Comparisons, presented without comment
Rays current record and winning percentage: 8-14 (.364)
Rays record and WP after 22 games last year: 7-15 (.318)
Rays 2005 record projected over 161 games: 59-103
Rays 2004 record over all 161 games: 70-91
Rays overall WP in 2004: .435
Rays runs scored so far in 2005: 102
Rays runs scored after 22 games last year: 77
Rays 2005 runs scored projected to 161 games: 746
Rays 2004 runs scored over all 161 games: 714
Rays runs allowed so far in 2005: 141
Rays runs allowed after 22 games last year: 117
Rays 2005 runs allowed projected to 161 games: 1032
Rays 2004 runs allowed over all 161 games: 842
Pythagorean record so far in 2005: 8-14
Pythagorean record after 22 games last year: 7-15
During the offseason it was rumored that Cantu could be traded as part of a deal for Alfonso Soriano. I hated that suggestion because Soriano is badly overrated and I wasn't sure that he would be any better than Cantu will be even THIS season. The numbers so far:
I hate to have to use WARP because Baseball Prospectus' fielding numbers can be shaky. It's the best approximation of overall value I have though and their defensive numbers have been shown to be fairly accurate for the up the middle defensive positions so it ought to be fine for this basic comparison.
By all the batting numbers Soriano is clearly the better player so far but cantu jumps ahead by a signficant (considering the small amount of playing time so far this season) margin. The reason for that is defense. BP has Cantu at a Rate of 96 (which would be 4 runs below average per 100 games) while Soriano is at 77 (23! runs below average per 100 games). Again, I don't know how accurate the numbers are, from observation I'd call Cantu very slightly above average, but that's a massive difference. It's not a surprising one though since Soriano is well known to be a completely awful defender at 2B.
So how does the non-trade (though it was probably never even close to getting done anyway) look so far? In my opinion, pretty good for the Rays. Soriano has the offensive edge but his awful defense puts his value in an immediate hole that his bat has to lift him out of and at this point it hasn't been enough for him to exceed Cantu's overall value.