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Barmes deal makes no sense for Bucs

11/21/2011

Time to catch up on a few deals from the last few days.

The Pittsburgh Pirates giving two years and $10.5 million to Clint Barmes was the head-scratcher of the week, as Pirates fans must have felt like they were being haunted by the ghost of Pat Meares.

Barmes can play an average shortstop, for now, but his at-bats are arguments for nihilism. Barmes spent all of his career prior to 2011 with the Colorado Rockies, then spent a year at the Houston Astros' Minute Maid Park, a good park for right-handed hitters.

Removing his nine intentional walks -- and really, the managers who saw fit to walk Barmes should be sent back to Remedial Managing 101 -- Barmes has a career road line of .230/.272/.361. And at 33 years old in 2012, he's much more likely to get worse on offense and defense than he is to get better. I wouldn't want to give him a spot on the 40-man roster, let alone guarantee him over $10 million for two seasons of outs. The Pirates declined a one-year, $3 million option on Ronny Cedeno; even if they think Barmes will be better in 2012 than Cedeno (I disagree), they would have been better off with the shorter, less expensive commitment.


The Minnesota Twins signed Ryan Doumit to a one-year, $3 million deal over the weekend, and that represents great value for the money. Doumit, who was No. 29 in my free-agent rankings, has shown that he can hit when he's healthy, and the Twins are so sufficiently starved for offense that he's a great addition if they can keep him on the field. But there's a significant unanswered question about where he'll play; if they believe he's a backup or time-sharing partner for Joe Mauer, I'm afraid they won't get the value they're expecting.

Doumit has posted a .280/.337/.454 composite line over the last five years, although he's not as selective as he would need to be to profile as more than an average regular at any position he can conceivably play. He's a switch-hitter who's stronger from the left side but capable enough either way that he doesn't need a platoon partner; his only real weakness is against pitchers who can change speeds effectively.

But Doumit has two problems behind the dish. One is that it's the most punishing position on the diamond, and Doumit has had trouble staying healthy at any position, only playing 100 games in a season twice, so asking him to be any kind of serious backup to Mauer is asking for trouble. The other is that Doumit is brutal behind the plate in every aspect of catching that matters.

Primary backup Drew Butera is a good defensive catcher but below replacement-level as a hitter, so I can see the temptation to use Doumit more, but the costs involved are too high. If the Twins instead hope to use Doumit as their primary DH with occasional stints at first or in left, or maybe 10-15 starts behind the plate, he should be a bargain for them, giving them back a little bit of the offense they'll lose as Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel leave.


The Philadelphia Phillies acquired Ty Wigginton from the Rockies for cash or a player to be named later. Wigginton is now 34 years old and four years removed from a stone-fluke season in Houston in which he hit .343/.390/.691 at home (again, a great park for right-handed hitters); since that year, he has a composite line of .254/.310/.411 (removing IBB), and that includes a handful of at-bats in Coors Field in 2011. He can play six positions, all of them poorly.

If this does indeed end the Phillies' pursuit of Cuddyer, they have avoided a risky long-term commitment but are the worse team for it in 2012, as Wigginton shouldn't receive any kind of regular playing time and won't hit, hit for power or get on base as well as Cuddyer would. For the Rockies, this small bit of salary relief must have seemed like a gift from the gods, as Wigginton looked more like a future DFA candidate than a tradeable asset.