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Transaction Oracle
— A Timely Look at Transactions as They Happen

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Cardinals - Signed Encarnacion and Spivey

St. Louis Cardinals - Signed OF Juan Encarnacion to a 3-year, $15 million contract; signed 2B Junior Spivey to a 1-year, $1.2 million contract.

No complaints about the latter signing - Spivey’s areally good, though injury-prone 2B and probably the best 2B option on the team at the moment.  The Cardinals have a million second basemen now, so they’re equipped for his inevitable injury.

Encarnacion’s a different matter.  There are different opinions on Encarnacion’s defense from various sources but he’s a mediocre hitter at best.  The more mediocrities the Cardinals lock in, the greater the burden will be placed on the amazing Pujols/Edmonds/Rolen combo.  I’d actually rather have Jacque Jones and his deal on the Cardinals - at least he has an exploitable platoon split.  I don’t think Encarnacion’s even a good incarnation of John Rodriguez.

2006 ZiPS Projection - Junior Spivey
————————————————————————————-
AB   R   H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB   BA   OBP   SLG
————————————————————————————-
319 54   87 22 1 10 46 37 80   3 .273 .356 .442
————————————————————————————-

 

2006 ZiPS Projection - Juan Encarnacion
————————————————————————————-
AB   R   H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB   BA   OBP   SLG
————————————————————————————-
536 70 152 35 3 16 88 43 95   8 .284 .342 .450
————————————————————————————-

Dan Szymborski Posted: December 24, 2005 at 06:08 PM | 21 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. John Reynard Posted: December 24, 2005 at 08:19 PM (#1793066)
I'm not sure how much of an upgrade Spivey is over Hector Luna who was already on the roster. Spivey has always been a lefty-masher who is sub-average against righties. His defense varies from quite good to poor depending on how healthy he is at the moment. Luna looks to me alot like Spivey did 5 years ago in that he can play a variety of positions and is underrated by his team. It took 3 or 4 players getting hurt for Spivey to get his chance, I think it would be ironic if Spivey going down let Luna get his chance a few years later.
   2. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: December 24, 2005 at 09:15 PM (#1793135)
I like Luna and agree that he's underrated by the Cards, but I don't see him posting .356/.442 season in 2006. Also, there are worst things than having an inexpensive backup infielder who is overqualified for the role.
   3. Walt Davis Posted: December 24, 2005 at 10:29 PM (#1793268)
I think Encarnacion is more useful than Dan lets on, though this depends on how good his defense is (about which apparently the opinions/numbers vary widely). That OPS projection is exactly what the Cards got out of RF last year and is about middle of the pack in the NL. If he's above average defensively, he's an above-average RF. And Encarnacion has been pretty durable the last several years.

Granted, I might overrate him because I've been kinda fascinated with him for the last couple seasons. He's a lesson in how a player can improve with some plate discipline. Through age 24, he walked once per 23.5 AB. From 25-27, he got that down to 1 per 14.8 AB. The last two seasons it's been down to 1 per 12.5 (which may just be random fluctuation).

Anyway, he's gone from a player with an "ISOobp" of about 30 to one of about 60 and therefore, given he doesn't hit 300, from a guy with a below-average OBP to an above-average OBP (though not necessarily for his position). He's what Corey Patterson could (have?) become.

I have no idea if guys like this have a particular aging pattern or not. Maybe his adding walks is "early onset old-man skills". Certainly if his BA starts to fall, he's gonna need to add power to remain useful.

As to Jones vs. Encarnacion, it mainly comes down to who's the better defender. I agree that Jones has exploitable platoon splits, but I doubt he was going to sign with a team that was going to platoon him. Interestingly enough, both are probably capable of playing a decent CF where their bats would be much more valuable.

With these two signings plus Sanders, the 2/$6 M deals for average OFs from a couple seasons ago have become 2-3 year deals for $5 M per this offseason. Still, like those deals a couple years ago, compared to some of the other signings, these look like decent deals. And depending on salary inflation, they'll probably still look OK in 2008, even if both these guys have been reduced to 300-400 PA players.
   4. Cowboy Popup Posted: December 24, 2005 at 10:46 PM (#1793306)
Is the new Cardinals stadium going to be a hitters park? Or are those numbers adjusted for Busch stadium? Unless I'm missing something, those numbers aren't bad. Far better then what I expected Encarnacion to be projected to do. If he's around those numbers, I don't see what the fuss is over.
   5. Dr. Vaux Posted: December 24, 2005 at 11:39 PM (#1793357)
There's nothing in Encarnacion's career that indicates he could do that well.
   6. Los Angeles Waterloo of Black Hawk Posted: December 24, 2005 at 11:43 PM (#1793362)
How many times has Encarnacion had a .342 OBP or better? Twice -- in less than 200 PA in 1998, and last year.

How many times has he slugged .450 or better? Twice: a .561 in the '98 season, and a .450 in 132 games in 1999.

Now, he has played in pitchers' parks, it's true. But, per BB-ref, the park-adjusted league OBP for his career has been .339; his lifetime OBP is .316, and he has surpassed the league OBP only twice in his career.

He has been above-average in SLG over his career, but not by that much: .440 to .429.

He'll pretty much need to keep the new-found walks in order to match that projection, or to be any kind of offensive help at all. Still, I think the Cards will be really lucky if he matches his 113 OPS+ from last season. Then you have to account for the fact that Reggie Sanders and Larry Walker were both in the high-mid-120s last year.

Encarnacion seems a bit more durable than those guys (not that that's saying much), so that's worth something, and I guess if his defense is good that will help make up the offensive gap. But I think he's just as likely to put up a 250/310/445 line as anything else, and it's going to take a hell of fancy fielding to make up for that kind of "production" from a corner OF.
   7. danup Posted: December 25, 2005 at 01:50 AM (#1793434)
Walker and Sanders both combined for about 600 at-bats last year, it's going to be easier for him to replace 300 at-bats of Walker and 200 from So Taguchi, John Mabry et al.
   8. DTS Posted: December 25, 2005 at 01:58 AM (#1793436)
Reading the lead-in I thought the ZiPS was going to be awful for Encarnacion. But, really, that's not too bad. I'd be happy with that.
   9. GuyM Posted: December 25, 2005 at 04:51 AM (#1793493)
Now, he has played in pitchers' parks, it's true. But, per BB-ref, the park-adjusted league OBP for his career has been .339; his lifetime OBP is .316, and he has surpassed the league OBP only twice in his career.

He has a career road OPS of .785. That translates into almost exactly .792 overall, assuming a neutral home park (since on average, hitters are a little better at home). The projection here seems entirely reasonable.
   10. Walt Davis Posted: December 25, 2005 at 10:29 PM (#1793810)
It's true that Encarnacion's career totals don't look so hot. But he's a much different hitter than he used to be. These aren't "new-found" walks, he's been walking at a tolerable rate for 5 seasons now. And his ISOobp (OBP-BA which is quick and dirty) has been on a slightly upward trend almost throughout his career: 25, 32, 41, 50, 53, 43, 63, 62. No reason to expect it to keep going up (other than "standard" aging patterns), but certainly no reason to expect it to take a nosedive. Dan's projection puts him at 58 which seems entirely reasonable (and maybe a smidgen low).

His ISOslg has been pretty steady throughout the last several years (starting in 2000): 144, 166, 178, 176, 169, 160. Dan's got him at 166 which turns out to be exactly a 5/3/2 weighted mean of the last 3 seasons, and again is perfectly reasonable.

The only part of that projection which looks a little high to me is his BA. He's hit over 280 only once in the last 5 years. That was last year, but the year before he hit just 236. Maybe the park factors are enough to explain that, but something in the 275 range is probably a safer bet. And if he loses those 10 points, that likely propogates through OBP and SLG giving him a 20+ point drop in OPS.

There's no question that a 260/310/420 line is well within Encarnacion's confidence interval (for lack of a better term). So is 290/355/465. Neither of those is a great line for a RF. But as I mentioned earlier, the Cards got a 795 OPS out of RF last year, which put them 10th in the NL and not far out of 8th. If Encarnacion hits that ZIPS projection and provides above-average defense, he's an above-average RF (for the NL at least).

This may or may not apply to posters here, but it seems like folks think we're still in the 1998-2000 slugfest, when 800 OPSs were easy to come by. In all of MLB last year, there were only 67 qualified batters with an 800 or better OPS; there were only 104 who topped a 750 OPS. Now I don't want to oversell that number, after all there were only 148 qualified batters in MLB last year. Still, when you take productivity and durability into account, Encarnacion is one of the 100 best hitters in baseball and probably one of the top 75. Now it's also fair to say that among starting 1B/DH/LF/RF, he probably doesn't crack the top 60 as a hitter.

Still, the median 1B OPS in MLB last year was 802; for LF it was 795; for RF it was 794. If you can add above-average defense to a median OPS, you're doing all right.

The Cards have Pujols, Rolen, and Edmonds. If those guys are sufficiently healthy, all they need to score lots of runs are average-ish, reasonably priced players elsewhere. If those guys also play average or better defense, you're in darn good shape.

And please don't mistake me. There are two big assumptions behind me thinking this is a decent signing. First that Encarnacion is average or better defensively. I think MGL and DSG are in disagreement about that and I haven't seen the guy enough to have an opinion. Second that either he maintains his skill relatively well through age 32 or salary inflation is sufficient such that a player of his age-32 skill level would cost you about $5 M. And even with those assumptions, this doesn't seem like a bargain signing -- he's probably in the 2-3 wins above replacement range which is "worth" something in the $5-6 M range (on average, etc.).

Now ... that Spivey projection looks kinda wack. :-)
   11. John Reynard Posted: December 26, 2005 at 03:40 PM (#1794416)
Spivey is certainly capable of going .273/.356/.442 but I think much more realistically if hes playing everyday is something like .255/.340/.415. He really doesn't hit righties well (.237/.310/.359 over last 3 years) and isn't durable either. If the Cardinals somehow picked up Todd Walker this would be an amazing platoon situation, but I really don't see how adding Spivey to the current mix is much of an upgrade. Luna is just as likely to break-out as Spivey is to remain healthy AND perform at the level in the ZIPS and he's younger and cheaper. An even better arrangement would be to move Eckstein over to 2B and play Luna at SS because you'd get a defensive upgrade there since Luna can actually throw like a SS.
   12. AlexIsADirtySanchez Posted: December 26, 2005 at 05:00 PM (#1794452)
Interesting. On November 7th, ZIPS for Encarnacion were posted with the Marlins as:

.269/.329/.427...16 Homers, 31 doubles, 63 runs, 80 rbis

I understand the change in runs/rbis. I'm not sure how power numbers were adjusted for. I guess they assumed the dimensions of the new Busch Stadium. I'm baffled as to why Encarnacion shows an increase of 15 points of batting average and 13 points of on base percentage just by switching uniforms. Either ZIPs loves NL East pitching vs the Centrals, or it thinks Hal McRae is the second coming of Charlie Lau
   13. Dan 'The Boy' Werr Posted: December 26, 2005 at 06:10 PM (#1794496)
Spivey? He's a clubhouse cancer.
   14. 1k5v3L Posted: December 26, 2005 at 06:22 PM (#1794505)
Werr, wtf are you talking about? No one ever had problems with Spivey when he was in Arizona. He's a really nice guy, on and off the field. Not sure where you get your stories.
   15. TOLAXOR Posted: December 26, 2005 at 07:06 PM (#1794543)
WELL, ON A PURE "ZIPS" COMPARISON, IF YOU COMPARE ENCAR TO REGGIE SANDERS FROM THE ROYALS SIGNING THREAD, I'M IN LOVE WITH JUAN....

IT'S IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER, ALSO, THAT JUAN'S 3 YEARS DON'T ABSOLUTELY MEAN 3 YEARS IN STL...

ALTERNATELY, IF JIMMY DOES RETIRE AFTER THIS YEAR (OR LEAVE STL) ENCAR'S NUMBERS (ESP. WITH THE NEWFOUND WALKS) SEEM RESPECTABLE IF HE IS HEIR APPARENT TO CENTER....
   16. Pregnant women are Mug Posted: December 27, 2005 at 06:45 PM (#1795772)
Werr, wtf are you talking about? No one ever had problems with Spivey when he was in Arizona. He's a really nice guy, on and off the field. Not sure where you get your stories.

I'm making a joke about the poster here named Spivey.
   17. 1k5v3L Posted: December 27, 2005 at 06:55 PM (#1795789)
OK. The reason I was confused: isn't BTF's Spivey a she?
   18. Pregnant women are Mug Posted: December 27, 2005 at 06:59 PM (#1795795)
OK. The reason I was confused: isn't BTF's Spivey a she?

No, most certainly not.
   19. 1k5v3L Posted: December 27, 2005 at 07:05 PM (#1795802)
My bad then. I hope Spivey doesn't take my comment the wrong way. It won't be the first, or last, time I've been confused about such issues...
   20. Dan Szymborski Posted: December 27, 2005 at 10:11 PM (#1796121)
I'm baffled as to why Encarnacion shows an increase of 15 points of batting average and 13 points of on base percentage just by switching uniforms.

Pro Player is really awful for all hits, not just homers. Just in 2005, the Marlins had 7 point higher BA on the road, opponents, 18.
   21. Women's Lib is Ms.Guided Posted: December 27, 2005 at 10:48 PM (#1796224)
This was a pretty interesting (Steve Sanders-esque) confession by Levski:

<u>levski:</u> The reason I was confused: isn't BTF's Spivey a she?

<u>Mug never heard of corduroy!: </u> No, most certainly not.

<u>levski:</u> It won't be the first, or last, time I've been confused about such issues...

Were you in San Francisco when this happened?

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