Originally Posted by M2
RMR, I assume the balance point is where the positive of your fielding runs above average exceeds the negative of your runs created below position. From what I can tell, Gonzalez's glove has done more good than his bat has harm in recent years, making him a net positive.
A net positive? Sure. But how positive? I think there's probably a lack of understanding regarding the relative value scales of offense and defense. Often, I think defense and offense are discussed as if they were on the same ordinal scale.
Very Bad (-2)
Very Good (2)
Thus, the thinking is that if you have a "Bad" (-1) offensive player who is "Very Good" (+2) defensively, it's a net +1 and he's therefore a good player. I think this is the thinking you tend to get from the old school 'stats don't tell you what really matters' crowd.
However, I think the better way to look at it is a scale which measures actual contributions. There are a number of stats out there which do just this -- standardizing offensive & defense contributions to a single variable, such as runs. When you do that, you find that offensive contributions are much more important in the big picture. Even if a guy is perfect defensively, he could be less valuable than a guy who is merely average defensively and above average offensively.
A related topic however is the concept of diminishing returns on defense/offense on the team level. This was approached by Cyclone at the macro level when he did his analysis on team balance. Looking at the game by game level, every run you score contributes just a little bit less than the run before it in terms of your chance of winning the game. So if you don't score very many runs at all, a modest increase in your offense will have a major impact. Of course, this is also true with run prevention. If you are horrible at preventing runs, a modest increase in run prevention will have a major impact.
I'm worried however, that in Krivsky's mind, we're still at the top end of run production and the bottom end of run prevention. He thinks that the gains we'll see in run prevention by adding a top flight defensive SS will outweigh the loss of run creation. If we were still scoring 830 runs and allowing 880, I'd agree with the premise. However, at this point we're a pretty balanced team. Arguably we're not good enough at either run creation or prevention. However, given that, and the earlier point about the relative values of offense and defense, I'm not sure how wise a move it is to invest 15MM in a defense only guy.
I know the options are limited and everything is expensive. I'm just worried that our real defensive problems are in the OF. Poor OF defense costs you extra base hits. Poor IF defense costs you singles and double plays. While our IF defense has been sub-par, our OF has been historically poor. We could do more improve our run prevention with a defensive reallignment (Junior to RF, Freel to 2B, Phillips to SS) and investing 15MM towards one of those 2nd tier starters such as Randy Wolf, Gil Meche, or Vincente Padilla.