2009 MLB Trade Value: #50-#46

This afternoon, I announced the beginning of the 2009 MLB Trade Value series. Today, we kick it off with the bottom five.

#50: Prince Fielder, 1B, Milwaukee: 3.7 WAR

The big man is having the best season of his career, as he’s upped his walk rate while hitting over .300, and the power is still there. He’s an offensive beast, and at just 25 years old, he’s headed for the prime of his career. Unfortunately, he’s a couple of years away from being a DH, and the lack of defensive value limits the amount of teams that would give up the farm to get him.

#49: Jered Weaver, RHP, Anaheim: 2.5 WAR

Despite the ERA fluctuations, Weaver has been remarkably consistent since arriving in the majors, posting a FIP between 3.80 and 4.06 each year. That’s a quality pitcher, to be sure, but he’s not the ace he looked like in ’06 or earlier this year. Toss in the health concerns and his 50% flyball rate, and while most teams would love to have him, he wouldn’t command a king’s ransom as he heads into his arbitration years.

#48: Cole Hamels, LHP, Philadelphia: 1.7 WAR

After looking ace-like last October, he’s resumed being a good but not great starter this year, thanks to his home run problem. Health concerns will always be an issue with Hamels, and he’s no longer dirt cheap. He’s certainly a valuable arm with upside beyond what he is now, but the risks are fairly significant. He’s one of the guys who could easily be 30 spots higher, or nowhere near the list at all, at this time next year.

#47: Robinson Cano, 2B, New York: 2.2 WAR

Cano has rebounded from a lousy 2008 season, showing improved contact skills and finding his power stroke again, which make him one of the game’s better offensive middle infielders. He doesn’t walk and his defense isn’t great, but the rest of the package makes up for a few shortcomings. The contract extension he signed contains two team options that could keep him in pinstripes through 2013 at below market rates, as well, so he’s the rare Yankee other teams could actually afford to trade for.

#46: Elvis Andrus, SS, Texas: 1.5 WAR

He’s 20 years old and already a league average major league shortstop, thanks in large part to his defensive abilities. He has a good approach at the plate, solid contact skills, and should develop some additional power as he grows. His upside is extremely high, and he’s already a quality major league player. His reduced present value, due to the lack of current power, is the only thing that drives him this far down the list.




Print This Post



Dave is a co-founder of USSMariner.com and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.


75 Responses to “2009 MLB Trade Value: #50-#46”

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
  1. joe says:

    I wouldnt touch Hamel’s with a 20 foot pole. Even if his peripherals are the same as his previous years, those mechanics of his are going to keep him in limbo between the rotation and DL for the rest of his career unless he fixes them.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Richie Abernathy says:

      What do you think is so wrong with your mechanics?

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Richie Abernathy says:

      Oh, I thought you were going to say something about a jump in 64.1 innings from 2007 to 2008, including playoffs rather than pretend you or anybody else knows anything truly definitive about the biomechanics of pitching mechanics.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Terminator X says:

      Is your PhD in biomechanics or kinesiology?

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Stephen Fratus says:

        You don’t need a PHD in BioMechanics to analyze pitching mechanics anymore than you need a PHD in statistics to analyze baseball stats. The biomechanics of pitching are pretty simple: the smooth and uninterrupted transfer of power from the body’s major muscle groups to the pitching arm.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • JH says:

        Amazing insight. The world leaders in the field will love to hear they’ve been absolute morons all these years in saying there’s absolutely no way to predict injuries resulting from various different forms of motion. You’ve cracked it!

        Oh wait, you don’t know what you’re talking about? Darn.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Stephen Fratus says:

        The most cursory examination of the topic shows that two experts Drs Fleisig and Andrews believe that elbow injuries can be correlated to rotation of the elbow by the pitcher.

        So sorry JH. I know it’s hard to deal with new ideas but just cause you don’t understand them doesn’t mean they’re wrong.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Benne says:

        @BIP–

        I was just about to link that post myself. Beat me to it.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • BIP says:

        Um, that wasn’t so much a rebuttal as several paragraphs of non-statements.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Nick says:

        I don’t want hi-jack this thread with sentiments about Biomechanics, but I thought this deserved mentioning.

        In his post, Graham basically said that because each human body is unique in it’s structure, it’s nearly impossible to make any judgments based on generalizations.

        That, in my opinion, is exactly what we do with estimators like FIP or tRA. Most pitchers will eventually regress towards their FIP’s, but it’s clear that some possess an ability to deviate from them. Guys like Santana and Vasquez have been doing it for so long that it *must* be a skill. However, we know that most pitchers will generally pitch to their FIP, so we use it anyway. I suspect that it is shaped like a bell curve.

        The same thing is applied in Biomechanics. We know (or least can reasonably say) that certain actions are bad for most pitchers. However, we also know that some pitchers who have flaws in their mechanics and never get injured. Similarily, we know that their are certain pitchers who have great mechanics and do get injured. Should this discourage us from analyzing pitcher by their mechanics? When guys say “this guy has an inverted whatever, so he will probably get injured”, he is saying that a lot of pitchers who have that flaw do get injured, so assuming that this guy is like most pitchers, he will likely get injured.

        You’re right that at this point, it is a little too anecdotal… we don’t have enough of a sample size to be able get the proper regression inputs, so while we know that a certain flaw has caused injury, we don’t know how statically significant it is.

        Still, we know that it definitely affects some guys and that they probably make up the top of the bell curve. So we should still use that information, and regress it heavily, which unfortunately most Mechanics analysts don’t do.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  2. Mike says:

    I would not trade Pablo Sandoval for any of these guys, aside from maybe Andrus.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  3. Scott says:

    Sandoval’s calling card is definitely his hitting, but even if his defense remains where it is (it’ll likely decline), he’s still got that Prince Fielder/Mo Vaughn type body that falls off a cliff after a short career. He could have a long, stellar career, but the uncertainty is probably what knocked him down.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • archilochusColubris says:

      Yeah, i guess it would have to be the uncertainty inherent in a big-bodied/high-contact player.

      The thing with Pablo though is that falling off a cliff after a short career has little to do with the valuation of a player as a team asset. I can completely understand why he might be expected to follow that path, which certainly means that he’d be tough to compare favorably to someone with a good long-term contract like Longoria.

      But as ugly as Vaughn’s end was, he must have provided tremendous value to the Red Sox on his rookie contract. Do we really think Sandoval’s gonna be completely washed up before his 23-26 years?

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • ebc says:

        Yeah, that’s the thing — Pablo’s not yet 23, has less than a year of service time, and appears to be one of the best hitters in baseball. If you trade for him, you’re not trading for his thirties — you’re getting his midtwenties.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  4. Eyin says:

    Remember that Fielder is quite athletic for his size and has been eating healthier. He cut out red meats and shown off his speed by stealing a couple of bases and even hitting an inside-the-park-home-run (albeit the ball bounced off a speaker in CF). For a big guy to be able to run like that is a testament to the fact that he’s in a lot better shape than he gets credit for. Sure, he could still stand to lose a few pounds, but I don’t think it’s a foregone conclusion that he’s going to have to DH in a few years.

    I hope Milwaukee locks him up for awhile. They’ll have to trade him when he’s in his 30s, but why not lock down that bat and ensure a competitive team for the next few years?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • tom says:

      So Prince Fielder gets the benefit of the doubt but Pablo doesn’t? Pablo is incredibly dedicated to taking care of his body. Bochy and the training staff have told him to cool it with the exercise bike. He has way more value than Fielder because of a combination of his age, position, hitting ability, arm and contract. For anyone to doubt Pablo has never seen him play for more than one game. Prince should be DH’ing, Pablo is a legitimate 3rd basemen.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • ebc says:

        He’s also a legitimate catcher.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Mike I says:

        Maybe, just maybe, Dave has rated Fielder higher because he has a larger body of major league work upon which to judge his true talent level. Sandoval’s got 489 PA; Fielder has 2472 PA. Check out their ZiPS Rest-of-season projections. We know how good of a hitter Fielder is, while Sandoval may very well regress.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • alskor says:

        “Pablo is incredibly dedicated to taking care of his body.”

        Ahahahahahahhahhahaha…

        “Bochy and the training staff have told him to cool it with the exercise bike.”

        Fire them.

        “Pablo is a legitimate 3rd basemen.”

        I don’t see it. He’s already a negative fielder there and he’s only going to get older, slower and thicker.

        “He has way more value than Fielder”

        No way. The only thing they have in common is being rotund first basemen. In the last three years Fielder has been worth 49, 23.9 and 35.4 batting runs. Fielder walks more than twice as much as Sandoval, too.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • alskor says:

        And to be clear – Im not saying Fielder “has way more value” than Pablo. I believe Fielder is significantly more valuable than Pablo. I could understand but would disagree with the argument that Pablo is as valuable or nearly as valuable as Fielder.

        I cant for the life of me understand anyone taking the position that Pablo is “way more valuable” than Prince.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • tom says:

        In Fielders best season he put up 4.9 WAR. Pablo IS going to eclipse that(pending injury) at age 22.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • tom says:

        “Pablo is a legitimate 3rd basemen.”

        I don’t see it. He’s already a negative fielder there and he’s only going to get older, slower and thicker.

        In 581.1 innings at 3B he’s put up a +1.4 in UZR

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • alskor says:

        “In 581.1 innings at 3B he’s put up a +1.4 in UZR”

        No he hasn’t. That’s a +1.4 UZR/150 (Not UZR – its rated). His total career UZR at 3B is +0.5 and dropping.

        That UZR/150 is skewed from the 12 games last year where his SSS came out with a fluky, god like +44.5 UZR/150. Im pretty sure NO ONE is making the argument he’s a +4 win fielding 3B/the best defensive player ever.

        In 58 games (496.1 Innings) this year playing there regularly he has put up a -2.4 UZR/150, a -1.3 UZR.

        Even if you want to make the argument he’s average now (which is strictly speaking, a possible if somewhat farfetched interpretation of the data)… well, given his weight and age he’s extremely likely to get worse in the next few years.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • tom says:

        “That UZR/150 is skewed from the 12 games last year where his SSS came out with a fluky, god like +44.5 UZR/150. Im pretty sure NO ONE is making the argument he’s a +4 win fielding 3B/the best defensive player ever.”

        That says more about how small of a sample your basing this off of, than it does about Pablos fielding ability. I only brought that up because you called him a negative fielder based on a small sample size.

        And you can continue to call him fat and going to decline soon. I’m going to enjoy rubbing it in your faces when he dominates despite your interpretation of what should and shouldn’t be. Just like Lincecum, who apparently was “too small” or “Kerry Woods with worse mechanics”.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • alskor says:

        “That says more about how small of a sample your basing this off of, than it does about Pablos fielding ability.”

        So we have two samples of data. One is 12 non-consecutive games from last year. The other is the year to date and 58 games long. Certainly there is a SSS element to both, but I think most reasonable people would put more weight on the 58 game sample that matches his scouting reports and ignore the outlier 12 game sample and its effect on his overall numbers.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • tom says:

        if you understand how UZR works, you wouldn’t put much weight in to either without a much larger SS.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • alskor says:

        Ok. Lets go by the scouting reports then.

        KG at BP:

        “I love Pablo Sandoval as much as the next guy, but if you think he can play third, I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.”

        “Sandoval… can really rake, but he’s completely miscast at third base”

        http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=8426

        “Keith Law (2:49 PM): I’m assuming he could handle first base. He’s not a utility guy – that’s someone who can actually play multiple positions, and we don’t know if Sandoval can play anywhere but first.”

        http://espn.go.com/sportsnation/chat/_/id/23303

        John Sickels:

        “My main concerns regarding Sandoval are 1) long-term defensive home”

        http://www.minorleagueball.com/2009/4/13/833802/pablo-sandoval-crystal-ball

        Baseball America:

        “He can play third base a little bit, but his range is going to be limited because he’s going to get bigger, and as his body matures, he’ll be a heavyset kind of guy.”

        http://www.baseballamerica.com/blog/prospects/?p=1948

        Jerry Crasnick:

        “[Sandoval’s] range is limited at third, and the Giants are covered at catcher for the short term with Molina and the long term with top prospect Buster Posey. The consensus is that Sandoval will forsake both catching and third base for first base eventually.

        “He’s only 22 and he already doesn’t move that well,” said a scout. “He’s going to have to work hard on that body. He’s sort of a ‘knock it down, throw it across the diamond’ kind of guy at third.” ”

        http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/preview09/columns/story?columnist=crasnick_jerry&id=4027794

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • B says:

        A lot of kind of ridiculous opinions of Sandoval out there. I have a few points to add to the discussion.

        1. Can Sandoval play C? Some people think he can, he can probably use some more experience to get to an MLB level, though. Either way, regardless of how you feel on the issue, the possibility of it raises his value because at C his value skyrockets if it works out.

        2. Everyone is so concerned about his body. He’s 22. Looking at it from the Giants perspective, body issues aren’t an issue, he’ll be off his rookie contract long before aging becomes a problem. It’s certainly reasonable to assume he’ll age poorly, but that’s just an irrelevant point because that’s so far out in the future.

        3. Pablo’s D at 3B. A lot of people think he’s been average so far this year. UZR says he’s been a hair under average, but SSS, so we can call him around averageish. If you read what baseball people have to say about his skills, he has soft hands, a great arm, and is much quicker than you would expect (given his body). He’s also incredibly inexperienced at 3B, so comments like the ones alskor has been making that he’ll get worse in the next few years are completely unfounded. If anything he’ll get better because of added experience, even if his ultimate defensive “ceiling” isn’t very high. By the way, alskor, all of your articles are from before the season, when nobody had really seen much of Sandoval at 3B. At this point they’re irrelevant and outdated.

        4. His approach at the plate is improving. He’s swinging at less pitches outside the zone. He doesn’t walk much, but he doesn’t strike out much either, because he’s good at making contact. His walk rate has improved substantially, though it’s still not great, and we could be looking at SSS.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • ebc says:

        Good post, B. I think you’re too optimistic about his defense at third improving, but he’s not bad right now.

        And he absolutely can play catcher. With Sandoval sandwiched between Molina and Posey on the depth chart, they put him at third largely to get his bat in the lineup, and of course it has worked out great.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  5. Terry says:

    Am I the only one detecting an anti-KC bias inherent in the criteria for this list?!?!?!?!?!

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  6. Chris says:

    When has Jered Weaver ever really had health concerns?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  7. Erik says:

    How the hell do a “detect an anti-KC” bias 5 names in, let alone a bias for or against any team? What?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  8. alskor says:

    Wow… this is going to be one contentious series!

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Benne says:

      If the comments on this series don’t get as batshit crazy as the Organizational Rankings I’m going to be very disapointed.

      *grabs popcorn, waits in anticipation*

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • alskor says:

        EXACTLY what I was thinking!

        I wonder if Dave gives up on this half way through. Seemed like he was pretty exasperated by the end of the Organizational Rankings.

        We couldnt even make it to the first rankings page before people were going totally nuts because their favorite team’s shiny new toy was rated “only” the 50-55th potential most valuable player in a trade. Awesome. This could be epic. Im actually shocked no Yankee fans have gone apes*** over Cano being ranked this “low” and below Elvis Andrus.

        Id like to re-print a portion of Dave’s introduction here, if I might:

        “Making this list is hard. There’s so many good players in the game right now, and trying to decide who fits and who doesn’t feels like an impossible task at times. So, to close out the introduction, here are the five guys who just missed the cut. You could probably make a good case for any of them being included, but for me, they were just edged out by the guys above them.”

        http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/2009-mlb-trade-value-introduction

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Benne says:

        I mean, it doesn’t seem like rocket science to me. Would I trade Pablo Sandoval, straight up, for Elvis Andrus? Absolutely, and I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it. I’m actually a bit surprised Andrus is ranked this low, he’s quickly become one of my favorite non-Mariner players to watch.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  9. PhDBrian says:

    Since you are making this list in part because of players body size, this has no value whatsoever. It is all personal bias and has little or no relationship to actual numbers. Pablo Sandolval is a UZR/150 of 11 as a firstbasemen for his brief career. He is a plus 1.7 at 3rdbase for his career. His wOBA is an eyepopping .406 this season, so he has to be one of the top 10 talents in the game easily, and you left him out of your top 50 because you think he is fat. Well he is thinner than babe Ruth ever was, or John Kruk for that matter. I refuse to read anything biased entirely on personal bias!

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • alskor says:

      Body size correlates well with career length, defensive ability and lots of other good things. Its not a determinative factor, but it should certainly be considered.

      There is just no way Pablo Sandoval is one of the “top 10 talents in the game easily.” Heck, even his great wOBA is only good for 11th right now!

      Where’d you get that PhD? University of Pheonix Online?

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Justin says:

        This is ranking players based on there trade value. He is just saying because of his size he isn’t higher, maybe you should have read the other post before blowing a head gasket.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • alskor says:

        I read the other post. General Managers value body type. They value it perhaps too much, even.

        Maybe you should read the other post again. And then Dr. Brian’s post above again. He’s the one who blew a gasket.

        “[T]his has no value whatsoever. It is all personal bias and has little or no relationship to actual numbers.”

        “Well he is thinner than babe Ruth ever was, or John Kruk for that matter. I refuse to read anything biased entirely on personal bias!”

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • PhDBrian says:

        David Wells certainly had a short career. As did the Babe.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • BIP says:

      Yes, because half a season’s numbers tell us his exact true talent level.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • B says:

      I’m all for Sandoval as a Giants fan and think he probably should have made the list (though we’ve only gotten 5 names so far), but comments like this, “His wOBA is an eyepopping .406 this season” are taking it a little far…

      Prince Fielder’s wOBA this season is .439, AND he’s posted another full season of .417 before, so let’s just get some perspective on the issue before throwing out arguments…

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  10. Benne says:

    The Pablo Sandoval man-crush around here is starting to get disturbing.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  11. Sky says:

    Dave, any chance of sharing current arb/contract status for each player? It’s tough to judge the value of a player without it.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Kevin S. says:

      Google Cot’s Baseball Contracts.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Sky says:

        Well, sure, I can do the work and we can do all the work individually. But if Dave’s already looking at the salary info to make these judgments, he can easily share it in the article saving us each time and saving us as a collective a whole ton of time.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  12. FatPandiro says:

    No matter how you look at it weight is a risk. I we can all agree you can getting too fat can affect your game and that Sandoval is on the higher end of the risk spectrum.

    As stated in the intro risk is a a criteria for rating the players.
    “Essentially, the idea is to take all the information that goes into encapsulating a player’s value to an organization – his present skills, his future potential, how long he’s under club control, the expected cost of paying him over that time, and the risks involved with projecting his future performances”

    Personal prediction: Sandoval’s trade value will have peaked by the end of next season.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Rodney King says:

      This isn’t much of a stretch…trade value will pretty much always peak for a young star within their first season or two. Each year of club control/contract = value.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • alskor says:

        99% of the time… but I wouldnt say “always.”

        Some guys sign very team favorable contracts and are elite talents – ie. Pedroia, Longoria, Lester, Hanley, Granderson, Sizemore…

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  13. twinsfan says:

    Less than 600 innings at 3rd, less than 300 at first, and definitive conclusions are being draw about Sandoval’s defense? Do people not read this site on a daily basis or are the trolls just coming out of the woodwork?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  14. ace and gary says:

    So is Hanley or J Upton going to be #1? I vote Upton.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  15. Joe S. says:

    Cole Hamels should not be on this list. To much risk, there are at least 30 MLB pitchers I would put before Hamels. I think J. Upton #1, Longoria #2, Lincecum #3

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  16. Jon says:

    Well, apparently Cano has cleared waivers, as well as Melancon (click my name). Words can’t express how mind-boggling this is.

    Less than $2M for the remainder of this year, and $19M for 2010-2011, for a $15-20M player??? Do you have any explanation for this? Are things that bad financially for EVERY team in baseball?

    And Melancon is even more perplexing. Top prospect, great minor league numbers, making the league minimum.

    I can only assume the Post is wrong. Any thoughts, anyone?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Eric says:

      waivers don’t work the way you seemingly think they work…there was no chance the Yankees could have lost either player

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  17. james says:

    prince fielder put up pujols- esque numbers and is 25 years old, played every game this year and still has 2 years under team control. His defense has improved to an adequate point as well.. he has no business being this low, he should be no lower than twenty, probably in the top ten

    Vote -1 Vote +1

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>