Thursday, March 16, 2006

New Dilemma: When Matt Kata Gets Enshrined in Cooperstown, Which Team's Hat Does He Wear?

Matt Kata's tenure with the Philadelphia ended yesterday as he was claimed off of waivers by the Cincinnati Reds. Kata appeared in 10 games for the Phils in 2005 (including a single in 6 at bats) after coming over from Arizona for RP Tim Worrell and was considered a long shot candidate for the highly contested 25th man spot on the roster this spring. It was believed that his versatility, i.e. his ability to play both outfield and infield reasonably well (in fact, his new GM Wayne Krivsky had this to say: "I saw him out there and checked the reports. We're happy to have him. He has versatility and can play second base, third, shortstop and the outfield. He's someone I've liked in the three years I've seen him" - "versatility" is such a classic baseball buzzword these days), would give him a leg up on the other players battling for that last bench job. Needless to say, things didn't work out - versatility be damned. Classy move by the Phillies though...they at least waited a day after poor Kata's 28th birthday on Tuesday to drop him. I know I'm the one who just typed that last sentence, yet I can't seem to figure out if I was being serious or sarcastic...

Anyway, Matt Kata is Ricardo Rodriguez next? Rodriguez would have to be placed on waivers before being sent down to AAA and it has been reported that he still very stubbornly thinks of himself as a starting pitcher. Rodriguez has let it be known the prospect of coming out of the bullpen does not please him.

One last thing about Kata - I liked the Kata-Worrell swap enough at the time last year, so it's not fair of me to kill the Phils and Ed Wade too much. Sure, in hindsight the deal was a complete disaster (Worrell turned it around and eventually netted the D'Backs a pretty sweet compensatory draft pick when he signed with the Giants), but it didn't seem quite so bad to me at the time. Kata may now be 28-years old and may have yet to play a full season's worth of ballgames (only 160 career games played), but he could still carve out a niche for himself in the bigs as a utility man. Quick career rundowns of some familiar players:

Player A: Age 32, career OPS+ 68
Player B: Age 30 (today!), career OPS+ 67
Player C: Age 28, career OPS+ 76

There are huge problems here (mostly Player C having only a third of the ABs of the other two players, plus career OPS+ paints a far too simplistic picture when trying to compare active players at varying points in their careers), but it is worth thinking about. I've made the argument before that Player B is really not all that much of a better hitter career-wise than Player A (A is Tomas Perez and B is Abe Nunez - but I'm sure you knew that already). Nunez did have his breakout year in '05...but when you "break out" with an OPS of .704 in your Age-29 season, have you really "broken out" at all?

Again, no real point with the above information (no, it wasn't just a fun opportunity to rip Nunez/Perez either)...maybe it's all good for a little something to think about when trying to understand how general managers around the league begin to place value on such fungible assets as utility guys. If you do get around to understanding how they do this, let me know - some of the conclusions these GMs make confuse the heck out of me.


Blogger Chris said...

Hey man, good blog, just read it.

3:25 PM  
Blogger XXX said...

Thanks, I appreciate it. I've checked out your site more than a few times and always like what I see - the title of your blog alone is money. I also am a fan of your posts at and think you've got a bum rap there recently...for what it's worth.

12:43 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home