Monday, July 12, 2010

Trade Deadline Primer

I have teamed with a number of other bloggers to produce a Trade Deadline Primer for fans. I have written several Indians-specific essays for the book, including report cards for all players (note: my submission deadline was early-mid June, so some notes are ... um ... less accurate now than I would have liked), a description of the season to date, and a discussion of what players we should be trading and what we should target.

Because I've teamed with other bloggers, you can see what players THEY see as reasonable and relevant targets from THEIR systems and perspectives as well. It's a nice, comprehensive guide to the July 31st Trade Deadline, or as Cleveland Fans know it, "The most relevant time of the year."  The book is in PDF format, and costs $9.95 to download from the folks at TwinsCentric.  (It's okay: I know they're evil, but they did all the editing.)

Here are some excerpts from the book:
How would I describe the Cleveland Indians’ 2010 season? I would probably start with the story of the three-run error.

Do you comprehend how badly you have to misplay a ball for it to be a THREE-run error? You have to bounce it off Jose Canseco’s head. You have to have a fielder struck by a meteorite. You have to have a player eaten by wolves.

Or perhaps I would tell the story of the game-losing bunt single, given up by our titular closer, who was then skewered for claiming that bunting was somehow a bush-league way to win a game. (I would know: I was the one skewering him.)

Or perhaps I would tell the story of our third baseman breaking our shortstop’s arm ... or the story of our left-handed relief ace who went through a stretch of 7 games in which he faced 27 hitters and got 7 of them out ... I would tell a lot of stories.

Stories of Epic Fail.

And yet, I would, in fact, tell them. Because that is what we do. We are Cleveland Indians fans.

--- snip ---

What’s Working?

What is working? No one has scurvy. No one has accidentally electrocuted himself with a toaster in the bathtub. No animals were harmed in the making of this baseball team. Past that, the answer is, "Not much."

More seriously, as of early June, the Indians had two position players who could reasonably start for the majority of teams in major-league baseball. Choo has built on his breakout season of 2009 to be the Tribe’s most consistent offensive performer, and one of the better defensive right fielders in the game. Choo leads the team in most offensive categories, including homers, OBP, hits, and RBI, and his speed is evidenced by his 10:2 SB:CS ratio. Kearns may go on record as being the best non-roster invitee of 2010, posting a fine .297/.385/.492 line through June 13th with 7 homers.

--- snip ---

Trade targets (contributed by bloggers from all teams):

Bronson Arroyo (SP)
Cincinnati Reds

Before the season, most Reds fans assumed that Arroyo and Aaron Harang would be former Reds by the July trade deadline. Then the unexpected happened: the Reds turned into surprising first-half contenders, and all of a sudden, an innings-eater like Arroyo became more valuable to the team.

This is the final season of Arroyo’s contract, however, with the Reds holding a team option for 2011. If the Reds fade from the pennant race and they determine that they won’t be exercising that option, Arroyo becomes a valuable trade chip.

Jeff Baker (2B)
Chicago Cubs

Baker is a guy that can provide depth off the bench for a team in contention. He’s not going to be a difference-maker that will cause the fans of the team that acquires him to get their panties in a bunch with excitement because, well, he’s not that good. What he can do is play multiple infield positions at an acceptable quality and get the occasional hit. He’ll be available given the Cubs depth at second with Theriot, Fontenot and Baker all sharing time. If you need an unspectacula low-cost infielder, come and get him. He’s all yours.

Brian Bannister (SP)
Kansas City Royals

Bannister would be an attractive target for a team seeking starting pitching depth, due to the fact he’s still a couple years away from free agency. He’s strictly a back-end of the rotation pitcher, so he would be a fit for just about any team down the stretch, particularly the Rangers, Reds, Cardinals or Dodgers. Short-term, a Bannister trade is unlikely because the Royals lack pitching depth in the minors to replace a departed starter.

Jason Bartlett (SS)
Tampa Bay Rays

Coming off of a phenomenal season, some regression to the mean was expected for Bartlett. He has been kind enough to put up a sub-.300 wOBA while flashing less than average range at short. He will be entering his final year of arbitration next season and the Rays have a younger, less expensive player ready to take over in Reid Brignac. Bartlett could be expected to provide better numbers at the plate as he’s due to regress from the abysmal start, while providing leadership to younger players.

The Primer has major-league players who could be traded, minor-league prospects who might make a contribution, and includes essays from each of the 29 other teams, including a second essay about each of our A.L. Central rivals about their approach to the Trade Deadline.  I really think this is a good work, and thank Nick, Seth, John, and everyone else at TwinsCentric for putting it together.

I think it was well worth the effort, and as such, the end product is well worth the $9.95 investment.  Happy Trade Deadline, everyone!

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