Change-UpJuly 15, 2008
Checking in on the Troy Glaus / Scott Rolen Deal
By Patrick Sullivan

This past off-season featured one of the more interesting "challenge trades' in recent years. The St. Louis Cardinals sent along their third baseman, Scott Rolen, to the Toronto Blue Jays for theirs, Troy Glaus. This was not surplus-for-need or a salary dump; just one GM saying to the other, "I think I have the better of you here."

Rolen is a year older than Glaus but has also had the better career thanks in no small part to his defense. Some have even put forth the possibility that he is the very best defensive third baseman ever.

I thought the midway point, or rather the All-Star Break, would be an interesting point in time to have a look back to see who is "winning" this trade.

          G   PA   AVG   OBP   SLG   OPS+
Glaus    94  390  .276  .377  .486   128
Rolen    70  293  .267  .358  .431   112

It's no secret that it has been a rough year for JP Ricciardi, and it looks like this trade will not help him when it comes time for him to make his case as to why he deserves to hang onto his job.


Wasn't it more of a case of Rolen having worn out his welcome with Tony LaRussa? I got the impression that he wouldn't have been shopping him necessarily, except that he was not getting along well with folks.

His power having dropped alarmingly had not necessarily been an issue up to that point - remember, they gainfully employed David Eckstein for a few years as well, before dumping him on... oh.

Well, maybe LaRussa just has it in for Ricciardi?

But what about defense? They probably even out when you factor in Rolen's defensive skills.

According to John Dewan's Fielding Plus/Minus at Bill James Online, Rolen is first at +22 and Glaus is tied for second at +16 for all MLB third basemen.

According to BP:

Rolen 16 FRAR/ 20 BRAR
Glaus 21 FRAR/ 35 BRAR

Now that is not to say that Glaus is a better defender, but by most metrics he is having a career year with the glove. Rolen loses value because he has played in 24 less games than Glaus. So in terms of defensive value for the season they are probably close, I would give the edge to Rolen. But as hitters its not even close. Glaus has been nearly twice as valuable as Rolen when you take into account rate and counting stats. So, if I'm Riccardi I'm not feeling to good about the deal right now.

1) I think the CW on this trade (and I assume most owners think along the lines of CW) was that it was a trade where both 3bs were considered unmotivated and increasingly (esp. in the case of Rolen) unwelcome.

2) What about park effects and strength of schedule? Isn't Busch Stadium considered a better hitters park? Isn't the AL, particularly the AL East, considered a haven for some of the best (and deepest) pitching staffs?

Equivalent Average. A measure of total offensive value per out, with corrections for league offensive level, home park, and team pitching. EQA considers batting as well as baserunning.

Rolen EQA .294

Glaus EQA .310

The numbers I used before for BRAR are derived from EQA. So they are league and park adjusted. They are also more relevant since they combine rate and counting stats. They are weighted toward Glaus more than EQA since Glaus has the added value of playing 24 more games. As for the trade itself. It did make some since for the Blue Jays. Glaus was not a problem in the clubhouse, but he was having trouble with his feet due to the turf. The problem is the leverage teams had on the Cardinals. Every team in baseball knew Rolen had to be dealt. So for the Cardinals to get the signifigantly more productive player out of the deal was a coup.

Its nice to see that all the posters called out this article for failing to factor in anything else besides hitting. Now, wouldn't simply using Bill James' win shares solve this entire debate.

Win Shares undervalues defense, so that wouldn't help much either. If someone feels like calculating BaseRuns for both hitters then that should be used. Combine that with the +/- fielding numbers in comment #3 and you have your number.

Busch has a Batting Park Factor this season of 99 and Rogers Centre a Factor of 98. Over the last 3 seasons Busch's Factor is 99 and Rogers' is 100. Below 100 favors the pitchers and above favors the batters with 100 being neutral. It looks like the Home Park is not a factor.

I also looked at how well both have done in driving in baserunners and Glaus comes out on top, whether using the whole season or just the time from when Rolen came back off the DL.