Oh goodness, not another trade deadline post!
Yes, it’s another trade deadline post. Well, sort of. It could also just as easily be a “player A optioned, player B recalled” post.
What am I talking about? Who’s not pulling their WAR? (Are you done with the sophomoric jokes now? Good, me too.)
By definition, a player with 0.0 wins above replacement is, ironically, at replacement level. You’re smart, so I don’t have to teach you that piece of logic, but let’s look at which players are failing to meet even that standard.
(For the purpose of “it just doesn’t matter” I’ve deleted pitchers from the batting chart. Although Jake Westbrook‘s recent outburst pushed him ahead of a bunch of the regular players…)
For information’s sake, in order from left to right (other than the obvious ones): runs from batting, runs from baserunning, runs from grounding into double plays, runs from fielding, runs attributed to positional difficulty.
Just for giggles, some observations before the scoldings.
- Damn, Matt Carpenter. Right on.
- The defensive runs metric doesn’t love the Cardinals. But damn again, Matt Carpenter. And hello, Pete Kozma (you’re at least doing something right).
- Big Mayo just hits. When you’re Matt Adams you don’t have to worry about runs from all those other piddly categories.
- Ouch on the double plays, Matt Holliday.
- Meet David Freese, just barely above replacement level third baseman.
Ok, now we’re into the discussion portion of this post. We’ve got four players not pulling their WAR so far. One has already been summarily dismissed and is now depositing his checks into the jukebox at his local pub and grub. One is a backup catcher that we know doesn’t hit, and he’s below 0.0 because he hasn’t hit. One doesn’t really merit discussion because of small sample size.
And then there’s Jon Jay.
It’s been written here before that if the Cardinals were looking for a specific location to improve the team, center field would be one. It’s certainly not the only place that improvement could be realized, but by this admittedly very basic and simple measure, he’s it. It’s worth mentioning that Jay’s oft-mentioned errorless streak doesn’t much impress the fielding runs metric, where Jay’s giving away seven.
Well, then what about the pitchers?
Again, some notes about this chart:
- If anyone really needed more proof that Adam Wainwright is carrying this pitching staff, well, here you go.
- WAR is a counting stat, it’s cumulative as the season goes along, so taking into account the recent struggles he’s had, for Shelby Miller to still be at 2.5 WAR illustrates how dominant his early season was.
- Randy Choate has gotten some pretty high leverage outs for only 21 innings in 36 games.
- The rookies are really holding their own by this measure too, huh? We already knew that, but for guys like Kevin Siegrist to rank as high on this list as he does, he’s doing something right.
When we look at the replacement level players from the pitchers’ chart, what do you notice? Save for one, they’ve all been replaced already! Mitchell Boggs is now in Colorado, Maikel Cleto was outrighted and claimed by the Royals, Marc Rzepczynski is a non-tender candidate languishing in Memphis, and while Michael Blazek and Tyler Lyons will be back in St. Louis very soon, they’ve been supplanted by others higher on the list.
So where then, can John Mozeliak improve the pitching? Well, in one case, as mentioned above, it could be to get someone even better than a guy higher up the list. Or, as many have been clamoring for (and frankly, kind of expecting), Carlos Martinez will be returned to Memphis to start for the remainder of the season and the Cards can bring in another proven bullpen arm. Or another proven starter that would push Joe Kelly back to the bullpen. Or maybe it’s Chris Carpenter, eventually.
The phrases “complete team” and “not many holes” are almost becoming cliche as they are repeatedly used to describe the Cardinals in many media outlets, yet the truth in such statements is readily apparent by even this simple measure. Can the Cardinals improve? Sure, there is always incremental improvement to be made. Is any one player really killing them right now, to the point that they MUST be replaced? The league’s best record seems to indicate otherwise.