Baseball Toaster Cub Town
Lawton Redux
2005-08-01 07:47
by Derek Smart

So, Matt Lawton is now a Cub, filling a need the club has sported, really, since the end of the 2003 season when Kenny Lofton played his last game in blue pinstripes - the role of leadoff man.

I've had a chance to sleep on this deal some, and the more I think about it the more I like it. Not only does it put someone at the top of the lineup who will get on base enough to take true advantage of the power of men like Lee and Ramirez, but Lawton adds speed on the basepaths and above average defense.

True, he's not a prototypical corner outfielder, hitting more like a very good up the middle player than anything else, but take a look below and see how he fits in with the current roster.


As things stand, he's becomes the third best hitter on the team when looking at Equivalent Average (EQA), and if one takes in all of his on-field contributions over the season thus far via WARP1, his defense in the outfield makes him the second most valuable player in the Cubs regular lineup - worth nearly a win more than Aramis Ramirez, due mostly to The Ram's sub-standard defense at the hot corner.

Quick caveat: I use WARP1 because it's an easy way to express a player's overall contribution to his club by stating how many wins he's worth, and it works well as a comparison tool. However, I have my qualms about the defensive component, as I do about all defensive stats, so I try to take that aspect with a grain of salt. In the case of Lawton vs. Ramirez, my guess is that the defensive differences bring them closer to even, rather than making Lawton clearly superior, but that's partly my bias towards offense talking. Draw what conclusions you will.

While the player sent to the Pirates was Jody Gerut, the deal should be more accurately seen as Lawton for Jason Dubois, and considering the needs of the team, that's an excellent haul, indeed. Add in that part of the reason why Gerut was acquired was because early discussions with the Pirates about Lawton were fruitless, and one has to like it even more. I'd be curious to know if this was part of the plan all along, but whether it was or not, it's another piece of masterful dealmaking by Jim Hendry.

Still, while I think this move is very important in setting this club right, more hope rests in the return this Friday of three fallen warriors, and if you ask me, the risk-laden drama of whether Williamson is ready, Nomar is steady, or Wood is all systems go will tell the story of the rest of the 2005 season.

2005-08-01 09:42:43
1.   rynox
All opinions of Lawton's value as a player aside, this trade does add some stability to the OF and that can only help. It will be nice to see the same faces out there every day since I've never been a big fan of platooning a position.

Deep down I know Lawton will be playing LF & Hairston in CF, but I'd really like to see if Lawton can play CF again (leading off) and Matt Murton in LF every day.

OT- How about the granny Remmy gave up yesterday? Was that his career that got hit out of the park? Two guys will have to get sent down or sent packing on Friday and although I like Remmy, he's not making a real strong case for himself.

I think Remmy will be sent packing and Mitre will be sent down, although I really like Mitre and think he would be a great starter. The devastating sinkerball makes me wonder if he'd be super valuable to a high-in-the-sky team like Arizona or Colorado. I imagine fly-ball pitchers like Rusch wet themselves at the thought of pitching at Coor's Field... those teams depend on ground balls.

2005-08-01 11:34:19
2.   The Boar
I agree Remlinger needs to be sent down. In fact, he needed to go about a month ago. In an ideal world, Hendry might have wrestled some quality reliever (cough, Billy Wagner, cough) for him, but I'm just dreaming...

As for the other player to be sent down, to me, it's a toss up between Mitre and Wuertz. Both were dominant for a bit, though Mitre's brilliance was admittedly as a starter. Neither has been overly impressive lately, both walking players and giving up long balls. Neither can be counted on for going the distance down the stretch, being guys that have spent most of their time in the minors. I guess I also would send Mitre down since he is more of a starter type, in hopes also that Wuertz can regain his ability to dominate.

And how about Jermaine Van Buren in AAA? Can we bring him up now or are we going to continue use him to make sure that those Iowa Cubs win the close games? Seriously, this guy needs to be called up.

2005-08-01 12:10:55
3.   Andy Rutledge
Win Shares, which I think does a pretty good job of calculating a fair defensive contribution, puts Ramirez ahead of Lawton in total win shares. (See stats) It also notes that Lawton was the Pirates' second-best player behind Jason Bay.
2005-08-02 10:16:38
4.   rynox
Comparing Lawton to the Cubs top 9 in AB...

In BB/PA, Lawton ranks higher than all other Cubs. It's not even close, Lee (Ranked 2nd) walks .109, while Lawton walks .131

Lawton ranks second, only behind Derrek Lee in OBP.

Lawton ranks 2nd in GO/PA just behind Neifi. This should be a big concern at Wrigley, shouldn't it?

When it comes to strikeout rate, he ranks just in between Lee (.145) & Ramirez (.120) with .138. Incidentally, the top two in strikeouts (meaning they don't strikeout very often) are Todd Walker (.081) and Neifi Perez (.085).

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