Baseball Toaster Cub Town
You say Nomah, I say Nomar
2004-07-29 07:33
by alex ciepley

A lot of papers this morning gave an update on the rumored Nomar-Clement dealings, basically reporting that the Cubs are saying "Phooey!" to such talk. The Sun-Times says that sure, the Cubs are interested in Garciaparra, but aren't interested in swapping Clement for him.

And I, echoing Christian's comments below, now agree with yesterday's sentiments and say "Phooey!" to not wanting to break up the rotation. I wouldn't mind seeing that swapperoo at all.

Clement has been fantastic this year, no doubt, but I think Christian's right in pointing out that the Cubs have:

a) several viable options for the rotation beyond the current Big Five, including Rusch, Dempster, Mitre, and perhaps even a youngster such as Brownlie.

b) the Cubbie pitching staff has performed very well when the Big Five haven't been intact this year, which has basically been, uh, all year.

Even Garciaparra isn't a perfect match: he's yet another right-handed hitter, first of all, though he really hasn't shown too bad a split from 2001-2003 (.857 OPS versus righties, .921 versus lefties), and this season is actually hitting righties better than lefties (.887 v .760). He also isn't the defender that Gonzalez (or Cabrera) is, but he certainly makes up for a deficiency there with his big slugging numbers.

Christian used VORP to compare the shortstops, and while I love VORP as a measure of a players' success, I think it actually lessens the impact he'd have on the team. VORP is a cumulative stat, taking into account playing time, so it penalizes Nomar for having missed a significant chunk of the season. Thankfully, BP also lists a version of VORP as a rate stat (VORPr), which I think highlights the difference between the players a little better:

Martinez      0.025 
Gonzalez -0.101
Ordonez -0.349

Garciaparra 0.428
Nomar's rate of .428 is excellent. Since playing regularly, he's been MLB's third-most productive shortstop, trailing only Carlos Guillen (yeah, I know, weird) and Miguel Tejada in productivity.

To clarify, the number next to each name represents the number of runs per game that a player adds over an imaginary "replacement" or AAA-level player. So yes, Gonzalez and Ordonez are actually worse than your average AAA player right now, while Martinez basically is a AAA player.

Expand these rates out for the remaining 61 games of the season, and you get:

Martinez:     1.525
Gonzalez: -6.161
Garciaparra: 26.108
The difference between the current incarnations of Alex Gonzalez and Nomar Garciaparra, trotted out for the remainder of the season, comes to about 32 runs, which is a bit more than three wins difference. That's a huge upgrade.

According to the papers this morning, this is all probably for moot. But I just wanted to chime in with my agreement to Christian's thoughts yesterday.

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