So we meet again.

For $2 million, this is a fantastic deal for the Cardinals. Lopez offers a lot of flexibility across the infield. He can fill in for Brendan Ryan at short as he recovers from the surgery to his wrist, he can platoon with Skip Schumaker at second base, and he’s nice Freese insurance, should the rookie fail to make good on his promise. Continue reading »

Skip Schumaker slid headfirst into a 2-year, $4.7  million extension. Seems like a nice enough deal for both sides. Let’s crunch some numbers and see just how good this deal really is.

Continue reading »

As far as non-roster invitees go, you can’t get much more interesting than Rich Hill. In 2007, Hill struck out 183 in 195 innings pitched and was a three win pitcher. Since then, he’s contracted Steve Blass disease, also known as Ankielitis. Adding injury to insult, Hill is coming off labrum surgery. At least that might explain some of his badness.

CHONE, Marcel, ZiPS and the Fans are in harmony in their projections of Hill — 4.8ish FIP, lots of walks, a nice strikeout rate and somewhere between 90-100 innings; good for roughly around 1 WAR. Coming off labrum surgery, I think expecting much of anything feels optimistic. I’m still dealing with Mulder shell-shock, but at least they’re not paying Mulder money or anything near it. This is a no-risk, all-reward move. Yay Cards.

Stuff wise, Hill’s repertoire consists of an 88-90 MPH, the occasional change-up, and a droppifying curveball, the key to his whiffs. For fun, I thought it would be interesting to compare Hill’s curve to the average lefty and Barry Zito, the King of Lefty Curveballs.

Name Speed Horizontal Vertical Spin Rate Spin Direction
MLB LHP 74.7 -4.3 -6 1292 299.8
Rich Hill 71.5 -7.9 -8.4 1392 317
Barry Zito 72.9 -4.5 -10.4 1749 333.1

Not a true 12-6er, but that’s a lot of movement. It’s more of an 1-7 curve. Here’s a spin deflection graph, and then we’ll look at the results -

Name Strike% Whiff% Swing% Foul% In Play%
MLB LHP 58.4 10.1 38.8 13.7 14.9
Rich Hill 61.4 9.2 35.7 12.9 13.5
Barry Zito 65.5 7.5 42.5 19 16

I find it odd that two lefties with such great curves get less swings and misses than average. Huh. At any rate, Hill is flyer worthy.

Figuring in raises for Skip Schumaker and Ryan Ludwick, the Cardinals have about $7-8 million left to play with. tom s. already looked at some of the options the Cardinals might consider for third base or as 4th outfielder and concludes the in-house options of Freese, Craig and Jay are strong enough to not merit signing another position player. I tend to agree, but consider me less than sold on Freese.

Continue reading »

I’m trying to cut down on the blogging habit for a while, but this certainly came as news and is worth commenting on.

So before securing a replacement for Adam Kennedy, the team let him go? Weird. Very weird. I thought the org and the player kissed and made up and everyone was happy. Apparently Tony was not. The relevant question now is: Who wins the job? You would think the club would look outside with several good candidates out there, but Goold says they’ll look internally.

Here are the in-house candidates by their CHONE projections:

  • Joe Thurston – .322 wOBA. I got nothing on his defense, but in his last three minor league seasons he was +8, -4, -5 per 150 games.
  • Brendan Ryan – .308 wOBA- minus 4 on defense.
  • Brian Barden – .310 wOBA, neutral on defense.
  • Jarrett Hoffpauir – .324 wOBA, last three seasons in minors -9, 0, -15.
  • Skip Schumaker – .328 wOBA, glove???

I had Kennedy for .8 WAR but if he replicated his 2008 campaign in which he was a + 10 defender, he’d be at 1.2 WAR. Running each player through the spreadsheet and giving the starter 500 PA’s I get:

Thurston: .8 WAR
Ryan: .1 WAR
Barden .5 WAR
Hoffpauir .4 WAR
Skip .7 WAR, who really knows with the glove. I put him down as a -8 defender, and I think I am being nice.

Thurston projects to be every bit as good as Kennedy, if you can call that good. The bottom line is ditching Kennedy is no huge loss. If Skip can prove us wrong and be serviceable at 2B, it could clear the way for Colby.

Jerry Crasnick reported last week that the Cardinals phoned Ray Durham to see if he’d be interested in backing up Kennedy but nothing really happened. Hopefully Mo calls again. Eric Seidman of Fangraphs earlier today made a great case for Durham. I know the Cardinals would rather not eat AK’s salary and pay for another 2B, but Durham could probably be had for cheap. I think he’d look good batting 2nd, 7th or maybe even leading off if he can come close to posting another .380 on base%.

It all makes sense now.  Let’s face it, and if you haven’t known this for a long time now you’re only fooling yourself: there are no other moves to be made.

It looks like Russ Springer is going to sign a one year deal with the A’s, reportedly for 1 year at $3M. MLB.com says Springer will likely setup for “dual closers” Brad Ziegler and Joey Devine. I wasn’t aware Oakland was going with a two-headed closer tandem, but regardless, bully for Springer.

Springer was a pretty pleasant surprise the two seasons that he was a Cardinal. After posting tRA’s of 3.48 and 4.41 in 2005 and 2006 with the Astros, Springer showed a lot of improvement while in St. Louis, putting up tRA’s of 2.63 and 3.30. Oddly enough, these marked improvements came between ripe old ages of 38-39.

Despite all of his improvements, Springer was under appreciated by the Cardinals. For one, they didn’t offer him arbitration and showed no interest in bringing him back. That part I can understand a little, after all, he did turn 40 and the Cardinals have no shortage of options when it comes to right-handed relief. I get the front office’s stance towards Springer, but I don’t understand La Russa’s.

I say that because Springer was the best reliever the Cardinals had two years running, but despite that, TLR never really seemed to trust him in the high leverage situations. Springer led Cardinal relievers in WPA/LI two seasons in a row, 1.65 in 2007 and 1.01 last season, yet his average leverage index was .78 and 1.05 the past two seasons. To put that into context, Ryan Franklin had a WPA/LI of .03 last season and his average LI was 1.7. McClellan had a WPA/LI of .14 and his leverage index was 1.58. Jason Isringhausen’s LI was 1.5 and his WPL/LI was a dismal -.8. Perhaps more damning is how Randy Flores had average LI’s of 1.34 in ’08 and .94 in ’07. How in the world could anyone trust Randy Flores more than Russ Springer? How could you trust anyone less than Randy Flores is probably the better question.

While La Russa pitched him more in higher leverage situations last season, he gave Ryan Franklin and Jason Isringhausen opportunity after opportunity and they blew something around 8 bazillion saves and it cost the Cardinals a chance at playing in October. La Russa had Springer all along and yet he never gave him one save opportunity.

Now Springer’s headed to Oakland and it looks like he’ll be given more of a chance to pitch in key situations. Guesstimating some, Springer should post around a 3.50 ERA over 60 innings. The average LI for a set up man is 1.3. So that makes him project to be worth 1.3 WAR, worth about $5.8 M. That would be the high end of his worth, but I think it’s at least realistic considering his new home ballpark. On the low end, let’s say he regresses and gives the A’s a 3.80 ERA and lower his leverage to 1, then he’s worth .6 WAR or $3.3 M, which is still a little less what they are paying him.

Leave it to the A’s to know a decent bargain when they see one.

Only two Cardinals remain eligible for salary arbitration; the Cards have signed Todd Wellemeyer, Chris Duncan and Brad Thompson have all re-upped for another year. Let’s do a quick rundown: 

  • Todd Wellemeyer signed for $4.05 in his final year eligible for salary arbitration. While the stupid sector of fans continue to lambaste Mozeliak for taking his chances on low-hanging fruit, taking a flyer on The Colonel has certainly worked out rather well, hasn’t it? Consider this: Welley was traded by the Cubs for two minor leaguers who never panned out, then DFA’d by the lowly Marlins and again by the Royals. Dave Duncan worked his magic by helping Wellemeyer morph a respectable starter. I have serious doubts he’s going to repeat his 3.71 ERA, 32 starts from last season, but if he can hit 150 innings and manage his to make his CHONE projected 4.38 ERA, he’ll be worth double his salary.
  • Chris Duncan is a walking science experiment now with his new titanium disc. He says he feels as good as new, so it’ll be an interesting to watch, maybe his surgery will prolong a few more major leaguers careers.  Dunc signed for $825,000. If he can get to his CHONE projection (around 460 PA’s, .351 wOBA, terrible defense), I have him down for .8 WAR, worth $4M on the free agent market. With the OF as crowded as it is, and the uncertainty of how Metal Dunc will pan out, I scaled him back to 200 plate appearances, reducing him to .4 WAR, which is worth $2M on the FA market. 
  • Brad Thompson, $650,000. Kyle McClellan seems to have already bumped him out of the “6th starter” spot, and if the team keeps the normal two LOOGY’s on the roster, he looks like the odd man out for a roster. CHONE has him at .2 WAR, worth $1.4 M. I don’t think Puppy Kicker will get a whole lot of innings other than garbage time, but perhaps he’ll get a few spot starts here and there.

That leads us to the two outfielders, both due for a couple of good sized raises: 

  • Rick Ankiel asked for $3.3, the Cards countered with $2.35. Look, Ankiel has done it two years in a row now, just give him his money. I’ve guesstimated Ank to get 500 plate appearances and CHONE has him at a .345 wOBA good for 1.9 WAR. That’s worth about $9M on the free agent market, and Ankiel is just a year away from that. I know they try and compare apples with apples when working these contracts out. The problem is Rick is a mackinaw peach. :Flag! No more than 2 Seinfeld references per post!:  
  • Ryan Ludwick is asking for $4.25 M, a pretty hefty raise. The Cardinals offered only $2.8M, so they are worlds apart right now. Is Luddy Bubba Trammell or Jim Lemon? (Hat tip to Pip for coming up for the Lemon comp). I think he’ll get a healthy amount of playing time and CHONE has him projected at a .364 wOBA. If he can net that and 575 PA’s, I have him at 2.6 WAR, worth a fair market value of $12.3. Considering his service time is less than 4 years, I think $4.25 actually seems pretty fair. Of course, I have no idea as to what all goes into these negotiations, but I’m sure it’s not WAR and CHONE projections.

With the exception of Thompson, these players represent some pretty strong value to the team, a total of 6.6 wins above replacement according to my little spreadsheet. Hopefully the Cards get things done w/Ank and Luddy without having to resort to arbitration. It just doesn’t seem worth a whole lot of haggling with their agents at the expense of possibly hurting some feelings.

cubsdumpsterdive

Get out of our dumpster, you vagrants!

:shakes angry old man fist:

Preemptive letter to hurt Taguchi fanboys-

Dear Cult of So:

Don’t misunderstand me, I love So in way only a Cardinal fan could. He’s classy, he hustled, and he took Billy Wagner deep in Game 2! He worked hard to acclimate himself to our culture and went from looking like a total failure of a baseball player in America to a pretty decent 5th outfielder, at least for a few seasons (’05-’07). I just find it humorous the Cubs keep signing Cardinal cast offs. 

Over at Bird Land, Derrick Goold puts together a pretty fearsome looking lineup made up strictly of the remaining free agents on the market and poses the question: How would this “expansion team” fare in the NL Central? Off the cuff, you’d have to think a lineup featuring-

  • Manny Ramirez, Bobby Abreu and Adam Dunn in the middle of its order,
  • a middle infield that boasts two former Gold Glove winners plus a defensive stalwart such as Joe Crede at the hot corner,
  • a rotation headlined by Ben Sheets, Oliver Perez and three other innings-eaters with solid reputations,
  • topped off with a bench made up of three former all stars (and a future Hall of Famer) 

-would do pretty well, right?

The readers of Bird Land seem to think so. As I write this, according to DG’s poll 33% believe they’d actually overtake the Cubs as the favorites to win the division. Another 33% think they’d finish 2nd. Not so fast. Thanks to Sky’s newly updated, user friendly WAR spreadsheet, I attempted to answer that question. To cut to the chase:  79 wins. That’s it.  And that assumes a pretty healthy rotation, which is a stretch considering Sheets and Wolf’s injury history.

  • You can see the lineup projects to be pretty good, but after Sheets, the rotation is built on a lot of #4 type starters, some masquerading to be better than they really are. (Perez, Garland). 
  • The bullpen is less than inspiring as well. I wasn’t sure who else to fill it with, so I threw in a couple of retreads in Izzy and Chad Cordero. 
  • That is one horrific defensive outfield. Perez and his crazy fly ball tendencies would definitely suffer. 

While this team boasts a lot of all star talent, it just isn’t that good. Even in this buyer’s market, this team would also likely surpass any team in the division’s payroll. The Cardinals in their current condition are the better team.  With Sky’s new and improved sheet, I have the Cardinals now at 85 wins, which seems more accurate then before. More on that later.

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