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January 9, 2012

Transaction Analysis

Dipoto's Next Move

by R.J. Anderson

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IN THIS ISSUE

American League
National League

ANAHEIM ANGELS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Re-signed 2B-R Howie Kendrick to a four-year extension worth $33.5 million. [1/7]

If Jerry Dipoto’s first season with the Angels goes like his first offseason there, then go ahead and plan the parade route. Kendrick’s performance is comparable to Rickie Weeks, who signed an extension last year at a similar point in their careers. Yet, despite being near equals, Weeks received an additional $5 million in guaranteed money (he also had a few options tacked onto the end of his deal, which may have precipitated the excess money). Here is how the two stack up across the various metrics:

Player

BA/OBP/SLG

FRAA

WARP

Weeks (08-10)

.256/.354/.445

-2.9

6.9

Kendrick (09-11)

.284/.327/.436

-9.3

6.5

Kendrick’s Annual comments have included the words “batting title” in four of the past five editions, but he does not put the bat on the ball with the consistency you would expect. About 20 percent of his swings come up empty, and they caught up to him in 2011 as he posted a career-high strikeout rate (20.4 percent). Despite this, Kendrick still managed his best offensive season. How did he do it? By also posting career-highs in walk (5.7 percent) and extra-base hit rate (9.3 percent).

The biggest annoyance in Kendrick’s game is injuries, particularly to his left hamstring, which sidelined him (again) in 2011. Even so, Kendrick did come near 600 plate appearances and made his first All-Star team. Speaking of, is there a position out there with fiercer competition than the American League’s group of second basemen? Between Kendrick, Ian Kinsler, Robinson Cano, Dustin Pedroia, and Ben Zobrist, you have five of the league’s best second basemen all jockeying for awards and accolades.

Kendrick may never win that batting title, but the Angels will be pleased if he can keep his name in such fine company over the life of what appears to be a prudent extension.

BALTIMORE ORIOLES
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Acquired OF-R Jai Miller from the Athletics for cash considerations. [1/3]
Traded 1B-R Brandon Snyder to the Rangers for cash considerations. [1/3]

Soon-to-be 26 with a career .271/.351/.516 line in Triple-A, Miller is nobody’s idea of a cause célèbre. Still, Dan Duquette made an interesting, low-risk acquisition in grabbing Miller for $45,000.

Miller forewent a Stanford commitment (where he would have played point guard and wide receiver) to sign with the Marlins as a fourth-round pick in 2003.  He spent the next five minor league seasons getting his sea legs before his blend of speed and power began breeding results. The Marlins gave Miller one major league plate appearance before losing him on waivers to the Royals, who gave him 60 before they lost him on waivers to the Athletics, who gave him just 12 plate appearances before trading him to the Orioles. Through it all, Miller finished with more strikeouts than total bases.

The pejorative Quad-A label creeps to mind whenever a player with impressive minor league numbers struggles to make contact in the majors, and at the end of Miller’s career, the odds are that he will be deserving of the tag. Arguing in favor of Miller receiving more opportunities is a matter of context. With a team like the Marlins, Athletics, or Royals, Miller found himself stuck behind better, younger options—as Jason Wojciechowski smartly noted—but with the Orioles? Yeah, Miller might deserve work.

With Adam Jones being floated in trade rumors, Nick Markakis coming off a down season and abdominal surgery, and Luke Scott likely heading elsewhere, the Orioles could use outfield depth. Nolan Reimold deserves a chance of his own, and Endy Chavez can be useful in his own ways, but beyond that, the O’s have Matt Angle, Kyle Hudson, and otherwise undistinguishable fringe players to offer. Miller might be the best of the worst, and that should be enough to get him close to 100 career plate appearances. Who knows… the Orioles could hit the lottery.

And Snyder? The Orioles drafted him 15th-overall back in 2005 out of a Virginia high school. He started behind the plate, moved to third base, and finished his career with the Orioles manning first base. All the while, Snyder never hit enough to live up to his draft status, amassing almost 1,200 plate appearances in Triple-A and batting .256/.317/.394.

NEW YORK METS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Signed SS-R Ronny Cedeno to a one-year deal worth $1.2 million. [1/6]

Meet 22-year-old Ruben Tejada’s backup. Tejada owned a sneaky .360 on-base percentage last season and should be an interesting player to watch going forward.

Of course, it wasn’t too long ago that Cedeno raised eyebrows as a 22-year-old, either. Back in 2005, Cedeno hit .355/.403/.518 in his first exposure to Triple-A. The period time since has not been kind to Cedeno’s offensive production, but he remains an archetypical reserve infielder. He can field shortstop well and grinds out at-bats, and while you may not want him starting, you can do worse in a pinch.

Stay tuned to see what Cedeno’s signing means for the wide-open Ryan Theriot market. 

R.J. Anderson is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see R.J.'s other articles. You can contact R.J. by clicking here

Related Content:  Kyle Kendrick

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