Archive for 2011 Trade Deadline

Astros Wisely Accept Phillies Offer

The Astros finalized a deal Friday night sending all-star outfielder Hunter Pence to the Phillies, along with $1 million in cash, for RHP Jarred Cosart, 1B/OF Jonathan Singleton, and two players to be named later. One of the PTBNLs turned out to be Josh Zeid, a reliever from Double-A Reading, while the other isn’t considered to be a major prospect per Ken Rosenthal, who broke the story.

The Astros didn’t have to deal Pence right now since he is under team control for two more years. However, his value has never been greater, since he can impact three playoff races. Most available players are half-year rentals or are under contract or control for one more season. Pence was also about to get fairly expensive for the Astros, who, as a rebuilding team did not need to carry a $12-15 mm player that didn’t help accomplish their goals. Pence might have been the face of the Astros franchise, but that was more indicative of the status of the organization than anything specific to his set of skills.

Though he isn’t truly a differencemaker, or an offensive savior for any interested team, the perception of his abilities around the league likely exceeds his actual production. Combine these ideas and the Astros should have been able to extract a great return for a good, not great, player. In getting Cosart and Singleton, they took on some risk (Cosart’s durability, Singleton’s lack of position), but there is a very good chance that they acquired a package equally as good as the return on Roy Halladay.

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Bell Might Not Be Antidote for Rangers’ ‘Pen

The Rangers are rolling on all cylinders these days. Their +92 run differential is fourth-best in the Majors, and they are 11 games over .500 since the start of June. As Carson noted the other day, they have received good production out of center field, and really that translates to every other spot in the lineup as well. And while the Rangers’ bullpen has pitched better during the past two months, it still remains the team weakness… perhaps the team’s only weakness. As such the Rangers have been linked to both Heath Bell and Mike Adams as potential bullpen reinforcements, though it is widely thought that Bell is more likely to be dealt, so let’s focus on him. Would acquiring Bell be the proverbial final piece of the puzzle for the Rangers?

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Sabean Plays Russian Roulette with Zack Wheeler

Potential aces don’t grow on trees. So it came as quite a shock that the New York Mets acquired the San Francisco Giants’ top pitching prospect, Zack Wheeler, for free-agent-to-be Carlos Beltran.

Despite an ill-conceived article* on USA Today’s website, which suggests that the organization’s pitching prospects cannot be trusted, this was a shrewd move by the Mets organization and a very questionable decision by the Giants. Even as an amateur, Wheeler was a highly sought after talent and went to San Francisco sixth overall in the 2009 draft. Prior to the 2011 season during the Top 10 prospect lists, I ranked him as the Giants’ second best prospect in the system behind 1B/OF Brandon Belt.

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Philly Offer for Pence Too Good to Pass Up

Rumors are swirling that the Philadelphia Phillies are zeroing in on Houston Astros outfielder Hunter Pence. What I don’t understand, though, is why the Phillies don’t already have him. The rumored offering for the 28-year-old outfielder is top prospects Jarred Cosart and Jonathan Singleton, along with a third unnamed prospect. While Pence is a very nice baseball player, he is not a difference-maker all on his own. Nor is he a star player.

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Giants Prioritize Offense With Beltran

The biggest chip in the 2011 trading season has officially been moved. After weeks of rumors, the Giants pulled the trigger on a deal to bolster a struggling offense, acquiring Carlos Beltran from the Mets in exchange for prized pitching prospect Zach Wheeler. Beltran will infuse some life into an offense which enters Thursday’s play with an overall batting line of .241/.306/.360, worth an 82 wRC+ that sits dead last in the National League.

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Indians Add Fukudome To Help Ailing Outfield

Just a few hours after Chris opined that the Indians needn’t go all-in this season, the Indians made a fairly conservative move. To help shore up their outfield, which is currently short Grady Sizemore and Shin-Shoo Choo, the Indians acquired Kosuke Fukudome from the Cubs for two prospects. Chicago will pick up some of the $4.7 million remaining on Fukudome’s deal. While the specific prospects aren’t clear at the time of writing, we can still examine how this helps Cleveland’s chances.

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Scrabble Spells “Fair Deal” for Cards

Ed. Note: Four people were injured in the copyediting of this article.

One word. Change one word of the trade description, and you might see a world in which the Cardinals got fair value for Colby Rasmus in their trade Wednesday night.

The consensus for the most part is that Alex Anthopoulos pulled a coup when he acquired a young left-handed center fielder with power and speed and a decent glove for his collection of spare parts. A rental starter, a rental backup center fielder, a rental righty reliever, and a young lefty reliever is all that it took to get Rasmus. But then there’s that one word — reliever.

Call Marc Rzepczynski a young lefty starter, and suddenly things might seem a little more even.

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St. Louis Deals Rasmus for Pitching

If there was ever a precursor to a trade, this was it, via Matthew Leach and Austin Laymance:

Speaking to KSDK TV-5 in St. Louis, La Russa was largely complimentary of Rasmus until the end of the interview. He spoke of Rasmus’ bright future and said that the club is not shopping Rasmus.

At the end, however, La Russa was asked whether Rasmus is listening and responded tartly.

“Well, he’s listening to somebody,” the manager said.

Asked whether Rasmus is listening to the Cardinals’ coaches, he was more direct.

“No, he doesn’t listen to the Cardinal coaches much now, and that’s why he gets in these funks, in my opinion,” La Russa said. “If he would just stay with [basically] what they teach, he would have … but I actually feel concern for him, because he hears it from so many places, he’s got to be confused.”

Approximately 12 hours after that piece hit, the Cardinals sent Colby Rasmus packing to Toronto along with relievers Brian Tallet and Trever Miller and minor league stalwart P.J. Walters for a package centered around Edwin Jackson. The Blue Jays also sent relievers Octavio Dotel and Marc Rzepczynski and center fielder Corey Patterson to St. Louis to complete the deal.

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Blue Jays Take On Salary To Get Rasmus

The talks started last winter, but they didn’t seem serious. Why would the Cardinals consider trading Colby Rasmus? He’s young, he’s cost-controlled, and he’s a center fielder who has some pop. But he clashed with manager Tony LaRussa, and we’ve seen other players depart St. Louis after such spats. Those talks have heated up again in the past month, gaining momentum as the trade deadline approaches. Today it all came to a head. Early this morning word broke that the Blue Jays were set to acquire Edwin Jackson, whom they’d then flip to the Cardinals in a Rasmus deal. A few hours, everything came together as planned.

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Trade Deadline Necessities #10-#1

The rumor mill is spinning with the trade deadline a mere five days away as teams amp up their approach to accomplish their goals. On Monday, we took a look at ten teams who could make moves this week, but who don’t really have a pressing need to act. Some teams, like the Phillies, Red Sox and Yankees, are going to make the playoffs, and any moves they make this week will be to improve a minor deficiency. Others, like the Blue Jays and Rockies, don’t have much to sell and aren’t in the position to buy either. Yesterday, the focus shifted to teams who could benefit from making moves, either to get back into the race like White Sox, or to unload valuable assets like the Padres and Orioles.

Today ends the series by examining the ten teams who really need to make or field offers this week for different reasons. Each member of the group has a pressing need to transact this week in order to accomplish goals for this season, next, or both.

#10 – Tampa Bay Rays
Despite squashing rumors of James Shields potentially being available, the Rays have one of the most attractive deadline pieces in B.J. Upton. Though his offense has suffered quite a bit since 2007-08, the elder Upton brother is still a 3+ WAR player capable of hitting 15-20 homers while stealing 40 bases. Add in decent defense in center field and it becomes easy to see why many teams are coveting him. The Nationals are looking to acquire a long-term solution in center field and could make a strong push, though the Braves have also been linked to him.

Upton reaches free agency after the 2012 season, so with a year and two months left under team control, now is the right time to move him. With Desmond Jennings already promoted to the majors, Upton has been made expendable, and if the end solution involves trading him, it’s better to do so when he could impact two playoff races.

Kyle Farnsworth tends to change teams around this time every season, and his stellar numbers so far — 1.99 ERA, 2.69 SIERA, 4.0 K/BB could have plenty of teams calling. The Rangers could use relief help, as could the Cardinals and Tigers. The Rays could also look to capitalize on the potentially fluky success of Casey Kotchman, who will be a free agent after the season. His .388/.450 OBP/SLG would be mighty attractive to a few teams.

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Nationals Acquire Jonny Gomes

The opening salvo of the last week of trading season has been fired… and by the Washington Nationals, who sit 15 games back of the Phillies for the NL East race and nine games back of the Braves for the NL Wild Card. The Nationals pulled the trigger on a deal with the Cincinnati Reds acquiring left fielder Jonny Gomes for minor league pitcher Chris Manno and outfielder Bill Rhinehart.

Wait, what?

The impetus of this deal for the Reds is simple. Chris Heisey has been an above average hitter and has earned time in the left field hole for Cincinnati. With Gomes’s usefulness limited to his performance against left-handed pitching, Heisey has made him redundant. The movement of Gomes makes room for Yonder Alonso to come up and add another left-handed bat to the outfield mix and to the bench.

The thought process for the Nationals, however, is not so clear. The reward for the Nationals appears to be a right-handed platoon partner for Laynce Nix. Gomes does crush left-handers to the tune of a .382 wOBA for his career and a whopping .426 wOBA so far this season. He’s effectively worthless against righties — a .319 wOBA career and .296 this year — and in the field, where he carries a -38 career UZR in about four seasons’ worth of plate appearances in the corner outfield positions.

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Trade Deadline Necessities #20-#11

Teams approach the trade deadline in different fashions based on their financial outlook and position in the playoff picture. Based on the varying degrees of needs for both buyers and sellers I ranked all of the major league teams on how important it is for them to act before the July 31 trade deadline. Some teams need to add a significant piece, while others need to extract value from their major league assets. For serious contenders, success in the postseason was considered on top of the likelihood they make the playoffs.

Yesterday, we looked at the ten teams with the least pressing need to make a move. From #30-#21, the order went: Red Sox, Phillies, Rockies, Blue Jays, Dodgers, Mariners, Marlins, Yankees, Nationals, Braves. Today’s group starts with teams that may benefit from a move but who don’t absolutely need to be active this week, to those who should be on the phone rather frequently.

#20 – Minnesota Twins
Though they have rebounded quite a bit from a dreadful start, making up seven games in the AL Central over two months will be difficult. Their biggest trade chips are Jason Kubel, Michael Cuddyer, Jim Thome, Denard Span and Scott Baker, but only Span has been mentioned in recent rumors.

He is also probably considered the bronze trophy to teams that miss out on Michael Bourn and BJ Upton. Kubel will be a free agent at the end of the year and the Twins could probably get a better return on compensatory picks. The Twins would have to pay virtually all of Cuddyer’s remaining money to get anything of value in return, and despite a losing season, Jim Thome’s quest for 600 HR will likely keep him in Minneapolis until the waiver wire period. They have some interesting pieces that may have been valued more in trades earlier in the season, but not so much right now.

Then again, given the thin nature of the starting pitchers on the market, Scott Baker would vault toward the top of that list if made available.

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Trade Deadline Necessities #30-#21

The trade deadline will pass at 4:00 PM EST on Sunday July 31, giving teams a week to make deals before having to resort to the waiver wire.

Clubs approach the deadline differently based on goals relative to their current position in the playoff picture and their financial outlook. Playoff locks will look to improve a minor roster deficiency, while teams on the fringe will try to plug a major hole to shed their quasi-contender status. Some teams might try to unload a bad contract, even if they have to pay a large portion of the remaining salary. Teams clearly out of the race may look to trade away their valuable major league assets for prospects in the hope of contending in the future.

Despite the varying approaches, each team has a certain level of need to get things done. To that end, I decided to rank the teams in order of their levels of necessity as a makeshift primer of what can be expected as the deadline draws nearer.

The rankings are based on the goals mentioned above but don’t follow a specific formula. Not every team at the top is a fringe contender in a tight race, and the bottom third isn’t dominated by teams out of the playoff picture. The cellar-dwelling Astros, for instance, have as pressing a need to make moves this week as the Cardinals, who are tied in their division. Their respective spots in the rankings reflect the similar needs.

For the serious contenders, success in the playoffs did come into play to an extent, though it was definitely balanced with the likelihood they make the playoffs to begin with. The list is presented in order from least pressing to most pressing need to make moves this week, and our first group features as many contenders as non-contenders.

#30 – Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox are way too strong to miss the playoffs. In fact, they might be the one contender capable of dealing away pieces based on their depth. If Jed Lowrie were healthy, the Sox could deal Marco Scutaro to a team like the Diamondbacks, who desperately need a shortstop. Scutaro is unlikely to be moved, but if any team could unload an everyday position player and not miss a beat, it’s the Red Sox. Word is they might be looking to acquire a backup outfielder and a 5th starter, but their odds of making the playoffs and winning the world series don’t hinge on either move.

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