short post today; i'm flying home for thanksgiving. i won't be posting on thursday, but i do have a special post in the can for friday --- a quiz about cardinal off-season acquisitions down through the years. invariably the cardinals will announce a big transaction while i'm away, and if that happens i'll get up a post. otherwise, i'm essentially absent until next monday; Valatan will post wednesday, the quiz friday, and the Rev on sunday.
congrats to ryan howard. pujols was better by "objective" standards, but the award is not and never was meant to be objective; it's meant to recognize and honor greatness, and howard was undeniably great. ken arneson wrote an outstanding piece about awards last year at Catfish Stew, the upshot of which was: "Awards are not measurements. Awards are celebrations." ryan howard gave the country ample reason to celebrate baseball in 2006 --- arguably, more so than any other national league player. it's in the eye of the beholder; i accept the result.
dave pinto has begun publishing his defensive data, some of the best available. per his measurements, the cardinals had the nl's best infield defense, robbing opposing batters of about 48 hits --- and thereby preventing somewhere in the neighborhood of 36 runs. the lion's share of this fine glovework came from pujols himself; per the data on 1st basemen (published last night) pujols took away an estimated 39 base hits in 2006. that means he was worth nearly 30 runs with the glove --- an unbelievably high estimate. but then you remember the sprawling play he made on polanco leading off the 7th inning of the world series clincher; or that game-ending peg he made vs the marlins on august 31, nailing dan uggla as he rounded 3d base on an infield hit; and you start to think maybe pujols' defense really is worth that much. (in case you are wondering, ryan howard ranked 41st among 45 qualifying fielders at 1st base, yielding an extra 27 hits --- and adding about 20 runs to the phillies' runs-allowed total.)
pinto has stl's outfield defense as just average --- his data show the cardinal outfielders as taking away 4 hits over the course of the year. edmonds rates just fine here --- he erased 8 basehits in 2006 (and cut off about 6 runs or so); taguchi was dead average in center but outstanding in leftfield, where pinto has him as the nl's 2nd-best fielder. by this assessment, taguchi took away about 6 hits last year in left field, and saved about 5 runs. unfortunately, nearly all his good work was undone by chris duncan, who yielded an extra 5 hits (roughly 4 runs). duncan ranked dead last among nl fielders on pinto's chart.
i'm curious to see how rolen and encarnacion fare in these ratings; their positions haven't been posted yet.
a bit of roster news: larry bigbie's being waived; ditto carmen cali. also, double A prospects blake hawksworth and cody haerther have been added to the 40-man roster, along with relievers dennis dove and troy cate. the 25-year-old dove, a 3d-rounder in 2003, washed out as a starter but made an impression after his conversion to a short reliever this year; he made 6 appearances in the just-concluded arizona fall league (a hitter-happy circuit) and yielded just 4 hits in 9.1 innings, striking out 7. cate, 26 years old and left-handed, was converted to relief duty in 2005; he struck out 78 guys in 57 innings in 2006 at two levels. they'll both be in camp next spring, probably farm out to springfield.
one other thought: if it's really true that the dodgers are paying $9m a year for juan pierre, then edmonds' deal looks a lot more like a bargain.