Paul Swydan wrote a column this morning on the Cardinals and how their lack of depth in their middle infield is going to keep them from catching the Cincinnati Reds in 2013, citing the fact that no Cardinal has had a WAR higher than 3 since 2005.
Before I go any further, let me just say this: I like WAR. I think it can be an interesting way to look at players and measure their performance. But unlike some other statistics we look at, it’s not a tangible category that we can measure to an exact science. It’s an estimate. It’s based on all sorts of numbers — some tangible, some not. It’s a guess. Thus, it really shouldn’t be the underlying argument for a player (or players), in my opinion, almost ever.
I don’t think the Cardinals middle-infield solution is perfect, but I think they’re also reluctant to make a move because a) they’re saving money to extend Adam Wainwright‘s contract (which I would prefer over acquiring a slightly better option at second base) and b) Kolten Wong is expected to come to the Major Leagues sometime in the next season or two, and the Cardinals are hoping that he could be a long-term solution for second base.
The 2013 Cardinals are, barring injuries, going to have a couple of things that the 2012 Cardinals didn’t have, at least for the most part: a healthy and effective bullpen, a full season from Chris Carpenter, and an influx of young and powerful arms. Assuming that the middle-infield is going to give us around the same type of production in 2013 that they gave us in 2012, we are effectively gaining the three things I just mentioned and merely losing Kyle Lohse.
I feel like I read about people counting out the Cardinals every year, yet they’ve won three (and nearly four) pennants in the last ten years. I’m all for statistics and trying to measure performance, but let’s remember to keep everything in perspective before we let FanGraphs explain to us why 2013 will ultimately be a failure for the Cardinals.