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Put me in, coach

Over the last 7 games, Colby Rasmus has started just 4. He has actually had the fortunate opportunity to pinch hit in 2 of the other 3 games and garnered a 2nd PA in last night’s game, finishing 2 for 2 on the night. Over the same 7 games, Chris Duncan and Rick Ankiel have each started 5 times and Ryan Ludwick has started 6. When Rick Ankiel went on the DL in May, Rasmus assumed the everyday spot in CF. For the most part, this continued with Ludwick on the DL as well but Ludwick returned from the DL on May 29. Here are the players’ numbers from May 29 through July 2. (UZR is for the entire season.)

Ludwick 116 103 21 3 10 22 .204 .278 .330 2.0
Ankiel 118 111 25 3 7 26 .225 .271 .396 2.5
Duncan 105 92 20 1 12 26 .217 .305 .283 -2.5
Rasmus 99 98 32 3 0 15 .327 .327 .531 10.4

What’s wrong w/ this picture? Rasmus has the most hits and the fewest Ks and has the fewest PAs of the 4. His slugging % over the month-plus is nearly Ludwick’s and Duncan’s respective OPSes. Now, I’m a little disappointed and frustrated by the fact that he hasn’t walked since May 25 but his OPS is still over .850 over the time period. If the other 3 were hitting, there would be more reason to be concerned about Rasmus’s lack of walks but considering the OPS difference between he and #2 – Ankiel (191 points!) – harping on the lack of walks seems to be nitpicking. Rasmus though is a liability defensively, right? Wrong. He’s the best we’ve got and it’s not even close …AND he plays the toughest, and most important, of the 3 defensive positions. I understand that the guy needs a day off every now and then, but there is absolutely no reason for him NOT to be in the starting lineup every day. Sit him against lefties? Why? So Ankiel and Duncan can play in his stead? Look at the numbers? They’re both lefties as well who struggle against southpaws. Exactly what do we gain by sitting him? There’s no excuse or justification for him not to be in the lineup every day. What more needs to be said?

Good article over at fangraphs re: Pineiro’s metamorphosis this season. Is it sustainable? The article says "yes." It’s meaningful b/c Pineiro will be a free agent at the end of the season. I need to see more in order to be convinced but he’s been fantastic, by and large.

I was glad to see Jarrett Hoffpauir’s promotion and his success last night. Hoffpauir’s always been one of my pets – a guy I always wanted to see get a chance and thought he deserved more than he’s gotten. I even wrote a thread about him about a year and a half ago comparing his minor league numbers to Dustin Pedroia’s. Just to be clear, I never said he’d be the same as Pedroia, just that he had some of the same skills and, though it took him longer to succeed at every level than it did Pedroia, I thought he had a chance to become a solid big leaguer. I’ve since tempered my optimism and he may never get another major league hit, but his walk and hit last night were huge (WPA = .469; Albert’s = .459) and I’m happy for him. Hoffpauir:chuckb::Blake Hawksworth:DanUp.

Finally, I guess I should offer a bit of an explanation for my bizarre post last Sunday. I was clearly responding to the chatter that we were involved in talks for Matt Holliday but I was also preparing to leave on vacation Sunday morning. I put together that thread Saturday morning and never found out about the trade for DeRosa, which happened actually before my Holliday post went up, until Monday or Tuesday when I saw a snippet of someone playing LF for the Cards and wearing number 7. Joe Mather? Nope, he’s out for the year. WTF? Who is this masked man and please, God, don’t let it be Matt Holliday! Anyway, we likely paid a steep price for DeRosa. He’ll help, as I said last Sunday, and if trades are measured by what they do THIS SEASON, we’ll win. It seems, however, that we gave up Chris Perez and either Francisco Samuel or Jess Todd for DeRosa. That ain’t cheap! DeRosa’s probably a type-B free agent at the end of the year so he’s worth a supplemental draft pick but I feel it’s likely that the 2 pitchers will provide more wins, and probably several more, over the next 5-7 years than DeRosa and that supplemental pick will for the Cards. That said, if DeRosa’s win and a half gets us into the playoffs, might it be worth it anyway?

There are many who see trades as zero-sum games – that one team wins the trade and the other, necessarily, loses. I don’t agree, simply b/c the two teams often have different goals – as we and the Indians do now. Ours is to win today while still maintaining the ability to win next year and beyond. Theirs is to win in the future. DeRosa may help us win the division or Wild Card this year and the 2 pitchers may help the Indians be successful in the future and then we would have both gotten what we wanted. Still, I’d have much rather given up only Perez.

One of the trades that people often use as a cautionary tale about making trade deadline deals is one made in 1987 when the Atlanta Braves traded starting pitcher Doyle Alexander to the Detroit Tigers for a pitching prospect named John Smoltz. Alexander, for most of his career, was an OK starting pitcher and Smoltz was a star for a Braves team that won about 74 division championships in a row. He’ll be a Hall of Famer, in all likelihood, and people often point to that trade as a bad one for the Tigers and a great one for the Braves. It clearly was a great one for the Braves, who weren’t going anywhere in 1987. However, Alexander had a 1.53 in 11 starts for the Tigers in 1987. His FIP was 3.20 in those 11 starts – 2nd only to his 1972 season in a 19 year career. Over those 11 starts and 88 IP, he was worth 3.9 wins. The Tigers finished 98-64 that season, defeating the Blue Jays by just 2 games in the AL East. It’s not too much of a stretch to say that Alexander’s acquisition was the difference. Though he didn’t pitch well in the ALCS and they lost to the eventual World Champion Twins, you would have to say that this trade was a winner for the Tigers as well. The Braves and the Tigers had different goals at the time and both came out winners in this trade. Get to the postseason and take your chances.

I think this trade will be measured in much the same way. If the Cards make it to the postseason, both sides will be winners in the trade. If we don’t, however, the Indians win and the Cards overpaid. Wouldn't it be interesting if the outcome of this trade wasn't determined by how DeRosa plays or how the 2 pitchers pitch for the Indians, but rather by how much Rasmus plays over the last 3 months? Hmmm....