September 21, 2010

Ryan Doumit's 2011 Status

I recently wrote about the likelihood that Zach Duke would not be tendered a contract this offseason. There are also many question marks surrounding whether the only other Pirate who dates back to 2005, Ryan Doumit, will return in 2011.

He has been something of a lightning rod for criticism, with some arguing that his on deck song (Danzig's "Mother") should have been changed like four years ago, while others argue that Doumit is ahead of his time, a portent of a future generation in which every player comes to bat to the tune of a different Danzig song. Doumit is signed through 2011 and is owed another $5.6 million in guaranteed money after this year. He has $15.5 million in club options for 2012 and 2013 which are as likely to be exercised as Ryan Doumit is to button his shirt.

That contract, of course, is the product of signing at the right time. Doumit inked the deal after a 2008 which saw him hit .318/.357/.501 while throwing out a respectable 27% of baserunners. Since then, Doumit has been alternately injured and slumping. He has struggled on balls in the dirt and with throwing out runners.

The Pirates brought in Chris Snyder at the trade deadline to be the everyday catcher and announced that Doumit would play some right field and back up Snyder at catcher.

Today's story in the Post-Gazette indicates that Doumit has done better in that role since the trade. That's partially true, but he's still only hit .248/.352/.438 in that time. Those numbers are fine for a backup catcher, but not at over $5 million for one year. And they're inadequate for a right fielder who is both slow and a poor defender.

I think the best move is to trade Doumit and eat some of his contract if necessary. If no trade is available, Fangraphs projects Doumit as a .267/.353/.433 hitter going forward which is fine for any bench player. And as a final positive, the Pirates will have Tony Sanchez starting at the major league level in 2012.

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