Marlins Officially (Unnecessarily) Bring Back Oviedo

Editor's note: I apologize for the radio silence yesterday. I just started up school again and have a major test on Friday, so it might be a little quiet here this week. I did feel the need to talk about this, however

As Terrence Hunley pointed out yesterday, the Miami Marlins have agreed to a one-year deal with the former Leo Nunez, Juan Oviedo. We all saw this coming a long time back, and Fish Stripes was on it from the beginning. Here's the last thing I said about Oviedo and the prospects of the Fish re-signing him:

However, there is simply no argument for the Oviedo blunder, even without the retrospective knowledge of his legal problems. There should be no reason that the Marlins are interested in retaining Oviedo for 2012. As a solid but unspectacular reliever, he should not be earning anywhere close to what he would have earned as a "closer." And when the Marlins signed Bell, it should have ended any reason for the Marlins to require Oviedo's "proven closer" credentials. Yet the Marlins tendered an offer to him last night, assuring that he would either stay with the team in 2012 or be traded.

Sure enough, Oviedo earned himself the estimated $6 million that he would have gotten in arbitration despite the fact that he is not a great reliever and will not be occupying the closer role this season. Not only is it likely that he would not have made back his salary for the Marlins had he been the closer, but now he is almost guaranteed to fall short of the salary the Marlins will be paying him since he will be working as a setup man or worse.

The move is especially puzzling given the already decent depth the bullpen is currently boasting. Take a look at the Marlins' depth chart in terms of their bullpen:

Marlinsbullpen_medium

Presumably the Fish will go with the traditional seven-man bullpen and 12-man pitching staff. If that is the case, the team will have to force out one of their young pitchers in return for playing Oviedo. In this particular instance, it looks as if Jose Ceda is the odd man out despite his strong stuff. But how much worse would Ceda be than Oviedo? Here are two projection systems' thoughts on the two pitchers:

Player Bill James ERA Bill James FIP RotoChamps ERA RotoChamps FIP
Juan Oviedo 3.70 4.15 3.75 3.85
Jose Ceda 3.00 3.05 4.05 4.53

Now consider if Oviedo and Ceda both pitched 50 innings (Ceda likely would have thrown fewer innings, but if he had stayed healthy and somewhat effective, this number would not have been out of reach). The difference between a 4.29 ERA (the average between Ceda's RotoChamps projected ERA and FIP) and 3.80 (the average of Nunez's projections) is almost three runs in 50 innings pitched. On average, that may be about a third of a win. The Marlins spent $6 million for a gain of depht approximately a third of a win in 2012. The concept simply makes no sense.

Once again, this further stamps the problem that this team has with regards to relief pitching. It is entirely possible that the Marlins are among the most backwards teams in baseball in terms of statistics, and the fact that they were so willing to pay $6 million in arbitration to a pitcher whose only claim to fame was converting save opportunities shows a distinct lack of insight in terms of analysis. Even the casual fan has tired of Oviedo;s inconsistencies in his attempts to close games, and when looking at his numbers for the last three seasons, it is difficult to say that Nunez has anywhere to go but down going forward. Yes, the deal is only one year, but it is an awful waste of $6 million and it exposes an area of analysis and player personnel where the Marlins are clearly weak.

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