The Cardinals Hot Stove: Part 1, Middle Infield

20 11 2010
Posted by D-Dizzle

Ryan was great with the glove in 2010 with an 11.5 UZR, but not quite as sharp with the bat.

All the hot stove season has finally started. Now is the season for the couch chair GM’s to make their proposals and start trying to piece together who they think will be the best possible team for the 2011 season. This will be my first installment of how I feel the St. Louis Cardinals should attack the offseason. Part 1, Middle Infield.

In House General Manager John Mozeliak has said that he is more inclined to get an upgrade at shortstop than second base. Quite frankly, this is baffling. Skip Schumaker’s best attribute is his gritty play. Unfortunately, their is no stat that measure’s a players grit. I disagree with with wanting to move Brendan Ryan, one season removed from posting a 2.7 WAR from FanGraphs or 3.4 WAR if you are a baseball-reference guy. He did this in 129 games. If you were to extrapolate this over a 155 games (about what a fulltime player would go through), that is 3.3 WAR (FanGraphs) and 4.1 WAR (B-R). However, poor Brendan Ryan had a dismal season with the bat in 2010. Conversely, he was the best defensive shortstop in 2010 (11.5 UZR!!). It should be mentioned that Ryan had offseason wrist surgery right around the beginning of spring training. If you were to normalize his 2009 season and 2010 season, your looking at a solid(albeit unspectacular) .260/.310/.385 sort of player. The real benefit to playing Ryan is naturally his stellar defense with a team that features Jaime Garcia (56% ground ball rate), Jake Westbrook (career 59% ground ball rate), Chris Carpenter (never had a season with St. Louis with a ground ball rate under 51%), and Adam Wainwright (perhaps the only pitcher on the staff who could be called a “strike-out pitcher”-career 49% ground ball rate). If I could get my pick, Ryan would open the season as the starting shortstop.

Not every team is as fortunate to have their own black hole. The Cardinals are lucky, they have two of them (I’m referring to second base and third base but 3B is a topic for another day). Skip Schumaker was abysmal last season. Skip is the owner of -13.2 UZR at 2B. That is Adam Dunn territory right there. He didn’t do much with the bat either (.265/.328/.338) but was a .300 hitter the past 3 seasons so I tend to think this season was a bit of an aberration with the bat. This still doesn’t excuse his terrible defense at second base. Skip was one of few players with a negative WAR last season at -.2. Last season, when he was a .300 hitter, he still had abysmal defense and posted a near replacement level 1.5 WAR in 586 PA’s. His best asset to the team would be as the first man off the bench and as 4th/5th outfielder-the role he belongs in. Unfortunately, he is one of the popular kids in the playground and has Tony La Russa’s seal of approval. Obviously he won’t come out and say the skip-experiment at second base was a failure but that is what has transpired. He must be replaced. II-the farm. The Cardinals farm features some pretty unspectacular options. The only half hearted reasonable options are Dan Descalso who projects to be at best an average second baseman defensively with “doubles-power” at the position. His ceiling reminds me of a David Eckstein type. The other is the gifted Tyler Greene. Greene features plus tools almost across the board but can’t put everything together. Now is do or die time for Greene. He is out of options and this could be his last chance to make something out of his talents.

II A- the Free Agents. This years middle infield free agent class is a very underwhelming group. The only options that are even somewhat enticing are as follows: 3b/ss Miguel Tejada, Swiss Army Knife Bill Hall, and 3b/ss/2b Juan Uribe. This is the cream of the crop. I feel if we are to upgrade the middle infield, it must come through trade. However, the idea of having an insurance policy such as Bill Hall and Juan Uribe fills the cardinals needs very well. They had a thin bench and it became exposed with Ryan’s down year, Schumaker’s being Schumakerness, and Freese’s injury. Unfortunately, both of these guys will probably be looking for more of a full-time role and I just don’t think they will find that in St. Louis.

II-B Non Tender- This person has got me very intrigued. Shortstop JJ Hardy seems to be flying under the radar. Overall, he had another down season with injuries but had a very productive second half of the season. He quietly hit .304/.363/.442 in 56 games after the allstar break (this was probably a bit inflated by his .340 BABIP). He might be nontendered by the Twins because of his $5MM dollar salary, which he would probably receive a raise on. If JJ were to come into the fold at about a 1yr/$3MM dollar investment, I say go for it. Honorable mention: SS Jason Bartlett.Although a career .300 hitter, Schumaker slipped in 2010 with the bat, and the glove.

A career .300 hitter, Schumaker fell with both the bat and glove in 2010.

III- trades Jose Reyes leads my wish list for Christmas.  He has the high salary($11MM) but might be just the investment the Cardinals could be looking to make.  The Mets are basically in a rebuild mode and should be looking to move some players.  Thats not to say they will be just handing their talented players out like candy on Halloween, however.  If we were to examine the New York Mets needs, we might be able to find a potential match.  They could be in the market for some bullpen help, an outfielder, and a second baseman.  Unfortunately, the Cardinals are also in the market for a second baseman but lets pretend for now that they don’t intend to give Descalso or Greene a chance for that role and will use them as trading chips.  The Cardinals farm system as a whole, well, it isn’t the most stellar group.  However, the feature one of the strongest relief cores out their with Adam Reifer, Casey Mulligan, Eduardo Sanchez, and Fernando Salas.  All of whom could be helping the Cardinals in 2011 at some point.  At the major league level, they have flamethrowers Jason Motte and Mitchell Boggs.  Perhaps a package of Motte, Mulligan, and the met’s choice of Jon Jay or Allen Craig. Would it work? Maybe. 

Another name to consider is Arizona Diamondbacks’ Kelly Johnson. Kelly had a resurgent 2010 season where he hit .284/.370/.496.  People can point out to him being a “Chase Field product”, but if they did a little more investigation to his time in Atlanta, we can see that he has naturally fluctuating H/A splits. Even if we were to get the 07-08 version of Johnson, I would be down with that.  He would provide an upgrade on both offense and defense.  Arizona has some pretty obvious needs.  Most notably the bullpen.  Seeing as Johnson is just a one year rental, I could see a package of Mitchell Boggs+ their choice of Casey Mulligan/Adam Reifer along with former top prospect Blake Hawksworth who doesn’t seem to have a future with St. Louis as the throw-in.

The Cardinals middle infield was a very underwhelming group and their are some pretty underwhelming solutions.  However,  an upgrade can be done in a variety of methods.

Colby Rasmus’ Trade Value

9 10 2010

Rasmus' .860 OPS and .366 wOBA were first among full-time NL CFs

Posted by D-Dizzle

Ok, so it has been around the baseball news recently that several teams will pursue the center fielder Colby Rasmus.  Well great, but guess what? He won’t be cheap.  In fact, it will probably take an overwhelming package for the Cardinals to even move him in the first place.  Let’s begin there, shall we?

1.  The Cardinals have no real successor to Rasmus in center field.  If they move him, that just opens up another hole in a lineup that already has holes at third base, shortstop, and second base.

2.  Rasmus is a cost-controlled player.  This isn’t a one year or 1.5 year rental like we’ve seen with some other recent blockbuster caliber trades.  he has *4* years of team control remaining with still one year to go until he reaches arbitration.  What does that mean exactly? Well, it means even the small market teams with budget constraints will be in on Rasmus, thus driving the price up even more.

3.  Recently, FanGraphs did a piece on players who they feel have the most trade value.  Note, that isn’t a list of the best players in that order, rather they take everything into consideration (age, contract status, performance, project performance, etc).  Rasmus was rated at #14,  just ahead of Robinson Cano and behind David Wright.  Granted, this list was made during the season and some of these can be debated, but I think for the most part, it is a pretty accurate listing.

Rasmus is one of the few 5-tool center fielders in baseball

4.  My favorite, the UPSIDE.  Quick, tell me one other center fielder in NL  this season with a higher OPS than Colby Rasmus.  Too late, The correct answer?  There is none.  Rasmus had the highest OPS among all center fielders in baseball this season.  He turned 24 during the season and still has lots of developing to do still.  Science even shows that the human brain doesn’t stop developing until the age of 25 for most males.  Other center fielders to have an OPS of .850 or better at age 23/24 recently:  Grady Sizemore, Carlos Beltran, Ken Griffey Jr, Jim Edmonds, Andruw Jones, and Vernon Wells.    Add in the fact he is also a 5-tool player.  In fact, in 2008, baseball America rated him as the #3 best prospect in all of baseball, and in 2007, had him at #5.  Some people are saying well we don’t want to give up Kyle Drabek, Julio Teheran, Travis Snider, etc because they have too much upside or are untouchable or whatever the reason maybe.  Well, guess what? That was Rasmus just a few years ago.  Now, he has done something that a small number of super-prospects do, live up to their hype (to an extent, as I have said, still some developing to do).

5. Competition.  That’s right folks, there isn’t going to be just one or two teams eying him.  Even the small market teams like the Royals to the big market teams like the Red Sox will show interest in him if he is available.  The sky’s the limit. Everyone can use a guy like him.  Small market teams with budget problems can fit him in their plans and large markets with holes in the outfield will show interest as well.  That means one very important thing: BIDDING WAR.

It would be difficult to set an exact value on him because there just have not been many Rasmus-type players traded in recent memory.  It is also unclear if the Cardinals would be seeking players already on a team’s MLB roster, prospects, or a mix of the two.  However one thing is for sure, he won’t be cheap.

Here are some trade proposals that I think would fit the bill:

To the Yankees for: Brett Gardner, Manny Banuelos

To the Braves for: Craig Kimbrel, Arodys Vizcaino, Omar Infante (one year until free agency)

To the Blue Jays for: Shaun Marcum, Zach Stewart

To the Marlins for: Mike Stanton straight up

I think you can get a good feel for his value with these somewhat generic proposals.

The Cardinal Post: 2010 season, the offseason, and looking forward to 2011

1 10 2010

Posted by D-Dizzle

First, I would like to start off by saying that General Manager Johnny Mo has said he expects to make some moves in the offseason.  He specifically said he would like to add some more new faces, ones that can hit 15-20 home runs.   Here is the article,

John Mozeliak has mentioned that he expects to make several moves this offseason.

great read.

Ok, now on with my post. Let’s have some fun with numbers.

  • Penny – 7.5MM
  • Ludwick/Westbrook about 5MM
  • Feliz – 1.5MM (about the amount what was left on his deal)
  • Reyes- 2MM

That’s a good 16.5 MM to cover:

  • an improved middle infield
  • a (good) backup 3B
  • a backup catcher
  • bullpen

Of those:
– Dan Descalso has to be able to sink or swim. If we can acquire a guy like the Diamondbacks” Stephen Drew then that’s great, or maybe sign Orlando Hudson to a 1 year/5.5MM deal. Hell, we could probably use both, because the middle infield is THAT bad right now.

-Get ONE good reliever. And I don’t mean another Dennys Reyes. I mean an actual GOOD reliever like a Benoit, Guerrier, Wheeler, etc. Let Fernando Salas, Josh Kinney, and hopefully Eduardo Sanchez occupy another spot or 2.

-Get a good starting pitcher. And no, not another Dave Duncan fix-up project like Brad Penny. I’m referring to someone like Ted Lilly, Jake Westbrook, Hiroki Kuroda, Carl Pavano, Bronson Arroyo(if he’s on the market), etc. That would make for a terrific rotation of Wainwright-Carpenter-Garcia-The Free Agent- Kyle Lohse(ugh).

Kyle Lohse is not an answer for the Cardinals.

This should (hopefully) be able to be accomplished within 16.5million and then if DeWitt raises payroll to keep Albert and/or improve a little more on the above parts, this team should cruise its way back to the top.

Some other points I would like to bring up.

Midseason I remember comments saying the team needed some clubhouse personality and lose the business guy mentality.  This got under my skin quite a bit.

Clubhouse chemistry is so overrated.  Chemistry is always good when a team is winning.  How do you keep chemistry good?  That’s right folks, you need to keep winning,  not go out and hire a professional clown to entertain the clubhouse(I’m being facetious of course, but you get what i mean).

This team had a ton of injuries,  but that should not be an excuse.

All teams have injuries, but most of the people come back from them. Did Freese come back?  Did Penny come back?  Ludwick was with us for about a week or so before we had to trade him after his injury, so more or less he didn’t come back.

People talk as if this year’s Cardinal team was just terrible.  Well, those people are probably right.

BUT to my count, we had 3, arguably 5 guys that all had either career worst seasons, or extremely poor seasons (Molina, Schumaker, Ryan, and probably Pujols and Lopez).  That wouldn’t be a big deal if they weren’t all regulars.  That just doesn’t happen that often,  where over 33% of the starting lineup has a drastically below average season.

3/4 season awards for the NL

28 08 2010

Posted by D-Dizzle

Well, the season is starting to wrap up.  There is just a hair over or a hair under 40 games left (depending on the team) to go.  I thought this would be a good time to give my predictions for the award recipiants of the 2010 season.

National League

CY YOUNG: Adam Wainwright-  No pitcher has been as consistent as wainwright this season.  He currently leads the league in ERA and Wins and is only .02 behind in WHIP and a handful of strikeouts being Halladay.  The only real blemish is that he hasn’t thrown a perfect Game. Kidding.  The real blemish is that his team isn’t in first place right now because that usually brings bonus points in the eyes of the voters.

MVP:  UGHH Joey Votto-  Yes, you read it right.  A Cardinals fan says Joey Votto is the NL MVP over Albert Pujols.  He is leading the league in batting average and is 2nd in HR’s, RBI’s, and Slugging.  Of Course, Pujols is first in those stats.  Honestly, it could be a coin fip at this point.  Again, Votto gets bonus points because his team is in first place.

ROY:  Jaime Garcia.  I really couldn’t decide on whether to give this one to Buster Posey or Garcia.  I ended up deciding that since Garcia has been doing his thing the WHOLE season, so I gave him the slight edge.

Rookie pitcher Jaime Garcia has played a huge part in the Cardinals success in 2010.

He leads rookies in essentially every pitching category there is except strikeouts.  He has been the second most consistent pitcher on the Cardinals rotation this year, more consistent than Chris Carpenter.  Heck, he even has a better ERA than him.

American league soon to come.  Stay tuned!

What’s Up Guys

27 08 2010

Posted by D-Dizzle

What’s up guys.  Sorry I’m really late  on my intro here.  I’m a cardinal fan and have been for  my whole life so you might sense a bit of homerism in my posts as I’m sure you will with everyone on here.  I’m not a big proponent of the fancier sabermetrics like VORP, ISO, YMCA, CNN, and junk like that but you will see me using wOBA, UZR, UZR/150, and WAR.  I’m also a fan of the traditional stats, they just never get old. I’m not a grammar Nazi like Bacon or Cubs so please don’t be mean to me.   I look forward to writing several posts on this up and coming blog spot.