At ESPN, Christina Kahrl lists the "most average" hitters at every position on the field using Clay Davenport's EqA. She found that Rod Barajas is the most average catcher and that Clay Barmes is the most average shortstop. Given that the Pirates will be spending nearly $10 million on the duo in 2012, that certainly seems uninspiring.
Of course, the point of the most isn't to be "inspiring." The Pirates got no offensive performance at all from shortstop last year and they got nothing from third base and the got nothing from first base until September and they got nothing from their catcher while Ryan Doumit was hurt. If the Pirates just get average from Barmes and Barajas, they'll be a better team in 2012.
The real question is whether or not they'll get "average" from those two. EqA, like any offensive stat, is park-adjusted, but park adjustments don't take handedness splits into account. In an asymmetrical park like PNC, that can make a difference. Especially when you're looking at two aging right-handed hitters whose main offensive value is wrapped up in the ability to hit the ball over the left/left-center field fence.
Barmes will be fine in my opinon. Barajas will have to pick up his game for me to take notice. This talk among some fans/writers of the Pirates spending close to $10M for one year of DLee doesn't seem realistic.
Re: 10 million on the pair. I didn't think of that. Ouch. Man, I wish we could get a slugger. Pedro would be great, or some pop at first base.
"Clay" Barmes? Something tells me you were looking at a certain minor league pitcher shortly before you wrote this... Anyhow, average is OK with me. Cedeno checked in at a .232 EqA in comparison to Barmes at .257. More strikingly, there are 21(!!!) shortstops in between Barmes and Cedeno. Not all of those players were regulars but, outside of Everth Cabrera and Luis Rodriguez, all of them had 320+ PAs in 2011. According to this analysis, Barmes upgrades the team in a way that can be seen in not how good he is (average), but how bad Ronny Cedeno actually was (awful). Among SS with 350+PAs, only Paul Janish was worse. The catching stats are a little more cloudy, as the Pirates had to play so many guys and Barajas only played in about 65% of the games himself. For comparison sake, McKenry carried a .221 EqA last season; Barajas was at .258. That's a larger gap than Cedeno-Barmes. Important to note that these statistics are for HITTING only.
Ten mil is what you pay for adequacy these days, though neither Barmes or Barajas are exactly locks to be adequate.
If Barmes can be at least as good as Cedeno with the glove (and I have read that he could be), then he could be an upgrade over Cedeno.