Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Bill Hall, and the (Not So) Super-Utility Bargain Bin

This post is syndicated from The Yankee Analysts.

With the hot stove dwindling just below a simmer, yesterday saw Ken Rosenthal "break" a story with respect to the Yankees' interest in ... Bill Hall. This is indicative of, at the very least, Cashman's continued interest in having a veteran presence to spell Alex Rodriguez. A more optimistic and/or pessimistic view may be that the team is looking to send Eduardo Nunez packing - be it to Scranton to work on his ability to be the shortstop of the future, or to another team ... with the reader determining which version is the better-case scenario. Regardless of your preference, it seems unlikely that the team will do anything other than supplement their bench with such a signing. While none of this is particularly exciting, perusing the list of remaining free agent infielders should be a bit more than an exercise in futility ... so, there's that.

Bill Hall

The method to this madness, Hall "batted" .211/.261/.314, good for a 55 wRC+ and -1.6 fWAR, for the Astros and Giants in 2011 on the heels of a solid 2010 with the Red Sox (.247/.316/.456, 107 wRC+). His defensive metrics range from passable to horrific, albeit in small sample sizes at every position but catcher, with 3B being his best position ... and one that he did not play in 2011. At 32, he's a relatively known commodity, in that he's consistently inconsistent. His ability to man the outfield in a pinch does add some value.

Carlos Guillen

Guillen has played a total of 96 games over the past two seasons, with only 28 of those coming in 2011. He hasn't played a game at a position other than 1B, 2B, LF, or DH since 2008, and he hasn't played those positions terribly well, either. In reality, he only makes the cut to be listed due to his surprisingly stout numbers in 29 games between the two Yankee Stadiums - .293/.354/.500 - and to offer a tip of the cap to a once very good player.

Wes Helms

Helms can be filed under the "only if they're really desperate for a Rodriguez" category, as he has a .239/.300/.344 slash line over the past five seasons. The once solid defender at third has also regressed into something less than statuesque, to boot. Please bear with me, as Helms represents the absolute bottom of the barrel.

Felipe Lopez

Why, pray tell, is Felipe Lopez not the bottom of the barrel? I'm not sure. He did post very strong walk rates in 2009 and 2010 (10.4% and 10.0%, respectively) and he's a roughly average defender at 3B. There really isn't much more to say, though, as he was barely replacement-level in 2010 and below in 2011.

Aaron Miles

The personification of Tony La Russa's love affair with utility players and the double switch, Miles is something of an abomination with both the bat (his 2011 83 wRC+ was 10 points above his career norm) and the glove (at any position other than second). Why does he make the cut? Because he's gritty, and if there's anything the Yankees have been lacking over the last several years, it's grit.

Mark Teahen

In a vacuum, Teahen is an interesting player. Over his seven year career, he has produced slightly above-average walk rates and average-ish ISOs while playing significant innings in all four corners. Prior to his disastrous 2011 campaign, Teahen put up solid numbers against right-handed pitchers, including a solid .269/.332/.411 line between 2009 and 2010 while playing most of his games in the cavernous Kauffman Stadium. However, all of this represents quite a bit of puffery on my part. Teahen is probably a tick below average at 1B, LF, and RF, though his defensive metrics were fairly horrific. His 219.2 innings at the hot corner graded out fairly well by most metrics ... which represents a drastic turnaround for the rest of his career, and a contrarian view according to most scouts and analysts. Additionally, his ISO has slipped for three consecutive seasons and his wRC+ has went from a tick below-average to well below over the past two years. What does all of this mean? In something of a twist ... I'd endorse a minor league deal, or something of that nature for Teahen. Why? Yankee Stadium should suit his swing, he's still young enough to have something left in the tank, and anyone looks palpable on the heels of Aaron Miles.

Eric Chavez

To the best of my knowledge, the last real news regarding Chavez's intentions was way back in November, when he stated that he intends to play in 2012. Much has been written about Chavez's still-solid defense (9.5 UZR/150, 0 TZ, 1 DRS), fine pre-injury production (.303/.410/.424) and post-injury swoon (.252/.294/.339), so it seems redundant to add much else.

If the team is merely looking for a caddy for Rodriguez - that is, someone to spell him occasionally - then Chavez seems like a fine option as a known commodity to the team. That being said, his injury issues remain fairly disconcerting, even in a limited capacity, and it seems that the Yankees would like a semi-reliable option to spell Rodriguez. Unfortunately, with Wilson Betemit signing with the Orioles, however, that option doesn't seem to exist on the free agent market.

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