Friday, July 31, 2009

Trade Deadline Wrap-up: Martinez is the Biggest Name to Change Addresses

Victor Martinez makes Boston the favorites for the AL pennant

In the end, Roy Halladay is still a Blue Jay. The Mariners didn’t become sellers and move King Felix. And apparently the Padres weren’t wowed enough to deal Adrian Gonzalez. No, in the end, while the White Sox may have pulled off the day's biggest surprise, it was Boston who made the headlines, coming away with the biggest prize, in a deal that made perfect sense. Here is our take on the final deadline deals.

Boston acquires: Victor Martinez
Cleveland acquires: Justin Masterson, Nick Hagadone and Bryan Price

I doubt that there has been a deal this year that makes more sense for a team than this does for Boston. With Mike Lowell, Jason Varitek and David Ortiz all in the twilight of their career, the 30yo Martinez provides all-star insurance at all three positions (as Youkilis can slide over to 3B). The only losers in this deal appear to be, Casey Kotchman (who comes to Boston in a deal for Adam LaRoche), who seems relegated to occasional pinch hitter, and Lowell who is likely to see his playing time cut in half. Perhaps more importantly, the Red Sox didn’t have to give up Buchholz, Bard, Bowden, Anderson or Kelly—all of whom I like better to get the deal. In Masterson and Hagadaone, they did relinquish significant players, but it didn’t cost them nearly as much as it could have or perhaps should have.

As I mentioned a yesterday, Cliff Lee and Victor Martinez were on their way out of Cleveland. And the thing Cleveland needed most was young arms. I would have liked this deal better for the Tribe if it had included Buchholz instead of Masterson or Hagadone, my assumption is that they would have too and couldn’t pull it off. The centerpiece to the deal for Cleveland is 24yo, right-hander, Justin Masterson, who immediately becomes the Tribes’ best starter. In two seasons with Boston, in a mixed role, Masterson has posted a 3.77 ERA with a 1.28 WHIP. While Masterson is the centerpiece to the deal, it will be the 23yo left-hander, Nick Hagadone, who will decide Cleveland’s fate in this deal. Hagadone was Boston’s top pick in 2007, but had Tommy John surgery which had limited him to 34 innings entering the season. When healthy, and he still is recovering, he has a fastball that sits in the mid-90s and plus pitches in both his slider and change. If I were the Tribe, I might have asked Boston for someone a little further away, say Stolmy Pimental, but they ended up getting 22yo, right-hander, Bryan Price. While Price does have three usable pitches, including a low-90s fastball, he is a ‘fringy’ prospect at best.

Chicago acquires: John Grabow and Tom Gorzelanny
Pittsburgh acquires: Jose Ascanio, Kevin Hart and Josh Harrison

With Sean Marshall the only lefty in the Cubs’ pen, they picked up a left-handed reliever…sort of. Grabow actually is harder on right-handed hitters than he is on left-handed ones. In fact, he is only marginal, at best, against lefties. He has a tendency to walk too many batters, and other than throwing with the ‘south’ paw, I am not sure he will provide the Cubs any more than they had in Ascaino or Hart. Where the Cubs did seem to make out, is in bringing left-handed starter Tommy Gorzelanny back home to Chicago. After impressive 2006 and 2007 seasons in the Majors, the 26yo Gorzelanny fell apart last season and found himself in AAA this year, where he has posted some impressive numbers (certainly good enough to have been in the Pirates rotation), a 2.48 ERA, a 1.184 WHIP, with a 85:30 K:BB ratio. With both Ted Lily and Ryan Dempster ailing, the Cubs should be able to slip him into the rotation for a while, and then may want to consider using him as a lefty out of the pen. While it is certainly no guarantee, if Gorzelanny returns to form, he is by far the best player in the deal.

In return, the Pirates get more spare parts. The best of the lot appears to be 24yo, RHP, Jose Ascanio. Ascanio has posted solid numbers in the Pacific Coast (PCL) this year and seems to have enough ‘stuff’ to be a solid Major League middle reliever. In 26yo Kevin Hart, the Pirates are getting a right-hander that the Cubs never seemed to find the right slot for. To me, Hart is a two–pitch pitcher—a mid-90s fastball, and a dazzling cut fastball, that should be exclusively used as a 7th/8th inning guy. If the Pirates use him in that role, he could have a productive Big League career. 22yo Harrison is a ‘fringy’ prospect, at best. He destroyed Midwest (MWL) League pitchers earlier this year, but at 22yo that is the expectation. A move to the Florida State (FSL) League hasn’t been quite as attention getting, but the numbers have been solid. With the Cubs he has been playing both 3B and 2B, but long-term he doesn’t appear to have the arm for 3B. He is still somewhat behind on the developmental curve, so there is little to get excited about.

Detroit acquires: Jarrod Washburn
Seattle acquires: Luke French and Mauricio Robles

The Tigers essentially trade French out of the rotation and replace him with Washburn. While Washburn has had a relatively marginal professional career, this season has seen him experience somewhat of a revival, and he certainly is an upgrade over French, and likely makes Armando Gallarraga the 5th starter. This is a significant move, as it looks to be plenty to hold the Twins and White Sox off in the A.L. Central. Anytime you can make a move like that it is a ‘win’.

The Mariners actually did alright in this as well. Washburn was probably out of Seattle after the season, and all that they were likely to receive was a supplemental round pick as compensation. Luke French, is likely just as valuable. While French’s ‘stuff’ is never going to blow anyone away, the 23yo lefty has pitched well enough this season to make one believe he can be a serviceable back-of-the rotation starter, or, at worst case, a middle reliever. While relatively little known entering this season, the 20yo lefty, Robles, has turned heads this year by fanning 111 in 91 innings between the MWL and FSL. His fastball can sit in the mid-90s, and his secondary offerings are ‘improving’. The downside is that at a slight, 5’10”, there are concerns as to whether his frame will allow much projection. Consider him a high risk/reward type prospect.

Chicago White Sox acquire: Jake Peavy
San Diego Padres acquire: Aaron Poreda, Dexter Carter, Adam Russell and Clayton Richard

When one thinks about the names that were being thrown around for Peavy in May, this looks like a steal. You have to assume that the White Sox intend to keep Peavy longer term if they are going to part with Poreda, because Peavy is likely to only be back for 5 or 6 starts this season. Even when he returns, there is no guarantee at what level he will return after missing nearly 3 months. While I don’t see this as a significant deal for 2009, adding Peavy to the rotation will be significant in 2010.

The 22yo, LHP, Poreda is clearly the center piece in this deal. However, we feel that Poreda is essentially a two-pitch pitcher that is best suited for a bullpen role. Our guess is that Poreda will be given a shot in the miserable Padre rotation, but it isn’t likely to be his final destination. Our guess is also that the Padres felt they were getting something of value in the 25yo, LHP, Clayton Richard. We will beg to differ on that as we don’t see much upside projection left in a guy who has posted a 5.15 ERA and a 1.51 WHIP over parts of two Major League seasons. Our perspective is that the 22yo RHP, Dexter Carter, is the only other player in the deal with any value. After making Carter their 13th round pick in 2008, he led the Pioneer (PIO) League in ERA in his debut and has a 3.13 ERA, with 143 Ks in 118 innings in the SAL this year. Carter has a low-90s fastball with late movement and a knee-buckling curve, that has eaten up SAL hitters this season. At 22yo, we would like to see him challenged more by the Padres to truly get a read on his upside. The 26yo Russell is little more than a warm-body.

Minnesota acquires: Orlando Cabrera
Oakland acquires: Tyler Ladendorf
Picking up the 34yo Cabrera has to be considered an upgrade to the SS position for the Twins. Cabrera got off to a slow start this year, but has hit .373/.397/.500 in July. While the move helps their chances, they are really only competing against the Tigers, as the wildcard is out of reach, and the Tigers seemed to have helped themselves more today with the Washburn acquisition. The good news is that it didn’t cost them much.

In Ladendorf, the Athletics are getting a 21yo SS, whom the Twins drafted in the 2nd round last year, and still only has 60 ABs in full-season ball. We felt the Twins reached in selecting him when they did, and aren’t significantly more impressed with him now. One has to feel that the A’s could have gotten more.

Florida acquires: Nick Johnson
Washington acquires: Aaron Thompson
This is a pretty good deal for the Marlins, as they get an everyday 1Bmen with a plus .800 OPS and get to sit Bonafacio. As an offensive upgrade, it is likely 2-3 games in the win column.

In Thompson, the Nationals are getting a 22yo, former first round, left-hander, who hasn’t really lived up to expectations. At this point, you have to consider the Thompson, who lacks any true out pitch, a marginal prospect. This obviously was nothing more than a salary dump by a team that isn’t likely to be competitive for at least a couple of years.

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