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Feels like an arbi’s night

January 21, 2009

Only two Cardinals remain eligible for salary arbitration; the Cards have signed Todd Wellemeyer, Chris Duncan and Brad Thompson have all re-upped for another year. Let’s do a quick rundown: 

  • Todd Wellemeyer signed for $4.05 in his final year eligible for salary arbitration. While the stupid sector of fans continue to lambaste Mozeliak for taking his chances on low-hanging fruit, taking a flyer on The Colonel has certainly worked out rather well, hasn’t it? Consider this: Welley was traded by the Cubs for two minor leaguers who never panned out, then DFA’d by the lowly Marlins and again by the Royals. Dave Duncan worked his magic by helping Wellemeyer morph a respectable starter. I have serious doubts he’s going to repeat his 3.71 ERA, 32 starts from last season, but if he can hit 150 innings and manage his to make his CHONE projected 4.38 ERA, he’ll be worth double his salary.
  • Chris Duncan is a walking science experiment now with his new titanium disc. He says he feels as good as new, so it’ll be an interesting to watch, maybe his surgery will prolong a few more major leaguers careers.  Dunc signed for $825,000. If he can get to his CHONE projection (around 460 PA’s, .351 wOBA, terrible defense), I have him down for .8 WAR, worth $4M on the free agent market. With the OF as crowded as it is, and the uncertainty of how Metal Dunc will pan out, I scaled him back to 200 plate appearances, reducing him to .4 WAR, which is worth $2M on the FA market. 
  • Brad Thompson, $650,000. Kyle McClellan seems to have already bumped him out of the “6th starter” spot, and if the team keeps the normal two LOOGY’s on the roster, he looks like the odd man out for a roster. CHONE has him at .2 WAR, worth $1.4 M. I don’t think Puppy Kicker will get a whole lot of innings other than garbage time, but perhaps he’ll get a few spot starts here and there.

That leads us to the two outfielders, both due for a couple of good sized raises: 

  • Rick Ankiel asked for $3.3, the Cards countered with $2.35. Look, Ankiel has done it two years in a row now, just give him his money. I’ve guesstimated Ank to get 500 plate appearances and CHONE has him at a .345 wOBA good for 1.9 WAR. That’s worth about $9M on the free agent market, and Ankiel is just a year away from that. I know they try and compare apples with apples when working these contracts out. The problem is Rick is a mackinaw peach. :Flag! No more than 2 Seinfeld references per post!:  
  • Ryan Ludwick is asking for $4.25 M, a pretty hefty raise. The Cardinals offered only $2.8M, so they are worlds apart right now. Is Luddy Bubba Trammell or Jim Lemon? (Hat tip to Pip for coming up for the Lemon comp). I think he’ll get a healthy amount of playing time and CHONE has him projected at a .364 wOBA. If he can net that and 575 PA’s, I have him at 2.6 WAR, worth a fair market value of $12.3. Considering his service time is less than 4 years, I think $4.25 actually seems pretty fair. Of course, I have no idea as to what all goes into these negotiations, but I’m sure it’s not WAR and CHONE projections.

With the exception of Thompson, these players represent some pretty strong value to the team, a total of 6.6 wins above replacement according to my little spreadsheet. Hopefully the Cards get things done w/Ank and Luddy without having to resort to arbitration. It just doesn’t seem worth a whole lot of haggling with their agents at the expense of possibly hurting some feelings.


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