Monday, July 4, 2011

The Shortstop Problem: Part Three

     If you missed parts one and two (and judging by the pageviews, you have), you can find them here and here. To recap briefly, in part one, I looked at the offensive incompetence of Brewers shortstops this season and decided the team's only defensible solution was to acquire a shortstop via trade. In part two, I looked at possible trade candidates on other teams' rosters, which, without further ado, is exactly what I'll do here.
Jason Bartlett
8 Seasons7953133392773137263011532242449.277.341.377941052
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 7/3/2011.
     Bartlett is similar to Jose Reyes in that his winding up a Brewer is a bit of a long shot (he's signed through 2012 with an option for '13), but as far as performance goes, he's much more similar to Yuniesky Betancourt and Craig Counsell than Jose Reyes and (park-inflated) JJ Hardy. You could argue that playing in roomy Petco Park is depressing his numbers, but home runs aren't a big enough part of his game to have much of an effect, and Bartlett's history of productive hitting really only includes one season. (In 2009, he parlayed a big and unsustained increase in almost every statistical category into a nice pay raise and a spot in the dreams of big-league executives who hope he might, just might, be able to do it again.)
     Another issue that is nearly as damning is Bartlett's defense. Despite a very solid reputation that includes former status as a pirhana in good standing, and then taking his glove act to Tampa Bay, where he received a lot of credit for their defensive turnaround, most defensive metrics suggest he left his leather in the dome:

     Advanced defensive metrics often fluctuate year-to-year and have been known to disagree amongst themselves, but they seem to have reached a sort-of consensus that Jason Bartlett isn't the fielder he used to be. In fact, Baseball Reference's dWAR ranks him as half a win below sabermetric whipping boy Yuni Betancourt. (Which is something, considering some of the nastier defensive metrics have been known to send each other photos of Betancourt's head photoshopped onto pictures of Justin Bieber.) Although Bartlett certainly outmatch the meager offensive contributions of Yuni B, there are better options available that would likely come cheaper. Cross your fingers and hope he ends up in St. Louis.

Clint Barmes
     The second Houston shortstop mentioned in trade talks, Barmes is following the JJ Hardy path of hoping a couple of hot months at the plate with a bad team will land you a couple of months with a good team. Like Hardy, Barmes is a well-regarded fielder (4.2 UZR this season), albeit one who was pushed into a superutility role with Colorado, who settled for some guy named Troy Tulowitzki.
     However, the issue is with Barmes' lumber. Like JJ Hardy's batted-ball splits and Jason Bartlett's defense, Bartlett's hitting has jumped up and down wildly from year-to-year, but unlike the former two, Barmes has never been accused of any brilliance at the plate. In 2005, 2008, and (so far) 2011, he has hit at a level just below league average, which equates to a acceptable shortstop. In 2006 and 2007, he failed to post a .600 OPS. Whether he hits or not if he ends up in Milwaukee, his glove will carry his bat, and even the non-hitting version of Barmes would essentially match the meager production of Betancourt and Counsell. By trading for Barmes and calling up Taylor Green, the Brewers could improve on both sides of the ball over their horrific left side of the infield even if Barmes' bat flops, but if he holds onto his gains, look out.

Jack Wilson
11 Seasons12985164554125823633614174331263585.266.307.36977
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 7/3/2011.
     As part two of this series began with a quick paragraph on Jose Reyes, part three will end with a brief word on a player who is in many ways his opposite. While Reyes is an offensive weapon who has the potential give the Brewers the upper hand in in what will surely be a close playoff race, Wilson hits as well as most Brewer pitchers and could only really be valuable in a bench role. Reyes is likely the best talent available on the trade market and will command a price tag far higher than Milwaukee can muster, Wilson could likely be had for the promise that Doug Melvin pay next time Melvin and Jack Zdurencik go out for coffee. If nothing else, he could contribute as a backup, but any team who trades for him and then puts a bat in his hands for more than 100 PA should be investigated by the commissioner's office. I personally think that Wilson could be used as a defensive replacement for Jeff Keppinger late in games, giving Milwaukee an effective shortstop tandem that could be acquired cheaply and allow the club to focus its' resources on patching the team's other holes, which would play to each player's strengths and allow Ron Roenicke to occasionally play Jack Wilson and Josh Wilson on the same side of the infield.

*Fielding metrics are from Fangraphs, all other stats are from Baseball-Reference, the fielding graph was made using ChartGo, and contract information was obtained from Cot's Contracts.


  1. I like Barnes the most, Keppinger makes some sense too. Although I suppose the question is always at what cost, especially with so many teams wanting a SS? A middling prospect and ptbn might be alright, but what do you suppose would be the cost for a guy like that in this market? Is Barnes under control beyond this year (which I suppose would change a lot too).

    One name I was surprised not to see was Furcal. With LA out and burdened with money woes and controversy he may be available. He would be the best fit, being a speedy catalyst for RR to use, a switch hitter which would bring another LH bat into our RH heavy lineup, plays traditionally good defense (unaware of how he is doing this year) and having an option which means he could be with us next year too--and with Prince gone I think that is actually good, because Weeks may need to be in a more run-producing role next season.

  2. To answer your question, I like both Barmes and Keppinger. Neither of them are perfect, but both would be better than the Betancourts of the world. As far as what either of them would cost, I have no clue, but middling prospects are pretty much the best the Brewers can offer at this point. Also, Barmes is a free agent at the end of the year.

    I had planned to include Furcal, but he spent all of last month on the DL and really wasn't hitting when he was playing, but you're dead-on about the speed, defense, and left-handedness.

    Thanks for reading!