Saturday, July 23, 2011

WB2PB Trade deadline evaluation: Josh Willingham

Over the next nine days, we will take a look at one player who is in the rumor mill to join the Pirates leading up to the trade deadline. Today's installment is Oakland A's outfielder Josh Willingham

The batting order with the addition of Willingham: 
1. Presley/Tabata, LF;  2. Cedeno, SS; 3. Walker, 2B;  4. McCutchen, CF;  5. Doumit, C; 6. Willingham, RF; 7. Alvarez, 3B; 8. Pearce/Overbay; 9. pitcher 

  • Willingham brings a much-needed right-handed bat to the lineup, and has some pop. His 12 HRs are considered deceiving because he plays half his games in Oakland's pitcher's park.
  • Power from both sides of the plate, he has 5 HRs in 86 ABs against lefties.
  • A veteran presence at 32 and likely not too expensive prospect-wise as he'll be a free agent this year. Likely cost about $1.6-$2 million for rest of the season.
  • Familarity with NL, spent two seasons before 2011 with Washington and hit .263 with 40 HRs with the Nats
  • First off, he takes away the chance to keep both Presley and Tabata on the field. That might not be in the Pirates thinking but they've been a speed/defense team.
  • Simply adequate on defense. His percentages are ok and his range is fine but nothing spectacular.
  • Likely will be more of a platoon player, mostly in the lineup against RHP. Averaged has dropped 56 points in one season to .221 against LHP
  • Veteran presence is with Florida, Washington and Oakland. His career record as a player is 321-415. Not exactly adding a winner to a team that is used to losing. His batting average is 99 points worse (.317 to .218 then losses), Just seems like a big difference.
Willingham's lack of winning experience for some reason really bothers me. Why add a guy who has never been in a playoff situation to a team that has never been in a playoff situation? It just feels like a move that the Pirates are settling for, rather than making the big leap to try and create even more buzz if it's possible and add a special player.

Maybe that's unfair to say but if there is an announcement of the Pirates trading for Willingham -- in a deal that will involve trading away fan favorite Garrett Jones most likely --it  just screams mediocrity. While the Brewers make the big splash with K-Rod, the response from the Pirates seems more like a whimper. It just doesn't rev up the fan base.

And I'm not sure the lineup is in better shape. First base is still not addressed. And the defense is weaker with Presley or Tabata being moved to the bench to make room for Willingham in the lineup. This trade for anyone will bring a lot of pressure because the 25-30K fans that are showing up at PNC Park are expecting big things from whoever they acquire. Baseball has a stat called Leverage Index, which measures pressure situations in baseball. Willingham just doesn't cut it there, with an average of .242 in high leverage situations while hitting .272 and .262 when in medium to low pressure abs.

Just nothing about this moves says "we're going for it" or "thank you fans for coming out, here's our way of showing you we are in it to win it."  Just blah....I think I'd rather no move than Willingham

Likely chance of acquisition: 60 percent

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