Not on the Train

Let’s talk about Pitcher X, whom Cardinals fans seem very enthused about potentially acquiring in trade.

In pitcher X’s four full Major League seasons, he has one year where his ERA was more than 12 percent better than league average. That was 2005. Since then he was steadily less effective in each of the two ensuing seasons.

Pitcher X’s strikeout rate has stayed steady at right around 6.4 per nine innings, which is nice but not spectacular.

Pitcher X’s walk rate, however, has climbed distressingly. It was 2.79 per nine innings his first year, then dropped to an excellent 2.09 his second year. Since then, 3.34 in 2006 and 3.81 in 2007. That’s a red flag, or at least a yellow flag.

Pitcher X will likely get a raise in arbitration over his 6.45MM from 2007, and would be under team control through 2009.

Dontrelle Willis is by all accounts a really good guy. He’s left-handed, and folks seem to want a LHP in the rotation. But I’m of the opinion that it would be a serious mistake to give up a lot of talent to acquire him. The indicators are not good.

-M.

(currently playing: Jay-Z, American Gangster)

24 Comments

I agree…i’ve been concerned about willis after his performance the previous year. We need more stability at a high level, not more instability. It’s time to stop taking two or three gambles on guys and just put the money on the table for a proven performer headed in the right direction. Problem is, in this market, I don’t know who that is…

All that being said…what say you regarding the Cardinals attempting to get Tejada for the SS hole in trade? I’m asking on this thread because that would be about 26 million over the next two years which would take away from our pitcher money…

You know, as I do, that any pitcher who loses most of his games, does worse every year and can’t be trusted to pitch in a pressure situation is in demand in today’s baseball world.

The worse part is he’s delusional enough to ask for even more money than he gor for pitching poorly the year before !

If Tom Seaver was pitching today ( insert Bob Gibson or any other great pitchers name ) he’d own a team with the salary he’d command.

Rant over ~ back to regularly scheduled comments

Totally agree with you, Matt. A few years back, I thought Dontrelle was good. He doesn’t play for one of the MLB’s better teams, but that still has no effect. Signing Dontrelle would be a mistake, no doubt about it.

I agree as well. Getting Willis would acquire huge amounts of money (to keep him long term especially) and talent (just to acquire him). I’d rather just try to trade for a pitcher that has a few more service years under his belt.

Are we forgetting that Dontrelle Willis in 2006 and 2007 had a different pitching coach in 2005? And are we also forgetting that Duncan is good at getting pitchers back on track and lowering their era? Are we also forgetting that Dontrelle Willis is still young and can be worked with?

Not forgetting any of that. But the fact remains, the guy has only one year when he’s been much better than average. In his other years he’s been exactly average (04), a little better than average (06) and much worse than average (07). And the trend is headed in decidedly the wrong direction.

-M.

I’ve never been a particular member of the Willis bandwagon, but given how unattractive the free-agent market for starting pitchers is, it would be unwise to rule him out pre-emptively. However, I’d sure like to have a better understanding of just what’s wrong with him. Some things Duncan can fix; others, like a labrum or UCL about to go sproing — plausible reasons for the increasing walk rate — he can’t.

If they do pursue Willis, I hope that he gets a more-than-usually-complete physical before the deal is finalized. One immensely talented, high-paid lefthander who can’t pitch because of injury is enough.

So you’re saying rather than getting someone like Willis and trying to work with him, we should just go out there and get someone who’s much older and a tiny bit better, rather than having Duncan work with him and try and make him into the great pitcher he’s going to be some day. Yeah, lets just pass up on the opportunity to get Dontrelle Willis and go get 3 more Kip Wells.

Oh yeah, and just so you know Dontrelle Willis’s stats are a lot better than what Carpenters were when we got Carpenter.

No, that’s not what I’m saying.

And please let’s all not be nasty and sarcastic in tone. People can disagree without somebody being an idiot. I’ve asked you about this before, and it frustrates me to have to ask it again. The whole point of this forum is so we can have respectful discussions and even disagreements.

What I’m saying is that every indicator on Willis is heading the wrong direction, and as a result I would not give a large amount of talent, PLUS his salary, in order to get him. Because remember, to get him, you will have to produce a really good trade package.

And I don’t believe it’s worth it. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe you’re absolutely right. But it’s just not necessary to take the nasty tone you took. That’s not what this site is all about.

Also, regarding Carpenter, his trends were headed in the right direction before he got hurt. In his last full season before he was injured in Toronto, his strikeout rate went up and his walk rate went down.

-M.

Crazy, do you know how much the Cardinals originally paid for Carpenter (who btw was recovering from an injury they knew about, not in an unknown state of health)? $300,000. That’s three hundred THOUSAND dollars. Nothing in the millions digit but a zero. You could take a chance (and make no mistake, with Carp the Cards took a BIG chance, just one that paid off) on twenty guys like that for what it will cost to pay Willis, and still have money left over for another Ryan or Ludwick. It is absurd to compare Carpenter and Willis.

Comparing Willis and Wells, if the best you can say is that Willis “should” turn out better than Wells despite last year’s performance and the trends Matthew points out, that’s a pretty compelling reason for Mozeliak to turn and run if someone from the Florida front office approaches…

I didn’t intend for it to sound nasty, in my opinion it sounds like you’re talking bad about Willis, saying you don’t want him because he’s had a bad last couple of years, rather than just giving him a chance to prove himself. I’m just saying that if we have the chance to get him and work with him, we should do it, rather than going out there and getting pitchers like Kip Wells and trying to experiment with them to see what we can do to them.

I have a couple of things I’d like to add also. People say they wouldn’t want to get Dontrelle Willis, because we’d have to give up some prospects to get him, but also I read in a article that said the only way the Cardinals are going to get some good quality starters is by making some trades, so either way we’re going to have to trade some prospects, whether it’s for him or not.

I think Dontrelle would prosper here in the Lou, personally, but I also agree that he’s not worth selling the farm to obtain.

You know, we could give them Anthony Reyes and a couple of other minor league pitchers in order to get Dontrelle Willis, we don’t have to give away our entire farm system to get him. And from the article I read earlier, the Cardinals were going to trade players in order to get players, because there’s not alot of options on the Free Agency market, and seeing as we can’t trade away our major league team, we’d have to trade our minor league team.

And I have a question for Matthew. Someone told me on a group that I am in on MySpace that the Cardinals are only planning on using 15 million dollar this offseason to get players. How true is this? I don’t believe it one bit because I heard that Moziak or however you spell it said their is no set payroll for next year at this given point in time. So doesn’t that mean he’ll spend however much it takes in order to form a competing team?

I think Mo said they had about 95 mil to work with. Matthew had an article about the holes we have to fill and it is in there.

I think we also have prospects in the minor league system that will be ready for the show in 2009, like Boggs and Rasmus and Perez (possibly). I don’t think we need to trade top prospects for Willis (or anyone) if they will be ready soon. And the only way we would get either Willis or Cabrera really is to give up top talent.

Bryan Anderson for Matt Garza…discuss…

Let’s face it…we’re set at catcher for years. He’s not going to play for our team in a starting role for a long time. The Twins are willing to trade Garza for a “top young hitter” and have been looking for a reason to move Mauer to 3rd to preserve his health as a hitter and fill the 3rd base hole. Anderson could start w/in a year and everyone benefits.

oh…and Bryan indicated in his journal that changing his position would be a bad idea…he’s only played catcher. A short stint at OF was not good, according to him.

With Taguchi and Eck gone, Yadi’s one of my favorite Cardinals, but you’ve gotta realize that he’s not untouchable. What if Anderson becomes a player on par with Mauer? Would you swap Yadi for a younger Mauer? I sure would.

Here’s the thing…Yadi is too valuable a defensive weapon behind the plate. And, he’s only going to get better offensively. If it came right down to it, and Anderson was ready for the majors and he was better than Yadi at that time AND we had no other significant needs/holes in the lineup…then, yes…I would consider supplanting Yadi with Anderson. But that’s not the reality we find ourselves in right now.

Holes: Pitching, Shortstop, and possibly a corner outfielder who is right-handed.

In Flux: Second base.

NOT Holes: First, third (despite the Rolen grumblings), one corner outfield spot, center, and CATCHER.

We don’t need a catcher now or for the foreseeable future. We do, however, need pitching BADLY…and a young, strong, conceivable No. 2 starter like Garza (who is a long-term player as opposed to a one-year deal) could be HUGE in today’s market. I would much rather spend Anderson now when we know what we need to win rather than wait on the hope that he can become better than Yadi and in the meantime, trade off some of our other talent on the team.

Also, let’s assume he becomes a Mauer…look at the Mauer situation right now…he can’t stay as healthy as you would need a bat like that to be, so they are talking of moving him OUT of the catching position. If you spend a ton on a bat like that, he better be in your lineup almost every day because you can’t afford to spend on the other positions for offense, then.

No…stick with a great, defensive catcher who can contribute offensively, and then put your money in starting pitching and other offensive position players who will be in the lineup for more than 100 games. Plus, realize that Anderson is also not untouchable. I love prospects, and I don’t believe in trading a prospect we may need in a year or two…but I don’t believe in holding onto one as valuable as Anderson if we won’t need him for at least 3 years and we have such gaping holes elsewhere.

You know I never believed Dontrelle would live up to the hype that surrounded him. Why? One simple reason: His wind-up…too much motion leaves ALOT of room for error.With that funky delivery he was bound to run into control issues during his career. BUT I do believe he could be good again if one of two things happen. Either 1.)He works with a pitching coach he trusts and is convinced to maybe lower the leg kick a little, or B.)He moves to the bullpen where he can control that funky delivery for one or two inngs at a time. Either way, though,I wouldn’t give him BIG money to see if he works it out.Eventually ALL of the GMs need to come together and refuse big money to these players who have had one or two good years! Down with Scott Boras!!!! I think all players should be paid based on the pervious year’s performance.A guy could be signed for multiple years, but only get paid based on the prior seasaon performance.Why not? That way no salary cap and no JD Drews.

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