Organizational Rankings: #21

Today, we keep looking at some teams that have legitimate hope, so it gets harder from here on out. And, for those of you who haven’t seen the previous parts (which are linked below), keep in mind that this is a forward looking exercise – we are evaluating clubs on their overall ability to contend for a World Series title in the future. We are not evaluating how they have performed historically. This is about the health of each organization going forward.

Rankings So Far

#30: Washington Nationals
#29: Florida Marlins
#28: Houston Astros
#27: Kansas City Royals
#26: Pittsburgh Pirates
#25: San Diego Padres
#24: Cincinnati Reds
#23: Colorado Rockies
#22: Detroit Tigers

#21: St. Louis Cardinals

Ownership: B-

Bill DeWitt Jr’s ownership of the Cardinals has been a success, as the team has been well capitalized and fairly well run during his tenure. There have been a few hiccups, however – former GM Walt Jocketty left after the front office suffered a split over the role of Jeff Luhnow and his team of statistical analysts. The team had a lengthy courtship with Indians assistant GM Chris Antonetti, who eventually spurned them to stay in Cleveland, and DeWitt ended up turning to in house candidate John Mozeliak to run the club. While there’s enough room in the budget for the team to contend, DeWitt could serve to be a bit less hands on as an owner – you don’t like to see good baseball men leave because of internal power struggles, and that DeWitt wasn’t able to figure out how to get Jocketty and Luhnow to work together is something of a black mark on his leadership. But, overall, he provides the team with the necessary resources to win and encourages them to do so, and ownership isn’t a significant weakness in St. Louis.

Front Office:: C

Mozeliak, as a new GM taking over a franchise already in position to win, was in something of a strange circumstance. He had to add a few pieces to help push the team over the top, which is not usually the task handed to a new GM hire. Overall, Mozeliak’s pick of which players to retain and add have been a bit less than inspiring. He did a good job of picking up Kyle Lohse on the cheap last spring, but then fell into the trap of signing him to a 4 year, $44 million contract to keep him from free agency. The Joel Pineiro extension was inexplicably bad. The Adam Kennedy situation was mishandled, and the organization continues to let Tony LaRussa’s personal issues with players interfere with their roster management decisions. With Albert Pujols in his prime, the Cardinals should be focused on trying to win rings while they have the best player in baseball, but they made barely a wimper in the best buyer’s market we’ve seen in years. There are some good things going on in St. Louis’ front office, but Mozeliak has to show more as a GM if these team is going to be a perpetual contender.

Major League Talent: B-

This rank is almost all Pujols. He’s amazing, and the single reason the Cardinals are contenders. Without him, they’d be in a lot of trouble. Yes, Ryan Ludwick, Rick Ankiel, Troy Glaus, Yadier Molina, and Adam Wainwright are quality players, but there’s expected regression, a couple of expiring contracts, and injury concerns with the second tier talents in the organization. The team has too many outfielders but a big question mark at second base, and the starting rotation is both injury prone and thin. There’s some good young arms in the bullpen, but the manager doesn’t like arms. Overall, it’s a collection of players that are held together by the hall of fame first baseman, but could stand to be significantly better. Especially for a team that should be trying to win the whole thing.

Minor League Talent: B

Colby Rasmus is one of the best prospects in the game, and he should be ready to help the team in 2009, if they can find room for him in an already crowded outfield. Brett Wallace is a big bat, but his defense at third is up for question, and a team with Pujols on the roster won’t consider moving him to first, so he’s going to have to stick at the hot corner. The top pitching prospect is a reliever, and while he’s a good relief prospect, that’s still not an ideal situation. However, the club does have some depth with guys like Daryl Jones and David Freese, so the dropoff after the top couple of guys isn’t as severe as it is with a few other clubs we’ve looked at.

Overall: C+

The Cardinals are an interesting organization. On one hand, they do a lot of stuff pretty well, they have the best player in baseball, they have some good young talent, and a manager with a long track record of winning baseball games. On the other hand, they simply haven’t put enough good players around Pujols in order to be a favorite to contend, the manager keeps running players out of town, the talent in the organization isn’t evenly distributed across positions, the team keeps giving too much money to mediocre pitchers, and they had to reshuffle their front office after a power struggle led to the GM leaving. Talk about a mixed bag. St. Louis needs to be maximizing their world series chances while Pujols is around, and for not being aggressive enough to do so, they’ve ended up in a spot where they are neither a top team now nor in the future. They’re going to have to commit to a direction pretty soon, or they’ll flounder as a good but not great organization that rarely plays in October.




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Dave is a co-founder of USSMariner.com and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.


76 Responses to “Organizational Rankings: #21”

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  1. The Typical Idiot Fan says:

    What? No shitstorm yet? Not even Jl? Huh.

    At least Cardinals fans are smart.

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  2. vivaelpujols says:

    1) I don’t disagree with the overall ranking, but I think that you are underestimating John Mozeliak. Most informed Cards fans think that he is doing an excellent job. Instead of just looking at the lack of Cardinal moves in “the best buyer’s market we’ve seen in years”, you should look at the moves that he has avoided. He didn’t trade Ryan Ludwick for Kelley Johnson, or Ludwick AND Schumaker for 1 year of Matt Holiday. He didn’t blow money on Fuentes or Juan Cruz, which LaRussa has been begging him to do.

    He has done a great job assembling a very good collection of position players, who were the 2nd best in the majors last year. Even with regression, they still are a very good defensive and offensive team going into the future. They will have Rasmus and Wallace play full time probably by 2010, and both of those guys are potential superstars who will be under cost control for the next 6 years.

    2) You really have an anti NL biase. I am not saying that the NL doesn’t have worse teams, but if that is the case, than wouldn’t it be easier to make the playoffs and win the WS in such a weak league? I would say that the Cardinals have about as good of a team going into the future, as say the Blue Jays, however just by the sheer fact that they play in the NL Central they will have a much better chance of making the playoffs than the Jays in the AL East.

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    • Wally says:

      ding-ding-ding, we have a winner

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    • Alex says:

      1. Not making retarded moves isn’t the same as making smart ones.
      2. Being surrounded by crappy teams doesn’t make a less crappy team good. In fact, it bodes poorly for them since they play weak opponents but are still only mediocre.
      Also, sorry, but the NL just happens to have most of the worst teams.

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  3. Rob T says:

    It’s not like the GM didn’t try and sign Fuentes, in fact he offered him more $$ than the Angels offered. Fuentes chose the west coast over the Cardinals, so I’d cite that as another black mark on the organization.

    As for good defense, Skip at 2nd is looking terrible. He’s done an awful job in ST, and the starting pitching is complaining about him. I like the Khalil Greene move, and the Reyes move, but that’s no where near enough to contend in a weak division.

    Cards starting pitching is not good right now. Pretending Carpenter can be healthy, that’s still a weaker staff than the Cubs and arguably weaker overall than Mil or Cinci. The top starting pitchers in the organization either performed poorly at the major league level last year, or became injured.

    Overall, I think the ranking is accurate.

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    • vivaelpujols says:

      Actually, the Angels offered a lot more. The option that they gave them is based on “games finished” so unless he bombs the deal is pretty much 3/30. Moz only offered 2/18 with no option, so you can see why Fuentes took the Angels deal.

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  4. greenback says:

    This is a solid write-up of what the Cardinals are doing. After years of reading Baseball Prospectus’s uninformed dreck, I’m impressed that a non-Cardinals fan can provide this level of detail as part of a series that will cover the entire MLB. I will quibble about DeWitt’s hands-on approach, because Jocketty refused to make changes that had to be made. I would also hedge on La Russa’s personality stuff; yeah, he’s a jerk, but his conflicts with veterans tend to surface when those players suck.

    My bigger complaint is about rankings though. I hate it with prospects and I hate it even more with the subjective evaluations at the team level. I recognize it’s a technique for organizing a large body of information into a nice linear format, but that linearization oversimplifies to the point of yapping and the one little number ultimately distracts from what you’re presenting.

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  5. tom s. says:

    you’re really saying st. louis is worse [worse = less likely to win the WS] than Seattle? Baltimore? Toronto? Texas? Really? In what scenario do any of those teams even make the wild card? Those teams finished 34, 27, 9, and 16 games out of the wild card last year, and I don’t see them as having got better. mostly they’ve gotten worse — the closest thing to a playoff contender (toronto) lost burnett and is now trying to replace him with matt clement and mike maroth. the cards by contrast won 86 games, four games out of the wild card.

    st. louis was fourth best in the NL in run production last year and lost no one of any offensive consequence (other than Glaus to a brief injury). they’ll see modest dips in mostly excellent 2008 defense (primarily from losing kennedy and izturis; while greene is a fine defender, it remains to be seen who fills in at second). their rotation will be better if carpenter is healthy, somewhat worse if not. their bullpen will be better by several wins just without isringhausen, even if only replacement value is provided. and the cards’ division competitors – milwaukee and houston – have gotten measurably worse, while all the AL teams listed above have competitors that have gotten better in the AL West (mostly the A’s) and AL East.

    boo.

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    • Fresh Hops says:

      This isn’t about team’s ability to contend this season alone but about the near future, for now and the next few seasons. (After all, this season alone can pretty much ignore minor league talent and managership at this late stage.) Texas has the a great farm. Seattle has more money. Toronto. They’re probably #20 and it’s hard to split hairs.

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      • John says:

        Not to mention Seattle’s front office has taken a complete 180

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      • tom s. says:

        if you want to talk about the cardinals going forward, that’s fine.

        the cardinals shot up from having a nothing farm to being in the top ten of all farms in baseball in a few years, which the post barely even acknowledges. while the post criticizes dewitt for firing jocketty because he was supposed to magically bring jocketty on board with the youth movement, the reds post criticizes jocketty for being intractable on that same issue.

        going forward through 2011, the cardinals have three starting pitchers, a first baseman, a catcher all under contract, as well as an almost exclusively prospect-based bullpen, an exceptional home grown outfield, and one of the best third base prospects (with good depth behind him), leaving gaps in the middle infield and for a couple starting pitchers.

        tell me: do you see three legit starting pitchers in texas or baltimore soon? seattle has been one of the biggest spenders in baseball for several years and can’t seem to spend it sensibly.

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    • Ken says:

      Here here:

      I think Seattle and Texas are way worse off than the Cards.

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  6. Chris K says:

    I’m a Cards fan – I don’t really disagree with the comments, but the ranking seems off. There’s at least 3 or 4 teams I’d put lower (not as good, less chance of making playoffs) and a few more that are I think arguable. Mostly I agree with greenback – the ranking detracts from the points made.

    Getting a C+ out of all those combined seems odd too. Myself, I’d give extra weight to the talent categories, meaning they should have a greater bearing on the overall rating.

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    • Fresh Hops says:

      Talent is great, unless your organization doesn’t use it right. That’s probably why management makes such a difference in the ranking.

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      • Wally says:

        Yes, that’s the entire reason the Marlins are second to last. With a pretty good big club and a very good farm system, they could contend in the NL east very soon, IF only management cared about that….

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  7. james s says:

    I’m a Cards fan too-a rather disappointed one. I don’t think John Mozeliak has shown himself to be a very good general manager so far. He got Lohse for next to nothing, Glaus for Rolen, and got something for Edmonds-all last season. Khalil Greene, yeah, okay, depending on who the player to be named later is. Dennys Reyes and Trevor Miller may work out. There was so much talent out there-bargains really, and that’s all he did. Color me underwhelmed.

    Cameron’s right about too many roster management decisions are made because of LaRussa’s personal feelings about a player. That should not happen; if LaRussa is the great manager he’s purported to be it shouldn’t even be an issue. He would be able to manage anyone. He can’t or won’t and Mozeliak can’t or won’t make him. They have no second baseman to open the season after letting Kennedy go-at LaRussa request. But Mozeliak’s the one that called Kennedy in and gave him the news. He’s a weak GM. Yes, the future doesn’t look too bright to me-and that’s what they are talking about here.

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  8. Dead Wrong says:

    Alright, seriously, Pujols by himself is better than the entire Baltimore Orioles organization combined.

    Yes, I know they have Wieters, but they are in the same division as the Yanks, Sox and Rays and would probably have a tough time consistently beating the Durham Bulls 2 out of 3. Mark my words: Baltimore will not make the playoffs in the next 10 years. No chance.

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  9. Wally says:

    I think the fact that the AL East contains the two big power houses of MLB, is being over weighted by some commenters. Just 2 years ago wouldn’t we have said the same thing many of you are saying about the O’s and Jay’s now, about the Ray’s? Yes the Yankees and Red Sox are well run franchises with a lot of money, but they aren’t perfect, and even the second lowest payroll in baseball can sneak up on them with young talent acquired through trades and drafting and take the division. Not only that, because this team is young (and still has a great farm system), they should be around for the forseeable future. The O’s apperently have got that message. They have drastically changed their game plan, and in just a handfull of moves/drafts, restocked the farm and major league roster, and appear to be on the cusp of making a run. The O’s also have the money to compete with Sox and Yankees for some free agent signings. I just don’t have a clue to why the O’s are being treated like a whipping boy here. Ok, I do. They have sucked recently and most people tend to think things can’t or won’t change, but that’s just not true. The O’s have changed, and maybe just next year we could be talking about a 4 team race in the East. Now the Jay’s, I think we’re about due to see them. They have a good GM, a decent ownship, but the talent at the MLB level and on the farm is a little lacking.

    I also think many of the fan here would be wise to figure this ranking is really just for fun (and for those of us that don’t keep up with all 30 teams to learn something) and it would do us all a lot of good if we assumed the system has an error of say +/- 2 spots. I think it could be argued very easily that the Tigers are ahead of the Cards, for example, or I could see a good Jays below Cards argument. And ultimitely how you weight franchises health is going to be somewhat subjective.

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  10. Rob says:

    As a Cardinal fan, the only thing I would quibble over is the ranking of the GM. I’m a big fan of what Mo has done so far. First, I’m not positive about this, but I’m pretty sure that the Pineiro contract was the last move of the Jockerty era. The Lohse contract is not a great one, but it was also signed before the economy completely collapsed, so there is some bad timing there. Outside of that, Mo doesn’t get enough credit for the Rolen trade which was an outright win for the organization. I’ve been very impressed with the way this team has been able to go through what is a type of rebuilding process while still staying competitive at the Major league level. Over the past 2 years the minor league system has improved dramatically and soon that improvement will be seen at the Majors. Both through prospects contributions and also through having more money to spend as aging players are replaced by cost controlled younger players. Overall I think the future is bright, and I trust Mo to make patient and prudent moves to improve the team without risking future flexibility.

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  11. ncgostl says:

    As a cards fan, I do find intriguing the claim that the cards should be pushing to win in the next couple of years while they have Pujols.

    The question is how best to do that?

    I think the organization is guilty of overpaying recently for #3 pitchers (#4, #5?). Could they have spent more money than what they spent on Piniero and Lohse and gone after an ace, like Burnett? I just don’t see the answer as a yes. And I’m relieved that they didn’t try to outbid others for Zito, Schmidt, etc. How many innings will Burnett play over the course of the Yankee contract?

    Here’s what the organization has done well: I love the deep, youngish, cost-controlled outfield, the increasingly deep, young, cost-controlled bullpen, and K. Greene as an acquisition this year. Projecting the success of the starting rotation is a crap shoot, but it does have a big upside. And what else can be said about #5? Also, I’m not worried about 2B…something will work out at replacement level or better.

    Like the other cards fans who’ve posted, I give Mo a lot of credit for battling the “sign veterans” mantra of LaRussa and putting the talented, cheap OF and bullpen out there.

    To go back to the opening question: Big FA signings now for multi-year contracts might have increased the WS chances in 2009, but could have really tied up a ton of money and hurt the chances of resigning Pujols. A future of Rasmus, Freese, Jay, Mather, Motte, McClellan, Perez, etc., means that they will be competitive this year and have a better chance to win the WS in 2010 – 2014(?) if they can better afford to resign Pujols and field a cost-controlled, talented team.

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  12. FlimtotheFlam says:

    You are right about Mozeliak what a Bum!?

    “Mozeliak, as a new GM taking over a franchise already in position to win, was in something of a strange circumstance.”

    Position to win? He took over an organization that was in decline and transition in Oct of 07. The 2007 Cardinals finished with a record of 78-84 to 86-76 in 08, So the Cardinals gained 8 wins in his first year as GM. This is with his Ace Chris Carpenter on the DL almost all season.

    – He traded Scott Rolen for Troy Glaus (Added 2.4 Wins doing this)
    – Signed Lohse for $4.3M last season but was worth $14.2M
    – He Traded Jim Edmonds for David Freese (.910 OPS in AAA with Good Glove at 3rd, was considered Minor League Player of the Year for the organization by multiple news sites)

    on to his bad moves

    – Joel Pinero was worth $4.1M but got paid $5.5M (overpay by $1.4M)
    – Too Early to to judge the Lohse contract that has not even started yet

    What you don’t seem to understand is that Jocketty depleted the organization minor league talent and was too short sighted. Only looking from season to season. While Mozeliak obviously has much more long term goals. Which is the right approach for a mid market team. You seem to have forgot that teams are on budgets. Your rant about the Cardinals made me think of Ed Wade.

    Did I mention Mozeliak’s access to the fan’s? He regularly does chat’s with fans online. Something his predecessor Jocketty never did. Mozeliak seems to embrace new ideas and that is why he seems to work so well to with Lunhow. Bringing our minor league system to #8 in baseball by BP. We only drafted Brett Wallace under his watch but also got more aggressive in the international minor league market.

    The Cardinals are set up to win beyond 2009 with a strong minor league system not sold off for a quick fix and a lack of bad contracts. If the worst contracts I have to worry about overpaying Pinero by $1.4M and Lohse’s contract that might or might not work out than I am not worrying about it all.

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  13. ThundaPC says:

    Forgive me if this kinda hits a sore spot for Cardinals fans (I’ll get to that in a bit) but I think some people, in general, are missing the point.

    Some people keep citing that the division a team play in should play a factor. Some are strong, some are weak, yea I agree. Except, however, this idea is rather moot.

    For example, in 2006, the St. Louis Cardinals pull of a record of 83-78, good enough to win not only the division title but they manage to work themselves into a World Series title win.

    That’s all fine and dandy but 2 years later the Cardinals pull of a record of 86-76, a 2.5 game improvement…..and they wind up in 4th place? How did this happen? Well, basically the Cubs and the Brewers have essentially passed them by.

    Does anyone really think that organizations should be given bonus points for the likelihood that they will luck their way into a World Series title?

    The quality of the division changes all the time. Organizations aren’t going to put the exact same team on the field every year and the Cardinals have found this out the hard way. The Cubs went from a 66 win garbage team to a 97 win powerhouse. They’ve won the last two division titles and they don’t look to be heading south any time soon The Brewers? Well, they’re pretty good too.

    Going back to the two phrases “overall ability to contend for a World Series title in the future” and “health of each organization going forward”. In reality, this is about how well each organization can build towards a World Series caliber team in the future. Not which ones can luck their way into a title, or which ones can just win in a weak division. When you’re contending for a World Series title these days, you have to get by the Red Sox or a comparable team. Teams like those are likely to be back year after year. How likely are teams in the bottom 20 to build a team that regularly contends for the World Series?

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    • FlimtotheFlam says:

      Even though they finished 4th they were in the Wild Card contention all season and just slipped in Sept. They were never even suppose to compete in 08 as it was supposed to be a transition year.

      The Brewers and Astro’s will both finish behind the Cardinals this year.

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      • Wally says:

        Pecota has them around 80 wins right now, and in 3rd place. The brewers are slotted at 86 wins. And yeah the Cards where in the WC hunt, but not really all year. It was pretty much over by September when they were typically 3rd or 4th in the race, and ~5 games back. When you’re that far back and have to pass multiple teams, your chances of winning are just not good. And I’m not sure how much this sorta-in-contention means when you’re just 5 wins over .500 for the season.

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      • Ted says:

        To Wally: I find it very hard to believe that the Brewers will win 86 games after losing there 2 best pitchers, one of which carried them to the playoffs

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      • Wally says:

        Well they won 90 last year, so that’s a 4 win loss. Sure they probably lost double that, but they gained some of it back with their replacements and improvements around the rest of the club. I certainly don’t see a team under .500 here.

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      • FlimtotheFlam says:

        PECOTA has us at 81 Wins but CHONE is closer to 87 wins.

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      • Wally says:

        I see CHONE predicting 83…with the reds at 82 and brewers at 81, which is to say they are all basically the same, as the confidence interval is a lot bigger than 2 games. I’m not sure how much I trust CHONE here though. From what I’m looking at, they have the dodgers at 82 wins…I understand the dodger have a couple of question marks in the rotation (who doesn’t with there 4th and 5th starters), but that line up should be pretty amazing, and the 1-3 and bullpen should be plenty good to get this team up around 90 wins. Maybe what I’m looking at is from like December?

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  14. Fresh Hops says:

    I have a hard time with B- on the MLB talent on this team. I can’t speak enough about the contract situation, so if that’s the main explanation, I’ll concede.

    However, the Marlins got a B- for their talent. Last season the Marlins were a 23 value wins team, which makes them about 10th in MLB. The Cards were 32 value wins, for second in the majors. If we subtract Pujols, 9 wins (!), the Cards are at 23. Allow some regression, maybe that makes them a +20 value wins team. Add Pujols with a little regression and it’s a 28 wins team. That should get the Cards a B+, since it’s enough to put them in the top 5 in the majors.

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  15. Ted says:

    this is the stated purpose of the rankings from your post:
    “keep in mind that this is a forward looking exercise – we are evaluating clubs on their overall ability to contend for a World Series title in the future. We are not evaluating how they have performed historically. This is about the health of each organization going forward.”

    Yet the Cardinals are #21 in your rankings. Behind such World Series contenders as Baltimore, Toronto, Seattle, and Texas? I guess, but I’ll take a bet the Cardinals make the playoffs before any of those teams do.

    In terms of your grades for the Cardinals I have to say that the player grade and front office grades are a little low. You claim that these are forward looking grades so why is so much of the front office grade held back by the last few years of Jocketty? The only thing Mo has been able to do so far is rebuild the team that he was left. I think he is doing a fine job right now. Is he doing an amazing job? No, i think the rotation is thin and the line up could use another good bat, but overall I like the direction the team is taking.

    In terms of the talent of the players I would have to say that a B- is way too low. A b+ is probably a better grade for this team. Speaking outside of Pujols, the Cardinals have a fine outfield, 3B, and C. The SS position was upgraded this season and 2B will be ok to bad. The rotation is pretty solid, it could turn out to be really good or it could be very average (we will have to see). And the bullpen should be much improved this year. I can almost guarantee they don’t blow as many saves this year.

    The overall grade of a C+ is laughable.

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    • steve-o says:

      Ludwick will be 31, Ankiel is streaky, who’s the other “fine” outfielder? Glaus disappeared after ‘roiding out, Khalil Green is a step back from Izturis except for occasional power, Molina is fine behind the plate and that’s about it.

      B- seems rather generous to me.

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      • FlimtotheFlam says:

        Power Hitters tend to hit their peaks later in the late twenties and early 30’s. So his age should not be an issue. Last year we were the 10th youngest team in baseball. With losing players such as Russ Springer and Jason Isringhausen we are only getting younger.

        To the ‘other’ fine outfielders. Lets see

        Skip Schumaker (worth 2.4 wins last year)
        Brian Barton
        Chris Duncan
        Joe Mather
        Colby Rasmus
        Jon Jay
        Daryl Jones

        Everyone of those are cost controlled players with only Duncan in his first year of Arbitration.

        “Glaus disappeared after ‘roiding out”

        I don’t even know what the means. He was worth 5.3 last year a career high. That was including a very slow start he had in April.

        “Molina is fine behind the plate and that’s about it.”

        I think you forgot about that Pujols fellow

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      • Wally says:

        “Glaus disappeared after ‘roiding out”

        >I don’t even know what the means. He was worth 5.3 last year a career high.I think you forgot about that Pujols fellow<

        He was just talking about Molina there, and everyone knows how great Pujols is.

        Duncan is likely to get most of the starts in LF right? He’s average at best. Ledwick will take a step backwards, Ankle will probably maintain. That doesn’t sound like a “fine” outfield. That sounds slightly above average. The infield is average at best, except for the obvious exeption at first, and Molina is terrible. The staff is a big time question mark. If you can’t get some quality innings from Carpanter, Weinwright is likely the only starter to be better than league average. And how many innings is he good for?

        This whole team looks roughly average to me, with some positives (Ankle, Ludwick, Glaus) countered by the negatives (Greene, 2B?, pretty much the whole starting rotation), plus one of the best hitters ever. Average + one great hitter does not equal a team in the top 6-9 in MLB talent, which is about what a B+ would mean to me. I’d say an A is the top 3, an A- is maybe the 3-6 area. This would leave the Cards in the B- range for me.

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      • FlimtotheFlam says:

        @Wally You do realize last year the Cardinals OF had the highest OPS in baseball last year?

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      • Wally says:

        Ok, OPS. Great. Not only does that totally ignore defense, it isn’t park adjusted and doesn’t correctly weight OBP vs. SLG. That was also last year. Ludwick isn’t repeating, LF has been downgraded, though Ankle will probably maintain. I see Duncan, who’s a 1.5 win player, Ankle is about a 2 win, and Ludwick is about a 4 win. Forgive me if I don’t think an average of about 2.5 wins per player is all that great.

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      • vivaelpujols says:

        Okay. The Cardinals starting OF next year, will likely be Rasmus in center, Ludwick in right and Ankiel in left. Ludwick and Rasmus are plus, plus defenders, and Ankiel is probably above average in a corner outfield spot. Rasmus projects as a 3 WAR player next year (given a full season of playing time) simply because he will be an average hitter, and a plus defender in center. Ludwick was a 5 WAR player last year, and even with regression on offense, he should improve on defense (-4 UZR last year compared to +7 for his career) so that he is at least 4 WAR. Ankiel, was a 2 WAR player last year, and that was with missing time and it was his first full year as a hitter. You can expect some improvement on offense and defense so where he may be a 3 WAR player next year.

        There is no doubt that the Cards have on of the best outfields in the majors, and they have a ton of minor league depth in that department as well.

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  16. ThundaPC says:

    If it makes some folks feel any better, remember this:

    “There’s actually a pretty big gap here between the Reds and Padres, so don’t look at their placements next to each other on the list and think that I’m saying that they’re in comparable shape. Trying to sort out the next ten franchises was tough, and the Reds are closer to being in the top 15 than they are to being 30th, even though they land at #24.”

    We’re more towards the middle of the pack than the bottom. C+ isn’t all that bad. Just kinda middling.

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  17. steve-o says:

    “Molina is fine behind the plate and that’s about it.” I was talking about Molina’s empty bat.
    Minus Rasmus (who hasn’t done anything yet except at Rookie and AA) I don’t see what you’re talking about for outfielders..
    Glaus’ ISO has dropped like a stone is what I’m saying.

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    • FlimtotheFlam says:

      “I was talking about Molina’s empty bat.”

      He put up a .304 BA Avg with a .740 OPS while playing Gold Glove defense.

      “Glaus’ ISO has dropped like a stone is what I’m saying.”

      Compared to what? His ISO rose compared to last year.

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      • Wally says:

        “He put up a .304 BA Avg with a .740 OPS while playing Gold Glove defense. ”

        And he’s not going to hit like that again. His OPS is more likely to be under .700 next year than over it. And excuss me if I don’t give any weight to the GG. He’s probably a good defender, but to say anything more than that is pretty dificult. I should probably say, Molina isn’t terrible, that was an overstatement, but he’s below average.

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      • SleepyCA says:

        Wally- I’d like top see your justification for why Molina won’t hit like that again. He’s had incredibly bad BABIP luck in the past, and is just going to be 26. he’s just now coming into his prime.

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      • Wally says:

        He actually had his highest BABIP ever last year, at .314. The 5 projections for him listed on this site range from a .688-.723 OPS. However, 3 of the projections are under .700. So, I’m betting something close to .700 is the most likely scenario.

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      • Kincaid says:

        It is kind of difficult to say he’s more than just a good defender. Luckily for us, someone has done the work to be able to say that. Namely, Brian Cartwright:

        http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/more-on-catchers-fieldingwppb

        Certainly GGs are not of much value in assessing defense (Molina would have more than 1 if it were). Even his consecutive Fielding Bible Awards are a subjective thing. But he is pretty clearly a very good defensive catcher. On top of that, his win value last year even without his defensive value (projected for 2009 at a full win by Mr. Cartwright) was 2.4 wins last year. The 5 projections have him anywhere from about 1.2 to 2.0 wins next year without defense, with an average of about 1.5 wins. Add in his win for defense, and that is not a below average player.

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      • Wally says:

        Missed that article when it showed up, but I have to wonder when ~90% of a catcher’s defensive value comes from preventing stolen bases. What happens to your value when teams just stop trying to steal bases on you? Sure its worth something to not have baserunners try, but if you aren’t getting the outs, most of your value disappears. This may have even started with Y. Molina, as the SB attempts on him has dropped from .064/inning to .058 to .052 over the last 3 years. Then for the projection of next year Cartwright is predicting 73 steal attempts on Y. Molina. If Y. Molina catches ~1000 innings (as he’s usually around) that’s .073 attempts/inning. Something off there, by a lot. Either he’s grossly over estimating Molina’s playing time, or its the number of SB attempts. As his reputation grows (he did recieve a GG last year), managers are going to send runners less, and if the current rate holds up that attempts per innings should fall to about .046. It would appear to me that would darn near cut Molina’s SB value in half for next year. This wouldn’t mater if we kept his value as a rate stat, but we aren’t. We’re translating this into an accumulation stat.

        Then of course, as less people are making steal attempt, we should predict that the success rate goes up as only the better stealers are making those attempts.

        I just don’t know about catcher’s defense yet. The studies being done, like the few Cartwright ones that I am catching up on, are promising, but its hard for me not to take them with big grain of salt.

        Which leaves me where we started, we just kinda have to guess. None of the studies are conclussive or inclusive enough to make a strong conclussion. Molina might be a bit better than average as shown by some preliminary evidence. But a full win? Na, I don’t buy it.

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      • Wally says:

        I guess I should through my conclussion out there. I agree with the 1.5 win on offense. But on defense, I wouldn’t really go much above .5 wins. Which would leave him closer to 2 wins. Last year, when just considering batting, 2.0 wins was good for 13th out of 20 catchers with at least 400 PA. 2.5 would have made that 11th. This is after giving him that defensive value remember. After defense for other catchers is added in, I bet he’s closer to 15th out of 20. I stick with below average for Y. Molina.

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      • Kincaid says:

        Why are you assuming there are only 20 catchers in baseball? Eliminating most below average catchers from consideration by only looking at the ones who are good enough to garner that much playing time will leave you with a sample that is mostly above average players.

        There is really no reason here to go in all these roundabout ways to figure what constitutes an average player if you’re using Win Values, though. Win Values are defined so that 2 wins is average. If a player is above 2 wins, by the very nature of the stat, that means he is an above average player, at least as far as Win Values go. As long as you are using Win Values as your measurement, 2 is average, and any kind of fiddling around to make average seem higher is just misrepresenting the stat.

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      • Wally says:

        But for catcher’s we have a special case, because all defense is assumed to be equal. How do you not see this fundimental flaw that only after adding in Molina’s dubious defensive value do we get him up to “average,” while no other catchers have their defensive value included? Particularly sense a catcher’s defensive value is so poorly understood.

        Second, to say that 2 wins is always going to be average, and exactly average, is taking that stat too literally. Many of these calculations have significant error terms, particularly the ones that try to define average, replacement values, or possitional values. Yes this is a great stat, maybe the current best, but don’t take it as dogma.

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      • Kincaid says:

        2 wins is average for the stat simply because everything is calculated relative to average and then 2 wins are added for replacement level. That’s simply the nature of the stat. It is based so that average stays at 2 wins, even if what is considered average changes. That’s not taking it as dogma, it’s just that that is the stat we happen to be discussing, and that’s how the stat works.

        Catcher does not present a special case because the defensive numbers are still calculated as runs above average, exactly like for every other position. You can add in the defensive values for every other catcher too. The ones above 2 are still going to be above average and the ones below are still going to be below average. Yadi’s defense is projected at just over 10 runs above the average catcher. Just like adding in a player’s UZR for his defense. It’s calibrated so that for the group of catchers as a whole, the combined value is 0, so it won’t change the value of the position as a whole.

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      • “He’s probably a good defender, but to say anything more than that is pretty dificult. I should probably say, Molina isn’t terrible, that was an overstatement, but he’s below average.”

        John Dewan disagrees.

        http://sabernomics.com/sabernomics/FieldingBibleVII_Excerpt.pdf

        Molina is 2nd in MLB in the last three years in runs saved at catcher.

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  18. SleepyCA says:

    Regarding “Mo taking over a team in a position to win”, the team he took over was a 78 win team (with a 71 win pythag) team. He had no prospects ready to step up and play at the MLB level, with Anthony Reyes crapping his pants and chris duncan having torn his guts out in 2007. He had no chris carpenter, out until mid-2008 at best (and as we were to find, 2009 at best, now). He inherited huge contracts on useless players- $6.5M owed to encarnacion, $8M to Edmonds, $10.5 to carpenter, $8M to Mulder, $2.5M to Spiezio, etc, and wasn’t really free to act as you seem to imply.

    Still, he managed to turn Rolen’s carcass into a 5-win player (Glaus), and traded Edmonds’ salary for a promising player (Freese). Mo had some luck with Ankiel, lohse and Wellemeyer, but he managed to turn the 71-win team he inherited into a 86-win team while under massive budget constraints and without giving up a draft pick, and all while losing his new ace for over half the season to injury. The pineiro signing was for too much money, and he should have acquired a better starting pitcher like Lowe or vazquez, but he’s done much, much better with the resources he has than could be expected.

    Agree with the comments above- your analysis was a joke. if Fire Joe Morgan was still around, they’d have had a lot of fun with this article.

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    • mattymatty says:

      “your analysis was a joke. if Fire Joe Morgan was still around, they’d have had a lot of fun with this article.”

      Oh, please. There is room for discussion here and that is part of what makes this series so interesting, but there is no need to say something mean. If you disagree so violently that you have to insult someone maybe you should just find another website to read.

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  19. Russell says:

    The rest of the NL should be:

    Giants
    Braves
    D-Backs
    Brewers
    Dodgers
    Mets
    Cubs
    Phillies

    And because I think this you can be almost assured I’m wrong! I do want to admit that I agree mostly with Dave’s rakes for the NL teams, as long as we ignore the American League all together… and as a DH and Yankee hater I’m more then happy to do just that :)

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    • vivaelpujols says:

      The Cubs are not good for the future.

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      • vivaelpujols says:

        They have a terrible, terrible farm system. By 2010, they will have over 110 million dollars guaranteed to 8 players past there prime. So unless they increase the payroll to a ridiculous level, they won’t be very successful.

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  20. Brian Recca says:

    As a Giants fan I am quite surprised to see their name not already mentioned.

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    • Bodhizefa says:

      They have one of the better farm systems in baseball and a pretty sweet core of young talent in the big leagues. With Sabean at the helm, they’ll probably come up pretty soon due to his ineptitude in some key areas. However, their reinvigorated draft effort, their concentration in Latin America, and the lack of Ned Colletti there to influence Sabean towards overpriced vets means they’re on their way up.

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  21. Bodhizefa says:

    As for the Cards, I think there’s an overconcentration on the Pineiro and Lohse signings while glossing over some of the better transactions. I don’t think I’d rank them significantly higher, but there are definitely some other teams I’d rank below them overall.

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  22. Jake says:

    resigning lohse was so stupid. he is a decent pitcher who won’t repeat his success last year (22 LD% .305 babip).

    As a giants fan i can’t tell if sabean is an idiot or a genius. He drafted cain, lince, bumbgarner, sandoval and posey, and made some good signings in molina and winn but will often screw us over with terrible moves. He ovverpayed for Rowands ovverated defense and inflated offensive numbers, made the horrible nathan and liriano for pierzynski deal and got us zito. when sabean made zito the highest paid pitcher in baseball he was just a good #2 pitcher!!!

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    • vivaelpujols says:

      Maybe not, but CHONE projects for a 4.14 FIP. Over 200 innings, that makes him worth the contract.

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      • Shhh says:

        Not really and it’s quite hard to think he will pitch 800 innings in the next four seasons, but hey hopefully he does. Chone also has his value worth $27 over the next 4 seasons.

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      • vivaelpujols says:

        CHONE projects for an average of 143 innings over the next 4 years. Call me optimistic but I think that he will be able to average at least 180. And also, I believe that CHONE uses ERA for WAR calculations. Given that he projects Lohse’s ERA to be about 60 points higher than his FIP next year, he might be underselling him a bit.

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      • Handbanana says:

        4.29 is 60 points higher than 4.14?

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  23. vivaelpujols says:

    On his baseball projection page, it says 4.66 for next year. That is where Shhh was getting his projected dollar value from. The numbers don’t match up though, take a look.

    http://www.baseballprojection.com/lohseky3154.htm

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    • Shhh says:

      To reply somewhat to your above point, I’m pretty sure he doesn’t use ERA for his vs. replacement, I think he adjusts for defense, park, and league. Which are all in Lohse’s favor so his ERA makes him also look better than he actually is. Have you been seeing whats going on with the Cards pitchers lately, I would be shocked if he had 720 IP over his current contract honestly.

      And to reply to this actual comment I’m replying to, if I had to guess that would be his ERA in a league, park, and defense neutral enviroment.

      I doubt Chone is underselling him, ZiPS has him as quite similar and not sure of PECOTA, unless someone wants to check for me.

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  24. WallysAnIdiot says:

    Anyone who says Y. Molina is a below average catcher has absolutly no idea what he/she is talking about. You could pass judgement that last year was a fluke offensively, but you cannot overlook the fact that he is without a doubt in the top 2 of all catchers defensively. Whether it be throwing out runners stealing or picking runners off first,he makes his or any other team better when he is on the field. Saying that runners not running on him lowers his value is just assinine, pitchers not having to worry about the runner as much, the infield not worried about it,all of this comes into play when they are scared to run. Not to mention that he handles a pitcher and calls a game better than ANY catcher in the game bar none. If you assume that he will go back to hitting .250 you could make the argument that he is average. I think that most people when asked would take a catcher like Y. Molina over someone who hits .270 with 30hrs. I know I would.

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  25. Mike says:

    Man, being that you guys are so obsessed with statistics and basic math you’d think you’d actually be good at it.

    Ownership: B- (80/100)
    Front Office: C (75/100)
    Major League Talent: B- (80/100)
    Minor League Talent: B (85/100)

    Overall: 320/400 = .80 = B-

    Your math= F-

    And STL at 21? Seriously?? With the best player, manager, and pitching coach in the majors? A top 5 prospect? BA’s 8th rated farm system? I’m going to be really interested in seeing how you Cubs homers church up their farm system. This is the type of stuff that makes the Cubs futility that much more gratifying.

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  26. mlbblogg says:

    How you put Kansas City in front of anyone is just mind boggling. Also putting Cincy that low is pretty bad. I dont even like Cincy but when you have Cueto,Volquez,Harang,half of what Arroyo used to be,Owings,Phillips,Bruce,and Votto….you have to be higher than that

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