July 30, 2008

Diamond Notes

Deadline moves are starting to make an impact on the pennant races, so let's take a peek at the relevant parties.

- First, I love what the Angels did in acquiring Teixeira even if they don't resign him to a long term deal at the end of the year. At some point, the Angels needed to make a decision to push their chips into the middle and make a run at another World Series. They've been plugging along at 90+ wins a year, but they haven't really been a factor in the playoffs in quite some time. The Angels would get to the playoffs and their bats would go just completely silent. Vlad Guerrero would hit about .450 in the series and the rest of the team would have about 5 hits combined. Pitching and defense are needed to win a title, but you gotta have a few game-changing bats in your lineup who can drive in runs and get you big hits in pressure situations. The Angels have been picking around the margins with signings like Torii Hunter and Gary Matthews, but haven't found that frontline bat who can make their lineup more potent in the playoffs.

Teixeira gives them a career .909 OPS hitter who can be plugged right into the middle of their order behind Vlad Guerrero. Their lineup looks significantly better with him in there.

I hate to sound like Herm Edwards here, but the reason you are fielding a team is to try to win a championship. At some point, don't you have to try to make the move to win it all?? The Angels have been standing pat for years, but it was probably time for them to make a serious push to win a title. They weren't going to the World Series by standing pat yet again this year. They have the pitching, a world class manager, and great defensive team, so the move to bolster their lineup could pay off. The Red Sox are not quite as good as they were last year, and the rest of the AL is wide open.

I understand that Teixeira might leave after this year, but would it be worth it if they make the World Series?? I think so. The Angels have plenty of resources, and they can find another Casey Kotchman out there somewhere. Kotchman is a nice player, but he's not a game-changer. Teixeira is.

- I'm sure the Braves fans who populate this blog will want to weigh in on the trade, but I have mixed reviews. I don't have a problem with the return that they got, but here's my question. Why were they looking at trading Teixeira in the first place?? Why weren't they in a position to sign Teixeira to a long term deal?? Did I miss the memo that the Braves are now a small market team?? When did they suddenly become unable to sign guys to a big deal?? Who else are they paying besides Chipper, Smoltz, and Hudson?? Isn't Teixeira the type of middle of the order bat that you want to build around for the next 6-7 years??

I think they did a good job to get Casey Kotchman out of this deal, but who would you rather have on your roster over the next 6 years?? Kotchman or Teixeira?? Kotchman is a very solid young player, but he's more like the type of guy who is going to hit around .280 with 20 HR and 80 RBI and around a .800 OPS (at best). In other words, he's about 100 OPS points less potent than Teixeira. Essentially, they just traded for Adam Laroche again. If you're a Braves fan and loved the Adam Laroche era, then you'll probably love the Casey Kotchman era. I know Kotchman is going to make much much less money than Teixeira, but does he really make the Braves any more likely to reverse their fortunes in the NL East sometime in the next few years?? Even if they inch their way back to relevance, aren't they going to be in the exact same position in a few years of needing a middle of the order stud power bat like Teixeira??

I just feel like the Braves pulled a bit of a Pittsburgh Pirates move here. They traded off one of their best players for a lesser cheaper player and tried to justify the move as some sort of move towards a more competitive future. How is that any different than every Pirates deadline deal of the last 15 years??

- Speaking of the Pirates, I don't have any knowledge of these young prospects they acquired, but wouldn't their ceiling likely be to be the next Xavier Nady or the next Damaso Marte?? Again, that's a BEST case scenario for those guys. Why not build around a Xavier Nady?? He's in the prime of his career, and it's not like the Pirates are paying anyone else. I gotta think that Nady is at least somewhat of an affordable player. How much could he possibly command on the free agent market?? Sign the guy to a 5 year deal, build around him, McLouth, and Bay, and then go about trying to draft and trade for young pitching. Wouldn't that lead to a more competitive future than these giveaway deals for prospects that very rarely seem to pan out??

- Moving on to the Indians, I kind of like what they've been doing the last month or so. The Indians are in a little different position than the Pirates because they already have big money tied up (somewhat foolishly I would add) to Victor, Hafner, Westbrook, and Sizemore, so they pretty much had to move CC. There was no way they were going to be able to resign CC, so they made a move on him quickly and got a better return. It sounds like Laporta is going to be a very nice bat for them, and maybe he'll be ready to contribute as early as next year. I also like that Anthony Reyes deal for the Tribe. I don't know what happened to Reyes in St. Louis, but it seems like he just completely unraveled after a promising start to his career. If the Tribe can get him to rebound and maybe re-emerge as an end of the rotation guy, that would be an absolute steal. He has talent, so maybe he will rediscover himself in Cleveland and fit into a pretty solid rotation with Carmona, Cliff Lee, and possibly a rejuvenated Jeremy Sowers (who has been really good his last few starts).

- Finally, we'll end with the Reds. I would be more upset at Walt Jocketty if I was sure that he's actually aware that he is the current general manager of the Reds. Are we sure that Walt Jocketty has gotten the memo that he is the current GM?? I'm not sure he has made a move yet as GM of the Reds. Perhaps he was never properly informed. Case in point, he's still living in St. Louis and doesn't even come out to Cincinnati to watch games. Huh?? The current version of the Reds are not exactly a team that you can run on auto pilot. They are a very incomplete team with major needs and major pieces to evaluate. Jocketty has basically sat on his hands in this ill-fated push for .500. Again, what major league franchise pushes for .500?? When did that become the goal?? If you are only hoping to get to .500, then you are not really all that close to being a contender.

I don't know if Jocketty is treating this Reds post as some sort of glorified figurehead retirement position, but it would be nice to hear this guy lay out his vision for Reds baseball over the next five years. As of right now, he's done virtually nothing to indicate that he has a plan for this organization. Say what you want about Wayne Krivsky, but at least the guy was hands-on and had a plan to make this team better. He brought in some valuable pieces in Volquez, Arroyo, Phillips, Keppinger, Bray, Cordero, etc, and I get the impression that he was only in the beginning stages of his plan to remake the Reds organization. If the Reds essentially stand pat at the deadline (which is what they are indicating they plan to do), I will be very concerned about their long term future.

Specifically, what is the plan for Adam Dunn?? Is he going to be a part of this team's future?? If not, are you satisfied with a middle of the order involving Jay Bruce-Brandon Phillips-Joey Votto?? Bruce doesn't appear to be anywhere near ready to be a #3 type hitter and has really tailed off since his incredible debut. Joey Votto is emerging as the National League version of Casey Kotchman, and I'm not sure what his ceiling is at this point. Phillips is a talented all-around player, but you can't hit a guy cleanup who doesn't hit righties at all. Adam Dunn is far and away the most productive bat on the Reds, and it would be a significant loss to let him go. If you are going to let him walk at the end of the year, what is the plan to replace his productivity?? I don't have a problem with letting Adam Dunn go and using your young trading pieces to go after a big time right handed bat, but I have no idea if the Reds are even running these scenarios through their mind.

I could go on and on, but I'll stop at this point. I felt pretty good about the Reds going into the 2008 season and felt like it would be a building block towards a nice future in 2009-2011, but now I'm not so sure. Jocketty's laissez-faire management style isn't doing anything to make me feel at ease, and I can't help but wonder if this organization blew it by letting go of a valuable asset (Wayne Krivsky).


Matt said...

I literally spent 45 minutes typing my view of the trade only to have my internet crash when I posted it. Here is my view in a nutshell.

-Tex is a notorious slow starter and it screwed the Braves this year. Bad average, power numbers and slugging at a time when the Braves needed him. Games in April and May count just as much as July and August. Still a great player.

-Braves offered a huge multi year deal in the offseason worth well over 100+ million and were laughed at by Boras. Tex is asking for 10 years 230 million. Braves were sold recently by Time Warner and don't have that change for one player. Period.

-I like the trade. A lot. Once you get over the fact they gave up 5 prospects for Tex, to get a decent first baseman that is super cheap for the next 3+ years and a young power bullpen arm for a 2 month rental is good return. Kotchman is still getting better, is the best defensive 2nd baseman in the league, and now the Braves will be able to spend that money on pitching with Hudson more than likely heading for Tommy John, and a corner outfielder.

Jimmy said...

Nice thoughts Doug. The baseball trade deadline is always the most exciting of the major sports. It's great how small, seemingly irrelevant deals can make a significant impact.

Throwing my two cents in on the Pudge deal, is it me or could Detroit have milked a little more out of the Yankees than Farnsworth? They were DESPERATE for any kind of catcher help. I-Rod, even with non-existent power numbers, he's one of the best defensive backstops around, not to mention a leader with a ring. The Tigers seem to have had the upper hand here, and they get Kyle Farnsworth in exchange?? Unless they're severely hard up for an extra arm in the pen, it seems like they gift wrapped what would have been the Achilles heel for the Yankees in the postseason.

I feel like the Yanks are poised to win this division now. The lineup is stacked with the addition of Nady and Pudge and the bullpen is solid. Petitte and Mussina aren't what they used to be, but they can win in October. I hate it, but the BoSox seem to be falling apart a little with chemistry issues and the Rays may not have the wherewithall to hang on till the end. I'd love nothing better than to see the Yanks on the outside looking in, but my gut tells me they'll be making noise.