Saturday, December 25, 2010

More On The Greinke Trade.

First off, let me clear up a few loose ends from last time.

- When making the point about the Royals’ future defense, I was remiss in not pointing out the most obvious evidence that defense was Mission 2012’s weakness: the Royals recently announced their minor league award winners, and the winner of the Frank White Defensive Player of the Year Award was…Eric Hosmer. A first baseman. A good defensive first baseman, but we’re not talking about Keith Hernandez here. That’s a pretty clear sign that if Escobar and Cain were still minor leaguers, they’d be the two best defensive players in the system (among prospects who actually project to hit).

- I adore this tweet from Baseball America’s Ben Badler: “Looking at our Royals top 30. They have 18 players I'd take over the Brewers No. 1 prospect.” I know, it’s not a fair comparison, the Brewers just decimated their system to win now…but still, that’s just cool. I’m sure my Brewer friends would like to reply with a witty comeback, but unfortunately they’re all busy waiting in line to buy playoff tickets.

- A perhaps under-appreciated aspect to the deal is the fact that Greinke had the Brewers on his no-trade list, and had to be persuaded to waive it. Not only did he do so, he didn’t receive any compensation in return.

If you’re a Brewer fan and don’t love the guy already, you’re nuts. One of the best pitchers in baseball has the right to block a trade to the smallest market in baseball, and gives it up – for nothing in return. A superstar player wants to join your team. The same thing that made Greinke so popular in Kansas City – that he was the rare superstar who was perfectly happy playing in a small market, at least until the losing became unbearable – should make him the same way in Milwaukee.

The flip side to this, though, is that Greinke didn’t receive a contract extension when the trade was made. He can be a free agent in two years, and while the Brewers certainly have a better shot at re-signing him than they did with, say, C.C. Sabathia (or, next winter, Prince Fielder,) it’s not a guarantee.

Now, if the Brewers get off to a great start next season and are fighting for first place in August, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the team announces a contract extension that keeps Greinke in Milwaukee until 2016 or so. But if I’m Greinke’s agent, I’m advising him to take a wait-and-see attitude. Greinke already has enough guaranteed money in his current contract to retire on – he’s famously tight with his money. If winning is his top priority going forward, well, the 2011 Brewers ought to be a good team, but by 2013 Fielder will have gone elsewhere, everyone else will be two years older, and there are few if any reinforcements coming up from the farm.

This may be an interesting story to watch. If Greinke doesn’t sign an extension with the Brewers, he goes into the 2012-13 off-season as perhaps the most coveted free agent of the winter. And while the usual suspects from the Northeast will be in the hunt, we already know that Greinke will give fair consideration to small-market teams in the Midwest. Particularly one that is already in contention, that has a young and talented roster that only figures to get better, and that by virtue of having a young roster has plenty of payroll space to pay Greinke top dollar. Particularly one that’s embraced Greinke once before, and might be ready to do so again.

It’s not a particularly likely scenario. But I’m keeping that jersey hanging in my closet just in case.

- A quick Chiefs’ playoff odds update, as the math gets easier to figure out with just two weeks left on the schedule:

The Jets’ win over the Steelers eliminates any chance that the Chiefs have of qualifying for the playoffs as a wild-card team, so it’s division or bust. In terms of the division, the math is simple.

The good news is that the Chiefs’ Magic Number for winning the division is 2 – any combination of 2 wins by the Chiefs, or 2 losses by the Chargers, and the Chiefs win the AFC West. The Magic Number with regard to the Raiders is 1. (And more good news is that for purposes of the magic number, a tie works in the Chiefs’ favor.)

The bad news is that the Chargers’ Magic Number over the Chiefs is 3.

If the Chiefs win out to finish 11-5, they are guaranteed to be no lower than the #3 seed. They can be the #2 seed and get a first-round bye only if the Steelers and Ravens lose their last two games.

So getting back to the point of this article…I ended my last article with a suggestion that the Greinke trade may have actually brought the Royals more talent that the Rangers got for Mark Teixeira. I’ll get back to that in a bit. But first, I want to explore in more detail whether the Royals really got a fair deal for Greinke or not.

It can’t be stressed enough that when determining the fair value of Greinke in a trade, you can’t simply look at his performance and say “he’s worth X amount of wins”, and if the Royals don’t get that in a trade they got screwed. If not trading Greinke was a viable option, then that would be the case. But it wasn’t. Greinke wanted out, and if the Royals had kept him, pretty much everyone thinks he would have been disappointing yet again – and even if he wasn’t, the Royals were so unlikely to win in 2011 that it wouldn’t have mattered anyway.

So if we accept that the Royals had to trade Greinke, the only way to determine his value is to know what the market was willing to offer for him. If I put my house on the market and ask for $500,000, because I paid $500,000 for it last month, and it’s appraised at $500,000, and the best offer I get is $400,000, guess what? The value of my house is $400,000, and holding my breath until I pass out is not going to change that fact.

It is of course difficult to know what the market was willing to offer for Greinke, because we only know what one team – the Brewers – was truly willing to offer. And even if no other team was willing to make a better offer now, we don’t know whether some team might have changed their position between now and spring training.

But we do know what other teams were able to receive for their ace pitchers on the trade market, and we can use that information to develop a rough estimate of Greinke’s value. So let’s take a look at all the trades in recent memory in which a team traded a top-tier starter near the end of his contract for prospects.

Here’s a list of the nine recent trades that I found where a team traded a clear #1 starter who was coming to the end of his contract for prospects. (There are only six different pitchers involved, as Cliff Lee was traded three times, and Danny Haren twice.)

Date: 7/25/10
Pitcher: Danny Haren
Contract Status: $8.25M for 2010, $12.75M for 2011 & 2012.  $15.5M/$3.5M club option for 2013.
Trade: Haren from Arizona to Los Angeles Angels for Joe Saunders, Tyler Skaggs, Patrick Corbin, and Rafael Rodriguez

You want to know what a bad trade looks like? That’s what a bad trade looks like. Actually, that’s what an awful trade looks like. The Diamondbacks, who had traded six different players to acquire Haren less than three years earlier, traded him to L’Anaheim for an innings-eating veteran in Saunders, and three prospects, none of whom are as highly rated as any of the four guys the Royals got for Greinke.

Haren isn’t the pitcher that Greinke is, but he’s a damn good pitcher. At the time of the trade he had a 4.60 ERA, but that was a fluke – he had struck out 141 batters in 141 innings, against just 25 unintentional walks. In 2009, he had led the NL in WHIP. And while the Brewers are getting Greinke for two years, the Angels got 2.5 years of Haren, for roughly the same salary that Greinke is getting – plus they have a very reasonable option to keep him for a third full season.

Given their contract status, Haren and Greinke should have very similar trade values on the market. But whereas Greinke netted the Royals four young players who all project to be at least average major leaguers, the Diamondbacks got an established veteran pitcher who’s already into his arbitration years, and three second-tier pitching prospects. The Diamondbacks were savaged for the trade – and rightfully so. But in all honesty, some of the criticisms I’ve heard about the Royals approach the criticisms of the Haren trade. Which is ridiculous; the Royals got real talent, while the Diamondbacks got a flaming bag of dog poop on their front door.

Date: 7/9/10
Pitcher: Cliff Lee
Contract Status: $9M for 2010.
Trade: Lee and Mark Lowe from Seattle to Texas for Justin Smoak, Blake Beavan, Josh Lueke, and Matthew Lawson

The Mariners got a decent haul of talent for Lee, given that there were only three months’ left on his contract. Smoak is a potential All-Star at first base, and is probably better than any of the four guys the Royals got. (Although it’s very debatable – you could argue that you’d rather have Escobar right now than Smoak. Both were disappointing as rookies, and while scouts are still optimistic Smoak will hit, his value is almost entirely in his bat, while Escobar’s value is primarily in his glove.)

The other three guys are just filler. Beavan has outstanding command of very pedestrian stuff; he could be a #4 starter in a Nick Blackburn/Kevin Slowey kind of way. Lueke is a criminal – not a Jeremy Jeffress kind of criminal, a real criminal – and the fact that the Mariners were unaware of his history got the scouting director fired. (I refuse to believe they were unaware of his history. I knew about his history, and that was simply from reading Baseball America.) Lawson is a utility guy in the making.

For three months of Lee, it’s a good deal, although I still have no idea why the Mariners preferred Smoak to Jesus Montero.

Date: 12/16/09
Pitcher: Cliff Lee
Contract Status: $9M for 2010.
Trade: Lee from Philadelphia to Seattle for Phillippe Aumont, J.C. Ramirez, and Tyson Gillies

The Mariners got considerably more for a half-season of Lee than they gave up to get a full year of Lee in the first place. The Phillies panicked, trading Lee the same day they acquired Roy Halladay to save money, and accepting a pathetic return on a #1 starter. Aumont is a future reliever at best; Ramirez is a #4 starter if he’s lucky; Gillies is a Jarrod Dyson/Joey Gathright type, who hit .341 in 2009 because he was playing in the pinball machine that is High Desert. Every player the Royals received for Greinke is worth more than these three players combined.

Date: 12/16/09
Pitcher: Roy Halladay
Contract Status: $15.75M for 2010. As part of trade agreed to 3-year, $60M extension with vesting option of $20M for 2014.
Trade: Halladay from Toronto to Philadelphia for Kyle Drabek, Michael Taylor, and Travis D’Arnaud

This is the trade that the Greinke deal gets compared to a lot, because Halladay had a full season-and-a-half left on his deal, and because the Blue Jays got three very good prospects, including a potential stud starter in Drabek.

The prospect hauls that both teams got are comparable. Drabek is better than anyone the Royals got, and it’s telling that the Blue Jays were unwilling to give up Drabek in a potential Grienke deal. Taylor was putting up outstanding numbers (.333/.408/.569) in Double-A at the time of the trade; the Jays immediately traded him to Oakland for Brett Wallace, which on the one hand was smart because Taylor has struggled since the trade, but on the other hand wasn’t smart because Wallace isn’t all that good. The Jays traded Wallace to Houston for Anthony Gose, a very athletic 19-year-old outfielder who’s still learning how to hit.  D’Arnaud was a 20-year-old catcher who projected to be an average-plus everyday catcher in the majors. He was hurt for much of 2010 but is still thought of highly.

The Jays got two five-star prospects and a three-star prospect for Halladay; the Royals got two four-star prospects (Jeffress and Odorizzi), and two guys who would probably be four-star prospects if they were still rookie-eligible (Cain and Escobar) for Greinke. You can certainly argue that the Jays got more for Halladay than the Royals got for Greinke. But remember: as part of the trade, Halladay agreed to a three-year extension at below-market value, making him a vastly more valuable commodity to the Phillies than Greinke was to the Brewers (or anyone else). That the Royals got roughly as much for two years of Greinke as the Blue Jays got for 4.5 years of Halladay is a reason to praise the Royals, not criticize them.

Date: 7/31/09
Pitcher: Jake Peavy
Contract Status: $11M for 2009, 3-year, $48M contract for 2010-2012, $22M/$4M option for 2013.
Trade: Peavy from San Diego to Chicago White Sox for Clayton Richard, Aaron Poreda, Adam Russell, and Dexter Carter

This was a weird deal; the White Sox had almost traded this exact package to the Padres for Peavy before the season, and even though Peavy was on the DL at the time, they made the same trade at the trading deadline. No one ever accused Kenny Williams of being timid.

While Peavy was under contract for 3.5 seasons, his contract also called for a significantly higher salary than Greinke’s or Lee’s – and the injury concerns were very real, to the point where some argued that the Padres were fortunate just to be rid of his contract. In that light, it’s not a surprise that they didn’t get much for him on a pure talent basis. Richard was a #3/#4 starter who, like a lot of pitchers, has taken advantage of Petco Park to reach his full potential. Poreda is a lefty with a massive fastball and massive control issues. Russell and Carter are middle relievers at best.

Date: 7/29/09
Pitcher: Cliff Lee
Contract Status: $5.75M for 2009, $9M option for 2010.
Trade: Lee and Ben Francisco from Cleveland to Philadelphia for Carlos Carrasco, Jason Donald, Lou Marson, and Jason Knapp

The first Lee trade came at a comparable point in his contract to Greinke – Lee had 1.5 years remaining on his deal, and at an insanely low price tag. Keep in mind that the Indians threw in Ben Francisco, an excellent fourth outfielder type who has hit .272/.323/.471 in 301 plate appearances since the trade. (He might be better than any outfielder currently on the Royals.)

In exchange the Indians got Carlos Carrasco, a potential #2/#3 starter in the majors who pitched well in a late audition this year after a terrible debut in 2009. Donald, who’s most famous for being the player that Jim Joyce called safe to ruin Armando Galarraga’s perfect game, will probably have a long career as a utility man but doesn’t quite hit enough to be a starting middle infielder. Marson is a catcher with no power but excellent on-base skills in the minors – Baseball America ranked him the #66 prospect before the 2009 season – but has been terrible since the trade; he hit .195/.274/.286 as a rooke this year. Knapp was just 18 at the time of the trade, a kid down in the South Atlantic League with a terrific arm but some serious injury issues. A lot of people expect him to be a reliever in the end, although a potential impact one.

It’s close, but I’d rather have the Greinke package. Odorizzi and Carrasco are comparable, though Carrasco is a safer bet; Jeffress and Knapp are comparable, though Jeffress is a safer bet. But Escobar/Cain is a much better package than Donald/Marson. And the Indians threw in a valuable extra player; the Royals threw in Yuniesky Betancourt. Win.

Date: 7/7/08
Pitcher: C.C. Sabathia
Contract Status: $9M for 2008 (reached $11M with bonuses)
Trade: Sabathia from Cleveland to Milwaukee for Matt LaPorta, Zach Jackson, Michael Brantley, and Rob Bryson

The last time the Brewers traded for an ace, they gave up four players for just three months’ worth of Sabathia. LaPorta was the big prize, a former #7 overall pick who has a career .296/.390/.563 line in the minors. He was already 23 and still in Double-A at the time of the trade, though, and he has to mash to have value, as he has next to no defensive value. He hasn’t mashed yet; in 162 games in the majors he’s hit .232/.307/.388. There’s still time.

Jackson was a finesse lefty, a former supplemental first-round pick who hadn’t panned out in the pros, and had a 7.85 ERA in Triple-A at the time of the trade; he hasn’t pitched much better since. Michael Brantley was a prototypical leadoff type who hit .319/.395/.398 in Double-A before the trade, at the age of 21. Even then there were concerns that his lack of power would expose him at higher levels, and in 100 games in the majors, he’s hit .264/.313/.333. Bryson was just a live arm pitching down in the South Atlantic League at the time of the trade; he pitched his way to Double-A this season, and might top out as a set-up man if all goes well.

The Indians didn’t get nearly the same amount of talent for Sabathia as the Royals did for Greinke; while LaPorta compares favorably with any of the four guys the Royals got, the other three guys were mostly filler. Still, given that Sabathia only had a half-season left under contract, the Indians did as well as could be expected.

Date: 2/2/08
Pitcher: Johan Santana
Contract Status: $13.25M for 2008 – agreed to replace contract with 6-year, $137.5M contract as part of trade.
Trade: Santana from Minnesota to New York Mets for Carlos Gomez, Philip Humber, Kevin Mulver, and Deolis Guerra.

Bill Smith was hired as the Twins’ new GM in September of 2007, and the Santana trade was his first major move since taking office. I can say that, as a Royals fan, I was absolutely delighted when I heard about the trade. I was stunned that the Twins would accept such a ridiculously pedestrian package for Santana, who was probably even more highly-regarded at the time than Greinke is today. (Santana had just led the AL in WHIP four years in a row, finishing 1st, 3rd, 1st, and 5th in Cy Young balloting from 2004-07.)

Santana had only one more season on his contract, but agreed to a six-year deal with the Mets as part of the deal. While he was getting paid market-value, the opportunity to lock in arguably the best pitcher in baseball to a long-term deal was worth a tremendous amount to the Mets.

And what did they give up for him? Carlos Gomez, the big name in the deal, had made his debut with the Mets in 2007 as a 21-year-old. On the other hand, Gomez hadn’t really hit all that well in the high minors – the Mets are notorious for rushing their players to the majors at an early age. Baseball America ranked him the #52 prospect in baseball at the time of the trade; he was a good prospect, but not a great one. Since the trade he’s been a glorified defensive replacement; he’s a Gold Glove-caliber centerfielder, but his career line is .246/.293/.349.

Philip Humber was the #3 overall pick in the 2004 draft, but like a lot of Rice pitchers he never showed the same stuff in the pros that he had in college. By the time of the trade he was 25 years old and projected as a #5 starter at best. He’s spent the last three years mostly toiling in Triple-A; you might have seen him in the Royals bullpen this summer. Mulvey was Humber’s doppleganger, another college pitcher who was long on polish but short on stuff. Over the last three years, Mulvey has made 78 starts in Triple-A (Humber has 75), but has thrown just 27 innings in the majors (Humber has 51).

Guerra was the potential prize of the trade; he was ranked the #35 prospect in baseball by Baseball America. He had pitched well in the Florida State League in 2007, at the age of just 18, and was thought to have some ace potential. He’s been an unmitigated disaster since the trade, though; he had a 6.36 ERA last season between Double-A and Triple-A. I think he was overrated at the time, on account of his age – again, the Mets are very aggressive about promoting their Latin American prospects up the chain, which can make them look better than they are. (Last year, for instance, the Mets brought 20-year-old Ruben Tejada to the majors, even though Tejada was hitting just .280/.329/.344 in Triple-A.)

I thought it was a bad trade at the time, and it looks much worse today, owing to the fact that Guerra fell apart. Really, the only value the Twins got for Santana was J.J. Hardy’s 2010 season, after they traded Gomez to the Brewers straight up for him.

The trade looks even worse when you consider that, unlike the Royals, the Twins were actually a competitive team at the time. They had just gone 79-83 in 2007, but that was their first losing season since 2000 – they had won 96 games and the division in 2006.

In 2008, the Twins finished 88-74, tied for the AL Central crown with the White Sox, and lost a one-game playoff. Meanwhile, Santana led the NL in ERA. The decision to trade Santana cost the Twins a playoff spot, and the players they got in return weren’t even worth the draft picks they would have gotten once Santana left as a free agent.

Date: 12/14/07
Pitcher: Danny Haren
Contract Status: $4M for 2008, $5.5 for 2009, $6.75M/$250K option for 2010.
Trade: Haren and Connor Robertson from Oakland to Arizona for Brett Anderson, Chris Carter, Aaron Cunningham, Dana Eveland, Carlos Gonzalez, and Greg Smith.

Now this is how you net prospects for Danny Haren. The A’s, who just three years earlier had acquired Haren and Daric Barton and Kiko Calero from the Cardinals for Mark Mulder (who had one good season before his career was destroyed by injuries), flipped Haren for six players. This sequence of events – flipping one pitcher at the precipice for three prospects, one of whom is an immediate improvement on the pitcher traded away, and who three years later is traded for six more prospects – might be the signature move of Billy Beane’s career.

In exchange for Haren, the A’s got Brett Anderson, who had a 2.80 ERA this season, as a 22-year-old southpaw. He’s on the short list for the best young pitchers in the game. They got Carlos Gonzalez, who led the NL in batting average and was an MVP candidate this season. They got Chris Carter (who the Diamondbacks had just traded Carlos Quentin for straight up), who was a Top-50 prospect last year, and despite a bit of an off-season is still a Top-100 prospect this winter. They got Greg Smith, who as a rookie in 2008 gave the A’s 32 starts with a league-average ERA. They got Aaron Cunningham, a tweener outfielder who helped them acquire starting third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff from the Padres last winter. And they got Dana Eveland, who like Smith was a league-average starter for them in 2008 before tailing off.

Now that’s a f**king-A trade.

For the A’s, the impact of the deal is muted by the fact that Gonzalez (and Smith and Huston Street) were traded to Colorado the following winter for Matt Holliday. While the A’s sold high on Smith, who immediately got hurt, they sold very low on Gonzalez, who is now one of the most valuable commodities in baseball. Holliday didn’t work out in Oakland, and was sold off the next summer to St. Louis for Brett Wallace, who turned into Michael Taylor, who was a big disappointment in Triple-A this year. But the trade itself might go down as one of the greatest stars-for-prospects trades of all time. If this is the standard by which you want to compare the Greinke trade, then the Greinke trade was a failure. It shouldn’t be.

(The other side of this trade is a cautionary tale for the Royals. By some measurements, the Royals’ farm system today is matched by only a few farm systems in the past decade – one of them, notably, being the 2006 Diamondbacks. Arizona lost 86 games in 2006, but won the NL West title in 2007. But after trading so much talent to Oakland for Haren that winter, the organization has gone backwards three straight seasons, finishing 82-80, 70-92, and 65-97. The moral is clear: having an abundance of talent does not give you license to throw players around like twenties at a strip club.)

Alright, take a look at those nine trades. The A’s got more for Danny Haren than the Royals got for Greinke, but aside from the fact that Haren still had three years left on his contract – that was a ridiculous trade. The Blue Jays’ haul for Roy Halladay was comparable to what the Royals got for Greinke – but the Phillies were trading for four years of Halladay, with an option for a fifth.

But in the other seven trades above, the team netting the prospects got less talent – in most cases, considerably less talent – than the Royals got for Greinke. Two of those trades (the last Lee trade and the Sabathia deal) involved a pitcher who was just months away from free agency, so those two deals are not directly comparable (and both teams did well, getting at least one Top-50 prospect in each trade.) But the other five deals all involved an ace starter with at least one season left on his contract. None of those deals come close to what the Royals got for Greinke. In particular, the Lee trade to Seattle brought back no impact players, the Santana deal was an enormous missed opportunity for the Twins, and the Haren deal this summer looks like a catastrophic waste of a #1 starter.

I have no way of knowing whether Dayton Moore could have gotten more for Zack Greinke than he did. But I can say with complete confidence that, based on the established market for #1 starters set over the past four years, Moore got market value for Greinke, and then some. If you want to argue that the Greinke trade was bad for Kansas City, go right ahead. Just be prepared to acknowledge the notion that virtually every team that has traded an ace starter in the last four years made an even worse deal.

And this leads me to the claim I made at the end of my last column, that the Royals very well might have done better than the Rangers did in their fabled Mark Teixeira trade.

A key point to my claim is this: the Teixeira trade wasn’t nearly as good as everyone thinks.

I don’t know what it is about Texas that makes people ignore the facts in favor of a neat storyline. Everyone talks about how the Rangers turned their pitching staff around because Nolan Ryan told the organization to stop babying their starters and make them throw 250 pitches every time out, just like he did. Never mind that the Rangers averaged just 98 pitches per start (sixth in the AL), and averaged just 5.87 innings per start (11th in the AL). Nolan Ryan made some strong statements about how men are men and pitchers should complete what they start, so the Rangers must be doing something differently, even if all the data tells us they’re not.

And everyone talks about how the trade of Mark Teixeira catapulted the Rangers onto an upward trajectory that led them to the World Series this year. Well, let’s look at that trade:

Date: 7/31/07
Pitcher: Mark Teixeira
Contract Status: $9M for 2007, arb-eligible for 2008 (signed 1-year, $12.5M deal).
Trade: Teixeira and Ron Mahay from Texas to Atlanta for Elvis Andrus, Neftali Feliz, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Matt Harrison, and Beau Jones.

It’s a good trade. The Rangers got Elvis Andrus, then an 18-year-old who was struggling to hit in the Carolina League, but with undeniable tools. The next year Andrus took a step forward, hitting .295 and stealing 54 bases in Double-A. He started last season as the Rangers’ everyday shortstop, and finished second in Rookie of the Year voting. He’s a Gold Glove-caliber shortstop who gets on base, and he just turned 22.

He also slugged .301 this season.

I’m not dissing Andrus; I think he’s one of the better shortstops in the league, and I think he’s young enough to develop into a star. But first he has to show some ability to drive the ball. It’s possible he could be the new Ozzie Smith, who became an on-base machine in his early 30s despite never hitting for power. But I’d like to see him slug better than .301 before I consider him a star.

The Rangers also got Neftali Feliz, who at the time of the trade was a 19-year-old still toiling in rookie ball, although the scouting buzz on him was just taking off. In 2008 he tore through the system, reaching Double-A while striking out 153 batters in just 127 innings. In 2009 he pitched well in Triple-A, then was moved to the bullpen in preparation for his major league debut, which was electrifying – he allowed just 13 hits in 31 innings, which was the lowest hits per 9 innings ratio in major league history for someone with 30+ innings. (Or it would have been, had Mike Adams not allowed just 14 hits in 37 innings the same year.) In 2010, he took over as the Rangers’ closer, saved 40 games, and won the Rookie of the Year.

He’s also a reliever.

I’m not dissing on Feliz; he’s an outstanding pitcher with some of the best stuff in the game. And if the Rangers elected to move him back into the rotation, he certainly has a chance to become a #1 starting pitcher. But as long as he’s used as a closer – and there’s no indication they’re going to move him out of that role , there’s a limit to how valuable he can be no matter how effective he is.

The Rangers did a tremendous job of scouting both Andrus and Feliz, because neither player projected to be this good at the time of the trade. But it’s worth mentioning that, according to Baseball Reference, Andrus was worth 1.0 Wins Above Replacement this season. Felix was worth 2.4 WAR. The Rangers won the division by nine games. I know this is heresy to say, but I think they would have won the AL West even if they had never traded Teixeira.

The other thing to keep in mind is that, while the Rangers hit big on Andrus and Feliz, they whiffed even bigger on Saltalamacchia. Saltalamacchia was supposed to be the key to the trade – a 22-year-old rookie switch-hitting catcher who was already hitting .284/.333/.411 in Atlanta. Instead of turning into an All-Star catcher, though, Saltalamacchia stopped hitting, he developed a mental block about throwing the ball back to the pitcher, and he’s now in Boston, having checked into the Red Sox Convalescent Home For Washed-Up Phenoms. (I believe they gave him Jeremy Hermida’s old room.)

Harrison was a potential #4/#5 left-handed starter who has yet to reach even that modest ceiling, and Jones was a pure throw-in who might wind up a LOOGY when all is said and done. Which means the Rangers turned Teixeira into an excellent defensive shortstop who can get on base, and an elite closer. It was a great trade for them, to be sure. But it was hardly a franchise changer. The Teixeira trade doesn’t compare with the Bartolo Colon trade, for instance, or even the A’s trade of Danny Haren.

And I think there’s a chance that the Royals’ haul for Greinke can match, if not exceed, what the Rangers got for Teixeira. A year ago, Alcides Escobar and Elvis Andrus were considered the two best young shortstops in baseball, and it wasn’t entirely clear who you’d rather have going forward. Both are considered elite defensive shortstops – Andrus maybe a little better, but it’s close.  Both run very well. Andrus walks a lot more, but Escobar should hit for a higher average, and has a little more juice in his bat. (Even with his wreck of a rookie season, Escobar’s career slugging average of .335 is higher than Andrus’ .333.)

I don’t think Escobar is as good as Andrus. But if bounces back, he won’t be far behind.

Jeffress is unlikely to be as good as Feliz is, but they have a similar skill set – an electric fastball and an outstanding breaking ball, the slider for Feliz, the curveball for Jeffress. Feliz is special because his fastball has so much late movement, while Jeffress’ fastball is pretty straight. But while Jeffress is unlikely to be the pitcher that Feliz is, if Jeffress reaches his potential, again, he won’t be far behind.

And that leaves Cain and Odorizzi. If Cain becomes an average-plus everyday centerfielder, or if Odorizzi becomes a #3 starter in the majors, that’s considerably more value than the Rangers got from the other three guys in their trade. Really, if either Escobar or Cain becomes a quality everyday player, and either Jeffress becomes an elite reliever or Odorizzi becomes an above-average starting pitcher, then the Greinke trade will have yielded as much talent as the Teixeira trade. And if the Royals hit on three out of four, I’d argue that they did better than the Rangers.

It will be years before we know how this plays out. But the mere fact that I can argue with a straight face that the Royals may have received more for Greinke than the Rangers did for Teixeira should make it clear that the Royals didn’t get taken. I liked the trade when it was announced last weekend, and I like it even more today. Considering the price that other teams sold their ace starters for, Dayton Moore did as well as we could have expected. He might have done even better.

Happy Holidays, everyone. See you back here next year.


kcfan4ever64 said...

Merry Christmas!!! May the Holiday season quickly pass and Baseball season begin:)

Tim said...

This was an excellent Christmas gift, Rany. It fit perfectly between dinner and dessert, and provided a much needed respite from the fam. (My grandpa has recycled the same 2 stories numerous times.)

My initial reaction, after sorrow, was that the trade was about average. However, grading on a Dayton Moore-sized curve, I'd consider it a resounding success.

For some reason, I also feel that it's important that I can still cheer for Greinke in Milwaukee. If he'd been traded to LA, NY, or another big market club, I would not have derived much joy from his future success.

Old Man Duggan said...

There is no way the Mariners didn't know Lueke was a rapist. Many of their fans knew this when the trade happened. I think given that Smoak had already struggled upon being called up, it seemed like he has lost a bit of his luster at the time of the deal. I know it was premature given the microscopic sample size, but it felt like everyone was expecting Smoak to mash upon being called up. It definitely didn't happen, and it is even like likely to happen for him in Seattle.

KCMIZZ said...

Great work. Kudos for posting on a holiday. I have been patiently waiting for your Greinke follow up. Have a safe holiday season

Reb Moti said...

Well, if the Rangers had won the division without trading Texeira, they still would have won it without Texeira, who would have certainly left as a free agent anyway. So they got 3 more wins or whatever from the guys they traded him for than they would have from the supplemental draft picks they would have gotten instead.

Antonio. said...

Considering the volatile nature of prospects, isn't it best to grade them on the perception of their growth at the time of their trade? It's more obvious now that the Santana deal was bad...but it was pretty obvious then too, but it had extenuating circumstances as well. In regards to the Teix deal, it doesn't look as good for the Rangers now as it did then...but they were trading for perceived value at the time.

From the '07 Handbook:

Salty: top prospect in the Carolina league, improving defense and patience at the plate, best all-around minor league catcher. Similarly gifted to McCann.
Andrus: young for his league especially when considering most Latinos are still in their homeland @ 18 - players were on average four years older, 3 plus tools with a chance to further develop the other four, fluent, raw in offensive game
Harrison: in Double A before he was 21 (while performing well, so not "rushed"), comparison to Glavine legit, 3-starter potential
Jones: strong debut, wore down late, comparisons to Davies, needs work on change, ranked higher than Hanson
Feliz: twice as many Ks as hits allowed, might have more upside than any other pitcher in the system (a later Handbook mentions him as a potential #1)

It seems to me that most of this article compares where the Royals pick ups currently rank compared to where the players from the other trades currently rank as opposed to how they were thought of at the time of the trade... did the Royals pick up an Andrus (doubt it considering that Andrus has 2.5 years on Escobar - 20 months younger + in the bigs to stay a year earlier + Andrus had a good rookie year), a McCann clone, a 3-starter, a 5-starter and an ace? No. Neither did the Rangers, but in the days and weeks afterwards, it was believed they did.

I may be wrong and probably am wrong, but we have seen attrition hit the Rangers and compared it to the upside of the Royals acquisitions.

benfunke said...

While I think this article is generally well-argued, I would counter that when you have a point to establish, it's easy to fall into the trap of saying, "oh, this guy is a better prospect than that guy" and then call it a "win". It doesn't seem like you've started from a position of neutrality/objectivity, and it's colored your analysis.

Such is clear with the wording of this:
"Even with his wreck of a rookie season, Escobar’s career slugging average of .335 is higher than Andrus’ .333"
Slugging .335 is NOT different an any meaningful way from .333, which is the kind of thing you would normally not overlook. Upon closer inspection, I think the point you are trying to make is that Escobar had a bad season, for him, and that even so it is about the same as Andrus's career. While that's not an outright mistake, I do think that it gives the Royals' player the benefit of the doubt without giving the other player the same benefit.

Andrew said...

Maybe it's not fair, but I suspect most people are comparing the Greinke deal to the Bedard trade.

Kevin G said...

It seems like you're saying that Andrus is what he is while Escobar can/is going to improve, which seems weird given that Andrus is a year and a half *younger* than Escobar.

Andy G. said...

Thanks for the fine article. I guess I might be the only person who thinks that Greinke's comments after the trade were mildly scandalous, in particular the information that he withheld using certain pitches to save his arm for a more competitive team. As a fan I would have to ask now "Which Greinke as I seeing today? The one who cares? Doesn't care? Saving himself for his next team?", everytime he pitches. A lot of people found Greinke's sometimes off-putting comments like these to be refreshing, but I found them to be immature & self-centered at times. Such a casual attitude should also affect evaluations of any deal involving him, I believe. Baseball general managers, buyer beware! It will be one of the most interesting things in the new season, needless to say, to observe how he performs, whether or not the Brewers are in the race.

Antonio. said...

Dave, how is that any worse than what the Brew Crew did to Sabbathia knowing he was leaving after the season?

After what I read in the other comments about what Yost said in regards to Cain v Melky, I really am an anti-Yost fan. Shit like that gets the Royals in the trouble they are currently in and have been in for a majority of my life. It reeks of protecting Howard over Conine, going with Long over Huber, Jacobs over KK.

Michael said...

Antonio, you can't just hand Cain the starting spot. Creating competition is a good thing. If he came out and stated the job was Cain's then what does that do for Cabrera's motivation? He's leaving the door open for Cabrera so that hopefully he'll come to camp in shape. Then no matter who wins the starting spot the club will be improved overall.

Rany said...

Fair comments regarding my treatment of Escobar and Andrus. My point is that Escobar can be fairly expected to improve upon his rookie season, both because it was out of line with his minor league record and because there's evidence that he was unlucky (his batting average on line drives was very low, for instance.)

Regarding Andrus, my perception might be colored by the fact that Kevin Goldstein has consistently been skeptical of Andrus' ability to hit for enough power to be a star shortstop in the majors. Certainly, given his age, Andrus probably does have some improvement left in him.

I highly doubt that, in the end, Escobar will have a comparable career to Andrus. I just think it will be close enough that the Royals might get enough from the other three players in the trade to balance, if not tip, the scales.

Antonio. said...

Cabrera is a fat, less talented player that was promised a spot. Why say anything period? What motivation does Cabrera have now that he has not only been assured a starting role, but reassured? Cabs is not a 25-year old prospect with nothing more to prove. Cain is. Cain needs the reps. Heck, I wouldn't even give him Blanco's at bats. Cain is better. Our pathetic excuse for a rotation will need him in the field and at the plate much more so than Cabrera.

Antonio. said...

GooIt's been said many times that Escobar needs to hit .300 to be an effective hitter since he doesn't walk enough. I haven't looked at his LD% or his BABIP, but should we wonder if he'll be able to hit that number very consistently? I guess we have never had what Alcides Escobar represents at short...great glove and empty batting average and speed to burn. Previously it's been good glove and empty average and no speed, good glove and no stick, good glove and 70s MI stick and good speed.

ScottM said...

@Antonio- Excellent point on the Teixeira trade and its perceived value at the time. Its easy to grade it down now after watching Saltamacchia flail (and fail too) so miserably.

@Rany- I have been really biting my tongue trying not to say much if any anything about this trade. But as the time passes I find that more and more impossible to do, so instead I tried to let you convince me that I was wrong about this deal, but it just ain't working.

Every player they acquired comes with some fairly serious question marks/baggage. Not the type of things that you should easily over look or worse yet ignore, which you seem to have done. I could (and most likely will at some point) go into detail on each of them but let's just look at Lorenzo Cain, because he was, initially, the guy I was most impressed with in the trade.

His defense is said to be above-average in CF. The metrics agree with that evaluation, but as you pointed out they don't have enough data to be considered accurate even by their most ardent defenders. However I am willing to accept them to be accurate and call him average to above in CF.

His partial season in the bigs was impressive at the plate, but again sample size is an issue so I delved into his minor league hitting. He got on base well, but never hit for any power. As you and most other sabremetricians have pointed out, these guys typically plateau as AAAA players. Good enough to tear up AAA but never quite good enough to be an everyday MLB player. The lack of power allows pitchers to go after them with no fear of a mistake hurting them.

Given what we know comes out of the the Teixeria trade, it is easy to argue that Cain should be a better player then any of them. However, its not that hard to imagine him being the Saltalamacchia of the trade either based on his prospects long term.

And that is just one example. Sadly of the guy that I still like as much or more as anyone in the deal.

Michael said...

Antonio-Yes, he was promised a spot....on the roster. I highly doubt that he was guaranteed a spot in centerfield every day, though. I would bet he was guaranteed the chance to compete for that spot, and at the time we signed him, he was probably the favorite for it. Even as much as you obviously don't like Melky, it's apparent to me that he's still better than anything we had before him to play center.

That is, until the Cain trade. I agree that Cain should and probably will be the starting center fielder come Opening Day. But if Yost comes out and announces that Cain will in fact, be the starter, that takes a lot of motivation away from a guy like Melky. All Yost really said is he's not ready to annoint Cain the starter, and that Melky has to be given the shot to win the job, based on his experience at the ML level.

Really, you are reading WAY too much into Yost's comments. He has not guaranteed Melky the starting spot, like you seem to think he's done.

Michael said...

I think a move to the AL will really help Escobar. A lot of times he was hitting in the 8th spot in Milwaukee, and was pitched around. Well, for a guy who doesn't like to walk, and the ability to put the bat on the ball, I think that really aided his lower than average LD% and BABIP. If he's swinging at pitches out of the strike zone and tapping them back to the pitcher, or whatever, then that will effect his average. Hitting in the AL with an actual hitter behind him, I think his numbers will improve quite a bit.

Kenneth said...

You wrote this on Christmas and your wife let you get away with it ? Was she taking a nap ?

Rany said...

Well, being a Muslim, Christmas isn't nearly the impediment to getting work done as it is for most Americans :)

Also, it helps that my wife and kids were in Miami visiting my in-laws. It's surprisingly easy to write 6000-word tracts when you're all alone and snowed in on a national holiday.

Antonio. said...

They promised the starting CF role to Ankiel. Seems very Moorian or Daytonian to promise a starting spot to get an underachieving veteran to sign. Yost's comments seem to at least suggest it.

Michael said...

That's the one thing that the Royals have to offer some veterans. At the time they signed Melky they didn't have anyone else to really be an everyday center fielder. I agree that Melky would be a below average everyday center fielder, but he'd still be better than anyone else the Royals had on their roster at that time.

Now that we have Cain though, the Royals can't just call up Melky and say "I know we said you'd have a good chance to play every day, but now you're going to be our fourth outfielder." There are two big reasons not to do this...

1. The motivation thing I already talked about.

2. It's freaking December! Lots can happen between now and Opening Day (like injuries, for example).

Lets say Yost comes out and says Cain is our starting centerfielder, Francouer in right, and Gordon in left. That pisses Melky off, he stops training, and comes to camp even more fat and out of shape than normal. You've just weakened your team, especially if someone does get injured.

But hey, if it makes the fans feel good in December, then I guess it's ok, right?

Andrew said...

Making sure Melky Cabrera improves is going to be key to the Royals' future success. Put that one in the bank. I know that the vast majority of elite athletes see that someone who plays the same position as them join the team and immediately think: "Fuck it, I'm just gonna quit. That is how I got here to the pinnacle of my profession, by quitting."

Add in the comment that we had no one to play CF when Gregor Blanco was acceptable [both OBP and Defensively] for a team that should lose about 95 games and you have a lack of knowledge about the Royals' roster.

Michael said...

Wow, Gregor Blanco? Really?? If you're Dayton Moore, you're going to be happy if Gregor Blanco is your starting center fielder?? Espcecially when you can get a cheap, better, and younger player with a lot more MLB experience?? Wow, you show a lack of baseball knowledge, much less the Royals roster.

Also, Gregor Blanco is actually slightly below average defensively, according to both Fangraphs and Baseball Reference. So really, his only discernable tool is the ability to take a walk occasionally. While that is something that many Royals players lack, it's not good when it's the ONLY tool a player has.

Michael said...

And Melky has shown in his career he needs that extra motivation. He's not a self motivator, or else he wouldn't have fattened up like he has. So yes, when he sees another (more) talented centerfielder join the roster, and the manager comes out and says you're gonna ride the bench, then yeah, it probably does take away his motivation.

And you may mock that he is the key to our future, but you never know. No one thought Rick Ankiel would help the Royals at all, but yet he brought us Tim Collins in trade (along with Farnsworth and cash). Same with Scott Podsednik, etc. Heck, GMDM was even able to find someone to give him something for Jose Guillen...

Nathan said...

The balance of this article is strong, and I think the Greinke trade is a good decision by Moore. But I also think Rany is getting a little carried away in suggesting that we got as much for Greinke as the Rangers got for Tiexiera. In fact, I'd trade all four players the Royals got from Milwaukee for Feliz and Andrus straight up. If Texas offered that trade (and they won't), would you turn it down? If not, then the Royals didn't get as much for their star as Texas did, simple as that.

Also, Feliz would be fine as a starter, so being a reliever doesn't damage his trade value. If you're looking for a fair comp for Feliz in the Royals' system, that player isn't Jeremy Jeffress, it's Joakim Soria.

I also disagree with the claim, made in some of the comments, that trades should be evaluated based on perceived value at the time of the trade rather than on the actual performance of the prospects received. If this were true, teams should just fire all their pro scouts. But of course, it is not. The Royals' goal in every trade should be to acquire players who are actually better than they seem to be. The same is true for every team. So the standard for evaluating a trade is the actual ability of the players acquired, not some sort of consensus among baseball writers about how they "should" perform. Baseball is a game of partly asymmetric information.

Antonio. said...

I'd take Blanco/Maier over Melky. Some free agents you promise certain things to. The ones the Royals sign, you simply do not. So what if we didn't sign Melky. It wouldn't make any noticeable difference.

My point is why does Yost have to say anything? My point is how many times have we seen the Royals put a lot more emphasis on experience than what it deserves? I'd take a real player's experience every single day. But Melky? Is he any reason that any team he's ever played on won? He's not. What's he going to do? Tell Moustakas how A-Rod did it? (No, you don't jab it in there! Let me show you!)

Antonio. said...

@ Nathan

If you are comparing a trade just made to a trade made X years ago, you have to go on perception at the time. It's not exactly fair to compare the potential of the KC-MIL deal to the attrition of the Tex-Atl deal. The Rangers didn't trade Teix for a starting shortstop and a closer even though that's what they got. And the Royals traded Greinke for a starting shorstop, starting centerfielder, a #2 starter and a set-up or closer relief pitcher, but that's not what they're going to get.

Michael said...

Yost was asked a question by a reporter, that's why he had to say something. And all he really said was that they (Cain and Melky) would battle for the starting spot. I just don't see the harm in that. Now, if Cabrera is starting in center over a healthy Cain come April, then yes, I would be upset. Unless, of course, Melky came to camp in shape and had a great spring. But I'd put the chances of that happening at about 10%. :)

But I do agree with you about looking at the Texas deal and the Royals deal you have to look at the perceptions of both at the time of the trade, cause that's the only thing we have to judge the KC deal on right now. I do think, though, that if the guys that the Royals got ALL work out the way we all hope, then we did do better than Texas. Although, like you, I doubt that all 4 will work out to perfection.

ScottM said...

@ Antonio- Right on target again. It's simple to look back at the Teix trade and knowing now how the players work out to down grade it. But when comparing the trades, we have to look at the perceived value because at this point that is all we have on the Greinke deal.

As said in my previous response, I have been spending time evaluating each guy for his strengths/weaknesses. I can present the strengths, as I see them for each, but really there is no need to since Rany already has. I broke down the weaknesses on Cain as example. The other guys are bit harder because of their perceived value currently. In looking at Escobar, a hand full of things stand out.

His defense is said to be awesome, even to the point that I have heard/read some saying that he is the best defensive SS in the AL right now. Let's hope that is truly the case. With him, there are some serious concerns.

First, can he hit at all? Like many of his peers (Latin American SS), he has never seen a pitch he doesn't want to swing at. Therefor he is not going to draw hardly any walks. That ties almost all of his offensive value to BA which is fluxuates so much from season to season based on luck. He does have a minor league track record of a decent amount of pop though so he MIGHT bring a little to the table there.

Second and more important, are the "character issues" concerned that some writers have brought up. Normally I wouldn't care much (and in Jeffress's case I don't at all), but the same thing seems to be repeated by a lot guys. Almost to a man, they question his "make up." Again not a major concern, except that last season was his first failure at any level. How will he handle/deal with it? Will go Alex Gordon on us and say he is going to be great but do nothing to prove it or change to make it happen? Or will he pull a George Brett and get with Seitzer like George did Lau and become a better player for it? We just don't know, but when "make up" questions come out, I typically lean towards the former as the end result.

George said...

Rany - can we get a post (when you get a second) about the pro's/con's of dealing the Mexicutioner? Is now the time to move him with multiple teams looking for bullpen help? MLB Trade Rumors suggests the Yankees offered us Jesus Montero for him last July. Would Montero be enough, in your mind, to get a deal done? Who are some other pieces that the Royals might be interested in from other teams?


John said...

If the Royals are serious about competing in 2012, then trading Soria is a bad move. If they're in contention then, having one of the best closers in baseball under team control through 2014--on a friendly contract--would be quite helpful.

There's no need to trade him now and make a run at the '62 Mets in 2011 and then blowing the AL Central in '13 because you blew a bunch of games with no closer.

Antonio. said...

We do realize that for the Royals to compete, they will need to not only hit on a huge number of these prospects but also have them come out of the gate running like a flock of RoYs, right..? For me, 2012 is about a mass exodus of graduating players in...garbage players out. Not to mention the inevitable leash Yosty will put on them initially. Seems to me like fans are expecting them all to post at least 3.0 WARs. There will be some Gordons, some Butlers that need demotions, some Beltrans, some Avileses that shock the world by playing much higher than their skill level.

George said...

Realistically, we're not going to be competitive until 2013 in the best-case scenario. Soria's only under contract until 2014. By then, who knows, Jeremy Jeffres could be the stopper of the future. Otherwise, we have a stable of live arms in the minors that is sure to produce viable bullpen options. If we can deal Soria now for a blue-chip prospect like Montero, why not do the deal? Montero could be a big part of competing well beyond 2014.

Kenneth said...

You would have thought I would have remembered Christmas was not as big a deal at your house after throughly enjoying reading your "Abd el-Kader and the Massacre of Damascus." Post.

In my defense Christmas is still a busy sports day for a sports fan to be researching & typing versus watching :-)

I would like your take on the suggestion thta just Nefali Perez and Elvis Andrus today would be a better package then what the Royals rec'd. I would agree with Nathans suggestion; both that I would take that trade over the four prospects the Royals rec'd and no way Texas would offer it for four prospects. But would they have offered it for Zach after missing on Cliff Lee ?

I do not think I am on the pessimistic side when I say I would have to agree Antonio. You are wearing rose colored glasses when it comes to these prospects. By definition a certain percentage of prospects fail. How will this trade look in 3 years if all we have is a SS with speed that hits .265/.325/.345 plays above avg defense and a middle relief pitcher ?

I realize now that Zach did not wish to perform as a #1 starter here in KC so his trade value would only go down after another year of underperforming relative to his ability. The problem with letting go of Zach is pitchers like him don't grow on trees. Not every major league team can say they have a legit ACE, a surefire #1 starter. Guys like that are rare. I mean really how many would you count in or above his class in the whole leauge ?

Jered Weaver
King Felix
Jon Lester
Roy Halladay
Justin Verlander
Dan Haren
Ubaldo Jimenez
Adam Wainright
Chris Carpenter
Clayton Kershaw
Cole Hamels
CC Sabathia
Cliff Lee
David Price
Josh Johnson
Johan Santana

Even after his less than Cy Young season of 2010 I think everyone in baseball would agree he is one of the top 20 pitchers in baseball. The last time I checked there are 30 teams. So even without Philly hogging all the good pitchers that would still leave at least 10 teams without a bon-a-fide #1 starter. My point is it's a rare commodity. The Royals used to have one, now they don't.

And I can't stop thinking about what you said Rany. He would have loved to stay a Royal if the Royals would have just stopped sucking. In today's game that is the rarest of all gems. Fair or not it is probably in that context I view this as such an awful failure of a trade. Thank you for this article and for trying to cheer up all Royals fans but I just can't be happy about this trade.

Unknown said...

Love the discussion in the comments. I tend to agree with the notion that the prospects look promising. My problem is that I still can't get over the premise that he "had to be traded". This is the weakest part of the post in my opinion Rany. All I have seen is quotes about how Zack was unhappy. Well I was unhappy too watching the team. Except when I was able to watch him pitch. Now that time is gone. When do these teams that trade for prospects end up winning championships? I still believe Dayton failed in his duty to convince Zack that he should stay. Rany, can you find an instance where a team kept their star player and ended up doing well?

Michael said...

q-Most people credit the Rangers trade of Mark Teixiera for helping them make the World Series this year. The Minnesota Twins traded Johan Santana for scraps, but that still hasn't stopped them from contending every year.

I don't think we're getting scraps, and I don't think we'll end up with as good a deal as Texas got either. I think we'll end up with 2 average-average plus everyday players, 1 good relief pitcher, possible future closer, and one rotation guy, maybe a 3 or 4. Of course, this is if no one sustains any major injuries that derail their career, or any other major setbacks.

Sure, I'd still love to have Greinke instead, but he wasn't willing to put out the effort to live up to his contract, which would have severely diminished his trade value even more if we waited till July or next offseason.

Michael said...

Antonio-We don't need to hit on a huge number of these prospects. We have a bunch of big time prospects now, so we actually can hit on less than usual and still be competitive in a few years. I do agree that 2012 may not be the year of contention. I think 2012 will be a very interesting year with the possibility of being good, if a few of these prospects light the world on fire right away.

2013-2014 is more realistic in terms of winning divisions. Which, coincidentally, are the final 2 years of Soria's contract. I am strongly behind the idea of keeping him here for those times. He would be a very integral part of The Process at that point. If Dayton believes in The Process himself, which I'm sure he does since he's orchestrating it, he should keep him. If we are competitive by that point, then it shouldn't be too hard to re-sign him again.

Antonio. said...

I was meaning 2012. Many people are talking about 2012 like it is a foregone conclusion that we make the playoffs. Many smart people are saying that...I think it's too much to ask for. We'll be vastly improved by the sheer number of talented youth coming up, but my mind won't let my hope get higher than .500. 2012 is the next step and that step is graduation. I meant to put compete in 2012, not just compete.

Also the Twins had always been a much more balanced team than the traditionally offensive-first Rangers. They couldn't replace Santana but they continued developing #2 and #3 starters and Mauer/Cuddyer/Span have continued growing.

Michael said...


George said...

Can we also address the Royals rotation heading into 2011? Hochevar, Davies, Mazzaro and O'Sullivan, but who else? I've heard Danny Duffy might get a shot. I've heard Everett Teaford is a possibility. What about the possibility of moving Tejada back to the rotation? He looked good two years ago. Jerry Crasnick reported today that the Royals are in on Jeff Francis. I know he didn't pitch last year because of arm surgery, but he seems like a great option and is still young...

George said...

Forgot we just signed Zach Miner to a minor league deal. Any chance he's the 5th man in the rote?

bbxpert said...

My guess is right now that Hochevar, Mazzaro, and Davies are rotation locks. I am hoping that the other 2 spots are wide open and that a couple of the young guys will step in and grab the job. I want these guys to make it tough for the Royals to send them down.

Michael said...

There is a new rumor that they are also looking at Carl Pavano.

George said...

Not sure why we'd be interested in Pavano other than to trade him for prospects at the deadline. That said, we certainly have the $ to pay him now that Greinke and Guillen are off the books. Speaking of, next year, when we no longer have Meche's contract, are we going to be able to supplement our young roster with some solid veterans (SP? RP? C?). Who might we look at?

Michael said...

If we signed Pavano, it would most likely be a 3 year deal, meaning he most likely wouldn't be traded this winter. He'd be under contract through 2013, so he'd really just be a stopgap until all the young ones are ready. Not a bad stopgap either, although probably costly (I'd guess 24-27 mill over the 3 years). I'd be on the fence if they went through with it.

George said...

Not saying we'd trade him this winter or even this year's trade deadline. However, in another year or two, when he's down to one-two years remaining on his deal, I could see us shopping him around to a contender. Seems to me that Pavano would want to go to a contender. Why not just save our money these next couple years and be able to actually sign some of our home-grown talent to long-term deals?

Kenneth said...

reaction to the haul Tampa Bay got from the Cubs for Matt Garza compared to what the Royals got for Greinke ?

Scott said...

It is being reported that Moore has turned down a trade of Soria for Jesus Montero and Eduardo Nunez from the Yankees. This trade would make sense to me and I'd like to see it happen. What say you, Rany?

bbxpert said...

The Greinke trade made sense, but why would you want to trade Soria? The best closer in the game and inexpensive. You can't continually trade for prospects. You have to keep some guys that are already there.

Michael said...

I agree bbxpert. Just because a guy could bring a good haul of prospects doesn't mean he should be traded. Remember, these are "prospects," guys who haven't proven anything yet. Soria is already a proven commodity on a VERY team friendly deal. And his contract runs through 2014, and we should hopefully be competitive in both 2013 and 2014. I'd hate to get there and miss out on the playoffs by a game or two because we don't have a solid closer.