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What's Fair Market Value?

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i'm posting this for erik this morning --- formatting the tables can be a nightmare in Scoop, so i offered to do it for erik and post the article. as long as i've got you: if you follow the stl rams, SB Nation's Turf Show Times will have a game thread up today, along with the usual excellent coverage. TST is written by Ryan VB of Cardinals Diaspora; stop on by, it's game day.

with that, i'll turn things over to erik:

Have you ever played around with the Fair Market Value Calculator over at The Hardball Times? It's a fun toy to play around with if you want to see how much bang a team got for the buck. The calculator considers a player's contract status, expectations of a player with that particular salary, and the player's Win Shares Above Bench, WSAB. It then spits out a dollar figure that represents the dollar value of a player's contribution, relative to expectations. Win Shares Above Bench is similar to Baseball Prospectus's Value Over Replacement Player (VORP); it measures a player's contribution above and beyond the baseline production that a typical bench player would provide. (By "typical bench player," I mean guys like Aaron Miles and So Taguchi and Skip Schumaker.) For a fuller explanation, click here.

With the Hot Stove getting ready to heat up, I thought I would look at last offseason's St. Louis pickups in terms of value. The figures aren't perfect, as the bench-player baselines are taken from the 2005 season --- but things don't change that much from year to year.

Player WSAB Salary Net Value
Encarnacion 4 $3,500,000 $1,228,167
Looper 5 $3,500,000 $2,017,644
Ponson 1 $1,000,000 $374,922
Rincon -1 $1,450,000 -$3,336,015
Spiezio 6 $327,000 $4,732,619
Miles 1 $350,000 $755,477
Bigbie 0 $900,000 $-656,745

No wonder it was called the offseason of discontent. None of these deals paid off big dividends, except for the nonroster invitee (Spiezio). Encarnacion and Looper both gave fair return on the dollar in 2006, but they were both in the first and cheapest years of their contract. Looper's salary goes up to $4.5m in '07 and $5.5m in '08. Encarnacion will make $5m in '07 and $6.5 in '08. Ponson was released after 14 starts, Rincon elected for surgery in April, Spivey was signed for $1.2m and didn't play a game in the majors, and Bigbie had a grand total of 28 plate appearances all season. That's 4.5 million bucks and nothing to show for it.

Scott Spiezio was signed to a minor league contract in spring training, and he turned out to be the bargain-basement steal of the year, with 12 total win shares, not bad at all for your utility man. I hope he can come back for next season in that role again, because if not there's gonna be a lot of red soul patches gathering lint in people's drawers.

What about the Cardinal players that have filed for free agency this year?

Player WSAB Salary Net Value
Mulder -3 $7,750,000 -$6,873,989
Marquis -4 $5,150,000 -$8,577,177
Weaver -2 $8,325,000 -$6,433,005
Suppan 7 $4,000,000 $3,293,560
Belliard 0 $4,000,000 $-2,232,779
Edmonds 5 $12,333,000 -$3,336,015

Other then Suppan, I believe these guys are better players than their 06 performance, but ouch. Win shares aren't really predictive, but these figures should be a huge caution sign for the Cardinals when it comes to bringing these players back.

But the coolest thing of all I get out of this? The Cardinals still managed to win a World Series with or in spite of this bunch. And you can't put a price on that.