Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Commence The Mike Jacobs Free-For-All

The start by the Marlins to the ‘08 season should be savored. The Fish are in first-place, but the success needs to be met with tempered enthusiasm. The team has a -14 run differential, and still has to compete with the supremely talented Mets, Braves, and Phillies. That said, it’s not uncommon to play winning baseball with some smoke, mirrors, and the fortuitous injury to a division foe’s ace or star bat.

And, being the optimist that I wish I was, the team is stacked with a deep crop of arms down on the farm, a high 1st round pick this year, a potential star in Cameron Maybin, and a group of young assets already on the 40-man roster.

And there is a group of players who will become expendable come July and in December: The arbitration-eligibles and the upcoming free agents.

  • Kevin Gregg
  • Luis Gonzalez
  • Mark Hendrickson
  • Sergio Mitre
  • Alfredo Amezega
  • Justin Miller
  • Jorge Cantu
  • Hanley Ramírez
  • Dan Uggla
  • Dallas McPherson
  • Scott Olsen
  • Josh Willingham
  • Jeremy Hermida
  • Mike Jacobs
Ramírez, Uggla, McPherson, Olsen, Hermida, and Jacobs will all be entering their first year of arbitration, so even Hanley, Uggla, and Hermida will be cheap enough to be members of the ’09 Marlins. The rest will certainly be cheap enough to keep, too; but should they be moved? The name that jumps out to me is Mike Jacobs. Jacobs, Pedro’s former BFF, along with the late Nelson de la Rosa (RIP), is off to a hot start. He’s batting .298, .951 OPS, and 5 HRs in only 47 ABs. Any statistical argument at this point is premature due to the small sample size. But if he can keep up this hot start, his value come late June or July may be at its highest. This is because Jacobs is a very flawed player, overall.

First, the reasons why he may appear to some GMs as a valuable pickup would be his age (27), his power (53 career HRs in only 1042 ABs), and his handedness (lefty hitting). The key reason, though, is his contract. Arbitration eligible next year, Jacobs will likely earn $1.25MM-$2.00MM in 2009 depending on his 2008 season.

It's simply too much for a player on the Marlins with the holes in his swing that Jacobs has. His swing is long, and the evidence backs it up. Jacobs’ power is entirely fastball power; he hits an abysmal .063 against LHP curveballs, and .129 against sliders from lefties. And the scariest part is how much he hedges on the fastball, cheating his swing. His swing rate on 2-0 counts is 52%, which is much higher than the average player. For reference, even Adam Dunn, one of the premier fastball sluggers, swings 38% of the time on 2-0 counts; and Andruw Jones, who has been cheating on fastballs for the bulk of his career, is at 42%.

Jacobs certainly makes sense for the Marlins this year; he’s cheap ($395,000), mostly, but should produce another 100 OPS+ season and play serviceable defense. Hopefully Michael Hill will strike, though, while the perceived value of Jacobs remains high.


ASponge said...

A truly spectacular opening piece, even if it trashes fan favorite Mike Jacobs. That's sacrilege!

What I wonder, though, is how he's still getting so many fastballs with those kinds of statistics. He may be hedging on 2-0 counts, but he's also showing enough patience on the breaking balls to earn the fastballs. I don't think the evidence is as damning as it might seem.

Jay Warman said...

A Jake free for all would be nice. Then we could move Jorge "A" Cantu to first and let THE GREAT ANDINO play third everyday!

Jay Warman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mike said...

Thanks, asponge.

While it may be that he lays off breaking balls to earn fastballs, to me, that's not a player I want on my team. That is, unless he can do it to the tune of 40+ HRs. Jacobs doesn't have that kind of power. So for $2MM, I'd rather have a player who may hit fewer bombs (~15), but ultimately be a better player through being a more complete hitter and better defensively.

Just my $.02

And sorry to the Jacobs fans in advance.

ASponge said...

No worries, Mike. I was probably overstating when I said "fan favorite."

It's more like "fan flavor of the week" since he hit 5 HRs. Marlins fan favorites are basically like the deli concession stand. One day it was at section 145, the next day I find out they moved it to the upper deck. I'm still bitter about it...oh wait, that was the hot dog I had to digest instead.

Future Fish said...

I didn't know people liked Jake, period.

Lucky for us, there are dumb GMs out there but if Jake is hitting close to this well at the all star break, I'll go out on a limb and say we're still within 3 games of first place and wouldn't move him anyway.

and Robert Andino would be the worst hitting 3b in baseball... that wouldn't be cool