currently are a team performing as a collection of replacement-level players. As defined by sabermetrics, a replacement-level player is the worst-level of performance that a player can sustain while maintaining his job in Major League Baseball. We’ll use Equivalent Average, or EqA to define what’s replacement-level or not.
A 0.260 EqA is standard major league-average performance. Replacement-level performance is about 0.230 EqA. Historically, according to Baseball Prospectus, players who can’t maintain an EqA of at least 0.230 will not keep their major league jobs.
To expound upon this definition, we’ll use a series of ranges to define performance, as far as EqA goes:
Minor Leaguer: 0.170 to 0.230
MLB Fringe (Replacement-level): 0.230 to 0.260
MLB Regular: 0.260 to 0.300
MLB All-Star: 0.300 to 0.330
Hall of Famer: 0.330 +
A look at the Cardinals regular lineup, plus a couple of key bench players reveals the following, with statistics as of Friday, April 20th:
Player EqA VORP
——- —– ——-
Eckstein 0.233 -1.4
Duncan 0.337 +7.0
Pujols 0.255 +1.2
Rolen 0.200 -3.5
Edmonds 0.176 -3.8
Wilson 0.156 -2.2
Molina 0.269 0.0
Kennedy 0.182 -3.5
Spiezio 0.230 -1.3
Miles 0.239 -0.6
I’ve included Value Over Replacement Player, or VORP, to provide a comparison to EqA. VORP measures the value of a position player to a replacement-level hitter at the position he plays.
As the crude chart (my apologies for lack of TypePad expertise) shows, Chris Duncan is playing at Hall of Fame level, or more appropriately, he’s doing the kinds of things with the bat that Albert Pujols should be doing. Yadi Molina is hitting (finally) at MLB regular level. Pujols is showing solid MLB fringe-level performance…which is a darn good thing for a man making 12M+ a season. Aaron Miles, bench-level infielder is playing at his abilities…which is fringe-level MLB performance. Eckstein and Spiezio are on the low-end of the fringe, hitting well below their recent performance, excepting Spiezio’s injury-riddled Seattle tenure.
The heart of the lineup is where the giant gaping chasm exists:
Rolen: 0.200 EqA -3.5 VORP
Edmonds: 0.176 -3.8
Wilson: 0.156 -2.2
Granted, to depend on P-Dub for much would be like expecting a free lunch. Probably not going to happen. However, Rolen and Edmonds are currently ******* the life out of the lineup. They’re both hitting well below replacement-level. In other words, the Cardinals could bring up their Memphis (AAA) center fielder (Rick Ankiel!) and third-baseman (Travis Hanson) and expect to improve quite a bit.
Isn’t that scary? Of course, looking at their performance at Memphis, maybe not:
Ankiel: 0.780 OPS (only 12 hits in 57 AB, but 8 are of the extra-base variety)
Hanson: 0.442 OPS (that’s anemic)
So clearly, the big club doesn’t have any dramatic solution other than to hope that Rolen, Edmonds, Wilson, Kennedy, and Pujols begin some steady, if not dramatic improvement, in their production at the plate.
The 2007 season depends upon it.
Another way of looking at how poor the offense is right now, relative to the pitching, is the pythagorean record, or expected win percentage based upon the runs scored by the team and the runs against.
With 50 runs scored through 17 games, and 65 runs against, the Cardinals’ expected winning percentage is 0.372, or 37.2%. Through 17 games, that’s 6.32, or rounding off, 6 wins. So, Tony La Russa would be justified in saying to his team, “How’d we ever win 7?”
Of course, he won’t. They’ll just keep playing a hard nine and see what turns up. This year, at this moment, that’s just not good enough.
so far anyway…the Cards are 5-1 on their current homestand. A sweep of the Pirates stands in the way of an 8-1 stretch as I hoped would happen. With Carp on the mound tonight, it should be 6-1. Knock on wood.
Anyway, nice couple of games for the team not formerly known as comeback kids. Marquis still bites, but I’m back on the Suppan bandwagon, in fact I think I’m driving it. He deserves to be back next year. I think he’s a good cost-effective 5th starter.
I’m off to Chicago for a wedding…not my own. I should be able to keep abreast of happenings while I’m gone. In a couple of weeks I’m heading to Baltimore and have already bought tickets to an Orioles-Sawx game on the 13th. I can’t wait to see Camden Yards for the first time!
Well, the team played well in Chicago, only to get their hats handed to them by the Mets. I won’t go into the particulars except to say that I think Mulder is (effectively) done for the year, Marquis will never be the starter the team needs, and his stuff suggests; Weaver is a flake, but I still like his stuff, and Suppan can be my number 4 or 5 starter any day.
So for next season, I’d re-sign Suppan and Weaver, and jettison Mulder and Marquis. Someone will over-pay for those two, and it better not be the Cardinals. If there’s some kind of magical resurrection potion M&M drink that makes them world-beaters the next month, fine…I’m all in. I just don’t see it happening. Bring Reyes and Wainwright into the rotation…or sign a top-notch starter, and leave AW in the pen. Something like that. I’d like to think WJ can make a run at Barry Zito, but the ownership is already balking at upping the payroll next year. Of course, they’re claiming they’re at about $95M this season, when most projections show $86M, probably without incentives. Where does the truth lie? Ask Mulder. No, the other one.
Suppan was nails last night, despite the mis-adventures of young Mr. Duncan in left field. If he’s anywhere close to that kind of performance 2 out of every 3 starts, he’s worth keeping around. That being said, the team was lucky to win last night. 15 LOB. Are you kidding me?? Jimmy left 7 on himself, while striking out 4 times. I will say that the Cubbies didn’t give him a good pitch to hit, so he had to take some chances…and one of those SO’s should’ve been a walk…so I’m not down on Jimmy. I still think he’ll come around. Not to the extent that I projected, but post-concussion syndrome will impact anyone’s numbers…and I was probably being a tad unrealistic in my analysis.
Anyway, back to the current…I’m predicting an 8-1 homestand by the good guys, and a 4-game lead in the standings by the end of the homestand. Certainly, anything less than 7-2 would be a dissapointment of the highest order. The Cardinals are now back in 1st place after last night, thanks to their win and the help of an ex-Cardinal.
Walking Cedeno and loading the bases to get to Nevin for a DP to end the inning…I understand.
Pinch-hitting Juan-Enc for your hottest hitter, I don’t. And not only that, but Juan doesn’t stay in the game. Timo P. ends up playing right field.
I agree with a lot of folks over at Viva El Birdos. This one is squarely on TLR. He blew this game, not the team. Hopefully he’ll own up to it…for what it’s worth, and that’s actually very little.
On the good side, the Cardinals are one Carpenter start away from a series win. Of course, they could’ve beaten the Cubs best pitcher today and had a chance at a sweep. So much for the broom.
As Bluto said to Flounder, “My advice to you is to start drinking heavily.”
As Otter said to Flounder (cleaned up for MLBlogs), “Face it, you screwed up! You trusted us!” That’s what TLR should be saying to the team right about now. And to the fans.
On the whole, I’d rather be in Philadelphia. Scratch that, make it San Diego.
and 1 win out of those 2. Well, to break an 8-game losing streak, I’ll take it. Pretty well pitched by both teams, and the Cardinals offense did just enough to get the win.
Anthony started out well, and then left one out over the plate which Gee-off Jenkins managed not to hit fowl by about 3 inches. That, and the Misadventures of the Cardinals Outfielders, made it a 3-run inning for the Brewers.
But, good pitching and timely defense by the Cardinals kept it a 4-3 game from the 5th inning on. Young Anthony gets his 3rd win this season. Jimmy Ballgame has a nice defensive gem. Looper and Izzy pitched great.
Not a game to turn the offense around, but a nice outing by the pitching staff. Hopefully Capuano is in for a thrashing tomorrow.
Regarding David Bell’s play at 3rd against Eckstein…well, even the Brewers announcers thought it was a tad unclean, after a 2nd look. If Bell hadn’t come up with runners on 1st and 2nd the next inning, he might’ve been plunked. I’m not sure what baseball ‘ettiquette’ calls for, but if the umps won’t police the game, then teams should. If I were the manager, and Bell had come up with 2 outs, I would’ve had Looper hit him. Might happen tomorrow. Of course, Cirillo will probably get the start tomorrow, if Yost wants to avoid any potential trouble.
The ‘Stros picked up the greatest player ever to be traded by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays…or at least, that’s what you’d think. Color me unimpressed. Nice pickup for very little given up, but the guy isn’t exactly the second coming of Barry Bonds out there. He strikes me more as a rich man’s Jeromy Burnitz. Or Todd Hollandsworth Redux. Jason Lane has been a Redbird murderer lately, so I’m happy to see him go down to Red Rock…or Shiner Bock…or wherever in Texas their AAA team is.
Non-sequitur: Every time I see the name ‘Jeromy,’ I say to myself: “Ghur-ah-mee!”
The Cardinals of course have helped themselves to the recycled remains of Jeff Weaver. He’s got a **** of a slider. If Dunc can tweak his motion, he might be worth the pickup. Can’t be any worse than Ponson, and the cost wasn’t too much to be worried about.
As far as what the Redbirds do next…I don’t know. I’m sure Walt is looking…and I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt that he’ll pull something meaningful off. It just feels right now that he needs to out-do the Astros…and possibly the Reds by making an impact signing. I’d be happy with Abreu, Burrell, Hunter, Willis…at the right price. Not sure what that would be…but I wouldn’t trade Reyes or Wainwright. Then again, that’s why I’m not the GM….or the assistant GM…or the traveling secretary.
What a life that would be, huh?
I’ll be largely incommunicado over the weekend…I have a house guest arriving and I’ll be out and about quite a bit. But I plan on taking in the Isotopes-Cubs game on Friday night. I’ll try to take some more photos.
that Dave Duncan will miraculously turn around Jeff Weaver, but he hasn’t been able to do that with Jason Marquis in 2 1/2 years…or fix Suppan’s current issues (and they are many)…or get Ponson straightened out.
Not that I’m opposed to Weaver…for the minimal cost, it’s well worth a shot. I’m just not sure that Dave Duncan is the miracle worker he’s made out to be. And I like Dunc, so take that as a dose of healthy cynicysm.
To all of my 3 intrepid readers, I apologize for being slow on postings lately. First, with all the excitement (Mulder flameout, Pujols injury, bullpen ********), I just haven’t really felt like writing. Secondly, I’ve been traveling for work, which contributes to the writing malaise.
A couple of thoughts…
1) Watching Izzy blow his 2nd save in 3 opportunities last night, I noticed that he seems to have no idea where his cutter is going when he releases it…hence, his control problems. Viva El Birdos noticed the same thing. He better get a handle on this…or the Cards record will take a nosedive. It may have already started.
2) I like Jimmy playing 1st base…assuming that he’s healthy enough to do so and that he can’t injure himself anymore. But it seems to me that he’s a bit of a defensive liability there, unless every throw to him is perfect or nearly so. He can’t really lay out to scoop balls out of the dirt. Can he?
3) The only guys I trust in the bullpen right now are: Wainwright, Flores, Johnson, and to a lesser extent Thompson and Looper. The best bullpen in baseball they’re not…ERA aside.
Good night, good luck…and all that other stuff.
Welcome to my new blog, The Player To Be Named Later!
It’s so named in honor of the greatest fictional baseball movie character of all-time, Crash Davis, portrayed by Kevin Costner in his finest role, IMHO, in one of the greatest sports movies of all-time, “Bull Durham”. It’s also a nod to all those ‘players to be named later’ who are the cast-offs, or throw-ins on big trades.
This blog will center around the exploits of the St. Louis Cardinals, the most successful team in the history of the National League. The Cardinals were the only MLB team west of the Mississippi River until the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants moved to Los Angeles and San Francisco respectively, after the 1957 season.
More team history to come later…