Posted by: mdegeorge | August 2, 2011

The MLB Trade Deadline Diagnosis, Part 2

he non-waiver wire trade deadline passed at 4 p.m. Sunday with a restrained flurry of action (is such a thing is possible) with only the odd few major name causing the fax machines to buzz at MLB headquarters as afternoon turned to evening.

But the deadline-day transactions were merely the tip of the trading iceberg, capping a week where it seemed each day had a particular marquee move that grabbed the headlines.

With a league’s worth of deal to sort through, the impact on the pennant race – and races many years in the future – could be pretty big. Here are the winners and losers of each of the moves over the last week.

Ubaldo Jimenez is saying Rocky Mountain bye. (Courtesy of Creative Commons)

(all stats and standings as of end of play Saturday)

For Part 1 and the analysis of moves earlier in the week, click here.

Saturday

Rangers get: RHP Koji Uehara and cash

Orioles get: RHP Tommy Hunter, IF Chris Davis

The defending AL Champs filled a glaring need with the Uehara, who should aid a bullpen that ranks 26th in baseball with a 4.42 ERA. The 36-year-old righty is 1-1 with a 1.72 ERA, 0.70 WHIP and 13 holds in 43 appearances for the Orioles, the second straight season he has excelled out of the pen for the Os. He added 13 saves, six holds and a 2.86 ERA in 2010 despite being limited by injuries. The $3 million he’s owed this year and $4-million option he’ll likely activate for next year is largely offset by the $2 million the Orioles also pony up. Hunter was 13-4 as a starter a season ago before being the odd man out this year, limiting him to some average innings in Triple-A and eight relief appearances in the bigs. The deal also ends the frustrating chapter on Davis in Texas. He struggled in the bigs after an impressive rookie campaign in 2008. His career totals read: .246 average, 42 HRs, 124 RBI in 265 games. In just under 200 games in Triple-A, though, he’s re-found his swing to the tune of a .337 average, 44 homers and 176 ERAs. He’s Baltimore’s headache now.

Diagnosis: Rangers win a valuable bullpen piece this year and likely next, but the book isn’t closed on the careers of Hunter and Davis, especially Hunter.

Tigers get: RHPs Doug Fister and David Pauley

Mariners get: OF Casper Wells, IF Francisco Martinez, LHP Charlie Furbush

The team with the sixth-worst ERA (4.23) and second-worst bullpen ERA (4.72) fixed both needs in one fell swoop. In Fister, they get a fifth starter who is unofficially the best pitcher ever to go 3-12 and whose 12-30 record is hardly indicative of his ability. He has a 3.33 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP, 35th and 30th best among regular starters, respectively. That’s nothing new; his career record is wholly incongruous to his 3.81 ERA and 1.24 WHIP. He’s thrown three complete games in his 21 starts this season. None of it matters for Suck-attle, who gave Fister 32 runs of support, the least in the majors and an atrocious average of just over a run per. Pauley’s managed to keep his head above water at 5-4, joining Michael Pineda as the only Mariners over .500 (minimum of six decisions). He’s got a 2.15 ERA, a WHIP of 0.99 and lefties are hitting a miniscule .143 off the righty. The Mariners get two-big league ready players in Furbush and Wells. Wells can play anywhere in the outfield, though he’s likely to play in left in Seattle because of that Ichiro guy, and is a .286 hitter with a .339 OBP, eight homers and 48 strikeouts in 224 plate appearances. Furbush, 25, dabbled as a starter and reliver with the Tigers in his first big league season; the 6-foot-5 lefty is 1-3 with a 3.62 ERA, 26 strikeouts and 15 walks in 17 games. Martinez, 20, appears to be settling in as a third baseman at Double-A, where he’s hitting .282, 46 RBIs and 63 runs scored in 91 games.

Diagnosis: Fister and Pauley are under club control until 2016. Enough said.

Brewers get: IF-OF Jerry Hairston Jr.

Nationals get: OF Erik Komatsu

Felipe Lopez gets company in the clubhouse as Rickie Weeks gets company on the disabled list from Carlos Gomez, who could be out up to six weeks with a shoulder injury. Hairston, who joins his eighth organization, is hitting .268 with four homers and 24 RBIs in 75 games. Komatsu is hitting .294 with six homers, 40 RBIs, 48 runs scored and 13 stolen bases in Double-A despite his slight stature (5-foot-10, 175 pounds).

Diagnosis: Don’t worry about it.

Red Sox get: IF Mike Aviles

Royals get: IF Yamaico Navarro, RHP Kendal Volz

The Red Sox think Aviles could be a long-term solution in their infield, with Marco Scutaro unsigned after this year and Jed Lowrie not playing well enough to claim the role. Aviles is a solid big leaguer, though he’s struggling through an injury-plagued season, hitting .222 with five homers, 31 RBIs and 14 runs scored in 53 games. The pride of Concordia college’s numbers from last year – .304/8/32/63 in 110 games – is a bit on the high side of what the BoSox can expect, but they’ll take the happy medium. He’s versatile in the field, and though his metrics have jumped wildly – 10.6 UZR in 2008 to -3.1 this season – he’s a solid defender. Indications are that the Navarro (hitting .258 at Triple-A while also seeing some big league action) and Volz (3.33 ERA, 42 hits, 56 strikeouts, 12 walks in 51 innings as a converted reliever at High-A) are marginal prospects.

Diagnosis: Red Sox win, big.

Diamondbacks get: RHP Jason Marquis

Nationals get: IF Zachary Walters

The D’backs have gotten great performances out of their starters all year, led byIan Kennedy’s remarkable season. Marquis has recovered from a disastrous 2010 to have a solid 2011 – 8-5, 3.95 ERA, only eight home runs allowed in 20 starts. He’s another veteran arm who can consume innings down the stretch. The price is relatively small in middle infielder Walters, who is slowly but surely churning through the minors. The switch-hitter is batting .300 at Single-A a year after doing the same at short-season. A line-drive hitter with limited power, the 21-year-old likely projects as a utility man as he matures.

Diagnosis: Nice piece for the Diamondbacks to add, nice contract for the Nats to get off the books.

Indians get: RHP Ubaldo Jimenez

Rockies get: RHPs Alex White and Joseph Gardner, IF-OF Matt McBride, player to be named (likely RHP Drew Pomeranz)

Could this be the deal that derails the Indians’ long-term rebuilding plan, one that appears ahead of schedule nonetheless? The Indians are geared up to win now, but they’re taking a big chance and paying a big price for the mercurial righty. The Indians are hoping for the guy that started 2010 15-1 with a sub-2.00 ERA and finished 19-8/2.88, not the guy who is 6-9 with a 4.46 ERA in 21 starts this season. He’s posted WAR numbers around 4 each of the last three years and is under control through 2012 at an affordable $4.2 million next year and club options for 2013 and 2014, though the latter option has a player opt-out triggered by the trade. Pitchers like Jimenez don’t grow on trees, making the price the Indians paid for a legitimate ace to front a staff that includes budding starters like Justin Masterson and Josh Tomlin more understandable. The Rockies replenish a system that is thin in pitching talent with three of the Indians top-10 prospects by most sources’ reckoning; the thought process in Colorado is that they’ll build around position players Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki while selling high on Jimenez to get the prospects to complement young arms like Jhoulys Chacin and Juan Nicasio. White, a 2009 first-rounder, has been fast-tracked through the system, debuting in the majors this season after just 174.1 minor league innings in which he posted a 2.37 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 145 strikeouts and 51 walks; he went 1-0 in three starts with the big club, allowing 14 hits and six earned runs in 15 innings, though he walked nine hitters and surrender three home runs. Gardner is struggling somewhat at Double-A with a 7-8 record and 4.99 ERA in 19 starts. McBride, who has limited power numbers, hit nearly .300 this season to earn a call-up from Double-A before struggling at Triple-A. The likely PTBN is Pomeranz, who has to wait until one year after signing his first pro contract to be officially moved. The 6-foot-5 righty was the fifth overall pick in 2010 and is justifying it so far; he’s up at Double-A already after breezing through the High-A ball with a 1.87 ERA and 95 strikeouts in 77 innings across 15 starts.

Diagnosis: We’ll see if Jimenez’s numbers benefit out of the rarefied air; I don’t think he’ll be 2010-dominant ever again and if that’s the case, the Rockies win with their boatload of prospects.

Giants get: IF Orlando Cabrera

Indians get: OF Thomas Neal

Oh yeah, and the Indians send a platoon infielder many though was getting too many at bats while hitting .244 to his seventh club in five years, the injury-affected Giants who are still without Miguel Tejada. If the Jeff Keppinger acquisition two weeks ago didn’t paint the picture clearly enough, it’s now uber-clear that the NL West leaders aren’t content with .190-hitting Brandon Crawford and utility-man-not-starter Mike Fontenot. Neal is hitting .295 at Triple-A with two homers and 25 RBIs. Don’t know if he can help the Indians’ outfield problems in September.

Diagnosis: Did you read what I wrote about Jimenez?

Pirates get: 1B Derrek Lee

Orioles get: 1B Aaron Baker

Lee is the veteran bat the Pirates have been craving; it helps that he knows his way around the NL Central. He’s a moderate offensive upgrade over the newly designated-for-assignment Lyle Overbay (.246 average, .302 OBP, 12 homers, 41 RBIs to Overbay’s .227/.301/7/35) and a big defensive upgrade (a UZR of 2.8 to Overbay’s -5.3). Baker is slowly but surely making his way through A-Ball, hitting .282 with 15 homers and 73 RBI in his third pro season and first at High-A.

Diagnosis: It’s a worthwhile gamble by the Pirates and a statement that they are going to try to win this year.

Sunday

Rangers get: RHP Mike Adams

Padres get: LHP Robbie Erlin, RHP Joe Wieland

The Rangers are clear winners for their bullpen overhaul. In Adams, they get one of the best relievers in the bigs the last two and a half years. His numbers over that time: 155 appearances, 7-2 record, 1.78 ERA, 3.9 K/BB ratio, 0.84 WHIP. His addition with Uehara completely revamps the path to closer Neftali Perez and finally replaces the role of converted starter Alexi Ogando from last season. The cost is substantial in two pitching prospects that blistered batters at High-A and are succeeding upon promotion to Double-A. Wieland is 4-0 in seven starts at Double-A with a 1.23 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 3.27 K/BB ration; he was 6-3/2.10/0.96 and 96 strikeouts to a mere four walks in 85.2 innings at High-A to start the season. Erlin has similar numbers (5-2, 4.32 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 8.71 K/BB ratio at Double-A after going 3-2/2.14/0.55/12.40 at High-A). Those are scary good against excellent young competition.

Diagnosis: Win-win. The Rangers get Adams, 33, through at least next season as he still has an arbitration eligible season left. The Padres add two impressive arms to what is already one of the top-10 most talented organizations according to Baseball America (maybe the Pirates and Indians would do well to have followed the Padres’ example not to push at the deadline last year).

Diamondbacks get: RHP Brad Ziegler

Athletics get: 1B Brandon Allen, LHP Jordan Norberto

Much like the Diamondbacks’ rotation, the bullpen could use a bit of a boost in front of JJ Putz, who’s 24-of-28 in save chances this season. The novelty has worn off the submariner Ziegler somewhat since his rookie season of 2008 when he went 3-0 with 11 saves and a 1.06 ERA. But he’s a serviceable reliever who is 3-2 with a 2.39 ERA and a 1.35 WHIP in 43 games for Oakland this season. His K/BB ratio of 2.23 is almost .65 higher than his career average. The one alarming stat though is that he has allowed 47 percent of inherited runners (18 of 38) to score. The Diamonbacks give up a pair of Triple-A guys with MLB experience. Allen has 209 big league plate appearances to his credit, batting .213 with eight homers and 27 RBI. But his OBP of .325 is likely what the A’s are impressed with; he may fit in as a corner outfielder if the A’s still like Daric Barton at first for the long haul. Norberto had a cup of coffee with Arizona in 2010, getting beat around in 33 games to the tune of an 0-2 record and 5.85 ERA, 22 walks and 15 strikeouts. But he’s done well at Triple-A this year with a 6-2 record, 4.25 ERA, and more manageable 2.08 K/BB ratio.

Diagnosis: Ziegler isn’t eligible for free agency until 2015 and has arbitration options left. He could become a nice piece in the bullpen for the next few years for some middling prospects. Win, ’Zona.

Cardinals get: SS Rafael Furcal, cash

Dodgers get: OF Alex Castellanos

The Cardinals have lacked a solid shortstop since David Eckstein left, and the platoon of Ryan Theriot, Tyler Greene and perpetually-injured Nick Punto isn’t cutting it. Furcal at 34, we think, is struggling through an injury-blighted season that has limited him to 37 games, a .197 average and .272 OBP. He has the motivation of knowing that two solid months could set him up for his last decent contract, and if he’s healthy, he’s an upgrade for the Cards at the plate and in the field. The Dodgers return an interesting player in Castellanos, a soon-to-be 25-year-old in the midst of an oddly productive season at Double-A. He’s hitting .319 there, 20 points higher than in any of his other three pro seasons and 50 points higher than he did at High-A in 2010, with 19 homers in 93 games, a significant jump over the 13 he had in 129 games last year. He’s only 5-foot-11, so he understandably doesn’t project as a power hitter. If this development continues, this could be a major coup for the Dodgers.

Diagnosis: The Cards lacked killer instinct last year in blowing the division with an August swoon and have had opportunities to take the Central by the throat this year. They’re close and need a boost. Furcal is a low-risk way to get that spark.

Braves get: OF Michael Bourn

Astros get: OF Jordan Schafer, RHPs Juan Abreu and Paul Clemens, LHP Brett Oberholtzer

The Astros are turning into Pirates South. They traded two 20-something All-Stars hitting over .300 and demoted two regulars, Brett Wallace and Chris Johnson, Sunday. Who the hell would go see this team? If Bourn and Pence aren’t part of the rebuilding plan, that tells you it’ll take a decade to get this team back winning, and it’ll be a brutal road. Well, the Astros’, um, what is the noun for pathetic again?, is the Braves’ gain. The NL Wild Card leaders get not only a boost for the beat-up lineup this year in a guy hitting .303 with a .363 OBP and a league-leading 39 steals in 46 attempts, they also receive a 28-year-old who’s under control for next season and is an excuse to get rid of Nate McLouth in center finally. The Braves give up a lot of bodies, but no one irreplaceable. Schafer, currently on the DL, was hitting .240 with 42 strikeouts in 52 games in the bigs. Abreu is with his third organization in as many years, and while his numbers at Triple-A are solid – 4-2 record, 2.25 ERA, 2.52 SO/BB ratio – he’s in danger of becoming a journeyman reliever. Clemens and Oberholtzer, both at Double-A, have potential. The big, live-armed Clemens battled injuries in A-ball, but has adapted well up a level, going 6-5 with a 3.73 ERA, though 103 hits in 108 innings is a bit high. Oberholtzer is craftier with what some label an unorthodox delivery and is 9-9 with a 3.74 ERA in 21 starts.

Diagnosis: Bourn is the kind of guy to keep in the fold long-term if you’re the Braves. He’s not a bad consolation prize in the outfield sweepstakes, especially if the prospects fail to pan out. The Astros? They couldn’t win a butt-kicking contest against a one-legged man.

Red Sox get: LHP Erik Bedard, RHP Josh Fields

Mariners get: OFs Trayvon Robinson and Chih-Hsien Chiang

Dodgers get: C Tim Federowicz, RHPs Juan Rodriguez and Stephen Fife

With the starting market bare and Clay BucHholz receiving news of a possible season-ending back fracture, the Red Sox had to reach for Bedard. The snake-bitten lefty is 4-7 with a 3.45 ERA and 1.17 WHIP, but at least he’s not on an operating table or in a rehab pool for a change. He’s looking like a rental, but Bedard knows he’s got three months to reboot his career in a major market. Fields is at Triple-A, where he is struggling with a 1.85 WHIP and 6.23 ERA thanks to some control issues, though he does have good stuff when he can control it. The Mariners are taking chances on 23-year-old outfielders in the midst of career years. Robinson is hitting .293 with 26 homers, 70 runs, 71 RBIs, a .938 OPS and has the ability to play left and center. Chiang is obliterating Double-A pitching to the tune of .340, 18 homers, 76 RBIs and a 1.050 OPS. The Dodgers Federowicz, 23, a strong defensive catcher who is hitting .275 with seven homers and 50 RBI. Fife, 24, is tearing up Double-A with an 11-4 record, 3.66 ERA, and 1.39 WHIP. Rodriguez is struggling at Low-A ball (2-4, 5.19 ERA, 1.51 WHIP), but as a 22-year-old, 6-foot-5 hurler, he’s worth a bit of patience.

Diagnosis: The Mariners could turn out as the big winner if Robinson and Chiang continue their development. Bedard is a risk, but he could flourish in Boston if he can stay healthy. It’s possible no one wins here.

Pirates get: OF Ryan Ludwick

Padres get: Player to be named or cash

It’s ironic that Ludwick ends up with the Pirates. After all, the swap of starting pitcher Jake Westbrook to St. Louis for Ludwick last summer at this time was the most adventurous the young yet offense-starved Padres wanted to get in the trade market. Now Ludwick fills a similar need for the Pirates as a low-cost outfield platooner. Ludwick can still rake, perhaps not to the degree as his 2008 All-Star campaign, but his .238 average, 11 homers and  64 homers aren’t bad and likely to improve away from Petco Park. Ludwick is a natural doubles hitter and should mesh well with PNC Park; since 2008, it’s been among his favorite parks, as he’s hitting .306 with a .977 OPS in 72 at bats.

Diagnosis: It may be nothing ventured, nothing gained. Or the Buckos could make the playoffs. Worth the roll of the dice.

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  1. […] Continue reading for Part 2, the moves from Saturday and Sunday… […]


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