The St. Louis Cardinals signed Ty Wigginton to a two-year, $5 million contract this week, and ever since I've been trying to figure out just why they did it. If you'd like the short, mostly negative answers to your questions about Wigginton's value to the Cardinals, feel free to peruse this FAQ--which is, in this case, questions I keep asking myself.
Ty Wigginton can hit, right?
Not especially. Despite making an All-Star Team in 2010, since his 129 OPS+ season in Houston in 2009 he's been a .250/.313/.404 hitter, who per 162 games would average 18 home runs and 64 RBI. That's good for an OPS+ of 90, which is below the league average.
Ty Wigginton can hit left-handers, right?
I mean, maybe. Over the last two seasons Wigginton has gotten on base pretty well, against left-handers for someone whose overall numbers are so subpar--a tOPS+ of 120 or so, relative to his total OPS. But over the course of his career--a much larger sample size--his performance against left-handers relative to right-handers is 113--just a little better than the average split for any right-handed batter, which is not large enough to make him valuable as a strict lefty-masher.
In terms of what we can project a player to do, the Cardinals would have been equally well-off signing any below-average right-handed hitter, including one who, say, could play center field.
Ty Wigginton is a utility infielder, though, right?
Since turning 30 he's mostly played first base, which he is not very good at. He's even worse at third base, and he hasn't played second base in two years. His position is "bad first baseman," or "hitter."
He frees up Matt Carpenter to play second/get traded, right?
Ty Wigginton allows the Cardinals to pretend they have depth, but over his last 800 games in the major leagues he's basically been replacement level. He can't play third base, really, and he doesn't play the outfield, and he's not a very good hitter.
The most reasonable explanation for the trade is that Wigginton is interacting in some way with the Cardinals' incumbent backup hitter, but there's no reason for a player as replaceable as he's been over the last several years to have any bearing on whether the Cardinals trade Carpenter for infield help or move him to second base on a semi-permanent basis.
So why did the Cardinals--
I don't know. Literally no idea.