|When Colletti gets fired as GM of the Dodgers, at least he might have a career in porn. Great mustache!|
Congratulations, Dodger fans! I'm sorry. It looks like your bumbling Brian Sabean disciple of a General Manager has screwed up again. This time, he's decided Rod Barajas is worth signing to a one year $3.25M contract. Oops! It seems the apple doesn't fall far from the Brian Sabean tree. Colletti, also, seems to have a penchant for signing players in their mid-30s who are past their primes. (See Ted Lilly, Juan Uribe)
In case you're wondering, this is the same Rod Barajas who just turned 35, plays his position (catcher) poorly, and has a career .298 wOBA despite hitting for power. Not good. Russell Martin has been pretty disappointing over the past couple of years, but he hasn't been Rod Barajas bad.
Ultimately, this comes down to value produced versus value spent. Russell Martin is in his third and final season of arbitration eligibility. In 2010, he made $5.05M, and was probably in line for a raise to around $7M in 2011. While this might seem like a lot for a player that has a slugging percentage in the .300s over the past three seasons, he carries a tremendous amount of value in other areas: position difficulty, defense, durability, and on base abilities. Looking at his last three seasons of WAR values, it's a pretty safe bet to assume Martin's 2011 value will be around 2.0-2.5 wins above the replacement level. Convert this number into salary dollars, and Martin would provide $8-10M in performance based value. In other words, he'd produce more value (WAR) that he'd consume (salary), thus making his contract a positive one for the Dodgers to carry.
With the exception of power, Barajas has very little to offer the Dodgers.* Looking at his last three seasons of WAR values, it's pretty safe to assume that his value will be around 0.8-1.3 wins above the replacement. In other words, he's not good enough to be a starting position player. While this means he'd likely outplay his contract (performance based value of $3-5M), he's still not a better bet than Martin. Considering Barajas's age and the physically demanding position he's being asked to play, it wouldn't be a surprise to see him fail to meet those expectations.
* I think Colletti is trying to put together a team that will finish last in OBP and first in outs created. So far, he's replaced Theriot (.348 career OBP) with Uribe (.300); Martin (.365) with Barajas (.284); and Ramirez (.411) with Gibbons (.313). Yikes! That's a lot of outs right there.
So why did Ned Colletti non-tender Martin? Well, based on the contracts he's given out over the past few years, I'm not sure he knows how to properly value players. If he did, he would've realized that while a 28 year old Martin costs more money, he's also a much safer bet to provide positive marginal value than the 35 year old Barajas. He probably also wouldn't have given 3 years and $21M to a utility infielder like Juan Uribe.
This is just another example of Colletti's incompetence. Luckily for him, the Dodgers ownership situation is even more dysfunctional. Their attention is so focused on protecting their assets during divorce proceedings that they haven't had time to notice the damage Colletti is doing to the team's long-term health.