Comebacks And The Art Of The Deal

I wasn’t able to watch the game last night.  Apparently I missed a good one, reminiscent of the 2012 NLDS Game 5 comeback against the Nationals.  Those kind of games are fun.  Perhaps I will watch the highlights on MLB.TV later.

No doubt Cardinals fans are feeling pretty elated right now.  I don’t blame them.  I wouldn’t want to rain on anyone’s parade by being negative about this team, so I won’t.  If you believe in the concept of momentum, this game certainly gives hope for a turnaround to the season.  The home runs were a welcome sight.  Another one from Kolten Wong too.  That boy must have eaten a lot of Wheaties or something.  I really enjoy seeing this kind of success from him after the way his season started out.

So the Cardinals picked up George Kottaras off waivers.  That was an interesting choice given the Cardinals’ longstanding emphasis on defense in the catching position.  Kottaras has a pretty decent bat, with some power, which is nice.  However, his defense is not up to the standards that the Cardinals are used to.  Kottaras has a career caught stealing rate of 18%.  That is below league average, which is about 25%.  I had another fan dispute the significance of that number, claiming it was full of “statistical noise”.  That number is from a sample size of 7 seasons with over 1700 innings played; any statistical noise in that large a sample is likely to be pretty minimal.  I think this fan liked Kottaras’ bat and was trying to downplay his defensive shortcomings.  Passing the “eye test” may be fine for some people, but the numbers don’t lie and confirmation bias does.

Other defensive measures show that Kottaras is not bad at blocking pitches, he has a positive RPP (Passed Pitch Runs) for most of his seasons behind the plate.  However, his rSB (Stolen Base Runs Saved) for his career is -13, which is not good at all and further indicates that runners will be able to steal bases on him pretty easily.  Pitch framing and pitch calling are skills that are yet to be measurable by metrics.

Kottaras will be a nice bat off the bench, but his time behind the plate should be limited to an occasional start against right handed pitching.  Kottaras is a lefty hitter with very bad splits against left handed pitchers, so he should never start with a lefty on the mound.

In order to accommodate Kottaras on the team’s 40 man roster, the Cardinals designated Springfield outfielder Mike O’Neill for assignment.  This means that the Cardinals have 10 days to decide whether to trade him, release him, or assign him outright to the minors.  In order to release or outright, O’Neill would have to be placed on waivers first.  If he clears, he can then be released, or if the Cardinals want to keep him, assign him to a minor league team.

Now that the trade season is in full swing, it will be interesting to see if the Cardinals make a significant move.  The catcher need appears to have been satisfied through the waiver acquisition of Kottaras.  The Cardinals could go for starting pitching, but I doubt John Mozeliak would be interested in giving up prospects for any starter along the lines of David Price or Cliff Lee/Cole Hamels.  Mozeliak seems to me to have a streak of hoarder in him, so I wonder where any trade might come from, especially when glaring needs are not apparent.

The next few weeks should be full of interesting possibilities.


Thank you for reading.




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