Thursday, July 31, 2008

Transaction Wire

Indians trade SP CC Sabathia to the Brewers for 1B/OFMatt LaPorta, P Rob Bryson, P Zach Jackson, and a PTBNL
I expressed my thoughts on this trade right after it happened. To recap: Matt LaPorta? That's awesome!

Cubs trade P Sean Gallagher, OF Matt Murton, 2B/OF Eric Patterson, and C Josh Donaldson to the A's for SP Rich Harden and P Chad Gaudin
The A's are in danger of entering perpetual rebuilding mode. It's been a few years since they last made the playoffs. But instead of trying to win the division with their current incarnation, they instead decided to blow it up and try again in a few years. Oakland needs to be careful that this doesn't become an infinite loop of growing players only to trade them away before they can make a run for the playoffs.

The Cubs, meanwhile, appear to have accomplished quite a bit with this deal. They got rid of Matt Murton and Eric Patterson, who struggled to find a place in the Chicago organization. They added an ace in Rich Harden. But some think the key to the deal is actually Chad Gaudin, a swingman who can do whatever's needed on a moment's notice - be a setup man, long reliever, or even a spot starter.

Padres trade 1B/PH Tony Clark to the Diamondbacks for P Evan Scribner
Tony Clark has kept his career going by becoming a great pinch hitter. He's a good player to have in a pennant race, but not when you're last in your division. Essentially, then, he went from a team that didn't need him to one who did.

Phillies trade 2B Adrian Cardenas, P Josh Outman, and OF Matt Spencer to the A's for Joe Blanton
There were quite a few red flags with this one. Joe Blanton has shown flashes of greatness. But he put up league-average numbers while making half his starts in one of the most notorious pitcher's parks in the league. Now he'll be making half of his starts in one of the most notorious hitter's parks in the league, so we'll see how things play out.

Brewers trade P Steve Hammond and OF Darren Ford to the Giants for 2B Ray Durham
The Bay Area has been second baseman purgatory this year. Mark Ellis is perhaps the most underrated all-around keystone sacker in the game. And while Ray Durham shouldn't be batting cleanup in any lineup (as he often did behind Barry Bonds), he has put up solid offensive numbers every year, including this season. The Brewers add Durham as insurance against Rickie Weeks, who has been one of the few disappointments in the Milwaukee lineup this year.
For the Giants, meanwhile, any trade that unloads one of their 35+-year-olds in exchange for prospects is a good one.

Diamondbacks trade 2B/OF Emilio Bonifacio to the Nationals for RP Jon Rauch
Injuries had just promoted Jon Rauch to the closer's role in Washington (and a spot on my fantasy team) when he was moved to Arizona to be Brandon Lyon's chief setup man. Rauch will also fill in as the Diamondback's closer if the injury bug bites Lyon again.

I can't say I know much about Emilio Bonifacio, but most sources I've read say the Nationals could have gotten much more in return for Rauch.

Astros trade P Chad Reineke to the Padres for P Randy Wolf
Which one of these GMs gets it, and which one doesn't? The Padres know they're out of the race, and unloaded veteran Randy Wolf for the young Chad Reineke. The Astros, meanwhile, still think they can push for a playoff spot, despite most of the outside world disagreeing with them.

Pirates trade OF Xavier Nady and RP Damaso Marte to the Yankees for OF Jose Tabata, P Ross Ohlendorf, P Dan McCutchen, and P Jeff Karstens
I'll be honest: by being a Mark Shapiro supporter, I'm a Neil Huntington supporter by default (even if my application to develop their player development database was rejected). Pirates management set a goal of finishing .500 this year (a goal they've probably had for the past decade or so). Huntington squashed that though, forgoing a mediocre present result to build a more promising future.

This is similar to the Indians' rebuilding at the beginning of this decade, although Pittsburgh's starting foundation isn't as good. Nonetheless, Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte would have been gone after 2009, meaning they weren't part of the Pirates future.

The four prospects Pittsburgh received in return might be, though. Ross Ohlendorf may never be a star, but he's a serviceable major league player. Jose Tabata has some character issues, but he's still just a 19-year-old kid and his future is bright.

Indians trade CIF/COF Casey Blake to the Dodgers for RP Jon Meloan and C Carlos Santana
Casey Blake is a solid major league player. He can play four positions, and despite a rough start was second on the Indians in OPS at the time of the trade. But when a team's out of contention, their need for a versatile 34-year-old lessens, especially when his contract is up at the end of the season. So the Indians turned nothing into something, and left the door open to re-sign blake in the offseason.

Someone pointed out that had the Indians kept Blake until the end of the season, they could have gotten two supplemental draft picks. But the Indians' current window of success is only open until 2012 - that's when Grady Sizemore's current contract is up - and that's not enough time to let those draft picks developed. So the Tribe picked up two players a little further along in the process.

Jon Meloan has struggled as a starter this year, but was lights-out as a reliever in the past. The Indians will move him back to the bullpen. Carlos Santana is leading all minor leagues in RBI this year. He replenishes Cleveland's stock of catching talent, and is said to have the potential to become Victor Martinez with better defense.

Of course, in addition to the prospects picked up, losing Blake gives Andy Marte and Ryan Garko, and to a lesser extent Kelly Shoppach, Ben Francisco, Shin-Soo Choo, and Franklin Gutierrez more of a chance to audition for a spot on next year's club.

Indians trade P Luis Perdomo to the Cardinals for SP Anthony Reyes
This was a slightly more controversial move among Indians fans. Luis Pedromo has some talent, but he may not be ready by the 2012 deadline mentioned above. Anthony Reyes, despite his struggles, already has major league experience. If he works out, that's a plus for the Indians. If not, oh well.

Angels trade 1B Casey Kotchman and P Stephen Marek to the Braves for 1B Mark Teixeira
Many people thought the Braves could get more for Mark Teixeira. But Teixeira is a free agent after this season, so it's esentially a rental. Plus, Atlanta's first base cupboard has been barren for years. So while Casey Kotchman may not look like much of a player to some, he's likely better than any other readily-available replacement the Braves had for Teixeira.

Tigers trade C Pudge Rodriguez to the Yankees for RP Kyle Farnsworth
Most are saying that the Yankees won this swap of free agents-to-be. But Ivan Rodriguez isn't the hitter he once was. Plus, the Tigers need bullpen help, especially with Todd Jones now on the disabled list and Fernando Rodney not too far behind. The move could give new life to The Professor after he struggled in New York. A bullpen of Farnsworth, Rodney, and Joel Zumaya firing 99 MPH heaters back-to-back-to-back will shorten many a ballgame.

White Sox trade P Nick Masset and 2B Danny Richar to the Reds for Ken Griffey, Jr.
This one has confused quite a few people. Sure, the White Sox helped their batting order by adding another lefty masher to complement Carlos Quentin and Jermaine Dye (and, when he's hitting, Paul Konerko). But where does he fit in on the field? Konerko hasn't hit well this year, so do they put Griffey at first, or DH Griffey and put Jim Thome at first? Thome has only played a handful of games in the field in his White Sox tenure. Plus, one would assume Paul Konerko wouldn't take the benching well.

The early indication is that Griffey would move back to center field. But he's considered a below-average defender in right field, so a move to center wouldn't benefit anyone (except maybe opposing gap hitters). I can only hope to be as fit as Griffey when I'm his age, but let's face it - The Kid and his gut could be better conditioned.

Marlins trade P Gaby Hernandez to the Mariners for RP Arthur Rhodes
Yet another case of a non-contender getting rid of an unneeded luxury. Lefty specialist Arthur Rhodes goes to the contending Florida Marlins for a young starter that the Mariners can take a chance on.

Three-Way Trade:
Pirates trade OF Jason Bay to the Red Sox
Red Sox trade OF Manny Ramirez to the Dodgers
Red Sox trade RP Craig Hansen and OF Brandon Moss to the Pirates
Dodgers trade 3B Andy LaRoche and P Bryan Morris to the Pirates

It's no secret that Manny Ramirez wanted out of Boston. So for the price of two good-but-not-great prospects, the Red Sox got rid of Manny and replaced him with Jason Bay, who was arguably the best remaining outfielder on the market.

Bay had been the face of the Pirates organization, but like Xavier Nady his contract was up after 2009. Pittsburgh accomplished many things in this trade. First, they further replenished their farm system for the years to come. Nate McClouth has made himself a fixture in center field, and with Bay and Nady now gone, I assume Brandon Moss and top prospect Andrew McCutchen will round out the Bucs outfield for the rest of 2008. (McCutchen was left off of the US Olympic team, and this may have been why.)

Meanwhile, while Pittsburgh lost their current face of the franchise, they may have picked up their new face in the process. Andy LaRoche is the brother of current Pirate Adam LaRoche, and Adam says that his younger sibling is a much better hitter. Andy LaRoche may be the best third base prospect not named Evan Longoria, and he could be the cornerstone of the Pittsburgh lineup for years to come.

For Los Angeles, this is a "win now" move. The Dodgers already had a log jam in the outfield between Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Juan Pierre, and Andruw Jones. But Pierre and Jones are both struggling, and LA saw a need to correct that problem. In doing so, they gave up the better of their two third base prospects (Blake DeWitt being the other).