A signing

The Braves have signed Robert Fick, formerly of the Tigers, to a one year deal worth $1 million. Fick came up as a catcher but the Tigers decided that he couldn’t catch and moved him around. He was strictly an outfielder last year (with a few games at DH).

I’m not sure what the Braves will do with him. He could play first base, or he could play left field with Chipper moving back to third. Fick hits lefty and throws righty, and has been a below-average hitter (but better than Vinny) most of his career. It’s easy to say that his park worked against him, but he actually hit better at home last year and over the last three.

22 thoughts on “A signing”

  1. If it were me, I’d put him in right field, Sheff in left, Chipper back at third and sit Castilla’s sorry butt on the bench.

  2. Tim D over at Baseball Primer said that Fick’s defense in right was cover-your-eyes terrible and that his gaudy assist totals were largely the result of balls misplayed into assists. If that’s true, I’d say play him at 1B, possibly with a RH platoon if he has trouble hitting lefties, and see what happens. No matter the case, he’s an improvement over Helms and could easily outhit the Francos if he puts up a once-in-a-lifetime, Larry Sheets kind of season, which is totally possible.

  3. We’re probably stuck with Vinny, though. Allen comments via e-mail:

    Someone over at baseball primer someone referred to Fick as a better version of Wes Helms. 46 walks vs 90 SO suggests that he is a hacker, but alternatively, his career statistics suggest that he’s a consistent bet to get a .330 – .340 OBP with a .435+ slugging; those are numbers that Wes Helms would kill for.

    Someone else over at Primer mentioned that his power might have been deflated at Comerica. Looking at the last couple of years, however, that’s not at all evident. In 2002 Fick hit 12 homers in Detroit compared to only 5 on the road (he did have twice as many doubles away), but in 2001 he had both more homers and doubles away (11 and 12 respectively) than in Detroit (9 and 8). Without seeing the distribution of his hits, I think that it would be hard to predict any significant trends from Fick’s recent career splits.

  4. Fick can also catch (though not very well). If Javy can be dumped for a decent 3B (Mark Bellhorn?), a Fick/Blanco platoon would be a pretty decent offense/defense combo.

    I’d also like to see the Braves sign David Ortiz to play 1st – another cheap option who has some good pop.


  6. Well, the Angels just re-signed Brad Fulmer for the cool sum of $1 million (no word yet on incentives). That’s going to be a bargain for his production, no doubt about it, and it explains why Fick ended up in Atlanta and not in Anahiem.

    So does anybody else wish we’d gotten the other guy? It’s a purely academic question, I know, as Fulmer probably wanted to stay with the Angels and maybe took a discount from them, but boy, at $1 million he’d of been a stud first baseman for the Braves…

    But Fick, even on the bench, isn’t a bad pickup. (It’s only that the World champs did us one better.) Matt Franco, who being lefthanded is guy Fick will probably compete against at firstbase, was probably over his head last year anyway.

    BTW – the AJC is reporting this as “Braves Sign 1B Fick”, so assuming the AJC got its press release from the Braves, one might guess that JS’s planned destination for Fick is, in fact, firstbase.

  7. Putting Fick in the OF is not the answer. he is terrible out there. He reminded me of Dante Bichette trying to catch balls without hurting anyone, including himself. Ortiz can hit but has no glove as well. Putting Chipper back to 3rd is not the answer either. He was very bad there before the move to LF. As much as Javy is hurt Fick could be the starting catcher. Fick could move to 1b as well. The Braves are going to have to juggle to make things work this season in the infield, but what is new?

  8. “Someone over at baseball primer someone referred to Fick as a better version of Wes Helms”

    Hey! That was me! Is there an echo in here? :-)

  9. If that is the most positive thing they can say about Fick, I feel bad for the Braves.. :)

    a better Wes elms.. that is an oxymoron right???

  10. Fick’s a nice player to add to the team, not great but better than the Franco’s & Bragg’s of the world. JS & Bobby have been obsessed with Surhoff types since Pendleton at least and he fits the mold, cheap and effectively. It takes more than this to make me forget Millwood, but it’s a good use of available talent.

    Did anyone else notice Neyer’s scolding of JS for supposedly picking up Javy’s option? If only. The stupid move was making it Javy’s option to begin with. And just so we’re all clear, at 7 million you can’t trade Javy and you can’t bench Javy. Let’s just hope he has one more contract push in him. Or maybe they’re right about Johnny Estrada (fingers crossed & saying prayers).

  11. Um, I think that was the point of Neyer’s article. That’s what he meant when he said, “Today’s game is all about payroll flexibility, and you just can’t leave $7 million decisions with the hired help.” Neyer WAS scolding JS for leaving the decision up to Javy, the worst catcher this side of Charles Johnson and Todd Hundley making that kind of money.

  12. Just for fun, I sorted through the other firstbasemen who have been recently involved in a transaction or else who are free agents and ranked them by OPS (those who I could remember that might have been helped by a platoon split a marked with a *):

    Jim Thome, 1.122
    Greg Colbrun, 1.004*
    Erubriel Durazo, .944*
    Matt Franco, .912*
    Jon Olerud, .893
    Brad Fullmer, .888*
    Fred McGriff, .858
    David Ortiz, .839
    Randall Simon, .779
    Robert Fick, .764
    Dave Hansen, .755*
    Julio Franco, .739
    Andres Gallaraga, .738*
    Mark Grace, .736
    Eric Karros, .722*
    Wes Helms, .687*
    Lee Stevens, .682*
    Jose Offerman, .655
    Tony Clark, .556
    Shane Andrews, .354

  13. I thought Javy’s contract was a decent risk at the time. However, it’s becoming more and more clear that November-December of 2001 has been one brutal period in terms of long-term implications for this team. This season the team has $21.5m wrapped up in three signings from that period – Vinny, Javy and Smoltz. Of those three, Vinny and Javy have just been brutal, whereas Smoltz is just a waste – $10m for a relief pitcher on a team that has not for years had any trouble at all constructing a bullpen.

    Wnat to know what that $21.5m could have paid for this offseason? How about Kevin Millwood, Cliff Floyd ($6.5m) and Edgardo Alfonzo ($4m this season). And if Millwood comes in closer to $8m than $10m, as I think he will, that leaves $3m left over to bolster the bench with Colbrunn ($1.8m) and Fick ($1m).


  14. o.k.- what you do is play it out this season, then- bang! you lose lopez’s 7 mil, castilla’s 2-3 mil, and maddux’s 13-15 mil. you go with your young (cheap) pitchers (wainwright, bong, maybe hodges), get a first baseman or resign millwood, move chipper to third and make room in the outfield for a 29 year old free agent from the expos named vlad.

  15. That’s exactly what I was saying we should do back in November! However, once you give up payroll, it’s likely hard to get it back from AOL. So you’d have to have dumped off a lot this offseason just on one year deals.

    I think the team could have bided its time until next year, then signed Vlad, moved Sheff to LF, Chipper back to 3B. Unload Furcal for a 1B if he hasn’t gotten his OBP up. Play marcus at 2B. With a core of Chipper/Sheff/Vlad/Andruw, pretty much doesn’t matter who you play at catcher.

  16. I like Colin’s potential lineup for 2004. With Furcal gone for a decent 1B, Giles at 2B, Chipper back at 3B, and an outfield triumvirate of Sheff, Jones, and Vlad, Estrada won’t really hurt us batting 8th. One question – will Wilson Betemit be ready to take over SS for Furcal by then? If so, wouldn’t we have the most disgusting lineup (at least 1-7) in the league?

  17. Awe, shoot. The AJC is reporting today that the Braves probably won’t be doing anything more this offseason. Not that it is such a surprise, but, well, shoot. I sure hope Fick does well next year.

    As it stands, what would be the best lineup the Braves could write in next year? My guess is something like this (last three years of OPS listed in parenthesis):

    1. Furcal, SS (.776, .691, .710)
    2. DeRosa, 2B/3B (N/A, .740, .768)
    3. Sheffield, RF (1.081, 1.000, .916)
    4. C. Jones, LF (.970, 1.032, .972)
    5. A Jones, CF (.907, .772, .878)
    6. Fick, 1B (.715, .816, .764)
    7. M. Giles 2B/3B (N/A, .769, .714) (or Lopez, C)
    8. Lopez, C (.821, .747, .671) (or Giles 2B/3B )

    That ain’t steller, but it’s comprabable to last year’s Angels team (actually, it’s a bit better). The key then for the Braves then will be to avoid the temptation to waste at-bats on Castilla and guys like Lockhart.

    Mr. Cox, is that too much to ask?

  18. whereas Smoltz is just a waste

    I never thought I’d live to see the day when someone would say that with a straight face. Then again, i couldn’t see your face, Colin. Please tell me you were smirking. Grinning? Winking?

  19. Ed-
    No, I meant it. $10m for a relief pitcher is always insane, but especially if you are a team that historically is very good at assembling bullpens. Throw in that it was $10m for a relief pitcher who was two months removed from a year and a half on the DL, and I still think that was appalling.

    But if you don’t believe me, consider this – Smoltz cost the team Millwood or Glavine. What do you think would be more important to this team in 2003 – 80 innings of Smoltz, or 220 innings of good starting pitching? Hell, I bet Millwood commands about $8m this year, so that $10m for Smoltz could have bought Millwood plus a closer in ligtenberg. (Btw, did you know Ligtenberg has the same career adjust ERA+ as Roger Clemens?)

    JS dropped the ball on the Smoltz negotiation. He should have played hardball, instead of simply bidding against the Yankees and trying to match their supposed (never confirmed) offers. Back in 1997 Smoltz vocally said “no hometown discounts!” and demanded to be paid what he was worth. Well, I think JS should have taken that to heart and offered him contracts more realistic for a relief pitcher, not Mariano Rivera-only money. And given his injury history for the last five years, it was doubly stupid to then tack on the bonus for every start.

    The Smoltz deal hamstrung this team this offseason much more than either the Vinny or Javy contracts.

  20. Colin – Fair enough. I guess Smoltz, being my favorite Brave for a good long time, can do little or no wrong for me, as long as he’s still pitching effectively. I don’t think it can be argued that he isn’t, but the points you bring up about his contract are all salient.

    He’s getting paid mad bucks for a reliever, sure… but JS never was all that bright with the purse strings *cough*Vinny*cough*.

  21. I generally like Smoltz too, though hi ssudden public hardball mode he goes into whenever contract negotiations roll around generally pisses me off, as did Glavine’s. Not to say I don’t think these guys deserve to be paid well, i just wish they wouldn’t take such a public approach to their negotiations.

  22. I’m not sure what to think about the Fick deal, I like Julio alot better on first, hes a .300 hitter, and Matt showed he could do the same. Fick off the bench maybe? I also like Chipper in left, ’02 might have been a fluke year but the outfield should help his offense.

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