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A New Name In The Shortstop Derby?

By Chris Hrabe
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St Louis Cardinals v Oakland Athletics
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Chris Hrabe hosts "The Sports Hub" on KMOX from 9pm-midnight weekdays,...
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When the Oakland A’s signed infielder (and notorious “shredder”) Nick Punto yesterday, it immediately started the rumor mill churning. Who is the name that is causing the wheels to spin? Oakland incumbent shortstop Jed Lowrie.

Before getting into why I think Lowrie makes sense for the Cardinals SS solution, it should be noted that Bob Melvin went on the radio yesterday and said, “”We’re not looking to move Jed Lowrie.” Oakland’s Assistant GM said the same thing. (See Jane Lee’s story, linked above.) But Colorado and their brass have said the same thing about Troy Tulowitzki, right? And that hasn’t stopped us from discussing Tulo!

So allow me to make the case why it makes a ton of sense for the Cardinals to make a run at Lowrie, especially compared to other, realistic options.

Let’s compare Lowrie to two other options available, Stephen Drew and J.J. Hardy. It is an interesting comparison, because Hardy is under contract for one more year, and Drew is a free agent. Both Hardy and Lowrie will be free agents next year.

(2013 & career statistics from Baseball Reference, WAR and 2014 STEAMER projections from Fangraphs.)

JED LOWRIE

  • Age: 29, Status: 3rd-Year Arb Eligible (2015 FA)
  • 2013 (154 Games, 662 PA): .290/.344/.446, 15 HR, 75 RBI, 3.6 WAR
  • Career (507 Games, 1,969 PA): .264/.332/.427, 50 HR, 234 RBI
  • 2014 Steamer Projection (122 Games, 528 PA): .264/.330/.415, 13 HR, 60 RBI

JJ HARDY

  • Age: 31, Status: Signed thru 2014 (3 yrs/$22.25M)
  • 2013 (159 Games, 644 PA): .263/.306/.433, 25 HR, 76 RBI, 3.4 WAR
  • Career (1,118 Games, 4,597 PA): .260/.312/.428
  • 2014 Steamer Projection: (144 Games, 648 PA): .255/.303/.419, 22 HR, 75 RBI

STEPHEN DREW

  • Age: 30, Status: Free Agent
  • 2013 (124 Games, 501 PA): .253/.333/.443, 13 HR, 67 RBI, 3.4 WAR
  • Career (936 Games, 3,918 PA): .264/.329/.435
  • 2014 Steamer Projection: (138 Games, 604 PA): .239/.320/.385, 12 HR, 59 RBI

Pretty interesting to see the numbers lined up next to each other, right? Defensively, Fangraphs says Hardy leads the group with 34 Defensive Runs Saved since 2011. Drew is -6, Lowrie -24. That could be misleading, though. Hardy is certainly an excellent defender, but Lowrie isn’t a BAD defender, if we use the data we have available.

For Lowrie’s career, he is -22 DRS, a number that is skewed by a -18 last year. It appears, by all accounts, that number and last season was a defensive abberration for Lowrie. We will use that assumption, but you can see for yourself.

So here is the fork in the road. Do you:

  • A) Sign the free agent as a stop-gap who will command $10M+ a year for a multi-year deal, and not give up any assets.
  • B) Trade an asset (reportedly the ask was Shelby Miller) for the 31-year old signed through next year.
  • C) Trade an asset (ask unclear) for the arbitration-eligible 29-year old who projects the best offensive season of the three and has the fewest major league games under his belt.

Consider me Team Lowrie.

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