Two Trade Rumors Destined to be True

It’s trade rumor season. It’s time for fans of contenders to lust after the best players on lesser teams. The airways of AM radio are already full of trade ideas, many of them ridiculous. Their most valuable player for your least valuable prospects is no way to build a trade, and those rumors are easy to dismiss.

The problem is, even if we set the filter higher, and listen only to rumors that come from reputable sources and concern acquirable names, we are still going to hear a decent amount of hogwash. Let’s just take a couple tasty morsels and examine why the rumored swap makes little sense for one team in the dance. Even a real rumor from a real source can be a real silly idea.

Wilson Betemit to the Angels
This tidbit comes from Ken Rosenthal, the best scooper by at least one metric, but it has problems. Alberto Callaspo is no foundational piece for a franchise. This year’s walk rate aside, his only above-average skill so far has been the ability to avoid the strikeout. He makes contact. Not powerful contact — his .108 career ISO looks more like a middle infielder’s output — but contact nonetheless. Add in some suspect fielding and below-average speed and it’s not the most attractive package. Here’s the thing though. Betemit is no improvement. Well, sure, Betemit walks a little more and his .175 career ISO is a little better. But he strikes out more than twice as often as Callaspo, and by most accounts, he’s a worse defender. That takes most of his added value away. Callaspo is showing a .326 wOBA and has a career .317 wOBA. Betemit has a .322 wOBA this year, and .334 for his career. Add in the defense, and it’s a wash. Sure, Sean O’Sullivan is not a great pitcher, but that doesn’t mean that the Angels have an infinite number of mediocre prospects to keeping sending to the Royals for their mediocre players that provide a mediocre upgrade over their in-house options at best.

Conor Jackson to the Pirates
This one is a real head-scratcher. Who is Conor Jackson to replace on the first-place Pittsburgh team? His .249/.323/.330 line and resulting .298 wOBA this year represent his third-straight year with a sub-par offensive performance, and it only gets worse if you include the fact that he’s a first baseman or corner outfielder in the field. He certainly won’t replace Garrett Jones (.328 wOBA) even if Jones is struggling. With the emergence of rookie Alex Presley (.402 wOBA in 76 PAs), the team doesn’t have an obvious outfield position waiting for Jackson. At first base, Lyle Overbay has been bad enough to consider for an upgrade, but even in his reduced state, Overbay comes out ahead (.301 wOBA). Before a platoon is recommended, remember that righty Steve Pearce (.318 wOBA) is due back Friday. And once Jose Tabata returns, the team can move Jones to first most nights. In the end, Conor Jackson is just too much like the other dudes hanging around on the Pirates already (Matt Diaz, Xavier Paul and John Bowker) to spend any resources on his acquisition.

Those are two trades, and they aren’t even of the “Ubaldo Jimenez for Eduardo Nunez” variety. Though the names in these trades are easily movable, they don’t seem likely to move. Neither player is a real upgrade for the acquiring team, and so they aren’t worth the assets they may cost. These rumors don’t make sense. Which is why, of course, they’re likely going to happen.




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Graphs: Baseball, Roto, Beer, brats (OK, no graphs for that...yet), repeat. Follow him on Twitter @enosarris.

29 Responses to “Two Trade Rumors Destined to be True”

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  1. sean says:

    on the first-place Pittsburgh team?

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  2. Confused says:

    I’m having a hard time understanding the correlation between the title of this article and the actual content. Is it missing a word a la “Two Trade Rumors Destined to be True Hogwash” or is my reading comprehension failing miserably?

    How can a rumor be “destined to be true” when you write in the closing paragraph that “they don’t seem likely to move”?

    Just curious and no offense intended…I’m a big fan of your writing.

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    • Eno Sarris says:

      Hey, I was just making a joke. Guess it didn’t work, but the idea was that these two trades don’t make much sense, so after I write a piece like this it seems likely that the trade rumors will actually become true. Scarcasm doesn’t always work online, especially in headlines I guess.

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      • Confused says:

        Comprehension fail on my part; it makes sense to me now. Forest for the trees and all that…

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      • ecp says:

        I’m with Confused; I didn’t get it either. I was expecting to read an article that was…well, about trades that seemed to make perfect sense and were fair to both parties.

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      • joser says:

        Yeah, I’m with you guys. After reading it I actually scrolled back to the top to re-read the headline again and then decided it was either some kind of weird typo or intended for a completely different piece that hadn’t been published yet. (When working on documents with a standard format I sometimes just re-save one under a different name and then edit it to produce a new one, so sometimes things like that happen).

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      • Eno Sarris says:

        honest question: do the new final lines help emphasize that the title is a joke? I usually refrain from snark, so perhaps it’s a little bit about expectations as well.

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      • Shaggychild says:

        Made sense to me!

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      • Chadam says:

        @Eno: Adding the last few sentences did make it more clear – and you’re right, the fact that I don’t usually expect the sarcasm from you is what threw me off.

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      • My echo and bunnymen (Dodgers Fan) says:

        @ Eno: “honest question: do the new final lines help emphasize that the title is a joke? I usually refrain from snark, so perhaps it’s a little bit about expectations as well.”

        Clarifies it very well for me, it’s probably more the fault of the notgraphs and fangraphs part of the website but I always expect one to be overly sarcastic and the other to be overly serious.

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    • My echo and bunnymen (Dodgers Fan) says:

      I agree, this article was extremely confusing. I expected to see reports of trades destined to happen, but then I see they are not so?

      I was also disappointed by the rushed writing on this article as well. Short and to no point. :(

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      • Paul says:

        I think Eno’s next logical column to sorta correct this flaw is to analyze all the shitty Royals players who are available and match them up to shitty Angels org players. It’s true that Wilson Betemit is not a good fit, even Tony Reagins could see that, but tell me Mike Sciocia isn’t just dying to grab Matt Treanor to fill that under-rated fourth catcher role.

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      • My echo and bunnymen (Dodgers Fan) says:

        Matt Treanor is the next Jeff Mathis!!!!

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    • Bronnt says:

      Too long; didn’t read

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  3. Was anyone else disappointed that the link on Ken Rosenthal didn’t go to a player page? With some of the rumors he spits out, I’d say his chase% is pretty high.

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    • joser says:

      Statistical modelling of journalists is still very rudimentary and the data is mostly proprietary, alas. The sample sizes aren’t a problem, as they generally churn out way too many data points, but extracting any kind of projectable quality certainly is.

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  4. Spencer says:

    I wish I could say how stupid you were for saying that Reagins would upgrade a shitty thirdbaseman with an even shittier thirdbaseman but we are talking about Reagins…

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    • Eno Sarris says:

      ding ding ding. Here’s where my snarky title came in. I think it’s ironic that we’re talking about another mediocre Royals third baseman going to the Angels, not a year after that happened the first time.

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  5. JKB says:

    Please consider adding: Joe Girardi to the Angels, Dodgers, or Astros as starting catcher, for Mike Scioscia, Steve Yeager, or Joe Ferguson.

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  6. IvanGrushenko says:

    Conor Jackson could be an upgrade over Matt Diaz for the Pirates. Sure he wouldn’t play much and it’s not a very important upgrade, but it’s still not non-sensical

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  7. baty says:

    I would absolutely take a chance on Conor Jackson. Why not replace Overbay with him?

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  8. Tony Reagins says:

    Hey guys I do this baseball thing and some guy named Mancash or something called me and I totally want to know if I shud do his trade help me plz I want people to like meh. He said he’d give this guy he has thats really badass he can throw with both arms and I just have to give him this lame teenage guy who is batting like less than .200 so Yes or NO ? 2 ARMS (OMFG!!!) for underage?? THanks for help xoxox Tony

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