Studs and Duds: Review of the MLB Trade Deadline
It was a very active Major League Baseball trade deadline that included some pretty big names packing bags including Victor Martinez, Jake Peavy, Cliff Lee, and Matt Holliday, just to name a few. There was also some very interesting surprises. Here is who I thought came out as studs, or winners, and also who became duds, or Losers.
Studs: Boston Red Sox
Key Acquisitions—Victor Martinez and Casey Kotchman
The Red Sox were able to get a great a versatile player in Victor Martinez. He is able to play both catcher and first base. His numbers have been fantastic this year, especially for a catcher, and if it wasn’t for Joe Mauer, he would be the best catcher in the American League. This trade also gives the Sox insurance for Mike Lowell. If he happens to get hurt again, they can play Martinez at first base and move Kevin Youkilis at third. There is also a good chance that he will wind up being their everyday catcher next year, the kind of catcher they spent a lot of time looking for the past couple of years.
As for Casey Kotchman, he gives them a good defensive first baseman and just an all-around solid player off the bench. This is also a cheaper option for the Red Sox.
The Red Sox did give up some nice prospects, but they were still able to hold on to stud Clay Buchholz and their farm system is still in pretty good shape. Overall, they did a great job during the trade deadline.
Studs: Philadelphia Phillies
Key Acquisition—Cliff Lee
The Philadelphia Phillies needed another good starter in their rotation to help them make another World Series run and they got a very good one in Cliff Lee. The reigning Cy Young winner from the American League now comes over to the National League and should make the Phillies the favorites to repeat as champions in the National League again.
The Phillies did part with a solid package in Marson, Donald, Knapp, and Carrasco, but it was well worth it for a former CY Young winner, even though I feel Knapp could end up being a steal in this trade. Cliff Lee will give the team the best ground ball percentage, which bodes well for playing in a ballpark like Citizens Bank. Plus, he has a good strikeout-to-walk ratio (over three) and he has a very good home-run-per-nine, about half a home run for every nine innings pitched. This was a great deal, especially considering the package they would have had to give up to get Roy Halladay.
Studs: Pittsburgh Pirates
Key Acquistions—Tim Alderson, Kevin Hart, Jose Ascanio, Josh Harrison, Lastings Milledge, Charlie Morton, Jeff Locke, Gorkys Hernandez, Argenis Diaz, Hunter Strickland, Jeff Clement, Ronny Cedeno, Nathan Adcock, Brett Lorin and Aaron Pribanic
Many people have been quick to bash and criticize the moves made by Neal Huntington. However, these are the same people who probably don’t value a good prospect when they see one. I absolutely love what the Pirates did this season. Yes, they traded away a “key” guy in Nate McClouth, whose defense is overrated with UZR being negative, which means his range is below average for a center fielder. His OPS is below .800 and he is only getting on base at about a .340 clip, which isn't awful, but could be better. So for the Pirates to snag some pretty solid prospects in Charlie Morton, Jeff Locke and Gorkys Hernandez, I would say they got fair to good value for their supposed star.
Charlie Morton has had good command and is a ground ball pitcher and should be a nice four or five starter for the Pirates. Jeff Locke has a ton of potential and he could find his way into the Pirates rotation in the future. Locke has pretty good stuff, but has struggled a bit with his control this year. Finally, Gorkys Hernandez is another very good prospect, who was ranked in the top ten of the Braves farm system. This gives the Pirates nice speed and good depth in the minors in terms of outfielders, to go alongside Jose Tabata.
Then, there was the trade with the Washington Nationals. Lastings Milledge has all the potential in the world to be an all-around player and the Pirates are obviously taking a chance here, but a good chance. See, they don’t necessarily need Nyjer Morgan, and by taking a chance on Lastings, they could come out geniuses in this trade, especially with Lastings's bat finally coming around in the minors.
Then you have the crazy trade with the Seattle Mariners. They were able to ship Jack Wilson and Ian Snell for Jeff Clement, Ronny Cedeno, Brett Lorin, and others. Jeff Clement is likely to move to first base, which is a position that the Pirates could use, although Garrett Jones has been playing well there. However, Jones can play some outfield if need be. Clement may see some time at catcher, but it is unlikely due to his poor defense. Clement has good power though and could be a key asset for the Pirates in the years to come.
Ronny Cedeno isn’t great, but he has solid range and could wind up being a nice utility guy down the road, and a possible starter, but he would have to hit a lot better than he has been. The other prospect I like in this deal is Brett Lorin. Lorin has great size at 6′7″, with pretty good command. His fastball has been said to be a little below average in terms of velocity, but just look at Chris Young. Lorin could be a similar pitcher with more command but slightly worse stuff.
Pirates still weren’t done yet. They made moves with Cubs and the Giants. They traded an average to slightly above-average middle reliever in John Grabow and a struggling starter in Tom Gorzelanny. They received a pretty good package, acquiring a middle reliever to a potential set up guy in Jose Ascanio, who should be better than Grabow in the near future. And they also received a nice starter in Kevin Hart, who should help their rotation out and could make for a nice three starter or back-of-the-rotation guy. Hart still needs to work on command, but he has got a couple of plus pitches.
Finally, we have the deal that propelled the Pirates into the Studs category. The Pirates, in my opinion, completely robbed the San Francisco Giants. They traded a solid, but overrated, second basemen in Freddy Sanchez for a very good prospect in Tim Alderson. Tim Alderson could be a very good starter for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He has got a great curveball and really good command.
Look out for the Pirates within the next couple of years; they could be a very young and dangerous team. Their pitching improved immensely and they now have a pretty solid farm system with better depth.
Studs: Cleveland Indians
Key Acquisitions—Jason Knapp, Jason Donald, Lou Marson, Carlos Carrasco, Justin Masterson, Nick Hagadone and Bryan Price
Like the Pirates, some feel that the Indians did not fare well at the trade deadline. However, I feel they did a pretty good job. They received a ton of good quality prospects for two great players, but players that they probably couldn’t afford to keep.
The first trade they made was with the Philadelphia Phillies. This was the trade that put a lot of people off. The feeling among fans and experts is that the Indians didn’t get enough in this deal, but it is all based on personal preferences. For example, there are a lot of scouts that believe that Jason Knapp will actually be better than the Phillies current top prospect Kyle Drabek. I have to agree with them and the Indians must have, too. Knapp is still very young, but he possesses great stuff and strikes out a ton of batters. He doesn’t give up a lot of home runs, but he, like a lot of prospects, needs to cut down on his walks.
As for the rest of the prospects, Carlos Carrasco gives them a nice guy to put at the end of the rotation and a guy that was ranked as the Phillies' second best pitcher, according to Baseball America. Then they received a pretty good catching prospect in Lou Marson, who is likely the insurance plan for Carlos Santana. If Santana lives up to his potential, which I think he will, the Indians could move him for a key piece during the trade deadline next year, if they are back in the playoff hunt. Finally, they got Jason Donald, who has a chance to fit in very well with their current middle infielders, Luis Valbuena and Asdrubal Cabrera. Donald has been struggling a bit, but he has been injured and, when healthy, he has a good eye at the plate and pretty solid power for a middle infielder.
Then they traded the heart and soul of the Indians, Victor Martinez. As hard has this must have been for Cleveland and their fans, they made the right move. They received some very good pitching prospect. Pitching was obviously the key issue for the Cleveland Indians at the deadline.
Justin Masterson should get time right away whether it is in the rotation or the bullpen. There has been some issues with Masterson’s arm slot and whether he could be a starter or not, but he has got great stuff and was a highly rated prospect in a very good farm system.
The real prize in the deal is Nick Hagadone. Nick Hagadone ranked third in the Boston farm system, according to Baseball America. Hagadone is a big time lefty with great strike out per nine numbers. He is still very young and he is coming off Tommy John surgery, but he could be a good top of the order type pitcher.
Overall, I think the Indians walked away with some very nice prospect and they can some more pitching depth, which they desperately needed.
Duds: San Francisco Giants
Key Acquisitions—Ryan Garko and Freddy Sanchez
The Ryan Garko deal wasn’t bad. The Giants didn’t give up a big-time prospect and they got a decent first basemen; well, at least against lefties. Either way, the Giants needed to have someone man first and their options prior to Garko were pretty bad. So I like the trade for the Giants.
However, the trade for Freddy Sanchez made them losers. The Giants have great pitching prospects in the minors and they gave one of those up for an average, maybe slightly above average, second basemen. The only way Sanchez is productive offensively is if he hits over.300, because he doesn’t walk much. He is a good defender and a solid contact hitter, but there is no way he is worth Tim Alderson. Tim Alderson is a guy that could be a top of the rotation type pitcher; he has got great size and good stuff. The Giants didn’t need him for the future, but they should have gotten more for a highly regarded pitching prospect, especially when they need more power in the lineup.
Duds: Chicago Cubs
Key Acquisitions—John Grabow and Tom Gorzelanny
The Cubs gave up quite a bit for a middle reliever and, at this point, a below average starter. Kevin Hart had been pitching well and was ranked as their sixth best prospect, according to Baseball America, coming into the season. Then they trade a nice and up-and-coming bullpen arm in Jose Ascaino for John Grabow. May I remind you that Grabow actually has better splits vs. righties than he does lefties? He is a good middle relief guy, but really doesn’t pass for a dominate setup man, which in my opinion, is what this package suggests.
Another puzzling thing for the Chicago Cubs is, why do you feel the desire to make such a move? You have just signed B.J. Ryan, whose raw numbers haven’t look good, but if you pitch him strictly to left handers, he would make for a pretty lefty specialist. Not only that, but you have Sean Marshall, who has done a great job in the bullpen.
The only way that the Chicago Cubs get themselves out of the Duds list is if Tom Gorzelanny can do in the major leagues what he has already done in the minors. If he doesn’t, then this trade looks awful for the Chicago Cubs.
Could Go Either Way: St. Louis Cardinals
Key Acquisitions: Matt Holliday, Mark DeRosa and Julio Lugo
The Cardinals made some solid moves to help make run towards a playoff berth and the National League Central crown. Matt Holliday is a very good hitter and should do better in St. Louis, which has a more hitter-friendly park than Oakland. DeRosa gives the Cards versatility and should be a very good second base/third basemen for the St. Louis.
However, they paid a pretty steep price by giving up some pretty good prospects in Chris Perez, Brett Wallace, Jess Todd, Clayton Mortensen and Shane Peterson. There will be a couple of keys as to whether the Cardinals become Studs or Duds for this deadline.
First, they would have to at least make the playoffs to make this trade respectable, and probably have to advance past the first round at that.
The second key would be to sign both Matt Holliday and Mark DeRosa to long-term deals, especially Matt Holliday. If one of these two things happens, then I would consider these to be a fairly decent trades and, if both happen, then I'll consider them to be Studs. However, if they miss the playoffs and fail to re-sign Matt Holliday, then they become big time Duds and, to make things worse, that scenario could diminish their chances of resigning Albert Pujols.
Could Go Either Way: Chicago White Sox
Key Acquisitions: Jake Peavy and Tony Pena
The White Sox made a big splash right before the deadline and picked up a very good pitcher from the San Diego Padres in Jake Peavy. Jake Peavy gives them another starter that they really needed in order to separate themselves from the AL Central. However, Peavy is hurt and may not be available for the rest of the year.
This may wind up hurting the White Sox as they make a run towards the AL Central crown. They traded away their fifth starter, Clayton Richards, who was beginning to turn it on. They also traded their top pitching prospect, Aaron Poreda, so they will lack pitching depth. Now, if they can stay among the top of the Central and somehow get Peavy back before the end of the season, the White Sox could be a very dangerous team and a legitimate World Series contender. This would obviously be one key in making this team a stud.
However, if they can’t get Peavy back, there is still next year. The White Sox will probably be the favorites in the AL Central next year. As long as they can make the playoffs within the next two or three years, and make a good run while there, this will look like a good deal. The good thing is they have Peavy through 2013, and as long as he stays healthy, I see the White Sox coming out more like Studs. However, that doesn't change the fact that they made an awful trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks. They traded for middle reliever Tony Pena and gave up a very good first base prospect in Brandon Allen. Still, I lean towards the Stud list with the Southsiders.