Many Cardinal fans have experienced increased teeth-gnashing since yesterday’s news that Mark DeRosa is signing with the San Francisco Giants on a seemingly reasonable contract, at two years, $12 million.
Is all of this consternation really necessary?
I dug into the Bag of Internet Baseball Tricks™ today and put to bed what little concern still existed personally.
Sean Smith’s 2010 CHONE Projections give us bloggers something to argue about and use at our whims for arguments precisely like the one I’m about to make.
Some quick addition and subtraction spits out a projected ~2.15 WAR for DeRosa given a full season at third base. The supposed incumbent third baseman in St. Louis right now, David Freese projects to ~1.95 WAR.
Not much difference there, and according to CHONE, DeRo and Freese would be about equivalent defensively at the hot corner.
Using the manager’s second favorite lineup from the 2009 season (only because the first one seems improbable to be repeated in 2010, given it contains Rick Ankiel and Joe Thurston), I ran the tool for a projected 2010 Cardinals lineup, again using the CHONE projections as a base.
For the purposes of control, I made a couple of assumptions:
- Matt Holliday will re-sign with the Cardinals. Even if he doesn’t, I would plug another constant into the lineup, and the difference would be the same.
- Freese simply assumes DeRosa’s spot in the lineup for the purpose of this comparison.
- Rather than make a different lineup projection for each pitcher on the roster, I used the average batting statistics of all Cardinal pitchers for 2009.
With DeRosa in the lineup? 4.818 runs per game.
With Freese in the lineup? 4.824 runs per game.
Yeah, it’s a slight difference, but that doesn’t tell the whole story.
Did the Giants probably get a decent deal on DeRo at $6mm per? Sure. Are the Cardinals getting a better deal on Freese at likely under $1mm total for the next two years? Arguably, yes.
Throw in a sandwich round pick as compensation for DeRosa leaving as a Type B free agent, and things continue to look up for the Cardinals replacing from within. Lest Cards fans forget, Chris Perez – the guy sent to Cleveland as part of the trade for DeRosa last season – was a sandwich round pick in 2006. (And don’t give me the whine routine that the Cards shouldn’t have made the trade to begin with. They won a division. Show me a Cards fan complaining about the deal now, and I’ll show you the same fan who was complaining that the front office wasn’t making moves at the trade deadline in 2008.)
Obviously, a lot of this is contingent upon using that saved ~$5mm per season on a guy like Holliday, or perhaps representing the entire amount that it might take to bring John Smoltz back for one more season.
In the meantime, the Cardinals are seemingly continuing on their prudent spending path. Don’t allocate dollars for a player that is easily replaceable for fewer. They’ll be better in the years to come for it.