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Evalutating Placido Polanco’s Four Year Deal

It looks like the Placido Polanco deal is a straight $4.6 million every year for the next four years. There’s no doubt that Polanco is a quality player. He’s a career .299 hitter and has absolutely tore things up since we traded Ugueth Urbina for him. More importantly, he’s done it at Comerica Park. Through 53 at bats, he’s put up an impressive .358/.407/.585. The problem of course is the sample size. 53 at bats is hardly telling.

He’s also an above average fielder. Last he posted 19 Fielding Runs Above Average and his fielding has accounted for more then half of his career 34.2 WARP.

So what’s the problem? One has to do with an established trend and the other has to do with more of a personal pet peeve. The established trend is that Polanco is going to be 30 in October, and second basemen seem to decline faster then players at just about ever other position (catcher being the exception). Billfer touched on this over at Detroit Tigers Weblog, but it bears repeating. Once again I think we signed a guy for a little to long into the years where he has a good chance of having declining skills.

The second problem is that I think they gave up on Omar Infante too soon. Infante had a great season last year, and although he struggled at the beginning of this year, I think it would have done the Tigers well to see what he could do next year. We’re not going to the playoffs, so there’s no harm. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Infante outplaying (for another team) Polanco two years from now.

I think a two year contract with an option for a third would have been more prudent. It just always seem like the Tigers sign players to long deals and catch them in their declining years. Bobby Higginson is a great example, and it looks like Ivan Rodriguez is becoming one. I know he’s hitting .299, but it’s a little hollow. His .737 OPS is his worst since 1993, the last season the Tigers had a winning record. And I also have a feeling we’ll be saying the same thing about Magglio Ordonez.

So while I think it’s a good short term signing, I just don’t see the long term benefit. My two cents of course.

Maybe this time next when the Tigers are selling again, the Yanks will need a second baseman and we’ll take him off of your hands.

Probably not, but you never know.

Posted by Nick Smith on August 4th, 2005 at 9:35 am

Is this supposed to be funny somehow?

Posted by Joe on August 4th, 2005 at 1:19 pm

About Infante. remember that Polanco can play third, so perhaps they’re betting that they only want one of Inge and Infante around next year. And remember, Guillen is no lock to play 150 games a year.

Posted by Jeff on August 4th, 2005 at 1:37 pm

Unfortunately for the Tiger fans, it isn’t a joke. Sorry Joey.

Posted by Nick Smith on August 4th, 2005 at 2:33 pm

Wild idea… What if Infante can cover center field? I’d at least give him a shot at it in spring training… If he’s at least passable in the OF, maybe he could take on that Tony Phillips-type role, playing different positions, but being in the lineup far more often than not.

Posted by jeff k on August 4th, 2005 at 4:23 pm

It’s not a wild idea Jeff, it’s actually a good one. Infante played five games in center last year. We had let our other Andres Torres go, so we used Infante fill in out there. Then when Vina went down, he became the second baseman. But he did well enough out there to keep him on the roster early in the season.

Posted by Brian on August 4th, 2005 at 4:31 pm

I’d just as soon bring Granderson along and have him be the full time starter, with Infante basically being a backup.

Posted by Joe on August 4th, 2005 at 4:58 pm

Should have proofed my comment. What a mess. Hopefully everyone could make sense of it. Torres was let go and Infante filled in until Vina went down. If I remember right, Infante made the team specifically because he “could” play CF.

Posted by Brian on August 4th, 2005 at 4:58 pm

I’d just as soon bring Granderson along and have him be the full time starter, with Infante basically being a backup.

Posted by Joe on August 4th, 2005 at 4:58 pm


That’s probably more realistic. Granderson, while I still think they’re worried about his skills in center, would be the more likely candidate. Then we can use Infante like we did Inge last year.

Posted by Brian on August 4th, 2005 at 5:06 pm

OK, so a list of guys that we have that can play around the infield and maybe handle some CF:

Infante (2B/SS/3B/CF, bonus: primary back-up SS)
Inge (3B/CF, bonus: emergency catcher, maybe emergency SS, too)
Polanco (2B/3B… hasn’t played SS since with the Cards, has played just a touch of OF earlier this year with the Phils)

Guys who we have that are fair-to-above-average CF’ers for 2006, we think:

Curtis Granderson
Nook Logan

I smell an off-season trade. Too many guys for too few spots.

Posted by jeff k on August 4th, 2005 at 5:52 pm

Lest we forget, last year Inge’s primary value to the Tigers was his ability to play as capable backup in so many different positions. He’s found his niche at 3B, but Detroit still has a need for a super-utility man and that is what I see for Infante in the near term. And with Inge looking a bit average at the plate sometimes, and Guillen probably always going to be missing 20+ games a year, Infante will have a guaranteed role with this team for the forseeable future. His ability to play a backup CF makes me think we should look at dealing Logan, because I am convinced that Granderson will be a better overall CF.

Jeff: I think Inge could probably very easily be an emergency SS because he played that position when he was drafted, which explains his ability to play 3B. And I think Infante could probably play 3B if need be. Does Guillen have the ability to play 3B? If so, we have a very flexible infield with the ability to constantly rotate and keep guys fresh, which also gets Infante some playing time.

My question now becomes, do we look at giving Pena another shot and perhaps have Shelton DH? Or should Pena be dealt?

Posted by Joe on August 4th, 2005 at 7:25 pm

Joe, I meant to say something in there about the Tony Phillips-type role for Infante… Looks like I got distracted and forgot to get back to that topic. But, yeah, I can see Infante getting 350-500 ABs next year, playing a number of games at 4 different positions, and possibly some DH here and there, as well…

By the way, you may recall that Guillen came to the big leagues as a Mariner, and they had this guy named Alex Rodriguez playing SS, so Carlos did play some 3B back then. And he also stated in the press he was willing to go to 3B if the Tigs had signed Renteria…

Posted by jeff k on August 5th, 2005 at 9:38 am

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