Sunday, July 30, 2006

Trading Places
By Ben Valentine

With the trade deadline fast approaching, keep it here at Sportszilla for all your trade analysis needs. We’ll look at the major players and minor players in all the trades you care about. Of course, best of all, if you don’t agree with us, you can let us hear about why we’re all a bunch of idiots. Sure you can do that to Jayson Stark or Scott Miller, but will they actually read it and respond? Probably not. Anyway, on to the trades.

Rangers get LF Carlos Lee and OF Nelson Cruz

Brewers get OF Kevin Mench, OF Laynce Nix, RHP Fransico Cordero, LHP Julian Cordero

Most people have criticized the Rangers for trading for hitting when their needs are pitching. Those people are looking at reputation rather than actual facts. As I wrote in my AL West need column, the Rangers have been equally mediocre in runs scored and runs allowed, at the time seventh in both categories. They could have gone either way, but I suggested a bat might be cheaper. And it was; they gave up no one of any real long term importance here. In fact, they still have the prospects to go out and get a pitcher if they so please. Plus they also got back Cruz, who while 26 years old, still has a fair bit of upside and could replace Lee should he depart after the season.

For the Brewers, once Lee rejected their contract extension, it made little sense to keep him. However, being as though they aren’t completely out if it, they went with acquiring a group of adequate but not spectacular major leaguers. Cordero will help their beleaguered pen while Mench can be a solid contributor in their offense, especially since Ned Yost figures to jerk him around less than Buck Showalter did. Nix hasn’t done anything in the bigs but he is still 25. Julian Cordero is still a long way off, though he looks like a back end starter or reliever at best.

You have to like this trade from a Rangers perspective because they didn’t give up anything irreplaceable for a potential difference maker like Lee. Meanwhile the Brewers are taking a chance that Mench and/or Cordero can regain the ability that made both such hot commodities just the offseason before last. Sometimes a change of scenery, a fresh voice and start can do a lot for a player. Still, one wonders if the Brewers would have been better off getting prospects back. Would the one or two decent (probably not front line) guys they’d have gotten back made a difference down the road?

Guess we’ll never know.

Giants get LHP Mike Stanton

Nationals get RHP Sharion Martis

This has all the makings of a deal that could look awful in a couple of years for the Giants. Martis, if you recognize the name, is the Netherlands pitcher who threw a seven inning no hitter in the World Baseball Classic. This season he’s posted a K/BB of 66/21 in 76.2 innings at mid A ball. That’s not bad for a kid who’s just 19 years old.

Meanwhile the Giants get back a guy with a 4.47 ERA and 1.50 WHIP. Oh but isn’t Stanton just a situational lefty? Well I guess, but lefties are batting .263 off him, righties .284. He’s also faced more righties than lefties this year, so I’m not sure where this situational lefty tag comes from except that’s what people think Stanton should be. But… he’s not even good for that role!

What a terrible trade for the Giants. It’s one thing to go for it and another to get a guy who isn’t any good to begin with. Note to Brian Sabean: Old/veteran does not necessarily equal good. Watch out Giant fans, none of your prospects are safe. Meanwhile I might have to take back all the bad things I’ve said about Jim Bowden.

The Brewers get 3B David Bell

The Phillies get RHP Wilfrido Laureano

There was a time were David Bell was an underrated commodity at third. We are no longer living in that age. This season he’s posting an OPS of .743 which isn’t good for a third baseman with fourteen errors. In fact, it stinks.

It’s not the best of gambles, even though Laureano doesn’t look that great. He’s got a nice K rate, 62 batters in 60.2 innings, but he’s also walked 34 in the same number of frames. He’s 22, in the South Atlantic League (mid A) and already a reliever so he doesn’t look like much. Then again, neither does Bell.

Braves get RHP Danys Baez and 3B Willy Aybar

Dodgers get 3B/SS Wilson Betemit

Reportedly, the Yankees offered Scott Proctor straight up for Betemit and the Braves shot it down. They got better value in this deal, but not by much. The 3rd baseman/shortstop has played well whenever given the chance but never could crack the lineup with Chipper Jones blocking him. That being said, the Braves should have done better than a reliever, who not only has been mediocre this year, but can walk this winter. In addition, haven’t the Braves noticed the real crux of their problems is in their starting rotation? In this series against the Mets, they had Horatio Ramirez fail to get out of the fourth inning and Tim Hudson give up nine runs (all earned) the next day. Baez and Bob Wickman can close games fine, but what good are they if they always come in when the Braves are trailing?

Not a bad haul here for the Dodgers. Betemit has posted OPS of .794 and .841over the last two years as a part time player. He’ll be entering his age 27 season next year, so he could be poised for a huge breakout. On the other hand, Aybar, despite being just 23, has never posted an OPS over 775 at any minor league level. He did have a nice 86 AB stint with the Dodgers last year but it’s not likely he posts an .901 OPS again anytime soon.

Overall, the Dodgers got back the best player in the trade, which is a bad sign for the Braves when they’re supposed to be the buyers. Meanwhile the Braves dealt away arguably their best chip and still don’t have an answer for what they can do about that rotation behind John Smoltz. That is why it’s looking more and more like Atlanta will be in the unusual position of being on the outside looking in come October.

Mariners get 1B/DH Ben Broussard

Indians get OF Shin-Soo Choo

The Mariners get a guy who absolutely murders right handed pitching in Broussard; to an OPS of .973. He can play first base or DH, meaning they’ve upgraded themselves significantly over the disaster that was Carl Everett. They have his former Cleveland mate, Eduardo Perez to play against lefties in the platoon, so all an all, the Mariners have upgraded themselves.

But at what cost? Choo had stalled a bit at AAA, since a 24 year old repeating the level posting an .892 OPS in hitter friendly Pacific Coast isn’t spectacular. Still the Mariners have outfield problems, especially in center. Even if Choo couldn’t play center, which is the position he’s listed at, he might have been valuable down the line in left. Zach pointed out to me that the Mariners saw him as a corner outfield prospect who couldn’t hit lefties. So they just traded him for a 29 year old first baseman who can’t hit lefties either.

Maybe Choo didn’t fit into the Mariners plans. I just feel they could have done better than Broussard. Platooning 1st base types aren’t that hard to find. This deal makes more sense if you honestly believe the Mariners are in the race. But even at three games back, I don’t.

Keep it here at Sportszilla, your place for baseball trading deadline analysis where we’ll be on major deals (and probably some of the minor ones) that go down before the 4:00 deadline on Monday.

Minor League Stats found at the Baseball Cube


Blogger Zachary Geballe said...

Ben, I gotta disagree with you about the Mariners. Their P-Wins show that they're equal with the A's and Rangers and one back of the Angels (heading into today), and while I agree that they're not a great team by any stretch of the imagination they're no worse than the rest of the division. By dumping Carl Everett and his .657 OPS for a platoon of Eduardo Perez (1.002 OPS against lefties) and Broussard (.973 OPS against righties). That means they've got a two-headed DH which should post a higher OPS then guys like Jason Giambi and Paul Konerko, and yet those guys are far cheaper to acquire in terms of prospects, far cheaper to keep for the next few years, and can also be used as pinch hitters and whatnot. That's a huge offensive upgrade, bigger even then the one the Angels would be making if they got Soriano/Tejada, and should be enough to get the Mariners right in the middle of the AL West race.

4:58 PM  

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