Thursday, June 12, 2008

Trade Reflection Part One - The Anticipatory Set

Sometimes I wonder how a General Manager loses his job. Clearly there are times which warrant such a move, but rarely does a General Manager come in, clean house, start all over and build a contender while going without error. I think of the praise General Manager Mark Shapiro receives and then the duds he has brought in to 'fill holes'. This is not a knock on Mark, he is strapped for cash and typically stays within a plan, but that does not mean the flops that he brings in are without recognition.

However, there are times when a GM gets axed and he deserves such, or, if he didn't at the time, he does something later on to merit a pink slip. Thus, I present to you, exhibit A, ex-Mets GM and current ESPN analyst, Steve Phillips.

In a recent-ish MLB insider in ESPN the Mag (which I regretfully and mistakingly signed up for without maintaining the perks of regular ESPN the Mag subscribers - I love Canadian Content laws!) has Steve Phillips suggesting a few moves the Cincinnatti Reds should make in order to 'restore a once-proud franchise.'

First Call of Order - Trade [Ken Griffey] Junior.
Well that was pathetically obvious. Why would a non-contending team want a breaking down 39 year old with a massive contract? Furthermore, what team would be willing to dish out more then a minimum prospect to pay for Griffey to head to the disabled list?

Well according to Steve Phillips, the White Sox would. You know, any team would have no trouble giving away Carlos Quentin (hindsight alert) or Josh Fields. Fact is, any team that takes on Griffey will have to be in desperation mode. Either that, or they will be making a Bobby Abreu to the Yankees type deal.

In other words, it could happen, it just probably won't. Oh, and there is the fact that Griff has a no-trade clause.

Next on the docket - [Adam] Dunn deal.
While equally as obvious, it appear(ed) as if the Reds were to be more content grabbing a couple draft picks for Dunn then to take on some prospects. Clearly Dunn is an outstanding source of power and is durable enough to be a strong contributor to a team down the stretch, but he does not come without flaws.

However, asserting that the Reds trade away Dunn is not a big issue, its probably wise. What is ridiculous is whom Steve Phillips suggests Dunn be moved for.
  • First, to San Francisco for Matt Cain. Keep in mind this is the same Matt Cain that was considered more valuable then Alex Rios of the Jays. So even if the Giants were given a 72-hour window to negotiate a trade, as Phillips suggests, the cost for Dunn over the amount of years would not be more valuable then what the Giants could have gotten for Cain in spring. Oh, and keep in mind, we are talking about a severely extreme fly ball pitcher. While Cain is a nice arm, tell me he wouldn't get lit up in Great American Ballpark, which Phillips admits to being 'even smaller' then the Reds budget.
  • Second, to Toronto for Adam Lind and Dustin McGowan or Shawn Marcum. During Spring Training, the Jays probably make this deal, granted they have some time to negotiate a new deal with Dunn. At this point, it is much more unlikely as McGowan and Marcum should be able to net more then Dunn.
  • Lastly, to Cleveland for Cliff Lee and one of Franklin Gutierrez, Jeremy Sowers, or Aaron Laffey. Admittedly, this is probably a deal the Indians make even if they do not intend to re-sign Dunn. At the time that is. Currently, with Westbrook, Carmona, and Miller sidelined, the club would be rolling its dice that the rest of the rotation does not get hurt. The problem with this offer, is it is LIGHT YEARS short of what Phillips suggested he get from the other clubs. In other words, it doesn't make sense by comparison.
Third up - Bye, Bye Bronson [Arroyo].
With the alleged depth of available starting pitchers this year, why would a team choose Arroyo and give up anything of worth? At least Phillips admits this and suggests that Jocketty "get what you can, and get out from under his contract, because financial flexibility is critical for a small-market franchise."

The problem with this though, is financial flexibility later brings 'the need for veteran leadership'. Arroyo's contract runs at about $11M a season over the next three seasons. Arroyo has won a World Series and has a decent track record as well as durability. With the current market, Arroyo at $11M isn't a bad deal for a small market club. He may have some trade value, but the chips received would not be superior to the alleged veteran presence that we hear about every year.

Forth from last (and most ridiculous of them all) - Call Hank [and ask for Phil Hughes.]
Really? Phil Hughes? The player the Yankees were not super excited about dealing for Johan Santana? Unless maybe there is another Phil Hughes in the Yankees system that does not show up in any database, there is no way the Yankees move Hughes for anything less then Joey Votto and some. Even now, in this 'brittle' state.

Want to hear Phillips' rationale? "Tell [Hank Steinbrenner]...that you've got a way to move Joba Chamberlain into the Yankees' rotation." Keep in mind, this was written in early May, but with the players Phillips suggests, I really don't see Steinbrenner saying, 'Wow! That's all it would take to get Joba into the rotation?'

Want to hear the players? Are you ready? Jared Burton "who's whiffing hitters in bunches", and Jeremy Affeldt (because Phillips doesn't know anyone else on the Reds). Now, I know Burton has more then a strikeout per inning, and that is nice. But remember, he is in the National League and does not have the track record to suggest that this current rate is sustainable. However, there's a good chance a team is interested in him because he is relatively young and has nice, yet not over powering stuff. As for Affeldt, he would be a situational lefty that is a 'throw in' in most deals.

Now I don't care who this gets into the Yankees rotation, but trading away the top under 25 player in anyones system for a couple relievers is the sort of trade that has you laughed out of baseball. Maybe Phillips is thinking back to when the Reds traded Kearns, Lopez, etc for a bunch of relievers 2 or 3 years ago.

To catch everyone up, Phillips reminds the readers how dominant this would make the current rotation. It would leave the Reds with a fantasy dream of Harang, Cueto, Volquez, Hughes, and Bailey. Definitely outstanding for years to come. But why set your sights so low Mr. Phillips?

The, 'I didn't want to set my sights low' add-ons.
"Trade utility man [and oft-injured] Ryan Freel to the Dodgers for Scott Proctor." Let's see, Affeldt and Burton netted Hughes, yet the Dodgers are going to set their sights so low that they accept Freel? I've gotta say, if I am the Dodgers GM and I see the Reds landing Hughes for that duo, no way I am letting Proctor (ie. the gem of the trade deadline) go for Freel.

It is these types of suggestions that get homer fans all riled up. They read a column like Steve Phillips and assume these trade are likely, if not, at least possible. They begin to think how Scott Hetteberg could have been traded for David Ortiz or Carlos Pena. Steve Phillips, you know none of these trades are possible, if it was that easy, you would still have a job.

BallHype: hype it up!

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