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A Look Back: Last Winter's Free Agent Deals (Part Two)

Last week I took a look at five major free agent signings from last winter, comparing each players 2007 projections with their actual results.

Today I'll do more of the same looking at a five more signings.

Once again note hitters projections for Marcel, PECOTA and Actual include PA's whereas projections for Bill James, ZiPS, Chone include AB's.

Ted Lilly signs 4-year/$40M contract with Cubs:

Easily one of the best deals signed last winter.  For the first time in his career, Lilly pitched 200 or more innings and he set a career low in ERA (minimum 100 innings pitched) at 3.83; the latter possibly the result of a league change.  Lilly was the most productive Cub pitcher according to VORP and he was one of the better peripheral pitchers in the league; his FIP-ERA of 4.16 placed in the top 15th and his K/G of 8.0 placed in the top 10.  Whether or not his second time around in the NL, particularly the Central division, will be a bit more unforgiving is a mystery, but if his peripherals remain strong he should be awfully good again next season.

Barry Bonds signs one-year/$15.8M contract with Giants:

As most of us expected Bonds wasn't an everyday player, but he was still awfully productive.  Among players with at least 340 AB's, Bonds led all of baseball in on-base percentage by a very wide margin and he was the most productive Giant hitter according to VORP.  Those Giants have officially cut their ties with Bonds and he'll be headed to a new team this winter which is going to draw a ton of attention. DH'ing makes plenty of sense for Bonds and his knees and my guess is that he ends up in the American League.  Not playing the field may result in more trips the plate for Bonds which thus would increase his value.  Yeah, a trip to the AL makes a lot of sense.

Marcus Giles signs one-year/$3.2M deal contract Padres:

Giles' final year in Atlanta was a disappointing one given his performance during the previous three seasons, but he hit an all-time low last season with the Padres.  Giles wasn't productive at home or on the road and he missed various parts of July, August and September battling a knee injury.  Something to note is the fact Giles BABIP of .278 was a good 45 points lower than his expected BABIP of .323.  Adjust for that differential and Giles' line improves to .279/.349/.362 which isn't half-bad from a second baseman that typically plays gold glove caliber defense and half of his games at PETCO Park.  It might not be that preposterous for the Padres to pick up Giles $4.0M club option for next year.

Tom Glavine signs one-year/$10.5M contract with Mets:

Despite the fact Glavine "out-VORPed" his projection, it was largely an up and down year for the 41-year old.  PECOTA, ZiPS, Bill James, Marcel and Chone projected K/9's of 5.14, 4.94, 4.91, 5.30 and 5.02 respectively, but Glavine's actual K/9 of 4.00 was well below expectations and reached a dangerously low level.  With so many balls being put into play, Glavine needs a pretty good defense behind him to succeed on a regular basis and the Mets had one of the best defenses in baseball last season:  their defensive efficiency ratio of .707 was good for fourth in baseball.  By all accounts however, Glavine will not be returning to New York next season, so it's in his best interest to sign with a team that will put a good defense behind him.

Gary Matthews Jr. signs 5-year/$50M contract with Angels:

Gary Matthews Jr.'s 2006 season came out of nowhere.  As a 31-year old, he set career highs in every rate statistic (.313/.371/.495), home runs (19), WARP3 (7.2) and VORP (50.0).  Naturally, this was all done during his contract year and the Angels rewarded the centerfielder with a monster five-year deal.  PECOTA expected his VORP to drop nearly 35 runs and that's exactly what happened.  Matthews Jr. completely lost his line drive stoke, as his LD% dropped from 18.8% in 2006 to 12.9% in 2007 and his batting average clearly suffered.  If PECOTA's five-year valuation is as accurate as their 2007 projection, Matthews Jr. will be a replacement level centerfielder at the end of his five-year deal.