Let me tell you, on a scale of "pfft" (1) to "you're bleeping kidding me!!!" (10), how excited I am about the Ruben Sierra signing. I'm a solid "eh" (4).
One of the best ways to make the best of yesterday's signing is to amass the numbers accumulated during Sierra's 78-year career and combine them in an attempt to make the impressive career statistics overshadow what you're going to get during the season. A four-time All Star, 15 career multi-homer games, 1318 RBI, 306 HR and a career average of .268.
To put it in perspective, apart from the homer he belted off of Juan Rincon in some playoff game that may have been all in my mind, the last time Sierra had a season worthy of noting was in 2001. In 94 games for the Rangers he posted an .883 OPS, white driving in 67 runs and skyjacking 23. For a season worthy of note prior to 2001, please see 1995.
Before I completely underscore the move, let's go through the positives of the transaction. First, it's a minor-league deal with an invite to spring training. Low cost, open-ended reward. By open-ended reward, I mean you gain intangibles. Sierra's a tough out and doesn't give away at-bats. He's a switch-hitter. He's been around the game long enough to provide some insight to the game that hasn't been issued to younger players. With the game on the line I'd rather see the 40-year-old-wonder in the box than Juan Castro. He's not an ideal acquisition, but he probably makes our bench better than it would be without him. He's been in big-game situations, and I promise he wants the bat when it counts.
What to Expect
In his early years, Sierra was a force to be reckoned with. From his debut in 1986 with Texas through his 2+ years with Oakland, he posted some decent numbers. Over 90 RBI 7 of his first 9 seasons, hitting over 20 homers six times, and putting up a respectable OPS. Over the past 10 years, however, he's been largely average.
With a career OBP of .316, it's a marginal upgrade over Batista. His 274 games over the past three seasons aren't that impressive, but he has been a part-time player and let's not forget he's 40. No, being 40 doesn't mean your dead in the sports world, but it does mean you're probably past your prime...and Sierra certainly is.
Considering his age, I'd expect to see Sierra at the DH position during spells, but I'd be surprised to see him in the field. My early prediction for Sierra's numbers in 2006:
I'm a fan of Ruben Sierra. Anyone who can play to his age, be in the shape he's in, and still be playing the game he loves at a competetive level, my hat's off to you. Here's hoping for one last hurrah, this time in a Twin's jersey.
My optimism level is probably pretty realistic. I don't expect great things, but I expect a solid presence on the bench and an extra hitting option late in the game. You could say that the Sierra signing sums up the moves from the organization this year: We're better, but it's not ideal. Regardless, spring training looms...and I'm getting the itch...