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Stuff You May Have Missed
- How the MLBPA betrayed the union ethic
- On the Pirates signing of Clint Barmes
- Justin Verlander and the power of narrative
- Predicting the W-L record of the 2012 Blue Jays using WAR
- The value of Arizona’s middle infield
- In a weak and expensive free agent market for starting pitchers, Danks and Floyd may be better options.
- Should the Blue Jays sign Jonathan Broxton?
- Has Ruben Amaro learned nothing from the Brad Lidge Extension?
- Hey guys, Jose Valverde is average at best (Please stop thinking otherwise)
- The myth of Eric Thames’ fast-balls
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Category Archives: Trades
Like most Jays’ fans, words cannot describe just how happy I am with the Colby Rasmus trade(s). Enough words have been spent on the deal by my many, many, many contemporaries in the Blue Jays blogosphere, and there are more than a few professional opinions on the matter, so I shan’t bore you with mine. Needless to say, this one is an unequivocal win for Alex Anthopoulos and his front office of ninjas. It seems like every trade he makes, he doesn’t just come out on top, he leaves the entire industry dumb-founded.
Yesterday was a crazy day. You see, I’m a graduate student. A graduate student who needs to finish his incredibly complicated thesis on biased media coverage of unions within the next two months. Throw onto that that my Graduate Assistant union is planning a massive rally to fight against budget cuts on Thursday (I’m the communication director for my union) and the fact that I have a pretty much full-time job as a writer and days like yesterday are bound to happen.
The Jays decided another fairly major trade was going to drop on the one day I had no time to comment.
Luckily, I have a small window of time this morning to go through it and I have to say, it’s a confusing one.
Just a little over three days after trading face-of-the-franchise Vernon Wells to the Angels for Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera, a deal I still love to death, Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos flipped Napoli to the Texas Rangers for reliever Frank Francisco.
There are two sides to this deal and I cannot decide which one I’m on.
On the one hand, I am a firm believer that Mike Napoli is extremely underrated both at the plate and in the field. He also provided the Jays with something they needed; a proven catcher who could help ease J.P. Arencibia into his starting role and a guy who can hit left-handers well enough to start at first base and DH a few times a week.
Frank Francisco, however, comes to a team already stacked with right-handed relievers what with returnees Jason Frasor, Shawn Camp, Josh Roenicke, Casey Janssen, and Scott Richmond along with recent acquisitions Carlos Villanueva, Octavio Dotel and Jon Rauch.
On the other hand, Francisco is a terrific pitcher; his xFIPs over the last three seasons are 3.34, 3.53, 3.31 and he has a career K/9 rate at 10.01, including 10.25 last season.
Francisco is also very solid against lefthanders posting a 2.93 FIP against them and holding them to a .203 opponent’s batting average. He did, however, walk left-handers at a much higher rate than righties, still he’s good enough against them that taking only one lefty north with the team is a possibility. That might not be the worst thing given the Jays are a little thin in that regard; really only David Purcey and Jesse Carlson are possibilities and neither should scare anybody.
I like Francisco as a pitcher a lot, but this is still a bit confusing. My guess is that Anthopoulos isn’t quite done yet. I said it before, perhaps Jason Frasor has pitched his last game in a Jays’ uniform; this seems to only add to that feeling.
It’s also possible that Napoli was resistant to signing in Toronto. He is arbitration eligible and already submitted his number to MLB at $6.0-million. Anthopoulos, on the other hand, has said he will only negotiate multi-year deals after the submission deadline for arbitration so it is conceivable that Napoli had no interest in signing for more than one year.
This, of course, is aimless speculation and the Jays could be in the same position with Francisco who filed for arbitration with the Rangers and was unable to reach a settlement with them before the deadline.
Either way, it would seem Anthopoulos has something else in the works. I can’t see him breaking camp with 9 viable right-handed relievers.
Since Dotel and Rauch were just signed to deals, one would assume they aren’t going anywhere so that leaves the holdovers and Villanueva as possible trade bait.
I also think that a Vladdy Guerrero signing could be up-and-coming too.
Which reliever would you consider moving if you had to move one (or two) of them?
Do you think this was a good trade?
Okay, so, today was not a good day for the Jays to break another trade. I’m faaaar too busy to comment on the trading of Mike Napoli to the Rangers for reliever Frank Francisco.
I refer you to Mr. Parkes over at Getting Blanked for his analysis until tomorrow when I should have some time to post something.
Before I do, I want to point out that I was going to write a piece on what I consider to be a terrible off-season for the Tigers, but Jonah Keri wrote this piece for FanGraphs today. He’s not as hard on them as I would be, but it’s still a well-thought-out piece.
Plus, Jonah Keri rules so…buy his book in March. It’ll be the new ‘Moneyball’.
Today, the Detroit Tigers traded starting pitcher Armando Galarraga to the Arizona Diamondbacks for minor-leaguers Kevin Eichhorn, a right-handed pitcher and Ryan Robowski, a left-hander.
Galarraga is well-known for his near-perfect game last season which was lost due to a blown call by umpire Jim Joyce.
Galarraga avoided arbitration with the Tigers by signing a one-year $2.3-million last week; he was then promptly placed on revocable waivers and designated for assignment.
For those who don’t know, revocable waivers is sort of a complicated process. When someone is placed on them, he can be claimed by any team in the league. If he is claimed by more than one team, the move is blocked; however, if he is claimed by only one team, there is a decision to be made. The Tigers could have pulled Galarraga back, let him go to the Diamondbacks for nothing, or work out a trade with the claiming team.
This is probably the first move this offseason by Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski that I like. Galarraga had no place in the Tigers rotation for the upcoming year with the addition of Brad Penny and rather than non-tender Galarraga and effectively release him, the Tigers’ GM was able to turn him into two serviceable (albeit fringy) prospect pitchers.
Eichhorn is the son of former major-league pitcher Mark Eichhorn and was a two-way player in high school as both a pitcher and a short stop. He was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2008 draft by the D’Backs.
He is ostensibly a two-pitch pitcher possessing a fastball in the 88-91mph range with solid arm-side break and an average curve. His command is advanced for a pitcher of his age (about to turn 21); he posted a very solid 1.9 BB/9 rate mostly with the Pioneer Rookie League’s Missoula Osprey.
Eichhorn is still a ways from the major leagues but might see action as high as AA this season if he continues to show improvement. With only two effective pitches, he’s likely no more than a middle-reliever in the future.
There isn’t much info on Robowski out there, but he was a 16th round draft pick by Arizona in 2009 and posted a 5.17 ERA in 35 relief appearances in 2010 with high-class-A Visalia.
He’s slightly older than Eichhorn at nearly 23, but also exhibited solid command with a 2.7 BB/9 rate and a 3.19 K/BB ratio.
As for Galarraga, the Diamondbacks are getting a pitcher who can, when he’s on, dominate a game, but has trouble staying consistent. He’s past the point where he can be considered a high-ceiling player, but the D’Backs are getting a pitcher with some experience who is a solid back-of-the-rotation starter on a decent team.
I think it should be assumed that if the Angels had offered Toronto a pack of Big League Chew they would have accepted the trade, but the fact is, Napoli and Rivera are far from useless commodities.
Napoli, although not a great defensive catcher is probably better than people think he is; he’s certainly better than the Angels think he is.
He’s also one of the better offensive catchers in the game having posted a career OPS 26 points higher than that of Wells at .831. He also tops Wells in OBP (.346-.328) and in slugging percentage (.485-.475). Napoli also has a career walk-rate of 11% which is a very solid above-average number. The Jays need patience at the plate; we know this.
From pretty much any angle, Napoli in himself is comparable to Wells in return value, especially when you consider Napoli’s salary will be no more than just over $6-million for 2011.
Defensively, Napoli has some serious versatility and fits two or three real needs in the Jays’ lineup. He was actually rated as an above-average fielder last season with the Angels, according to FanGraphs and will allow Toronto to ease J.P. Arencibia into his role as starting catcher this season. If Arencibia struggles and has to be sent down, Napoli and Jose Molina are more than capable of carrying the catching load.
Outside of that, Napoli actually played more games and innings at first base last season in Anaheim than at catcher, where he more than held his own defensively. Given his propensity to tear apart left-handed pitching (.289/.393/.538 against lefties vs. .238/.329/.467 against righties in his career) a platoon situation at first base with Adam Lind does seem to make some sense.
His offensive ability also makes him a nice DH option when there’s no other way to get him in the lineup.
This also allows Edwin Encarnacion to move into a corner-infielder bench role who can also DH occasionally, which in my opinion increases his value over his status as a below-average regular.
There’s very little not to like about Napoli in a favourable situation such as Toronto.
As for Juan Rivera, he was more of a throw in to the deal, likely to make room on Los Angeles’ depth chart as well as to clear his $5.25-million salary for 2011, but he still fills a noted hole in Toronto, especially with Wells departing.
Rivera will likely occupy one of the corner positions (my guess is left field) with Travis Snider playing in the other. Rivera is not a particularly good fielder but does possess some pop at the plate with a career .461 slugging-percentage and even if his on-base numbers aren’t great, he still has an identical .328 career OBP as Wells.
The more I look at this deal, the more I love it.
Now that there has been nearly 24 hours to let the Vernon Wells trade absorb into our brain cells, perhaps it’s time for a little analysis of what this trade means for both sides. First I’ll detail Wells and the Angels and then in the next part, I’ll talk about what the Jays received in return.
I do want to say, as many Jays’ fans are saying, that I like Vernon Wells. He didn’t live up to his contract, but I don’t blame him for signing it, I blame ownership or J.P. Riccardi or whoever was responsible for signing him to that contract in the first place.
Wells was a team leader and an incredible influence in the Toronto community and the Canadian community at large. I’ve always loved his deadpan sense of humour and his ability to make any interview entertaining (as evidenced by his numerous encounters with Cabbie on The Score). Even his play on the field was much of the time at a level rarely seen within this franchise.
As a move to better the franchise, however, I cannot be happier. It’s nothing personal, but as a fan I’m thrilled at the potential for this deal to open up a kind of Jays’ team that can contend on a yearly basis with the giants of the AL East.
About a week ago when talking about the four most important and polarizing position-players on the Jays, I talked about what I expect to see from Wells going forward. I think it still holds true now, although it will be interesting to see if playing in Anaheim helps or hurts his numbers.
Here’s what I said at the time:
“Wells had a nice bounce-back year in 2010 after an ’09 that had fans of the team and pundits alike calling for his head on a platter. He finished with a solid if not spectacular slash line of .273/.331/.515 and hit over 30 home runs for the first time since 2006, a year before signing the massive extension. He recorded the second-highest WAR rating of his career at 4.0 and although he was still below average defensively, he managed to improve greatly over his previous two seasons, perhaps showing he was healthier than in previous years.
“However, there are some troubling things about Wells’ 2010 that are worth mentioning.
“Vernon got off to a torrid start. Between Opening Night and May 9th, Wells compiled a .339/.406/.661 line to make for a 1.067 OPS. He’d hit 9 homeruns and had driven in 25 in only 33 games. He compiled a walk rate of 9.8% during that time.
“From May 10th through to the end of the year, however, Wells had a much more pedestrian .255/.310/.475 line for a .785 OPS. He hit 22 more homeruns while driving in 63 and saw his walk-rate drop 27.5% to 7.1%.
“If I was a betting man, I’d say the second set of numbers is more likely what you’ll see from Wells in 2011 and beyond.”
I don’t appear to be alone in thinking Wells will regress in 2011 and beyond. Bill James predicts a drop to a .269/.328/.467 line, which in terms of slugging percentage is quite a severe drop off; and James also formed that prediction before the trade and I would imagine his park adjusted numbers will suffer in Anaheim.
According to ESPN’s MLB Park Factors, Angel Stadium ranked ahead of only Safeco Field in Seattle and Tropicana Field in Tampa in 2010 in the runs category at 0.864 of the league average, Rogers Centre ranked 8th at 1.058.
In home runs, Angel Stadium ranked 23rd at 0.825, while Rogers Centre was 4th at 1.358; and in hits Angel Stadium ranks 24th, while Rogers centre ranks 11th.
Those factors will not help Wells, although you could make the argument that a potential switch to a corner outfield position and the switch from turf to natural grass could help him stay healthier.
Overall, I really do see Wells’ numbers regressing to a .255/.310/.475-ish line. I will admit, that on-base percentage is significantly less than his career .329-mark, but that is also helped by a .280 career average, and I don’t see Wells achieving that number in Anaheim.
Leave it to me to say that there is no news in baseball right now. As soon as I posted that Pujols piece, all hell broke loose.
The Toronto Blue Jays, led by noted ninja Alex Anthopoulos unloaded Vernon Wells and his gaudiest of gaudy contracts to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for catcher/DH/1B Mike Napoli and outfielder Juan Rivera.
On a pure talent level, the Angels may have an edge in this deal, but this was clearly a salary dump for Toronto. They get out from under four years and $86-million owed to Vernon Wells and in return get two serviceable major-leaguers who fill urgent needs for 2011. Beyond that, nothing is guaranteed to either player, giving the Jays much more financial flexibility going forward; Rivera is a free agent after this season and Napoli is still in his arbitration years.
The best part of this deal is that the Angels will take on all $86-million still owed to Wells. The Jays get off. Scott. Free.
Juan Rivera can occupy one of the now empty outfield spots (probably leftfield, moving Snider to right) with Rajai Davis most likely manning center until Anthony Gose or Darin Matroianni are ready. Rivera could also be flipped in another trade.
Napoli fits in nicely as an insurance policy behind the plate in case Arencibia shows signs of not being ready and if he is ready, he can DH and play occasional first base.
Napoli has very dramatic splits (.305/.399/.567 against lefties vs. .208/.277/.423 against righties) which set up some really nice platoon options for Toronto with Adam Lind at first base.
As the Wells news began to settle down, the Tampa Bay Rays popped up with some equally significant news; they signed both Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon to one year contracts. Damon’s deal is for $5.25-million and Manny’s is apparently for $2.0-million!!!!
I speculated earlier this week that Manny would get far more than $4-million and I really did think he’d get $6-$8-million. Mind=blown.
I’m a little confused as to why the Rays would get both Manny and Damon considering neither can play outfield, but maybe they are planning an insane DH platoon, who knows?
Both players are still more than competent at the plate and to get them both for under $8-million is nothing less than very impressive.
The Rays and Jays are both fully aware of the kind of savvy it takes to compete in the AL East on a small budget and within minutes, they both showed you why.
Why the Rays are among the best and the Cubs are among the worst: The Matt Garza trade in perspective
What the hell just happened? Are you going to look me straight in the eye and tell me that Matt Garza just got traded to the Cubs for a package of prospects that treats Garza like a perennial All-Star?
That is precisely what appears to be happening. It’s being reported that Garza has been dealt to the North Side for a package of prospects headed by the Cubs supposed number one prospect Chris Archer. Also included in the deal are outfielder Brandon Guyer, former infielding catcher Robinson Chirinos, infielder Hak-Ju Lee and outfielder Sam Fuld.
Now, the deal isn’t completed yet so this might change but Tampa is said to be giving back outfielder Fernando Perez along with Garza. Perez was once thought to be a decent prospect but has essentially fallen off the map in recent years. After posting a .903 OPS in 2007 at AA-Montgomery, Perez slid all the way to a .754 OPS in 2009 at AAA-Durham and then to a .579 OPS last year at AAA. Something tells me he’ll never be a quality major-leaguer.
There are a few people out there who think Garza is underrated, but I am of the opposite stance. Although he is a solid pitcher, those who give him ace status fail to look anything tangible.
I make the comparison to A.J. Burnett on a few levels. He’s talented (although maybe doesn’t have the raw stuff A.J. possesses) but tends to lose focus on the mound far too often which leads to an elevation in mistakes. At times he can be dazzling, as displayed by his no-hitter last season, but other times he can be shelled without regard for outs or wins. In fact, these graphs show he’s probably much worse than Burnett.
The Cubs didn’t give up a Zack Greinke or Roy Halladay-type package of prospects, but they did give up some useful pieces.
Chris Archer was acquired by the Cubs from Cleveland for Mark DeRosa and had a lights out year last season in the minors combining in A+ and AA to go 15-3 with a 2.34 ERA. His walk total was slightly (although not horrifically) high, but he also struck out a boat-load and posted a solid 2.29 K/BB ratio. He’s the type of pitcher who, with some refining of his command, could be better than Garza.
With the Rays rotation set to be one of the youngest and best in baseball without Garza next season, Archer has plenty of time to develop. David Price, James Shields, Jeff Niemann, Wade Davis, and Jeremy Hellickson are expected to be the 5 starters heading into 2011 for Tampa. The trading of Garza allows the spot for Hellickson who is showing signs of being a much better option, even in 2011. I would wager that Hellickson will have a better year than Garza this year.
Another useful comparison is the other major pitcher trade to have occurred involving an AL East team this offseason. For Garza, the Rays grabbed a package that in sum equals far more than the Jays got for Shaun Marcum when they traded him to the Brewers in December for Brett Lawrie. A quick look at the graphs for Marcum and Garza illustrate that Marcum seems at least equitable to Garza, if not superior to him.
Either the Rays made a fantastic deal or the Cubs made a terrible deal, but no matter how you angle it, it fits in with expectations for both of these teams.
This deal also gives the Cubs six major-league starters on their depth chart in Garza, Carlos Zambrano, Randy Wells, Tom Gorzelanny, Ryan Dempster, and Carlos Silva. This should open up the trade talks for one of them to be shipped off, probably in another dumb deal.
One last question: is it worse to be a Leafs fan or a Cubs fan? I’m a Leafs fan so I’m biased.