Sunday, August 1, 2010

Sunday Lightning 8.1.2010

  • Winners and losers? I don't need no stinkin' winners and losers:

Cold-blooded analysis is all you get here.

Let's have a look at the big trades that were completed at the deadline.

The Yankees acquire RHP Kerry Wood from the Indians for a player to be named later and cash.



On the one hand, Wood presents almost no risk whatsoever to the Yankees; they're getting about 2/3 of the money left ($3.7 million) on Wood's contract from the Indians; he might be rejuvenated by entering a pennant race with the chance for a ring; and he's still got a power fastball and curve.

On the other hand, he's been injury-prone throughout his entire career; has been almost completely unreliable and homer-happy in any meaningful situation as a closer; his control has been poor; and his strikeouts are down.

The Yankees dumped Chan Ho Park to make room for Wood; it's a nothing deal----minimal risk, high reward...and Wood's not going to be any better than Joba Chamberlain in the role of set-up man if that's where the Yankees are going to give him an opportunity to pitch. In fact, he'll be worse. He's either going to get hurt or get rocked. I'd be stunned if he's of any use at all.

The Cardinals trade OF Ryan Ludwick to the Padres; the Padres trade LHP Nick Greenwood and RHP Corey Kluber to the Indians; and the Indians trade RHP Jake Westbrook to the Cardinals.

Ludwick is an immediate upgrade to the Padres stagnant offense. While his production is more in line with his 22 homer, 97 RBI, .775 OPS from 2009 rather than the massive power year (37 homers) he had in 2008, the Padres needed a bat to protect Adrian Gonzalez in the batting order down the stretch and having spent much of his time with the Cardinals (pre-Matt Holliday) batting behind Albert Pujols, Ludwick isn't a stranger to protecting a major star. In addition, Ludwick's not a rental; he's not eligible for free agency until after 2011.

The Padres are flush with young pitching throughout their organization and could afford to surrender a couple of prospects to the Indians to get this done. Greenwood is a soon-to-be 23-year-old lefty starter who's struggling in A ball. At first glance of his size and numbers, he looks to be another in the long line of Indians pitchers who are undersized, soft-tossing lefties in the vein of Aaron Laffey and Jeremy Sowers. They have a blind spot for these types of pitchers and should probably go see an ophthalmologist to repair it.

Kluber is a 24-year-old righty and is presumably closer to big league ready. He's got good strikeout numbers and respectable stats across the board.

The Indians got something for a pitcher in Westbrook they weren't going to re-sign as a free agent, so in that sense, they did well.

The Cardinals bolstered their starting rotation with the gutty Westbrook. After having whiffed on getting Dan Haren and Roy Oswalt, this is a reasonable on-field substitute for those star pitchers and is much more financially palatable for a club that still has to be concerned with keeping Pujols after next season. Westbrook throws strikes; and has pitched well in his comeback from Tommy John surgery. He also has playoff experience.

Ludwick had missed time due to injury and at his age---32----was expendable. Jon Jay has looked good in his place and the Cardinals have enough offense to win without Ludwick. Worst case scenario, the Cardinals can make a move on a bat the likes of Jose Guillen in August if they don't trust Jay.

This is a good deal for everyone; they all got what they were looking for at a reasonable price.

The Cubs trade LHP Ted Lilly and INF Ryan Theriot to the Dodgers for INF Blake DeWitt, RHP Brett Wallach and RHP Kyle Smit.

The Pirates trade RHP Octavio Dotel to the Dodgers for RHP James McDonald.

Every year the Dodgers make a series of decisive moves to bolster their club at the trading deadline and don't think that they're done----if they hang around the outskirts of contention, they'll still be in the market for upgrades all through August. Give credit to Dodgers GM Ned Colletti for getting a fiery competitor in Lilly. Lilly's velocity is down, but he's pitched well this year and is a sturdy veteran who won't be intimidated by a pennant race. He's a free agent at the end of the year.

Theriot and DeWitt are a wash in everything but contract status. DeWitt's cheap and Theriot's not (arbitration eligible and making $2.6 million this year). Theriot has more pop in his bat than DeWitt does and more speed.

The Dodgers also acquired Octavio Dotel from the Pirates for James McDonald. Dotel still strikes people out and has been pitching better over the last three weeks than he did earlier in the season. He's a veteran arm who's a free agent at the end of the season. (Dotel has an option for next year at $4.5 million that has become mutual with the trade.)

The Cubs get a cheap infielder in DeWitt who can play first, second and third base. He's a cog in the machine and has some use. Plus he's cheap. Did I mention he's cheap? Wallach and Smit are young pitchers who weren't going to help the Dodgers this season, if ever.

The Pirates trade OF Ryan Church, INF Bobby Crosby and RHP D.J. Carrasco to the Diamondbacks for C Chris Snyder, INF Pedro Ciriaco and $3 million.

And the Pirates trade LHP Javier Lopez to the Giants for RHP Joe Martinez and OF John Bowker.

Let's exchange some contracts of mediocrity/expensive injury risks.

The Pirates made a very good deal in getting James McDonald from the Dodgers for Dotel. I love McDonald's stuff, but he's had trouble throwing strikes. The Pirates haven't had the greatest success in developing pitchers, but Dotel was a waste of time for them and they got something of value for him. A fresh start in a venue where few are paying attention may be the best thing for McDonald.

I also think they did well in swapping the veteran Lopez to the Giants for Martinez and Bowker. Martinez is the key to this trade as he had no spot with the Giants and has put up respectable numbers in the minors.

Bowker replaces Church and he can do whatever it is that Church does and presumably not be as much of a nuisance.

And the Pirates need Chris Snyder, why?

Let's see, Snyder is expensive (for the Pirates anyway----they have to pay him about $5 million of the remaining money on his contract through 2011 counting the $3 million they got from the Diamondbacks); he's injury prone and not particularly good defensively.

The other moves the Pirates made are saving them from my now familiar lament regarding the missteps of their front office ("Ah, the Pirates.") The Snyder maneuver made no sense.

D.J. Carrasco has a good arm and the Diamondbacks got a couple of (somewhat) warm bodies in Church and Crosby.

The Braves acquire RHP Kyle Farnsworth and OF Rick Ankiel from the Royals for RHP Jesse Chavez, OF Gregor Blanco and LHP Tim Collins.

I'm sure people looked at this trade and said, "why do the Braves need Farnsworth and Ankiel?", but the one place where Farnsworth fulfilled his massive potential in his entire career was in his brief time as the Braves closer in 2005.

Aside from an admittedly big time gack in game 4 of the NLDS in which he allowed a grand slam in the eighth inning to Lance Berkman to bring the Astros to within 1 run; and a game-tying homer with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to Brad Ausmus----Brad Ausmus!!!!----in a game the Astros eventually won to advance to the NLCS, Farnsworth was almost unhittable for the Braves. Perhaps a return will get the best out of Farnsworth again.

Ankiel has been injured and hasn't been of much use for the Royals this year or for the Cardinals last year, but he's a rental and Nate McLouth hasn't been able to get out of his own way for the Braves this year.

It's a "why not?" trade.

Regarding McLouth, I'm seeing a similar situation with him as I saw with Jeff Francoeur and the Braves; it's not enough to bench and then demote him, but he has to be abused as well. The Braves organization has little patience for their struggling players and it's a bit unfair. They're a smart organization (mostly) and should know better.

The Royals did alright too. Chavez hasn't pitched well, but I like his arm; Blanco is a good, fearless player with speed; Collins is a small (listed at 5'7") lefty who only had a brief stopover with the Braves organization after being acquired in the Yunel Escobar for Alex Gonzalez trade. They dumped some salary for the remainder of the season and got something for it.

  • Mirror images in the funhouse are still mirror images:

The last teams and front offices for whom you'd expect to have a reasonably close comparison are the Mets and Red Sox, but given their lack of movement and current positions on and off the field, that's where they are.

The Red Sox did little other than acquire a catcher with decreasing value in Jarrod Saltalamacchia from the Rangers for two minor leaguers. The Mets did nothing.

Why the similarity, you ask?

Both fan bases are angry and concerned about the remainder of the season; both front offices are under pressure, albeit in vastly different contexts; and both appear to have gazed into their crystal balls and realized that making a bold and possibly stupid trade now would only hurt the organization, so it's better to stand pat, take the heat and hope for the best.

Red Sox GM Theo Epstein is quite the actor.

He reads his canned and predictable lines with aplomb. In a statement reminiscent to his absurd "now and for the future" crack when explaining the club's lack of movement in 2006 as their season crumbled, yesterday he said, "It is an empty feeling to come away empty handed".

It's also an excellent performance.

For a smart guy, Epstein says some pretty stupid things, but it's part of the persona. The Red Sox tried to improve and were probably quite creative in making the attempt, but they weren't going to trade any of their more valuable chips like Daniel Bard, Clay Buchholz or Jacoby Ellsbury (they're going to need some of them to get Adrian Gonzalez after the season); and they're going to have a major uphill climb to make it to the playoffs this year. In fact, they're not making the playoffs this year and they know it internally.

Saltalamacchia will replace Victor Martinez behind the plate next year; I'd expect Jason Varitek to come back as a backup/part-timer; they'll let Martinez leave as a free agent; and they're going to shift Kevin Youkilis to third base to make a major play (and get) Gonzalez.

Book it.

Some Mets fans are still screaming for the team to do something without presenting a rational idea as to what that something was supposed to be. The team is only on the outskirts of contention; they're integrating younger players into the lineup and, rightfully, don't want to add more bad money to the lingering (and expiring after 2011) contracts of Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo and even Carlos Beltran.

I sensed a shift though. Although manager Jerry Manuel is still reviled by the fan base, the emergence and impressive play of Ike Davis, Jon Niese, Ruben Tejada and Josh Thole has re-energized the club and the future is quite bright.

They weren't trading any of their youngsters for the likes of Jake Westbrook or Ted Lilly and that's essentially all that was out there. Octavio Dotel? No thanks.

The Mets biggest problem in making a trade is that the players teams want aren't getting traded; and the players the Mets want to trade have no value as anything other than exchanging one headache for another.

GM Omar Minaya did the right thing in holding off because they'll be able to get the same quality of average or slightly better piece----at a far lower price----if they hang around contention through August; and with the trips to Atlanta and Philadelphia this week, that's a shaky premise right now. Although the Mets have come out swinging with both fists when their backs have been to the wall this season, making a drastic move yesterday wouldn't have helped much and the risk-reward was non-existent.

The Phillies now have one great starting pitcher (Roy Halladay); two very good starters (Oswalt, Cole Hamels); mediocrity at best in the back of the rotation; and a bullpen that should be jailed for arson.

Last night, Brad Lidge allowed a game-winning, 3-run homer to Ryan Zimmerman of the Nationals and the Phillies bullpen exploded again. The Phillies have little margin for error the rest of the way and they'd better hope that those three big time starters are lights out and the offense covers for the back of the rotation and the bullpen, otherwise they're in big trouble.

  • Viewer Mail 8.1.2010:

Jane Heller at Confessions of a She-Fan writes RE Lance Berkman and the Yankees:

Berkman? Fine. I'm not expecting much. But he has to be a better DH than Nick Johnson, just by virtue of showing up.

Berkman will be very good for the Yankees. My advice on the "not expecting much" front is to save it for Kerry Wood.

The Brooklyn Trolley Blogger writes RE the Mets:

The silence in Flushing is deafening.
I'll be on Twitter soon. LOL Looks like we'll have to out-flank them.

Better to make no deal than a stupid deal, especially considering the club circumstances.

Your seat in my Family is waiting on Twitter. The army grows....

I was a guest with Sal at SportsFan Buzz a week ago Friday. You can listen directly here----link----or click on Sal's site and download it from I-Tunes.

In addition, I'll be a guest again on Tuesday to discuss the trades and other stuff. Begin preparations now is my advice.

My book is still available on Amazon, I-Universe and Barnes and It's available for download as an E-book here. You can also now get it for less that five bucks on BN via download here.

I accurately predicted the Pirates sell-off; it's hard to take credit for that, but I will anyway.


She-Fan said...

The good news on the Wood trade (at least for me) is that when a guy comes to NY and doesn't work out (Winn, LaTroy Hawkins, etc), the Yankees don't wait around for results. They just move on to somebody else. So if Wood can't get it done, dump him.

Brooklyn Trolley Blogger said...

Adrian Gonzalez..(side-bar) ~ San Diego was the first NL team to get 60 wins this year. This is the team Kevin Towers got fired for building. Are we really sure S.D. won't come up with some cheddar and retain him? Gonzo just might give em a little home town break if they keep up their pace of play. I don't think the Dodgers' moves are going to make up that ground for them. Zito is clearly a lot better now than in his first year in S.F. and them Jints can all pitch. That's clearly a two team race. But I just wanted to throw Kevin Towers out there.

My honest opinion bout the Yankee moves ~ these were the type of clutter-some, one move too many, moves that make players on the bench get lost in space; the kind that caused the Yank's early eliminations from '02 thru '08. Lack of dedicated role players and scrappiness off the bench caused (in part) Torre to get blamed for those early playoff departures. There's something to be said for the Lemke, Biancalana, Vizciano, Chicken Stanley, Brian Doyle and Al Weiss' in the game and the roles they play. (yea Jane, they can afford to dispense of players like Dixie Cups ~ Most can't! Luv Ya!)

And you know I want a full blown rebuild in Flushing so I'm glad they didn't do anything feeble. I just hope they get the next year and half right. But did you catch how at the winter meetings past, Omar said how much other teams liked our prospects. Those were his exact words he used this time around at the deadline almost verbatim. Is that being frank or believing your own lies? LOL