In a recent commentary in the Strib:
Joe Cristensen graded Terry Ryan's three big moves of the offseason thusly: Castillo--B+, White--C, and Batista--D+. My first intuition here is that each of these grades is a bit low, or, put it another way, he's got a harsh curve. So I thought I could do better.
My criterion for grading the moves is based on four things: 1. Where does the player sit relative to other players in the league at his position? 2. Where does the player sit on the list of available internal options, all things considered? 3. Where does the player fit on the list of acquisition options? and 4. How much did Ryan spend to acquire him? If the player's in the top tier of talent in the league, is a huge upgrade over other guys on the roster, he's the best player available to Terry Ryan, and he was cheap to acquire I will give an A+. The scale is not scientific (as a former college teacher, they never are). But I will reason my way through the three grades appropriately.
First of all, Castillo is now one of the best second basemen in a strong class in the AL. I would put only Brian Roberts ahead of him and put him on a par with Placido Polonco. Those three are in the upper tier in the league. I tend to give guys more credit for good gloves than the mainstream media, so guys like Mark Ellis are ahead of guys like Adam Kenendy in tier 2, and Cano, Iguchi, Grundseilanek (sp?) and Belliard are in tier 3.
Equally as important as where Castillo ranks in the league is where the other second basemen on the roster would rank: None of them would be in the top three tiers. I would rank Punto last in tier 4 and Rodriguez and Maza somewhere above him in the fourth tier with guys that replace players like Soriano and Hudson.
Overall, this is about as drastic an upgrade over the roster replacements as can be made. When you consider that none of the tier one second basemen was available (Soriano and Hudson were tier 2), and both would cost more than Castillo did, the grade is clearly an A, it would have been an A+ if Ryan had not had to give up a decent arm or two to get him and pay him $5 million this year.
First of all, any assessment of DHs in the league is complicated by the fact that most of them also play a position part time. But let's just ignore that fact and state the obvious: Ortiz and Giamby are tier 1 talents, Hafner leads the class of tier 2 talents, and there's a whole mess of tier 3 guys like Carl Everett.
I would put White in tier 3, and I would put LeCroy in tier 4. So it was a modest upgrade over last year. Plus, there really isn't anyone on the roster (Garret Jones?) who would even make teir 4, so I would say the upgrade itself desrves a grade of C. When you consider the other available options in terms of price, injury risk, and career productivity curves, the deal gets better. White put up the best numbers of the available options last year, and was hurt diving for a ball (not running out a DP grounder or lifting weights). All things considered, he was the best option, and I'll give TR a C+ based on that fact. Then, when you consider that he was the cheapest option of all the tier 3 talents available (by a long shot), the deal becomes a B-.
As our hundreds of posts on this subject attest, it's pretty tough to evaluate this move. But I will give it a shot on the criterion above. Batista is a tweener tier 3/4 talent. Rodriguez leads a small tier 1, Chavez leads a small tier 2 with Mora. Blalock and Beltre are tier 3 talents. And guys like Crede fill up a crowded tier 4. Batista is definitely better than guys like Cuddyer and Crede in tier 4 but not as good as guys like Blalock in tier 3, if nothing else because he's a plus glove and his bat is on par with tier 4 guys. So he's a tweener.
In terms of this roster, he's an upgrade over everything on it. I'd say he's a big upgrade over Tiffey. If Williams is healthy, he's a decent upgrade over him. And he's a somewhat marginal upgrade over Cuddyer. Complicating that evaluation is that Cuddyer is tough to evaluate. He still has upside, but one wonders if he'll ever reach it. And he's a poor third baseman defensively (though not as poor as either Williams or Tiffey). The simple truth is that this roster has one tier 4 talent and two guys who wouldn't even make a tier because they don't belong in the majors. In terms of that class of players, Batista is a significant upgrade. Based solely on those criteria, I'd give this a grade of C.
In terms of the available options, well this is tricky as well. Most of them were not really options for this team with this budget: Glaus, Beltre, and Blalock were too expensive in players or salary. Mueller didn't want to come here. So it's Batista vs. Randa. And I would rather have Batista by a small margin. Also, it's a pretty low risk, low money deal, so I give Ryan points for that. I'm going to put a plus on the C because of these considerations.
So I think Ryan did well overall. What do you think?