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DaVanon's the man?

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As Otacon noted, Fox Sports is reporting that we are "close to signing" Jeff DaVanon to a one-year, $525,000 contract with a player option for 2007. While this was mentioned as a possibility earlier in the off-season, it seemed to have evaporated with the signing of Eric Byrnes just before New Year.

But if this comes through, there are several ripple effects: firstly, Carlos Quentin can sign a long-term lease in Tucson, because he will not be starting the season with the D'backs. It also means someone's days with the organization would be numbered. If we assume 11 pitchers and eight starters, the remaining spots would seem to be Clark, Snyder, Easley, DaVanon and two from Luis Terrero, Alex Cintron and Andy Green. Terrero has an edge in that he was, up until this signing, the only back-up outfielder. With Easley, Cintron, Green and Clark as potential reserves for the infield, that's considerably more crowded.

However, if we go with 12 pitchers - and that seems more likely, given the ropey nature of our rotation - then that would mean five backups, with just one spot available for Terrero, Cintron and Green. I suspect this may trigger a move involving one of these players: Alex Cintron is perhaps the most obvious candidate, probably for someone who would not need to go on the 40-man roster. The Rockies have been mentioned as interested in him.

DaVanon is a switch-hitter, but will likely see most time against left-handed arms - albeit in only 130 AB's, he hits .269 against them, compared to .254 versus righties. This might not mean any particular decline for Byrnes, as he could then slide over to left or right and spell Gonzo or Green against left-handed pitching. Here are that pair's career splits vs. lefties and righties:

            BA  OBP  SLG  OPS   AB    H  HR  BB   K
Gonzalez: 
vs. left  .266 .353 .433 .786 2184  582  72 248 377 
vs. right .292 .376 .508 .884 5582 1632 244 741 684  
Green:
vs. left  .256 .325 .439 .764 1602  410  63 148 362 
vs. right .292 .367 .528 .895 4504 1316 240 514 809 

Quite significant differences in both cases - it may well come down to whoever is sucking harder at the particular time. :-) I notice that both men are way more likely to get hit by pitches against lefties:

  • Green vs. left: 1 HBP/64 at-bats, vs right: 1/113 ABs

Gonzo vs. left: 1 HBP/38 at-bats, vs right: 1/133 ABs
This suggests they may crowd the plate more: extremely so in Gonzo's case. Of course, a left-handed pitcher will also deliver the ball so that when it comes towards the plate, it's arriving from the side occupied by a left-handed hitter's body.

Anyway, as far as DaVanon goes, it would be a low-risk gamble, and should help provide us with a few more options against lefties, which was an obvious weakness in our existing roster. I'd probably have gone for this instead of Eric Byrnes, rather than as well as him. But hey, it's not my money. :-)