Baseball BeatDecember 27, 2005
Pass the Trash
By Rich Lederer

What is Walt Jocketty doing with his Cards? Unfortunately, for Redbird fans, the general manager is sitting out the high-stakes poker game that is taking place this winter. Instead, he is playing a game known as Pass the Trash.

In Pass the Trash, seven cards are dealt to each player. Before the first betting round, each player examines his/her hand, then passes three cards to the left while adding the discards from their neighbor on the right. After a round of betting, players pass two cards, bet, then pass one card. Finally, the participants who have yet to fold choose their best five cards and a showdown round of betting ensues. The winner is the player with the best poker hand among those still remaining at the end of the game.

As it relates to St. Louis, rather than landing an A.J. Burnett or a Brian Giles, Jocketty appears to be getting everyone else's discards.

Let's take a look at the players the Cardinals have acquired or signed since the end of the season (in reverse order):

12-23-05: Agreed to terms with outfielder Juan Encarnacion, who had been with the Florida Marlins, on a three-year contract; agreed to terms with second baseman Junior Spivey, who had been with the Washington Nationals, on a one-year contract.

12-21-05: Agreed to terms with pitcher Sidney Ponson, who had been with the Baltimore Orioles, on a one-year contract; signed first baseman-outfielder Brian Daubach and pitcher John Riedling to minor league contracts.

12-15-05: Signed pitcher Braden Looper, who had been with the New York Mets, to a three-year contract.

12-13-05: Agreed to terms with pitcher Ricardo Rincon, who had been with the Oakland Athletics, on a two-year contract.

12-08-05: Acquired outfielder Larry Bigbie and infielder Aaron Miles from the Colorado Rockies for pitcher Ray King.

12-05-05: Signed catcher Gary Bennett and shortstop Deivi Cruz to one-year contracts.

The Cardinals, in the meantime, have lost three regulars and a starting pitcher via free agency (Mark Grudzielanek, Reggie Sanders, and Matt Morris) and retirement (Larry Walker). St. Louis will also be without a couple of backups (John Mabry and Abraham Nunez) and three relievers (Cal Eldred, Al Reyes, and Juan Tavarez) who figured prominently in last season's ML-leading 100 wins.

Additions            Subtractions
Bennett              Diaz
Bigbie               Eldred
Cruz                 Grudzielanek
Daubach              King
Encarnacion          Mabry
Looper               Morris
Miles                Nunez
Ponson               Reyes
Riedling             Sanders
Rincon               Tavarez
Spivey               Walker

If the above table looks a bit lopsided, it has a lot more to do than just with Grudzielanek's long name.

Here is a snapshot of the team's current depth chart:

 C: Yadier Molina and Bennett    
1B: Albert Pujols and Daubach    
2B: Spivey and Miles   
3B: Scott Rolen and Cruz   
SS: David Eckstein and Hector Luna    
LF: So Taguchi and Bigbie  
CF: Jim Edmonds    
RF: Encarnacion and John Rodriguez   
SP: Chris Carpenter (R), Mark Mulder (L), Jeff Suppan (R), Jason Marquis (R), and Ponson (R) 
RP: Jason Isringhausen (R), Looper (R), Rincon (L), Brad Thompson (R), and Randy Flores (L)    

The Cardinals have additional spare parts on their 40-man roster in Rick Ankiel (OF), Chris Duncan (1B), John Gall (OF), Michel Hernandez (C), and Skip Schumaker (OF), as well as pitchers Carmen Cali (L), Tyler Johnson (L), Juan Mateo (R), Chris Narveson (L), Anthony Reyes (R), and Adam Wainwright (R). Reyes and Wainwright are highly regarded prospects who could wind up in the rotation due to an injury, Ponson's failure to rebound, or should Jocketty wish to move someone like Marquis before next year's trade deadline.

Let's be clear here. Any lineup featuring a top four of Eckstein, Edmonds, Pujols, and Rolen is not to be taken lightly. It's the next four hitters that concern me. As things stand now, Encarnacion would bat fifth with some combination of Spivey, Taguchi, and Molina in the sixth to eighth slots. The top half may be unparalleled as far as the NL goes, but the bottom half could be equally bad.

Encarnacion is a liability at the plate. He's a corner OF, yet his offensive production was worse than league average for six consecutive seasons (1999-2004) before turning positive for the first time in 2005. Take a look at his comparative career rate stats:

                   AVG   OBP   SLG   OPS   OPS+  
Encarnacion       .268  .316  .440  .757    96  
League Average    .270  .342  .433  .775   100

Furthermore, Encarnacion has a lifetime BB/SO ratio of 1:3 (240/724). Despite being known as a "toolsy" player, the man who will be joining his fifth team appears to have lost whatever speed he once enjoyed. To wit, Encarnacion has stolen 11 bases and been caught 9 times the past two seasons. According to The Bill James Handbook, he was successful in taking an extra base on hits 11 out of 36 opportunities (for a below-average 31%) while being thrown out twice last year. The Hardball Times Annual "credits" him with minus 2.38 incremental runs in 2005, the second-worst total on the Marlins.

Defensively, the advanced metrics suggest Encarnacion is a below-average right fielder. THT ranks him 23rd among RF in terms of runs saved/allowed per 150 games at -9.1, and Baseball Prospectus rates the soon-to-be 30-year-old in a similarly negative vein.

In the case of Encarnacion, the popular catch phrase "What's not to like?" should be re-coined "What's to like?"

Looper was Jocketty's second-biggest signing. Like Encarnacion, I'm not sure what the GM sees in him. Looper allowed more hits than innings pitched, and he struck out just 4.1/9 IP. Those are horrific stats for a relief pitcher. The fact that Braden is a groundball pitcher (career G/F ratio of 2.0) is undoubtedly what impressed Jocketty the most about the seven-year veteran. He has shown a penchant for such pitchers, as witnessed by "worm burners" Mulder, Thompson, Carpenter, Isringhausen, and Marquis. His interest in Ponson (1.82 G/F ratio last year) and even Burnett (2.63, sixth-highest in MLB) is no coincidence.

Are the Cardinals in danger of losing their stranglehold on first place in the NL Central? Probably not, especially if Rolen is healthy and returns to his pre-2005 form. But the margin of safety is no longer what it once was.

When it comes to baseball, one man's trash is generally not another man's treasure.

[Additional reader comments and retorts at Baseball Primer.]

Comments

HI RICH,

VERY NICE ARTICLE...

IF EDMONDS WASN'T AVAILABLE, AND THE CARDINALS NEEDED A CF, GIVEN ENCAR'S UZR'S, HOW WOULD YOU FEEL ABOUT HIM AS A CF RATHER THAN A RF???!!!!

WALT APOLOGISM:

I AGREE THAT WALT HASN'T PULLED A RABIT OUT OF THE HAT THIS YEAR (PRESTO!), BUT I JUST DON'T THINK THE RABBIT WAS THERE - THE ONLY THING THAT EXCITED ME; NOT GILES (AND WAS HE EVER GOING TO LEAVE SAN DIEGO ANYWAY), NOT BURNETT, WAS THE RUMOR ABOUT VAZQUEZ AND QUENTIN FOR SUPPAN, MARQUIS, AND JOHN RODRIGUEZ...

ENCARNACION IS AN AVERAGE OF, WITH WHAT SEEMS TO BE AVERAGE COMPENSATION FOR THIS YEARS MARKET... GIVEN THAT MARQUIS WASN'T GOING TO BRING A WILKERSON, KEARNS, OR CRAIG WILSON (AT LEAST NOT YET), WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE RATHER DONE???

RAN SO TAGUCHI IN RIGHT AND J-ROD IN LEFT???

SIGNED MATT (I FIELD LIKE SHAMU) LAWTON TO PLAY LEFT???

IF WALT'S PLAYING "PASS THE TRASH" IT'S BECAUSE THE ONLY THING AVAILABLE TO HIM IS JUNK...

rich, excellent article. the worst thing about the looper and encar'cion signings is that they're both three-year deals --- mediocrity locked in thru 2008. the cardinals simply misjudged the market this year. they passed on superior options, thinking they'd find bargains in the off-season's end-game, then got nervous as the talent pool dwindled and ended up overpaying for (in looper and sanders) the last boxes of cereal on their respective shelves.

case in point: they refused arbitration to reggie sanders, then turned around and signed a worse player (encar'cion) to replace him --- and paid more money than it would have taken to re-sign sanders. (reggie got 2 yrs / $5m, vs juan's 3 yrs / $5m.)

jocketty is apparently operating under a bizarre financial rubric handed down by ownership that places salary thresholds on each roster slot --- e.g., you can't pay more than $2m a year for a second-baseman -- for which reason the cards made no move to acquire either luis castillo or mark loretta, either of whom would have made an ideal #2 hitter.

i respectfully disagree w TOLAXOR's suggestion that encarnacion was the best option of a bad lot. they clearly missed the boat on reggie sanders. jeromy burnitz is a game or two worse in terms of talent, but you only have to commit to him for 1 year, not 3. they could've signed nomar --- far superior hitter, available for a 1-year incentive-laden commitment. and as i showed at my site today, even the cards' current backups --- taguchi and rodriguez --- would've been better; they posted almost an identical line to encar'cion last season (his career year) and could've time-shared the position for a combined $1.5m.

as you note, the cardinals have such a solid foundation of core players that they're likely to win 90+ games. but the window is closing on this team ---- edmonds is fading, rolen's 32 and hobbled, 3/5 of the rotation are in their walk years, etc etc. if they were gonna do it, this was the year. they'll still land one more outfielder voa trade at some point, but so far -- on paper -- they haven't assembled the parts to make a serious run at it. disappointing.

edit my comment above --- i meant looper and encarnacion were the last boxes of cereal on the shelf, not looper and sanders . . . .

HI LBOROS -

"jocketty is apparently operating under a bizarre financial rubric handed down by ownership"

HMM, I WOULDN'T GUESS THAT'S TOP DOWN FROM OWNERSHIP, BUT BOTTOM UP FROM MGL (AT LEAST ACCORDING TO LEVSKI)...

WOULD YOU HAVE J-ROD PLAY RIGHT AND SO TAGUCHI PLAY LEFT IN YOUR ENCARNCION-LESS SCENARIO???!!!

HOW MANY RUNS WOULD PUTTING A GLOVE ON BURNITZ COST US???

AND, WHAT'S THE PROBABILITY THAT WE (OR THE ROYALS) WILL GET 500 ABS OUT OF SANDERS???

I DO AGREE THAT NOMAR OR SANDERS IN LF AND J-ROD AS A CAPABLE BACK UP WOULD MAKE SENSE, BUT IT STILL LEAVES TAGUCHI IN RIGHT!!!!

I THINK WE CAN DEFEND THE SIGNING OF ENCARNACION BASED ON THE TALENT LEFT, HIS DEFENSIVE ABILITY, AVERAGE OFFENSIVE PRODUCTION AND THE CONTINGENCY THAT EDMONDS LEAVES STL NEXT YEAR...

I CAN IN NO WAY, HOWEVER, DEFEND GIVING LOOPER THAT MUCH MONEY... NOT WITH CHAD BRADFORD ET. AL. SIGNING FOR MUCH, MUCH LESS....

howdy TOLAXOR. responding to your points

WOULD YOU HAVE J-ROD PLAY RIGHT AND SO TAGUCHI PLAY LEFT IN YOUR ENCARNCION-LESS SCENARIO???!!!

i'd have j-rod / gooch platooning at one corner. at the other corner i'd sign or trade for a player who is either a) cheaper and nearly as good as juan-e (burnitz, matt lawton), or b) cheaper and better (reggie sanders, rondell white).

HOW MANY RUNS WOULD PUTTING A GLOVE ON BURNITZ COST US???

as i noted at my site today, burnitz matches encar'cion on every defensive metric. mgl himself says that, per UZR, burnitz saved 14 runs with his glove this year, and bpro's rate2 has burnitz at 20 runs above replacement, and 7 runs above avg, with the glove in 2005.

there are also metrics (pmr, range) that place burnitz below avg --- but those same metrics also show encarnacion to be below avg, and nearly as bad as burnitz.

AND, WHAT'S THE PROBABILITY THAT WE (OR THE ROYALS) WILL GET 500 ABS OUT OF SANDERS???

500 at-bats from sanders, not likely. 450 at-bats --- very likely. his injury last year was a freak occurrence, caused by a collision; it's not like he pulled a hammy or tweaked a back or ribs a la larry walker.

encarnacion may deliver 600 ab, but i'll take quality over quantity.

I think WJ dumped age for youth. He doesn't think the players he passed over will produce for the length of the contracts they signed. Surely with the likes of Looper & Encarnacin, he's taking his own chances on long-term performance too--but I guess he likes them better.

Thanks for the nice comments, TOLAXOR and l boros.

Going down the list of questions...

Edmonds is signed through 2006 and the club has an option that could be exercised for 2007. He has been quoted as saying that he would like to finish his career with the Cardinals. I could easily see him playing in STL for the next two years. I think it is possible that he might even take a pay cut in 2008 and play a somewhat reduced role in his final season. Edmonds has 331 career HR. Reaching 400 would put him in a rather elite group of CF (Mays, Mantle, Griffey, and Snider), making his case for the HOF much easier to appreciate for the average writer/voter.

Based on the above, I don't see the need to think of Encarnacion as an option in center field. Besides, what makes anyone believe he can handle the position defensively? Encarnacion has only played 316 games in CF during his career and just 11 in the past three seasons. Furthermore, according to Baseball Prospectus, he has been five runs below average per 100 games as a CF.

As far as what I would have done instead had I been in Walt's shoes? Well, I prefer Reggie Sanders over Encarnacion, so I would have offered him a 2 x $5M contract. You get a better player at the same annual salary without making a commitment for a third year.

As Larry points out, where was Jocketty when SD was trading Mark Loretta to BOS for an aging backup catcher? He will make around $3.5M this year. That seems like excellent value to me. Loretta is a much better alternative than Spivey, Miles, or Luna, plus he would have been a good fit in the #2 hole (which would have allowed TLR to hit Edmonds and Rolen fourth and fifth, Sanders sixth, Taguchi/Rodriguez seventh, and Molina eighth).

The only real weakness I see in that lineup is the third outfielder and, given Jocketty's ability to pull off trades in mid-season, I suspect that situation could have been rectified--if necessary--no later than July 2006.

You cannot play Reggie Sanders or Rondell White regularly in the field any more. Too injury prone - might get by in the DH league. I'm puzzled as to why Encarnacion's recent improvement is belittled - he's not beyond getting better in his next season, based on the fact he got better in 2005. Seems to be a lot of bias in these evaluations - based on the idea that to turn heads in baseball analysis, the analyst must disagree with the club and downgrade a) the players acquired, or b) the cost of the players acquired, or c) make up unworkable alternatives.

I think that when you look at the Looper signing you have to look at his role and how his usage will be. Looper is a death to righties pitcher, who under the Mess were used as a closer so he saw nearly 50% of his appearances to left handed hitters, who murdered him. Under the Cardinals he is taking over Tavarez spot, Tavarez faced nearly 72% right handed batters last year, Looper who is better against Righties than Tavarez was, will fill in that spot, his numbers was very much on par with Tavarez even though he didn't have the advantage of facing a large majority against the people he beats up on like tavarez did. I do think that Looper is overpaid but not nearly as bad as some people think.

Encarnacion? well at least it wasn't Jacque Jones.

Yes, Looper has been very tough on RHB (.231/.289/.287 from 2003-05). But he has also benefited to a small degree by pitching his home games in NY and FLA. Nonetheless, I will grant that Looper has been extremely effective against RHB.

By the same token, he has been downright poor vs. LHB. Paying $13.5M over three seasons for what amounts to a ROOGY (Right-handed, One Out GuY) seems a bit excessive to me, especially in view of his declining strikeout rate.

I wonder if Jocketty may have gotten a bit seduced by Looper's prowess over the Cardinals the past three years (8.1-8-0-0-0-3 in seven appearances)? It wouldn't be the first time a GM has been attracted to a player based on the small sample size vs. his team.

A quibble: There ain't no such thing as a ROOGY.

Most switch-hitters are better hitters from the left than the right. Very, very few lineups have more than two true LHB. A "righty specialist," therefore, is likely to face two players, minimum. Assuming he successfully gets out those two righties, the manager will concede the at bat to the lefty, and let the specialist face the next batter (another RHB), unless of course that: the game is very close, the LHB is specifically dangerous, and the manager has a LOOGY to bring in.

The BTF thread on this has a very defensive MGL defending these signings. He makes the sensible point that the team actually lost something like 3.5 regulars this offseason, because Larry Walker wasn't on the team much of the year. But he doesn't like OPS/OPS+, doesn't think Encarnacion is a butcher with the glove in center. Further, Spivey is a "steal". Interesting, anyway.

With respect to the BTF thread, here is what I wrote in response to the notion that Spivey is a steal.

"Why is Spivey a steal? He hit .204/.274/.303 on the road last year with 46 SO in 152 AB. For his career, he is .236/.314/.353 in away games.

Spivey hit well in 2002 but has been on a steady decline the past three years. If he is going to be used as a platoon player vs. LHP, fine, but I don't think he is a viable option as a full-time starter."

I think the Cards are in trouble. They've gotten worse while an already competitive division has become much more competitive. The Cards and 'stros are worse but still good. The Cubs, Reds, Brewers and Pirates will all be better. I don't think this division has a 90-game loser OR a 95-game winner.

Lederer is making the same mistake others are making. Looking at the names and not the numbers. The loss I'm most concerned about is Al Reyes, but he's never mentioned prominently in these sorts of articles.

Reading what Lederer, Rosenthal and fans of other teams have been writing, you'd swear we lost the Sanders from '95, the Walker from '97, and the Morris from '01. And that Mabry, Cedeno, Seabol, Diaz, Mahoney, Nunez and Grudz were all studs at the plate last season. And that Tavarez was a dominant setup man.

Mabry and Cedeno combined for more PA than Sanders and almost as many as Walker. Losing Sanders and Walker is like losing *1* full-time outfielder. But does that ever get mentioned in these offseason "analyses?" Nope.

Does it get mentioned that most of those who filled in for Walker, Sanders, Rolen and Molina were lousy (and are no longer on the roster)? Nope.

Does it get mentioned that Taguchi had to play way more than he should? Nope.

Does it get mentioned that Morris was - at best - our 4th best starter? Nope.

And on and on and on...

Dear Lederer,

Your article is trash. Pass it on.

While I won't say I've agreed with every signing by Jocketty this offseason, I will say that the Encarnacion one will turn out much better than the Sabermaticians across this country believe.

I feel that stats only tell part of the story, but unfortunately many stat heads can't or won't accept this as fact. I've always admired Encarnacion and never felt that he was getting everything out of his abilities. I think that can and will change in St. Louis. As for his supposedly poor defense, I contend that stats are an extremely poor judge of defense and anyone who thinks J.E. is in the bottom half of defensive outfielders simply does not watch the games. The man has a cannon for an arm and he's fast. He isn't Ichiro, but he'll make many more plays than the lumbering Larry Walker could ever dream of making.

Or to put it another way:

We were 3rd in the league in runs scored in '05 (2 runs behind Philly and 15 runs behind Cincy).

In spite of the following:

John Mabry and Roger Cedeno (who both sucked) combined for more plate appearances than Reggie Sanders, and almost as many as Larry Walker. Sanders and Walker each had good numbers (an .886 OPS), but they combined for around 700 PA.

Scott Seabol (and his .567 OPS) had around 110 PA.

Taguchi was *2nd* on the team in PA amongst the outfielders.

Nunez (and his .704 OPS) was 5th on the team in PA.

Rolen was never healthy, and missed most of the season.

Molina missed a lot of time, and his backups (Diaz and Mahoney) were horrible. Now, backup catchers aren't expected to provide much offense (and I'm not expecting Gary Bennett to hit well), but Diaz and Mahoney (who are both gone now) played more than expected due to Molina getting hurt.

As for 2nd base:

Grudz provided more in the field than he did at the plate (294/334/407). If you look at what Spivey and Cruz have done over the last 2 seasons, I think there's a good chance we can at least get similar production from 2nd base in '06.

Spivey was 232/315/378 last season, but he was 272/359/421 in '04. Cruz was 265/298/373 last season, but he was 292/322/431 in '04.

And then there's Luna, who does need to work on his fielding but hit fairly well in limited play last season. 285/344/409.

I doubt Miles will even make the team. But if you throw Spivey, Cruz and Luna against the wall, I think one will stick.

As for the rotation, I like the chances of Reyes or Ponson (if the latter has truly cleaned up his act) performing better than Morris. Even if neither pitches quite as well, we'll still probably win half the games our #5 pitches.

If we can get 1 reliever to surprise us the way Al Reyes did last season, the pen will be just as good. To increase the odds of that happening, we still need to add another right-handed reliever (I don't want to rely on Mateo or Tankersley). But we've got 4 lefties to choose from in Flores, Rincon, Johnson and Cali. So, we're set there.

Overall, our run differential will probably be about the same as it was in '05.

I think it's clear Encarnacion was signed because Jocketty & the organization believe he's either turned a corner offensively or is about to; I can't see them giving him a contract like that based on past performance, especially a 3 year deal. I don't know if they're right, but I'll give them the benefit of the doubt.

I still think we could have had Giles for 3 years, 30 million early on, but we missed the boat on that one.

The thing about using Looper as a Roogy is that is effectively what Tavarez did last year, Tavarez pitched to roughly the same number of hitters that Looper did last season, so I don't see how it's a bad thing to control for the batters he faced to ensure he faces a large majority of right handers, TLR has already proven that he is capable of getting his pitchers into that situation and still getting a significant amount of batters faced to maintain the value of the player.

have to agree with Nolan that Reyes(anthony) was our most significant loss this off season. and we still haven't gotten a replacement. Although I do think that Brad Thompson is more than capable of filling in that spot, I'm not sure how comfortable TLR/Duncan would be with him there.

as to the roogy quibble, Tavarez faced 72% right handers last year, that is a pretty heavy right handed load, so whether he is a true roogy in the fashion of a loogy is pretty moot, the fact is that tlr does use him to face righties as much as possible.

It was my understanding that Looper pitched much of the season w/some physical problems. After off season surgery, I would expect much more from him in '06 than what the Mets received last year.

Garrett - Your agrument that the Cards' run differential will remain the same assumes that your competition will stay constant. This isn't the case. The Cubs, Pirates, Reds and Brewers will all be better, although the Astros could be slightly worse. Therefore, even if the Cards' skill level remains equal, as you argue, their run differential will necessarily narrow and their wins will decrease.

Nolan,

The Reds will only be better if the departure of Casey leads to Kearns, Dunn and Pena all playing on a regular basis and performing well. Can all of those guys *and* Griffey stay healthy all season long?

The Pirates will be awful again. Williams, Mackowiak and Ward out. Casey and Marte in. *shrug*

The Cubs' bullpen is better (how much depends on Eyre's ability to repeat his '05 numbers). Burnitz to Jones isn't an upgrade, at least not on offense. Burnitz, Jones and TagRod (with Taguchi getting the bulk of those AB) all had the exact same OPS last season (.757). And Jones desperately needs a platoon partner. Cedeno can probably make up for the loss of Garciaparra, since the latter didn't play much in '05. And then there's Pierre, who is an upgrade over Hairston/Patterson (though Hairston was decent from the leadoff spot). Pierre, over the course of his career, steals 2.83 bases and gets caught stealing 1 time for every 9 games played. Simply put, he's overrated.

The Brewers I like. Plenty of young talent, and my pick for 2nd place as things stand right now.

All the Astros have done is lose Clemens until at least May. I do think he'll be back with Houston, though.

And what about the rest of the NL? Afterall, we do play teams outside of our division. I'm not seeing a lot of overall improvement. The Dodgers and Mets are better at the expense of other teams. The Marlins, Rockies and D'backs will all be terrible.

I wish we could edit our posts. Anyway, I meant to add that I also expect San Diego and Washington to be worse. While the Padres re-signed key players, they also lost a lot of key players. The Nationals lost Loaiza, and I question whether the Soriano trade was a good thing for them.

It seems the NL is getting even weaker.

Rich,

You used the BJ handbook for some of the extra-bases info. I just recently bought it and was wondering how you knew the league averages, because it doesn't mention them in the book.

??

Mike: In response to your question, I sent you the following email yesterday. I'm surprised you didn't receive it. In any event, here it is:

The range is generally from about 30% to 60% with some outliers below and above those percentages. James mentions 15-70% in the article attached to the baserunning numbers as a general "range of performance." Somebody could aggregate the data. It would just take some time. But it would be fun to see the results, especially broken down by first to third, second to home, first to home and the percentage of times a player is thrown out.

One more post on this topic:

LF:
32 2B, 3 3B, 31 HR, 104 RBI, 54 BB, 137 K, 21 SB, 2 CS, 281/344/489 (834 OPS)

RF:
36 2B, 3 3B, 22 HR, 88 RBI, 58 BB, 130 K, 8 SB, 4 CS, 274/346/449 (795 OPS)

3B:
29 2B, 3 3B, 8 HR, 72 RBI, 63 BB, 105 K, 4 SB, 4 CS, 269/339/368 (707 OPS)

2B:
34 2B, 3 3B, 9 HR, 70 RBI, 32 BB, 96 K, 11 SB, 6 CS, 279/320/383 (703 OPS)

C:
21 2B, 1 3B, 10 HR, 70 RBI, 32 BB, 51 K, 2 SB, 3 CS, 233/278/326 (605 OPS)

That's what we got (on offense) from those 5 positions last season. Some of the players who contributed to those numbers are still around, but many are gone (which is a good thing in most instances).

do any of you think bigbie start or get it done in LF.?

I think Bigbie, Rodriguez and Taguchi will all get a fair amount of playing time in LF. When Bigbie was healthy in '03/'04, he showed he can hit. Rodriguez hit well last season after joining the big club (and he posted an .831 OPS in his minor league career). And both are on the young side. I think Bigbie's more likely to get the bulk of the playing time, especially considering all of the positive comments management has made about him.

We probably won't get as much offense as we got from LF last season, but we'll get enough.