Monday, August 09, 2004

Jack Wilson Articles

The Rocky Mountain News (?) has two articles on Jack Wilson. One of them, the one with lots (and lots) of (very) (distracting) parentheses, is by Cardinals GM Walt Jocketty, who says he regrets trading Wilson for Jason Christiansen.

If I'm Jocketty, I'm not losing any sleep. The Pirates had to put up with three very bad seasons of Wilson to get one good season, and the Cardinals probably couldn't have afforded to wait for Wilson to develop. (The Cardinals have, however, done lots of things the past few years that mid-market contenders aren't supposed to be able to do: start Mike Metheny; have a bench that includes two catchers, three utility players and no hitters; and so on.) Also, Edgar Renteria, the Cardinals' current shortstop, is still a much better bet for long-term success than Wilson.

Still, I'll admit that my opinion on Wilson has gone from "absolutely no way he's for real" to "some of his improvement must be real." He still has no plate discipline at all, so it's unlikely he'll keep his gains in batting average, but he's piling up extra base hits at a rate that's impossible to ignore - he's got 47 in all this season, including two yesterday.

Some wild guesswork: I think Wilson's 2005 batting average and on-base percentage will drop way down, perhaps to about .270/.310, while a similar percentage of his hits will be for extra bases (he'll likely lose about 50 points of slugging as his batting average drops). His defense, which many say has improved this year, will probably continue to be about average.

So I think a reasonable prediction for Wilson in 2005 would be something like .270/.310/.430 with decent defense, which makes him valuable, and worth taking into arbitration. I wouldn't commit to him for more than a year under any circumstances, though. He's not worth any kind of big money or a long term commitment - basically, I think his performance will be similar to that of the Cubs' Alex Gonzalez in 2002. Gonzalez is a nice player to have around, and a good supporting player on a contending team, but you only keep him as long as he's cheap. And if he's your starting shortstop, you should be on the lookout for someone better - not because he's a bad player, but because he's not great. And just last week, the Cubs did get someone better, trading Gonzalez and prospects for Nomar Garciaparra. The Pirates wouldn't be able to afford the likes of Garciaparra, of course, but they should be looking to develop a top shortstop internally, as it would probably not be a good idea for them to keep Wilson beyond 2006.

Thanks to Tom Veil for the link.


Blogger chill74 said...

The team with the most double plays most likely has a better than average middle infield. I would have to say Jack has 15 more DPs than any other SS. His fielding % is 10th in the majors for starters. I would say he is above average because he is also playing with 2 different second basemen.

1:15 PM  

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