Well. Apparently we traded Colby Rasmus. Who saw that coming?
I haven't been in the daily threads much this week, but from a cursory look last night, I noticed that the response to this trade, both in this blog and the wider baseball community, seems to be overwhelmingly negative from the Cardinals' point of view. What bothered me a little bit about much of the analysis of the deal, however, is the overwhelming presence of a great deal of narrative over actual nitty-gritty. As a scientist, I get concerned when I read potentially loaded statements about "trading 3 years of a cost-controlled centre fielder for rentals of a starting pitcher and a righty reliever, plus a few years of a LOOGY". I don't think it tells you a great deal about what's actually happened, and the reality is that the value of the deal is obviously entirely dependent on how good those individual pieces are.
What I'd like to do in this fanpost is examine, in as dispassionate a way as possible, each individual aspect of this trade; I'll try largely to use the concept of "surplus value", that is, the value of each piece in the trade, minus the payroll liabilities that they each entail. Obviously, there's a lot of guesstimation involved here, and some pretty huge error bars, so rather than prejudging that this is a "good", "bad" or "indifferent" trade, I'll look at the best, worst and median-case scenarios for each player involved, and try to make some sort of conclusion at the end of it all. I'll be using wins above replacement (FanGraphs WAR) and various projections/predictions/guesses of value to try to put a dollar amount on each asset in the trade; for reference, the cost of 1 WAR on the free agent market at present is approximately $4m, give or take.
Before I move onto that, I think I should just underline my thoughts on a wider sense relating to this deal. I'm not, frankly, a big TLR fan. For most of the time I've followed this team, I've considered him an average manager, at best (in a field of major league managers which often resembles a tallest midget contest). I thought that the various machinations of his apparent distaste for Colby have depressed his value significantly, and, as Dan pointed out yesterday in his front page post, he simply hasn't done his job very well (in terms of working with, not against, the players he's provided with). Regardless of the merits of Mozeliak's trade, LaRussa comes out of this even worse in my eyes. Frankly, I hope he's gone next year.
Full disclosure time - my initial impressions when I heard about the trade (I hadn't read VEB or any other analysis at this point) was that it was a slightly better haul than I thought we might get. I've been a big Jackson fan for a year or two and thought he was a potential FA target next year, I recall Marc Rzepczynski as one of the Jay's top 10 prospects a year or two ago, and thought Dotel had some value as a throw-in. I definitely thought it was probably a better deal, initially, the alternative offer from the Rays centred around Jeff Niemann.
In any case, let's move onto looking at the individual aspects of the trade:
1. The throw-in pieces.
I'll get this out of the way first. From our point of view, we did a bit of addition by subtraction by moving Brian Tallet back to his old team, dumping the apparently more or less finished Trever Miller, and giving up AAAA pitcher PJ Walters. We also managed to do a bit of subtraction by addition, picking up the husk of Corey Patterson, who will hopefully be marginalised the rest of the way as a 4th or 5th OF and who likely isn't any real upgrade over Adron Chambers as a back CF. All in all, I'm not sure these parts of the deal are worth any analysis - basically, all these players are basically worthless at this point (give or take) and these moves were simply to save a few hundred K and free up some roster space. So far, so insignificant.
2. Losing Colby this year
The hardest part, perhaps, of the deal to quantify. Colby's current value remains quite high, despite a difficult season.
He's been worth 8.3 WAR thus far in his career over about two and a half full seasons, good for somewhere around 3.5 WAR per season, which probably remains his current true-talent level, difficult as it is to judge (recent slump included, he's on pace for about 2.5 WAR this year, but with a slightly unlucky BABIP). His career line of .258/.333/.442 is slightly above average (thanks to a decent walkrate and some power), a .336 wOBA and 109 wRC+. His baserunning has been good (both to my eyes and to all the stats) but that's included in his overall FanGraphs WAR total. He's shown improvements in his K rate this year (it's down to 20%) and, most importantly, he's not quite 25 years old yet, so it's possible he can tweak and improve his hitting as he moves into his peak years.
His batted ball profile hasn't changed much over time, despite hitting more infield pop-ups this year (although combined with a reduction in K%, that still suggests he's simply having the same problems making solid contact he always has), so most of his "projection" in terms of hitting comes from his pedigree as a guy who saw success at a young age in the minors. It's important to note, however, that he was in fact never a dominant hitter in his way up the system, his big breakout year coming with a big 2007 in Springfield (AA) where he was arguably helped by playing in a ballpark that is hugely beneficial to left-handed hitters, to a still highly-impressive 152wRC+ (.932 OPS). However, he was slightly below average as a hitter in 2008 in Memphis, so, as I stated, perhaps his upside may be a little over-stated and it down to his seductive toolset and young age as much as any perceived super-prospect production.
Much of his value was estimated to be tied up in his fielding, as a speedy, smooth CF (the toughest OF position and third behind C and SS on the defensive spectrum). However, he's not quite lived up to expectations, putting up a strong first year according to UZR and then falling away to negative scores in his next two years. There is a massive error bar on UZR data, and it seems reasonable to take it with a pinch of salt, but I'd say (based on my own observations - good routes, good speed, error prone, poor arm) his final UZR figure of -3.6 runs per year (which equates, with the large error bars, to somewhere between "slightly above average" and "poor"), and FanGraphs fan scouting report (which aggregates fans' votes of a player's defensive production) and the Dewan plus/minus system. As UZR is incorporated into his WAR figure so far, let's say he's an average to slightly below-average CF, with the possibility that his slight struggles this year may mean that his skills may regress in future years, but with a high chance that he'll be average-ish or a little below going forward.
So, what have we traded away?
Assuming Rasmus is around a 3.5 WAR player right now, and assuming Jon Jay is about league average (or a tick above), the dropoff from trading Rasmus and replacing him with Jay is about 1.5 wins per year; pro-rated over the rest of the season, about half a win. However, we're also replacing Jay's production as a pretty regularly-playing 4th OF with some PAs from Corey Patterson (who sucks), Allen Craig (who is roughly equivalent in value to Jay) and perhaps more playing time in either OF or 2B for Skip Schumaker (who's maybe only a 1 WAR guy). It's hard to forecast how that'll all pan out, but I'd say it's likely we're losing at least another half win there.
Overall, the likely cost in 2011 of losing Rasmus is -1 win.
Rasmus continues to scuffle, Jay continues to get a bit lucky, Craig and Berkman are healthy and can fill in the gap, Patterson barely plays, and the trade costs us 0.
Berkman's injury is more long-term, meaning the backup corps of Patterson and a smorgasbord of AAAA Memphis guys have to fill in some more time. Probably -1.5 to -2 wins.
MEDIAN CASE SCENARIO:
As noted above, -1 win.
3. Losing Colby going forward
I decided to put this section here, as it hangs together reasonably well with section #2, although it's actually not relevant to the value we gain from this trade THIS year.
So what's our favourite smooth home run hitter going to do over the next three seasons? Well, based on the above, I'd say the most likely expectation for a guy with 3 years' service time is a slight improvement. He's moving to a tougher environment to hit in (the ALE) and will face the stacked RedSox, Yankees and Rays rotations frequently, but he's moving out of a seemingly toxic environment where he clearly wasn't happy, and, as previously noted, starts 2012 as a 25-year-old with significant tools. ZiPS projects a .338 wOBA for the rest of 2011, and it's hard to see him not bettering that in the forthcoming years. As a 3.5 WAR guy now, I'd say it's probably fair bet for him to add 0.5 WAR/yr.
So, overall, if we assume he figures things out to SOME extent, we can project something like 4 WAR next year, 4.5 WAR the year after, 5 WAR the year after that. On average, a 4.5 WAR CF for three years, or about 1 WAR/yr better than he has been so far - a moderate improvement for a young guy moving into his peak. That costs us 13.5 WAR in the next three years.
BEST CASE SCENARIO:
From our point of view, the ideal thing now would be for Rasmus' relatively unimpressive defense to continue to be an issue, and for him not to figure things out as a hitter. The "not developing beyond what he is now" hypothesis. It's hard to see his skills regressing significantly, so a 3-3.5 WAR/yr guy he remains. That costs us about 10 WAR.
WORST CASE SCENARIO:
His defense moves back to average or slightly better (he certainly has the tools to be worth a few runs above average) and his hitting tools begin to coalesce. The 152 wRC+ of his AA season seems unattainable, but if he can hit .276/.361/.498 as he did (luck-assisted) last year, without the elevated BABIP, he's a 5-6 WAR guy with decent CF defense and no health issues. That costs us a painful ~17 WAR.
MEDIAN CASE SCENARIO:
As above; 4.5 WAR for 3 years = 13.5 WAR(ish).
4. The guys we've gained this year
I should start by saying that E-Jax is a good pitcher. Probably better than you thought, if you hadn't looked at his stats lately. The wild pitcher with good stuff but no clue how to use it of his early-20s Rays days seems a thing of the past; he's 28 years old, and has put up the following lines for the last 3 seasons:
2009: 214 IP, 3.62 ERA, 4.28 FIP, 4.32 xFIP. Good for 3.5 WAR in a tougher ALC with the Tigers.
2010: 209 IP, 4.47 ERA, 3.86 FIP, 3.71 xFIP. Good for 3.8 WAR with the D'Backs in the slightly easier NLW.
2011: 121 IP, 3.92 ERA, 3.21 FIP, 3.42 xFIP. Good for 3.0 WAR mostly with the WhiteSox.
His walkrate, K rate, and GB rate have all improved since before this period. He's now a guy with control that borders on the excellent (2.88 BB/9), good stuff (his fastball velocity is consistently within the top 10 in baseball, as far as starters are concerned) and a 47% GB rate. He's on track for a 4.5-5 WAR season, and has been about as valuable as Jaime Garcia so far. His ZiPS projection calls for a 3.94 FIP going forward (which I find hard to understand, as he's bettered that quite substantially in the last two years), and he's moving to a league where he can throw against the opposition pitcher.
If we assume Kyle McClellan is charitably a 1-WAR pitcher, and E-Jax is something like a 4 WAR true talent guy (both of which may slightly underestimate the impact of this move), we're looking at a roughly 1 WAR gain in the remaining 9 or 10 starts Jackson is likely to make.
BEST-CASE SCENARIO -
Jackson pitches like he has in 2011 so far, finds a few more GB under Dave Duncan, and is worth 2 WAR over what KMac would've provided.
WORST-CASE SCENARIO -
some bad starts/regression for Jackson and he's merely a 0.5 WAR upgrade.
MEDIAN CASE SCENARIO -
as above; 1 WAR.
Marc Rzepczynski (let's just call him Scrabble from here on in...) is going to be our lefty reliever for the rest of the year, and has accumulated a 2.83 ERA supported by a 3.13 FIP doing that job in Toronto. As we saw on Thursday, he has a impressive stuff and a K rate over 8 for his career. His 2.64 career FIP (2.84 xFIP) and 9.6K/9IP vs LHB suggests that he'll be an impact reliever if used mainly against lefties, but unlike even the best years of Trever Miller's career, he can also get righties out - an unlucky 4.69 FIP is underlain by a much more promising 4.13 xFIP. He's been worth 0.6 WAR in his 40-odd IP so far, and promises to be worth another 0.5 WAR going forward. With no replacement-level lefties on the staff this year (both Miller and Tallet were below replacement-level, and project to continue to be so) I don't think it's implausible he's actually a 1 WAR upgrade.
BEST-CASE SCENARIO -
Scrabble tears it up in the pen and Miller continues to prove he's lost it, putting up a 5-ish FIP. The upgrade is nearer 2 WAR
WORST-CASE SCENARIO -
Scrabble doesn't get enough innings to make a huge impact, and Miller bounces back a little in Toronto, showing he's not QUITE done yet. Still a likely gain of 0.5 WAR.
MEDIAN CASE SCENARIO -
as above; 1 WAR.
Last but not least, the moves at the back of the pen are worth noting. The acquisition of E-Jax moves KMac back into a relief role, where he's put up an xFIP of approximately 4 in the last three years, replacing the entirely fungible Brian Tallet. Of somewhat greater value is the fact that McClellan can pitch to lefties, with a platoon split that is essentially non-existent. This makes him potentially useful if used correctly (and yes, with TLR that's a big IF) when contrasted with guys like Jason Motte and Mitchell Boggs. In a 7th or 8th inning game facing lefty-righty-lefty, especially if scrabble has been burnt, KMac is likely a better bet than either of our current set-up men.
Dotel is a minimal addition in real terms, bumping the soft-tossing PJ Walters off the roster, although he really should be the last righty out of the pen OR used specifically as a ROOGY. A somewhat wild journeyman with extreme flyball tendencies (do I have to duck if I invoke the phrase "rich man's Miguel Batista"?), Dotel's hovered around an unexciting FIP of 4 for the past couple of years, but he does have one redeeming feature - he's murder on right-handed hitters. A career 12K/9IP vs righties, and better than a 5:1 K:BB ratio this year, means his career and season FIPs vs RHB are both well below 3. As long as he never faces a lefty, Dotel is a useful addition in that he's probably the best pitcher on the staff at killing righties in a high-leverage situation.
The likely gain from these two minor bullpen additions is likely about 0.5 WAR over the rest of the season - they're both assets if used well, but could be a detriment if they used injudiciously.
Dotel only ever faces righties, and is immediately pulled for KMac or Scrabble in a high-leverage lefty situation. KMac isn't used as a primary set-up guy, but handles the long-man role and is used now and again against lefties in later innings. A possible gain of 1 WAR with a prevailing wind.
Either guy becomes the go-to 8th inning guy, moving Boggs, Motte and Lynn (all of whom are as good or better than KMac and Dotel) to lower-leverage work. A potential LOSS of value here, let's say -0.5 WAR.
MEDIAN CASE SCENARIO - as above; 0.5 WAR.
5. 2011 Trade Impact
The value of the trade, at least in the immediate, is that it likely improves the team in the short-term, in a close pennant race, between two fairly evenly matched teams. As I mentioned earlier, one win (or 1WAR) is worth roughly $4m, give or take, judging by recent free agent contracts. That said, not every win (or WAR) is born equally.
Given the relative scarcity of occasions in baseball where 1 win is genuinely important (i.e. in a tight playoff race), and given the huge (apparently $20m+ in revenue, on average) benefits of reaching the post-season, wins become much more valuable in situations like the one we find ourselves in now. One could argue that the fact we hope/expect to contend in 2012 and 2013 slightly reduces that (i.e. we're not quite as "all-in" as the Brewers) but essentially the value of any wins added or subtracted right now is magnified.
What WOULD you pay to add a win in a tight playoff race? $6m? $8m? I honestly can't answer that question, so, in a wild gambit that may undermine my entire thesis here, I've decided to include both those options, along with $4m, in evaluating the 2011 impact. You can go with whatever you think is most appropriate; personally, I can envisage each win being worth at least double in a tight playoff race.
0 WAR (losing Rasmus) + 2 WAR (Jackson) + 2 WAR (Rzepczinski) + 1 WAR (Dotel & KMac to the pen) = 5 WAR
Overall Surplus Value = $20m ($4m/win), $30m (6m/win), or $40m (8m/win).
-2 WAR (losing Rasmus) + 0.5 WAR (Jackson) + 0.5 WAR (Rzepczinski) - 0.5 WAR (Dotel & KMac to the pen) = -1.5 WAR
Overall Surplus Value = $-6m ($4m/win), $-9m (6m/win), or $-12m (8m/win).
MY PREDICTED MEDIAN:
-1 WAR (losing Rasmus) + 1 WAR (Jackson) + 1 WAR (Rzepczinski) + 0.5 WAR (Dotel & KMac to the pen) = +1.5 WAR
Overall Surplus Value = $6m ($4m/win), $9m (6m/win), or $12m (8m/win).
Overall, the most likely outcome (broadly speaking) if we're valuing our wins at this point in the year about 1.5 to 2x as important as any other win, is that the trade adds about $10m of value this year.
6. Going forward - The arbitration question
One of the principle values of this trade, as we've discussed in some of the other threads, is the possibility of yielding some draft picks from two of the players involved, namely Jackson and Dotel. Both currently qualify as Type-B free agents, and so if they're offered arbitration over the winter and turn it down, the Cardinals net a supplemental draft pick (probably within the 40-50 range in the draft) in the 2012 MLB Player Draft, which is a valuable commodity (current top-10 Cards prospect Tyrrel Jenkins was a supplemental pick, as was current Cardinal Lance Lynn).
Using the reverse-engineered Elias Rankings from MLBTR, we see that Dotel is comfortably inside the Type-B bracket in either league this year, with an outside shot at type-A (which won't happen unless he gets some more save opportunities). Jackson looks a little vulnerable; he's a Type-B, but the curious (read: stupid) way the Elias rankings works puts him only near the bottom. However, his Type-B status is almost certainly safe; because the Elias rankings use stats from the last three years, they're currently including the tail end of his ugly 2008 with the Rays. So long as he matches or out-performs the August/September where he put up an ERA north of 5 (although he did, admittedly, pick up 7 pitcher wins) he should make it.
Jackson is a no-brainer to offer arbitration to, as there is zero chance he accepts it (barring an injury requiring major surgery). He's a Boras client and is due a big pay-day next year. Unless we intend to extend him (which may prove costly), we're likely to trade him up for a draft pick come the winter.
Dotel is a harder one to figure. As noted above, he's only a marginally useful reliever these days, but as a guy with a significant platoon split, arguably he still has utility. However, he's 37 and turns 38 before next season. His fastball, which remains his go-to pitch, has lost a bit of zip in the last three years, going from a 93mph pitch with the ability to touch 96 and 97, to being a strictly low-90s offering. He has a $3.5m option with a 750k buyout; I'd imagine the Cardinals might exercise the buyout and offer arbitration. He's unlikely to see a significant increase in salary from the $2.75m he's making this year, so even if he DOES accept arbitration (quite possible) he won't earn much more than the $3.5m in total.
All that said, he was briefly a major league closer (TM) last year in Pittsburgh, and it's not impossible that he thinks a 2-year deal is possible or that he'll get north of $4m to pitch somewhere as a set-up man. On balance, I think offering arbitration is the right move for the Cardinals - at worst, they'll be paying somewhere between $3 and 4m for a righty specialist who, if used exclusively against righties, is probably just about worth that salary. It's also possible that the Cardinals come to a gentleman's agreement with Dotel, buying him out (netting him $750k) and allowing him to look for a $3m+ deal elsewhere (which makes him more money than his option year would), in exchange for the assurance that he'll decline arbitration.
How much is type-B compensation worth? As a very rough estimate, Victor Wang has shown that the average supplemental pick provides somewhere very roughly in the region of $3m of surplus value. Given that the Cardinals recent drafting record is fairly good, and we have a history of paying slightly-above-average with regard to slot prices, it's possible that such a pick is worth a little more to us. Shall we say $4m?
MOST LIKELY SCENARIO:
Jackson is offered arby and accepts. Dotel is either allowed to walk, or ends up back here for $3m or so. I guess this happens maybe 50% of the time.
NET GAIN = $4m
Both end up type-Bs, both decline arbitration (perhaps with the gentleman's agreement with Dotel), and we net two draft picks. Rough stab in the dark, I'd say this happens 30% of the time.
NET GAIN = $8m
If Jackson gets unfeasibly unlucky with his W/L record and ERA, or gets injured, it's just about possible he slips off the type-B map. In this instance, the Cardinals gain no picks and could end up (over)paying Dotel $3-4m into the bargain. I guess this could happen 20% of the time.
NET GAIN = Diddly squat
7. The Colby Tax
Or - what the ultimate cost of three lost Rasmus years is. Assuming the $/WAR value sticks around $4m for the next three years, and assuming the WAR totals I discussed in part 2, we can take a rough stab at this surplus value we're losing.
We also have to deduct what Colby will cost, however, as we can use that money to pay for other assets. Looking at a few recent arbitration cases we can make a pretty fair guess. Ryan Ludwick is a good comp in terms of both his production in the three years leading up to his arbitration seasons, and in terms of what I think Colby might get (although Ludwick avoided arby in each year, agreeing a 1-year deal with the Cards or Padres each time). Ludwick made $3.7m/$4.5m/$7m. I'm assuming Colby's position, youth and top prospect billing may mean a slight uptick on these numbers, so let's assume Rasmus costs $4m/$6m/$8m in arbitration for a total of $18m.
So, with reference to this putative arby salary scheme, and Colby's projected values from part 2, we lose:
-13.5WAR = $-54m + $18m (salary) = $-36m
-10WAR = $-40m + $18m (salary) = $-22m
-17WAR = $-68m + $18m (salary) = $-50m
So, the balance of the trade really comes down to what we can expect from our new left-handed setup guy/possible future starter. The crux of the matter, really, is whether he IS a starter, and exactly how good he can be.
Marc Rzepczynski is, as discussed above, already a good left-handed reliever. He has good peripheral numbers, good results this year, and is capable of getting righties out as well as being tough on lefties. Also, he's right up Dave Duncan's street, throwing a wicked slider and a nice sinker, both of which generate lots of groundballs.
However, the problem with non-closers (and all but the most elite relievers, in general) is that they're just not worth as much as everyday players or starting pitchers, as they only throw 60 or 70-odd innings most years. We might expect to see some improvements from Scrabble, and fairly elite reliever numbers going forwards - he's 25, he's already very good with less than 2 years major league experience, and he fits into our staff very well, but in terms of value he's unlikely to greatly exceed 1 WAR/yr as a lefty set-up guy.
All that said, I'm not sure there's anything yet to say that he can't make it as a starter. The groundball rate and the ability to pitch to righties impress greatly (his FIP and xFIP, as noted previously, are in the low-4s against RHB, and he has a serviceable changeup that, if he can develop it a little and rely on it more, could make for a nice three-pitch combo). Also, he already has some success - in 23 starts in the daunting environment of the AL East, a 3.94 xFIP (FIP, with HR/FB rate normalised to the league average) underlies slightly less impressive FIP and ERA numbers. Moving to the NL, under the tutelage of Dave Duncan, and avoiding having nearly a quarter of your starts against the Yankees (as has been the case so far) may help. There's also been talk from Goold and others that some in the org see him as a possible starter long-term, and he had some significant success starting in the minors (when he was one of the Jay's top 10 prospects), putting up sub-2.60FIPs right the way up the minors in 2008 and 2009 and moving quickly through their system.
On the other side of the coin, he's never thrown more than 160IP in a year, will have been a reliever for all of 2011, and Dave Duncan seems to be of the opinion that the guy's a reliever. His arm action is slightly funky; he's big enough at 6-3 and 200+ lbs to handle a starter's workload, but he is slightly round-arm with his delivery and one wonders whether his success against righties will sustain once teams have seen him more than a couple of times, unless Duncan can refine his approach and arsenal.
The 3.94 xFIP he's put up as a starter (and 1.6 WAR in 23 starts), and the fact his results and approach seem to be improving as he moves into his peak years, suggest that the guy can probably be a 2 WAR pitcher in the rotation in the NL Central, albeit not a big innings eater. With some improvement in terms of his efficiency and approach, 3 WAR (which I guess makes him the mythical "3rd starter" Jaime Garcia was always projected as, for a contending team, until the cutter turned him into a legit #1 or 2) seems within reach. It just depends whether the Cardinals give him the chance to do that.
The final point worth noting is that Scrabbulous has 4 years of team control remaining, one more year than Colby and that year will be for the league minimum, before he hits arbitration in 2013. We'll have him between ages 26 (next month) and 30.
Scrabble turns starter next year, stretching out to ~160-odd IP and puts up decent 3rd starter numbers, earning 2 WAR. Three more (hopefully injury-free) years of similar production (2.5 WAR, 3 WAR, 3 WAR) take him up to age 30 and free agency. Total of 10.5 WAR
Scrabble remains in the pen, perhaps after a failed attempt at starting, and puts up solid LOOGY/set-up guy numbers for four years, perhaps with some injury niggles. Total of 4 WAR
Hard to peg this one, as it's probably more likely he's the best or worst case; he's either a competent starter or he isn't. Let's assume he stays in the pen this year and next, and then has 3 years as a competent, basically league-average, starter. 1 WAR next year plus 3 years of 2 WAR/yr as a starter = Total of 7 WAR
As with Rasmus, there's an arby cost. Assuming he's a reliever, or a reliever who later morphs into a tweener starter, a probable decent comp is the Cubs' Sean Marshall - $1m/$1.5m/$3m; roughly $5-6m. I'd bump the total up to maybe $10m if he starts for his last two years. If he's a starter, The Giants' Jonathan Sanchez is probably a good comp - $2.1m/$4.8m in years one and two, and next year he probably gets in the region of $7m. Let's call it $14m. So:
BEST CASE VALUE:
10.5 WAR = $42m - $14m = $28m
WORST CASE VALUE:
4 WAR = $16m - $5m = $11m
MEDIAN CASE VALUE:
7 WAR = $28m - $8m = $18m
Well, I guess I should bring this very dry but hopefully fairly informative fanpost grinding to a shuddering halt. I think there's no question that we sold somewhat low on Colby, but I think (having considered the individual parts of the trade in some detail) the actual facts (as far as we know and can predict them) suggest it's not quite the trainwreck that it's been framed as, both here at VEB and by the media in general. The feeling that trading a possible 5-6 WAR CF coming into his peak years for a slightly disparate and potentially risky package is moving a potential cornerstone for some question-marks is well founded, but perhaps a little overly emotive. There's enough value in this package if some of the following pan out:
- genuine improvement in 2011 (and I haven't even touched on the value of having E-Jax over a lesser pitcher like Lohse in a potential playoff battle).
- Rzepczinski's been well-scouted, fits in with the org, and turns into a worthwhile starter (again, I haven't touched on the fact that this probably keeps Lance Lynn in the bullpen, where he's excelled and where I feel he may actually belong, long-term, but it certainly saves us on potentially expensive free agent deals and risky Carp extensions).
- E-Jax and Dotel turn into supplemental picks.
- Colby doesn't improve significantly over the next three years.
Simply looking at my rough, back-of-a-cigarette-packet calculations above, and assuming the Cards are prepared to pay a not-unreasonable $8m/win for the rest of the year, the following surplus values/losses can be attributed to the following possibilities:
ALL THE MEDIAN VALUES (what I think is most likely to happen): total surplus loss of just $2m
ALL THE BEST-CASE SCENARIOS: total surplus value gain of $54m
ALL THE WORST-CASE SCENARIOS: total surplus loss of $51m
I'm sure you can all get your geek rocks off by playing around with the values I've worked out for each possible scenario (think the Cardinals wouldn't want to pay $8m per win this year? Think Rasmus is a lock to be a 6 WAR guy going forward? Simply change those bits of each formula to your own volition, et voila!), but if we make all the assumptions I've made, get fair projected value out of the guys we traded for in 2011, get four seasons of good relief and/or competent starting pitching from Scrabble, a draft pick from Jackson, and Colby turns into a merely very good player rather than a bona-fide star, as you can see, it's not the disaster that perhaps we Rasmus-lovers all want to frame it as.