Goatriders of the Apocalypse

Slowly beating the horse to death - Mark DeRosa and Right Field

A couple of times today, I referred to an article I wrote toward the end of November about why starting Mark DeRosa in RF is not a brilliant plan.  I won't rehash the entire article, but I'll point out again a few figures for you folks so you can see my standpoint.

First and foremost, Mark DeRosa is not a viable option in RF next year for two primary reasons.  1) Defensively he'd probably be below average in RF (to be fair, Colin thinks he'd be average, or maybe even slightly plus) and B) Offensively he'd be below average compared with the league.

Consider the following three lines as evidence:

Mark DeRosa:

2008  AVG - .285 AVG, 30 2B, 3 3B, 21 HR, 87 RBI, .376 OBP .857 OPS
Career AVG - .279 AVG, 27 2B, 2 3B, 13 HR, 64 RBI, .348 OBP, .770 OPS
MLB 08 AVG - .270 AVG, 37 2B, 4 3B, 21 HR, 87 RBI, .347 OBP, .797 OPS

The third line represents the overall production, by average, of every RFer in baseball last year.  DeRosa was actually on par, if not slightly better than average in 2008, although his numbers would have placed him as the 14th-or-so best right fielder in 2008.

In other words, DeRosa's career year puts him as an average starting right fielder with below average defensive tools.  Does anybody really think he'll match his career year numbers in 2009?

Contrast that with DeRosa's career average and the average output of a second baseman in baseball:

Him - .279 AVG, 27 2B, 2 3B, 13 HR, 64 RBI, .348 OBP, .770 OPS
Them - .275 AVG, 36 2B, 4 3B, 13 HR, 72 RBI, .338 OBP, .747 OPS

Here, DeRosa's likely output next year puts him slightly better than average compared with the league's second basemen.

Basically what I'm getting at is this: the Cubs don't need to turn a strength into a weakness.  They need to turn their weakness in right field into a strength.  Moving DeRosa to right field doesn't fix their offensive holes, it just shifts them around a little.  After all, they will no longer have the 3rd best production in CF, which is what the Cubs had last year.

In other words, last year, the Cubs looked like this offensively: they were above average at 5 positions, average at 2, and below average at 1

Moving DeRosa to RF and starting Fontenot - or Hudson - at 2B won't improve that figure.  They will be a weaker team offensively when last year's biggest failings were the offense in October.  So, I'll say it again, and again, and again.  Mark DeRosa is not a good option to play right field in 2009.

GOOD SIR! Your 5/2/1 concept

GOOD SIR!

Your 5/2/1 concept ignores how far above and below average each player is. DeRosa is definitely serviceable in right field, and if putting him there allowed for a significant upgrade at another position, then maybe it's worth playing him there.

The real question we may be getting at today is - what upgrades are 1) available, and 2) possible?

Bradley and Dunn seem like upgrades in right field. You might want to add Abreu to that list as well. Beyond them? Burrell? Anyone else?

What about not signing a free agent right fielder, and snagging Derek Lowe for the rotation? I'm not saying it's a good idea, at all, but I'm thinking of a reason why it might make sense to play DeRosa in right - perhaps he'd be below league average, but perhaps our rotation would be improved in a comparable fashion.

Good day, sir!

Eric Henske

If we do not get Milron Bradley why don't we try to sign Eric Henske, this guy can
play 1st, 3rd and the out both corners. As Ray he hit 20 hun runs and we can
get him cheap.

I advocated this over a month ago

But it appears that "versatility", according to Lou, equates to "really fast guys that can cover seven acres of land". That is why we have both Gathright and Pie on the roster.

But if we trade Pie, then maybe we can still get Hinske. We can have him AND Bradley. The money should be there to allow that to happen, especially if we can dump Marquis somewhere.

Using the numbers you posted

Using the numbers you posted above, how does his career year make him an average right fielder? The average RF hit for a .788 OPS in the National League. His 2009 projections have him at about an .800 to .810 OPS hitter. Rally projects him at +1 on defense in RF and CAIRO is also +1. He's a slightly above average hitter in RF. Slightly above average on defense. He would be an above average right fielder. Not much above average, he would be above average.

That's not really the issue though. What is the point in comparing someone to the average at their position? Compare them to the possible acquisitions. Milton Bradely. Better for sure. Abreu? Not better. Dunn? Better.

The number of positions a team is above or below average at offensively is meaningless. Say you have Pujols and David Eckstein. That counts as 1 below average and 1 above average, which is ridiculous. Pujols is the equivalent of 2 superstars. Pujols counts the same (above average) as someone like Mark DeRosa would. Eckstein counts the same as someone who would go 0 for 600 with 600 strikeouts. You can't measure an offense like this. It's beyond flawed. A team with Pujols, Utley, Wright, Ramirez, Raul Ibanez, Corey Patterson, So Taguchi, and Koyie Hill would rank as this using your system: 4 above average, 1 average and 3 below average. That would be a worse offense (using your system) than Soto, Lee, DeRosa, Theriot, Ramirez, Soriano, Johnson/Fukudome and Milton Bradley. Or a rotation of Lincecum, Santana, Halladay, Marquis and Neal Cotts would be worse than a rotation of Zambrano, Dempster, Lilly, Peavy and Neal Cotts (3 above average ,2 below average compared to 4 above average and 1 below average). This is terrible.

I'm not sure what issue you have with DeRosa, but he's a fine option for RF if the cubs can't get Bradley or Dunn.

I said he was slightly above

I said he was slightly above average, and noted that he was something like 12th in the league amongst individual right fielders in terms of OPS. You don't have to hit on the mean to fall right in the "average" range.

But you're right - Mark DeRosa, if he duplicated a career year would be acceptable in right field. Problem is that they don't call them "career years" when they happen a lot. I would have to speculate that the odds of DeRo putting up even *average* totals as a RF next season would fall into the Very Unlikely category.

Bottom line, Maddog - DeRosa in RF, Fukudome in CF, and anybody at 2B makes the Cubs worse offensively in 2009. I don't think you can really contest that - so why the jonesing for DeRosa in RF? Why not leave him at 2B, where he's VERY above average and try to find a legitimate upgrade in right?

Kurt, his career year was an

Kurt, his career year was an .857 OPS. That career year would have ranked him 4th in the NL among qualified RF. If we lower it to 300 at-bats, he'd have ranked 7th, just barely ahead of Giles and barely behind Werth and Dukes. The average NL RF hit for a .788 OPS. An .857 OPS isn't acceptable. It's well above average. How you can say the odds of him even being average (.788 OPS) is a bit beyond me and merely a hunch on your part. The available evidence doesn't support that.

The Cubs aren't going to be able to replace Edmonds, but Cubs CF only hit for an .858 OPS last year so overall it won't be too difficult to replace that offensive value if the Cubs have the money to do it. Why the offense won't be as good next year is because it overachieved this year AND guys like Lee, Ramirez, Soriano, DeRosa, and Theriot are a year older.

You can't try to match an offense that couldn't be matched with the same guys at the same age. The 2008 offense was not as good as it appeared.

You can do a lot worse than DeRosa in RF if you have to do that with Fontenot taking over at 2nd. Abreu is a name that comes to mind.

it just seems that you're writing about a guy who is above average, won't hurt the team in the outfield, and acting as if that's the sole reason they won't be as good next year on offense. In order for the Cubs to be that good they need to add Bradley and get 600 plate appearances, and add another offensive player elsewhere.

I'm not saying I want to see the Cubs have to put DeRosa in RF, but it's not that big of a deal if they do.

I'm just not overly concerned about making claims about how good the offense may be and how that may affect the team at this point. The team hasn't even done anything yet (and they may not do anything all things considered). Suggesting to move Cedeno to RF is an awful idea. Suggesting to move DeRosa there IF AND ONLY IF the Cubs aren't able to get a RF is good idea.

Maddog - why are you limiting

Maddog - why are you limiting DeRo to NL right fielders? 4th out of 16 is fine and dandy, but there are 30 teams in baseball and 30 guys who play right field. His .857 OPS would put him in the top 10 of "qualified" right fielders - but there were plenty of "unqualified" guys who hit the shizz out of the ball.

Anyway, all of that ignores the fact that DeRosa had - I can't emphasize it enough - a career year in 2008. Best year ever. At the age of 33. Dude'll be 34 next year. Guys who have career years at the age of 33 tend not to duplicate.

If DeRosa reverts to his average season, he'll have an OPS of around .770 next year. That's great for a second baseman. That is average-at-best if you're a right fielder, and if we're being honest with each other, then we know it puts him in the bottom half of the league, no denying that.

But let's give him the benefit of the doubt and say he maintains his 3-year-average, since he's only been a regular starter for 3 seasons now. DeRosa batted .291 with an OBP of .368 and an OPS of .821 these past 3 years. He also averaged 33 doubles and 14 homeruns. Fantastic offensive numbers for a second baseman. But regardless of his OPS, it's pretty minimal production for a Right Fielder. And in 2008, there were *minimally* 16 guys who spent time in RF who did better, some of whom had fewer than 500 plate appearances.

"But what about the fact that the Cubs over-perform at other positions, like catcher, third base, and left field?" you may ask. My answer is this: so what? This isn't the As Long As It Averages Out As A Positive Number League. The Cubs need to upgrade if at all possible, or at the very least they need to take steps to ensure that they do not revert. Shifting around a bunch of players does not accomplish that. It is almost a certainty that the Cubs will not match their 2008 production in CF, or SS, and possibly not at 1B, and whether DeRosa shifts or stays at second they will almost certainly not match last year's production at second. Furthermore, while DeRo - even a reverted one - would be an upgrade over the Cubs production in RF compared with last year, it doesn't make up for the fact that they haven't really *upgraded* at any offensive position.

Bottom line - DeRosa will revert. His production will almost certainly not even be "average" amongst right fielders next year, and I wouldn't be shocked if there were 20 players who put up better numbers at that position than him. The Cubs, who got knocked out of the first round of the playoffs, will likely return. But would they be a better team with a better chance of advancing?

Not without another bat, preferably in right field, who can contribute more offense than the current options.

Can you do a lot worse in RF than DeRosa? Sure, probably, but again - this is about doing better. DeRosa won't do better.

I don't advocate

getting more LHB's just for the sake of balance, but when you have relatively equal production competing for one position, I don't think anyone would disagree that the Cubs lineup should be more balanced.

For example, DeRosa is a solid player but if Fontenot produces anywhere near last year, it doesn't make any sense for DeRosa to block a LHB at 2B. I know I used the terrible "if" word in that statement, but considering DeRosa is coming off a career year as well, I think the two of them are fairly comparable at 2B.

The fact that DeRosa is so versatile, is what also works against pigeonholing him for just one position. DeRosa being used as a super-sub is his biggest asset to the team.

Many teams are faced with more holes in their lineup than the Cubs and in today's economic market, Derosa's versatility is even more valuable. There is a reason DeRosa drew attention from so many teams during the Peavy fiasco and should the Cubs acquire a Bradley, Hendry could explore what teams would really give up to acquire him.

At the risk of sounding like

At the risk of sounding like a complete baseball novice, let me know your thoughts on this:

Why is it that we are comparing DeRosa's numbers to other outfielders as opposed to other hitters in the same lineup spot? Isn't that a more proper way to compare Mark's numbers?

Mark spent most of last season batting in the 6th and 7th spot in the lineup. Now I'm not sure what spot Lou is planning on playing Mark next year, but if we expect him to hit in the same spot why does it matter what his numbers compared to other outfielders? Assuming that we are set with hitters in the 1-5 spots, shouldn't we be more concerned about Mark's stats compared to others who hit in the 6-7 spot?

I think most of Kurt's argument

...against DeRosa is based on his defense, and I stand next to Kurt every step of the way in this matter.

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