Is about +1.8-2 wins in 2009.
In our 2009 team projections we learned that, as of now, the Giants are projected as an 82-83 win team. If Brian Sabean did decide to bring in Manny Ramirez to play left field — note, that I’m not saying he will because I doubt it will happen — then the Giants would probably from an improve 82-83 win team to a 84-85 win team.
That’s probably a lot less than you would expect when adding someone who hits DINGERS like Manny Ramirez. Even if you are down on the prospects of Fred Lewis replicating his 2008 season in 2009 — you should hold some skepticism — I’m not sure a net +2 win improvement makes a whole lot of sense to the Giants right now considering the contract they would have to tender to bring in someone like Manny Ramirez. Ramirez will probably get a three year contract in the neighborhood of $60-70M. And if Boras can work his magic, he could get a little more.
It’s not that Ramirez isn’t a good player, he’s a fantastic hitter with defensive problems, but I’m not sure where he fits on the current team. Bumping up the team win production by +2 wins would be huge for the Giants’ playoff chances in a weak NL West — and adversely, you’re taking away a potential +2 wins from the Dodgers — but is that +2 win improvement worth the $22.5M a year that Manny is reportedly seeking?
Here’s the full WAR spreadsheet comparing Fred Lewis and Manny Ramirez’s projected 2009 player values. I also threw in Adam Dunn and Pat Burrell for comparison.
I used CHONE’s defensive projections for Ramirez, Dunn, and Burrell. I will note here that I’m calling Fred Lewis a +6 run defender in LF when CHONE has him projected as a +1 defender. I’m a little uncomfortable calling him a +6 run defender because his overall sample size is pretty small in the outfield, but I think his true talent should play around +6 runs on defense in LF if nothing more than he’s playing against a largely immobile competition. Lewis could fake CF for a few games a year and that’s something you could never say about guys like: Carlos Lee, Pat Burrell, Adam Dunn, and Manny Ramirez. I’ve used the Olivers for the batter projections.
Even if you bump Lewis down to a +0 defender, he’s really close in value to Pat Burrell. Ramirez, Dunn, and Burrell are all projected to give away nearly a win with their gloves in 2009. That’s the main difference between Fred Lewis and our trio of FA LF’s. Lewis will defend and run the bases much better than any of them.
Back to the question of value. FanGraphs has win values now and over the last four years Manny has been worth: +3.15, +4.21, +2.08, and +6.10 wins. We have Manny projected to +3.29 wins next season. I’ll note that his defense played much better last year than ever before. In most previous seasons in LF Manny has rated as a -20 defender by bUZR/150 but last season he was -6.7 by bUZR/150. If Manny is a +3 win player in 2009 he should be valued at around $15M. You can bet that Manny will get a good bit more than $15M per season.
The addition of Ramirez to the Giants would make the team better right-now. But, the dollar amount and deal length are going to be sticking points. In a vacuum, Manny would earn around $45M for a three year contract. He should exceed that by as much as $20M depending on who he signs with. Manny is the jewel of the left field market and, as the win values above show, if the Giants want to commit money to left field they should go with Ramirez. Adam Dunn and Pat Burrell might not even provide one full win over what Fred Lewis will give the Giants.
For a team that’s rebuilding, I’d rather the Giants run with Fred Lewis for another season. When you consider that the Giants are projected as an 82-83 win team without Manny, I would rather take the chance of a few breakout years from younger players than I would on giving a three year deal to Ramirez. We know that despite being a fantastic player, Ramirez will be overpaid. The best case scenario for the Giants is that if they don’t sign Manny, neither does LA.
Comment Starter: Do you want Manny roaming LF in ’09?