Trading for Wigginton is Like Shopping at Marshalls

Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Tue, November 22, 2011 08:15 AM | Comments: 28
Analysis, News, Opinion, Posts

(Photo: AP)

Stores like Marshall’s and TJ Maxx do great business by selling surplus designer merchandise at prices significantly lower than retail department stores. Often times, you can find merchandise that is literally identical to products found in Bloomingdales and Macy’s. I’m not sure if Ruben Amaro Jr. shops at Marshall’s or TJ Maxx, but the acquisition of Ty Wigginton (below) certainly makes it seem that way. And for the short and long term future of the Phillies, that could be a very good thing.

Rumors have circulated since the beginning of free agency that the Phillies were interested in signing the Twins’ Michael Cuddyer (right). The contract, rumored to be ~ 3 years/$30 million, would have been a punch in the gut to a team who claims to be maxed out now and handcuff them further when deciding how to proceed with Shane Victorino and Cole Hamels. Cuddyer is a .272/.343/.451 hitter who filled in admirably at first for the concussed former MVP Justin Mourneau the last two seasons and also played right field.

Cuddyer is not a plus defender at any position but plays best at first. He may seem like a natural fit with Ryan Howard on the DL but would become displaced when the Big Man returns. Left field could be an option in a potential Cuddyer signing, but Cuddyer has only logged 38 career innings there and none since 2006. In his primary position in 2011, right field, Cuddyer played slightly above average, being rewarded for an above average arm. Not many teams can afford a $10 million bench bat. The Phillies, even in times of heightened prosperity, cannot either.

A lot of aspects of Cuddyer’s game are good but not great but there is no evidence to suspect that Cuddyer can take it to the next level of even “very good”.  His versatility makes him an attractive option for teams looking for a role player but will price himself out of that market. This is why Ty Wigginton becomes the Marshall’s version of Bloomingdale’s Michael Cuddyer.

Both players have gained reputations for being super utility players and, on first glance, they are very similar players. Both have body types uncharacteristic for non-first base positions (Cuddyer 6’2, 225 lbs., Wigginton 6’3, 230 lbs.), both players have seen consistent action since 2002, and both play or have played LF/RF/3B/2B/1B. While Cuddyer is the superior hitter (.272/.343/.451 v. Wiggington’s .265/.325/.443), their career triple-slash lines are, at worst, comparable.

(Photo: AP)

Using fWAR, Cuddyer has been worth 8 more WAR than Wigginton since 2001 in less at-bats which, no doubt, is a staggering number but their isolated power (Cuddyer .180 v. Wigginton .179) suggests they have similar amounts of pop. Cuddyer walks at a better clip by about 1.7% but Wigginton strikes out a negligible .2% less. Cuddyer does mash lefties harder (.291 BA v. .274 BA) but they are both fairly equal when hitting righties (.264 v. .261).

On the cursory, where Wigginton seems to have an advantage is defense. Unfortunately, this is probably not true and it is more likely that both players are very similar defenders. While Wigginton’s -3.1 UZR/150 at 2B gives the impression that he can hold his own, Wigginton has not posted a positive UZR/150 digit there since 2006. And while Cuddyer’s -8.2 mark suggests that he’s only slightly below average at 2B, he has not posted a positive number there since 2005 and in limited action had UZR/150s of -37 and -20.8 in 2010 and 2011. Comparing the two at 3B is a little more valuable since sample-sizes are larger and since it has been Wigginton’s primary position and one of the most likely spots he would fill in with the Phililes. Wigginton’s -15.3 isn’t incredible but stabilizes in years he receives more playing time there whereas  Cuddyer has not seen more than 110 innings in a season there since 2005.

As Cuddyer a better player than Wigginton? Yes. Is he five times ($10 million for Cuddyer v. $2 million for Wiggington) the player? Not at all. The Phils can get the same mediocre/below average defense from Wigginton at 1B/2B/3B/LF/RF they would have received from Cuddyer for one-fifth the money. Offensively, Cuddyer could have been an asset in left if he would have agreed to/is comfortable playing there. But at $10+ million a year, Cuddyer’s contract becomes sink or swim and effectively blocks either or both John Mayberry Jr. or Dom Brown. Signing Michael Cuddyer had the potential to be a $10+ million a year albatross that compounded a $25 million per year overestimation. A $2 million risk for a very similar commodity is much more palatable.

Avatar of Ian Riccaboni

About Ian Riccaboni

Ian Riccaboni has written 803 articles on Phillies Nation.

Ian's athletic achievements include getting stuffed by NBA center Aaron Gray in high school and hitting .179 over four years for NYU against D-III, NAIA, JuCo, and NCBA schools. Ian hopes his athletic successes will help him achieve his dream of becoming the underground Bob Uecker.

  • Posts: 0 Frank Riccard

    First of all, I love both Marshall’s and TJ Maxx. Also, for you clothes horses, the Nordstrom Rack at the King of Prussia Mall is pretty amazing too.

    Second, it’s nice to see everyone agreeing across the board that Wigginton over Cuddyer was a great move. I think we’ve all known all along that Cuddy wasn’t the guy, but no other truly viable option had yet been posited or presented.

    Finally, according to Wikipedia: “Some experts compare the size and frame of Wigginton to ‘The Simpsons’ Chief Wiggum of the Springfield Police Department. This has led to fans giving him the affectionate nickname ‘Chief Wiggumton.’” As an enormous fan of The Simpsons, this pleases me.

    • Posts: 436 Ian Riccaboni

      Avatar of Ian Riccaboni

      Thanks for the tip about the Nordstrom Rack! I’m in Lansdale so KoP isn’t terribly far away.

      Full disclosure: not only am I fan of Marshall’s, but I worked there and worked with great people.

      Love Wigginton nickname!

  • Posts: 0 davehist

    Good for Ruben in signing Wigginton rather than Cuddyer. He’s gotta leave some money in the till for a shortstop.

  • Posts: 0 Dave

    Wigginton was brought in to replace Martinez not Cuddyer. And in that sense, it was an outstanding move. Martinez NEVER should have been on this team. He is a career AAA level player (probably below average there also).They could still sign Cuddyer, but it gives them more flexibility and options should he sign elsewhere. My bet is that Cuddyer received an offer from the Phillies and he is weighing other options.

    • Posts: 0 Chris

      If they sign Cuddyer they have severely misjudged priorities. There is nowhere for him to play after this season. They don’t need him in the OF with Mayberry/Brown/Victorino/Pence available out there. They should either eat the rest of the money below the Luxury tax they are or re sign Rollins.

      I don’t want Cuddyer on this team for more than a year. I’m sure he’s a nice guy but his contract is not going to fit into the teams longterm plans

    • Posts: 436 Ian Riccaboni

      Avatar of Ian Riccaboni

      Wigginton definitely was a very solid move for the money but I still think Martinez’s above average defense and baserunning skills, and cost, gets him on the roster over Valdez. I think Wigginton’s signing makes him the defacto 5th outfielder, unless John Bowker has a great spring training, and I think we may have seen the last of Ben Francisco because of it.

  • Posts: 0 Ryan H.

    like the wigginton signing but the damage has already been done with the papelbon signing. still can’t wrap my head around that bonehead move. ugh its so awful on every level imaginable.

    • Posts: 1435 Pat Gallen

      Avatar of Pat Gallen

      We just shot PN TV, which you’ll see tomorrow. Corey brought up a good point.

      Would you rather have Papelbon, Rollins, Wigginton
      or: Rollins, Cuddyer, lesser closer?

      We touch on something like that in PN TV and it makes sense Would you rather have the 3 of them or the 2 for the same price?

      • Posts: 5142 Lefty

        Avatar of Lefty


      • Posts: 0 Ryan H.

        resigning rollins would be just as bad as singing pap. I’m totally against singing big name players who are past their prime. those are the contracts that kill you. rollins is shot. I’d take Furcal over him at this point. given the money that jimmy wants to get.

      • Posts: 0 Ryan H.

        and instead of singing papelbon, I’d have signed nobody and given the job to bastardo

      • Posts: 0 Chris

        You say you’d take Furcal at this point but consider what his contract will be. I think most of us can agree that Furcal is a much better player than Clint Barmes. Did you see the contract he got? 2 years for 11 mill! That means Furcal is good for at least 3 years 22 mill. That’s not exactly a contract that I’d consider better than a 3 or 4 year deal to Rollins.

    • Posts: 0 George

      Ryan H:

      Furcal, whether you realize it or not, is also a big name–though not quite as big as Rollins–who is past his prime. He’s also looking for a multi-year deal, which he’ll probably get, even though in 2011 he played in all of 87 games and hit .231 with a .298 OBP. For the past several years, he’s been an injury waiting to happen.

      And Bastardo would be too big a risk as closer. He played that role for a very small period in 2011, seemed to wear down toward year’s end, and has an injury history.

      • Posts: 436 Ian Riccaboni

        Avatar of Ian Riccaboni

        Agree completely about Furcal. With the Barmes contract at 2/$11 mil, no way Furcal gets anything less than $8 million per year and likely will not sign for less than 2 years. At that point, for the extra $1-2 million per year and extra year, Rollins is a better bet.

        Furcal is at least as much of, if not more of, an injury risk than Rollins as well.

        Last five seasons Furcal played 138, 36, 150, 97, and 87 games.
        Last five seasons Rollins played 162, 137, 155, 88, and 142 games games.

        Since we all agree that Rollins hasn’t had a truly great season since 2007 and Furcal was hurt for much of 2008, comparing their last three seasons worth of WAR, Rollins has been worth 9.3 WAR v. Furcal’s 8.2 WAR. To me, both players have seen their better days, but Furcal is the bigger injury risk, will get a decent contract, and is declining faster. I’d rather spend the extra million or two per year and bring Rollins back if we absolutely need a veteran SS.

  • Posts: 0 Jack Nydick

    Why is the name Brown thrown into the outfield mix? Dom might be the nicest guy in the world, but he should be traded to the American League where he would be a DH. He is not a major league caliber outfielder (especially for a team with World Series aspirations).

    • Posts: 0 Ryan H.

      oh please. they used to say the same thing about chase utley too. dom is an athletic guy. he’ll learn left field. anybody can play major league outfield with enough practice. he just needs some experience.

    • Posts: 436 Ian Riccaboni

      Avatar of Ian Riccaboni

      Jack – at the time the Phillies traded for Pence and Dom was demoted, Dom was both outhitting and playing better defense than Raul Ibanez. I know that isn’t saying much since Ibanez had a historically bad defensive year, but he was definitely at worst holding his own in the Majors.

      • Posts: 576 Brian Sr. of CO

        Avatar of Brian Sr. of CO

        There is one problem with that. You are comparing a RFer to a LFer. Dom Brown was sent to the minors to play LF as the heir apparent, but has not played the same defensive level as he was in RF.

      • Posts: 436 Ian Riccaboni

        Avatar of Ian Riccaboni

        You’re exactly right. With the exception of one game (and it was bad), Dom Brown, in my opinion, has played better. LF is statistically slightly easier to play and his cannon arm will be a big asset in left.

  • Posts: 2987 Chuck A.

    Avatar of Chuck A.

    Pat… to me it’s Rollins, Papelbon, Wigginton. It’s a no-brainer as far as I’m concerned.

    • Posts: 436 Ian Riccaboni

      Avatar of Ian Riccaboni

      Me too. The gap is too wide between Papelbon and the rest of the pack and the gap is too narrow to justify Wigginton v. Cuddyer.

  • Posts: 0 Chris

    Oh and everyone has been giving Ruben flack about Paps and not waiting but it looks like the initial reports were wrong. Madson will net a first round draft pick and now there are no protected picks. Any team that signs Madson will not lose their pick but the Phillies will get to select the spot before that team.

  • Posts: 31 Gavin

    Avatar of Gavin

    My favorite part:

    As Cuddyer a better player than Wigginton? Yes. Is
    he five times ($10 million for Cuddyer v. $2 million
    for Wiggington) the player? Not at all.

    But honestly, this would even have been a good deal if the Phillies paid his whole salary, because I don’t think Cuddyer is even 2.5 times better.

  • Posts: 0 Psujoe

    Phils will get 2 picks for Madson. 1 before the team that signs him in rd 1 plus a supplemental.

    Question: if the team doesn’t have a first rounder would the Phils still get a 1st rd pick one slot before were the team would’ve picked? If so, it’s an improvement over the old system.

  • Posts: 0 prospero

    Signing Wigginton is yet another smart move by reuben.

  • Posts: 0 prospero

    It’s another smart move by reuben.

  • Posts: 0 prospero

    If you look at Wigginton’s stats, he’s an average player. But what’s important is that he can play 3rd and1st. Think about next april. If Howard is not ready, Wigginton can play 1st.
    (Thome’s role is super pinch hitter. He should never play 1st. He has the mobility of a tree.)
    Then Mayberry and Brown can compete for LF..

    Or suppose Polanco’s elbow is not OK. Then Wigginton can play 3rd. Worse fielder
    than Polanco, yes, but better hitter.

    • Posts: 436 Ian Riccaboni

      Avatar of Ian Riccaboni

      I agree. It gives them some flexibility. Wigginton has some experience at 2B as well, giving them an either or with Wigginton/Martinez/Polanco/Valdez at 2B should they want to rest Utley. I still think they’ll give JMJ a shot to be the everyday first baseman but it wouldn’t surprise me to see him in LF for opening day.

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