Free Agent Grenades | Disciples of Uecker

Disciples of Uecker

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Free Agent Grenades

By on November 11, 2010

No, that's not Ryan Braun

Despite my best efforts, it’s nearly impossible for a college student to avoid the lexicon of America’s sweethearts on MTV’s Jersey Shore. As such, I now understand the concept of the “grenade,” which The Situation explains in detail in his new book.

Nine out of ten times, the grenade is a grenade because she’s ugly and fat. SHe’s mad at you and at life because everyone is more interested in her hot friend. (On rare occasions, a cute girl can slide into grenade status because of a horribly bitchy personality, or for being obsessive and possessive about the guy she wants to be with.)

As we move into the Hot Stove section of the baseball season, some will try to apply the “grenade” tag to some free agents. It’s already happened with Jarrod Washburn, who has expressed a desire to play in 2011 and to play close to home, which leaves the Minnesota Twins and the Milwaukee Brewers. Some have said that signing Jarrod Washburn would be an unequivocally terrible idea. He would be this year’s version of a free agent “grenade.” I would argue that we can’t judge “grenade” status without talking about contracts as well.

Jeff Suppan is probably the guy that Brewers fans first think of when presented with this concept. However, if anything, he’s proof that the club creates the grenade. Suppan was coming off three slightly below average seasons, compiling 4.5 WAR in those seasons. A team could’ve easily justified a 2 year, 12 million dollar deal, paying for the below-average pitcher that Suppan is. Suppan could provide value in many situations, as he did in St. Louis under a smaller deal. Instead, the Brewers created a grenade of a contract, going two years too far and paying Suppan as if he was an above-average pitcher.

The fact is, as long as a guy is capable of producing performance above replacement level (or above what’s already in place on the team), he could be a worthy free agent target. Although Jarrod Washburn hasn’t pitched in a year, he’s probably capable of something like a 4.75 ERA. Unless you’re deluded into thinking that every below average pitcher is also below replacement level, that can provide some value. Similarly, in some situations, it’s worth paying a guy like Nick Punto – yes, he’s below average, but even playoff teams have to start below average players sometimes.

Some guys are grenades just by a lack of talent – nobody’s going to pay the recently released Laynce Nix, for example. Others are because of crazy contract demands – Jermaine Dye and Jarrod Washburn last season wanted more than they were worth. However, most of the time, the team creates the grenade, by giving the player far more than they are worth. The Situation is right – we have to be careful of grenades – but sometimes, the worst situations are of our own creations. As long as Doug Melvin doesn’t pay a 6 like a 10 – terminology that even The Situation could probably understand – there won’t be any free agent grenades for the Brewers.

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