If I were to ask you right now how you were doing, you would probably say fine. The fact of the matter is, most people could say “I could be better, but I could be worse”. It sounds like a pessimistic viewpoint, but to me it comes across more as complacency. For example, when talking about your home, everyone could demonstrate that they would love to have a bigger house. As long as they realize that it could also be a lot worse and they could have a tiny shack or no home at all, I feel like it’s being content, rather than pessimistic. What I would like to do over the next six days is paint a picture of the current team. I’d like to show that it could indeed be much better, but it could also be much much worse. Enjoy and let me know your thoughts.

Catcher – Michael Barrett
Barrett was an acquisition that I was fairly happy with when he arrived. He had and still has a decent amount of upside. He’s 29 years old and had a good year last year, putting up career highs in games played, runs, triples, homeruns, and RBI. When he arrived last year, he told the press that his primary focus would be to work on getting to know how to catch the staff we had. His hitting would probably suffer as a result, but we were assured by him that he would work very hard to be in sync with the top staff we have. This year, with a full season of working with the staff, I would expect him to be a lot more solid on the defensive side of the ball. He’ll be working with Greg Maddux this year a lot more, so that should give him some pointers on how to call a good game. Anytime you can work with a guy like Maddux, you have got to learn something. I expect Barrett to put up relatively similar numbers to last year. The only number that may be a little out of reach is that 6 triples stat. That one may decline.

Could Be Better
Victor Martinez burst onto the scene last year with the Tribe and had an excellent 2004. He’s young, and hits the ball with some pop. His numbers are legit. He put up similar numbers in 2002 when he had a full season with AA – Akron. In that year, he posted a .336 avg with 22 HR, 84 runs and 85 RBI. He’s younger and cheaper than Barrett and has already hit his stride. This year, he will be batting in the 5 hole behind Travis Hafner and Juan Gonzalez in the Tribe’s lineup, so expect more of the same from this young All Star.

Could Be Worse
So you say that Barrett can’t field. You say he can’t call a good game. You say his 2004 season was a fluke. Fine, but bear in mind that our starting catcher in 2005 could be Brad Ausmus. I always looked at Brad Ausmus as a catcher you’d want to have on your team, but just not someone I would actually want to get into the game. Ausmus has no bat to speak of whatsoever. His career high in homers is 9 and that wasn’t even when he was with Houston. Maybe he’s a contact guy, right? Wrong!!!! He’s only cracked the .270 mark twice in his career and has a career avg of .255. To make it worse, he’s on the wrong side of 35 and is not getting any younger.

VORP Numbers
Saber stat heads always look at a stat that calculates how valuable a player is over a average replacement player. VORP is a way of measuring that value. The higher the number, the higher the value for the player as compared to the average replacement. Here are the VORP #’s for the players mentioned above.

Martinez – 47.1 (4th in AL behind Pudge, Lopez and Posada)
Barrett – 31.0 (3rd in NL behind Kendall & Estrada)
Ausmus-1.5 (Yes that is a negative number. He ranked 3 spots higher than Paul Bako)

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Joe Aiello is the founder of View From the Bleachers and one of the lead writers as well as host of VFTB Radio. Growing up in Chicago, he fondly remembers attending games in the bleachers before that was the popular thing to do. Currently Joe resides in North Carolina with his wife and three kids. Connect with Joe via Twitter / Facebook / E-mail