I like Josh Willingham. I liked when they got him in the trade for Bonifacio. More on that later. As for Willingham, he is a decent OFer, a guy who can hit 25 HR in a season and get on base. And the Nats have control of him for 2 more years. But I really think they should trade him.
Why Trade What’s Going Good?
Willingham is in the midst of the best year of his career. His .948 OPS is .100 higher than his career average. Some of this has to due with maturity, some has to do with the fact that his AVG and his SLG (and his ISO) have all spiked. I’m guessing, at 30 years old, he hasn’t started to become significantly better than before. It’s more likely that he is playing slightly above his head. Not to say he couldn’t hit .280/.400/.540 for another year or two, but I just don’t think that is realistic. I could see him hitting .270/.390/.500, although those numbers are admittedly arbitrary. Regardless, let’s just go with the assumption that his numbers are probably in the “sell high” category (even if they aren’t outrageous).
Meanwhile, his fielding has been less than spectacular. He has made some pretty bad plays and doesn’t have much range. It is highlighted when he plays in conjunction with Adam Dunn. That Dunn and Willingham together make for a poor defensive outfield is disputed by none. In terms of offense, Willingham is better than Dunn so far this year. But Dunn has been pretty consistently over better their careers, and he is doing what you’d expect hitting with a .900 OPS, lots of Ks and lots of HRs. Meanwhile Willingham could quite possibly be playing well over his head. If he comes down to earth, he is a weaker hitter, although still a nice player. He certainly isn’t an all star, but he’s a good player to have.
Finally, it is likely, from the rumors I’ve heard and the talk around the team, is that they want to build a starting pitching first team. That means improving the defense. Does it mean jettisoning both Dunn and Willingham? I don’t know, keeping one may be ok. But certainly not both. And I think you’d get more back in a trade for Willingham, due to his contract. Meanwhile, Dunn is a year younger and for the most part the better player. So if you could get more in a trade for Willingham, and Dunn does more to help your team, move Willingham.
Buster Olney has mentioned that “Josh Willingham makes sense for the Reds, but he also makes sense for a lot of other teams, as well, including the Mets.” It all makes sense, so lets see what happens.
Catching Up with Bonifacio
Back to Emilio… he is, by the way, hitting .346/.379/.615 against the Nats. So if you’ve only seen him playing in those 7 games, you might think he’s remarkable. But overall, he hitting .250/.298/.303. Of all qualified MLB players he ranks 163rd of 167 (5th worst) in SLG and OPS, and 149th in OBP. So he has no power and doesn’t get on base. Despite his speed he only has 16 SBs, ranking him 14th in the majors. It’s simple, you don’t get on base, you can’t steal. I still the trade was great, and part of the reason the Marlins are at .500 instead of better is that they insist on playing him all the time, and believe he belongs at the top, instead of the bottom of the lineup. Speed is a great thing, except for when it fools you into thinking someone is better than they are.