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rostermania IV: heretical trade-edmonds idea

just in time for the hot stove, here's a new site, motto: "if it's whispered, we hear it."

but the best rumor we've heard all offseason was whispered at bernie's pressbox sunday and quickly escalated into a shouting match: edmonds to the yankees for two young cheap players with upside, robinson cano and chien-ming wang. the yankees value cano so highly they reportedly wouldn't trade him even up for the twins' torii hunter; for what little it's worth, cano's top 10 comps at include 3 hall-of-famers.

this rumor smacks of beat-writer boredom sharpened by too many cocktails in the hotel bar at the GM meetings. jocketty is not prone to this type of caution-to-wind deal, nor has he ever dealt away a popular player, let alone a bona fide idol like edmonds. (and per deadspin per On the DL, jed's adoring public doesn't only include baseball fans.) so the entire discussion that ensues is academic -- this deal ain't a-happ'ing.

nor should it, if you consider that edmonds is still a top-echelon producer with both bat and glove, and very reasonably priced. moreover, it's extremely risky to trade from the core of your roster; and moreoverover, an edmonds departure would leave the cardinals with three outfield vacancies to fill. so why am i discussing it at all? because in one respect it's the type of deal the cardinals need to make: ie one that makes them younger and cheaper. so let's just pretend . . . .

for those of you not familiar with the two yanks named in the rumor, cano is a 22-year-old 2bman who finished 2d in this year's rookie-of-year voting. got called up about may 1 and hit .297 / .320 / .458 / .778, but with very poor bb-k numbers (16-68). some SABR data: cano was 22nd among mlb 2bs in win shares with 12 (compare grud'k at 18). he fared better per VORP, finishing 15th at his position at 27 runs above replacement level (compare grud'k at 23). he was the 6th-best rookie position player in all of baseball in this category, about even with chisox rookie 2b tadahito iguchi but 7 years younger. cano's equivalent average was .262, just above league average (compare grud'k at .257, womack v2004 at .264). for a 22-year-old kid at a key defensive position, that's a pretty good season. in two years he'll be delivering .800+ ops for less than $1 million a year.

wang, 25 last year, went 8-5, 4.02 for the yankees in 17 starts, including this one against the cardinals in june. the only player in mlb history named "wang," he is an extreme groundball-type pitcher (2.96 g/f ratio) with excellent control -- a suppan clone? too soon to tell, but based on limited info that's possible. he spent two months on the dl with a shoulder problem but still finished 44th among american league starters in win shares with 7, two fewer than matt morris and jason marquis (excluding hitting-related win shares) -- and in far fewer innings. he was #12 among mlb rookie pitchers in VORP (17.3), again just behind morris (18.9) and marquis (18.8). his #1 comp at baseball-reference is this colorfully named guy.

basically wang replaces marquis with no drop in performance (if healthy), and jason gets dealt for (let's say) brad wilkerson -- there's your new centerfielder. edmonds' salary gets turned into brian giles, who replaces jed's production and plays right. you've now converted edmonds into giles / wang / cano -- you're way ahead on the deal -- and you've added two everyday players under the age of 30. if walt brings back sanders to balance out the lineup righty-lefty, you have an everyday lineup that's at least as potent as last year's and costs just $47.5 million, with a rotation that's likely sufficient and costs just $17 million -- leaving gobs of dollars for bullpen, bench, and rotation reinforcements. look:


molina c
taguchi of
carpenter rhp
is'hausen rhp
pujols 1b
palmeiro of
mulder lhp
looper rhp
cano 2b
rodriguez of
wang rhp
mota rhp
rolen 3b
aurilia if
suppan rhp
king lhp
eckstein ss
fick c
an reyes rhp
thompson rhp
sanders lf
duncan 1b
wainwright rhp
flores lhp
wilkerson cf
gall 1b-of
tomko rhp
giles rf
schumaker of
ty johnson lhp

quibble all you want with some of these ideas -- i've added aurilia for rolen insurance, and i'm sure bret tomko will be nobody's favorite as a long reliever / emergency starter, but both wang and reyes have balky shoulders and at least one is bound to need downtime. wainwright's down at memphis as a seventh starter and might have some trade value, perhaps in a package w tyler johnson (also at memphis). does this seem like such an awful idea? giles' production (.905 ops in 2005) replaces edmonds' (.918), and the two other outfielders return with .889 (sanders) and.766 (wilkerson) -- the latter figure a career low in an extreme pitcher's park. if w'son returns to his career norms (likely) and cano shows some improvement (also likely), the cards would have .800+ ops hitters in 6 of the 8 lineup slots -- or two more than the great 2004 offense.

as i said, there's absolutely no chance that this trade will happen, nor anything like it; edmonds will be back, for which we will likely give thanks throughout 2006. but he is 35, he's slowing down, and he's in the last year of his contract; if he walks at the end of this year the cards don't have anyone ready to step in for him. there's a case to be made for trading him now, while his value's still high, and distributing the salary savings throughout the roster. could improve the team for 2006, and better position it for sustainable success.