Thursday, March 12, 2009

Analysis of the Chicago/El Paso trade

Sandberg's railing on the Chicago/El Paso trade and bdrose has voted to veto (presumably seeing it as imbalanced in favor of El Paso...not sure, he hasn't said).

I love a good trade brouhaha.

While I prefer El Paso's side of the deal, too, I don't think it's a slam dunk by any means. Here's my take:

Chicago gets Ryan Rivers, a 30 year-old SP/LR with a pretty hefty contract, and $5 million, which pays Rivers for the rest of this year and about 45% of next year. Sandberg says Rivers' ratings have been dropping for 2 years, but that's not quite accurate; they dropped in Season 9 due to 2 injuries, but in Season 10 (at age 29), he actually gained a point each in his vL and all 3 pitches. Given his good makeup, there's a good chance he'll maintain his current ratings for the rest of his contract (age 32). At 91 health, he's not a great injury risk. His Season 10 (147 IP. 3.42 ERA) was probably the most valuable year any of these guys has had (not necessarily the best, which likely was Johnson's 88 innings of 3.06 for San Jose in Season 9), and there's nothing about the guy that suggests he couldn't do those numbers again.

So I don't think he's the total bum Sandberg does. Nothing great, but not a total bum. Sure, his contract is too much, but if you take into acount the $5mm El Paso is throwing in, his cost is down to $2.38 million a year for the rest of his contract.

El Paso gets Terry Johnson, a decent reliever with the aforementioned Season 9 plus another good year (although only 22 innings) under his belt (the knock on Johnson, though is that 58 vR - despite his other ratings, that 58 makes Season 10 - 5.46 ERA - as likely as Season 9); Lee Harris, a 39 year-old RP who has seen (much) better days (nice career but THIS is the guy in the deal who's ratings are plummeting. To say he has a career 4.09 ERA is accurate but's been 2 years since he's been anywhere near his career ERA. And he's a threat to blow an elbow every time he thinks about warming up); and Joe Keats, a fair 1B who suffers from the fact that everybody has a better one...Sandberg calls him a "good bat off the bench," which I can go along with, but that's another way of saying "Can't crack the lineup".

There you go...the other side of the Chicago/El Paso trade. If I had to say one team "won" the trade, I'd go with El Paso. But in terms of it dramatically tilting the league's competitive balance or damaging a franchise's future (what I personally have to see to cast a veto vote), I don't think any of the players involved carry that kid of weight.

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