Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback

btf_logo
You are here > Home > Baseball Newsstand > Baseball Primer Newsblog > Discussion
Baseball Primer Newsblog
— The Best News Links from the Baseball Newsstand

Monday, December 16, 2013

Cards add Ellis as insurance for Wong

The Cardinals’ search for a second baseman to complement and challenge rookie Kolten Wong ended swifter than they expected but landed the infielder they coveted.

Mark Ellis and the Cardinals have agreed on a one-year contract that will be finalized and announced early this week after the veteran passes a physical. A source confirmed the agreement to the Post-Dispatch, which was first to report the deal Sunday morning on STLtoday.com.

Ellis, 36, hit .270 in 126 games with the Los Angeles Dodgers last season, and he offers the righthanded bat at second base that the Cardinals wanted to pair with Wong.

Ellis is viewed as a strong presence on the field and in the clubhouse, and the Cardinals repeated their interest to Ellis’ representative last week in a discussion at baseball’s annual winter meetings. The Cardinals had been unsure if he’d accept a part-time role. Ellis has had at least 400 plate appearances in each of the past 10 seasons he’s played. He spent the past two years as the starter at second for the Dodgers, making $5.25 million in 2013. Los Angeles decided not to exercise a $5.75-million option on Ellis’ contract and allowed him to become a free agent.

Thanks to FG.

Repoz Posted: December 16, 2013 at 08:04 AM | 38 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: cardinals

Reader Comments and Retorts

Go to end of page

Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: December 16, 2013 at 09:23 AM (#4618711)
####### Obamacare.
   2. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: December 16, 2013 at 09:37 AM (#4618712)
This situation is pretty demeaning to Ellis. As Bill Simmons would say... Are we sure Wong is good?

"Yanks add McCann as insurance for Romine"
   3. Gold Star - just Gold Star Posted: December 16, 2013 at 09:44 AM (#4618714)
From the weekend's stories, I was under the impression this would be close to a straight-up platoon.
   4. musial6 Posted: December 16, 2013 at 10:09 AM (#4618719)
I'm not sold on Wong either as a major league hitter (sub .200 for both OBP and SLG in 68 ML PA incl postseason), but the projection models like his minor league track record.

Wong is a 2011 first round pick who was #84 on Baseball America's 2013 top 100 prospect list. He had a nice AAA season (.303/.369/.466) but didn't hit at all once he got the callup.

He also got picked off to end a World Series game with Carlos Beltan (the tying run) at the plate.

The Cardinals are putting all this PR "Wong is the starter" messaging out there as encouragement for Wong...essentially giving him a mulligan on the small ML sample in the hopes that he will show up in the Spring looking like the prospect they thought they had and not the guy who sucked down the stretch.

If Wong lives up to his billing, then they'll platoon Wong (vs RH starters) and Ellis (vs Lefties). If Wong flops (or gets hurt), Ellis steps in as the everyday 2nd baseman for a team that should be a championship contender.
   5. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: December 16, 2013 at 10:13 AM (#4618720)
As Bill Simmons would say... Are we sure Wong is good?


Pretty sure that he's at least decent. Certainly no less sure than we would be that a 37-year-old wouldn't experience an age- or injury-related collapse.
   6. I Am Not a Number Posted: December 16, 2013 at 11:19 AM (#4618772)
but didn't hit at all once he got the callup.

And if he had hit a ton in those 68 PAs, would they be any more predictive?
   7. cardsfanboy Posted: December 16, 2013 at 11:21 AM (#4618775)
This will be Matheny's first chance to have a halfway decent veteran bench player, so now we can see if he's the type of manager that TLR was accused of being (preferring vets over the kids) or if he's the type that says "what have you done for me lately".

I would have preferred a signing of a guy who can play more short also, but you wouldn't have gotten one with Ellis bat if we did.... I'm guessing that going into spring training, the roster is pretty much locked up. A better backup catcher would be nice, but that is pretty much it.

C. Molina 1b. Craig, 2b. Wong SS. Peralta 3b. Carpenter Of. Holiday, Taveras, Jay, Adams and Bourjos..Bench Ellis, Cruz and ?????(Descalso or Kozma)

I don't see anyone breaking into the lineup in spring training.
   8. cardsfanboy Posted: December 16, 2013 at 11:25 AM (#4618780)
And if he had hit a ton in those 68 PAs, would they be any more predictive?


No, but the point a lot of Cardinal fans are making, not only did he not hit at all, but he looked severely over matched. Even the few hits he got were seeing eye bleeders. Mind you I think going into the season with the job pretty much his, will help. And of course he still showed patience, even if he wasn't hitting.
   9. vivaelpujols Posted: December 16, 2013 at 11:38 AM (#4618796)
No, but the point a lot of Cardinal fans are making, not only did he not hit at all, but he looked severely over matched.


Yeah, generally when someone hits like crap they look overmatched.
   10. if nature called, ladodger34 would listen Posted: December 16, 2013 at 11:44 AM (#4618805)
Man, the Cards made a handful of nice little moves (fully realizing that Peralta in a sane offseason would be a big move) that seem like they'll be overlooked. I think even this Ellis move is a total win for them. If Wong struggles, you have a guy that can step in and at the very least, he still does a nice job in the field.
   11. cardsfanboy Posted: December 16, 2013 at 11:48 AM (#4618809)
Yeah, generally when someone hits like crap they look overmatched.


Not all the time. At least not in my experience. I've seen a lot of guys who hit the ball with authority and just weren't getting the results. Or the other way around. Wong looked like Crap last year. He looked like he had never seen pitching above jr high level.

Maybe it was nerves or what not, but it was more than just a sample size issue.
   12. salvomania Posted: December 16, 2013 at 12:22 PM (#4618842)
Since 2000, more than a hundred major league hitters have put up an OPS+ under 50 during their initial "cup of coffee" (between 30-100 plate appearances), including Adam Jones, Dustin Pedroia, Shane Victorino, Josh Donadlson, Jose Batista, and Neil Walker.

Granted, Wong's OPS+ was 3 (three), which is lower than any of those guys' OPS+, but still, having a crappy first several dozen ABs isn't the Kiss of Death.
   13. Ziggy Posted: December 16, 2013 at 12:25 PM (#4618847)
It is, of course, just a warning against small sample sizes, but let's not forget:

Voros' Law: Pretty much anybody can hit pretty much anything in 60 at bats.

Don't worry about it. He'll be fine.
   14. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: December 16, 2013 at 12:33 PM (#4618856)
Cardsfanboy: "In his brief time in the majors, Wong looked totally overmatched. The stats don't matter because it was such a small sample size, but in every at-bat he seemed hopeless and very nervous."

Everyone else: "How can you just trust stats in such a small sample size? Wong is fine."
   15. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: December 16, 2013 at 12:37 PM (#4618862)
Mickey Mantle hit .222 with 0 HR in his first 50 PAs. Isn't there some story about him talking about quitting and his dad packing for him and yelling him to get back to Oklahoma to work in the mines?

Anyway, yea Wong looks pretty good and I wouldn't take any credence into 60 PAs. Ellis is a nice insurance option.
   16. SteveF Posted: December 16, 2013 at 12:47 PM (#4618868)
Apparently now the Cards can really do no Wong.
   17. zonk Posted: December 16, 2013 at 12:50 PM (#4618869)
Since 2000, more than a hundred major league hitters have put up an OPS+ under 50 during their initial "cup of coffee" (between 30-100 plate appearances), including Adam Jones, Dustin Pedroia, Shane Victorino, Josh Donadlson, Jose Batista, and Neil Walker.

Granted, Wong's OPS+ was 3 (three), which is lower than any of those guys' OPS+, but still, having a crappy first several dozen ABs isn't the Kiss of Death.


Wow.

Someone 'beat' Josh Vitters' OPS+ of 7?
   18. Greg K Posted: December 16, 2013 at 12:57 PM (#4618879)

Pretty sure that he's at least decent. Certainly no less sure than we would be that a 37-year-old wouldn't experience an age- or injury-related collapse.

Yeah I get St. Louis' perspective here. Two guys with question marks equals one useful 2B (hopefully)

I don't entirely get it from Ellis' point of view. Why not sign with a team where you would be the unambiguous starting 2B? I hear there are some teams with a big hole there, and Ellis certainly seems still good enough to contribute (the defensive numbers still look great).

I suppose he could be in the "let's just take my best shot at a championship" phase of his career.
   19. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: December 16, 2013 at 01:00 PM (#4618883)
So what are the Yankees options at this point? Brandon Phillips? The corpse of Dan Uggla? Or are they really rolling with KJ - who I like, but in more of a 4 times a week role.
   20. zonk Posted: December 16, 2013 at 01:07 PM (#4618886)
Gary Sanchez/JR Murphy + Banuelos/Betances will get the Yankees Darwin Barney... who's worth 98 bazillion WAR based on his defense.
   21. Mendo Posted: December 16, 2013 at 02:02 PM (#4618931)
It is, of course, just a warning against small sample sizes, but let's not forget:

Voros' Law: Pretty much anybody can hit pretty much anything in 60 at bats.


My favorite illustration of Voros' Law is Don Drysdale, 1964-66.

1964 - 128 PA - 22 OPS+
1965 - 138 PA - 140 OPS+
1966 - 111 PA - 36 OPS+
   22. Sleepy supports unauthorized rambling Posted: December 16, 2013 at 03:02 PM (#4618975)
Since 2000, more than a hundred major league hitters have put up an OPS+ under 50 during their initial "cup of coffee" (between 30-100 plate appearances), including Adam Jones, Dustin Pedroia, Shane Victorino, Josh Donadlson, Jose Batista, and Neil Walker.


Allen Craig hit .169/.219/.254 (.473 OPS) in his first 64 PA's, as well. He then hit .328/.381/.569 (.950 OPS) in his second 60 PA's.

I'd love to see what cardsfanboy though of Craig in Aug 2010.
   23. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: December 16, 2013 at 03:21 PM (#4618994)
I gotta say, I fail to see anything objectionable about CFB's posts on Wong. He acknowledged the small sample size issue, thought he might be better once the job is his, but noted that he simply looked overmatched during his first go-around in the big leagues (that, in this specific set of plate appearances, the crappy results were in line with his approach at the plate). What exactly is wrong with that?

   24. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: December 16, 2013 at 03:33 PM (#4619005)
Exactly my point in #14, SoSHU. If people are going to ignore CFB's own caveat about the small sample size, they could at least point out some other player who looked overmatched and ended up good, instead of going on about other players who had bad stats, since CFB himself said the stats were not important.
   25. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: December 16, 2013 at 03:34 PM (#4619008)
Ellis is a weird choice for a backup in that he can only play 2B. Nick Punto seems like he would have been a more logical choice. This tells me that the Cards expect Ellis to be the starter after Wong fails.
   26. Sleepy supports unauthorized rambling Posted: December 16, 2013 at 04:24 PM (#4619049)
He acknowledged the small sample size issue


Crispix, your attribution in #14 is almost the exact opposite of what I interpret CFB as saying, at least in #8 and #11. He's saying that Wong "looked overmatched", and the sample size doesn't matter *because he looked overmatched*.

Anyway, Allen Craig got called overmatched quite a bit in 2010, expecially towards the end of the first 64 PA's I referenced above ("craig is overmatched" remark in that thread is from 17 Aug, which is ironically the exact nadir of his season).

   27. musial6 Posted: December 16, 2013 at 04:29 PM (#4619052)
68 PAs is not significant. We all remember Bo Hart.

However had Wong hit during his callup, he'd have seen more PAs. More to the point his small major league sample would have been backed up by his larger minor league sample.

Comparisons to Craig are apt in that Craig hit a ton in the minors but struggled early on (over an insignificant sample), but the difference is that the Cardinals brass didn't designate Craig as an everyday starter for 2011 in December of 2010.

Plenty of ML clubs hand over starting positions to unproven rookies, but this is odd coming from the Cardinals. With the exception of Yadi in 2005 following the free agent departure of Matheny, I can't think of another homegrown player who just inherited a starting job without having to beat out other players.

Usually there is at least the pretense of a Spring Training competition. I suspect this is a PR narrative designed to protect Wong's ego, in the hopes that he'll play up to the billing.

Make no mistake, Mark Ellis was brought in because Wong has not yet proven he's ready to be an everyday player on a World Series contender.
   28. Walt Davis Posted: December 16, 2013 at 07:22 PM (#4619194)
C'mon cfb ... even Pujols only hit 389/431/667 in his first 58 PAs. :-)
   29. Walt Davis Posted: December 16, 2013 at 07:36 PM (#4619204)
Somewhat seriously ... how do we define overmatched?

I see Wong had 12 Ks in 62 PA ... that's pretty standard these days. Not the sort of K-rate you want to see longerm from that type of hitter but not overmatched by today's standards.

His LD% was 19, that doesn't seem bad. 17% of his FBs were pop-ups but that's compared to a league average of 13% so again nothing to obviously panic about.

The 191 BABIP looks like overmatched ... but who doesn't look overmatched when they're in a BABIP slump?

So the overmatchedness would seem to be the 1.56 GB/FB ratio which is massive (MLB average .82).

Now clearly those rate stats aren't going to get it done even if he can get his BABIP up to 300. Gandering at his minors numbers, the upside would seem to be ... Luis Castillo with more power (who doesn't have more power than Castillo?) and fewer walks?

But we've got to remember that in the current game, a line like 270/320/370 ain't that bad. LgAvg for the Cards last year was 260/320/400 so a line like that would translate to about 92 OPS+ which is fine at 2B. In fact it's the same OPS+ Ellis has had the last 2 years ... and basically it would be the same slash line.
   30. greenback calls it soccer Posted: December 16, 2013 at 09:27 PM (#4619251)
Somewhat seriously ... how do we define overmatched?

What I saw, as a scout-wannabe, with Wong was a guy who had trouble making contact with hittable pitches, and when he did make contact, it was pretty weak. I won't look at his numbers, because it isn't worth the bother, but my instant, pre-groupthink view was that he had more cheap hits -- mostly weak groundballs to the left side -- than tough outs. These weren't even Ichiro slap-and-run groundballs, these were attempts to drive the ball to RF.

Regarding those minor league numbers, the Cardinals' AA and AAA affiliates play in some hitter-friendly environments. And for a first round pick labeled as "polished", like Brett Wallace and Zack Cox before him, Wong really didn't do anything special once you factor the environment out. The Cardinals are hedging their bets here, which isn't a surprise, because they clearly wanted to make Wong the starting 2b late in 2013, before they gave up on the idea for the same reason that got the Wong discussion started. He's a solid defensive 2b, so he doesn't have to be a monster hitter to be a major leaguer, and he's young enough to improve, but this isn't a guy who you count on in December.

That said, why don't superior defensive 2b's like Mark Ellis get time at shortstop? The veteran respect thing says a starter shouldn't be treated like a utility player, but a career 2b getting playing time at short seems like a bit of a promotion.
   31. TubaOnFire Posted: December 16, 2013 at 09:35 PM (#4619260)
IIRC, Ellis was a 3rd baseman at Florida and could handle shortstop then. I think he really messed up his shoulder in a collision while he was with Oakland and since then hasn't had the arm for short. I'd think he'd have the range.
   32. cardsfanboy Posted: December 16, 2013 at 11:31 PM (#4619323)
Cardsfanboy: "In his brief time in the majors, Wong looked totally overmatched. The stats don't matter because it was such a small sample size, but in every at-bat he seemed hopeless and very nervous."

Everyone else: "How can you just trust stats in such a small sample size? Wong is fine."


I absolutely think Wong will be fine. I'm not judging him on his small sample size, I'm just stating that he looked overmatched. I don't think that will continue, but he wasn't as good of a player in the majors as he was in the minors.


Allen Craig hit .169/.219/.254 (.473 OPS) in his first 64 PA's, as well. He then hit .328/.381/.569 (.950 OPS) in his second 60 PA's.

I'd love to see what cardsfanboy though of Craig in Aug 2010.


And I used that exact same argument to defend Wong to some of my facebook friends... Again, I think Wong will be fine. I also think he looked like crap last year.

Exactly my point in #14, SoSHU. If people are going to ignore CFB's own caveat about the small sample size, they could at least point out some other player who looked overmatched and ended up good, instead of going on about other players who had bad stats, since CFB himself said the stats were not important.


Oops, I mis-read your comment also. Yes thanks for the backup.
   33. Baldrick Posted: December 16, 2013 at 11:53 PM (#4619329)
I probably watched Wong in about 10 games at the end of the year since I was working from home all of August and September and was trying to catch as many NL Central games as I could.

He looked terrible. Wretched. Awful. Insert other words that mean bad. He looked to me like a guy who had never even imagined - much less faced - major league pitching. His swings were bewildered, with no authority.

Now, of course, you can put together 10 games in anyone's career where they look terrible. I also watched a bunch of Red Sox games and there was a 10-game period in there where Ortiz looked like the very poor man's Chris Carter - he was swinging on his heels and made basically no good contact for two weeks. And then he hit like himself for the final month and dropped an H-Bomb on the postseason.

So I'll defer to Wong's minor league numbers for the most part. But man, I would not be surprised if he turns into a Brandon Wood or Andy Marte. Sometimes guys just get exposed once they hit the majors, or the pressure gets to them and throws something off and they can't recover. I certainly won't predict it happens with Wong, but it's hard to deny the evidence of your eyes, so I can't help but thinking it's more likely than a pure reading of the stats would suggest. For his sake, I hope that he manages to do something good. I would hate for that WS pickoff to be the defining moment of his career.
   34. cardsfanboy Posted: December 17, 2013 at 12:50 AM (#4619369)
That said, why don't superior defensive 2b's like Mark Ellis get time at shortstop? The veteran respect thing says a starter shouldn't be treated like a utility player, but a career 2b getting playing time at short seems like a bit of a promotion.


31 hits on a point. Oftentimes a player is moved to second because they don't have the arm for shortstop. Personally I think the arm is overrated because of scouting history and not reality. Arm strength is probably most important in the double play, and second base has to make the stronger dp throw than shortstop.

Yes Jeter is famous for his strong armed throws, but the reality is that with better foot work, his arm strength wouldn't have been so important. Ozzie Smith, even before blowing out his shoulder, never had the greatest arm(like say Jose Offerman) and he did absolutely fine as a shortstop.

I probably watched Wong in about 10 games at the end of the year since I was working from home all of August and September and was trying to catch as many NL Central games as I could.

He looked terrible. Wretched. Awful. Insert other words that mean bad. He looked to me like a guy who had never even imagined - much less faced - major league pitching. His swings were bewildered, with no authority.

Now, of course, you can put together 10 games in anyone's career where they look terrible. I also watched a bunch of Red Sox games and there was a 10-game period in there where Ortiz looked like the very poor man's Chris Carter - he was swinging on his heels and made basically no good contact for two weeks. And then he hit like himself for the final month and dropped an H-Bomb on the postseason.


And that is all I was trying to get across... I'm not even that negative on Wong's future ability, I was just stating, by the eyes, he looked poor.
   35. RMc is a fine piece of cheese Posted: December 17, 2013 at 07:29 PM (#4619902)
A 3 OPS+ in 62 PAs? Pfui. Tom Nieto had a mind-boggling -53 (that's negative fifty-three, folks) in 62 PAs in 1988. 067/097/067, for an OPS thirty points below his weight. Yikes. (Reminds me of my own Little League stats...)
   36. Lance Reddick! Lance him! Posted: December 18, 2013 at 12:35 AM (#4620018)
IIRC, Ellis was a 3rd baseman at Florida and could handle shortstop then. I think he really messed up his shoulder in a collision while he was with Oakland and since then hasn't had the arm for short. I'd think he'd have the range.

Ellis played shortstop while David Eckstein played second base, which goes to this point:

Oftentimes a player is moved to second because they don't have the arm for shortstop. Personally I think the arm is overrated because of scouting history and not reality.
   37. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: December 18, 2013 at 11:36 AM (#4620124)
IIRC, Ellis was a 3rd baseman at Florida and could handle shortstop then. I think he really messed up his shoulder in a collision while he was with Oakland and since then hasn't had the arm for short. I'd think he'd have the range.

Yes with the evil and horrible Bobby Crosby. Man that guy sucked. I doubt they'd put Ellis anywhere but 2B given his shoulder....well maybe 1B.
   38. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: December 18, 2013 at 12:25 PM (#4620153)
the cards organization has a pretty good track record of late on player assessments so doubt they are wong on wong

(done intentionally)

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.

 

 

<< Back to main

BBTF Partner

Support BBTF

donate

Thanks to
Traderdave
for his generous support.

Bookmarks

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Hot Topics

Newsblog2014-2015 MLB free agent power ranking
(29 - 9:11am, Nov 01)
Last: shoelesjoe

NewsblogOT: Politics, October 2014: Sunshine, Baseball, and Etch A Sketch: How Politicians Use Analogies
(4912 - 9:08am, Nov 01)
Last: Joey B.

NewsblogStatcast: Gordon stops 90 feet from tying Game 7
(34 - 9:05am, Nov 01)
Last: Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site

NewsblogOT: Monthly NBA Thread - October 2014
(710 - 8:52am, Nov 01)
Last: The kids disappeared, now Der-K has too much candy

NewsblogOT: The Soccer Thread, September 2014
(972 - 8:48am, Nov 01)
Last: Swedish Chef

NewsblogAngell: The Best
(30 - 8:23am, Nov 01)
Last: Tony S

NewsblogPrimer Dugout (and link of the day) 10-31-2014
(28 - 8:13am, Nov 01)
Last: God

NewsblogBlue Jays to play Reds in Olympic Stadium on April 3 and 4
(4 - 7:50am, Nov 01)
Last: God

NewsblogA Visit to Madison Bumgarner Country, and a Proud Father's Home - NYTimes.com
(4 - 6:29am, Nov 01)
Last: Golfing Great Mitch Cumstein

NewsblogDeadline: World Series Ratings: Game 7 Scores Home Run For Fox
(41 - 6:24am, Nov 01)
Last: Chip

NewsblogRelix: Watch the Exact Moment the Phish Crowd Found Out the Giants Won the World Series
(8 - 5:15am, Nov 01)
Last: A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose)

NewsblogOT: NBC.news: Valve isn’t making one gaming console, but multiple ‘Steam machines’
(1025 - 4:35am, Nov 01)
Last: The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott)

NewsblogAFL Saguaros at Rafters
(6 - 2:17am, Nov 01)
Last: Gold Star - just Gold Star

NewsblogJoe Maddon is to become Cubs manager, sources say
(142 - 12:42am, Nov 01)
Last: Andere Richtingen

NewsblogSan Francisco Giants at Kansas City Royals - October 29, 2014 | MLB.com Box
(92 - 12:18am, Nov 01)
Last: S.F. Giangst

Page rendered in 0.5211 seconds
52 querie(s) executed