Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Trading the Future

I was flipping through my 2012 Red Sox Media Guide yesterday. (I do that sometimes just to see what interesting things I didn’t notice before.) I like to look at the transactions section for each player. It’s interesting to look back and see what deals a player might have been involved in earlier in his career before he became a Red Sox. I noticed that Matt Albers was involved in a trade for Miguel Tejada. Albers, Mike Costanzo, Troy Patton, Dennis Sarfate, and Luke Scott went to Baltimore in exchange for Tejada five years ago. I chuckled as I saw the list of names. Even though Tejada wasn’t exactly an MVP in Houston, I didn’t see anyone on that list of names that would make me think Houston regretted the deal. It was a five for one, and I still think Houston would do it again if they had the chance.

That’s always been my argument when I hear people who want to hold onto the future. Why? How many times does a team really regret doing that? I always think about trading Pavano and Armas for Pedro. Or, Hanley Ramirez and Anibal Sanchez for Beckett. Even when the youngsters turned out to be solid players (or in Ramirez’s case, MVP caliber) I don’t regret giving them up. But, maybe I was only remembering the good deals. So, I decided to flip through the media guide, and see what deals were listed. Were there any “prospects for star” deals that I think the teams regretted giving up the prospects?

I found eleven deals I felt were in that category. I didn’t count minor transactions. So and so plus a PTBNL for a middling guy. I was looking for obvious cases of selling the farm for a “star.” Did any of the teams regret giving up the prospects? Again, this certainly isn’t every deal ever made. But, I figured it was a good random sample from a random cross section of teams.

In November 2003, the Phillies acquired Billy Wagner. To do so, they gave up Brandon Duckworth, Taylor Buchholz, and Ezequiel Astacio. I’m not a Phillies fan, but I think that ten years later, they’d make that deal again in a heartbeat. I don’t see a name on that list that I wouldn’t give up for Wagner.

The Phillies were involved in the other side of a deal when they traded away Curt Schilling at the 2000 deadline. In return, the Diamondbacks sent them Vicente Padilla, Omar Daal, Nelson Figuera, and Travis Lee. Of course, the D-Backs went on to win the World Series the next year. I don’t imagine that anyone in Arizona regrets giving up on the youngsters.

Nor, I imagine, do they regret trading for Randy Johnson almost seven years later. To get the Big Unit from NY, they had to part with Ross Ohlendorf, Albert Gonzalez, Stephen Jackson, and Luis Vizcaino. I suspect they’d do that again in a heartbeat.

Ohlendorf didn’t stay with the Yankees long. He was packaged with Jeff Karstens, Daniel McCutchen, and Jose Tabata for Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte at the 2008 Deadline. Do Yankees fans regret this? Maybe. They Yanks didn’t get much from their ends. But, it’s not like the McCutchen they gave up as Andrew. Probably a wash.

You want a slam-dunk trade? Andrew miller was packaged in a deal from Detroit along with Cameron Maybin, Eulogio De La Cruz, Burke Badenhop, Dallas Trahern, and Mike Rabello. In return, the Tigers got Dontrelle Willis and Miguel Cabrera. Anyone in Detroit regret getting the reigning Triple Crown winner?

A deal that’s probably too soon to analyze is the one the Sox did a couple Decembers ago. They send Josh Reddick, Raul Alcantara, and Miles Head to the A’s for Jeff Bailey and Mike Sweeney. Early returns aren’t great for the Sox. Reddick played out of his mind, while Bailey was injured. Doesn’t look like a great move at the moment, but I’m not willing to say that yet.

One trade that I don’t know what to make of is when the Braves acquired Mark Teixeira and Ron Mahay from the Rangers at the 2007 Deadline. They had to give up Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Elvis Andrews, Neftali Feliz, Matt Harrison, and Beau Jones. Andrews and Feliz would go on to become key members of the Rangers World Series teams. Teixeira would lead his new team to a ring too. Unfortunately for Braves fans, it was when he joined the Yankees. So, I think the Braves fans may regret this one.

Then we come to Adrian Gonzalez. He has four such trades on his resume.

In 2003 the Marlins included him in a package with Will Smith and Ryan Snare in order to get Ugueth Urbina from Texas at the 2003 deadline. The quick answer is that Marlins fans would be fine with this since the fish won the World Series that season. Plus, there has to be a reason you would dump your number one overall pick from 2000 just three years later. But, I’m guessing that the Marlins would like Gonzalez back. (Assuming they would have kept him.)

Three years later, Gonzalez was shipped off to San Diego along with Chris Young and Termel Sledge. In return, the Rangers got Adam Eaton, Akinori Otsuka, and Billy Killan. Looks like a bad move. But, the Rangers needed pitching…and still had Teixeira at first.

I’m going to count the two moves involving Boston as too close to call. At the very least, almost a wash. In reality, the Sox gave up a few prospects, and ended up with a few prospects. We’ll see how that all turns out. Does Anthony Rizzo make the Hall of Fame? Can Pedro turn De La Rosa into a Cy Young candidate? Only time will tell.

What’s my point? Do I need a point? It’s this. I found eleven “prospects for star” in my random sample. Three of them are too soon to really evaluate. Of the other four, I think that four are no question good trades for the team giving up the prospects. That’s half. The other four? The Marlins trading away Gonzalez is probably a good move, under the circumstances. The SD/TEX Gonzalez and Nady trades might be a wash. Only the Braves haul to get Teixeira was clearly regrettable. That’s one. Out of eight. And, some might still say that at the time it was worth the risk.

So, the point? Why do the Sox feel the need to hold onto their prospects like they’re solid gold? Only once in this sample was it a bad deal to dump prospects. No, obviously, I don’t mean you dump them whenever you can. But, to get a star for prospects should be a easy call.

Imagine what the Sox could get for Bogaerts and Bradley.

1 comment:

  1. There are some other trades that support keeping prospects. What about Colon and Tim Drew for Cliff Lee, Grady Sizemore, Brandon Phillips and Lee Stevens? Colon was washed up and Cleveland got 3 all star caliber players. Think the Expos regretted that one? I do. Or what about Heathcliff Slocumb for Tek and Lowe? Landing great young players in a trade is difficult to do, which is probably why it's extra sweet when it hits. Why didn't Pedro get traded to the Yankees? Because they traded Armas Jr to the Sox for a veteran the before and that is who Montreal really wanted for Pedro.


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