Welcome, Craig

Yesterday, the Braves signed Craig Wilson to a one-year, $2 million deal. This move is so good, I don’t even know how John Schuerholz pulled it off without some other team swooping in with a better offer.

Wilson is coming off the worst season of his career in which he was still pretty close to league average, and some of his decline may have been a side-effect of his mid-season trade to the Yankees. His career line of .265/.354/.480/.834, along with his ability to play the outfield or first, ought to have brought many suitors. I estimate that the dollar value of his play in 2006 was $3.6 million.

Schuerholz has indicated that Wilson will split time in the outfield, at first, and hitting off the bench. With Langerhans and Diaz in left, Andruw in center, and Francoeur in right, there doesn’t seem to be much room in the outfield. With the lefty Thorman manning first, it would make a good platoon; though, I’d prefer Wilson to play there full time. As long as he gets off to a good start, I think he’ll win the job outright. I just don’t see any alternate talent that could keep his bat on the bench.

How did the Braves pull this off? I suspect that Wilson really wants to play for Bobby Cox and the Braves. But, I really don’t care how it happened. I’m just glad it did happen.

12 Responses “Welcome, Craig”

  1. Jason says:

    Wilson won’t take a walk, so that makes him (unfortunately) a perfect fit on a team that sees no value in that. I’m surprised to read JC’s enthusiasm for this move as there’s a decent chance that Wilson is already on the downside of a pretty mediocre career. My prediction – the usual .260 average from Wilson in 2007 with 15 homers if he stays healthy (I wouldn’t bet on it). Not gonna help very much.

  2. JC says:

    His walk rate is 8.5%, which is decent, and he has an iso-power of .215. I don’t see much reason for pessimism.

  3. Frank says:

    Talking about not taking a walk, let’s look at Matt Diaz. Diaz walked less than 4% of his at-bats; moreover, he has less power than Wilson (about 7/10 of Wilson’s iso-power). So having Wilson split time with Thorman is ok, but I’d like to see some of Wilson’s ABs come at the expense of the left field platoon (Langerhans had an anemic .728 OPS, though I bet JC’s numbers find he was a bit unlucky).

    Signing Wilson is a much better way for JS to spend $2m than on signing Sturtze and Woodward.

  4. tangotiger says:

    His “ability” to play OF or 1B? He’s a below-average fielder in the OF, and almost as bad as 1B. The fans said so on my site (3 years running, 2 teams), and Dewan says so with his PBP numbers. He is an above average hitter, but couple that with his fielding, and he’s an overall average player, at best. It is certainly a good signing, though. An average free agent would get 4 million$, and since he’ll play around 70% of the time, he should be worth 2.8 million$.

  5. Johnny says:

    Shoot I would play Wilson in Left full time. I don’t have any confidence that Langerhans/Diaz outproduces him there. At the very least I would give him more at bats than Diaz and Langerhans.

  6. Levi says:

    I agree with Johnny. Let Craig Wilson and Ryan Langerhans play LF. Matt Diaz could be traded to an AL team looking for a DH. If Andruw leaves after this season (and I sure hope he doesn’t) Langerhans would make a fine defensive CF and we could look for a big bat to replace AJ’s and play that big bat in LF.

    Look, I like Diaz and for what he gets paid, he’s a great bat. I don’t think he’ll ever amount to much in the field though.

    What do you all think? What do the numbers say?

  7. Levi says:

    Thought I’d add further argument to playing Wilson in LF. AJ can cover so much ground that Wilsons shortcomings will be made up for. AJ is arguably the best defensive outfielder ever so it’s almost a waste to have a strong defender in LF…better to have a good bat…

  8. tangotiger says:

    Click on my name to see what Braves fans think. You can follow the all-teams link to Pirates or Yanks to see what their fans thought of Wilson. There is also very little overlap in the OF positions, that it would be incorrect to think that you don’t want a great fielding LF there.

  9. JC says:

    Having the ability to play a multiple positions above replacement level is most certainly an asset. I don’t think I implied that he was above average, and you don’t have to be above average to be an asset. I also forgot to mention that he can play catcher in a pinch. Adam LaRoche can’t even play position one above average.

  10. tangotiger says:

    I also never said you have to be above average to be an asset, since an average free agent gets 4 million$ in this market, a below-average player is still a plus. Anyone above replacement is a plus. But, that Wilson has played multiple positions isn’t a “plus”, since he can’t really field well to begin with.

    If you follow the links I provided in post 8, fans think more of Laroche’s fielding than they do of Wilson. If you aren’t crazy about Laroche’s fielding, you’ll be sick of Wilson. He’s somewhere between Laroche and Scott Thorman.

  11. tangotiger says:

    The catcher part is valuable. He was a career minor league catcher, who moved to 1B/RF in the majors. Shifts like that typically means that he was a terrible-fielding catcher. In 217 career innings (24 full games), he had 12 SB, 3 CS, 2 errors, and 4 passed balls. The PB numbers are very troubling (3x higher than normal), and the SB/CS numbers, while not good, are not horrible. So, that part has some slight value.

  12. Mike says:

    Plus, Wilson is pretty bad against right-handed pitching.