This player preview was written by Christopher Mears, who posts here as scstrato.
After having endured the 2009 debacle that was Garrett Anderson, Braves fans entered the off-season with one goal in mind. Find a big, right-handed bat for the middle of the order.
Enter, Troy Glaus. Even if, like Anderson, he's an ex-Angels player.
On January 5th, 2010, after freeing up salary in the Javier Vazquez deal, Frank Wren pulled off what could turn out to be a masterful free agent signing by inking Troy Glaus to a one year $1.75 million contract with incentives. Here are the specifics: 1 year/$1.75M (2010); $0.25M roster bonus for 100 days on active 25-man roster; performance bonuses: $0.35M each for 400, 450, 500 PAs; $0.4M for 550 PAs; $0.55M for 600 PAs.
Glaus will easily be worth his contract unless he fails to get at least 200 PA's. In other words, if he is not producing at least league average offense then he doesn't make more than the $1.75 mil guaranteed. I do not see the Braves giving him more than 300 or 400 plate appearances unless he is providing above league average offense. In this case he will be worth more than the $3.75 mil maximum value of his contract. The only way the Braves lose in this deal is if he suffers another major injury and misses more than 65% of the season. Given that Glaus and his agent were shopping his medical records as proof of health, AND the fact that he passed not one but two physicals, I tend to believe this money is WELL spent.
Let's look at it from another angle. Obviously this deal wreaks of the "re-establishing value" variety, but in this case is that a bad thing? Let's consider the "recommended" alternatives, Jason Bay and Matt Holliday. The Braves get a first basemen who is capable of producing similar offensive numbers at just under 3% of the total cost of the cheapest alternative which is Bay's 4yr $60 mil deal. Not to mention how nicely Glaus fits when you consider he is not blocking ANY of our prospects. This is the prototypical high risk/high reward signing that the Braves are known for and have played to near perfection.
Now let's take a look at the "keys to success" for Glaus and the Braves.
The first key, and the most obvious, is health. Glaus missed practically the entire season after having arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder in January of 2009. This was the same shoulder he originally hurt while diving for a bunt by Julio Lugo in July of 2003 and would eventually have surgery on in May of 2004. The good news is all indications point to a healthy shoulder that is ready for battle and, as many others have suggested, the move to first could help by eliminating the constant throwing across the diamond he would have endured while playing third.
However, even with the shoulder woes behind him, there are still concerns that could derail his 2010 performance. Not unlike Chipper, Glaus has suffered a litany of injuries in the past. Whether it is his balky back, foot ailments or oblique strains, Bobby will need to find a way to get him regular rest which brings me to my next key: regular rest! As everyone knows, this is Bobby's last year at the helm. Given that, there will be a strong temptation to over-play some guys especially if the Braves do not get off to a hot start. He will need to do a much better job managing playing time this year especially with regards to Glaus but also with Chipper, Saito and Wagner to name just a few. I would like to see the team find a way to squeeze in some days off coupled with an off-day for our two big guns. In other words, maybe give Glaus a game off before an off day with Chipper getting a game off on the day after, or vice versa, thus giving each player 2 days rest. Obviously this can't happen every week but utilizing this strategy as much as possible could go a long way towards keeping our guys fresh and healthy come October!
The next issue to consider is how Glaus will do in making the transition from third to first. Our new found friend pacgnosis provided a fantastic study, which you can read here, that covers how other players fared when making the switch. Though it doesn't really tell us how Glaus specifically will perform, it does give us a good guideline with which to judge his performance. For me, this is a good news/bad news topic. On the one hand Glaus has never been considered a good defender, most believe he has been slightly below average at the hot corner for his career, while on the other hand he presents a very large target to throw to and he doesn't necessarily have "hands of stone". Another negative is that he has only played 6 games or 38 innings at first base for his career, but the good news is those came in 2008 and 2009 so at least the experience is recent. My simple expectation is that he focus almost exclusively on fundamentals during spring training: footwork, positioning, holding runners, etc. If he can get the fundamentals down then I would agree with the community assessment that Glaus will end up in the 0 to -4 UZR range.
So what kind of offense should we expect from him in 2010? Realistically, trying to project what Glaus will do this season is difficult at best, but my personal favorite is the CHONE projection, click the link for details. Keep in mind that the one big limitation most projection systems have is projecting rookies with limited service time and players returning from extended injuries. So I have to believe this is a "safe" 50/60 percentile type projection and I believe he has a very good chance at out-performing it. If all things fall into place, as I hope and believe they will (call it blind faith), then there isn't any reason Glaus cannot duplicate his 2006 or 2008 season totals. This would put him in the 4 to 5 WAR range though I have to admit this is probably his best case scenario. Still, I believe that no matter where his numbers end up he will have been well worth his contract!
Nice preview by Chris.