbers lowball Mientkiewicz by a little bit. I see Doug as +15 to +18 runs over a full season.

Overall, that would put Mientkiewicz as an average or slightly below average AL 1st baseman. He would improve our defense tremendously over Jason Giambi - whose defense is equivalent to -26 runs over a full season versus the average at his position. Chien-Ming Wang will appreciate the help. There was also statistical evidence last season with the Mets that Mientkiewicz improved the play of Jose Reyes and David Wright.

I think that there is value in improving our defense, even if he results in a net decrease in run differential. Baseball is a game is attrition, and every time that a ball squeaks passed Jason Giambi or a a ball in the dirt isn't scooped for an out, our pitchers have to throw more pitches. I am going to be writing a full article on our defense as soon as the team makes a decision on who to make the everyday 1st baseman.

Worst case scenario: Mientkiewicz sucks. He is signed to a small, one year deal. We turn him in to a valueable late inning defensive replacement and trade for a Richie Sexson or Adam Dunn. We even may get lucky and have a Cody Ehlers, Eric Duncan or Juan Miranda ready by the all star break. Andy Phillips or Josh Phelps could be an asset for us. Roster flexibility is a nice thing to have.