The Hot (Stove) Corner

Perfect! A series win, on the road, in Milwaukee (and now I don’t have to listen to Cards’ fans bitch about the Brewers untucking their shirts! That’s the best thing about winning that series!) and a day off before beginning a series in San Francisco. On top of that, the 2 night games in the city by the Bay are on a weekend so it doesn’t matter if I go to bed at 12:30 or 1:00 after watching the game! I want to address w/ today’s off day the fact that Troy Glaus may be out for the season w/ his peculiar injury.

First of all, Derrick Goold has a fairly interesting take on the Rolen-Glaus swap of last offseason. As of the end of the year last year, it seemed a no-brainer that the deal worked out in the Cards’ favor but as it becomes more and more apparent that the Cards are going to get 1 season for the price of 2 from Glaus, the trade balance seems a little more murky. It’s important to remember that this season was supposed to be a player option for Glaus but the Cards insisted he exercise that option before the trade could be completed. It’s reasonable to believe that, considering the poor free agent market this offseason, Glaus would have exercised it anyway but it’s also plausible that he might have chosen to become a free agent, given his age and the strong season he had last year. The financial cost for Glaus’ 1 year of service, if he’s played his last game w/ the birds on the bat -- $23.5 M.

Just for the record, Glaus has played 151 games w/ the home team and has slash lines of .270/.372/.483. Rolen, on the other hand, has played 157 games north of the border and his slash lines are .273/.355/.436. Granted, Glaus’ numbers are better but the difference doesn’t seem to be as stark as it was at the end of last season. Last year, Glaus was worth 5.3 WAR – a pretty hefty total. That breaks down to about 2.5 WAR offensively, .5 WAR defensively (2nd in the NL), and a little more than 2 WAR for the replacement level adjustment. Since becoming a Blue Jay, Rolen has been worth 4 WAR. That breaks down to about 1 WAR offensively, 0.6 WAR defensively, plus a little more than 2 for the replacement level adjustment. So, again, we see that Glaus comes out ahead.

However, the year isn’t over yet, of course. Rolen’s been worth 1.1 WAR in the first (roughly) 2 months of the season. He’s therefore on a pace for another 2.2 WAR the rest of the season, assuming he doesn’t miss time due to injury (a huge assumption, I’ll grant you!). If that’s the case – and Glaus, in fact, misses the entire season – the 2 year WAR total will be Rolen – 6.2, Glaus – 5.3. In fact, if Rolen only garners as many WAR the rest of this season as he has in the first 2 months, he’ll be worth roughly what Glaus will have been worth.

Now, it’s important to note that, while Glaus is a free agent at the end of the season (thank God for small favors!), Rolen is still under contract for 1 more year at $11 M. He was worth about $13M last year and is on a pace to be worth more than $14M this year so, mostly b/c of his defensive abilities, it’s entirely possible that he’ll be worth the $11M he’s owed. That’s not saying I regret the trade, but neither is it any more a clear winner for the Cards.

Yesterday, RB mentioned this man as a possible trade target to man the hot corner for the remainder of the season. He’s not hitting a lick right now and he’s in the last year of a contract paying him $12M. He is, however, a terrific defensive player, possibly the best defensive 3B in the big leagues. Over the last 8 years, he’s averaged being worth more than 1 win per year just on defense. Last year he earned 4.1 WAR and was worth $18.5 M – mostly b/c of his defensive ability. He’s also played at least 139 games every season since 2002. Considering his salary, the fact that he’s a free agent at the end of the year, and the fact that he hasn’t hit a loud foul the entire season, how much could the Mariners really want for him?

Are the M’s ready to give up and sell him? Considering the state of the AL West right now, they might want to wait a while but the Cards would benefit more the sooner we would be able to acquire him. He’s an instant upgrade over the Brian Barden/Joe Thurston combo – probably to the tune of 1.5 to 2 wins over the rest of the season. We certainly have a 3B we could offer – either Freese or Allen Craig and we could toss in a minor league pitcher as well. Maybe Hawksworth? P.J. Walters? I know he has a cult following but he’s hardly a top prospect. We certainly wouldn’t have to offer Rasmus, Wallace, or Daryl Jones (nor should we!) in order to get Beltre. I’d be interested in seeing what it would take b/c I think the upgrade would be worth it.

That said, I’d like to try the Brett Wallace experiment first. I realize there’s a reluctance among many to push him so quickly. I was in that camp before the news came around that Glaus may miss the entire season. But I think that Wallace would add something immediately on offense. The question is, of course, his defense. I wouldn’t expect he would be worth what Beltre would be worth but neither would he cost any money or prospects. Even so, the prospects I’d suggest offering the M’s for Beltre are certainly expendable, given the state of our farm system.

It’s important to note that, while Wallace is hitting fairly well at Memphis, he’s not exactly destroying the PCL – and the PCL is very much a hitter’s league. He probably could use some more time at AAA so the Beltre option is something worth exploring.

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