Monday, December 13, 2004

The Sosa rumor

I hadn't commented on the Sosa rumor, because I have to imagine the Cubs would want to get at least a little something back, and would shop around, winding up with something more than we'd give them. But Baseball Prospectus gives it a lot of credence, and indicates that we might ship out Brad Wilkerson in return.

From Bowden's perspective, he knows that Sosa is well on the down side of his career, and that Wilkerson is on the verge of stardom. But, Sosa is a star now. Even if he's not got the same pop in his bat (since he doesn't keep it corked anymore), Bowden has to perceive it as a great move from a PR front. It'll make TV deals more lucrative, etc.

He's probably right. Even though Sosa's lost power, he's still perceived to be an offensive talent. But it will make us less competitive. Assume that Sosa declines no further and Wilkerson doesn't improve. That is, give them the same numbers in 2005 as they got in 2004. It would cost us 8 wins (Wilkerson had 22 win shares, Sosa 14) and just over 20 runs (Wilkerson's VORP was 48.2, Sosa's was 27.9). And it isn't just that Sosa only played in 34 fewer games... Wilkerson accumulated both Win Shares and VORP at a faster rate than Sosa did.

Sosa doesn't even pass the Money Ball test (on-base plus slugging), his .849 not quite reaching Wilkerson's .872, mainly because Wilkerson is even better at walking than Sammy is. Their batting averages are within a couple of points of each other (both fairly low), but Sosa has a  .332 OBP, whereas Wilkerson has a whopping .374. Sammy does have a slight edge in SLG (.517 to .498).

At the end of the day, Wilkerson is highly likely to improve. Sammy might have been having a worse year than he should have, and could easily have an uptick next year, making him a bit more valuable than Wilkerson, particularly if Wilkerson doesn't improve much.

Still, even though I understand the sentiment, I would be pretty disappointed with this move, personally. I think Wilkerson has the potential to be a franchise player, even though his agent is Scott Boras. He's a much better long-term investment for the club. Of course, if I were Bowden, Sammy's a better short-term investment, even if he doesn't put up the same numbers. It's too bad the Cubs already have Derrek Lee at first, or that Nick Johnson wouldn't make for a good outfielder, because that would make a bit more sense (as much as I like Johnson, and think he actually will realize more of his potential). Maybe one of us could spin out Johnson for an outfielder (with a bit more meat on the bone, like Sledge). And I'd be willing to throw in Endy Chavez as a kicker. Heck, I'm willing to release the guy outright.

Anyway, I think we're likely to be more competitive next year if we have Wilkerson. And I think the novelty of the club is going to make it a big money maker next year. For 2006, the new owners should be rolling in revenue, and they can make a big splash then by overpaying for a couple of the biggest names in that year's free agent class.

1 Comments:

At 11:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Older Washington fans like myself who hear Jim Bowden is interested in acquiring Sammy Sosa can't help but shudder, thinking of the Senators' trade for Denny McLain after the 1970 season. Sosa -- like McLain at that time -- is a player whose fame exceeds his deteriorating skills.

If Washington is going to hire a "name," sign Rickey Henderson to a contract as a player-coach. He won't cost anywhere as much.

 

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