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monday hangover

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hope you all had a nice holiday -- even youse, messrs encarnacion looper miles et al.

i gather that some of you have been getting your retinas singed by a bright red typeface in the comments threads -- my apologizes for that, not my idea. sent a request up the line for a less passionate color scheme (like, maybe just plain ol' black), and i believe that change has been made. if you're still seeing red, please let me know. apologies, too, for the site being down repeatedly yesterday; all the birdos making merry or something.

getting caught up: the spivey signing is easily walter's best move of the winter, the 3d straight off-season he has picked up for cheap a veteran 2b coming back from an injury. junior isn't a young player (31 this season), he gets hurt a lot, and he's fresh off the worst of his five big-league seasons -- but he posted ops of .760 or better his first four years in the league and fielded well. even last year, his worst by far (.693 ops), he was still a couple of wins above replacement level in half-time duty. spivey doesn't need much of a rebound to surpass grudzielanek's ops from last year (.721); indeed, bad as he was he only trailed grud'k by 20 points in obp and hit homeruns twice as often as mark. because he's past 30, there's a chance junior will never return to the .760 ops plateau, but i'm betting he will. if he can muster even 110 starts, he should be a nice upgrade at 2b.

some stuff you may have missed over the holiday: must-read poetry from belly; a cool trivia quiz at fungoes; and a redesigned Get Up Baby, sans troublesome frames. danup goes to the trouble of sussing out various composite-2b batting lines, based on diff'nt assumptions of spivey's availability. bottom line: 2006 cards are likely to get at least as much value at 2b as the 2005 team, and could come out well ahead on the deal.

trade rumors still flying around coco crisp and jeremy reed; the latter here, the former here. no word of the cards pursuing either player . . . . .

the outfielder st louis did acquire continues to inspire little confidence among the know-it-all blogging set (altho i should note that only 18 pct of the voters in our poll disliked the encarnacion signing; 58 pct endorsed it, 23 pct shrugged). baseball think factory's transaction oracle thinks it was a mistake:

There are different opinions on Encarnacion's defense from various sources, but he's a mediocre hitter at best. The more mediocrities the Cardinals lock in, the greater the burden will be placed on the amazing Pujols/Edmonds/Rolen combo. I'd actually rather have Jacque Jones and his deal on the Cardinals - at least he has an exploitable platoon split. I don't think Encarnacion's even a good incarnation of John Rodriguez.
this despite the oracle's own 2006 projection for juancion: a .284 / .342 / .450 line, about league avg for a corner outfielder. insofar as juancion has lagged the league avg in 5 of his 7 mlb seasons, average would be an unexpected boon.

SB Nation brother site Bucs Dugout doesn't see it happening; he thanked the cardinals last week for hurting themselves with the acquisition. and the boys at Lone Star Ball are breathing easier now that encarnacion is off the market: "I didn't want him here, and the contract he just signed is ludicrous. Encarnacion is a bad player."

danup, hoping that juancion's fielding might make up for his flimsy bat, seeks solace in the outfielder's strong UZR rating. according to UZR -- whose inventor, mitchel lichtman (aka mgl), works for the cardinals -- encar'cion's glove saves roughly 15 runs a season. no doubt mgl is a lot smarter than me, but i still don't understand how any corner outfielder can have that big an impact playing behind a pitching staff with the heaviest groundball-orientation ever recorded. even if we accept the 15-run value on its face (and i don't, per comments at the end of this diary), we should note that reggie sanders also saves a lot of runs per UZR, about 8 runs a season. admittedly that's 7 fewer runs saved than juancion, but reggie more than makes up the difference with his bat -- a 10-run annual advantage over juancion from 2003-05, per bpro's BRAR (batting runs above replacement). that figure is not adjusted for playing time, by the way; sanders held this advantage despite having 400 fewer at-bats. and since reggie signed for less money than juancion . . . . well let's just say that i, like all of you, hope the new guy works out.