Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Trading Day
By Ben Valentine

I noticed quite a few deals went down today across the sports world and since I’ve been writing about nothing but baseball recently, it was a good opportunity to change gears. Well somewhat anyway, there’s plenty of baseball here too. But the NFL and NBA find their way into this column. So to recap the deals:

The Mets acquired OF Shawn Green from the Diamondbacks for LHP Evan MacLane.

The Phillies acquired IF Jose Hernandez from the Pirates for cash.

In the NBA, the Pacers acquired F Al Harrington and C John Edwards from the Atlanta Hawks for a 1st round pick.

In the NFL, Falcons, Broncos and Redskins made a three way swap. The Broncos sent WR Ashlie Lelie to the Falcons, who sent HB TJ Duckett to the Skins, who sent a third round pick to the Broncos.

Got all that? I neglected to mention a swap Green Bay did with Cleveland for two inconsequential players who will probably never see the field in any meaningful action this year.

Of course at Sportszilla, we’re not about just listing trades. If we post it, we’re going to analyze it. So fasten your seatbelts as we jump across sports to get to the nitty gritty, emphasis on “gritty.” (More on that later). And since I’m writing this, you know I have to begin with the Mets. Sorry non Mets fans, if you’re not interested, just skip past and check out the other deals. To be fair, it was the biggest baseball trade of the day…

New York Mets received Shawn Green and cash from the Arizona Diamondbacks for LHP Evan MacLane.

The Mets get an upgrade from Lastings Milledge in Green, but with splits of .283/.348/.429/.777 in a hitter’s park in Arizona, it isn’t as if the Mets just added a difference maker’s bat. Green represents an average outfielder at this point. Then again, the Mets really don’t need much more than that; they’ve already got three top flight offensive players in their lineup. And at six million next year Green isn’t a bad player to have, especially since Cliff Floyd will likely be allowed to walk in free agency.

The D’Backs get salary relief. They seemed determined to dump Green, and in exchange for picking up half the remaining contract, get a mediocre prospect in MacLane. If the 23 year old lefty couldn’t find his way into the Mets rotation this year, he likely never would. He had a 3.86 ERA in 121.1 IP at AAA with a 67/35 K/BB ratio. Despite a decent ERA, he currently he stands behind Brian Bannister, Mike Pelfrey, Oliver Perez, Phillip Humber and probably even Aaron Heilman on the Mets rotation depth chart. So he was expendable. But in Arizona, where the pitching after Brandon Webb is a giant question mark, he could be useful.

Phillies get IF Jose Hernandez from the Pirates for cash

Jose Hernandez has two claims to fame in my book. First, he would have easily shattered the single season strikeout record with the Brewers in 2002 if not for the fact he was essentially benched the last three weeks of the season to prevent that from happening. Secondly, he was the player the Pirates got back for Arimas Ramirez and Kenny Lofton. Great trade, eh?

This season 37 year old Hernandez has splits of .267/.328/.350/.678. At third base. Brilliant.

But it gets better. He’s actually an upgrade over Abraham Nunez, the Phillies current place holder there has splits of .208/.267/.268/.535. That’s in a hitter’s park… at third base. Just in comparison, last year my favorite whipping boy was Cristian Guzman of the Nationals. He managed splits of .219/.260/.314/.574… in the most extreme pitcher’s park in baseball… at shortstop.

To sum up, the Phillies have been starting possibly the worst regular baseball has seen in some time at third base, an offensive position. So yeah, this is one of those rare, rare times where picking up a 37 year old corner infielder with a .678 OPS is actually a good move.

As a side note, ESPN lists Nunez as “Abraham O. Nunez.” I’ll leave you to make as many jokes about that middle initial as you see fit.

The Pacers pick up F Al Harrington and C John Edwards from the Atlanta Hawks in exchange for a 2007 1st round draft pick

I guess the Pacers figure they’ll be out of the lottery now. Not sure how this makes them that much better. Harrington is a solid player; 18.6 points last year and 6.9 rebounds per game. I will not make a political joke here about Mr. Edwards… or a joke about talking to dead people… or even a joke about the religious history of this country (for all you history majors out there).

Maybe I’m missing something here, and since Larry Bird is considered to be an excellent general manager, it’s certainly possible. But how can you give up a first rounder when your team could easily miss the playoffs this year considering you’re overhauling the whole roster. And again, Harrington is a solid player, but worth a first round pick? I mean he averaged less points per game than Wally Szczerbiak, Ricky Davis and put up just .4 points per game more than the man he replaces, Peja Stojakovic. Would you trade a first for any of those players?

Good move for the Hawks meanwhile. They’re whole team is made up of small forwards, so to get an extra first rounder for one of them will help down the road.

Falcons get Ashlie Lelie, Redskins get TJ Duckett, Broncos get a 2007 3rd round pick from Redskins

Peerless Price didn’t work out so now the Falcons will try again with a talented speed wideout who’s had limited success in the NFL. This time they gave up less, as Duckett is a part time player. If Lelie pans out he’ll have far more of an effect on the team than Duckett ever could. Now will Michael Vick be able to get him the ball?

Guess Clinton Portis’ injury is serious. That’s the only reason I can see the Skins for picking up Duckett for a third round pick, a pretty steep price in today’s NFL. If Portis is coming back soon, then this is a waste, since part time backs aren’t that hard to find. Either way, this isn’t a good sign for the Skins.

With Javon Walker and Rod Smith, there was no need to keep the disgruntled Lelie around anymore in Denver. He never panned out to his first round billing, but a third round pick at this stage isn’t a terrible haul for the Broncos.

By the way, to the Skins have some sort of agreement with Denver that they must find a way to ship a draft pick to them every year? Actually, I think they also have one with the Jets as well, since I believe they gave their 2007 second rounder up to move up in that round this year.

So that’s the trade round up. But I’ll leave you with a few more passing thoughts on a some miscellaneous subjects:

-NL MVP voting- Pujols 7, Beltran 2:

Seven is the total number of RBI phat Albert had tonight against John Maine, all coming on the strength of a three run homer in the fourth and a grand slam one inning later. The problem? It’s the Cardinals’ general one in a nutshell.

Staked to a 7-1 lead, Jeff Weaver promptly gave four back in the bottom of the inning , surrendering a grand slam to Carlos Delgado. (His 400th career hr) Then after the Mets scored a run in the sixth, Carlos Beltran hit a two run, game winning homer of closer Jason Isringhausen in the ninth to seal the comeback victory.

When Chris Carpenter isn’t pitching Albert Pujols is the Cardinals lone weapon. Carlos Beltran is a big one for the Mets, but there are plenty of guys to pick him up if he has problems early on. If Pujols didn’t hit those bombs off Maine, the Cardinals likely lose big. That isn’t to say Beltran isn’t deserving of the award, but as of right now, I’d give it to Pujols.

-DFA'd Diaz Likely Done

Alliteration is fun. Anyway, Mini Manny aien’t that no more. Since a decent ’05 campaign where he posted a .795 OPS in 280 ABs, Diaz has fallen off the map. This year at AAA his line was .224/.276/.330/.606. For a corner outfielder. That’s just horrendous. When Michael Tucker got the recall over Diaz after Cliff Floyd’s recent DL stint, the writing was on the wall.

Still just 24, Diaz deserves a shot to play with someone. A change of scenery could help. Why wouldn’t someone like the Pirates or Royals roll the dice with him? It would be relatively shocking if he made it through waivers. In all likelihood, his days as a Met are done.

-Jets Set the Bar- Low

Gang Green picked up Niners half back Kevan Barlow this week in exchange for a mid round draft pick. Why? I guess the Jets are banking on a change of scenery and a better offensive team (no matter how bad the Jets look the Niners are much worse) will help Barlow resemble the guy who averaged 5.1 YPC in 2003. Still the Jets were better off gambling on one of their young guys, or just waiting until next year. I mean it’s not like this team is going to be contending for anything this season.

It's also looking more and more certain Curtis Martin's playing days are over. And that's a disappointment, considering how he went out.

-Judging “Heart”

I promised you "gritty" and I deliver. It's link time. Clark Judge apparently thinks the Vikings are very smart for replacing the extremely talented Daunte Culpepper for a “proven winner” in Brad Johnson. You know, akin to Tom Brady. Don’t laugh people: I’m dead serious. Just click the link and look at the title.

Apparently we’re all wrong. Talent doesn’t win championships. It’s scrappiness, grit and heart. Give me Brad Johnson, Ed McCaffery, David Eckstein, Brian Scalabrine and Darren Erstad and dammit, I’ll win you a World Series, Super Bowl, Stanley Cup and NBA Championship… all in the same year. And forget the World Cup, they’d dominate over teams like Brazil and Argentina! Because we all know white “heart” triumphs over minority “talent”.

Anyone rolls their eyes, try to remember the last minority athlete who ever got identified as “scrappy and/or gritty.” Also remember this:

You can’t spell “scrappy” without, well, everything after the “s”.

-Fight Night: Toronto

Speaking of scraps, who’s going to the be next Blue Jay to get into it with skipper John Gibbons? Vernon Wells? Lyle Overbay? Troy Glaus? Maybe BJ Ryan. But really there’s only one guy I want to see have it out with the literally embattled manager.

Doc Halladay. I can see the headlines now: Showdown at the OK Corral. Bring your own six shooter John; I hear Doc fires those pellets with pinpoint accuracy.

That’s two historical references in one column. Good sign if you’re writing a paper, bad for a sports site. So on that note, I think it’s time to end it for now. Until next time:

May the Abraham Nunez/Jose Hernandez platoon produce a .600 OPS at 3rd base… in a hitter’s park.

Now if they only had hustle and grit, those Phillies would be alright.


Blogger Chris said...

a great move by the Phils, oh yeah. Somehow the Phils have gotten about 20 years older in two straight moves(Moyer and Hernandez)

11:15 AM  
Anonymous jason said...

I would like to give an honorable mention to the mariners rotating cast of futility at 3b (and why the signing of beltre is still defensible even if he only puts up a .750-.775 OPS every year through the rest of his contract) -

jeff cirillo
.249/.301/.328/.629 in 2002
.205/.284/.271/.555 in 2003
that last line was through 87 games before being traded to san diego.

scott spiezio
.215/.288/.346/.634 in 2004
.064/.137/.149/.286 in 2005
that was only in 29 games before being DFA'd.

1:22 PM  
Blogger Pradamaster said...

Indiana's first-round pick is lottery protected, so if they end up missing the playoffs, they get their pick back.

This was a great trade for Indiana. Harrington is an underrated player and a really good fit for them. They held out long enough to drive Harrington's salary down and only dealt a mid-first round pick for him. They shrewdly picked up the trade exception for Peja and used it to acquire a comporable player in Harrington. With Harrington, Danny Granger, and Jermaine O'Neal, the Indiana frontcourt is build for the new offensive style of the NBA.

5:25 PM  
Blogger Ben Valentine said...

If it's lottery protected, then the deal isn't a bad one for the Pacers. I still don't think Harrington is anything special since I can name at least five (and probably ten) SF as good or better than he is. Overall though, if it's a non lottery pick, the haul is a fair one.

Jason- That's awful. They deserve honorable mention, though since Cirillo posted a higher OPS in a pitcher's park, he still had a long way to go to on be Nunez's level of ineptness. This is just one of those cases where the Phillies would have been better off playing just about anyone at third over him. And now they can...

6:02 PM  

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