Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Chris Duncan traded to the Red Sox for Julio Lugo; somewhere, Dave Duncan is punching a wallPosted by Nick Steiner
As first reported by my homies at VIva El Birdos, Chris Duncan has been traded to the Boston Red Sox for Julio Lugo.
Duncan, coming off a surgery to address a herniated cervical disk in his neck, was one of the worst players in baseball this year, being "worth" -.3 WAR in over 300 plate appearances. He is clearly not the same player that had a .399 wOBA in 2006; since the start of the 2008 season, he only had 11 homers in 482 at bats. That, combined with the fact that he had recently fallen out of favor with a lot of the fans, made it apparent that his days in St. Louis were numbered.
Lugo, on the strength of a -8.3 UZR, was also worth -.3 WAR this year. Similarly to Duncan, Red Sox fans were generally not his biggest supporters, although for different reasons then Duncan. Despite acceptable production in his two previous years with the team, he was signed to a bloated 4 year 36 million dollar contract, and was clearly not living up to it.
This appears to be a simple swap of two players who were under-performing and had fallen out of favor with the organization and the fans. Each team probably feels that a change of scenery would do the players well; so let's take a look at how each player projects going forward.
Despite playing in the AL East, he was hitting at a league average level this year with a .329 wOBA. His value was mainly dragged down by an unsustainable (I hope) -46.3 UZR/150 this year. Considering that his career UZR/150 is 2.6, and he had been within five runs of average in each of his first two years with Boston, it wouldn't be disingenuous to project him to be an average defender going forward. That, combined with league average offense, and the positional adjustment awarded to shortstop, yields roughly a 3 WAR player per 600 plate appearances. The Cardinals will likely use him as a backup shortstop, or they might move him to 3rd base and play DeRosa in left.
I already mentioned his offensive woes at the start, but ZIPS thinks he is capable of being an above average hitter, projecting a .340 wOBA for the rest of the season. His defense in left is atrocious, and given that the Red Sox already have Youkilis and Ortiz manning first base and DH respectively along with the newly acquired Adam LaRoche, I'm not sure where they are going to put him. At any rate, a slightly above average hitter with terrible defense in a corner outfielder is only a bit above replacement level.
This looks like a clear win for the Cardinals. They get a versatile player in Lugo, who projects to be an above average player going forward. Right in the thick of things in the NL Central, this is a minor, yet potentially fruitful move for the Cards. I'm not sure what the Red Sox got out of it though.
(Update: there is also a PTNBL being sent over by the Cardinals, according to Matthew Leach's twitter)
Nick is a Cardinals fan living in LA. He also writes for Viva El Birdos. He welcomes questions and comments via email