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Wainwright for Carpenter, Carpenter for Wainwright, Somebody for DeJesus

At the P-D they're taking good advantage of the Cardinals' dual Cy Young candidates, as they've gotten both Wainwright and Carpenter on record as being Spartacus. (I would have liked one more, maybe PINEIRO: Why Joel Pineiro should win the Cy Young.) 

For my money Wainwright's take on Carpenter is more interesting:

But we should talk about this year. This year he just out-executed everybody. If he wouldn't have lost that time because of injury, would we even be talking about this? [...] When you're facing Chris Carpenter, the opposing pitcher had to throw a shutout, or he didn't have a chance. The opposing team, I have to believe, probably went into the game against Chris Carpenter preparing to be shut out.[...]

No one has taught me more than Chris Carpenter. You know the story. After a start this year, Chris pulls me in to look at some video - old film, new film, all of it. He said my arm slot was 3 or 4 inches different, and the next day we're playing catch and with each throw he's telling me if it's right. Nope. Yep. Nope. Nope. Yep. Not just anybody can do that, can see from 60 feet a difference of less than 5 inches in every throw. After that, my fastball had movement. I got my slider back. I had confidence in my pitches.

If you want to make an argument for team chemistry being important, for good clubhouse guys making a difference, I think this is the one to make, not the Affable Kevin Millar Defense. Your dopey designated hitter giving somebody the hot-foot to Loosen Things Up probably won't make a significant difference in the standings or the clubhouse. (As is the case with matters of attendance, it's always seemed to me that the difference between a good clubhouse and a tense clubhouse, at least as far as the fans and reporters are able to tell, is how often the team's winning.)

But I can see the value in superstars who happen to be interested in and preternaturally gifted at things often left to the coaches. It's one thing if Dave Duncan tells you your arm slot is different; it's another if Chris Carpenter, who is touching 96 miles per hour right now, at this very moment, says so while you're both loosening up. 

There was a brief discussion in Saturday's post about David DeJesus as a possible trade target, should the Cardinals not go the SIGN MATT HOLLIDAY‽ route. It's tough to suggest parting with some faberge eggs with all that money just lying around, but DeJesus is an interesting player, and worth the bullet point treatment. 

  • It's interesting that Daryl Jones came up as a possible trade chit, because DeJesus seems like a reasonable facsimile of the player we hope  DJ Tools might become. At his best he hits .290 to .300, with just enough power to avoid the empty-average tag and just enough walks to be a guy with good plate discipline. He can play center field, but he's not great at it, which makes him a defensive asset in a corner. If you have a full outfield, this kind of guy is a tweener; if you don't, he's a cheap and effective fix at either position. The major difference between DeJesus and DaJones? 
  • David DeJesus should never try to steal a base again. This is a list, grabbed from the awesome new Baseball Reference PI, of the worst base part-time base stealers (i.e. less than 100 total) since 2000. 
Rk Player CS SB
1 Melvin Mora 52 89
2 Cesar Izturis 47 98
3 Craig Counsell 46 95
4 Mark Kotsay 46 74
5 Carlos Guillen 44 70
6 Brad Wilkerson 43 53
7 Juan Encarnacion 42 84
8 Derrek Lee 41 94
9 Jacque Jones 41 79
10 David DeJesus 40 44

Only long-time sabermetric hero Brad Wilkerson can compete with DeJesus on this list; everyone else has stolen at least 70 bases. In his career, according to Bill James Online, David DeJesus has cost the Royals 36 bases with his nose for the CS. So here are two ways the Cardinals could maximize their hypothetical DeJesus investment:


  1. Never let him steal a base, ever. If he tries to steal a base, or even start jogging to second before the Umpire explicitly gives the base on balls sign to Albert Pujols, fire him. Immediately. 
  2. Take the Carpenter-Wainwright lesson at face value and have Yadier Molina and Albert Pujols (a combined 25-7 in 2009) show him that there's something wrong with his—his leg slot? 
  • Impressively enough, in spite of all that base-stealing incompetence, he's been a net-positive baserunner over the course of his career. Why? According to BJO, it's because from 2005 to 2007 he was among the best baserunners in the American League, worth +55 bases. Since then he's been -11, which could have any number of explanations: he might be unmotivated in Kansas City, where they once tried to give his job to Joey Gathright; he might just have peaked early, having come, now, toward his age 30 season; and the wear and tear of his numerous small injuries might be getting to him. But the fact remains that at one point in the near past DeJesus was providing the Royals with runs in every possible overlooked area: he got on base relatively often, he played above-average defense, and he ran like the wind. That's a useful, undervalued player, which explains why the Royals have had half a mind to trade him from the moment he was called up.