BDD: Albert Pujols Is Good

At Baseball Daily Digest, I make an attempt to put the legendary career of Albert Pujols in perspective.

Just as you should have appreciated the career of Barry Bonds, and should still appreciate Alex Rodriguez, you should be very, very thankful that you have been able to witness the career of a living legend.

Utley > Howard

BBWAA:

St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols was a unanimous choice in winning the National League Most Valuable Player Award for the second consecutive season and the third time in his career.

The right guy, again. This time unanimously.

However,

Ryan Howard of the Philadelphia Phillies and Price Fielder of the Milwaukee Brewers, who tied for the league lead in RBI with 141 apiece, finished third and fourth, respectively. Howard (.279, 45 HR, 108 R) totaled 217 points and Fielder (.299, 46 HR, 110 BB) 203.

[...]

Also finishing in the top 10 were [...] Phillies second baseman Chase Utley (.282, 31 HR, 93 RBI, 103 R)

Howard got six second-place votes, Utley got none. Howard got eight third-place votes, Utley got two. Howard got seven fourth-place votes, Utley got two. Howard got five fifth-place votes, Utley got one.

  • Utley: .402 wOBA
  • Howard: .393 wOBA
  • Utley: 11.3 UZR/150 at second base
  • Howard: 1.2 UZR/150 at first base
  • Utley: 5.3 (EQBRR-EQSBR)
  • Howard: -4.5 (EQBRR-EQSBR)
  • Utley: 8 WAR (including base running)
  • Howard: 4 WAR (including base running)

As I mentioned yesterday, kudos to the BBWAA for getting the actual award recipients right. However, some of the non-first-place votes have still been baffling — this being one prominent example. Two Ryan Howards may only be slightly more productive than one Chase Utley.

Rumor Mill: Juan Castro

Ken Rosenthal and Andy Martino both report the Phillies — along with the Los Angeles Dodgers — are heavily pursuing Juan Castro as a replacement for Eric Bruntlett.

Castro has a career batting line of .230/.270/.332, good for a 57 OPS+. Defensively, he’s been decent up the middle with a 13.5 UZR/150 at second base and 6.1 at shortstop. At third base, however, he’s an unhealthy -13.2. In his limited playing time with the Dodgers last year, he was one of their worst base runners.

FanGraphs valued him as a replacement-level player in 2009 and about one win below replacement level in ’07 and ’08. In terms of salary, Castro has made about $1 million per season since ’04, but hasn’t been worth $1 million since ’06.

Instead of signing Castro, why not Adam Everett? He was the Tigers’ best base runner in ’09, his defense at shortstop is among the best in baseball and he’s slightly better with the bat. Without including base running, he has been worth over $4 million in two out of his last three seasons and has produced above replacement level every year since ’03. He made only $1 million in ’09 and would likely command a similar one-year salary going foward, just like Castro.

There are better options out there. Jerry Hairston, Jr. for instance. He won’t be making the $2 million he’s been getting just about every season since ’03 and he’s been worth 3.6 WAR over the past two seasons. Jamey Carroll. Mark Loretta. Make a trade and get a bench player thrown in a la Ben Francisco in the Cliff Lee trade.

Just not Juan Castro. We had Eric Bruntlett for two agonizing years, don’t make us wish we had him for a third!

UPDATE: Todd Zolecki and Scott Lauber both report that the deal is close. David Murphy reports it’s done, pending a physical.