i'm traveling today, so just a couple quick items.
first, the results of tangotiger's defensive scouting reports posted the other day. for those of you not familiar with the process, it's a wisdom-of-crowds exercise and totally non-stat-based --- the results are based on participants' subjective impressions of each player's skill in the field. a few highlights from the cardinal ratings:
- scott rolen finished first among major-league 3d-basemen, with a rating of 86 points on a scale of 100. by the crowd's lights, his throwing is what sets him apart --- he scored above 90 on all 3 of the arm-related categories.
- pujols finished 2d among nl 1st basemen in this poll, 4 points behind derrek lee. he got 72 points out of 100. before you howl that this score is too low, keep in mind that the scores are position-independent --- you rate the player's defensive skills on the same scale, no matter what position he plays. for example, pujols got a poor score for speed, which is not surprising in a first baseman; his quick for his position, but slow when compared to defenders at all positions (ie, outfielders and middle infielders). he also rated just above average for arm strength --- again, not surprising given his longstanding elbow problems.
- molina only finished 3d among the catchers, behind joe mauer and russell martin. but that's a completely misleading ranking --- molina finished first in 4 of the 6 categories but was done in by his awful scores in the two speed categories. i gotta ask: what difference does it make if your catcher has a good first step? like rolen, molina averaged near 100 points in all 3 arm categories; he also has the best instincts of any catcher in the game, according to tango's voters.
- according to these voters, edmonds remains an above-avg defender --- he scored 76, 4th-best among national league centerfielders. while acknowledging his diminished speed (he got 55 points in that category, one of the lowest totals at his position), the voters still see edmonds as a guy with great instincts, great hands, and an accurate arm.
- the other four regulars all rated near the bottom of the pack at their respective positions --- kennedy got 49 points, eckstein 48, encarnacion 43, and duncan 26. i think the rating for kennedy's too low; the rest i agree with. aaron miles, who was a near-regular this year (he played as many innings in the field as any cardinal defender except pujols), got 43 points out of 100.
- aside from jed, albert, yadi, and scotty, the only above-average glovemen on the team (according to this poll) are brendan ryan (64 points) and skip schumaker (62).
second thought for today: wonder what the market is for jon lieber? his name was conspicuously absent from derrick goold's survey of available pitchers the other day. this guy has been a league-average (or better) starting pitcher every year since 1996; pretty steady. i can't confirm lieber's health status; a freak injury ended his season in late june (he ruptured a tendon in his foot while backing up home plate), he had surgery in early july, but as far as i know he should be ready to go in spring training. i haven't read anything to the contrary, anyway.
here are his stats. his eras the last two years are superficially not very good, but they've been inflated by that bandbox in philadelphia; his road era since joining the phillies is 4.28. take him out of that ballpark, and i think he's still capable of an era in the low to mid 4.00s. a couple of other pieces of context suggest that his unremarkable surface stats mask a sound underlying foundation --- he had a high BABIP (.331) in 2007, which is highly likely to come down next year, and a low strand rate (68 pct), which is likely to go up. lieber retained his typically low walk rate and healthy k rate last year; his FIP was 3.94, which strongly indicates he can still pitch. given his health status and age (38 next year), i think he might go very cheap --- a year plus an option, low-base with incentives, that type of thing.
this assumes he'll be able to play; again, i know he had surgery in july, and i can't find more recent information on him anywhere. if you know anything about this guy's status --- or have an opinion about his fit w/ the cards --- pipe up.