December 9, 2010

Matt Diaz Signs To Play Right Field

The Pirates added half of a power hitter to their lineup Wednesday, signing corner outfielder Matt Diaz to a two-year contract for $4.5 million. This move was particularly inspiring in that it proves Neil Huntington's bullshit claim of using Ryan Doumit as the everyday right fielder was actually bullshit he was making up, and not a bullshit move that the Pirates actually will make.

Diaz has a solid career batting line of .301/.350/.456. The reason I say half of a power hitter is his left/right splits which are some of the most pronounced in baseball. Diaz has absolutely murdered lefthanded pitching with a .335/.373/.533 career batting line off southpaws. Against righthanders he is, well, Lastings Milledge, with a career line of .269/.327/.382. Defensively Diaz is above average in left field and slightly below average in right, though he definitely holds his own. On the bases, Diaz has decent speed and chooses his spots well. He has been successful on 23 of 31 stolen base attempts and rarely gets thrown out on the bases. For the record, that is unlike a certain Pirates right fielder from this past season.

Certainly more work needs to be done on this lineup, but this Diaz signing is more good news for the Pirates. Unlike, say, every right fielder the Pirates used in 2010, Diaz is the type of player who you will always see on a successful team. Notwithstanding left/right splits, he is an above average major league hitter. Really the only problem with this signing is that Diaz looks suspiciously like a platoon partner for Garrett Jones.

Hidden in the Pirates 16th-ranked offense in the NL was the fact that the Pirates' most common starters at each position collectively hit at an above average level. The problem was that the Pirates got less than zero from all their secondary players. Every player with between 50 and 300 plate appearances had an on base percentage between .227 and .312 and slugged between .207 and .414. Except for Chris Snyder, all of this dead weight has been jettisoned for 2010. Replacing Lastings Milledge with Matt Diaz is another positive improvement, giving the Pirates a legitimate shot at - dare I say it - an average offense.

No comments:

Post a Comment