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2009 July Trade Analysis
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2009 July Trade Analysis
by Asher B. Chancey,
August 3, 2009

In what was truly a dizzying trading deadline, the biggest name on the market didn’t move, several players who weren’t on the trading block radar did move, and perhaps the most underrated player of 2009 was shipped to . . . a fifth pace team? Let’s recap:

Roy Halladay remains a Blue Jay

If you turned on ESPN radio in Philadelphia in the last month, you heard intense debates about whether the Phillies should acquire Roy Halladay. For fans of a team that spent the month of July dominating all opponents and widening their lead in the NL East to near fatal proportions, the Phillies’ fans truly acted as though the Phils were garbage in need of savior but also acted as though the acquisition of Roy Halladay would have automatically caused Major League Baseball to end the season, cancel the post-season, and award the Phillies to 2009 World Championship. In the end, Halladay stays home, the Blue Jays put Halladay through waivers with a view towards trading him before the August deadline, but he won’t likely be headed to the Phillies, because . . .

The Phillies acquire Cliff Lee

As I stated in my Cliff Lee trade analysis, this is a guy who pales in comparison to both Halladay and to himself, or at least the 2008 version of himself. The Phillies gave up less than they would have had to for Halladay, but still added a quality guy who, oh by the way, is having a better season than any of his new Phillies teammates. To try to get the fans of his new team to forget about Halladay, Lee pitched a complete game four-hitter in his first outing as a Phillies, giving up one run and striking out six.

Adam LaRoche goes to Boston for Argenis Diaz & Hunter Strickland, then to Atlanta for Casey Kotchman

Let’s face it – Adam LaRoche should never have left Atlanta. So, after a brief time in Boston, LaRoche went back to the Braves, who traded a first baseman they received at the previous year’s deadline for the second year in a row (they received Kotchman from the Angels last season for Mark Teixeira, whom they received from the Rangers the previous year). This is obviously an odd sequence, but in the end it may make sense for all teams. At Turner Field, Kotchman hit like a second baseman; in Fenway he’ll be the next John Olerud. LaRoche has only had success in Atlanta, so he may as well go back there.

Jake Peavy finally approves trade to White Sox, for Clayton Richard, Aaron Poreda, Dexter Carter, & Adam Russell

In what must have been the second most bizarre trade of the season, Peavy finally allowed a trade he wouldn’t allow the previous month. It seems to me that Peavy wanted out of San Diego but thought he could get traded to a better team when the Padres originally tried to send him to the White Sox. Now that Peavy is injured and likely to miss most of the rest of the season, most teams were probably not biting and in the end he was happy to get out of town period.

Still, what are the White Sox doing? They just traded four pitching prospects for Jake Peavy, an inconsistent guy who is currently hurt and has enjoyed pitching in one of the most pitching friendly ballparks of our time. The Padres may have three out of these four guys pitching in the majors by 2010, while the same can’t necessarily be said of Peavy. That is an awfully lot of talent to give up for one guy, regardless of who it is.

Victor Martinez to the Red Sox for Justin Masterson, Nick Hagadone, & Bryan Price

I have to wonder whether I would have seen this trade coming if I lived in Cleveland or Boston. As it is, I was blind-sided by the deal when it happened, and I was immediately saddened by the fact that one of the game’s great young players is leaving a small market for a big market. This is an interesting deal chiefly because of how bad Victor Martinez has been since May – on June 1st, he was .350/.427/.543/.970; since then, he has gone .230/.315/.393/.708. Given his recent problems with injuries, this may become a ingenious move on the part of the Indians, moving a guy with problems in his future when his stock is high.

Of course, it could also be the beginning of Victor Martinez, the Next Boston Sports Hero.

Indians trade Ryan Garko to the Giants for Scott Barnes; Rafael Betancourt to the Rockies for Connor Graham

Can’t blame the Indians for these moves – Garko has failed to become the player the Indians thought he would (kind of makes you wonder if Garko is the face of major league players who refused to use performance enhancing drugs), plus Betancourt ain’t getting’ any younger and is only valuable if you have pitchers who can get you to the sixth inning. Meanwhile, in return the Indians get to stock their farm system with two more righty starters with a view towards 2010.

Scott Rolen to the Reds for Edwin Encarnacion, Josh Roenicke (minors), & Zach Stewart

Okay, what was anyone thinking in making this deal? The Reds are in fifth place in the NL Central, the only division where one can be in fifth place without being in last place – why would you give up anything for a guy with only a year or two left in the tank? Meanwhile, the Blue Jays could have traded Rolen to a whole host of teams – why on earth would they make the deal that lands them with Edwin Encarnacion?

On the other hand, Zach Stewart has dominated the minors in 124.2 innings pitched, while Josh Roenicke has already been excellent in his second season of major league action. Ah, Dusty Baker disease strikes again.

Mariners trade Wladimir Balentien to the Reds for Robert Manuel

Just a shocking show of disastrous talent evaluation by the Cincinnati Reds. In exchange for a right reliever who appears to be a dominant strikeout pitcher, the Reds get a guy who will admittedly hit much better in the Great American Ballpark than he ever did in Safeco, but who has looked absolutely lost the last two years. Good luck with that, Dusty.

A’s trade Orlando Cabrera to Twins for Tyler Ladendorf; Matt Holliday to Cardinals for Brett Wallace, Shane Peterson, & Clayton Mortensen.

Billy Beane strikes again? Now instead of developing talent and trading it for tomorrow’s talent, he is just signing guys to trade for tomorrow’s talent. Less than a full season after signing Cabrera and Holliday to free agent contracts, both are on their way out in exchange for a 2007 first rounder (Mortensen), a 2008 first rounder (Wallace), and two 2008 second rounders (Ladendorf, Peterson). He just added four hot prospects for two guys he didn’t have a year ago in the first place. It really is unbelievable.

Orioles trade George Sherrill to the Dodgers for Steve Johnson & Josh Bell

The newest former Orioles closer is now George Sherrill (following in the wake of Jorge Julio, B.J. Ryan, and Chris Ray). Johnson and Bell are not a bad haul for a mediocre 32 year old without a ton of upside. That Erik Bedard trade is now Bedard for Johnson, Bell, Adam Jones, Chris Tillman, Tony Butler, and Kameron Mickolio. That’s how you get value out of a guy.

Mariners trade Jarrod Washburn to the Tigers for Luke French and Mauricio Robles.

Washburn leads the AL in fewest hits allowed per inning after a career in which he has given up about a hit per inning, and has given up more than a hit per inning for the last five years. So, I ask you – is his performance in 2009 a credit to Washburn, or a credit to the Mariners’ defense? Check back at the end of the season.

Red Sox trade Julio Lugo to the Cardinals for Chris Duncan

The perfect helps both teams move. Cardinals need infielders, Red Sox need outfielders.

Braves trade Jeff Francoeur to the Mets for Ryan Church & Cash

For Francoeur, the perfect change of scenery move – he set the expectations unreasonably high during his rookie year with the Braves, and then crumbled under their weight the remainder of his time there. He will have to mature as a hitter no matter where he goes, unfortunately, so we will wait and see.

D'Backs trade Felipe Lopez to the Brewers for Roque Mercedes & Cole Gillespie

Great move by the D’Backs. Lopez is a guy who was once highly-regarded, but has since been released by his last two teams. The Deebs signed him in the off-season and promptly turned his first half success into two new players. Mercedes is a pitching prospect who is probably two years away, and Gillespie is an outfielder who will likely never get into the majors. But their prospects are both better than Lopez’s are five years out.

Dodgers trade Claudio Vargas to the Brewers for Vinny Rottino

Let me get this straight – in 2007 Vargas is not good. The Brewers release him in 2008. He pitches for the Mets then signs as a free agent with the Dodgers. Then the Brewers trade a guy to get him back. Hmmm.

Pirates trade John Grabow and Tom Gorzelanny to the Cubs for Jose Ascanio and Kevin Hart; Freddy Sanchez to the Giants for Tim Alderson; Ian Snell and Jack Wilson to the Mariners for Jeff Clement, Ronny Cedeno, Aaron Pribanic, Brett Lorin, and Nathan Adcock; Adam LaRoche to Boston Red Sox for Argenis Diaz and Hunter Strickland; Eric Hinske to the Yankees; Nate McLouth to Braves for Charlie Morton; Romulo Sanchez to Yankees for Eric Hacker; Nyjer Morgan and Sean Burnett to Nationals for Lastings Milledge and Joel Hanrahan

Rarely has a mediocre team been blown up as thoroughly as the Pittsburgh Pirates have blown themselves up in 2009. Sure, the Florida Marlins and San Diego Padres have had infamous fire-sales, and the Cleveland Indians and Oakland A’s have sold off big name stars for prospects rather consistently, but those were rather good players on rather good teams. This Pittsburgh Pirates team seems to have said “If we’re going to suck, it isn’t going to be with our current sucky players.”

When one considers the players given up and the players received, the Pirates gave up a lot of troubling players and received in return a lot of potential diamonds in the rough. Jose Ascanio, Kevin Hart, Tim Alderson, Charlie Morton, and Brett Lorin could all be major league contributors, and Hart, Alderson, and Morton could be full time starters. Jeff Clement has ripped things up in the minors for the Mariners, and could have an easier time succeeding in a friendlier hitting environment than Safeco Field. And Argenis Diaz is, by all accounts, a defensive guru who could solidify the Pirates infield.

What is clear is that the Pirates have tossed several players who weren’t turning into the major leaguers that the former front office Pirates thought they would, and stocked their minor league system in the process. Guys like Tom Gorzelanny, Ian Snell, Jack Wilson, Freddy Sanchez, Nyjer Morgan, and Nate McLouth are great when they are the fifth starting pitcher, eighth best hitter, or providing depth off the bench. But these are not players to build a team around. I don’t think the Pirates know how they are going to turn their team around, but at least they realize it won’t be with these guys.

Questions? Concerns? Comments? Asher lives in Philadelphia, PA, and can be reached at