Friday, July 31, 2009

Trade Center: Deadline Recaps part 1

The Trade: The Cleveland Indians trade SP Cliff Lee and OF Ben Francisco to the Phillidelphia Phillies for SP Jason Knapp (Low-A), SP Carlos Carrasco (AAA), SS Jason Donald (AAA), C Lou Marson (AAA).

Analysis: The Phillies made out like bandits in this deal. They filled their two biggest needs an established starting pitcher and a right-handed bat off the bench. And they did so without giving up any of their Major League talent (J.A. Happ) or their top 3 prospects (Kyle Drabek, Michael Taylor, Dominic Brown). Given the cost in terms of prospects and money compared to adding Halladay, the Phillies got a steal here. They gave up 4 quality prospects, but likely no allstars. I think the Indians sold low here. Lee maybe isn't as elite as Halladay, but right now his value should have been higher than this.

The Trade: The Pittsburgh Pirates trade 2B Freddy Sanchez to the San Fransisco Giants for SP Tim Alderson (AA).

Analysis: The Pirates who have been the most active team on the the 'Hot Stove' this year, made another quality pick-up here by flipping Sanchez for Alderson. Traditionally I don't favor trading an established Major League ballplayer for a single prospect. If that prospect fails then you got nothing, but this is the rare case where its worth the risk. Alderson is a top young pitching prospect, who has already reached AA at the age of 20. He's struggled some recently, but given his age and potential there is a good chance he can get back on the fast track to the Majors. Sanchez does represent an offensive and defensive upgrade at 2nd for the Giants, but they did pay a pretty high price.

The Trade: The Baltimore Orioles traded RP George Sherrill to the Los Angeles Dodgers for 3B Josh Bell (AA) and SP Steve Johnson (AA)

Analysis: This was a pretty fair trade for both sides. The Dodgers got a quality reliever who is lights out against lefties. He is under team control for another two years, and is a major addition for the Dodgers' playoff run. The Orioles get two solid prospects in return for their closer. Bell is the key to this deal for Baltimore. He is legit 3B prospect that offers major offensive upside. While he doesn't project to have the offensive chops of Longoria or the defensive ability of Zimmerman, but he should be a quality starter for years to come. Johnson doesn't have the upside of Bell, but has succeeded thus far in the minors. If he keeps developing he could be a decent back end of the rotation starter. Overall I would have liked to see the O's grab another prospect in the deal, but overall it was an even trade.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Trade Center: Snell and Wilson to the Mariners

The Deal: The Pirates trade SS Jack Wilson, SP Ian Snell and cash to the Mariners for C/1B Jeff Clement (AAA), INF Ronny Cedeno, and RHP's Nathan Adcock (High-A), Brett Lorin (Low-A), Aaron Pribanic (Low-A).

Pittsburgh: The Pirates did end up having to pay for just about all of Wilson and Snell's deals this year, but they cleared over $12 million off the books for next season. The Pirates didn't acquire any stars in this deal, but did receive a lot of promising upside. Clement has been a highly touted prospect for years, though injuries and ineffectiveness have forced him from being an everyday catcher so far. Cedeno is a solid cheap utility player that can fill in for Wilson until a quality starter can be found. All three of the starters the Pirates received have some upside. None project to be front line starters, but they could fill out a rotation or move to the bullpen. Adcock is the most intriguing in my mind, and should advance quickly behind his major league curve ball.

Seattle: The Mariners made this trade more for next season than this year, in my opinion. Seattle has an outside shot of making a stretch run this year, but could be in a solid position in 2010. Wilson gives them perhaps the best defensive SS in baseball. And while his bat has been below average it has been an upgrade to the Mariners shortstops this season. Snell is the key to this deal for Seattle. If he pitches like he has this year for the Pirates, then the Mariners got took in this deal big time. If he starts pitching like he has in the past and finally lives up to his potential, then the Mariners got a young quality starter on the cheap. If Snell does turn it around he could have both of his club options picked up, making him a Mariner through 2012.

Winner: The Pirates are the winner here regardless of the performance of the players acquired in this deal. Wilson is a great leader and a great defensive player, but $8.5 million was a lot for a last place team to pay for a guy, who can't hit. Snell was once considered part of Pittsburgh's future, but he 'talked' (and played) his way out of the Steel City. It was pretty clear that his days in Pittsburgh were numbered, so whatever talent you get for him is a win. The $12 million the Pirates save is significant. Look for them to use that money to keep signing draft picks and international players. As for the Mariners they did acquire to Major League pieces, but right now there are more questions than answers surrounding them. Will Wilson's batting numbers go even further down in a better pitchers park and tougher league? Can Snell focus on pitching and reach his upside? Will Snell struggle against the better A.L. hitters? If the answers to those questions are; NO, YES, NO, then the Mariners may come out of this deal winners as well.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Favre Retired (Again...I think)

Yesterday Brett Favre announced his third retirement from his illustrious playing career. Now most people will say this is only his 2nd retirement, because he never officially signed with the Minnesota Vikings. This saga has played out long enough that I think that the Vikings deserved to be engraved into his bust for the Hall of Fame. Now I respect a player coming out of retirement, because they still have a love for the game and want to compete. Players like Michael Jordan and Mario Lemieux came back because they felt they could still play. Regardless of the results of their return, they deserve to be revered for putting the game first. That is how I viewed Favre's return last year. No matter the drama with the Packers front office that led to his Jets cameo, Favre deserved the chance to play if he still wanted to. In my eyes Favre's legacy was still intact.

The retirement roller coaster this year though, has tarnished Favre's reputation pretty severely. This process was too drawn out and included too many false promises for us as fans to respect Favre for wanting to come back (again) or retire (again). This became too much of a joke. When else do you see a player 'retire' while in retirement, (not to be confused with unretiring which he did the first time).

The big loser in this saga are the Minnesota Vikings (maybe this was Favre's way to appease Packer fans, screw with their opponent). Now I'm sure they will tell you that are perfectly happy with the quarterbacks on their roster (Sage Rosenfels and Tavaris Jackson), but who really believes that to be true? Jackson has been awful as a starter and pretty much cost them their playoff game last year. Rosenfels is an improvement and should be the starter now in Minnesota, but he is no Brett Favre. Even Favre past his prime would have given the Vikings a better chance to compete than Rosenfels. On top of the talent downgrade at quarterback, Minnesota now has to deal with the fallout from their players, fans, media, and bloggers (like this one) who have been expecting Favre to be wearing purple this coming September. Now the Vikings will have negative media stories hounding them all season. The pressure is now on their quarterbacks two-fold to win without Favre.

Farve will always go down as one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. He was winner who helped reestablish an iconic franchise as a powerhouse. Farve was probably the toughest guy to line up behind center in recent years, if not ever. His play on the field could be related to and respected by any fan, regardless of loyalty. He was a fierce competitor and a winner, but in the end, he will be remembered for his indecisiveness not on the field, but in the press. Hopefully, years from now us fans can forgive Brett Farve for the 24 hour news coverage of his retirement. Until then lets hope this is the last time we hear Brett's name mentioned with a team as a possible player.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Trade Center: MLB

The Deal: The St. Louis Cardinals acquired OF Matt Holliday and cash from the Oakland Athletics for 3B Brett Wallace (AAA), SP Clayton Mortensen (AAA) and OF Shane Peterson (AA).

Athletics: There are three categories primarily used when determining the value of a baseball trade: quantity of prospects, quality of prospects and Major League readiness. To receive a positive return in one or two of the categories usually makes a trade successful for the rebuilding team. The A's return for Matt Holliday got them passing grades in all three categories. Three prospects for a half season rental is a pretty good return. Wallace is by far the best of the three prospects. He is listed as a third baseman, but will be a first baseman/DH in the majors. Though his defense is weak, his bat is his greatest tool. Wallace will hit for a high average, with 30+ home run power. He could very well be Oakland's starting first baseman next season. Mortensen is another quality prospect. He profiles as a middle of the rotation starter, and is a nice addition to the A's impressive pitching depth. He should push for a starting job next season. Peterson doesn't have the prospect pedigree of Wallace or Mortensen, but he has excelled at every level in the minors. At the very least he will be a 4th outfielder, but has shown enough promise and upside to think that he could be an everyday player.

Cardinals: St. Louis needed to add another offensive weapon for their playoff run this season. The Cards are in a tough fight for the N.L. Central (with just about everybody). Acquiring a big bat in the outfield should help set them apart from the Cubs and Brewers. Holliday and Albert Pujols will be a nightmare for opposing pitchers down the stretch. St. Louis did pay a heavy price to add Holliday. Granted Wallace was a blocked prospect, but you probably should have used your best trading chip on something more than a rental. Mortensen and Peterson deplete the Cards depth as well. While I think right now the Cardinals are in the driver's seat for the division, the Cubs and Brewers could make moves to vault them to the top. St. Louis may still need to make another small move for a reliever to really secure themselves the division.

The Winner: The A's won here any way you look at it. They weren't going to resign Matt Holliday in the off season and the Arbitration process is highly risky for small market teams. Getting three quality prospects, including a very talented Wallace is a great return for Oakland's rebuilding effort. The Cardinals grade in this trade can't be determined until after the season. If they go out and win the World Series, then this was a big win for them as well. But if they miss the playoffs or lose in the first round, then I'd have to call this one a loss for St. Louis. Hopefully for the Cards sake they can convince Holliday to sign an extension, otherwise they might regret giving up a talent like Wallace for years to come.