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Man of Troy

Well, it appears as though the Rolen for Glaus swap is going to happen. I've never been a huge Troy Glaus fan, but I can't shake the impression that this trade favors the Cards. We don't know all the details yet but, at first glance, it appears that the Cards got the better end of this one.

For the last 3 seasons, Glaus has been the superior player in almost every conceivable way. Rolen is still the superior defender, but Glaus' offense has been vastly superior to Rolen's each of the last 3 seasons - enough so to offset the relative deficit in Glaus' defense. Glaus is 16 months younger than Rolen, and his contract expires sooner than Rolen's does. There is the issue w/ Glaus' plantar fascitis but Rolen, as we are all too aware, has issues w/ both shoulders.

In LB's comments yesterday , he used the two players' OPS over the last 3 seasons to make the case that Glaus is the superior offensive player (or at least has been). Here are their other 2007 numbers:

Rolen 4.1 .257 11 -0.73 4.42 4.1
Glaus 20.5 .281 14 0.97 6.38 4.0

The only numbers that are close, and in Rolen's favor, is WARP1 which is largely dependent on BP's analysis of the two players' defense. Rolen's defense keeps the comparison close and, perhaps, is the reason the Cards were able to get this trade done. By every offensive measure, the two players weren't even close in 2007.

How about over the last 3 years?

Rolen 40.1 .266 38 0.17 5.24 14.7
Glaus 87.3 .285 63 2.17 6.42 15.2

It should be pointed out that VORP, WS, WPA, and WARP1 are sums of the 3 years' totals. EqA and RC/27, because they are rate statistics, are unweighted averages. Again, Rolen's defense enables him to keep the comparison close according to WARP1, but you should notice that THT's Win Shares, which also incorporates defense, isn't. The two sources have different means of comparing defense and incorporating its value into a player's overall value. Offensively, over the last 3 years, Glaus has been by far the superior player.

What about their projections for next year? The ZIPS, CHONE, and Bill James projections are out but PECOTA isn't so I'm going to use its projections for 2008 prior to last season. You'll notice that its projection can't take into account both players' injuries in '07 so I would expect this year's PECOTA projection to be less sanguine than these are.

Here are the two players' OPS's from the 4 sets of projections:

Rolen .728 .802 .842 .857
Glaus .819 .854 .851 .899

All 4 sets of projections believe Glaus will have the better '08 as well. In fact, only the James projections are within 40 pts. of OPS. So, Glaus was better in '07. He was better from '05-'07 and 4 sets of projections anticipate he'll be better in '08. It's true that he's played in more hitter-friendly ballparks than Rolen has but he's also played in a tougher pitching league. He's also been facing the Red Sox and Yankees' pitching 30 times per, I mean, the Red Sox pitching 15 times per year. It's difficult for me to conclude, therefore, that Glaus ISN'T the better player right now.

How about defense? Here are `07's numbers:

FRAA rate PMR ratio RZR +/-
Rolen 16 115 102.92 .742 +15
Glaus 3 103 102.78 .706 +9

FYI, the "Rate" stat used above comes from the Davenport Translations at BP. The +/- is courtesy of the Fielding Bible. From this, we should get that Rolen is better defensively but it's really pretty close. BP has him a good bit above Glaus but PMR, THT, and the Fielding Bible all have them being pretty comparable and PMR shows barely any difference at all. So, is Rolen better defensively? Unquestionably. But he's not that much better - certainly not enough to offset the difference, right now, in the two players' offense.

Add all this up, the fact that Glaus is slightly younger, and the fact that his contract will be on the books for at least 1 year less than Rolen's and it's pretty clear to me that, right now, Glaus is the better player. He's gonna strike out more than Rolen, to be sure. At some point people will complain about a K w/ a runner on 3rd and 1 out in a game we lose to Pittsburgh 3-2. But he is better overall than Rolen is right now.

Rolen is owed $36 M over the next 3 years. Glaus is owed $12.75 M in '08 and he has a player option for '09 at $11.25 M. The word is that the Cards will have to send some dough to the Jays to complete the deal. Considering the relative players' values and the fact that Rolen is owed at least an extra year and $12 M, that's hardly surprising. Glaus' contract is really a pretty good one for the Cards. Yes, he's expensive this year but, if he plays well, he'll likely opt out of the '09 contract and become a free agent. The Cards will then be out from under that contract. If he decides to pick up his player option, the Cards still save a year and $12 M (or a little less based on the amount that the Cards send north).

Will Glaus have to be enticed to waive his no-trade clause? Goold says that the Cards would have to pick up the option in order to make the trade happen. Unless I'm wrong that the option is Glaus', this comment makes no sense. Perhaps he means that the Cards would guarantee the 2nd year? That would seem to reduce, not increase, the value of the contract as Glaus can now opt out if he wants or, if he doesn't, force the Cards to pay the money anyway. Maybe he would want to add a million or two to the '09 player option in order to do the deal. It ought to be worth it to him to agree to the deal just to get off the astroturf and come to the weaker league 1 year before being able to become a free agent once again.

Finally, yesterday LB wrote that this trade adds "another leg for the larussa-runs-the-club theory to stand on" and some took umbrage with that quote in the thread. I tend to agree w/ LB that this is LaRussa's type of trade. Though it does help the club in the long run, as I've pointed out it also helps the club in the short run. What's wrong w/ that? Nothing, but...

Make no mistake about it, Mo could have traded Rolen long ago and gotten less (much less) than Glaus while also dumping most, if not all, of the remaining contract on the other team. In other words, he could've dumped Rolen and his contract on somebody else if he'd been willing to take little or nothing in return. He may have even been able to get a decent or better prospect in return. The benefit of that endeavor would have been that it would've saved the team at least $24 M. It would've opened up an additional $11.25 M in '09 that the team could've spent on something else. It would've opened a hole at 3B for Craig or Freese in '09 if either of them are ready. It's likely, instead, that Glaus will be playing 3B for the Cards in '09.

Trading Rolen for Glaus, as opposed to trading him for a prospect, or for a fungo bat to be named later, will gain the team 4-5 wins this year in all likelihood. Are we now a contender? No, b/c it's a negligible gain this year over Rolen and we weren't a contender w/ Rolen. Still, LaRussa would've never allowed Rolen to be traded for a prospect. He clearly insisted on getting back a player who can help the team this year. Which players have been mentioned in Rolen rumors beside Glaus? It's always been established major league players, never prospects (except in blogs or message boards). So I echo LB's sentiment from yesterday that he'd rather have Andy LaRoche.

Still, all in all, this is a good trade for the Cards. It's not ideal. Some will complain about Glaus' use of PED's. Why? No one complained about re-signing Ryan Franklin! He took them when he was with the Angels, at least 4 years ago. His success in '05 and '06 w/ the Jays had nothing to do w/ `roids. Sure, it's another Angel on the roster but at least Ed Wade signed Darin Erstad. BTW, while we're commenting on the Angel-ification of the Cards' roster, take a look at the left side of the infield up in Toronto!