Monday, January 14, 2008

Let's Make it Official

"That ref's a real prick out there. That's right, you heard me, my man! Number four's been throwing elbows, and someone's kid is going to get hurt...Let's make it official then..." Old School (2003)

The Blue Jays and Cardinals agreed on Monday to a trade involving third sackers Troy Glaus and Scott Rolen
. This trade was speculated about over the weekend, but I am uncertain how many people actually thought it would go down. After all, why? Both players involved are beyond their prime. Both come with severe injury risk. Both players are currently overpaid. However, both players were once former All Stars, and maybe each club feels that a change of scenery will help.

In Scott Rolen, the Blue Jays are acquiring an ex-Gold Glover and as mentioned a former All Star. Although, the slip in Rolen's production has been widely publicized, as well as his recent run-ins with ex-manager Tony LaRussa. In the 2006 playoffs, LaRussa blamed Rolen for being sore, as he refused to take time off in September of that season.

However, Rolen will cross the 45th parallel and team up with what Will Carrol calls the Jays medical staff "among the best in the business". Which bodes well, given that Will Carrol suggests "it was Rolen's lack of trust after the initial treatment and surgeries on his shoulder that were the beginning of the end."

Carrol goes into further detail about Rolen's shoulder, suggesting the arthritis,
"is going to come back, but his most recent procedure shouldn't be dissimilar to the last one in terms of results: he'll be okay for a while, but the time will come when the shoulder will start to tighten up. At that point, Rolen's going to have to take a hard look at a needle full of cortisone and the rest of his life after baseball."
At 33 years old Rolen is not getting any younger. He will be under control for the next 3 years at $12M a season. If he performs up to 2006 levels, the Jays made a good swap considering Rolen's defensive play (in 2006, Rolen ranked as the second highest scoring defensive third basemen as per The Hardball Times fielding Win Shares).

Troy Glaus, is a straight up masher, owning a career .246 ISO (Isolated Power). Like Rolen, and as mentioned, Glaus is an ex All Star. He is under contract for the next season with an option, that Glaus will undoubtedly accept, totaling $12M annually.

Will Carrol explains of Glaus' injury history which included his back, shoulder and most recently, feet. However, the back issue should subside with the move away from Rogers Center's field turf, the shoulder issue is a thing of the past and the Cardinals, as Will Carrol discusses, "have good experience with managing plantar fasciitis—they've been able to keep Albert Pujols on the field despite the condition, and Pujols has continued to produce due to some advanced techniques and plain old hard work."

Defensively, there really isn't anything special to say about Glaus. In 2006, Glaus was #12 in the majors in THT's defensive Win Shares (a cumulative statistic) and in 2005 he finished tied for #11, scoring a 3.8 and 4.0 respectively.

What do the experts say? Fangraphs now has the Bill James, CHONE and Marcel's projection systems posted and here is what they say about Rolen and Glaus respectively:


Bill James - .282/.367/.475
CHONE - .274/.353/.449
Marcel - .271/.342/.435
Bill James - .251/.360/.490
CHONE - .256/.364/.490
Marcel - .257/.356/.479

Keep in mind that each of these projections were created prior to the trade, given that each player changed leagues and parks, these projections could vary. But essentially, the projections are calling for a further drop off for Rolen and for Glaus to hit marginally under his career averages.

What do I think of this trade? Honestly, its all St. Louis in my opinion. Consider the following from Mitchel Lichtman's July 2006 article from The Hardball Times,
"players who switch from the NL to the AL, tend to get worse and players who switch from the AL to the NL tend to get better."
This was concluded based on data of players switching leagues from 2000 to 2006. However, with that gain, the difference between ballparks should close that gap, making any advantages a wash. Keep in mind, that the numbers are limited as there is only one year of statistics for St. Louis.

The biggest factor that I see playing a role in the trade. It is not injuries, it is not a new ball park or league, it is not a change of scenery, rather, it is Troy Glaus getting to hit behind Albert Pujols. While the players Glaus was hitting around in Toronto were not scrubs, they were far from the threat of an Albert Pujols.

Another advantage for the Red Birds is cleaning up the club house. I am by no means advocating that a team should get worse in talent in order to having a better club house. Rather, if a team can remain the course while cleaning up some attitudes, that can be nothing but a help for the team. Also consider that prized prospect Colby Rasmus is not far from the bigs who crushed double A as a 20 year old. The Cards cleared up CF for the kid and it is only a matter of time before he is given the full time job.

Lastly, did JP forget that his manager is John Gibbons. Shea Hillenbrand? Ted Lilly? Do these two names ring a bell? I'm not suggesting that Rolen bound to end up in a confrontation with the Jays skipper, but there isn't any way to rule it out.

Sorry Blue Birds, this trade isn't going to help baseball north.

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