Available 2011 Free Agent Analysis - Catchers and 1st Basemen

Just thought it would be a nice thing to have. All information contained after the jump, along with analysis. Let me know if I missed anyone.

I've always liked the grade A-F system. My grades are fairly arbitrary, but grade A free agents roughly correspond to the top 10-15 or so, grade B the next 20, grade C the next 20. Grades D-F are backup players and other assorted oddities who should not be getting playing time.


This year's catcher pool is not the strongest. Victor Martinez is clearly the cream of the crop. John Buck had a very nice season last year, but his hilarious BB/K ratio of 16/111 does not look pretty for the future. He will be overpaid. Ramon Hernandez showed that he still had a little left last year - he'll be 35 but put up 2.6 WAR in just 352 plate appearances. He'll get a chance to start somewhere, given the lack of names on this list. The rest of the names are no better than replacement level at best - the early-season Mets duo of Barajas and Blanco showed their age as the season wore on. The two other catchers that register a modicum of interest are David Ross, who was stuck behind Brian McCann in Atlanta despite producing more than solid numbers, and noted annoyance A.J. Pierzynski. Jason Varitek has nothing left. I'd be surprised if he plays next season.

Rod Barajas - C-
Josh Bard - D
Henry Blanco - D
John Buck - C
Ramon Hernandez - B-
Gerald Laird - D+
Victor Martinez - A-
Chad Moeller - F
Jose Molina - D+
A.J. Pierzynski - C+
David Ross - B
Yorvit Torrealba - C+
Matt Treanor - D+
Jason Varitek - D-

Verdict for the Mets: Inhouse options will be explored first. Josh Thole will get a chance to become a starter. Sandy might be able to work out a trade for Mike Napoli with Thole as a backup, but we'll more likely see a filler catcher like Jose Molina, Mike Nickeas, Omir Santos, or Yorvit Torrealba getting playing time behind Thole. David Ross is probably the 2nd best name out on this market - hopefully, the Mets can pick him up for relatively little. More likely, we'll see him get a chance to start in Detroit, Boston, or another catching-starved franchise.

First Basemen

The first baseman pool can be condensed into two groups - the Dunn group, which has sparse pickings (forgive the shameless Pokemon joke), and the used-to-be-decent-to-good veteran group. The top picks in the former group include Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko. Despite world-class bad fielding, Konerko smashed his way to an OPS of nearly 1.000 and put up enviable batting numbers. The top picks in the second are Jim Thome, who can probably no longer play first base, and a coalition of Derrek Lee, Lance Berkman, Carlos Pena, Aubrey Huff, and Troy Glaus. Glaus, the weakest of these five, was very good in 2008 with St. Louis, but has put up a collective 0.2 WAR in the last two seasons. Carlos Pena has suffered an extremely predictable decline - he had "old-player" skills that usually don't age well. Still, his BABIP was a ridiculously low .222 last season. Even with a below-average line drive rate, that should come up. Derrek Lee is still clearly a starter and should be expected to put up at least 2.5 or 3 WAR, which should fetch a decent amount of money in this market. Aubrey Huff was absolutely miserable in 2009, but put up 5.7 WAR in 2010. He's probably the #3 option in this relatively strong class. Lance Berkman's history is hard to ignore - he's never had a bad season and he'll start somewhere. With free agents as top as these and a relative lack of starting positions, it's hard to imagine Andy LaRoche, Russ Branyan, or Lyle Overbay generating too much interest. Put simply, good first basemen are really easy to find. Elite first basemen are terrific, but there isn't really a single elite first baseman in this crowd.

Lance Berkman - B
Russell Branyan - C-
Adam Dunn - A-
Jason Giambi - F
Troy Glaus - C+

Aubrey Huff - B
Nick Johnson - C
Paul Konerko - B+
Derrek Lee - B-
Adam LaRoche - C+
Lyle Overbay - C+
Carlos Pena - B-
Mike Sweeney - C+
Jim Thome - B
Ty Wigginton - C-

Verdict for the Mets: Ike Davis put up 3.4 WAR, more than any other player on this list besides Dunn. So like, we're not paying Derrek Lee $5 million to ride the pine.

Second base, shortstop, and 3rd base to come tomorrow. 

This FanPost was contributed by a member of the community and was not subject to any vetting or approval process. It does not necessarily reflect the opinions, reasoning skills, or attention to grammar and usage rules held by the editors of this site.

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