Did the Astros Sign the Right Third Baseman?

HOUSTON - MAY 03: Third baseman Pedro Feliz #77 of the Houston Astros knocks down a hard hit ball during a baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Minute Maid Park on May 3, 2010 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

A month and a week has passed in the new season. The Houston Astros have played roughly 17 percent of their schedule. It's way too early to be making judgements on the free agent signings and new additions from last winter. But, I'm going to do it anyway.

The other night, I heard something about Placido Polanco, which made me think about how the 2009-2010 winter free agent class of third baseman are faring this season. The Astros signed Pedro Feliz, of course, to a one year, 4.5 million dollar deal. What else could they have gotten this winter?

Here's a chart of the nine free agent third baseman to change teams and two who were traded last winter. It lists contract details, their wOBA, Defensive Runs Saved and Wins Above Replacement  for all the players (thanks to FanGraphs and Cot's Baseball Contracts).

 

Name Team Contract Years Contract Money Per Year wOBA DRS WAR
Chone Figgins SEA 4 36 8 0.305 1 0.3
Adrian Beltre BOS 1 10 10 0.345 2 0.7
Miguel Tejada BAL 1 6 6 0.370 1 0.6
Felipe Lopez STL 1 1 1 0.348 1 0.3 (3B/SS)
Placido Polanco PHI 3 18 5.5 0.321 3 0.5
Juan Uribe SF 1 3.25 3.25 0.348 1 0.6 (2B/SS)
Pedro Feliz HOU 1 4.5 4.5 0.253 -4 -0.9
Mark Teahen CHW 3 14 4.25 0.312 -5 -0.4
Mark DeRosa SF 2 12 6 0.258 2 -0.2 (2B/LF)
Troy Glaus ATL 1 1.75 1.75 0.299 -2 -0.3 (1B)
Kevin Kouzmanoff OAK 1 3.1 3.1 0.298 1 0.4

 

Obviously, not all these players are third basemen this season, but they all have played there in the past. And now for the gory details:

Pedro Feliz is dead last in wOBA,and in WAR and is second to last in DRS. He's also making more money than all but five of the players on the list. The only player worse than him in DRS is Mark Teahen, who recently played in right field for the Royals and was making a transition back to the infield. Feliz came with the reputation of a good defensive player, but hasn't shown that yet.  It's a small sample size, true, but it's still disappointing.

The other side of the coin is that Feliz has been awful offensively. Really, no other player on this list has been as bad. Were you as surprised to see Tejada leading the pack in wOBA? I know I was. They really couldn't have afforded another 1.5 million to keep him around? This team sure looks like it needs a healthy dose of his optimism and Miggy's exuberance would go a long way towards breaking some of the tension that's showing up on the field.

The Astros probably couldn't have afforded Polanco, Beltre or Figgins.Heck, they probably couldn't have afforded Tejada and wished they hadn't signed Feliz. But, whatever valuation methods Ed Wade uses to judge free agency need to be tweaked a little. His forays into position player FA have yielded Kaz Matsui and Pedro Feliz. Can we really trust him to rebuild?

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