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February 15, 2007

Looking Ahead to 2007 - Doug Mientkiewicz
by SG

In a nightmare for spelling-challenged Yankee bloggers everywhere, the Yankees inked Doug Mientkiewicz to play first base in 2007. Mientkiewicz brings a reputation as a good glove with a decent batting eye, but very little power, especially for a traditional power spot.

I wasn't wild about the Mientkiewicz signing, but frankly when I compared the options, I didn't see much in the way of better options, at least on the free agent market.

Mientkiewicz's offensive projections aren't pretty.

He projects to be below average for a first baseman, even with a passable OBP. The thing is, he's not replacing a very good first base situation from 2006. Here's how the Yankees fared at first base in 2006.

The chart should be self-explanatory. The first line is all Yankee 1B in 2006. The second line is just Jason Giambi's line at first base, and the last line is the first basemen sans Giambi (mainly Andy Phillips). That's who Mientkiewicz is replacing.

A lot of Mientkiewicz's reputation comes from his glove, and zone rating agrees that he's pretty good there.

This is purely chances converted into outs. Mientkiewicz also has a good reputation for saving bad throws from his infielders, which has been measured to be statistically valid in the Fielding Bible, which should help a certain third baseman who gets a lot of flack,

Add it all up, you have a slightly below average player at first base. He projects to be about five runs below average over a full season. If he meets those projections, he'd be worth about a half win to a win above what the Yankees got out of first base last season without Giambi. The Yankees can also try to use his glove to better advantage by leveraging it in games where they lead the late innings if they end up keeping Josh Phelps and starting him against lefties.

Mientkiewicz is coming off back surgery, which could be a good thing if it helps him outplay his projection.

So yeah, Mientkiewicz isn't great, but he isn't really horrible either.