Saturday, August 15, 2009

Getting Your Money's Worth: St. Louis Cardinals

This is a difficult post to write, just because the team has Albert Pujols on it.

Writing objective analysis about Pujols is like critiquing literature when discussing Thomas Pynchon or music when debating Bob Dylan. There are just so many superlatives after all, and they've all been used up. No one reading this doesn't know that Albert Pujols is a fantastic player. They've seen countless studies showing that he far surpasses his peers, year-by-year breakdowns with how he compares to the best first basemen of all time, offensively and defensively. Versus other right handed hitters. Versus the greatest at any position. The universal glow is going to make it difficult to sleep soon. The world doesn't need another one of those articles to be convinced. I'll just let his position on JB's chart speak for itself, and address a couple of other players.

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Best 2009 contract (non-Pujols division): SP Adam Wainright

2009 salary: 2.8 million
2009 Projected Value: 23.31 million
2009 VOC: 20.51 million

This number is actually even better today, as I drew them up before his performance last night against the Padres. Wainwright has now gone 23 straight starts of 6 innings or more. He also will probably pass his career high in IP and pitch counts, and doesn't have that long of a track record as a starter, so the normal injury red flags for the next 2 years still apply. Still, the 4 year deal has looked like a real winner and even if he sat out the next 2 full seasons, he's earned his keep already.

Biggest 2009 Contract Turkey (most certainly a non-Pujols division):

SS Khalil Greene

2009 Salary: 6.5 million
2009 Projected Value: -2.9 million
2009 VOC: -9.48

I appreciate the concept of buying low. Greene came off a 2008 with the Padres with severely diminished offensive and defensive value, and despite being two years off his theoretical peak, looked to rebound with the bat somewhat by avoiding playing in godawful offensive environment Petco Park. Even the 6.5 million dollar pricetag seemed reasonable for a player who most of his career was around a league average shortstop.

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Now the only bright light on his season is the Jeremy Giambi effect. The continued downward trend of his offense (.206/.281/.362) is salvagable and probably due for positive regression due to a healty walk rate, a robust ISO, and a grotesquely unlucky BABIP of .269. But the defensive range is completely gone (UZR/150 of -25.4, 60% worse than last year, his previous career low), and if a position change is pending, he's never made enough contact to justify hanging around on a Major League field. I think he probably has one year left to turn it around, before this surfer dude's tide goes permanently out.*

I promised myself I wouldn't do this, but he's still more valuable than Yuniesky Betancourt, and no one would have dreamed of giving up a good pitching prospect for him.


  1. Nice work.

    One minor quibble- They did give up a good pitching prospect to get Greene -- Luke Gregerson, who has a 2.70 FIP in 51 IP for San Diego.

  2. Agreed. I guess my comment was based on Khalil Greene this trading deadline, which would have been vastly different.

  3. Bringing attention back to the losing side of Missouri... Does anyone actually have the names of the supposed sabermetricians that the Royals employ?

  4. Awesome analysis. Found this through the Cardinal SBNation blog, and it was awesome analysis. Flipping through the rest of your blog and it looks pretty good as well. Awesome handle.