Analyzing the trade deadline deals
August 1, 2012

I haven't been writing here much lately but I coulnd't pass up an opportunity to comment on an incredibly busy trade deadline.  I can't remember so many deals happening in such a short time.  I'll try to restrict my comments to fantasy baseball value but there were a couple players who I think were acquired with only October in mind. 

For example, Ichiro Suzuki getting traded to the Yankees.  Yes, he adds a good arm to their outfield and he can still cover some ground there.  But his bat appears to be at the end of its usefulness with some occasional exceptions.  One of those exceptions happens to pitch for what may be one of the Yankees' stiffer tests in the post-season: Yu Darvish of the Texas Rangers.  The Rangers ousted the Yankees in the 2010 postseason and are the reigning AL champs.  They also got stuffed by the Rangers earlier this year two games to one with one of those games a dominating performance by Darvish - 8.1 innings, 10 Ks, no runs allowed.  The Rangers rotation has been in flux over the past month but regardless who they finish the season with, Darvish still looms for the Yanks.  In a seven game series facing him twice would be daunting; in a five gamer, moreso.  However, while he was with Seattle, Ichiro was 6-for-11 against him and the Mariners are one of two teams that have given Darvish trouble this season (the other being the White Sox).  My guess is that Ichiro is a big reason why a terrible offense such as the Mariners has given him so much trouble.  Darvish grew up in Japan where Ichiro was an icon comparable to Ruth.  Darvish wanted to badly to defeat his countrymen that he lost himself on the mound trying to defeat a myth rather than pitching to the man and made uncharacteristic mistakes with his pitches.  I think the Yankees want to have that same advantage come playoff time.  The two teams will meet in August so we'll see if this theory has any legs, especially since the Yankees are walking wounded right now. 

Wandy Rodriguez to the Pirates - Wandy benefits from a better home park and now he gets to face an anemic Astros line-up a couple times.  Getting some run support should help his confidence too.

Hanley Ramirez to the Dodgers - Given the injury to Dee Gordon, I am quite surprised that the Dodgers have not moved Hanley back to shortstop.  Regardless, the new setting should energize Ramirez after an offseason where he was pilloried in the local media for not being a team player, despite the fact that he was an all-star shortstop.  I'd like to see how those sportswriters would act if they were suddenly switched from the pressbox to selling beers in the upper deck.  Take one for the team, boys!  Dodger Stadium is a pretty neutral park for home runs so Ramirez should see a tick up in his power numbers and RBI.  Winning might help his outlook as well, so I'm betting we see shades of the 2007-2010 Hanley.  Unless the LA media call him out for not being a team player.

Nathan Eovaldi to the Marlins - Eovaldi has a big arm and that stadium is playing friendly to pitchers.  He's still pretty young but the talent is there to be a top of the rotation starter.  The question is do the Marlins have a pitching coach who can get him there.

Omar Infante and Anibal Sanchez to the Tigers - I think both of these guys are going to have a rude awakening.  Infante was having a ridiculous year like he had in 2004.  His isolated power is way out of line with anything he's done in six years and his other periforals have actually detiorated, so we can believe one of two things: this is a fluke at age 30 or he has had medical help.  I am leaning toward the former and am betting we see a big drop-off in production from the league switch.  Sanchez' numbers look much worse than previous seasons, but they're not that different.  However, the league change will keep the hurt on. 

Jacob Turner to the Marlins - I've never been a fan of Turner's until now.  I think the trade to the National league gives him a huge boost, both in getting out of the AL where he faces the DH, but also getting to face relatively weak line-ups in the Mets and Phillies.

Francisco Cordero to the Astros - this one is already playing out badly for Cordero.  He's shown considerable deterioration from his peak which is a bad combination with that park. 

Ryan Roberts to the Rays - Tat-man gets a change of scenery to a tougher park and division and is coming off a year that was a bit fluky.  He can play different position which will help his playing time once Longoria returns, but the Rays already have Sean Rodriguez and Ben Zobrist who can do that and they are better at it. 

Brett Myers to the White Sox - He becomes the set-up man for Addison Reed.

Gaby Sanchez to the Pirates for Gorkys Hernandez  - I'm not sure I get this one, especially since the Pirates impressed me with several of their other moves.  Sanchez isn't substantially better than Garrett Jones but I guess they'll get them both playing time with a platoon.  Gorkys Hernandez is probably not anyone to worry about this year but he does have speed and has the reputation of being able to cover ground in the outfield, which may solve a long term issue with the Marlins in centerfield.
Hunter Pence to SF for Nate Schierholz, Tommy Joseph and Seth Rosin - There might be the perception that this deal effectively kills Hunter Pence's value because of San Francisco's ballpark, but actually the power numbers for it at Citizen's Bank in Philly are fairly similar for right handers.  It's for left-handers that moving to AT&T is death, which is why the big winner in this trade is Nate Schierholz.  He showed 20-homer power in the minors and CB Park is fantastic for lefty-swingers.  He could be a steal down the stretch this year and in 2013.

Edward Mujica to St. Louis for Zach Cox - Mujica has almost no chance to increase his value, but Zach Cox just saw his go up.  He is struggling with Triple-A this season, but he's still only 23 and has some time to get back on track.  He's the near future at third base for the Marlins. 

Shane Victorino to LAD for Josh Lindblom and Ethan Martin - Victorino returns back where it all started, in LA.  Even though he's going to a better line-up and will thus get more opportunities to score runs, he'll also be playing in a division that has the two toughest ballparks for hitters in the majors and his home park will be going from favorable for hitter to neutral.  The parks in Colorado and Arizona will balance out San Francisco and San Diego but there's still the home park to deal with. 

Craig Breslow to the Red Sox for Matt Albers and Scott Podsednik - An exchange of relievers with an aging speedster thrown in as sweetener.  The story is that Podesdnik will add outfield depth at Triple-A but I can't help but think he will be used a lot as a pinch runner in September. 

Brandon League to the Dodgers for Leon Landry and Logan Bawcom - League will add soem depth to the back of the Dodger bullpen but I only brought this one up because I like Leon Landry as a prospect.  He's a toolsy outfielder who hasn't been able to attach skills to those tools yet.  I just thought it was a bit ironic that GM Jack Zurencik gets so much pub about being a sabermetric thinker and then he makes the same kind of deal Jim Bowden would have and would get pilloried for.  Zurencik will probably be lauded for outside-the-box thinking on Fangraphs.

Steve Delabar to the Blue Jays for Eric Thames - This is another interested Mariners deal, similar to the one that sent Brandon Morrow to the Jays in exchange for the aforementioned Brandon League.  Thames grades out as a fourth outfielder but Delabar looks like a real comer if he can get his gopheritis under control.  I'm rooting for the former independent leaguer.

Chris Johnson to the D-backs for Bobby Borchering and Marc Krauss - The D-backs picked up Chris Johnson to replace Ryan Roberts at third and should fill in adequately for the remainder of the season.  I doubt the change in ballparks will have any impact on his production although the change in teams will.  The significant player in this deal is Borchering, who posseses tremedous but has not figured out how to put the bat on the ball consistently.  He's still young - only 21 and playing in Double-A - but right now he looks to me like another Pedro Alvarez. 

George Kottaras to the As for Fautino de los Santos - Kottaras is not going to do much better in Oakland than he did in Milwaukee, especially with Derek Norris lurking in the wings.  Norris struggled on his first exposure to the majors but he has the ability to become an above average catcher in the bigs.  De los Santos has a big arm but no clue where it's going.  Still, his is an arm with gambling a back-up catcher.

Francisco Liriano to the White Sox for Eduardo Escobar and Pedro Hernandez - I'm usually a huge fan of Terry Ryan and the way he builds a team but this trade left me scratching my head.  Since he traded Liriano within the division and got in return an all-glove utility infielder (at best) and a middle man, I have to believe he thinks a) Liriano will never get back to being the dominant starter he was in 2006 and 2010, or b) that he has completely lost his mind.  Either way, I don't think Liriano will fare very well in the hitters heaven that is the White Sox home park.  His groundball tendency is going in the wrong direction for that and his home run rate per flyball has been going up.  Not a great combination for the best park in the majors to hit home runs (yes, even better than Colorado).

Marco Scutaro to the Giants for Charlie Culberson - this one is important because I think it heralds the end of the Brandon Belt era in San Francisco even before it had a chance to really start.  Its no secret that Giants' manager Bruce Bochy 1) loves veterans and 2) is terrible handling youngsters.  He's absolutely miserable at developing any player under 25 who isn't an all-star from the moment they take a major league field.  Having Scutaro will allow him to put Sandoval at first base for the remainder of the season and move Belt to the bench in all likelihood, unless he miraculously starts to crush the ball every night.  Remember, Bochy has given away Belt's at bats to Aubrey Huff (74 ABs for a .148 hitter) and Brett Pill (85 ABs for a .215 hitter) because he thought they were a little more seasoned completely ignoring the fact that Belt has hit better than both and is infinitely more skilled with the glove.  Brian Sabean will ship him off this offseason to someplace that has a greater appreciation for his talent (I'm hoping for Texas both because that would be a homecoming for Belt and a much better park to hit in) and that will be that.  But for now, Belt's season is essentially over.

Zach Greinke to the Angels for Jean Segura, Johnny Hellweg and Ariel Pena - This one was big, not just because it was Greinke, but because it put him in the AL West against whom he has a history of pitching very well.  Normally a pitcher going from the NL to the AL will take a significant hit to his numbers but I don't think that will happen with Greinke.  For one, he's pitched in the AL before and pitched very well and two, he'll be pitching in front of a better defense than he did in Milwaukee.  Greinke might even pitch better down the stretch.  His addition should give the Angels a very good chance of winning the AL West.  

Paul Maholm and Russ Johnson to the Braves for Arodys Vizcaino and Jaye Chapman - Long term I think the Cubs win this deal handily.  Vizcaino has a great arm and the Cubs braintrust will figure a way to keep him healthy.  Maholm is no great shakes but he should provide some consistency for the Braves down the stretch which is what they were going for.  Unfortunately, I'm not convinced that's what they need.  They need a pitcher who can be great for three or four starts before laying a stinker every once in a while, not one who will be mediocre every start.  They just don't have the kind of offense that can consistently generate the runs Maholm needs to win every time out and their bullpen is not as good as it was last year.  He's just not a pitcher who can win games on his own and that is what they needed. 

Geovanny Soto to the Rangers for Jacob Brigham and designated Yorvit Torrealba - How the mighty have fallen.  Soto looked like the next Mike Piazza a few years ago and just four years later he's batting under the Mendiza line and getting traded for a couple of A-ball players.  Hitting in Texas will help, as will the adrenaline of playing in a pennant race.  That said, he has been incredibly unlucky with balls in play and is due for a bounceback. 

Travis Snider to the Pirates for Brad Lincoln - I like this deal for both teams: Lincoln has a big although as yet untamable arm, and Snider has a bat that can play in any park once he gets a clue at the plate.  It's hard to tell if his numbers at Triple-A Las Vegas indicate that he's finally put it all together, or if they are merely a function of hitting in a great park.  Keep a close eye on him to see if they are the former.  My guess is that they are. 

Ryan Dempster to the Rangers -  Dempster has had an unbelievably good year this year, win totals notwithstanding.  But I have a hard time believing that a middle rotation pitcher suddenly found the secret to ultimate pitching power at the age of 35.  It has happened before with guys like Jamie Moyer and Warren Spahn, but in almost all cases those pitchers were left-handed; Dempster is not.  Regardless, we already know why his season has been so fantastic - he has been incredibly lucky with balls in play: a .305 career BABIP pitcher enjoying four months of .245 BABIP.  Rides like this ALWAYS end and using the old Hasbro game "Clue"  vernacular, he'll get his in Texas, with the DH by the American League.  For the Cubs end, they snagged Christian Villanueva, who is an up and coming third baseman, albeit a few years away.