Tuesday, January 24, 2012

O's bring Betemit aboard with two-year deal

The Orioles have agreed to terms with utility man Wilson Betemit. The monetary terms of the deal have not been reported yet; however, the deal appears to be for two years. Here's The Baltimore Sun's Dan Connolly on the signing:
That's right, a two-year deal for a 30-year-old utility man. Betemit will most likely see some time at first and third.

Let's be clear: This deal won't break the bank. But it's the second year that's the issue. I seriously doubt any other team was willing to offer Betemit a second year. So why were the O's? It's not like Betemit is amazing at any one skill. In a part-time role in each of the last two seasons, he's been worth about 1.0 WAR (according to FanGraphs). He's a decent hitter -- .269/.336/.448 for his career. Even though he's a switch-hitter, he's much better against right-handed pitching. Here's the breakdown:

In 1,472 plate appearances vs. RHP: .278/.347/.470, .350 wOBA
In 472 plate appearances vs. LHP: .246/.299/.385, .299 wOBA

He's also a horrible fielder. He hasn't posted a positive UZR at third base since 2005 (2.0 in 431 innings), which is by far the position he's played the most. In 2,775 total innings at third, he has a combined UZR of -29.0. In 389.1 innings at first base, he has a UZR of -4.8, and he's only played about 20 innings total in the outfield (suggesting that it may not be the best idea to stick him out there). Betemit can apparently also play second and shortstop, but he hasn't played shortstop since 2008 and has never received significant time at second (145 total innings).

So the O's gave a two-year contract to someone who can't field well, can't really hit left-handed pitching, and is pretty good from the left side of the plate. That's not the smartest decision, Dan Duquette.

I feel for the O's pitching staff if Betemit ends up seeing considerable time at any position, though the infield defense already has issues. Mark Reynolds is apparently returning to the hot corner next season, which I guess means for now that Chris Davis will be playing first. When you throw Betemit into that mix, the O's could arguably have the worst defensive rotation at the corner infield spots in the majors.