Shopping For A Starting Pitcher? Good Luck.

As we sneak up on July, we’re at a point where the buyers are starting to contact the sellers. As White Sox GM Rick Hahn said to MLB.com:

“Given the way we’ve played thus far, it’s not a real surprise we’ve had some phone calls — more of the vulture-type phone calls, the type that traditionally we’re more accustomed to making,” Hahn said. “But that’s part of the hole that we’ve dug for ourselves, that teams are going to look at us as potential sellers when the deadline comes, and they’re starting to lay a little bit of that ground work now.”

While the addition of a second wild card incentivizes bubble teams to hang onto their players a bit longer to see if they can make a second half run, there are eight organizations that shouldn’t have any false aspirations about how the rest of their 2013 season is going to go: The Astros, Marlins, Mets, Cubs, White Sox, Mariners, Twins, and Brewers. Minnesota has the best record of the group at 32-36, but they know they’re in full scale rebuild mode, and they shouldn’t diverge from the path-to-the-future that they began by trading away veterans for prospects over the winter. The other seven teams all have winning percentages below .440, and even if they had some pre-season optimism about their own club, they need to admit that it’s not happening this year.

Our rest of season forecasts have each team finishing with 75 wins or less, and given the 90+ wins it will likely take to secure a wild card spot, it’s time to face the music and start prioritizing 2014 wins. While the other 22 teams retain some chance of playoff glory, these are the eight franchises that should be putting their players on the market as we head into July. However, that list of sellers presents a problem for the teams looking to buy, especially teams who are hunting for a rotation upgrade: these eight clubs don’t really have good pitching to trade.

In order to look at the potential starting pitchers who might be available, I built a custom leaderboard with the starting pitcher most likely to be traded from each of the eight teams above. Here’s that leaderboard in table form.

Name Team IP BB% K% GB% HR/FB BABIP LOB% ERA- FIP- xFIP- WAR RA9-Wins
Bud Norris Astros 89.0 7% 16% 42% 6% 0.324 73% 92 90 108 1.6 1.2
Ricky Nolasco Marlins 94.2 6% 20% 42% 9% 0.278 74% 95 92 100 1.4 1.5
Jake Peavy White Sox 67.0 6% 24% 37% 12% 0.293 71% 102 89 89 1.3 0.9
Shaun Marcum Mets 59.1 6% 21% 31% 6% 0.333 57% 157 89 105 1.3 -0.6
Yovani Gallardo Brewers 87.2 8% 19% 51% 15% 0.303 70% 116 102 92 0.8 0.4
Kevin Correia Twins 88.1 4% 13% 46% 15% 0.300 82% 97 118 102 0.4 1.5
Joe Saunders Mariners 92.1 7% 12% 50% 11% 0.293 72% 119 117 110 0.4 0.5
Matt Garza Cubs 34.1 8% 20% 39% 13% 0.258 68% 127 116 111 0.2 0.1

The best pitcher on the list is probably Jake Peavy, but he’s on the DL and might not be able to take the mound again until a week or two before the deadline. Then you have Gallardo, whose velocity and strikeout rate are both trending the wrong way, and is in consecutive year number three of giving up more home runs than you’d expect from a ground ball pitcher. Matt Garza is better than he’s pitched since coming off the DL, but taking two months off to tend to an arm issue and then struggling once back on the mound isn’t a great way to convince a contender that you’re a significant piece. These three should be the prizes of the deadline, but each comes with a pretty big red flag.

Then, you have the innings eaters. Bud Norris and Ricky Nolasco are actually outperforming their peripherals after years of doing the opposite, but neither one profiles as anything more than a back-end starter on a playoff team, and their track records suggest that their current ERAs are more deceptive than any sign of real improvement. Kevin Correia and Joe Saunders are both pitch-to-contact strike throwers, but if you’re starting either one in a playoff game, something has probably gone wrong. These four guys could stabilize the #4 or #5 spot for a team looking for competence to replace a disaster, but there is just not a lot of upside with any of them, and they’d be of limited value in October.

Marcum is kind of the wild card. He combines all the health questions of the first group with the limited upside of the second group, though if one just stares at his BB/K ratio long enough, a contender might talk themselves into him as a difference maker. As an extreme fly ball pitcher, he might make sense for a team in a big ballpark like the Giants or Pirates, but a lot of the teams shopping for pitchers play in HR friendly ballparks, so Marcum probably won’t be a fit for most of them.

Perhaps there has been a less impressive crop of available starting pitchers at some point in the last few years, but I can’t think of one. With the Blue Jays surge potentially taking Josh Johnson out of play and the Phillies talking like they’re going to keep Cliff Lee, there just isn’t anything resembling more than a mid-rotation starter or a total lottery ticket. For teams looking at a guy they can stick at the front of their rotation in October, there is basically nothing on the market.

The Mariners could potentially change that by making Hisashi Iwakuma available, but given that Jack Zduriencik is in the last year of his contract and it isn’t going particularly well, it’s possible that ownership won’t allow him to trade away assets under team control beyond 2013, especially if they’re leaning towards a front office change after the season. The Royals might also make things kind of interesting if they struggle over the next few weeks and decide that re-signing James Shields is going to be difficult, but it’s hard to see them parting with the guy they gave up Wil Myers for just a few months into their attempt to go for it. I think a team looking for a pitching upgrade should assume that neither Shields nor Iwakuma will become available.

The Phillies really hold all the cards here. Cliff Lee’s contract is expensive, but he’s probably never going to have more trade value than he will in the next month, simply because the non-Cliff-Lee pitchers kind of suck. Ruben Amaro‘s reticence to blow up his aging roster is understandable, but there is also such a thing as taking advantage of market conditions. As good as Lee is, the Phillies could repurpose $25 million per year on other players in the free agent market over the off-season, and if they were able to shed Jonathan Papelbon‘s contract as well, they would be in a position to make some real improvements to a roster that needs some depth.

Lee is a difference maker in a market that offers none. If the Phillies put him in play, they’ll be the only team selling a real playoff quality starting pitcher, or at least one you can count on getting to October in one piece anyway. That’s a good position to be in as a seller, and it’s one they should take advantage of.




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


96 Responses to “Shopping For A Starting Pitcher? Good Luck.”

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  1. Hunter says:

    Great article, but the strangest thing in the penultimate paragraph…your possessive apostrophes are backwards. It’s kind of disconcerting.

    But yeah, anyway, I think Amaro holds the cards here. He can continue on with a great pitcher still under team control, or he can wait until someone comes at him with a sick overpay.

    Being a Phils fan, though, I know he’ll find some way to mess things up.

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    • My personal blog runs on WordPress, and I can attest to the backwards quote marks as a WordPress bug. It can be resolved with a lot of patience and re-typing quote marks, but the time investment to reward ratio is low.

      I love working with WordPress, and overall it’s superb writing software, so the quotation mark bug is like a fun little party quirk.

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      • ArbeeEye says:

        The reason for the backwards apostrophes is that they are appearing right after a link. Notice that after Cliff Lee, the apostrophe is fine, but after the two names that link to their profile, the apostrophe is backwards. This always used to bug me when I wrote on WordPress, although not enough to spend any time figuring out how to fix it.

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        • Nivra says:

          Seems like the easiest fix would be to rewrite the code that replaces player names with linked player names. Have the code search for “‘” first and replace it with “‘” then do the standard search and replace, ignoring all prior linked players.

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    • channelclemente says:

      Who cares. Find another hobby, fellas.

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      • Scraps says:

        We care. And, you know, this is writing, and lots of people care about precision, even the weird little things like wrong-facing apostrophes. You could just skip the occasional little breakouts of these kinds of discussions. Or you could find another “hobby,” since you’re obviously annoyed with a very small incident.

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    • mortimer says:

      Amaro denies looking to sell Lee, but he’s just setting himself up to get a good price. As you point out, in this kind of market in particular, his value is too high to overlook.

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  2. Wobatus says:

    Perhaps the Padres could talk themselves into thinking they have a wildcard shot. They could use a starter. Marcum may make sense for them, although I doubt they’d want to give up much. Erlin’s recent torching in AAA may give them some pause about making him one of their starting 5 this year, if they creep into the hunt. And Marcum makes sense in Petco, perhaps. Doubt they’d give back much but as a Mets fan I’d pray maybe Marcum and a minor league arm gets Fuentes or some such. Or, if Maybin comes back, Denorfia?

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    • Nick says:

      I agree that the Padres also make sense as a landing spot for Marcum. He would be a clear upgrade from Clayton Richard and his 4.1 K/9

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  3. Brad says:

    From the Cubs, you forgot Scott Feldman……he’s pitched very well, and is on a one-year, $6 mil deal. He is certainly available, and should rate as high as Nolasco or Norris, and probably above Saunders and a couple other fringy guys. He has a 3.00-ish ERA, and though he is outpitching his peripherals a bit, he has been legitimately pretty good

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    • Sarge6 says:

      As a Cubs fan, I’d love to see them rob a team blind for Garza and Feldman both. The thing about Feldman that could scare teams off is that he’s kind of a two-trick pony this season: Wrigley Field and day games. Garza’s the opposite: he needs to get away from Wrigley post-haste.

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  4. Phantom Stranger says:

    Cliff Lee to the Rangers? We know they like his stuff, they tried signing him on the first go-around. A team like the A’s really need him if they want to be serious World Series contenders, but their payroll limitations probably preclude his salary.

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    • Bill says:

      I think the Rangers are smarter than this, but I’m sure that Lee would suddenly become available if Profar were put on the table.

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      • Aggie E says:

        Maybe I am just naive but i cant see any team paying Lee’s contract plus the probability that he will want his last season GTD and giving up any quality prospects.

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      • Andy says:

        What would the Phillies do with Profar?

        Also, Lee can block trades to a bunch of teams. Most of the likely contenders are on that list. One notable team that isn’t is the Cardinals.

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  5. jpg says:

    I think the Mets should consider making Niese and Gee available. Niese recently signed a team friendly extension and Gee still has several years of control which might make them very attractive. I know trading guys like that when you’re cash strapped and rebuilding like Mets are might seem counter intuitive but, as Dave pointed out, the market conditions might make this the right time to deal from what is the one obvious organizational strength.

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    • Brian says:

      I’m with you, but unfortunately, Niese looks broken and Gee is too cheap (and hence part of the future) to trade. Though obviously for the right price Gee could definitely help a contender (as could Hefner or Marcum).

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  6. Nik says:

    After messing up the first Cliff Lee trade, I think Amaro hangs on to him this time. After all if the prospects in a second trade don’t pan out, he’ll be forever remembered as the schlub that traded an Ace twice for nothing.

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    • Dave Cameron says:

      He’d be acquiring the rights to spend $25 million on other things this winter.

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      • Hunter says:

        The best players aren’t going to free agency though, are they? Getting back good prospects >free agents.

        Besides, what are they getting in FA that’s better than Lee?

        Despite Lee’s high price tag, he’s been worth the salary.

        Unless they somehow pick up a bunch of valuable free agents the market is undervaluing (unlikely) why not stick with Lee?

        You don’t (or shouldn’t) move salary just to move salary.

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        • ed says:

          I don’t know – moving Howard’s salary would probably be a great idea.

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        • Andy says:

          True, but nobody will take Howard along with that salary. The Phillies would have to pick up a lot of it, so they have no reason to trade him.

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      • swyck says:

        Any evidence Amaro would know what to do with that $25 million? IMO hasn’t done all that well with previous trades.

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      • Nik says:

        Yes, but if the prospects that the Phillies get are insignificant, what exactly would the Phillies spend the $25 million on that would be better than Cliff Lee.

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      • TheUnrepentantGunner says:

        as long as that $25 million includes a 2.5 million buyout for himself i’m all on board!

        otherwise… not so much.

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      • Mitchell Below says:

        If Amaro asks a team to take on Lee’s salary, won’t he necessarily have to accept lower-caliber prospects in return? Conversely, if his goal is to acquire prospects that “pan out,” as you say, to rebuild, won’t the Phillies have to eat a significant portion of Lee’s salary? He can’t have his cake and eat it too.

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        • Preston says:

          Lee’s good enough that you can demand they take the money and give you prospects. Think of the Johan trade, the Mets traded their best prospects for the right to give him what at the time was record money.

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      • Bill says:

        Big extension for Chase Utley?

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      • Alby says:

        “He’d be acquiring the rights to spend $25 million on other things this winter.”

        Except that, as others have noted, free agency is drying up; there won’t be $25 million worth of other things on the market this winter. Without Lee, the Phillies have no pitcher to build around other than Hamels. They take more steps backward for 2014 by trading him than by keeping him. As the attendance drop shows, a non-contending Phillies team won’t keep the cash flowing. And Lee is the most popular player on the team, who still remember him turning down the Yankees to play in Philly.

        You don’t trade Lee unless you get back a Matt Harvey, a Dylan Bundy or other potential ace. And Amaro won’t get that back unless he eats more than half the salary.

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  7. BX says:

    How about the Angels and Jason Vargas?

    Yes, that team is massively underachieving and will get better in the second half, but not good enough to win the division and not good enough to get to the 90 win wildcard threshold.

    Shopping Vargas, an impending free agent, would be smart in this market.

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    • Baltar says:

      Politically, the Angels can’t admit they’re not in the hunt.

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      • Scraps says:

        Well, Coolstandings has the Angels at about ten percent for making the playoffs, which is bad but not inconceivable. On the other hand, I can’t see it.

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  8. Justin says:

    Gallardo has been pretty good in his last couple starts. We’ll see how he does

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  9. Jsprech says:

    Yovani Gallardo might have slightly better numbers than Kyle Lohse right now, but I see Lohse as much more likely to be shopped by the Brewers. The fanbase has a much greater attachment to Gallardo, and trading him would be a hard sell. Lohse on the other hand is a veteran innings-eater type pitcher who is new in town.

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    • MH says:

      Yeah, except the market for Lohse has been pretty well established already.

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      • Blockhead says:

        A market that potentially had as much, if not more, to do with the loss of slot money in the draft as it did Lohse’s skill.

        Is the loss of a draft pick and slot money tied to a trade with him as well?

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        • Andy says:

          A player has to be with his team all season to be eligible for a qualifying offer. So if he’s traded, his new team can’t offer him one.

          And the pick that Lohse cost them was for the draft a few weeks ago.

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  10. o's need a pitcher says:

    Dylan Bundy + Jonathan Schoop for Cliff Lee?

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  11. Bo Diaz says:

    Really poorly done. Garza did not miss any time with an elbow injury. It was an oblique or lat. You also failed to mention Feldman and T. Wood, both of whom could be quite attractive, given the dearth of talent on the market.

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    • Pre says:

      I would be very surprised if the Cubs considered moving Wood. He’s under team control for several years. Seems silly to move a young cost controlled arm at the deadline for prospects.

      I think Feldman will get dealt too, but it seems like the idea of the list was of the best pitcher for each team and I think Garza will get back more than Feldman. While he’s had a good start I don’t know that teams will be particularly excited to acquire him.

      Unless it was edited, it says arm issue which covers pretty much the elbow, lat, dead arm, etc of the last 6 months.

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    • Jason B says:

      And you, in your rush to bitch and moan, forgot to read the part that said, “THE pitcher most likely to be traded”. Not “the best” or “here’s three from each team.”

      Really poorly done.

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  12. MikeS says:

    John Danks? Just look what he is doing right now!

    Pitcher IP H HR ER BB SO pLI WPA
    J Danks 3.0 7 2 3 0 2 0.85 -.158

    Never mind.

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  13. Dave K says:

    Amaro is key. I’m willing to bet the Tigers would trade for Papelbon too.

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    • Balthazar says:

      Yeah, that’s a pretty good call. Moving Papelbon is, or should be, a far higher priority for Philly if they want salary relief. His money was way to high to begin with, relievers are more replaceable (unless you’re GMing in Detroit), and he’s just not that useful to a shaky, rebuilding squad. Not many takers for his contract, but I could see Detroit being all over that. And they have a history of over-paying closers so its no new ground for them. _And_ it would be the move that would most improve their playoff performance, likely.

      Milwaukee moving Gallardo would be the smart move, but the fan base would hate it. There’d have to be a really good option coming back, and his performance doesn’t seem to command that.

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      • Bill says:

        I didn’t think that Philly would ever be able to move the Papelbon contract, but Detroit is the one team in the one situation that will I could certainly see happening. Resigning Valverde shows they are desperate and have absolutely no faith in the in house options. Papelbon is the only “proven closer” on the market and Detroit is one team that probably won’t be overly deterred by his excessive contract. If Amaro doesn’t find a way to make this happen, he will certainly regret it. This opportunity won’t come up again.

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  14. ed says:

    Dodgers get:
    Cliff Lee
    Ryan Howard

    Phillies get:
    Andre Ethier

    Adrian Gonzalez turns into a potato and rolls into the sunset.

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    • Michael Scarn says:

      That is beyond nonsensical for the Dodgers. Even for their standards.

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      • Professor Ross Eforp says:

        Ryan Howard is bad at baseball.

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      • Joebrady says:

        I understand the words, but never saw them together in the same sentence. If they could take a bad contract in Beckett, a weak contract in Crawford, and maybe possibly a reasonable contract on a player unlikely to age well in Gonzo (and as a RS fan, I like him), and give up a couple of ranked minor leaguers to boot, then I don’t understand what you mean by ‘their standards’.

        And that doesn’t include extending Ethier for 5 years, and putting him on the market a week later.

        Did you know that Kemp, CC, Ethier, and Puig are all signed through 2017 and/or beyond? Even if you loved CC and Ethier’s contracts, which nobody does, you have to have a really expensive outfielder on the bench at all times.

        And that assumes that Pederson never gets promoted. If he breaks thru next year in ST, you could have a very nice young OF, and two guys sitting on the bench making $37M between them.

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      • ed says:

        Well, I admit that the odds of Adrian Gonzalez turning into a potato are probably not high.

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      • Andy says:

        Yes, but upvoted for the potato comment.

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  15. Nick says:

    For the Twins, Pelfrey seems to be trending upwards (K rate up from 2.8 to 5+ in May/June, xFIP is dropping too) and has a one year deal. He could be moved to fill in the back end of a rotation and eat some innings. He may not get much better than he is now, but might be a more viable trade candidate than Kevin Correia (on a 2 year deal, lower K rate, etc).

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  16. DukeDean says:

    Gallardo to the Rangers for Odor and Joe Ortiz. Aramis to the RedSox for Cecchini . Lohse to the Giants for Blackburn.

    A Brewer fan is allowed to be hopeful.

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    • Joebrady says:

      Not that hopeful. Aramis would play only if Iglesias and Middlebrooks got hurt, and even then, we’d promote Bogaerts most likely.

      However, while we likely wouldn’t need him, Gallardo is not quite as easy to dismiss.

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  17. Professor Ross Eforp says:

    Jack Z has to be out the door, right?

    If that is the case, then why not do it now and bring in somebody to do an orderly liquidation of tradable assets. It does not have to be a permanent replacement (though admittedly there are not a ton of guys that fit the mold who are readily available), but it does not make sense to me to have a guy fighting for his job in this position.

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    • Joebrady says:

      Yup, the time to decide on Z is now. Of your top-11 position players, 10 of them could leave without anyone even realizing it. I’m not saying they all stink, but except for Seager, would anyone care? If you could land a few B-level now, what would be the advantage to waiting until the off-season to ax Z?

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      • Scraps says:

        If Nick Franklin would leave — at least right now — lots of Mariners fans would care very much. Probably Morales too.

        But, yeah.

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    • AverageMeansAverageOverTime says:

      That’s the whole point isn’t it? Is Jack Z out the door? We don’t know. We have no facts to back up that idea. A lot of people hope he is but do the owners or upper management feel the same way? We don’t know.

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    • Balthazar says:

      I am far from convinced that Jack Zd is a roast duck, but that said I don’t know what kind of latitude has to make a trade. The situation is a weird tweener in Seattle, but I’m betting Jack comes back short-term if he agrees to that, and why wouldn’t he?

      I very much want Tom McNamara to stay, I really love his drafting. The only real mistake on his side has been Ackley, and Dustin’s troubles are, to me, mostly above the neck, his college performance justified his projection and draft slot. Steve Baron was an obvious overdraft, and Littlewood is more like Wormwood, but everyone misses a few. I look at calls like Brad Miller, Chris Taylor, Landazuri, Pike, and Jabari Henry and to me McNamara has consistently pulled value out of his mid-tier drafts. I’ve always loved Nick Franklin, there’s no point at which he _hasn’t_ been a better player than Ackley was supposed to be. They system has lots of guys who would move up to being significant contributors on the 25 man, and that’s what this FO team was brought in to do.

      Jack Zd has made too many bad decisions in trade and major acquisitions to have much confidence in him, that’s the problem. It’s possible that his good ‘gets’ were flukes, and coming early they influenced the impression of him. I don’t see it quite that way, but of course we don’t have the details. When Jack Zd came, the Ms system was awful, and understandably he made a number of quantity-over-quality deals. The idea was not necessarily bad, it’s just that very few of the guys in those moves reached their upper projections. Figgins was a disaster—but let’s not forget that every stathead was drooling over that one. Maybe _that’s_ why Jack clean out all of their pay slots this last offseason, because frankly the stat-leaning advice he’s had didn’t pay off in a single, superior player. I haven’t heard anyone calling for Jack’s head take any responsibility for _that_ aspect: he TOOK the advice, and it crapped out.

      There is the further factor that in my view, and it is only that, Jack Zd has been under pressure from his higher ups for the past two off seasons to acquire a marquee player. Look, the two decision makers above him in Seattle are a pair of marketing whores who were heavily involved in building a team-owned media network, as we see from this past offseason. I don’t think Jack particularly wanted Jesus Montero, or Mike Morse; he certainly tried to acquire other, more defensible players first. It isn’t coincidence, watching how this franchise has operated since present ownership came on board, that there has bee a push to acquire or simple designate ‘fan favorites’ to market advertising around. Yes, Jack Zd seemed to do the best he could with that, and the results have been crappy, but I’m not convinced that he had complete latitude in that. Of course the ownership can still push him off the end of the pier anyway to take the rap.

      The thing is, sacrificial goats don’t fit the FO MO in Seattle. The top guys are much more about organizational loyalty, and Jack Zd has _tried_ to execute their plan from Day One. Bad park design? “I’ll work with that.” Pitching heavy development skew. “We can get some good ones, and they’re always tradable.” BIG NAMES NOW! “Best the market made available.” To me, Jack has executed managements plan—it’s just been a stupid plan. And Jack has of course made more than his share of mistakes. His good moves seem to have involved trading relief pitchers into market overvaluations, while his bad moves seem to have been undervaluing starting pitchers in his readiness to move them, and for what. Now, Jack Zd was twice involved in rebuilding schemes where many significant starting arms went bad medical, and that seems to have influenced his valuations. And, sure enough, Hultzen’s been out for two months with a ‘shoulder,’ Paxton sure as hell looks like a guy throwing hurt, while Pineda and Campos both actually did blow up, and Morrow is in a process of physical disintegration. But yeah, I’m not sure I trust Jack Zd to trade a starting pitcher even if he has the latitude . . . though I’m a big fan of Vargas for Kendrys Morales if they can keep El Cubano.

      The Ms design this season has been sick ugly, but then I think Jack had marching orders to bring in ‘famous faces and DINGERS, NOW!’ Nobody outside the Ms offices knows the truth of that. The Ms brass is big on org loyalty, and the system is vastly improved. Given that, if the 25-man does no worse than now through the year, I think Jack’s back, but _not_ on a 3-year. I don’t really see any advantages to the Ms moving anyone in July, though. Saunders, Harang, Ryan: they don’t get you more than pocket change in talent. Iwakuma is needed to stabilize the rotation, trading him is just dumb, unless it’s for something like Profar, and of course no one looks likely to make a deal like that. I’m more interested whether the team signs Austin Wilson, which I do think happens. And when and how the Ms deal Ackley in the offseason, which I also think will happen.

      All that reads like I’m rooting for Jack Zd to stay, which is weird since I’ve been very critical of some of his team’s development decisions. I just don’t see Lincoln and Armstrong pushing him and McNamara out the door for ??? unless the 25-man stinks horrendously for the last two months. And I don’t think that’s what’s going to happen. We’re going to get Walker and Miller and a few others, and the team will limp along behind Felix and Iwakuma to respectable mediocrity, which for L & A is situation normal.

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      • Balthazar says:

        Encapsulating Jack Zd’s deals, should he get to make more, he’s been best in exploiting market undervaluations and especially roster inefficiencies of counter-parties: he knows when the other guy’s playing sloppy or has to lay down the wrong suit. Jack Zd has been worst in reaching for flawed guys, often with limited track records, on the gamble they’ll reach their upper projections. He should only be acquiring strong certainties with proven track records at this point . . . and wouldn’t everyone love to be in that kind of catbird seat, right?

        Trading Oliver Perez for someone wildly undervalued or forced to the end of the bench would fit Jack’s MO to a T. I don’t want Perez to go, but that’s where Zd’s most likely to bring back max value.

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      • Scraps says:

        I don’t think Ackley’s problems are above the neck, I think his problems are coaching, specifically Eric Wedge.

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        • Balthazar says:

          To me, you ascribe far too much power to that pustulent martinet of a manager. And there are far too many things wrong with Ackely’s approach in the majors to lay that all on anyone not inside his cranium. You seriously think Wedge is telling Ackely to pull everything he bothers to swing at but not to swing and half the strike zone or until he has two strikes on him? Look, loathe Wedge all you want—I detest him myself—but blaming the coaches for a player’s failings is bootless.

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        • Scraps says:

          Oh, I like “bootless”.

          You’re right, I was too simple. Ackley took too many pitches that he thought were balls, yes, for instance. But I do think Wedge got in Ackley’s head. Ackley has done well again in the PCL, and while the AAA is not the major leagues — as Wedge reminded a reporter who asked about Ackley, practically wagging his finger — but I think “AAAA hitters” are rarer than thought, and Ackley will produce in the major leagues eventually.

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  18. Andruw Jones says:

    What about Mahalom after Beachy returns? They’ll have a logjam with minor, medlen, huddy, tehran, beachy and mahalom. None of them are suited for bullpen duty really.

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    • jesse says:

      I seriously doubt that, the Braves will probably use Beachy for a month or so out of the pen to start off, assuming they don’t send Tehran down. After that, assuming no injuries, I could see a series of “injuries” sending guys to the DL with “tired arms”

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    • Anon21 says:

      Contenders don’t trade competent starting pitchers away. They will stash someone in the bullpen or the minors, but they won’t get rid of them. (Plus, I don’t see what need the Braves have that could be addressed on the trade market. They badly need a third base upgrade, but where would they get one?)

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      • Bronnt says:

        On the Braves’ blogosphere, I’ve had to really quash this idea that a first place team is going to trade a quality starting pitcher to make room for a guy returning from TJ surgery. It would be an objectively dumb thing to do-you want the extra pitcher if you’re planning on staying in the race. Still, it would be rather lovely if they could manage to sell high on Maholm. The peripherals, especially xFIP and SIERA, say he’s having a career year, and the ERA matches up with that.

        I have to imagine that there is SOME package of players that moves Maholm, but Frank Wren’s track record is a bit uneven when it comes to trades. He did very well to trade for Michael Bourn, and he found a good deal for Justin Upton. But he also was going to send a ridiculous package to the Cubs for Dempster last year before Dempster vetoed it, and in May of 2011, he was reportedly fielding calls where he actually told teams he was not going to trade Derek Lowe. Someone might try to offer him a super rich deal for Maholm and he might refuse it.

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  19. Eminor3rd says:

    Hopefully Peavy kills it in his couple starts before the deadline. I wouldn’t be surprised if a couple teams don’t hold out to the end to see how he does before settling for guys like Norris.

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  20. Kevin says:

    “Cliff Lee’s contract is expensive, but he’s probably never going to have more trade value than he will in the next month, simply because the non-Cliff-Lee pitchers kind of suck.”

    Best sentence of the article.

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  21. Jim says:

    How about the Dodges shopping Capuano or even Lilly when he gets back from the DL? I would assume they be willing to trade any starters or relievers not named Kershaw, Greinke, Ryu or Jansen.

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  22. Joebrady says:

    If you’re including the Phillies in the assessment, their has to be a few other teams, and then a few other SPs included.

    One of the biggest names, maybe bigger than Lee, has to be Price. He only has 2+ control years left, and he is already costing $10M+. This is when TB usually gets rid of guys, and like you said, he might have a lot more value now than in the off-season. Just on salary basis alone, he has to command a far larger price than Lee.

    On the next level down, Masterson and Ubaldo need to be considered, since he is pitching about as well as he knows how.

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    • Balthazar says:

      Silly goose, you mean that you didn’t get the memo that the stat lines in the post were picked so that everybody looked like a non-opiton except Cliff Lee? You’re reading this like it’s a “who’s in play at the deadline” post when really the conclusion was picked and the fact set was framed to match.

      Yeah, there’ll be other options on the market in July. And probably right now.

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    • Bill says:

      Wait, why are you mentioning pitchers on contending teams?

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  23. 65Kyle08 says:

    All about them hossss

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  24. Steve Holt says:

    The guy most likely to get traded from the Astros is Bedard. Pitching well at the moment, affordable, one year deal, but sadly only one back-foot breaking-ball away from blowing something in his arm up and being worthless.

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  25. Stond Jays Fan says:

    When Brandon Morrow and JA Happ return, the Jays will have a surplus of starting pitching…Chien Ming Wang anybody?

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    • eddiegaedel says:

      they could also trade Dickey or Johnson, I am surprised they were not mentioned here.

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      • Jason B says:

        This article referenced only teams with zero postseason aspirations. With their recent win streak, I think they Jays feel they have some (although they’re likely slim, and slimmer than they would like to believe). But they’re not in sell mode…yet.

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  26. Bryan Grosnick says:

    What about Jon Niese on the Mets? Given his contract, his track record of performance, and his age, he would likely be a guy the Mets would want to hang on to. But he also might be a guy that a contending team could see as a win-now-but-also-later type addition, similar to the Doug Fister acquisition by the Tigers. And given the Mets’ (for now) organizational depth at SP and window to win (read: not next year either), couldn’t it be possible for them to make that move for an okay IF/OF prospect?

    Of course, this would also depend on his shoulder being okay.

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  27. Baltar says:

    I would like to see a complimentary article on which teams might be willing to trade for a pitcher that might be only their 4th or 5th starter.
    Which contenders, or self-perceived contenders, are that desparate for starting pitching?

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  28. Pustulent Martinez says:

    Because of the buyout/vesting particulars of Cliff Lee’s contract, beginning in 2014, the then-35-year-old southpaw is either going to make roughly $31,000,000(!) a year for two years, or $26,000,000 per year for three seasons.

    With that sort of salary commitment, I’m not sure I’d want my team to take him for free, much less hand over any prospects at all. I expect Cliff to age well, but he’ll need to age like nobody this side of Randy Johnson for that contract to be at least a break-even.

    Also, the Johan Santana parallel mentioned above hardly applies, seeing that Mr. Changeup was just 28 years old when that trade was consummated. With Johan, age in and of itself was no factor whatever; with Cliff you must take it into consideration, at least a bit.

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