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  1. I don’t like either possible signing. One or two month into the season the Cardinals will have Holiday, Jay and Craig in the outfield, which should be good enough to content. While Jay maybe barely league average, he does not cost much. Spending big dollars for Crisp or Beltran is a waste in my mind. They should better sign a cheap 4th outfielder and spend the rest for an upgrade at 2nd or in pitching.

    Comment by Stefan K. — December 20, 2011 @ 9:29 am

  2. Tony Wragge has been doing it all year.

    Comment by MikeS — December 20, 2011 @ 10:16 am

  3. Jon Jay’s Total Zone ratings at center field in the minors were the highest of any Cardinal player. He was like +15

    Comment by FlimttotheFlam — December 20, 2011 @ 10:22 am

  4. Why so many writers here keep saying that the Cardinals sneaked into the playoffs? I know that they didn’t get in unless the Braves fell apart but that happens every year; one team leads their division most of the year then get replaced in September by a hot team. Granted it usually doesn’t come from 10.5 back but still…apply a little credit to the team that went 21 and 9 their last 30 games.

    Comment by Lightningwerks — December 20, 2011 @ 10:27 am

  5. Crisp would move Jay to RF to start the season and to a 4th OF spot when Craig comes back. Jay should get an okay amount of playing time in that role.

    Beltran in center would be ugly, and Beltran in right would block Craig.

    Crisp is a better fit and will come cheaper than Beltran.

    Comment by Anon — December 20, 2011 @ 10:34 am

  6. And finished the season with 90 wins.

    Also, the late season hot streak wasn’t just against bad teams. After Aug. 30th, STL was 11-2 against MIL, ATL, and PHI.

    Comment by Anon — December 20, 2011 @ 10:45 am

  7. The Cards should absolutely sign Beltran. First of all, they’ve got the money so that shouldn’t be an issue. The most common argument I hear against it, however, is that signing Beltran would block Allen Craig. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    The truth is that Craig’s going to miss the first month of the season after surgery and Berkman and Holliday figure to miss some time throughout the year due to age and simply being banged up. Last year they had only 1100 PAs between them, missing a combined 55 games. Pujols is gone, as are his 651 PAs and Jay could use a platoon so that he doesn’t have to play CF when lefties are on the mound.

    Signing Beltran allows the team to play Beltran in RF with Jay in CF for the first month while Craig recovers from surgery. When Craig is healthy, Beltran is in RF against righties and CF against lefties. I know he’s not very good in CF any more but he’d be adequate for 30 games or so. Craig plays RF against lefties and then plays LF and 1B when Holliday and Berkman need a break.

    If Holliday and Berkman get 1100 PAs between them again, there are still 1100-1200 PAs to split between Craig and Beltran when you account for Pujols’s 651, Craig’s 219 from last year, and the 300 or so that Berkman and Holliday won’t get at 1B and in LF. There are plenty of PAs for all 4 of them and Beltran upgrades the offense substantially.

    Comment by chuckb — December 20, 2011 @ 10:45 am

  8. I don’t see the Cardinals being surefire contenders this year without a fairly significant influx of wins. They’ll be in the mix, sure, but more at the borderline than at the top of the heap in the NL Central. Beltran looks like a good fit, pushing Jon Jay back to the bench where he still belongs long term, and continuing the offense-first mentality which worked so well with Lance Berkman the right fielder last season.

    Comment by OremLK — December 20, 2011 @ 10:52 am

  9. Because they made it on the last day?

    Comment by Husker — December 20, 2011 @ 10:58 am

  10. If Holliday and Berkman get 1100 PAs between them again
    That is unlikely to happen. I doubt Holliday has wierd injuries like 2011, and Berkman should be able to play more by switching to 1B from RF.

    So this would have Craig playing against lefties and limited backup against righties. Craig wouldn’t even play half the season in this scenario unless someone has a big injury.

    There are plenty of PAs for all 4 of them and Beltran upgrades the offense substantially.
    I disagree with both of these statements. Beltran is probably a moderate offensive upgrade over Craig (who would lose ABs to Beltran). That upgrade is not worth the extra cost.

    Comment by Anon — December 20, 2011 @ 11:07 am

  11. The difference between Jay being an everyday player and a fourth outfielder is the difference between him playing center versus right. Crisp makes no sense to me. He’s older, will cost more, and is likely worse than Jay both offensively and defensively in center.

    Beltran is the only upgrade here. Crisp is likely very expensive lateral movement at best and possibly a step back from Jay. You’d essentially be buying Crisp for a month or two until Craig is healthy, and then you have a very expensive fourth outfielder.

    Then again, after the 2 year contract to Schumaker and the tendering of a contract to the usless Kyle McClellan, maybe the FO is intent on driving the train off the rails this offseason. Signing Crisp instead Beltran would certainly do the trick.

    Comment by johnorpheus — December 20, 2011 @ 11:09 am

  12. So people need to use vocabulary better. Sneaked would mean that the Cardinals got in quietly. The actual events were quite the opposite; the Cardinals made lots of noise in September.

    Comment by Anon — December 20, 2011 @ 11:11 am

  13. People always say this every year regarding the Cards, and I don’t know why. They contend virtually every year. With the exception of 2007 they have been a contender every single year of the 2000s. Sometimes they fall off in September, but they always contend. The NL Central is as weak as it’s ever been, and Latos doesn’t even make the Reds a 90 win team without a few lucky breaks. Cards will contend, Pirates and ‘Stros will suck, and Cubs will play semi-mediocre baseball with the Crew and Reds being the variables. This is about as sure as death and taxes at this point.

    Also, Jay is not a bench player with average defense in center, which all evidence points to him having. He’s a 3 win player over an entire season. While not a tremendous asset, that is certainly not a bench player.

    Comment by johnorpheus — December 20, 2011 @ 11:32 am

  14. Signing Beltran allows the team to play Beltran in RF with Jay in CF for the first month while Craig recovers from surgery. When Craig is healthy, Beltran is in RF against righties and CF against lefties. I know he’s not very good in CF any more but he’d be adequate for 30 games or so. Craig plays RF against lefties and then plays LF and 1B when Holliday and Berkman need a break.

    This.

    There are 648 games for the the 4 OF spots and 1B, plus 6 DHs = 654 starts for 5 players.

    Berkman started 141 games last year. He’ll be 36 next year and coming off a short off-season due to the WS run. Let’s pencil him in for 130 starts.

    Holliday is unlikely to repeat his myriad of ailments from last year (no emergency appendectomy at least), but it’s realistic to expect him to miss 10-15 games with random day-to-day cra(m)p(s). 140 starts seems like a fair expectation.

    Beltran will be 35 with a bad knee. He started 137 games a year ago. 130 starts in 2012 seems about right.

    That leaves 254 starts for question marks Jay and Craig (or 127 each). Craig is recovering from knee surgery and will likely miss time at the beginning of the year anyway. Jay really struggled at the plate down the stretch, so he remains a question mark as well.

    All of these guys would most likely be used as a pinch hitter or (in Jay’s case) a defensive replacement on their off days.

    Comment by Tim — December 20, 2011 @ 12:24 pm

  15. obviously that should be 3 OF spots…the rest of the math still applies…and looking ahead to 2013, Craig’s potential increase in playing time is off-set by the decrease in playing time for 37-year-old Berkman (IF he even comes back), plus there will be some degree of increased DHing opportunities (at least 3 and possibly as many as 10 additional games in AL parks).

    Comment by Tim — December 20, 2011 @ 12:35 pm

  16. Adam Wainwright + full-ish season from Furcal and they’ve made back a good chunk of Pujols right there (mostly from Wainwright of course).

    Comment by xeifrank — December 20, 2011 @ 12:55 pm

  17. Yet most analysts would consider Rasmus to be a really good CF?

    I’m going with the conclusion that Jay is an adequate CF until proven otherwise.I’m not going to go with things like him not looking like a CF, or not having the speed to play CF, etc.

    But, Jay on the bench where he belongs? Only if his true talent is in the 1-1.5 WAR range, and not the 3 WAR player he appears to be.

    Even FG readers seem to be too much perception or feeling and not enough evidence.

    Skip Schumaker is a 4th OF (if that). Jon Jay is a league average (or better) OF for dirt cheap.

    I do agree that signing Beltran would likely be good for the cardinals, especially considering that Craig may be out for longer than initially thought.

    Is Jay better in CF than Beltran by the metrics? They’re probably more similar fielders than not, with Jay getting the (unregressed) UZR nod.

    I do like the idea of having a league average (or better) OF on the bench who can play all of the positions, as well as, allowing Craig to fill in at 1B on occasion, but it’s also somewhat foolish to pay Beltran a bigger contract to provide a smallish upgrade (if Beltran is 4 WAR and Jay is 3 WAR).

    Of course, there’s also the situation of Craig perhaps not coming back as effective as he has been.

    I will say, with Wain and Craig out for the start of the year, and Pujols with LAA, this has all the makings of yet another year where StL is supposed to finish 3rd or 4th, trail by a decent margin early in the year … and then make a “surprising” run in September, when all they really would have done is just gotten healthy and played to their average.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — December 20, 2011 @ 1:11 pm

  18. Coco Puffs? Yes.

    Cookie Crisp? Yes.

    Coco Crisp? No.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — December 20, 2011 @ 1:14 pm

  19. Beltran in center on occasion might be ugly, but Beltran AND Craig in the same lineup as Berkman, Holliday and Freese would be NASTY.

    Comment by www.thehotteststove.com — December 20, 2011 @ 2:18 pm

  20. Beltran makes a ton of sense….and if you have the money to spend, who is going to nit-pick about giving Jon Jay a few less at bats. And as mentioned, you never know how Craig will respond after the knee injury. The Beltran move would give them a ton of depth and flexibility for dealing with inevitable injuries. This type of deal might be the thing that keeps them afloat if Berkman or Holliday go down at some point. More talent is always good if you can obtain it, ask questions about blocking young players later….

    Comment by www.thehotteststove.com — December 20, 2011 @ 2:27 pm

  21. I agree that beltran makes a lot of sense especially given that Craig is going to be out for part of the early season.

    Craig can also play multiple positions.

    However, the same 10-15M per year for a few years that you’re going to give to Beltran could be given to say, Edwin Jackson.

    Beltran may just be a 1.5 WAR better player than Jay, whereas Jackson could be 3 WAR better than the SP he’d be replacing in the rotation (probably Westbrook).

    Just saying that Beltran improves the team isn’t enough, because there are other players that could improve the team as well. It’s finding the player that provides the most improvement for the least money that really makes a difference.

    If Beltran is willing to take reasonable money considering his half seasons in 2010 and 2009, then that factors in … but if he’s wanting 15-18M/y for a few years under the idea that he’s a 4 WAR player for each of the next few years, I’d consider spending my money elsewhere.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — December 20, 2011 @ 3:16 pm

  22. If the Cardinals play Jon jay over Allen Craig (when he returns), then unfortunately this organization will get what they deserve.

    If they sign Beltran, CB should take JJ’s PAs, not AC’s (again, when he returns).

    Comment by CircleChange11 — December 20, 2011 @ 3:18 pm

  23. Beltran would be playing out of position to take Jay’s PAs. If you want CB in center, then sign him.

    Comment by Anon — December 20, 2011 @ 3:43 pm

  24. I agree that the money could be put to much better use.

    The Cardinals have a corner OF with a good bat in Craig at much cheaper than Beltran will cost.

    The reasons I prefer Crisp is he will cost less per year for fewer years than Beltran and can play center.

    Comment by Anon — December 20, 2011 @ 3:50 pm

  25. My assertion is that the difference between Carlos Beltran and Crisp/Jay is larger than the difference between Westbrook or Lohse and an Edwin Jackson type of pitcher…. This is espcecially true since the Cards have a few young pitchers on the way, so an Edwin Jackson wouldn’t make much since after this year.

    Comment by www.thehotteststove.com — December 20, 2011 @ 3:52 pm

  26. The fact someone is even mentioning a pie thrower like Crisp and Beltran as equivalent options, raises the serious question about Beltran as a realistic option. Someone needs to come clean on why Beltran is still on the market, and options like Cuddyer have already been exercised.

    Comment by channelclemente — December 20, 2011 @ 4:26 pm

  27. 1. I think Edwin Jackson makes even more sense given that Lohse/Westbrook are off the books soon. Carp is too.

    2. The young pitchers aren’t likely to replenish all that WAR, although it’ll be great if they did.

    Edwin Jackson is a legit 3.5 – 4.0 WAR pitcher. I’m viewing Lohse and Westbrook as being 1.5 WAR pitchers.

    If the cards can post Wain (5-6 WAR), Garcia (3 WAR), Jackson (3.5 WAR), and a couple of young pitchers being upgrades over Lohse and Westbrook, they’ll be “shittin jellybeans” (i.e., in a happy situation).

    ————————————

    3. At this point, how many more WAR is Holliday-Beltran-Craig going to put up than Holliday-Jay-Craig? In 2012, it might be a great deal because of Craig’s injury (especially combined with Wainwright possibly missing the 1st month of the season).

    True Talent (factoring playing time) is what? 5-4-3 for H-B-C and 5-3-3 H-J-C? We need Beltran for the first part of 2012, but do we really want/need to pay him for 3 seasons to get that? The only way I shift to a “must sign beltran” state is to look at Jay at the end of 2011 and think “this is the real Jon jay”, in which case I sign Beltran tomorrow.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — December 20, 2011 @ 4:47 pm

  28. Don’t know why this is on Fangraphs, but let me tell you — nobody on that line has been doing anything all year, and that’s why Sam Bradford has turned into David Carr.

    Comment by Jason — December 20, 2011 @ 5:29 pm

  29. Jackson at 4.0 WAR is optimistic. Taking an average of his past two seasons, 3.7 is a better guesstimate. Westbrook is probably good for 1.5 WAR, which is a difference of 2.2 WAR.
    Beltran vs. Jay is a little more difficult to figure out. Beltran could probably be reasonably expected to post a 4.5 WAR season. Jay over a full season could potentially provide a 3.0 WAR season, although given his late season slump, this isn’t guaranteed. That would be a 1.5 WAR difference.

    The more important difference is that Jackson will probably require a 4-5 year deal, while Beltran will likely only require a 2-3 year committment. Given that the Cardinals have Lynn, Zep, and Shelby Miller who all might be ready to take a rotation spot next year, giving a large committment to another pitcher is not in the Cardinals plan. Personally, I think Zep remains in the bullpen, however Lynn and Miller are both very reasonable rotation candidates.
    Also, I don’t think it is wise to give a starting pitcher a contract for greater than 3 years unless they are a No.1 or No.2 starter type.

    Comment by fpslackers — December 20, 2011 @ 6:34 pm

  30. That is seriously all you got out of the article? The phrase “…sneaked into the playoffs” has been used for years, and everyone knows that it means that a team barely made it in. You are ridiculous, Anon.

    Comment by Jeff — December 20, 2011 @ 6:55 pm

  31. For my money, it’s there is serious doubt as to if Beltran can field effectively anymore. We saw a similar issue with Gary Sheffield a few years back when he had to take a weak contract with the Mets. In that case, the worries were accurate: despite putting up a 121 wRC+, Sheff could no longer get to catchable balls and gave back most of his value in the OF.

    While I’m sure people don’t see Beltran being as bad as Sheff was then, they’re both guys with solid hitting ability and big worries at knee level. Given that Beltran is looking for $20m, I could see why teams might be hesitant. By comparison, Sheff barely even got a job that year.

    Comment by B N — December 20, 2011 @ 6:57 pm

  32. If Beltren requires a 2-3 year deal, then that’s multiple seasons that he’s “blocking” Jay and/or Craig from putting up 3 WAR seasons with 600 PA for cheap money.

    The issue just isn’t whether Beltran puts up 4 WAR or not, it’s that Jay/Craig can put up 3 WAR for less than a million. So, StL is paying 9+M for that extra WAR … and that 9M could be spent on a 2B upgrade in 2012 or 2013.

    If Jackson could be had for 4 years at 15 per, that’s pretty decent, considering his WAR and durability.

    I don’t want to see Lynn in the starting rotation. I’d rather see Wain, Carp, Garcia, Jackson, Miller. That could provide around 15 WAR for 45M or so.

    I’d like to see StL get good value out of Miller during his team controlled years. I don’t need him wasting any more bullets in the minors.

    My concern is that Jay and Craig are in their prime (27-29) years AND they are under team control. That they could combine for 5-6 WAR for a couple million dollars over each of the next few years is something the Cards have to take advantage of.

    The production they get from Garcia, Freese, Jay, and Craig under team controlled years is not something that is going to last for more than 2-3 years. In 2011, they got something like 11 WAR out of these guys for like 4.5M. You have to use values like that as a team that’s already close to their max spending.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — December 20, 2011 @ 9:32 pm

  33. “Jay hasn’t accumulated enough of a sample to make any definitive positions, but he would probably perform better in a corner outfield spot.”

    Erm, why? Seems that a large chunk of your post revolves around this assumption, but I’m really not sure I see it. There’s no evidence he’s better in RF (enough to offset the positional disadvantage of moving across) and he played CF basically his entire career.

    Comment by Felonius_Monk — December 21, 2011 @ 9:47 am

  34. That is seriously all you got out of the article?

    You need to read more of the comments before making that statement. (Also, I supported the thought but did not initiate it.)

    Also, just because something has been used in the past or “that is just the way it is” doesn’t make it correct.

    Comment by Anon — December 21, 2011 @ 9:48 am

  35. And here I thought he was talking about T. J. Oshie and David Backes.

    Comment by The Ancient Mariner — December 21, 2011 @ 11:06 am

  36. That’s a good point. I think we know what to expect from Jon Jay offensively and defensively at this point since he’s been very consistent in transferring his skills from the minors to the majors. There is also close to two years worth of MLB data….So we got that going for us, which is nice.

    Comment by Melodius Junk — December 21, 2011 @ 1:04 pm

  37. Cuddyer would have solved all the issues. The alternatives seem to create more issues than they solve.

    Comment by RG — December 21, 2011 @ 2:31 pm

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