Category Archives: Hot stove

Money passing hands, V-Mart and Huff Have Deals

MLBTR has Aubrey Huff going to the Giants for 2 years/$22 mil with a club option for year 3. Doesn’t make a whole lot of sense with Pablo Sandoval clearly not doing well enough at 3B and Brandon Belt pretty much ready for the bigs, but maybe Sabean has a plan (or not). As Will Murphy suggested on Twitter, Huff could play left field, where Pat Burrell won’t (and shouldn’t) be playing anymore, but he’d have to learn a completely new position at the age of 34. Huff is also an extremely inconsistent player.

MLBTR also has Victor Martinez going to the Tigers for four years/$50 mil. The plan is to have him split time at C and DH. Martinez will likely be a full-time DH by the time the deal is done. The Tigers gave up the No. 19 overall pick in the 2011 draft to sign Martinez, who was a type A.

This sets the bar for 1Bs and DHs, so expect Lance Berkman and maybe Adam Dunn and Derrek Lee to get better deals, AAV-wise.

Today is also the day for arbitration offers. Tim Dierkes is all over it and so far Adam Dunn (type A) and Jayson Werth (A) were offered, as expected. Derrek Lee (A) and Chad Durbin (B) were not offered.

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Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Japanese 2B/SS, to be Posted

Simple translations. Not much is known about Tsuyoshi Nishioka, the Chiba Nippon Baseball League player, but he has posted a .293/.364/.426.

Translation rates are rough because the Nippon League is extremely different. Batters swing at everything (and, reciprocally, pitchers don’t quite have the same strike zone)

Fukudome, hit .294/.448/.520 in japan in 2007 and over the last three years, something like .310/.430/.520 the last three years. That got equivalated to .289/.405/.440 by Baseball Prospectus, which is about -.005/-.040/-.080.

Add in that .259/.368/.410 is what he had over the last three years–and that he was 31 in his first season in MLB–and you get a rough idea that the translation is a pretty big drop in all three slash stats. Consider that Nishioka will play ages 27 and after in the majors, and his stats (.293/.364/.426) will roughly translate to between .265/.310/.340 and .290/.340/.380 line. This isn’t great, but you’re not expecting a lot from a guy who’s basically a slap singles hitter in the Japanese leagues–Ichiro notwithstanding.

Of course this is completely inexact, but the great news is that Chiba Marine Stadium has pretty close to a MLB park, especially in left and right center. That helps.

So, cool. Several teams in the AL are looking for a good 2B for the 2011 season, so I imagine a few good bids are gonna come in on this one. Iwakuma just went to Oakland and while the posting fee hasn’t been revealed, it was probably close to 15 or 20 million. Posting fees are kinda random, but I guess we’ll find out how much the team wants in a few days/weeks.

Wouldn’t mind seeing the Dodgers take a stab at him.

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How to Evaluate a Trade

Yesterday, I did a short bit about the two parts to evaluating a trade. Well here’s the full post.

This will try to be as comprehensive as possible.  If I miss something, please post in the comments any additions you think should be made.

OK, so your favorite team wants to make a trade at the deadline.  So here comes a two part question.

1. Should your team be buyers or sellers?  Or should they stand pat?

There’s a pretty fine line between buyers and sellers and where that line is drawn is

  • a) how far out a team is from the division title or wild card spot and
  • b) how many teams are in front of it.

Highly cluttered division races tend to make a lot of buyers and distant division leaders create sellers.  The NL West right now is kind of close (as of July 30, Padres have 3-game lead over San Francisco Giants, who lead the wild card; 7-game lead over Dodgers).  The Giants, Padres and Giants are all buyers right now.

The problem with this, for the Dodgers at any rate, is there’s no player that’s worth 4 wins in only half a season that they could acquire.  So winning the division or the wild card is dependent upon their current roster playing better than they have. (This, if you’re wondering, is why I’m against the Dodgers being buyers).

Teams that should stand pat are generally teams caught in the middle: teams that are overperforming and close to the division title or teams that are underperforming and far away from the division title.

So should your team be a buyer, a seller or a stand patter?

On to question 2:

2.  What places does your team need to improve in?

This is the easiest question. Padres could use some improvement on offense, so they traded for Miguel Tejada.  Even if Tejada is washed up, he’s a surprising improvement to what they had.  And this is WITH the division lead.

For sellers, any good prospect is worth trading for, it’s just a matter of evaluation.  All things being equal, trading a player with two years left on his contract will net better or more prospects vs. a player with one year left.  Or at least it should.  The exception is if you’re Jerry DiPoto.

3.  Who’s available?

What’s out there that can match the holes you need filled.

4. What’s the market rate for a player in that position going for?

You’ll sometimes see a first trade happen for a pitcher or position player. This year, Jerry DiPoto traded Dan Haren, who was under contract for another two years after this year, for Joe Saunders, a decent prospect who’s a few years away and some spare parts. This was noteworthy only because it supposedly set a going rate for trades of high-level MLB pitchers, but as we can see from the Edwin Jackson trade today, that’s not so. Jackson was traded for a very good prospect in Daniel Hudson. Hudson may be worth more than Jackson as soon as next year.

Interestingly, though, Roy Oswalt went for roughly what Haren went for, even though Oswalt has fewer years and more money (per annum) due to him: a #4 starter in JA Happ, a decent toolsy player in Anthony Gose and another piece. Gose was then traded for Brett Wallace.

5. What’s the balance between giving up too much and giving up not enough at the time?

This is the trickiest part of trades and the most controversial. You’ll often see teams giving up prospects cry and whine about the prospects lost and the team giving up the marquee player in the trade whining about not getting enough. Quite often, the lower the stakes of the trade, the more “eh” reactions.

Most trades that fans are critical of involve a player of very good talent and prospects with very high ceilings. With good reason, too–those trades tend to be the ones that can build or destroy a franchise for 5-10 years. Delino Deshields for Pedro Martinez. AJ Pierzyski for Francisco Liriano, Joe Nathan and Boof Bonser.

There’s also trades that are on the other side: Adrian Gonzalez was traded by the Texas Rangers to the San Diego Padres for Adam Eaton and Akinori Ostuka (you’ll notice neither is with the Rangers anymore; but even worse, neither pitcher did very well in Texas). Mark Teixeira was traded from the Braves (who traded a lot to get him the year before) to the Angels for virtually nothing. It’s not only possible, but likely that the Braves would’ve gotten more for Teixeira if they just let him become a free agent.

And hilariously enough, the Angels drafted Mike Trout (currently the no. 1 prospect in the minors who hasn’t reached the majors yet) with the draft pick they received from the Yankees for Teixeira.

5a. Remember to keep in mind what the value was at the time.

I’ve posted about this before, but a lot of people don’t keep in mind value at the time. This is what leads to a lot of outrage–teams, and especially their fans, don’t want to get burned badly on a trade, but most times you don’t know if your team got burned until years after the deal.

However, there are deals that are easily objectionable at the time they happen. The Dodgers famously gave up great catching prospect Carlos Santana at the 2008 trade deadline for Casey Blake. Santana was a legit prospect at the time and has been crushing the majors this year, a year when the Dodgers are in desperate need of offensive help.

The point being, though, that high-risk high-reward prospects and very good prospects in the lower minors are more likely to be moved because, as you can guess, they’re more likely to be hit or miss. In those cases, more prospects are usually involved (five-prospect packages, usually).

The number of prospects and the skill level of those prospects will depend on four things:

a) the talent of the player traded for.
b) the player’s current contract, both how much he’s owed and how many years.

The most legit prospects go for the best players, usually, but sometimes you’ll see a trade that’s horribly unfair as it happens. A Mark Teixeira with a year and a half left on his contract should return more and better prospects than a Mark Teixeira with a half year left. A Dan Haren who comes cheaper over the next year and a half should return more than a Dan Haren who’s owed more. A four-prospect package should net a better player in return than a three-prospect package, all things being equal–though sometimes that’s subject to change

But those are “shoulds” and reality is sometimes different.

In which case,

5b. Use common sense.

Some fans latch onto prospects really hard. This is because prospects are dirt cheap if they hit the majors and are for years. This isn’t rational if the return for the prospects is worthwhile.

As you can guess, this:

Buster_ESPN
Heard this: The Astros are picking up a lot of the money owed to Lance Berkman in their agreement with the Yankees, and the NYY won’t be giving up any major prospects.#trades

is bad news for the Astros. If you’re giving up a good player with a heavy contract, you either want to give up the player’s money owed with him or get some prospects in return. The Astros may have gotten neither.

Yes, if you’re going to make a trade, both teams should be getting something out of it. If this rumor is true, then the Astros gain nothing out of losing Lance Berkman other than not having him on the roster. Some GMs are better than others at negotiating, so you’ll get lopsided trades. That’s just how it happens.

But with that in mind, we’ll start talking about trade deadline acquisitions tomorrow.

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The Two Parts to Evaluating Any Trade

There are two essential parts to evaluating any trade made by your favorite team:

  1. Should your team be buying or selling right now?
  2. Is the trade of value to them?

I think the first part, for the Dodgers in this trade, is wrong.  They should be sellers at the deadline.  It’s obvious this line-up isn’t great, the pitching stinks and they’re gonna have some holes in the rotation to start next year that, barring some gift of God, won’t be filled. The time to rebuild for next year should start about now and I still firmly believe seeing what’s available for Andre Ethier isn’t a bad idea.

On the second part, though, the Dodgers did good.  Pimentel might be of value at the major league level.  He’s still pretty far away, though, and he repeated Rookie ball two years in a row.  This was for a decent every-day outfielder with above-average on-base skills the last two years, who’s only getting paid about $250,000 the rest of the way.

The Royals traded a surplus and the Dodgers filled a deficit for this season. In return, the Royals received a player who may make the Majors in four years.

Some are complaining that Pimentel is a high-upside arm. Maybe true, but to be honest, this isn’t trading a sure-thing. This isn’t Carlos Santana in 2008 or Josh Bell in 2009. Pimentel’s got a ways to go and it’s possible that even if he makes the majors, the best he does isn’t better than what Vicente Padilla puts out.

Sometimes this gets lost. You see a prospect and look at how good he CAN be, but the chances of that happening are kinda slim. There are enough high-upside prospects in the Dodgers’ system. In this case, the Dodgers traded a surplus and the Royals filled a deficit.

Call to the Pen says this was a clear win for the Royals, though he seems to be looking too much at May’s/Pimentel’s numbers than their skills.

TBLA’s Eric Stephen makes a very convincing argument that Podsednik is having a lucky season and a half. I rebutt: even if his luck changes for the worse, he’s replacement player, which neither Garrett Anderson nor Xavier Paul is right now.

Fangraph’s Dave Anderson makes a solid point that this is what the Dodgers can afford and in that, it’s an OK trade.

I don’t think anyone’s arguing this trade was a clear win for the Dodgers, but that it didn’t hurt them much for the future and helps them right now, which is basically what rental trades should be.

MOKM doesn’t like this trade. My prospects!

Jack Taschner’s been designated. Hooray!

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Ned Colletti Made a Not … Bad … Trade???

Rethinking this after 24 hours.

You know you get so used to these deadline deals that you expect the Dodgers to lose. Two years ago, the Dodgers traded away Carlos Santana. Last year, the Dodgers traded away Josh Bell. In return, they got an every day 3B in Casey Blake and a good reliever in George Sherrill. Certainly the return was OK, but the cost was expensive.

Yesterday, Ned Colletti traded two also-rans for a decent, cheap starting outfielder. Scott Podsednik is now a Dodger and Lucas May and Elisaul Pimentel are now Royals. Neither of the latter two will have a big impact on the MLB roster.

Yesterday, I also incorrectly argued against the trade. Despite Podsednik having three awful years, 2006-08, his past one and a half seasons have seen him return to value. He’s not going to hit home runs, but he gets on base at a decent clip and he has decent range.

Most Dodger fans know Lucas May as the fourth-string Dodgers catcher. He comes up to the big leagues when two of Russell Martin, Brad Ausmus and AJ Ellis are injured.

Pimentel is an unknown, but not in the way Santana and Bell were in 2009/2008 respectively. Ben Badler said he was a fringy guy at best. So basically the Dodgers traded a possible relief pitcher and a back-up catcher. If Pimentel develops into anything more than that, then it’s a hindsight-is-20/20 deal.

If Podsednik is indeed a spot filler until Manny Ramirez is back (if he comes back), then this is a great trade.

If Manny never comes back, then this season may be lost already. But the thing you’re not hearing is that Podsednik may return a Type B or even Type A draft pick compensation in the event that he’s offered arbitration this off-season. He’s put in the time over the last two years, which is the thing Elias Sports Bureau is most concerned about in A/B compensation, and he’s performed well over that time too.

Overall, not a bad trade. Well done, Mr. Colletti.

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D-Backs and the Tao of Trading Haren: ~ What Could’ve Been ~

There’s a minor unspoken rule that interim GMs shouldn’t make trades because they’re only in power for such a little time and it’s easier for an incoming GM to take over the team as is.  Also, sometimes the interim GM makes a terrible trade.

For reference, this is what the Diamondbacks traded for to get Dan Haren and then got back when they traded him away. C/O a D-Backs fan:

We originally obtained Dan Haren [before the 2008 season] by trading Carlos Gonzalez, Brett Anderson, Aaron Cunningham, Greg Smith, Dana Eveland, and Chris Carter. Which means now, in essence, we traded all those names for.. Joe Saunders, Patrick Corbin, Rafael Rodriguez, and what might be Tyler Skaggs if we’re lucky.

Not necessarily, because the D-Backs did get two and a half years of Haren out of that deal.

D-Backs Interim GM Jerry DiPoto, however, cited wins and winning percentage as one of the main reasons he chose to acquire Joe Saunders. No stupid deed goes unpunished.

So a legit centerfielder, a legit starter (and maybe No. 1), two decent back-end starters, and a high-end OF prospect for two and a half years of Haren. Oakland got quite a bit out of that trade and with good reason: Haren was legit.

Let’s give some historical context, though. The D-Backs just wrapped up a 90-win season and a trip to the NLCS. Their rotation was their biggest issue and Haren plugged that hole pretty well. A rotation of Brandon Webb and Haren back-to-back was awesomely reminiscent of the Schilling-Johnson years, when the D-Backs won the World Series.

However, that 2007 team was a 79-win team by pythag win-loss, so maybe that was just an error in judgment.

Anyway, yesterday Haren was flipped for Joe Saunders, a AAAA reliever, a skinny 20-year-old starter in A ball who may have the goods to be a starter and a 19-year-old decent 1st rounder who could be a starter.

This was a salary dump, no doubt about it. There were better offers on the table (Yankees had a decent offer with Ivan Nova and Joba Chamberlain, supposedly) and while Saunders is a MLB starter, he’s not a good one.

You wonder, though, what would’ve happened if the D-Backs stayed the course and didn’t trade for Haren–just focused on what they had coming up and played for a continuously ripening farm system.

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Trading Ethier: Where Would He Land?

This is gonna sound incredibly lame, but a rumor by Peter Gammons was confirmed by Ben Maller that the Dodgers may put Andre Ethier out on the open trade market to see what he could bring back. So if you’re counting, one guy said one thing that maybe the Dodgers might want to trade a player before the trade deadline. Perhaps.

Ethier signed a 2-year/$15 mil contract in the off-season to buy out his arb. 2 and 3 years–Ethier has a fourth arbitration year in 2012–and not many players are going that cheap in baseball right now.

Ned Colletti gets a lot of flack for being dumb, and unfairly so. He’s made some very good deals in the past off-seasons–getting Manny Ramirez for spare parts–even though he’s been burned on one bad one.

While moving Ethier would be horribly unpopular, it might be the right move. Ethier’s value is at its peak and he’s 28 years old. He’s hitting well against left-handed pitchers, too, and that production may not continue next year. He was never expected to be this good and for that we’re all grateful. But that also means the chances of him repeating this production for the rest of his career are pretty slim. Very few baseball players beat the scouting reports to have an above-average career and many, many baseball players lost their groove after the age of 30. So why not see what you can get?

The Dodgers right now have two corner OF minor leaguers who make intriguing options for 2011 and Andrew Lambo specifically could see a late-season call-up if the Dodgers are out of it. Lambo’s ceiling appears to be Ethier’s production, so there’s not a lot of hope in that, but

With no further ado, here’s where Ethier could land:

Chicago White Sox: White Sox currently have a .360 wOBA coming out of right field and rumor has it they’re hot on Adam Dunn, even though Nats GM Mike Rizzo is asking a lot (Hudson AND Viciedo are the rumors). White Sox GM Kenny Williams and Colletti have a good relationship and made a trade during the off-season, so maybe they go back to that well.

New York Mets: The Mets surprisingly have the worst wOBA out of the position out of all major league teams, despite being in the hunt for the NL East title. Ethier would be a huge offensive upgrade. The Mets also have some intriguing prospects in Jenrry Mejia and Ike Davis.

Atlanta Braves: The Braves would be the only team to move Ethier to a different part of the field, and they’d probably move him to left with All-Star teammate Jason Heyward fielding right. Left field has been abysmal for the Braves, fielding six different players in the position and Ethier would be such a great improvement that it’d be worthwhile for both teams. Heyward and Ethier would be an impressive duo and the Braves have some good starting pitching pieces they could send the Dodgers way (Arodys Vizcaino and Julio Teheran, for two, though it’s unknown how much their production is affected by the Braves’ extreme pitchers parks in the minors). It’s certainly intriguing what can come of a trade between these two teams.

Anaheim Angels or Oakland A’s: I can’t ultimately see either team trading for Ethier, but there’s an outside chance that the Angels forego the usual decent-defense-decent-offense plan and the A’s try to plug him in at DH. The Angels don’t have a lot to offer unless they’re willing to give up Mike Trout. But the A’s have a few interesting parts, like Michael Taylor or Jemele Weeks. This’d be weird, though, since the A’s are further out of the AL West than the Dodgers are out of the NL West.

Tampa Bay Rays: The Rays like team-friendly contracts and Ethier has one. He makes a little less than what Pat Burrell made and could be a decent fit for the DH spot. But knowing the Rays’ management, they’d look down on his defense and his LHP/RHP splits and decide to look elsewhere.

Within the Division: The Giants, Padres and Rockies could all use some OF offense and the Dodgers could provide it at a premium cost. Ethier’s shown he can put up some awesome numbers in the heavy-pitchers division, so it’s worth looking into.

Edit: An earlier draft of this article said the deal reached between Andre Ethier and the Dodgers this past off-season, a two-year deal worth $15 mil, bought out Ethier’s arbitration years. It bought out Ethier’s year 2 and 3 arbitration years, but because Ethier was a Super 2, he has a fourth arbitration year in 2012.

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