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December 6, 2009

Transaction Action

Scooting and Going Zaun

by Christina Kahrl

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BOSTON RED SOX
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Signed SS-R Marco Scutaro to a two-year, $11 million contract, with a 2012 club option for $6 million ($1.5 million buyout), or a $3 million player option for 2012. [12/4]

As much as we were probably all prepared to hate whatever deal Scutaro signed, this really wasn't too terrible for the two parties. Admittedly, it isn't cheap, but it also isn't insane in terms of length or expense, and I rather like the creativity as far as 2012 is concerned. If Scutaro's terrible in his two-season turn as the team's shortstop, he'll be an expensive utilityman in his option year on his variant, but not horribly so, but if he pans out well enough in those two seasons, the Sox can keep him at a price they're obviously comfortable with.

As I noted early last week in the piece on OBP, Scutaro's year was his best, yes, but it also wasn't so far beyond his abilities to suggest he doesn't have value as a regular. His power wasn't out of character, his walk rate's pretty good for a shortstop, and if the relative standard for employability at short for the Red Sox is short-stepping Jed Lowrie and career utilityman Nick Green, this isn't the worst deal in the world. Whatever your favorite flavor of defensive metrics, Scutaro came out looking good in Clay Davenport's Fielding Runs (with a Rate2 of 110) and Plus/Minus (+9 in '08, +12 in '09), adequate via UZR, slightly below average via RZR. Put all that together, and I see at least adequacy as a reasonable standard to expect from him.

Are the Sox taking a risk? Of course they are, but at this sort of pricing and structured in this sort of way, it's not the disaster that had some critics pre-lathered in their rabid rejections of a Scooteriffic future. If he can't fend off Lowrie, that's not all bad news, because it could mean Lowrie's got his career back on track. If he does deliver decent shortstoppery, walks anywhere from eight to 10 percent of the time, and delivers .100-.120 points of ISO while properly being left in the bottom third of the order, I'd figure that's a price fairly fulfilled, especially given the limited options available.


TEXAS RANGERS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Claimed UT-L Joe Inglett off waivers from the Blue Jays. [12/4]

I like this bit of snaggery, not that Inglett's a hidden find with untapped value who's going to wreak havoc upon the league as another one of the Ken Phelps All-Star Horsemen of the apocalypse, but because he's left-handed, gets the ball in play consistently enough, doesn't simply get knocked over at the plate by anyone with good stuff, and is capable of filling in at second, third, the outfield corners, and short or center in a pinch. That's essentially the profile of the perfect utility player in the age of the seven-man bullpen, and while we can debate the wisdom of having such a player on the 40-man in December instead of adding him in April, not everyone has Inglett's track record for adequacy. It's a worthwhile snag that really can only be judged in the context of whether or not adding him now costs the organization a potentially better player in this week's Rule 5 draft.


ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Signed RHP T.J. Beam, C-R Carlos Corporan, and OF-L Drew Macias. [12/4]

MILWAUKEE BREWERS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Signed C-S Gregg Zaun to a one-year, $1.9 million contract with a $2.25 million club option for 2011 ($250,000 buyout); signed OF-L Trent Oeltjen to a minor-league contract. [12/4]

Maybe it's my instinctive cussedness, but credit here belongs to Zaun's agent for scoring a pretty good deal for his client, more than to the Brewers for getting an older catcher with limitations as a receiver. At the very least, he'll get his $500,000 signing bonus now, his $1.4 million salary in 2010, and that contract buyout, not shabby for a backup headed into his age-39 season. A good two months with the Rays rehabilitated Zaun's rep for having some power left in the tank. Moving to the weaker league as a fly ball-prone hitter won't hurt his bid to sustain that, of course, so as long as he's matched with an effective regular, this could turn out well. Having nabbed George Kottaras and retained Mike Rivera, it's not inconceivable that this winds up as an adequate job-sharing arrangement up until Angel Salome wins over enough people in upper management to claim the job for the time being. (There's a Jonathan Lucroy-oriented future behind the plate to eventually consider as well, after all.)

As for picking up Oeltjen, it would be silly to get over-enthusiastic on the basis of his bopping at Reno (most life forms would), or having a nifty couple of weeks in Corporate Competence Make-Believe Ballpark in downtown Phoenix for the Snakes. At best, he's a fifth outfielder in a world that doesn't employ many of the type, but with three righty-batting regulars in the outfield-assuming Carlos Gomez can hold onto a job handed to him, an issue very much in doubt-you could invest some modest faith in Oeltjen's ability to handle a reserve role.


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

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