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Salaries and WAR and stuff

With the offseason winding down, and the Cardinals blowing a pornstar sized wad on Matt Holliday, it appears that the Cardinals are done in free agency.  Many of the players who I had wanted to sign at the start of the offseason (Harden, Beltre, Cameron and VEB's favorite douchebag*, Brett Meyers) have been signed by other teams, and there are very few guys who I could legitimately see us having use for still around.  

However, before I accept the fact that Cardinals are set for the upcoming season, I'd like to, characteristically, run some numbers to ease my mind.  As the title of this post alludes to, I'm going to be taking a look at how much the Cardinals have tied up for next year (salary) and what kind of production they should be expecting to get (WAR).

For salaries, the numbers are pretty self explanatory.  Using Cots Baseball Contracts as my source, I went through every player on the Cardinals current roster and entered in their 2010 salary (with no bonuses).  For arbitration cases Skip and Ludwick, I entered in estimates of what they would get.  Also, according to Cots, both Carpenter and Holliday have 2 million of their 2010 salary deferred without interest - so I subtracted that from each of their salaries.

Figuring out WAR was a little more complicated.  For the "Offense" column, I used CHONE's R/150 projection for each Cardinal.  That number expresses how many runs over an average hitter that player is expected to produce.  For defense, I used Steve Sommer's excellent UZR projections (which are regressed against the fans scouting report) for all non-catchers who had enough playing time in the majors to qualify.  I filled in the rest using CHONE's defensive projections, which use Total Zone as the source.  For plate appearances, I simply gave my best guess - obviously there is room for disagreement.  After I had those 3 components it was a snap to add them all together to get WAR for hitters. 

For pitches, I used CHONE's projected ERA and my best guess at innings pitched.  The "Leverage" column expresses how important those innings pitched are expected to be.  For starters, the default was at 1 (meaning those pitcher's innings are expected to be of neutral importance), and for relievers I used an average of their deserved leverage (mmmm... deli) and their actual leverage from last year.  I then put that all through the surprisingly complicated WAR formula to get the final number.

So, without further ado, here are your current 2010 Cardinals!


Position players
Name Position 2010 salary Plate apperances Offense Defense WAR
Yadier Molina CA 4.25 500 -4 9 3.0
Albert Pujols 1B 16 600 53 5 6.7
Skip Schumaker 2B 3 550 -1 -5 1.5
Brendan Ryan SS 0.4 550 -15 7 1.7
David Freese 3B 0.4 400 -1 0 1.4
Matt Holliday LF 15 650 29 6 5.3
Colby Rasmus CF 0.4 550 2 6 2.7
Ryan Ludwick RF 5 500 11 1 2.1
Julio Lugo 2B 0 300 -15 -1 0.3
Jason LaRue CA 0.95 150 -36 5 0.0
Tyler Greene SS 0.4 200 -18 -5 0.1
Nick Stavinoha Chair 0.4 200 -10 -3 0.0
Joe Mather RF 0.4 300 -7 -1 0.3
Name Role 2010 salary Innings pitched ERA Leverage WAR
Chris Carpenter SP 12.5 130 3.13 1 3.7
Adam Wainwright SP 4.65 190 3.7 1 4.0
Kyle Lohse SP 8.875 150 4.33 1 1.9
Brad Penny SP 7.5 160 4.13 1 2.5
Jaime Garcia SP 0.4 140 4.55 1 1.5
Ryan Franklin CL 3.25 60 3.82 1.5 0.7
Trevor Miller RP 2 60 3.64 1.0 0.6
Kyle McClellan RP 0.4 55 3.71 1.3 0.7
Jason Motte RP 0.4 50 3.84 1.1 0.4
Dennys Reyes RP 2 55 3.82 1.0 0.5
Josh Kinney RP 0.4 40 4.38 0.8 0.0
Mitchell Boggs RP/SP 0.4 50 3.88 1.1 0.4
Total salary Total WAR
89.375 42.1

For reference, a replacement level team is expected to win 47-48 games, so the Cardinals are currently projected to be a 90 win team - at least using these numbers.  For a salary just under 90 million, that's a pretty damn good team.  Furthermore, that salary is lower than I thought it would be, and potentially leaves room for us to continue adding depth and high-reward type players to the roster.

Some general observations:

  • Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday are going to be amazing... dare I say ridiculous?  Even using somewhat conservative playing time projections for Albert to account for the injury risk, the two are still projected to be worth ~12 wins next year. 
  •  The rest of the offense is actually quite balanced.  Rasmus, Ludwick and Molina are all projected to be average to slightly above average (and Rasmus has plenty of room for a breakout) and Skip, Freese and Boog are all projected to be slightly below average.  Boog's projection is the most disappointing, as his defense isn't projected to be as good as it was last year, and his offense is projected to hover around the Thurston line - however, he's still projected to be almost exactly a league average player over a full season, which is quite valuable given his salary. 
  • Boggs was actually projected as a starter by CHONE, but I think he'll end up in the pen next year.  So I subtracted .8 points of ERA from his projection as a starter to translate the difference.
  • Our weakest links are clearly 3B, the 5th starter's spot, the bench and the pen.  I think the bench could be easily improved by signing guys like Gabe Gross or Ryan Church, and Lugo should be a bit better offensively than his projection, so that's shouldn't be much of a problem.  Plus, should Craig or Gotay make the bench out of ST, they should be able to manage .5 WAR. 
  • The rotation looks pretty good as is - Garcia projects to be about league average which is excellent for a 5th starter - but there is little depth.  Walters, Hawksworth and Boggs all project for a high 4's ERA in the rotation, and while that isn't terrible, should Carp or Penny or Garcia miss a significant amount of time, having to fill 150 innings with that kind of pitching can really hurt a team.  Again, I lobby for John Smoltz, but I would be happy with a guy like Washburn who figures to be a league average starter who could end up shielding us from the replacement level brigade in the minors. 
  • At 3B, Freese looks fine, but he's obviously upgradable.  Really, the only other 3B option left is Floppy, and I'm not sure if that upgrade is worth the money.  So, I think I'm happy with Freese for the time being. 
  • It's weird how basically everyone in the pen projects for the same ERA. The bullpen is very balanced, and should be able to avoid a lot of blowups, but something about it scares me.  Franklin isn't a bad pitcher, but a 3.8 ERA from the closers spot is right around replacement level.  And, unless Motte's able to improve, there isn't a guy out there who can strike somebody out on a consistent basis.

Even with all of those problems, the Cards look to be in great shape.  They have a very well balanced offense, a potentially excellent rotation and some money to spare lest they find it in their hearts to get some more rotation depth.  I'll wait to see the other projection systems (ZIPS, PECOTA and a new revamped Oliver coming soon to THT), but right now I'm feeling very optimistic about this team.  

You did good Mo, you did good.