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.

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