Hot stove round table: Part 1

Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis for Cameron Maybin, Andrew Miler, Mike Rabelo, Eulogio de la Cruz, Dallas Trahern and Burke Badenhop

Did the Marlins get enough for Cabrera and Willis, and would they have been better off accepting the rumored Cabrera for Howie Kendrick, Jeff Mathis and Nick Adenhart from the Angels?

Chris Constancio: If that was actually offered for Cabrera and/or Willis, I have to wonder why the Marlins were not more interested. Detroit’s deal gives them more value overall, but it was a deal loaded with young pitchers and the Marlins are already stacked with promising young pitching. They lack good major league hitters, and the Angels’ package would give them a couple hitters who should be above average relative to others at their positions.

Geoff Young: I don’t know that you can ever “get enough” for a Cabrera. If I’m the Marlins, though, I’d rather end up with Maybin and Miller than Kendrick et al. That said,
the secondary prospects coming Florida’s way don’t do much for me.

John Beamer: I’m going to answer a different question—what are the Marlins playing at? I think everyone could see why they might want to dismantle the franchise and go into rebuilding mode, but seriously, these guys are both young and, Cabrera especially, could have been the faces of the franchise into the next decade. The Fish should have been building a team around these guys. Jeffrey Loria should hang for treason for this trade. It is a disgrace to Miami and Major League Baseball. Anyway, to the question at hand: I don’t think you can look at the gaggle of prospects they received and pinpoint any as likely superstars … this isn’t like the Beckett trade where they snared Hanley Ramirez. Maybin and Miller are the two players with most potential in the deal. Miller hasn’t exactly “performed” in A ball so we’ll have to see. If I were a Tigers fan I’d love this trade.

Steve Treder: And Marlins’ ownership has the chutzpah to question why they have trouble attracting and keeping loyal fans. Were there an actual Commissioner whose actual role was to actually represent the “best interests of baseball,” he would have vetoed this abomination.

Matthew Carruth: I like the trade for both teams. It’s an absolute haul for Florida in young talent. But I agree with those that mentioned that Cabrera is really the player they should have just banked if they were intent on building any sort of loyalty with the fan base.

But given a mandate essentially to trade Miggy, I call this a good deal for Florida. Dontrelle Willis is likely the most overrated pitcher in the majors.

Does this deal make the Tigers favorites in the AL Central, and how worried should other AL wild card contenders be?

John Beamer: The Tigers and Indians are going to be closely matched. For three-quarters of 2007 we saw them go toe-to-toe in the Central and with the addition of Cabrera and Willis you may now give them a slight edge. Saying that, these two will add, maybe, four to six wins to the Tigers, which wouldn’t have been good enough for either the division or wild card. Luck obviously plays a big role and in the context of that four to six wins is a lot. The clubhouse has got to feel pretty good right now, and not that that may matter much, I peg the Tigers as marginal favorites at this point, although who knows how the Indians will respond.

As for the other AL contenders I don’t think they’ll care too much. Every ballclub’s ambition is to win its division. They’ll worry about the Tigers when they go to Comerica Park and other than that they’ll focus on winning.

Geoff Young: Yes, and very. Did the White Sox really win the World Series in 2005? They have become a non-factor in a very short time, and I can’t see them digging their way out any time soon. Health-permitting, the Tigers should be devastating next year and I don’t expect the Indians to slip much either.

Chris Jaffe: Two things I notice in this deal: 1) As if the NL-AL talent disparity wasn’t great enough, now one of the best third basemen and a former 20-game winner switch to the junior circuit for minor leaguers. Jeepers. Regardless of how good the kids are, in the short run, the AL just got stronger.

Division impact? Last year the Tigers finished eight games behind the Indians. However, Cleveland—just one year off of finishing 11 games under their projected Pythagorean record—finished five over their projected mark. The Tigers undershot by a game.

Last year, the Indians had arguably the two best starting pitchers in the AL in Sabathia and Carmona. For that reason alone at least one is likely to fall back some in 2008. This doesn’t mean that they fluked into their success last year as both are fantastic, but even fantastic pitchers have trouble staying in the top five in ERA+ year-in, year-out. Few teams have ever had guys that can do that.

There’s too much offseason left to say who the division favorite at the moment, but things are certainly looking good in Detriot right now.

How good are Cameron Maybin and Andrew Miller, and is there anything we need to know about the other guys?

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Chris Constancio: Maybin is not very good right now. He has a long swing, strikes out a lot, and hits the ball on the ground too often when he does make contact. That’s not to say he’s a bad prospect, but right now all his value is tied up in the hope that his outstanding physical tools develop into above-average baseball skills.

Miller probably should have been the first overall pick in the 2006 draft. He’s not a finished product, but Miller is a lefty who throws hard and induces lots of ground balls from opposing hitters. If he can refine his control, he will post outstanding numbers in the context of Florida.

Let’s not forget about some of the other prospects Detroit sent to the Marlins. Dallas Trahern is an effective sinker-slider guy and Eulogio de la Cruz is a poor man’s Joel Zumaya.

Geoff Young: I like Maybin and Miller, though I’ve heard some rumblings about Miller’s delivery possibly making him an injury risk. The main thing that stands out to me about the other guys is that the pitchers don’t strike anyone out, which is a bit disturbing.

Twins contemplating Santana for Jon Lester, Coco Crisp, Jed Lowrie and Justin Masterson/Michael Bowden or Jacoby Ellsbury, Lowrie and Masterson/Bowden.

Which package is better, and should the Twins accept either of them?

Geoff Young: Neither excites me. Santana is the best pitcher in baseball and the Twins should be able to get more for him.

Chris Constancio: I think these packages are comparable in value to the Twins. The Sox would be selling high on both Ellsbury and Lester right now, as both players already have major league success (an 11-2 record or a .353 bating average) that probably raises expectation a bit too high when it comes to next year and beyond.

John Brattain: I’ll leave the trade analysis to the smarter guys here. I would like to comment on the whole Santana deal though. This is probably the least efficient way to acquire an elite talent. During the offseason, you can get a top-shelf guy through free agency or by via a trade (my razor sharp grasp of the obvious is why I’m leaving the analysis to the folks with I.Q.’s in three digits). One costs money, the other players; in this sort of transaction you’re giving up a lot of value since you pay both.

When dealing with a self-proclaimed “poor” team, they crave young, close to major league ready talent or guys with lots of time left on their service clocks for arbitration and free agency. Once you’ve given up a young stud or two, now you have to ante up a market value contract to retain him. In Santana’s case, a team will be looking at 6-7 years at $22 million per (at a minimum). Only one kind of team can really afford this type of player acquisition—a large revenue club at the top of their “success cycle.” This is a “win now, damn the torpedoes—full speed ahead” type of arrangement.

Can you imagine the Blue Jays coughing up Dustin McGowan and Travis Snider only to commit close to 25% of their payroll for one pitcher?

I can see why the Yankees backed down. They’re already looking at an additional 40% tacked on to the A-Rod deal and probably don’t wish to give up a guy like Philip Hughes just to pay (assuming a 6 year/$150 million type contract) an extra $60 million for Santana.

If this deal goes through, it’s a good thing ol’ Dan Duquette isn’t still around Fenway. If Santana experiences any soreness, Duquette would likely insist he pitch both ends of a day-night doubleheader.

Is either package better than the rumored Philip Hughes, Melky Cabrera and Austin Jackson package the Yankees or a potential Jered Weaver, Brandon Wood and Reggie Willits package from Anaheim?

Chris Constancio: Yes. Hank Steinbrenner’s comment about a double-standard for the Yankees really doesn’t make sense in the context of this deal; Hughes is a better prospect than anyone else being offered for Santana, but there are questions about his durability going forward. And the secondary players that the Yankees have offered are really not enough to set their offer apart from others.

Geoff Young: I don’t think so. The deal with Hughes at least brings a potential ace back to Minnesota. The Anaheim trade is intriguing as well, although I’m not sure what to make of Wood at this point.

John Beamer: If I were the Twins I’d go for the Yankees package. Hughes is a potential superstar. Where is your superstar in either of the Boston trades? Lester? I don’t think so—he projects to be a number three starter. Ellsbury? He has potential but many believe he was playing above station in the last couple of months of the season. Personally I’d trade Santana for Hughes in a shot—I wouldn’t even need Melky in the package. Even if Hughes only pans out as a number two or three starter financially the deal will work. And then there is the upside … it is huge. If you believe Santana is worth $25 million and the Twins are paying him $13 million next year that is a surplus of $12 million. If Hughes is only average he is worth $8 million in free agent money and he’d be a Twin for 5 years … you do the math. And don’t believe for a second that the Twins should keep Santana and pick up two draft picks. Analysis has shown that that is equivalent to acquiring a low-level utility man. Would you trade Santana for that? Thought not.

Jake Peavy – Rumored to be close to a three-year, $52 million extension through 2012

How well can we expect Peavy to pitch over the life of the contract, and how does this compare to other recent long term pitcher contracts (Barry Zito, Roy Oswalt, Carlos Zambrano)
Geoff Young: Health is always a risk for pitchers, and we’ve been hearing for years that Peavy’s delivery will cause him problems, but this strikes me as a reasonable deal, especially in light of what Zito is making. I don’t know that he’s got another Cy Young in him, but 600 innings of low- to mid-3.00 ERA seems about right to me.

Jose Guillen signs three-year, $36 million deal with the Royals

How good do you expect the Royals to be next season with Guillen, and was this an appropriate move for the Royals given their position in the success cycle?

Geoff Young: If I were a Kansas City fan, I’d be upset. I don’t see where a team that has finished in last place each of the past four seasons needs to lock up a 30-something good but not great corner outfielder for the next three years. Personality issues aside, Guillen strikes me more as a final piece of the puzzle type than a foundation. How was this a priority at all?

Bryan Tsao: I don’t hate this deal. Bad teams don’t become good teams overnight, and in the meantime they have to put a product on the field. Obviously, a Pirates-esque string of pointless veteran deals doesn’t help a team contend, but I’ll give new general manager Dayton Moore the benefit of the doubt for now. It’s not obvious to me that spending that money elsewhere would have been more effective at increasing the talent level in the organization; no better free agents were likely to sign for that amount to go to Kansas City. OK, so they should probably draft the best available player in the draft, but since David Glass’ purse strings were apparently only recently opened the purse strings, I’m willing to wait to pass judgment.

This is only a bad move if it keeps them from signing someone better who would have come to Kansas City or drafting the best possible player.

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