Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Yankees - Diamondbacks

Back to my favorite topic -- proposed Yankee trades. Much has been made about the Red Sox interest in acquiring a young catcher, with speculation centered on the Texas duo and Arizona's Miguel Montero. Peter Gammons wondered earlier this offseason if Arizona would be more willing to give up Montero if the Red Sox were willing to take on Byrnes. Hmmm ...

He plays excellent defense in CF, with a lifetime UZR/150 of 9.5 (and that's with 2200+ innings of data -- IE, no small sample size). I acknowledge he hasn't played there in a couple years, but that's because AZ had Chris Young, not because of any deficiency with Byrnes' glove.

He had 25 steals in 2006 and 50 steals in 2007 -- it would be awfully nice having that kind of speed in the lower third of the Yankee lineup.

For his career, he has a .289 / .351 / .513 line against LHP. Something else the Yankees could use.

On top of the injuries he suffered in 2008, if anything, he was even unluckier than Swisher. His BABIP for 2008 was .226 with a LD% of 18.8 -- Swisher's BABIP was .251 with a LD% of 20.9.

So what you have is a guy who plays good defense in CF, pretty good pop at the plate, speed on the bases, and is due for a bounceback. He has $22M/2 left on his contract, which is a drawback but it's not Zito-esque bad. And if you can get Montero in the process, add a second OF under contract for 2010 (not insignificant), and screw the Red Sox at the same time, it looks like a high upside deal all the way around.

What would it take for Arizona to make the deal? How about Kennedy/Aceves, Veras/Ramirez, Molina, and Cabrera/Gardner? A four for two deal would also help the Yankees clear two spots on the 40 man roster, one for Andy Pettitte and the other for Juan Cruz, both of whom should be signed immediately ...

LF Damon
SS Jeter
1B Teixeira
3B Rodriguez
DH Matsui
C Posada
RF Swisher
2B Cano
CF Byrnes

C Montero
IF Ransom
OF Gardner / Cabrera
OF Nady (to be dealt prior to opening day)

SP Sabathia
SP Wang
SP Burnett
SP Pettitte
SP Chamberlain

RP Robertson
RP Albaladejo
RP Bruney
RP Ramirez / Veras
RP Marte
RP Cruz
CL Rivera

Friday, January 2, 2009

Four Trades That Should Be Made

Due to my inherent bias toward the Yankees, I will refrain from suggesting any trades involving Yankee players. Instead, here are my top four non-Yankee trades that should be made before opening day 2009.

4. Houston trades Carlos Lee to Seattle for Carlos Silva.

Why Houston does it ... It's no secret that Houston is looking to cut payroll, and in addition to the indefensible outright release of Wigginton, rumors were floating at the winter meetings that they were quietly gauging interest in Tejada. Lee has $74M/4 remaining on his deal, is coming off the first injury marred season of his career, is not likely to age well given his body type, and with his poor defense in LF (Chone has him at -19), he's probably best suited to DH. Silva has a guaranteed $36M/3 (or a $46/4 if the mutual option is exercised), and he would become the Astros #2 starter the minute he put on the uniform. He too is in the wrong league, and with a shift to the NL, he would be well equipped to give the Houston rotation a lot of league-average innings over the next 3 or 4 years.

Why Seattle does it ... Seattle has a few young pitchers they want to work into their rotation this year, and with Batista and Washburn under contract for only one more year, getting rid of the remaining years on the Silva deal would give them great payroll and rotation flexibility at the end of '09. Adding Lee as a DH would be a HUGE upgrade to the Seattle lineup (their DH last year was Jose Vidro for Christmas sake), and he would come at a fairly reasonable extra cost of $6M / year, a far cheaper option than Burrell, Abreu, Dunn, et al.

3. Cleveland trades Kelly Shoppach to Boston for Michael Bowden

Why Cleveland does it ... It'd definitely be a risky move to trade Shoppach given the uncertainty surrounding Victor Martinez, but having two good catchers when there are needs in other places is a luxury Cleveland can't afford. Shoppach hit out of his mind in 2008, and this may be the right time to try to swing a deal. Bowden is a very good prospect -- young for his age at every stop, he's averaging about a strikeout per inning and exhibits exceptional control with a 4:1 K:BB ratio. Cleveland should take the small hit in 2008 for the benefit in 2009 and beyond.

Why Boston does it ... Texas is asking for Buchholz in any deal for Saltalamacchia/Teagarden, and Boston isn't paying that price. While Bowden is a good pitcher, he doesn't have Buchholz's ceiling, and Shoppach could be expected to provide above average offensive production and average to slightly above average defense over 110 - 120 games next year. He's still well thought of by fans from his days coming up through the Red Sox system, and even if his bat regresses somewhat, he's a much more consistent option than the Texas duo.

2. Atlanta trades Kelly Johnson to Minnesota for Delmon Young.

Why Atlanta does it ... It's a poorly kept secret that Bobby Cox doesn't like Johnson, and with the emergence of Martin Prado, the Braves have a replacement for him. Delmon is definitely a high risk/high reward type of player, he's from the south (more relaxed close to home?), and if he does put it all together and gets along with Cox, he could play LF for the Braves for the next decade. Delmon also has one less year of service time than Johnson, and would result in a little payroll relief (although it's not needed) on the Atlanta side.

Why Minnesota does it ... Minnesota has a surplus of outfielders, Gardenhire has already expressed a preference for Cuddyer and Spann, and Young never really seemed to mesh in Minnesota. In other words, he's completely expendable. With Gomez and Spann, the Twins already have plenty of speed, and what they need are bats -- Johnson fits that role as a big offensive upgrade over Casilla, and he appears to be the classic Minnesota type of player.

1. Cardinals trade Ryan Ludwick to the Angels for Jered Weaver.

Why St. Louis does it ... The Cardinals have the offense to be serious contenders in the NL West, and Ludwick's emergence last year made the loss of Chris Duncan easier to absorb. For '09, the Cardinals can slide Ankiel from LF to RF (taking full advantage of his cannon arm), put Duncan back in LF, and Schumaker can keep CF warm until Rasmus arrives. While their preference would be to move Schumaker, you don't get a pitcher of Weaver's quality for him. Weaver would be the Cardinals opening day starter, and could dominate in the NL.

Why Los Angeles does it ... The Angels are one of the few teams with pitching depth, and even if Escobar doesn't return to form, they're still in good shape. Of greater need for the Angels is offense, and assuming Ludwick's performance doesn't crater, he gives them the bat they've been looking for without the warts of the free agent alternatives. He also plays above average defense in the corners, and would be part of a nice three man rotation among OF/DH with Rivera and Guerrero.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Marlon Byrd

Well, the "Snyder on the trade block" rumors didn't last long. It appears Arizona is more likely to deal Montero, which doesn't seem like a good idea to me. LH hitting catchers are slightly harder to find, and Montero would seem to be a natural platoon partner for Snyder. Anyway, Peter Gammons was fanning the embers of a Montero to Boston deal, wondering if the Red Sox would be willing to take on Eric Byrne's contract. Interesting concept, similar to what I had proposed in the Helton situation below.

Anyway, back to my favorite topic -- the 2009 Yankee center fielder. I've been digging through as many stats as I can find, and a new contender has emerged -- Marlon Byrd. Byrd's UZR/150 led all CFers in 2008 with a minimum of 400 innings played, and while he won't set the world afire at the plate, he posts a pretty good average, OBP, and a little pop (Marcel projects a .281/.352/.437 line, while Bill James projects .283/.351/.425). Exactly what the Yankees need.

I'm not going to speculate on what it would take to get Byrd from Texas. The Rangers always need pitching, but suggesting Kennedy yet again would be redundant. Cashman, the move is all yours at this point.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Yankees and Diamondbacks to Hook Up?

Some of these posts are obviously pie-in-the-sky type deals, and while there's little chance of seeing them happen, that doesn't mean I don't think both teams would benefit from making the trade.

With that in mind comes word tonight (courtesy of Ken Rosenthal) that the Diamondbacks are looking to make room for Miguel Montero by trading catcher Chris Snyder and bringing in a veteran backup. Interesting, particularly in light of my earlier beliefs that Arizona matched up pretty well with the Yankees in a Cano for Young deal.

How about expanding that just a little? The Diamondbacks are looking for a 2B and some relief help with the departures of Hudson, Lyon, and Cruz. How about ...

Cano, Molina, and Britton for Snyder and Young

Early reports on Posada's recovery seem favorable, but I'd feel a lot better about the situation with Snyder backing him up rather than Molina. Molina is a good backup (and Mussina's personal catcher, no longer needed), but if he gets more than 200 PAs next year, the Yankees are in trouble.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Trade Proposal

Above almost anything else, the Yankees value OBP. The dynasty that was the late 90's was built on a philosophy of making pitchers work, getting on base, and then getting clutch hits. How many times did you hear announcers say the Yankees were experiencing success because they brought an NL style baseball to the AL? It's a model that the Red Sox have adopted (immitation as the sincerest form of flattery) with great success, and one the Yankees have gotten away from lately.

Nick Swisher is definitely a step in the right direction in getting back to those roots. Last year he averaged 4.5 pitches per plate appearance -- by way of comparison, Bobby Abreu (known for his patience) averaged 4.3. One Yankee not known for his patience is Xavier Nady (3.7 P/PA). So where am I going with this?

Colorado is in a bind with the huge contract they have with Todd Helton. Assuming his option year will be declined, he's got three years left on his deal that will pay him $57M. That's awfully stiff for a club that had a 2008 opening day payroll of $68M.

The Yankees are also in a bind with their CF situation, and I've made my case before that Spilborghs is the answer. So here's the deal:

Nady + Kennedy to COL for Helton + Spilborghs + $5M/year

The Yankees shift Swisher to RF, and put Helton at 1B and Spilborghs in CF. Spilborghs still isn't arbitration eligible and would be playing for the minimum, while Helton would be coming over at about 3 years / $42M. And in 3 years (if things go according to plan), Montero ought to be ready for the big apple.

For the Rockies, they save enough to sign Atkins to a long term deal and plant him at 1B, allowing Stewart to take over at 3B. They move Hawpe to LF (where his defense is better hidden), Nady to RF, and still have Taveras/Fowler in CF. On top of that, Kennedy moves to the back end of their rotation and comes on the cheap with some potential upside.

Seems like a win/win type trade that should be done, but probably won't ...