Keith Ginter!

By Jason Wojciechowski on December 16, 2004 at 2:26 AM

The A's have acquired Keith Ginter from the Milwaukee Brewers in a trade involving two minor leaguers (Justin Lehr and Nelson Cruz). This is a great trade for me personally because Ginter is the starting second baseman for my A's in my copy of MVP Baseball for the Playstation 2. It makes me hope for other acquisitions like Matt LeCroy and Magglio Ordonez.

More to the point, though, Ginter had a career year in terms of his power numbers, slugging .479 (a .217 ISO), with 44 extra base hits in just 386 at-bats. His OBP took a hit, dropping to .333 from .352 the year before. I'd take him to split the difference this year while keeping the power, at least in adjusted terms. Despite being a pretty bad defensive player (11 runs below average in his limited playing time), he was about two and a half wins above replacement overall, which is about what Marco Scutaro was worth in his more regular playing time.

Two and a half wins is also about Mark Ellis's 75th percentile PECOTA-projected value for 2004. Throw on top of that relative lack of value a year of missed development time and you never know what you're going to get. Ginter will be 29 this year, so he's certainly not a long-term solution, but he might be, assuming he wins the A's second base job outright, the first player to get over a hundred games in two consecutive years as the Oakland second baseman since Scott Spiezio in 1997-8. Second base is Oakland's great unsettled position, as Chris Kahrl noted in a Transaction Analysis at the beginning of the year, similar to the Chicago Cubs's struggles to find a third baseman. Aramis Ramirez isn't a Hall of Famer, either, but like Ginter, there really seems to be the potential for him to be a useful player for more than just half a season or so.

Interestingly, this trade occurred on the same day that the Red Sox have apparently signed Edgar Renteria to be their shortstop for the next four years, at ten million bucks per year. This is interesting because Renteria actually put up a negative MLVr last year. Let's run a table comparing Renteria to the other major-league regular shortstops from last year.

Here are the shortstops from last year, sorted by last year's WARP1.

Shorstops by WARP1
Player Rate MLVr WARP1 3YWARP1 2005Age
Tejada, Miguel 111 0.203 9.9 7.17 29
Guillen, Carlos 111 0.279 8.9 4.47 29
Wilson, Jack 111 0.109 7.6 4.17 27
Jeter, Derek 103 0.096 7.2 5.30 31
Furcal, Rafael 103 0.027 5.2 5.13 27
Rollins, Jimmy 94 0.090 5.2 4.80 26
Izturis, Cesar 100 -0.036 4.7 2.37 25
Vizquel, Omar 101 -0.026 4.7 4.23 38
Lugo, Julio 101 -0.042 4.4 4.40 29
Guzman, Cristian 111 -0.131 4.3 2.80 27
Young, Michael 91 0.102 4.2 3.35 28
Valentin, Jose 108 -0.101 3.8 4.10 35
Counsell, Craig 110 -0.150 3.7 2.87 34
Larkin, Barry 100 0.091 3.2 2.20 41
Everett, Adam 108 -0.088 3.1 3.00 28
Cruz, Deivi 104 0.002 3 2.27 32
Renteria, Edgar 93 -0.005 3 5.37 29
Eckstein, David 99 -0.143 2.8 3.90 30
Gonzalez, Alex 98 -0.122 2.6 2.93 28
Cabrera, Orlando 98 0.017 2.1 4.37 30
Clayton, Royce 92 -0.084 1.9 2.30 35
Aurilia, Rich 96 -0.205 1.4 2.53 33
Martinez, Ramon 105 -0.168 1.4 1.50 32
Cintron, Alex 95 -0.150 1 2.15 26
Gomez, Chris 89 -0.134 0.7 *** 34
Reese, Pokey 104 -0.360 0.7 2.07 32
Berroa, Angel 90 -0.113 0.6 2.70 27
Crosby, Bobby -0.077 25
Greene, Khalil 0.095 25
Matsui, Kaz -0.020 29

I wouldn't pay $10 million to Deivi Cruz or David Eckstein, but of course last year was a bit of a down year for Renteria, as the following table, sorted by, for those shortstops for whom the number is both available and relevant, the three-year average of the WARP1 scores, shows.

Sorted by 3-year WARP1 average
Player Rate MLVr WARP1 3YWARP1 2005Age
Tejada, Miguel 111 0.203 9.9 7.17 29
Renteria, Edgar 93 -0.005 3 5.37 29
Jeter, Derek 103 0.096 7.2 5.30 31
Furcal, Rafael 103 0.027 5.2 5.13 27
Rollins, Jimmy 94 0.090 5.2 4.80 26
Guillen, Carlos 111 0.279 8.9 4.47 29
Lugo, Julio 101 -0.042 4.4 4.40 29
Cabrera, Orlando 98 0.017 2.1 4.37 30
Vizquel, Omar 101 -0.026 4.7 4.23 38
Wilson, Jack 111 0.109 7.6 4.17 27
Valentin, Jose 108 -0.101 3.8 4.10 35
Eckstein, David 99 -0.143 2.8 3.90 30
Young, Michael 91 0.102 4.2 3.35 28
Everett, Adam 108 -0.088 3.1 3.00 28
Gonzalez, Alex 98 -0.122 2.6 2.93 28
Counsell, Craig 110 -0.150 3.7 2.87 34
Guzman, Cristian 111 -0.131 4.3 2.80 27
Berroa, Angel 90 -0.113 0.6 2.70 27
Aurilia, Rich 96 -0.205 1.4 2.53 33
Izturis, Cesar 100 -0.036 4.7 2.37 25
Clayton, Royce 92 -0.084 1.9 2.30 35
Cruz, Deivi 104 0.002 3 2.27 32
Larkin, Barry 100 0.091 3.2 2.20 41
Cintron, Alex 95 -0.150 1 2.15 26
Reese, Pokey 104 -0.360 0.7 2.07 32
Martinez, Ramon 105 -0.168 1.4 1.50 32
Crosby, Bobby -0.077 25
Gomez, Chris 89 -0.134 0.7 34
Greene, Khalil 0.095 25
Matsui, Kaz -0.020 29

Now the two guys surrounding Renteria are making significantly more than what the Red Sox will be paying him. Tejada's deal even came post-market correction. Of course, Tejada's a better player, so he deserves more money. Renteria looks like a better deal by this table, though it ought to be considered that, as much as his average is weighted down by his worst season since 1999, it's also being weighted upward (unweighted?) by his career 2003 season, which, as he moves into his 30's in this contract, he's unlikely to approach again. The Red Sox, then, might expect about five wins above replacement from Renteria, which means they'll be paying close to $2 million per marginal win (dividing his $9,700,000 marginal salary by his five wins gives $1,940,000).

The Red Sox paid over $2.3 million per marginal win this year and won the World Series doing it, but they were the seventh least efficient team in the game by the Marginal Dollars per Marginal Win measure.

As the Sox move forward, you have to wonder if Renteria could become a liability rather than a boon, especially considering his uninspiring defensive performance:

Sorted by Defensive Rate
Player Rate MLVr WARP1 3YWARP1 2005Age
Guillen, Carlos 111 0.279 8.9 4.47 29
Guzman, Cristian 111 -0.131 4.3 2.80 27
Tejada, Miguel 111 0.203 9.9 7.17 29
Wilson, Jack 111 0.109 7.6 4.17 27
Counsell, Craig 110 -0.150 3.7 2.87 34
Everett, Adam 108 -0.088 3.1 3.00 28
Valentin, Jose 108 -0.101 3.8 4.10 35
Martinez, Ramon 105 -0.168 1.4 1.50 32
Cruz, Deivi 104 0.002 3 2.27 32
Reese, Pokey 104 -0.360 0.7 2.07 32
Furcal, Rafael 103 0.027 5.2 5.13 27
Jeter, Derek 103 0.096 7.2 5.30 31
Lugo, Julio 101 -0.042 4.4 4.40 29
Vizquel, Omar 101 -0.026 4.7 4.23 38
Izturis, Cesar 100 -0.036 4.7 2.37 25
Larkin, Barry 100 0.091 3.2 2.20 41
Eckstein, David 99 -0.143 2.8 3.90 30
Cabrera, Orlando 98 0.017 2.1 4.37 30
Gonzalez, Alex 98 -0.122 2.6 2.93 28
Aurilia, Rich 96 -0.205 1.4 2.53 33
Cintron, Alex 95 -0.150 1 2.15 26
Rollins, Jimmy 94 0.090 5.2 4.80 26
Renteria, Edgar 93 -0.005 3 5.37 29
Clayton, Royce 92 -0.084 1.9 2.30 35
Young, Michael 91 0.102 4.2 3.35 28
Berroa, Angel 90 -0.113 0.6 2.70 27
Gomez, Chris 89 -0.134 0.7 34
Crosby, Bobby -0.077 25
Greene, Khalil 0.095 25
Matsui, Kaz -0.020 29

The Sox know the virtues of a groundball pitcher, but those virtues are somewhat muted if your most important middle infielder can't get to as many balls as you need him to.

According to this, Ginter's contract details are as follows:

Ginter gets a $100,000 signing bonus and base salaries of $350,000 this year, $450,000 in 2005 and $1,025,000 in 2006. If he reaches certain plate appearance milestones, his 2005 salary could increase to $600,000 and his 2006 salary to $1,825,000.

Let's assume that Ginter hits those playing time milestones because he wins the A's second base job, and let's further assume that he plays just like he has the past two years, but with more at-bats, and thus racks up about four WARP each season. Then, taking out the $300,000 minimum salary, Ginter would be providing rates of $75,000 per marginal win in 2005 and $381,250 in 2006.

Those are pretty astounding rates of return. Of course, it assumes that his performance continues like it has, but that doesn't seem too unreasonable: his 2004 hitting conforms very well, playing time and all, to his 75th percentile PECOTA projection. He wasn't playing out of his mind, in other words, and is a reasonable bet to be a pretty decent hitter, while Mark Ellis is clearly a more worrying option and Marco Scutaro a less desirable one all around.

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