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.

#29 – Philadelphia Phillies
Much like the Red Sox, the Phillies are going to make the playoffs this year, whether they win the division or settle for the Wild Card. Sure, a reliever would be nice to reinforce the bullpen, and a right-handed outfield bat to spell Raul Ibanez in the middle of a cold spell would be swell, but these aren’t real necessities. In the playoffs, Charlie Manuel is going to play Ibanez, cold or not, and the Halladay-Lee-Hamels-Oswalt (if healthy) quartet will all go deep into games, negating the added value of that reliever.

#28 – Colorado Rockies
Ty Wigginton could help someone, but he’s under a reasonable contract for next season and it isn’t as if the Rockies have a readily available replacement for him. The injury to Jorge de la Rosa hurt, and the injury to Carlos Gonzalez couldn’t have come at a worse time. This will be a lost season for a team loaded with talent, but there isn’t much they can do this week. Ubaldo Jimenez has been rumored to be available but it makes no sense for the Rockies to move him, considering, well, Jimenez is the type of player a team in the Rockies’ position looks to acquire, not deal away.

#27 – Toronto Blue Jays
By signing Jose Bautista and Yunel Escobar to team-friendly contracts and getting rid of Vernon Wells contract, Alex Anthopolous has set the Blue Jays up to make a strong push at marquee free agents like Prince Fielder, Albert Pujols and Jose Reyes in the offseason. As for the current season, there really isn’t much the Jays can do. Their rotation is filled with youngsters who need some more seasoning, so a trade for a veteran starter for the back-end could be interesting, but it isn’t needed. Other than that, and seeing if there are any takers for Edwin Encarnacion as a bench bat and possible DH, there aren’t many deals to explore here right now.

#26 – Los Angeles Dodgers
Yes, the team is currently mired in a bankruptcy battle that will likely end up with Major League Baseball seizing control, but that doesn’t automatically mean every player is going to be traded. Most of the Dodgers core players are young and under team control, and the players that could be dealt — Jamey Carroll, Rafael Furcal, James Loney and Casey Blake — are either injured or marginal upgrades for interested teams. A blockbuster Matt Kemp deal wouldn’t be shocking, but it’s unlikely.

Hiroki Kuroda would be one of the best pitchers available but he has a full no-trade clause and it’s hard to imagine a guy explicitly interested in remaining on the West Coast approving a deal to, say, Detroit. The Dodgers have several pieces for an interested team, but not that big of a need to make a deal.

#25 – Seattle Mariners
Much like the Nationals, the Mariners’ only real trade chips are the players they want to build around themselves. Erik Bedard has been mentioned as a trade target but his questionable health is likely to sway teams in other directions. Doug Fister and Jason Vargas have drawn attention, but both are under team control for another few seasons and that cost certainty could help the Mariners improve elsewhere. Players the Mariners would love to unload, like Chone Figgins, are long-shots to be moved. If decent deals arise for any of Bedard, Fister or Vargas, or some team is willing to take on even a fraction of Figgins’ salary, the Mariners could be active, but there really isn’t a strong need to act. Then again, bringing in anyone capable of hitting would make for a nice change of pace.

#24 – Florida Marlins
Leo Nunez is the only player they have attracting any attention, and teams are only looking at him as a Plan D if they can’t acquire Mike Adams, Heath Bell or Koji Uehara. Knowing the Marlins, Nunez might be moved because next season is his final year of arbitration eligibility. The Fish might want to hold onto more of their assets with a new stadium on the horizon, but this might be the last time they can extract anything of value for Nunez.

#23 – New York Yankees
Only a couple of games separates them from the Red Sox, and the rest of the league is at least a handful of games back. In other words, it would take a pretty monumental collapse for the Yankees to miss the playoffs. But unlike the Red Sox, the Yankees starting rotation is suspect and could be their downfall in a playoff series. Whether it’s Jeremy Guthrie, Brett Myers, Wandy Rodriguez or perhaps even Derek Lowe, the Yankees should not sit idly by despite high playoff odds. Their success in the playoffs could hinge on adding another arm. Their ranking here has basically everything to do with success in the playoffs and not their odds of actually getting there.

#22 – Washington Nationals
They are clearly out of the NL East and Wild Card races, and the only player even mentioned on the rumor mill is Tyler Clippard, a top-notch reliever who won’t reach free agency until the 2016 season. The focus is, and should be, on next season when Stephen Strasburg is (hopefully) healthy, Bryce Harper is forcing his way onto the major league roster, and Jayson Werth, Michael Morse and Danny Espinosa form a formidable middle of the order.

Add Ian Desmond and Wilson Ramos to that mix and the Nationals might not be too far away from contending over the next couple of seasons.

Because of their potential, the Nats will likely make a push for B.J. Upton, Michael Bourn or Colby Rasmus this week as a long-term solutions in center field. The moves don’t matter much for this season, but seeing as at least one of those three will likely be dealt, now is the time for the Nationals to strike.

#21 – Atlanta Braves
The Braves are most likely going to make the playoffs this season. Their rotation is strong and the bullpen has been top-notch, but they do have some significant holes in the starting lineup. While there are still 60 games to be played, they shouldn’t rest on their laurels and expect to get in without an issue. Given the dearth of quality shortstops, Alex Gonzalez is realistically fine, as he offers great defense and the ability to hit home runs. But neither Jordan Schafer nor Nate McLouth has any business starting for a team with World Series aspirations. The Braves have been linked to Carlos Beltran and could also make a push for Michael Bourn, but they should be looking to bring in an everyday outfielder.

Tomorrow we’ll take a look at teams #20-#11, starting with those in the gray area between acting or remaining passive, and finishing with some teams that really should be taking and making plenty of phone calls this week.

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Eric is an accountant and statistical analyst from Philadelphia. He also covers the Phillies at Phillies Nation and can be found here on Twitter.

65 Responses to “Trade Deadline Necessities #30-#21”

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  1. Hank says:

    BJ Upton seems like a pretty good fit for Atlanta.

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    • Luke M says:

      Well, his OBP is 40 points higher than Jordan Schafer’s, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s good.

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      • Luke M says:

        Oh wait, it’s only 10 points higher now. Yeah, I’ll pass on Upton, thanks.

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      • Antonio Bananas says:

        As a Braves fan I would love Upton. The idea of having 2 of the top young outfielders as far as potential ceiling goes is awesome. This year he may not help us as much though. I’m nervous about Beltran getting injured or something after the Bravos give up prospects for him.

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      • PatsNats28 says:

        This is 2011, BJ Upton is not a top young outfielder.

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  2. Hank says:

    and I expect Nunez to wind up in pinstripes.

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  3. Strade says:

    Not a big point but JP Ricciardi got rid of the Rios contract not Anthopoulos….and I really dont think that AA is trying to make a push for Prince or Puljos in the offseason…..and I’m almost positive that he doesn’t want to trade for a “veteran starter for the back-end,” they have arms in Vegas with mlb experience…..and im suprised you didnt mention all the relievers that the Jays are shopping, considering the rumours of how active AA has been ‘making phone calls’ ect…

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    • Eric Seidman says:

      Good catch w/Ricciardi. I’ll fix that. As for the Jays, I’d be shocked if they didn’t make a push for an impact free agent after locking up the solid parts of this core. With the relievers, I really haven’t seen or read much about it, and even if AA is shopping them, there isn’t really a pressing need to make those moves. Even if they do, they don’t HAVE to, which is the point here.

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      • Drew L. says:

        Does it really make sense for the Jays to go after Fielder or Pujols though? They already have Lind at 1B for a pretty reasonable (5 million til 2013 and then 3 years of team options at 7, 7.5, and 8) contract and it doesn’t seem like locking up the 2 easiest positions to fill, 1B/DH, for a ton of money would be the smartest move when they almost surely will be a burden at the end of their contracts. Though really it would be tough to complain about adding a Fielder or Pujols to your line-up.

        I wonder if it would be more likely to try to go after Reyes and move Escobar to 2B/3B (Lawrie to the OF, where he may end up anyway). Though giving a ton of money to a brittle shortstop isn’t ideal either.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        Even as a Cardinals fan, seeing Bautista and Pujols in the same lineup would be awesome.

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      • everdiso says:

        The jays are already as good a team offensively as any team not names BOS, NY, and maybe TEX. Adding a guy like Fielder would put them right up there with all those teams offensively, and maybe ahead of them….for at least the next 5 years.

        It would be very tough for the Jays to win the Fielder sweepstakes, but the fit would be fantastic.

        …as would be signing Kelly johnson to replace Hill.

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  4. Nestor Zucchini says:

    Rasmus for Jordan Zimmermann makes a lot of sense for both teams; could the Nats part with a big part of their young core?

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    • 23553 says:

      No, Jordan Zimmermann is not available for anything less than an elite team under team control for 3-4 more years.

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      • Ian R. says:

        Jordan Zimmermann is awesome, but I don’t think he’s worth an entire elite team. Elite player, maybe, but can you really see the Red Sox trading their entire roster for one guy?

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    • Bill says:

      Wow, that trade may have made sense a few years ago, but now? Not even close. Zimmermann has established himself as a frontline starter and Rasmus has yet to prove he belongs in a starting lineup. Yeah, Rasmus has the tools to become a very good player in the near future, but Zimmermann is a very good player right now.

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  5. Robert says:

    I agree that BJ Upton is a good statistical fit for the Atlanta Braves, but I think he may not mesh very well in that clubhouse.

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    • Undocorkscrew says:

      I’d rather them target Michael Bourn. Not really sure why people prefer Upton aside from his power potential, but to me Bourn is better at every other aspect of the game. Well, defensively they both look great, but Bourn is the better player in my eyes. Not sold on this ‘change of scenery’ stuff….

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      • Joe says:

        Or even Span (if rumors that he’s being made available are true)

        Upton is a FA after next year, so in the event he finally does put it together he’s going to get paid. Span is signed affordably thru ’14 (with a ’15 club option). I also like Bourne over Upton as well.

        Not sure why people are so high on Upton, yes he’s still young and has potential/tools… but that’ been the case for a while now. He strikes out too much and he’s going to command a premium package back in all likelihood.

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  6. clevelander says:

    not as exciting as what you all proposed above, but could something like Weglarz net the Tribe Erik Bedard?

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  7. Santos says:

    “…and a right-handed outfield bat to spell Raul Ibanez in the middle of a cold spell would be swell”

    I thought Fangraphs clearly outlined a “No Limmerick” policy.

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  8. Shaggychild says:

    “But unlike the Red Sox, the Yankees starting rotation is suspect…”

    Tim Wakefield, John Lackey, Kyle Weiland, Alfredo Aceves, Andrew Miller. No, nothing suspect about this crew.

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    • Jon says:

      whats wrong with having 5 aces?

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    • Carlmart says:

      Kyle Weiland is actually Scott Weiland’s brother. So there’s that..

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    • Tom B says:

      Totally agree. Trying to paint the RedSox rotation as anything but mediocre is totally dishonest. If anything they have the same amount of issues the Yankee’s have, but with less options to fill those holes.

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      • Sam says:

        Come playoff time, the rotation will be Beckett, Lester, Buchholz, Lackey and probably Wakefield, with Aceves (who’s been very solid by the way), Miller and Weiland simply as backups. That looks pretty solid to me to be honest. A better top three than the Yankees for sure.

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      • Judy says:

        Yeah, I don’t understand why people keep doing this, the Red Sox starting rotation has been a mess all season, while the Yankees rotation has been fine all season.

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      • Rex Manning Day says:

        Sabathia has a better FIP and xFIP than Becket so far this year. Beckett has a shinier ERA, of course, but Sabathia’s 2.62 is nothing to scoff at.

        Colon has a better ERA, FIP, and xFIP than Lester.

        Garcia has a better ERA and FIP than Buchholz (and their xFIPs are basically identical).

        Burnett has a better ERA and xFIP than Lackey (by far, actually).

        And Nova has a better ERA, FIP, and xFIP than Wakefield.

        Beckett’s having a great year, but Sabathia’s having a better one. Add in Sabathia’s consistency over the past few years, and Beckett’s comparable (and, admittedly, injury-addled) inconsistency, and I think it’s fair to give the lead to Sabathia there (I’ll settle for a slim lead).

        Similarly, given Lester’s history, it’s also fair to give him the lead against Colon even if Colon has been better so far this year. Still, Colon hasn’t been outperforming his peripherals or getting particularly lucky or anything, so I don’t think we can just assume he’s due for an implosion. He really has been very good so far.

        Garcia-Buchholz is a toss-up. Garcia has been better so far, and both he and Buchholz appear to be outperforming themselves. I suspect Garcia will come back to earth harder than Buchholz, though, so it probably works out to about even in the end.

        And NY’s bottom two have been considerably better than Boston’s. Burnett and Nova both have ERAs well below Lackey’s and Wakefield’s xFIPs. Burnett is Burnett, and Nova’s just a kid (and might be replaced by Hughes if Hughes gets himself together), but Wakefield’s a 44yo knuckleballer and Lackey’s ERA last year was still above 4. In the end, all four are basically question marks.

        Finally, last but not least: NY’s starters (all of them, not just the top 5) have a combined WAR of 9.9. Boston’s have 7.3.

        So far this year, NY’s rotation has been simply better than Boston’s, and the only place that Boston has an undeniable advantage going forward is Lester. In every other comparison, it is, at best, a wash. NY’s rotation is far from perfect, and definitely needs to be patched up before October, but Boston’s is absolutely not a sure bet.

        *Addendum: I cheated a bit by bumping Burnett down to his rightful place in the bottom 2 spots. But even if you plug Burnett into #2 against Lester, Lester’s lead grows, but NY’s lead in the bottom 3 also grows. The gap between Colon-Garcia-Nova and Buchholz-Lackey-Wakefield is probably about the same as the Lester-Burnett gap. So, again, it’s still a wash at the end of the day.

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      • Sultan of Schwwingg says:

        I think if you must compare Colon and Garcia to Lester and Buchholz, you have confirmed the authors point.

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      • Sultan of Schwwingg says:

        “Come playoff time, the rotation will be Beckett, Lester, Buchholz, Lackey and probably Wakefield”

        If time could allow, that would be so much better. It makes so little sense to me to play 161 games with one rotation, then only need 3-4 starters in the playoffs. What goes for the regular season should follow into the playoffs, otherwise incomplete teams gain an advantage.

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      • Eric Seidman says:

        Well, some of the commenters below caught my gist. Not saying the Red Sox have a phenomenal rotation, but their front three are pretty darn-tootin solid. Beckett-Lester-Buchholz is perfectly fine going into the playoffs and is much better than what the Yankees have. I’m not a big believer that Colon and Garcia will keep this up.

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      • Rex Manning Day says:

        I think if Colon and Garcia are performing better than Lester and Buchholz–which they are–then you can no longer argue that Boston’s rotation is significantly better and more reliable than New York’s.

        I also think that if you compare two rotations, and one of them has a better ERA, FIP, xFIP, and WAR than the other, you can no longer argue that it is substantially inferior.

        Also, just for fun: Sabathia has a higher WAR than Beckett and Lester combined.

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      • everdiso says:

        Last 2 seasons, as starter:

        Sabathia (30): 56gs, 7.1ip/gs, 2.95era, 3.15fip
        Lester (27): 50gs, 6.5ip/gs, 3.27era, 3.42fip

        Colon (38): 15gs, 6.2ip/gs, 3.21era, 3.49fip
        Beckett (31): 40gs, 6.3ip/gs, 3.94era, 3.82fip

        Garcia (34): 45gs, 5.8ip/gs, 4.06era, 4.37fip
        Buchholz (26): 42gs, 6.1ip/gs, 2.70era, 3.83fip

        Nova (24): 23gs, 5.6ip/gs, 4.30era, 4.45fip
        Lackey (32): 49gs, 6.3ip/gs, 4.96era, 4.04fip

        Burnett (34): 54gs, 5.9ip/gs, 4.83era, 4.74fip
        Wakefield (44): 32gs, 6.1ip/gs, 5.51era, 4.71fip

        Hughes (25): 35gs, 5.7ip/gs, 4.91era, 4.55fip
        Miller (26): 13gs, 4.5ip/gs, 6.60era, 5.72fip

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      • Frank says:

        “Beckett-Lester-Buchholz is perfectly fine going into the playoffs and is much better than what the Yankees have.”

        False. And every statistic, or fact if you will, you can compile this season disagrees with you as well.

        Awesome narrative though. Thanks for writing.

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  9. Frances Farmer says:

    Wow color me surprised that there’s nary a mention of Jeff Francoeur or Melky Cabrera as potential trade targets. These are two guys that are absolutely raking right now and could bring some big time relief to a team hurting for an outfielder like the Phillies or Braves. They are both huge upgrades over Jordan Schafer and Raul Ibanez respectively. Of course this site will never admit to Francoeur or Melk-man having good years since they would have to admit that they were all wrong about them being worthless. Typical bias is all.

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  10. Santos says:

    Francouer is hitting 269/.316/.455 vs. 268/.310/.428 career

    That’s the equivalent of raking with a fork.

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    • Frances Farmer says:

      Wow way to just cherry-pick stats. Fact. He has 92 assists for his career. The man is gunning down runners like a madman. Fact. He has 13 HRs and 16 SBs. That puts him on pace for a 20-20 season. You realize how valuable that is? Fact. All of Francoeur’s teammates and managers haved loved his personality and the way he plays the game.

      What, too many FACTS for ya?

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      • Santos says:

        I gave his triple slash line, you cherry picked HRs and stolen bases, used anecdotal evidence about his teammates and managers loving him (not sure how that helps your case at all) and threw in assists just for good measure I guess. None of which means he is raking. he has a wRC+ of 111. 11% better than average, good but not anywhere near your description of “Absolutely raking”. I also like how you acted like you overwhelmed me with facts leaving out most of his offenseive numbers.

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      • gator32301 says:

        Not sure how that last statement is a “fact.” Your argument is nonsensical. The type of season he is having is irrelevant. He has been an offensive liability every year since his rookie (save for maybe, just maybe 2007) and there was nothing rational to suggest he would produce otherwise this year. The only people who would have not been “wrong” about him are blind loyalists who had been wrong the past 6 years. But since you brought up him “raking” this year, he’s 115th in ML in OBP and 60th in SLG. Hard to believe a corner OF isn’t involved in MVP discussions with monumental numbers like that. And even with stealing 16/20, he’s still rated as a subpar baserunner. I’ll concede there are sample size issues, but for his career he’s rated as slightly below average which means it may not be that far off.

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      • Frances Farmer says:

        Well I guess non-statistical evidence is just a little beyond some of us in this crowd. If you can’t understand the value of Jeff Francoeur then there is really no helping you. The guy is a one-man force on both sides of the ball. And you say that he’s only 11% better than average? PSSH. Apples to apples comparison with other outfileders will show that his is at the top of the class when it comes to right fielders. And the guy is a huge upgrade over someone like John Mayberry Jr. either way.

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      • Kevin says:

        Frances, how’s your revenge on Seattle going?

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      • Kevin says:

        I’m still trying to figure out why the Braves would want a guy they gave up on years ago when he was better then than he is right now.

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      • RéRé says:

        Passionately defending Jeff Francoeur is fangraph’s version of trolling. Good luck with that.

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      • Sultan of Schwwingg says:

        Why the down-votes? Even if they’re unintentionally so (which I’m not convinced they are), these posts are hilarious.

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    • domingoes says:

      Francoeur would be a big upgrade over Ibanez or at least vast improvement as a platoon partner. Realistically he can play defense and his bat isn’t dead.

      As much as a statistical pariah Frenchy is, he has also shown value over his career. He plays ok defense in the corner outfield. His wOBA is strongly tied to his BABIP and ISO/SLG since he doesn’t walk. His ISO this season is slightly above career average and he’s not suffering any BABIP bad luck. He’s acquired about 2 WAR over about 2/3 of a season. He is worthy of a bench position at least.

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    • philosofool says:

      With league offense waaaay down, these numbers are misleading. He a good OF hitting ten percent better than league average.

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  11. Santos says:

    Now I can’t tell if this whole thing was sarcasm.

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  12. Stringer Bell says:

    Are people really that dense that they can’t realize Frances Farmer is being sarcastic? Jeez.

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  13. GiantHusker says:

    This is a nitpick on an interesting series. It would make more sense to me if you rated 1-30 on Buyers or Sellers rather than mixing the two with a should-be-most-active criteria.

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    • TheGrandSlamwich says:

      I think I’d prefer that as well. But I still like the series so far!

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    • Eric Seidman says:

      Thanks, guys. I originally thought about doing a series on buyers or sellers, but kept coming back to this format. Hopefully when it’s done we can figure out ways to improve it since it’s something a lot of people find interesting and I’d like to make it a yearly series.

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  14. philosofool says:

    The Mariners should probably move Adam Kenedy as well.

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  15. Jason says:

    Isn’t this site supposed to be objective? Any way you measure it the Yankees pitching has been better than the Redsox. And we aren’t talking by a little bit. The Yankees have been far superior. So what is this nonsense about the Yankees having unreliable pitching while the Redsox have a reliably killer rotation? If the Redsox pitching is so reliably good, why have they sucked so bad the last two years?

    At some point expectations should catch up with reality.

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    • SC2GG says:

      My Yank-O-Meter gives this an 8 out of 10. Your self-righteousness was fairly low and needs some work, but your accusations-of-disbelief were top notch. You need to work on your wounded pride response.

      Only two more points to go and you can be a true Self-Yanker!

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      • Jason says:

        Look, I’m definitely a partisan Yankees fan. However, I’m objectively correct here. If the Yankees have had a problem it certainly has not been their pitching. On the other hand, if the Redsox have had a problem, it has certainly been their pitching.

        I expected the Yankees to have pitching problems this year too. It just hasn’t happened the way we all expected. I’m pleasantly surprised. The non-Yankee fans seem to be in denial.

        Further, the Redsox returned the same pitching staff this year that they had last year. They were bad last year. No one should have expected them to be better this year and they really don’t seem to be. Of course unexpected things do happen (see, for example, the Yankees pitching this year) and the Redsox pitching might have improved, but it is, by definition, not to be expected.

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