Sunday, March 9, 2014

Cardinals 2014 Roster Depth

The Cardinals just announced the signing of Aledmys Diaz to a contract.  I love this move.  In combination with the other moves the Cardinals made last season, this gives the Cardinals incredible depth.

The infielders the Cardinals took to the World Series last year were:

Allen Craig, Matt Adams, Matt Carpenter, Kolten Wong, Daniel Descalso, Pete Kozma, David Freese
Freese is gone, traded to the Angels.  Peralta is in.  Mark Ellis is in.  Presumably Diaz will be in soon.  Effectively, they replace Descalso and Kozma.  Regardless of who ends up playing second base full time, that's a much deeper bench.

The outfielders the Cardinals took to the World Series last year:

Matt Holliday, Jon Jay, Carlos Beltran, Shane Robinson

Carlos Beltran is gone, Peter Bourjos is in.  Once Oscar Taveras is called up, effectively Jon Jay will be put on the bench to replace Shane Robinson.  That is again, a much deeper and more talented bench.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Another Great Cardinals Long Term Deal

The Cardinals continue to impress me with the long term extension deals they make on their players.

Today they announced a 6 year contract extension with Matt Carpenter for $52 million.  So that's $8.66 million a year to eat up Carpenter's three years of arbitration and two of his free agent years.

Matt Carpenter had an MVP caliber year in 2013, leading the National League in runs, hits, and doubles and placing fourth in MVP voting.  Even if he doesn't perform quite as well as he did in 2013, it's still a solid signing and they didn't stretch their dollars too much.  The Cardinals will get him through his age 33 season.

As a comparison, Dan Uggla got $62 million for 5 years by Atlanta in 2011 when he was 31.  Omar Infante signed a $30 million contract for four years and he's 32.

It follows up some other great signings, including Allen Craig for 5 years and $31 million.  That contract takes Craig into his age 32 season.  Allen Craig isn't going to surprise you as a superstar, but he's a solid offensive talent.  For just over $6 million a year, he's a far better value than what you can get on the open market for a first basemen/outfielder.

They signed up Yadier Molina for a five year $75 million extension in 2012.  That's basically $15 million a year for the best catcher in baseball through his age 34 season.

My favorite recent signing was the one for Adam Wainwright at 5 years for $97 million.  Given the huge $150+ million contracts lately given to Zack Greinke, Clayton Kershaw, Justin Verlander, and Felix Hernandez, it looks like a steal.

Naturally, no free agent contract signing is without risks.  However, the Cardinals regularly seem to play things smart.  They spend non-outrageous  sums of money on high reward/risk ratio players.  Some will not work out but they seem to work out more often than not.

Update 3/9/14:

And it gets even better, w/ the Cardinals signing Aledmys Diaz to a contract.  The Cardinals team depth is beginning to look crazy good.

The N=1 Problem

Recently read this article from ESPN about how the Angels are trying to rebuild their minor league system.

One of the subtle reasons I love reading articles like this is that at the core, major league baseball teams are no different than other national or multi-national corporations.  All the same management, mentoring, training, recruiting, and retainment issues all organizations face are the same in baseball as everywhere.  It's just that when spoken about in a baseball context, the article is way more interesting than some droll tale of organizational synergy.
There's two chunks of the article I love the best:

Most of the lessons of the sabermetric revolution are based on what's called large-N analysis: looking at all the players who ever played and finding, in millions of data points, answers about player tendencies and optimal strategy, and meta-answers about the reliability of statistics. But developing a prospect is an N=1 problem: Each player's combination of skills, genes, experience, health, neurology, psychology, size and style makes him unlike any other player.
then later

How a coach teaches pitchers to back up a base isn't, ultimately, all that important. What's important is that no coach has to spend more than two minutes of his life thinking about it. That frees him to focus on the N=1 problems
In other words, if a coach has to waste his time dealing with "stupid stuff", then the coach can't concentrate on what's important, namely teaching the player what they need to be taught to reach the next level.

I can't help but think about this within the context of a lot of major companies.  Every employee will have different opinions on what are "annoyances" or "interruptions".  It's likely impossible to remove all of them for every employee, but the hope is that most organizations limit it to a N=2 or N=3 problem for most employees.  Unfortunately, I suspect many employees are dealing with N=9 or N=11 problems.