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Is Mr Nice Guy really worth the $18mil


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# "Heart and Soul, I Fell in Love with You, Heart and Soul...": What is it about Paul Lo Duca that has this effect on people? At this point, he's probably the third-best established catcher in the National League, but that's more a comment on the migration of elite NL catchers to the AL in the past two years (Ivan Rodriguez and Javy Lopez last offseason, Jason Kendall this offseason) than a wholehearted endorsement of Mr. Heart & Soul's abilities. Let's look at some numbers:

 

 

Player 2004 VORP 3-Year VORP 2004 Salary

 

Mike Lieberthal 26.8 37.2 $ 7.5MM

Mike Piazza 29.9 36.9 $16.1MM

Paul Lo Duca 26.7 26.9 $ 4.1MM

Ramon Hernandez 30.3 23.0 $ 2.9MM

Michael Barrett 31.0 17.0 $ 1.6MM

Jason Larue 21.1 15.9 $ 2.6MM

Johnny Estrada 41.0 13.5 $ 312K

Charles Johnson 12.1 9.9 $ 9.0MM

 

VORP, you know; "3-Year VORP" is simply the player's average over the past three seasons. Johnny Estrada and Michael Barrett were 1-2 in the NL catcher VORP standings, but in 2004 both players were producing at this level for the first time. Mike Lieberthal's edge over Mike Piazza in the three-year standings is largely a function of health and position; VORP punishes Piazza for all the time he spent at first base in 2004.

 

Compare the NL list to the cream of the catching crop in the American League:

 

 

Player 2004 VORP 3-Year VORP 2004 Salary

 

Jorge Posada 48.9 53.1 $ 9.0MM

Ivan Rodriguez 63.1 51.1 $ 7.0MM

Javy Lopez 56.3 47.1 $ 6.0MM

Jason Kendall 47.5 40.7 $ 8.6MM

Jason Varitek 46.0 35.7 $ 6.9MM

 

Looking at the overall picture, it's pretty hard to justify Lo Duca as a $6MM/year catcher. He's a win or more worse than any of the players who were in that financial neighborhood last year--Lopez, Jason Varitek, Rodriguez, Lieberthal--and he's not much younger than any of them, either.

 

Largely due to his age, PECOTA projects Lo Duca to drop to .272/.329/.387 in 2005, good for a 16.3 VORP. If PECOTA's right, Lo Duca's $18MM deal won't be the most devastating in the history of catching--Charles Johnson's contract is still going, and Todd Hundley is the leader in the clubhouse--but it will be a big premium to pay for someone's sparkling personality.

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Two things about that article casually over-looking facts to make his case more sound:

 

1) migration of elite NL catchers to the AL in the past two years (Ivan Rodriguez and Javy Lopez last offseason, Jason Kendall this offseason)

 

Pudge was one and done in the NL, and Lopez was a bust until his 2003, contract year campaign...and if this guy is calling Kendall "elite," then Lo Duca is in that same class.

 

2) it's pretty hard to justify Lo Duca as a $6MM/year catcher. He's a win or more worse than any of the players who were in that financial neighborhood last year--Lopez, Jason Varitek, Rodriguez, Lieberthal--and he's not much younger than any of them, either.

First of all, Lo Duca made $4 million, so if we're going by last years numbers, he's half the cost of any of these guys, and Pudge is a $10 million a year guy prorated, so that's out the window...and if we're bitching about next year's salary, I believe that Varitek prorates as a $9 mil a season guy. :o

 

Look, I'm not saying that Lo Duca is in the same realm as a full strength Pudge or Varitek, but they're getting paid more than him, so the point he's trying to make escapes me...

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In my opinion, if you continue to evaluate by stats alone, you will miss the point. Look the A's havent ever won schiese and the Red Sox finally won one because they have better pitching. But stats alone are useless.

 

I think (and I forget who, sorry!) someone nailed it by observing the weakness of this post is based on production alone and does not really consider contracts. Is Lo Duca inferior to Posada or even Piazza? Yes. Fudge? Sure. But in terms of contracts, no. $6M a year for this guy over three years. He can hit, he can field, he knows how to call a game and is a clubhouse leader and stand up guy. Did everyone forget one of the strengths of that '03 team was its clubhouse culture? Fudge had something to do with that (actually, only on field because he wasnt especially well-liked off it). Lo Duca is well-liked by these guys and stepped in almost immediately as a leader here.

 

The thing that bothers me about these stats is that they tried to account for Piazza's slide, for example, but didnt try and explain Lo Duca's situation. The Duke was hitting in a very light lineup for most of those years (look at Beltre for an example) and this past season was probably burning out because the Marlins had NO DAYS off to finish the season with the hurricane fiasco.

 

This time next year, I can almost gurantee that $6M will look like a huge bargain. Mark my words... :cool

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The article makes valid points that many of you glossed over, however the article is flawed because as a few posters suggested, "What else were we going to do?"

660677[/snapback]

That's my stance really. We got the best option available, can't really sweat that.

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The article makes valid points that many of you glossed over, however the article is flawed because as a few posters suggested, "What else were we going to do?"

660677[/snapback]

That's my stance really. We got the best option available, can't really sweat that.

660733[/snapback]

I hate to :deadhorse but I think for the money, Pierzysnki was the way to go

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there are reasons people only give him 2 mil a year.. because nobody wants him. i have a lot of friends who are white sox fans and NONE of them like the signing

 

 

 

we already have 2 'emotionally fragile' pitchers... the last thing we need is a catcher like Pierzynski for them.

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there are reasons people only give him 2 mil a year.. because nobody wants him. i have a lot of friends who are white sox fans and NONE of them like the signing

 

 

 

we already have 2 'emotionally fragile' pitchers... the last thing we need is a catcher like Pierzynski for them.

660739[/snapback]

really?.... all my White Sox fans love the signing... They havent had a decent hitting catcher since before Ron Karkovice was there

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there are reasons people only give him 2 mil a year.. because nobody wants him. i have a lot of friends who are white sox fans and NONE of them like the signing

 

 

 

we already have 2 'emotionally fragile' pitchers... the last thing we need is a catcher like Pierzynski for them.

660739[/snapback]

really?.... all my White Sox fans love the signing... They havent had a decent hitting catcher since before Ron Karkovice was there

660745[/snapback]

 

Are you saying Ben Davis isn't a great catcher?

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no way on pierzynski.. the guy is a first class a**hole

660736[/snapback]

I agree, he seems to be a douche bag, but he is the same player as Lo Duca, but younger and a lefty..... and he is $4mil cheaper.... $4mil!!!

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I agree 100%. As a GM, you have to factor in the financial side of this. Is Lo Duca a $6 Million per year player? Heck no. Is A.J. P a $2 Million per year player? Yes.

 

Is the difference on the field significant? Not really. Is the difference in the wallet significant? Very. In fact, the Marlins could throw a 'lil more money Delgado's way if they had that $4 Mill. So, in essence, the difference on the field could be extremely significant if you view it my way.

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