Giants Acquire Cody Ross
The Giants were awarded the claim on outfielder Cody Ross from the Florida Marlins today, effectively preventing him from being dealt to the San Diego Padres and adding another bat to their already very crowded outfield situation. Ross, 29, is in his final year of arbitration and is making $4.45 million this year. Aside from a phenomenal 197 plate appearances in 2007, Ross was a solid above average hitter in 2008 and 2009 before seeing his production drop in 2010- hitting .263/.315/.404 for a .318 wOBA, roughly 3% lower than the league average.
Ross is your typical Giants hitter in that he doesn’t walk, with a career walk rate of 6.6%, but he has flashed some solid power with a career ISO of .202. He strikes out slightly more than the average and he’s swung at about 3% more pitches, so it looks like he’s a pretty aggressive hitter. He’s got some decent speed, as he’s decent at avoiding the double play, but he’s terrible at advancing runners- he costs his team about one run per season with his inability to generate productive outs, he’s below average at driving in runners from third with less than two out (47% compared to a league average 51%), and he’s not good at moving runners over from second to third (34% of the time; league average is 43%). He’s spent about 75% of his career hitting in the sixth and seventh slots in the lineup, which sounds about right to me. The Giants would be shooting themselves in the foot if they put him in an important slot in the lineup.
Ross is a slightly above average baserunner according to Baseball Prospectus’ Equivalent Baserunning Runs, with +2.7 runs above the average in 2010. He was roughly average in 2009 and 2008 with -.1 and -.6, respectively, but was a +1.6 in 2007. His defense is solidly above average, according to defensive metrics- Plus/Minus has Ross as a fine defensive center fielder (+3 runs per 135 games) and a plus-plus defender in left (+18) and the same in right (+14). Total Zone has Ross as a below average center fielder (-5 per 135) but a stellar corner outfielder (+18 for both LF and RF). UZR/135 (re-scaled to make all numbers based on the same rate) has Ross as a neutral defender in center (+0), a +6 in left, and +3 in right. UZR seems to be the most conservative of the three, but they all depict the same picture: Ross is at least an adequate center fielder but is an asset defensively in either corner outfield position.
It sounds like the Giants decided to claim Ross with the main intention of preventing the Padres from getting him, but they wound up getting themselves a decent player and a fine backup outfielder. So I like this move. I don’t see him getting a big raise in arbitration this year, so he should be an affordable option for the Giants beyond this year, should they like what they see. It’ll be interesting to see what they do with the current outfield situation- personally, I’d release Jose Guillen in favor of the younger, more well-rounded Ross. They might be able to avoid some issues if they place Guillen on the Disabled List and let everything clear up when the rosters expand in September, but…I’d just feel better if we rid ourselves of Guillen. With the arrival of Ross, there’s no need for him.