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weekend discussion thread III: trade talk

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in the last two days the cards have had a player win the cy young award, and they've switched radio announcers for the second time in four years . . . . so naturally the weekend discussion thread is about alfonso soriano and brad wilkerson.

both are being shopped, and both could fill needs in st louis. i'd like to hear thoughts on a) whether the players are worth pursuing under any circumstances, and b) if yes to a, then do you think they are worth the prices (in talent and dollars) forecast here. if they're not worth it, then what price would you pay to bring them here?

earlier this week Brock20 mused about a marquis-for-brad-wilkerson trade. my response at the time: "wilkerson had a mysteriously bad year. the move to rfk stadium seems to have hurt him, but his home/away split wasn't that dramatic --- he actually had a slightly higher ops away from home, thanks to a much higher walk rate. . . . .even in a pretty bad year he had a decent obp (.351) and 60 extra-base hits; he can play centerfield, is only 28 years old. if his obp returns to career norms he'd be an outstanding #2 hitter behind eckstein. he's arbitration-eligible and might command $4-$5 million; they could put him at one corner and sanders at the other and still have $$$ left over for bullpen and/or a decent starting pitcher."

i like this idea -- he's under 30, inexpensive, and has consistently high obps. so let's plug him in -- click his name in the matrix for his stats:

2006 ROSTER MATRIX
SCENARIO #3: MARQUIS FOR WILK'SON

STARTING 8 BENCH ROTATION PEN
molina c
~$600K
taguchi of
$1m
carpenter rhp
$5m
is'hausen rhp
$8.5m
pujols 1b
$14m
luna if
$350K
mulder lhp
$7.5m
seanez rhp
$3m
grud'k 2b
$2.5m
rodriguez of
$320K
morris rhp
$7.5m
king lhp
$2.5m
rolen 3b
$11m
mabry 3b-of
$600K
suppan rhp
$4m
thompson rhp
$350K
eckstein ss
$3.5m
stinnett c
$650k
an reyes rhp
$320K
flores lhp
~$500k
sanders lf
$3.5m
duncan 1b
Memphis
wainwright rhp
Memphis
eldred rhp
$750K
edmonds cf
$9.5m
gall 1b-of
$320K
ty johnson lhp
$320K
wilkerson rf
$4.5m
schumaker of
Memphis
cali lhp
Memphis
TOTAL
$49m
TOTAL
$3m
TOTAL
$24m
TOTAL
$16m
OVERALL PAYROLL: $92m

note who's taking marquis' place in this matrix: good ol' matty mo. also on board is ray king, who according to recent reports may not be going anywhere. the setup role is filled here by rudy seanez; who is expected to re-sign with the padres because he's from california and likes pitching close to home. but the cardinals like him (with good reason), and you never know.

that's one scenario. the other began with fox's ken rosenthal, who thinks the rangers should trade soriano to the cards for marquis, king, and a prospect.

explains rosenthal: "Rather than give Giles a deal for say, three years and $30 million, the Cardinals could sign a cheaper alternative like Jacque Jones, take on Soriano for one year and devote a greater percentage of their resources to pitching. . . . . Marquis and King will earn more than $7 million combined next season; exchanging them for Soriano would result in only a modest increase to the Cardinals' payroll."

the guys at lone star ball think it'd be a swell deal for the rangers. soriano has avoided arbitration each of the last two years, signing for $5.4 mill in 2004 and $7.5 mill last year. he's projected to make about $10 million in 2006. he will be 30 next season.

he was a 30-30 man last year (30 sb, 36 hr) for the 3d time in his career. scored 102, drove in 104, had 91 extra-base hits and slugged .512. all very impressive numbers. but he hit only .268 to tie a career low, and his obp (.309) was his worst since his rookie season. his average has now declined three consecutive years, which means either a) his skills are in decline, or more likely b) he reached the bottom of his range last year and will rebound in 2006.

soriano's an extremely free swinger who has never walked more than 38 times in a season. he was below replacement level away from home: .224 / .265 / .374, for a .639 ops. home ops was 1.011. had a similar, though less extreme, split in 2004 (886 ops home, .735 away), but in 2003, his last year with the yankees, the split was reversed: .917 ops away, only .805 at home. ditto 2002 -- .934 away, .822 at home. his list of comps is not bad: going age by age, he tracks marcus giles at 26 and 27, ken boyer at 28, joe gordon at 29. similar batters thru age 29 include gordon, boyer, larry walker, and jeff kent -- all four of whom won an mvp award.

as rosenthal notes, he'd only require a one-year commitment; if he's a bust, the cardinals can start fresh in 2007. though he's apparently amenable to playing left field, i'm going to follow rosenthal's blueprint and slot him at 2b, with reggie in one outfield slot and gooch/jrod at the other:

2006 ROSTER MATRIX
SCENARIO #4: MARQUIS/KING FOR SORIANO

STARTING 8 BENCH ROTATION PEN
molina c
~$600K
rodriguez of
$320K
carpenter rhp
$5m
is'hausen rhp
$8.5m
pujols 1b
$14m
luna if
$350K
mulder lhp
$7.5m
mota rhp
$2.5m
soriano 2b
$10m
mabry 3b-of
$600K
byrd rhp
$5.5m
hammond lhp
$2m
rolen 3b
$11m
e.y. of
$600K
suppan rhp
$4m
thompson rhp
$350K
eckstein ss
$3.5m
stinnett c
$650k
an reyes rhp
$320K
flores lhp
~$500k
sanders lf
$3.5m
duncan 1b
Memphis
wainwright rhp
Memphis
eldred rhp
$750K
edmonds cf
$9.5m
gall 1b-of
$320K
ty johnson lhp
$320K
taguchi
$1m
schumaker of
Memphis
cali lhp
Memphis
TOTAL
$53m
TOTAL
$2.5m
TOTAL
$22m
TOTAL
$15m
OVERALL PAYROLL: $92.5m

now that i've got all the boxes filled, i really don't think much of this idea. among other flaws, the lineup has seven right-handed hitters; a left-handed bat such as jacques jones would probably have to be swapped in for sanders, and likely cost more. i do sort of fancy the idea of picking up eric young for the bench; he can still get on base, still run, and is the type of veteran reserve la russa loves. but bottom line: $10m is too much for soriano, even in a 1-year deal. giles just makes loads more sense if they can get him at the right price.