POTD Chase Headley

Looking around for ways to E=MC2 on Jose Lopez' keister and the 30-HR first baseman pool:

Carlos Pena isn't a Jose Lopez trade match, with Evan Longoria 3B and Ben Zobrist 2B there.  Pena is Tampa's best way to shed salary, which they will definitely do at some time in the future, but Tampa's holes are at C, OF, P, and of course a small-market team is always interested in minor-league talent.

Prince Fielder would apparently not get here by way of Jose Lopez, considering Tampa has two 20-somethings > 125 OPS+ at second and third.

But San Diego has a big hole at 2B and perhaps an issue at 3B, so....


Jon sez:  No love for Chase Headley?  He's not a star but he always looked pretty good when I watched him play in Portland.

CRUNCH:  Yes indeed, Headley was a big-name star in the minors. Real high draft pick who swatted for SLG's of .580 and .556 in the high minors, AA/AAA.   Big guy, switch hitter, future star, right?

Not so fast.  He did look great in the minors, as did, ahem, Casey Kotchman. 

Headley was two years old for his leagues (James blue-chip chronometer) when he posted his shiny numbers, and actually the high SLG's were driven by AVG's well in excess of what he'll get in the majors.

I don't say Headley's a dead man -- he'll have an ML career -- but his 262/337/392 line last year, at age 26, doesn't project him as a MOTO hitter.  In LF in 2009, Headley was -14.6 runs below replacement value, according to Shandler.

For Headley to bloom later as a sort of Raul Ibanez type isn't out of the question, IMHO -- but if Michael Saunders, at age 26, posts a -14 runs below RLP in LF, are you going to be excited about him?


Matt sez:  Headley isn't going to stick at third base.  Not for long anyway.

Jon sez:   I think he's better off at 3B than in Petco's spacious outfield, and he's not about to get any play at 1B with Gonzalez and Blanks present. 

I think he can hold his own at 3B for the next couple of seasons at least.  I guess we'll see, since he's penciled in as their starter as far as I know.

CRUNCH:  Headley does look a bit clunky at 3B, but I agree with (1) Jon, (2) the 75 speed scores, and (3) with the defensive metrics that Headley probably gives you more even of a problem at LF than 3B.

Think Jose Lopez.  Oddly, some guys' legs work better as infielders than outfielders...


=== Dr's Prognosis ===

Headley isn't my kind of player, but it does seem that the Padres traded Kouzmanoff with the basic idea that "blue-chipper" Headley was going to be their third baseman.

The Pads can't be exactly thrilled with Headley in that park, however:

  • .300 / .370 / .435 - Headley, career, 15 NL parks
  • .215 / .305 / .355 (!) Headley, career, in San Diego
  • .245 / .275 / .350 - Yuniesky Betancourt, 2009
  • .285 / .300 / .390 - Christian Guzman, 2009

And in 2009, when Headley should have been getting better at home, he hit .208.  With a .300 OBP and .351 SLG, at home.

If the Padres know as much about baseball as Dr. D does ;- ) then they're aware that the park will, if anything, continue to slag Headley worse as time goes on.

Logically, the Padres should be trying to cash Headley in before he Kotchmans himself, but it could very well be they're going to give him a chance to become a good player in 2010-11.

If so, then the Padres need Lopez as a 2B.  This is the 2B they have right now.  A $3M Jose Lopez would be winning the lotto for them.


Dr D



Jose is hitting .360 at PETCO.
Tough park for everybody to be sure -- we've seen it burn Adrian Gonzalez, even --
But Jose's ability to stay on top of the ball has served him well even at Safeco.  For his career he has a very mild home-road split.
If I'm the Padres, I'm thinking Jose Lopez can help me a whale of a lot more than David Eckstein can :- )

shields's picture

In 13 games, and think of what kind of pitching the Padres have been running out there the last few years.  C'mon, Doc.
I know it's been talked about for a while here and at MC, but I just can't imagine why San Diego would want Lopez. 

DocMilo's picture

My buddie OBPTrain over in the Stratonerds League thinks they are moving Scott Hairston back to 2B in SD. Is there no word on that out of Spring Training? Perhaps SD told Zduriencik that they need a MLB ready 3rd bagger included in any trade for a 1B fixture.
It really makes no sense to sign a top defensive 3rd base FA to a 4 year deal with an option and then move him to the position that your best prospect was just moved to. During all the press following the Figgins signing, he stated so often how he's a 3rd baseman and how he takes such pride at his defense. We all assumed he was locked in at 3rd base about as much as we knew he was to be hitting in the 2 hole. Then again, I really think Figgins leading off followed by Bradley and then Ichiro would be intriguing. No need to bottle up both your SB guys behind each other.

Taro's picture

Lopez only has 2 years left of his deal. Given the money quality 2B got this offseason is his '11 salary really a bargain?
SD doesn't need a short term fix, so I really can't see Lopez being anything more to them than a throw-in.

shields's picture

Are they expecting to contend in the next two seasons, especially after getting rid of their best offensive producer and one of the best in the league?


Lopez is getting what, $5, $5.5M for 2011? 
$ per WAR was wayyyyyyyyyyy down this winter -- all the way down to $3.5m per win.  At Jose's salary you'd be paying him for 1.5 WAR in 2011 -- i.e., paying him to be a below-average player.
Lopez was at 2.6 WAR last year.  And he was 25 years old:  he has upside, not downside, from here.
There may have been some nice-looking bargains this winter, but the industry average is still the industry average.  In 2011 Lopez will be 27 years of age, and will yield 2.5 to 3.5 WAR (if not a Carlos Guillen-like 5.0 WAR) for verrrrrrrry controlled dollars.
If I'm San Diego, I'd L-O-V-E to lock in Jose Lopez for $8m combined the next two seasons.  He was worth $11.6 just last year.

Taro's picture

Ya, but the market for 2B was even lower this season.
Or. Hudson got less than Lopez '11 contract and hes probably 5 runish better. Felipe Lopez is coming off a star season and got a mere 1.7mil gauranteed.
Regardless, if I'm San Diego why would I want Lopez? Getting a guy whose on a 2 year deal whose a bargain in '10, but probably close to market value in '11 shouldn't anywhere near a priority for them in a rebuilding situation.
They're going to want those 6 year club controlled prospects like Saunders, Triunfel, and Moore.

shields's picture

with Lance Berkman being the prize.  Berkman's value isn't near Gonzo's, so Lopez could definitely take up the bulk of the value going their way, and Lopez is a great fit for their ballpark and they really need a 2B or a 3B for next year.  Having him for only 2 years shouldn't be as big a deal for them because they always think they're contending.


Ya Taro, some of the deals handed out this winter were just amazing. How much do you think Hudson's and Washburn's deals reflect skepticism as to their level of play going forward?
Still, you've made your case, if you're GM'ing San Diego, you personally just aren't very interested in Lopez. :daps:
I'm GM'ing San Diego, I want some players I can sell to the fans right now...

misterjonez's picture

I wonder how many extra pieces are involved for such a deal. Berkman profiles as a prototypical Safeco hitter. Switch-hitter with better results lefty (.988 OPS last three years) than righty (.773) and fangraphs has him ~average defensively at 1B (-2.0, +6.7, -5.2 UZR/150 in 2007-2009).
Add to the pot that he's 34, and Houston will want to maximize his value if at all possible, their team isn't expected to dominate this year, and both he and Oswalt's contracts are short-ish, you might see one or both of them moved this season.
Personally, would love to see a blockbuster involving both which cost many/most of our top-end specs. It's a near-term deal in all likelihood, but the fits are pretty amazing for our club considering team position and player career arcs.

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