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Sunday, July 31, 2011

2011 Trade Deadline - Big Moves

So, this afternoon is the trade deadline. I expect there will be a flurry of minor moves (relief pitchers) to happen around noon today but there have already been some big trades that I'll quickly recap below.

Phillies acquire Hunter Pence from Houston for prospects Jarred Cosart SP, Jonathan Singleton 1b, Josh Zeid RP, and PTBNL
This move was a bit of a surprise to me. Pence is a good player but that's all.  To obtain him Philadelphia gave up three of their top 25 prospects though none of them is a sure thing.  The part that makes this deal interesting is that Pence is likely to earn more than $10 million through arbitration next season and then will likely get even more than that in 2013.  Basically, he's about to get really expensive. Still, he's a good right-handed hitter and strong defender in right field who will help the Phillies.

Houston, in my opinion, could have done better. Yes, they got three good prospects but since Cosart and Singleton are still in A-ball there is still quite a bit of risk associated with them. I would have tried to get more of a sure thing when trading my best player.

Giants acquire OF Carlos Beltran NY Mets for SP Zack Wheeler and cash
The Giants offense has been absolutely putrid this season. Part of that is due to managment's misconception that Aubrey Huff represents an upgrade over top prospect Brandon Belt but it's also due to the fact that their offense just isn't any good.  Putting Beltran in the lineup gives this team an everyday hitter opponents will actually have to be wary of.

For a player who would be a free agent in a couple of months, the Mets did very well here. Plus, Beltran has a clause in his contract preventing any team from offering arbitration (thereby preventing the team from gaining compensation picks when he leaves as a FA). From the scouting reports I've read, Zack Wheeler is still very raw but his ceiling is that of an All-Star major leaguer.  Good haul for the Mets.

White Sox trade SP Edwin Jackson, 4C Mark Teahen to Toronto for RP Jason Frasor, SP Zach Stewart
Kenny Williams said he wanted to shed salary and he did ($7.2 million for Teahen this year!).  Edwin Jackson was having a good season but Mark Teahen has been a large disappointment since coming to Chicago.  In exchange the Sox receive a good reliever in Frasor and an intriguing prospect in Stewart. This is a pretty darn good trade for the Sox in my opinion.
After this trade was finalized the Blue Jays made another move:

Blue Jays trade SP Edwin Jackson, RP Mark Rzepczynski, RP Octavio Dotel, OF Corey Patterson to St. Louis for CF Colby Rasmus, RP Trever Miller, RP Brian Tallet, RP P.J. Walters
It's been no secret Tony LaRussa is not the biggest fan of Colby Rasmus. Why that is, I'm sure only the Cardinals organization knows. Additionally, the Cardinals rid themselves of a couple of relievers they weren't using and a prospect who is no longer one (Walters).  The return is just okay. Rzepczynski is a pretty effective lefty who can get guys out from both sides of the plate and is under team control until 2015. Octavio Dotel is decent against righties but shouldn't be counted on in the late innings. Why they took on Corey Patterson I have no idea. I guess he can spot start in center since Rasmus is gone.

I could write an essay on how well I think Toronto did in their two trades. Rasmus has a big fan in this blog, so I guess now we're big fans of GM Alex Anthopoulos.  Trever Miller and PJ Walters are not expected to play significant roles for the Jays and were likely just included because that's what it took to get this deal done.  Brian Tallet, when he comes off the DL, could have some value though. The amazing part is how they managed to get rid of Patterson since he wasn't even a rostered player in spring training. Now, he's been included in one of the biggest deals of the year.  In total Toronto traded four relief pitchers, a decent pitching prospect, and Patterson for Colby Rasmus and Tehean's contract. This took a lot of creativity and flexibility that not all GMs have. Great work by Anthopoulos.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Top 5 Prospects Who Could Move this Month

Yesterday I wrote about ten players who will likely be moved before this year's trade deadline.  In every deal that's made someone (or cash) needs to be going the other way, too.  Most contenders won't want to give up a piece of their core so prospects tend to make up the bulk of deadline deals. For many teams prospects are the preferred haul anyway.  Below I've listed a few prospects who are likely to be dealt in exchange for help in the final third of the season.

1. Jonathan Singleton 1B, Phillies
With Ryan Howard entrenched at first base for the next several seasons, it's possible the Phillies will look to move their top hitting prospect for some help. Singleton is no sure thing - he's still only 19 and in High A - but he's already shown a knack for taking ball four to go along with his line drive stroke.
2. Arodys Vizcaino/Randall Delgado/Mike Minor SP, Braves
If the Braves are able to acquire a key piece to their team they'll have to give up a good pitching prospect. Everyone should just assume Julio Teheran is untouchable so other teams should turn their focus to three other players rated as B+ or A- prospects.  Vizcaino has the highest ceiling but also has battled elbow and back issues. Delgado has the lowest ceiling of the three (he grades a 3rd starter in the majors) but is nearly a finished product and fared better than Teheran did in his cup of coffee.  Minor has better stuff than Delgado but doesn't have the injury history of Vizcaino. Plus he's already pitched a fair amount in the majors with success.

3. Ryan Kalish/Josh Reddick OF, Red Sox
The Red Sox have never been shy about making a splash to help them get a World Series ring. Kalish once ranked as a top prospect but has battled nagging injuries preventing him from playing to his full potential.  Reddick, called to the majors over of Kalish, has really played well lately but many scouts still worry about his lack of plate discipline. Neither of these guys will likely turn into a star but both could bring home a solid left-handed reliever in a poor lefty market.

4. Tanner Scheppers P, Rangers
Scheppers is an enigma. He started off fantastically last season but once he moved to the starting rotation really struggled. He was then moved back to the bullpen where he continued to struggle. This season has been no different. His peripherals suggest a lower ERA than the 5.29 he's currently sporting. Somebody will see the giant P on his back (Potential) and target him in a deal with Texas.

5. Mat Gamel 4C, Brewers
Technically, Gamel's not a prospect. But he hasn't gotten a full time job yet thanks to all of his positions being blocked (Prince Fielder, Casey McGehee, Ryan Braun, and Cory Hart) by established major leaguers.  The Brewers don't have a lot to offer and with the Prince's impending free agency it is very likely they go all in. After all they did when they got Sabathia. Gamel is ready now though he'd be best utilized without his glove.

Monday, July 18, 2011

2011 Trade Deadline Primer

The All-Star game has come and gone meaning that now teams must redefine their goals for the season. Some teams have already nearly locked up a playoff spot (Phillies, Rangers) while others know they'll be sitting on their couch come October (Cubs, Astros).  The rest of the teams will spend the next couple of weeks evaluating their position before defining themselves as contenders or pretenders. During July these teams are also known as "buyers" and "sellers."  Many things determine whether a team will look to make a trade such as injury, salary dumps, or even depth. With the July 31st trade deadline rapidly approaching, here is a list of the ten players most likely to be traded.

1. Josh Willingham LF
Since the A's have disappointed and failed to meet the front office's expectations moves will be made. Willingham is a relatively inexpensive player who's only under contract for 2011. The A's will likely use their left field vacancy as an audition for younger players.
Strengths: Above average right-handed power bat with solid on-base skills
Weaknesses: Only an average defensive player with little speed
Cost to acquire: Small. Cash or medium prospect
Likelihood of being moved: 95%
Possible destinations: Philadelphia, Boston, San Francisco, Atlanta, Pittsburgh

2. Mike Adams RP
San Diego isn't fooling anyone this year and will definitely look for deals to help them in the future.  Mike Adams has been one of the top relievers in baseball since his move to San Diego in 2008 and with him due for a nice raise in the off-season expect the Padres to move him to a team searching for right-handed bullpen help.
Strengths: Excellent control, doesn't allow homers, high strike-out rate
Weaknesses: None really, but you can expect his ERA to rise if he is moved to a hitters park and/or a team with a poor defense.
Cost to acquire: Medium-High. One top prospect or two solid ones should do it though the Pads would prefer the former.
Likelihood of being moved: 85%
Possible destinations: Anywhere, but I've got my eye on Texas.

3. Wilson Betemit 3B
The once former top-prospect was on the verge of becoming a baseball vagabond until last season in Kansas City.  He's always had some pop but his defense became acceptable and he hit for a decent average for the first time since his Atlanta days.
Strengths: Switch hitter, positional versatility
Weaknesses: Often struggles vs. left-handed pitchers and can be overpowered by hard fastballs.
Cost to acquire: Low. The Royals recently called up 3B prospect Mike Moustakas so Betemit is back to being a bench player.
Likelihood of being moved: 80%
Possible destinations: San Francisco, Philadelphia, Detroit, Milwaukee

4. Carlos Beltran OF
Carlos Beltran is likely the best player that's readily available.  He missed large chunks of 2009 and 2010 due to knee injuries but he's back with a vengeance this season as he currently leads the National League in doubles.
Strengths: Good hitter from both sides of the plate, good power, excellent baserunner even though he no longer steals many bases, having a good season defensively as well
Weaknesses: No longer can play center field, potential knee issues
Cost to acquire: High. The Mets will want a grade A prospect and likely some salary relief from the $18.5 million Beltran is earning this season. Good players don't come cheap.
Likelihood of being moved: 70%
Possible destinations: Boston, Philadelphia, Cleveland

5. Jamey Carroll INF
The Dodgers are out of it and-- thanks to their owner filing for bankruptcy-- in desperate need of salary relief.
Strengths: Solid utility player who can contribute offensively
Weaknesses: Stretched at shortstop, 12 career HR in over 1000 career games
Cost to acquire: Low. Carroll has appeal to several teams so his value will probably be driven up in the bidding process but salary relief is likely LA's number one demand
Likelihood of being moved: 67%
Possible destinations: Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, Chicago Sox, Braves, St. Louis

6. Tyler Clippard RP
Washington has shown real signs of growth this season and is realistically only a couple of seasons away from putting a playoff-caliber team on the field. Trading Clippard will help the team move in this direction.
Strengths: Stretched as a starter, Clippard has proven to be an excellent long man, situational man, or even late inning reliever.
Weaknesses: Can be prone to give up the gopher ball
Cost to acquire: Medium. While the Nats are actively shopping him, they'll likely be overwhelmed by an offer from some team. He's making the league minimum but is due for his first raise in arbitration this offseason.
Likelihood of being moved: 60%
Possible destinations: Atlanta, St. Louis, Yankees, Philadelphia, Arizona, Tampa

7. BJ Upton CF
While Tampa would be considered a contender by many, they're not against reshaping their team to improve themselves for next year as well. Upton's not having his best season and it might be a time for a change of scenery; the Rays may be ready to see him go.
Strengths: Elite speed, very good defensive player, at times has some serious pop
Weaknesses: Attitude and effort are questionable at times, susceptible to prolonged slumps
Cost to acquire: Medium. Tampa already has his replacement ready in AAA but they'll need something worthwhile to move him.
Likelihood of being moved: 50%
Possible destinations: San Francisco, Washington, Cincinnati

8. Jeremy Guthrie SP
Guthrie has been Baltimore's #1 starter the last few seasons more by default than by actual performance.  Still, he's durable and can eat up a lot of innings. Teams could do a lot worse.
Strengths: Excellent control, durable
Weaknesses: Gives up a lot of homers, struggles to put hitters away
Cost to acquire: Medium. A major league ready pitcher is a must though he doesn't have to be a future stud.
Likelihood of being moved: 45%
Possible destinations: Detroit, Arizona, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, St. Louis

9. Ivan Rodriguez C
Rodriguez is no longer the catcher he once was but he can still be an asset to a contender. Washington has been utilizing him in a back-up role all season to give their younger players more experience.
Strengths: Cannon arm, defensive master, experience and leadership
Weaknesses: His offensive skills have eroded greatly
Cost to acquire: Low. Lots of cash or a C+ prospect and cash might do it.
Likelihood of being moved: 40%
Possible destinations: San Francisco, Yankees, Boston, Detroit

10. Ty Wigginton UT
Colorado has been ravaged by the injury bug this season to the extent that it's likely ended their playoff aspirations already.  Wigginton has been hitting well but really doesn't have a place to play everyday on this team. Look for him to be moved.
Strengths: Defensive versatility, good power, performs well as a bench player
Weaknesses: Has not had a good season batting average wise and is a crappy second baseman
Cost to acquire: Low. Any B prospect should be enough to pry Wigginton away.
Likelihood of being moved: 40%
Possible destinations: San Francisco, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Detroit

Surprise Deal: Michael Bourn CF
I haven't heard Bourn's name mentioned in any rumors but this is a move that makes too much sense to me.  Houston is awful, awful, awful, and there are several teams out there who could use a good center fielder.
Strengths: Maybe the best defensive center fielder in baseball, excellent baserunner/stealer
Weaknesses: No power, doesn't hit for high average or have a high walk rate
Cost to acquire: Medium-High. He's not really on the market but a solid offer ought to get him. Two B prospects and a young major leaguer should be more than enough.
Likelihood of being moved: 33%
Possible destinations: Atlanta, Tampa, Boston, San Francisco, Detroit, Cleveland