The Pirates have signed Joe Randa to a one-year contract worth about $4 million.
My first thought is to wonder what this accomplishes in the grand scheme of things. This money would be better spent elsewhere, on scouting and development, or on the Bucs' 2007 budget. Randa is at best a marginal improvement, and he's a short-term improvement to boot.
My second thought is to wonder whether Randa is even a short-term improvement.
Beware the falling batting averages. Of all the players on Baseball Reference's list of similar players to Randa through age 35, not a single one was ever good at age 36 or older. I'll repeat that: not one was ever good at 36 or older. Many of their careers ended in their mid-30s after they lost the ability to make contact.
Also, beware the funky splits. Randa got 180 of his 555 at bats last year in the Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati, which is a great park for hitters. Nine of his 17 home runs came in that park. True, Randa posted a fine .796 OPS on the road, but do you feel comfortable putting an aging right-handed hitter with power stats like Randa's in PNC Park, which stifles right-handed power?
Here's Freddy Sanchez:
Sanchez will be 28 next year. It could go either way, but I'd bet on him outperforming Randa in 2006. In my mind, that makes Randa unnecessary, at least as a starting third baseman.
One positive thing this acquisition does is bump one of the Pirates' okay utility infielders (perhaps J.J. Furmaniak or Yurendell DeCaster) back to Indianapolis, replacing him with a better player in Sanchez. But why would you pay $4 million to improve at the utility infielder position?
I watched Randa play a lot of games in San Diego last year, and I like him. He seems like a nice guy who likes playing baseball. But his acquisition isn't helpful for the Pirates. It doesn't help the Pirates at all in the long term, and it only helps them a little in the short term. It doesn't make sense to spend millions on players who don't help much, and that's what Dave Littlefield has done here. Bad signing.
Thanks to KPatrick.