Monday, July 26, 2010

Notes on a Lopsided Trade

Some notes on what has the potential to be an incredibly lopsided deal:

Do you really want your interim GM making this kind of franchise altering deal? The Common Man isn’t saying that Jerry DiPoto is in over his head, but he’s been on the job for less than a month and has never had experience leading a front office. And the first trade you want him to make is to deal your ace starter? Talk about being thrown in the deep end. TCM realizes that the D-Backs management had to sign off on this, but you can’t really expect this new GM to be on par with Tony Reagins can you?

If your hands are apparently tied by Haren’s no trade clause such that you cannot get a fair value for the pitcher, as Aaron thinks they were, isn’t it an entirely viable strategy to just hold onto Haren and try to either compete next year, or deal him then? After all, holding the course worked for the Padres.

Evidence that maybe Jerry DiPoto was the wrong guy to make this deal from today’s press conference: “I think he trails only Roy Halladay among major leaguers in total wins.” Um, no. No he does not, Jerry. Joe Saunders has 54 career wins. As of this morning, he is tied with Jeff Francis of the Rockies for 82nd among active Major Leaguers. Even if we are giving DiPoto credit for meaning “since Saunders came to prominence in 2008), Saunders is 13th. From 2009-2010, he’s 29th. From 2008-2009 he is 5th, behind Halladay, Cliff Lee, CC Sabathia, and Tim Lincecum. Perhaps what DiPoto meant is “He is second in American League wins between 2008-2009, behind Roy Halladay.” Because that would be a true statement.

Among players with more than 50 decisions, Joe Saunders is 15th on the active leaderboard with a .628 winning percentage (not the .630 that DiPoto claimed). Above him are luminaries such as Daisuke Masuzaka and Kevin Slowey. Perhaps Slowey’s trade value is higher than the Twins thought.

As embarrassing as this trade is ultimately likely to turn out for the D-Backs, it’s not the worst trade that a GM has made on July 25. That honor likely belongs to Allard Baird who, in 2001, dealt Jermaine Dye away in a three-way deal to the A’s. In it, the Rockies got three prospects from the A’s, and the Royals ended up with Neifi Perez (pictured here in a pose representing what he did and contributed to Kansas City baseball) and a lot of angry words from Rob Neyer. In a year and a half or so with the Royals, Perez would have a .279 OBP and made between $5.5 and 6 million dollars. Dye would hit .267/.344/.488 over that span, and make around $8.5 million. None of the prospects would really help the Rockies at all, but at least they were rid of Neifi Perez.

Also on July 25 of 1896, the Pittsburg Pirates dealt struggling 1B Jake Beckley to the Giants for promising 1B-OF Harry Davis and $1,000. Neither would do much for their new teams. Beckley was released early into the next season, but would catch on with Cincinnati, for whom he’d star for another seven years, and eventually make it to the Hall of Fame. Davis played well, but eventually washed out of the NL at the age of 25. He would reemerge with the new Philadelphia A’s in 1901, and be one of the first great American League power hitters through 1908 or so. (thanks to’s cool new Historical Transactions feature for these last two items).

Joe Saunders has two more arbitration eligible years left before he’ll be free to leave the D-backs. Though he only makes $3.7 million now, he’s sure to get a big raise because of those big win totals that DiPoto is so impressed by. Haren would have actually been under the D-Backs control for one season longer than Saunders, as his contract contains a club option for 2013 at $15.5 million.

This trade, as TCM outlined on Friday, is probably a good thing for the Twins, as they could not afford to keep Haren going forward. Now GM Bill Smith can focus on more reasonable options, including Ted Lilly or Fausto Carmona. The less said about the violent wife-beater Brett Meyers the better.

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