Trade Deadline 2009 — Part 1

The trade deadline is a stressful time for team executives, players and fans alike.  Some deadline deals turn out to be the difference between playing October baseball or enjoying some autumn golf.  C.C. Sabathia to the Brewers last July got them to the post-season for the first time since 1982, while Bartolo Colon to the Montreal Expos for Cliff Lee, Grady Sizemore, and Brandon Phillips worked out a lot better for the selling team, the Cleveland Indians.  This year there were 22 deals in the week leading up to deadline day.  This entry will deal with the first 8.

I meant to do this on the day of the deadline, but I was out of town so I shall do it now.  I’ll breakdown each deadline deal and assign a letter grade to each side.

July 22

To Boston: Grade: C+
adamlaroche.jpg1B Adam LaRoche

To Pittsburgh: Grade: B+
INF Argenis Diaz
RHP Hunter Strickland

The Red Sox basically ended up getting Casey Kotchman from the Braves for Diaz and Strickland.  LaRoche played a total of 6 games with the BoSox but I still give this trade a C+ for Boston simply because of Kotchman.  As for the Pirates, this seems like a win-win.  LaRoche makes $7.05M this year and is eligible for free agency come November.  He also wasn’t anything close to the player he was in ’06 when he clubbed 32 HR and had a .561 SLG which was good enough for 7th in the NL.  As for Diaz, he’s a middle infielder who signed with the Red Sox in 2003 as a non-drafted free agent and has had his troubles in the field.  He has a plus arm but terrible hands.  He’s also only a .269 hitter in the minors.  Strickland, an 18th Round pick by the Red Sox in 2007 is 11-9 with a 3.54 ERA mostly as a reliever.  I think unloading half of LaRoche’s salary for some young talent is always a good thing if you have no intention of contending.

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To Boston: Grade: B
OF Chris Duncan

To St. Louis: Grade: B
SS Julio Lugo

Each team got something they wanted in this deal.  A stiff they no longer wanted or needed is gone.  The problem is, they both got a stiff back in return.  St. Louis may get the slightly better deal only because Lugo is actually playing for them.  Duncan was sent to AAA-Pawtucket by the Sox right after the deal.

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July 24th

To St. Louis: Grade: B-matt-holliday-photo.jpg
OF Matt Holliday

To Oakland: Grade: A
3B Brett Wallace
RHP Clayton Mortensen
OF Shane Peterson

If you thought the A’s were only acquiring Holliday in the off-season to trade him later; you were right.  The A’s probably thought he would up his worth and they would sell him for more than they bought him for; sort of like flipping a house, except with and an outfielder.  Holliday isn’t having a terrific year, but Billy Beane managed to get quite a bit in return for him.  Wallace was the 13th overall pick in the ’08 draft and has a potent bat, but his 6’1″ 245-lbs frame might land him at First or DH once he breaks into the majors.  Mortensen is another former 1st round draft pick of the Cards (26th overall in ’07) who has yet to find his groove in the minors with a 4.21 ERA between all levels.  In two starts with the A’s AAA affiliate, however, he has a 1.64 ERA.  Peterson was drafted in the 2nd Round of the ’08 draft and can play all three outfield positions and first.  The A’s are impressed by his advanced approach at the plate.  I think in the long-run, as usual, the A’s will win this deal.  The players they got in return for someone they were going to lose at the end of the season anyway are well worth the wait for A’s fans.
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July 27

To San Francisco: Grade: C+
1B Ryan Garko

To Cleveland: Grade: B
LHP Scott Barnes

Garko is a decent hitter who doesn’t have enough power for First and is below-average defensively.  The Indians are trying to re-build and he clearly was not in their plans.  San Fran needs anyone who can hit the ball, and in cavernous AT&T Park, power isn’t quite as important as it is in another, smaller park.  As for Barnes, he was drafted in the 8th Round of the ’08 draft but has been solid in A-ball over the past season and a half, compiling a 15-6 record with a 2.62 ERA.  Barnes isn’t likely to be an impact player at the major league level for a few years, but could end up being a decent 4th or 5th starter someday.  He’s also a lefty, which raises his value even more.
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July 28th

To Chicago (AL): Grade: B
OF/1B Mark Kotsay

To Boston: Grade: C+
OF Brian Anderson

Mark Kotsay seems to get traded 4 times every year.  Well, actually, he’s been traded 5 times in his career and three times in the past two seasons.  With the acquisition of LaRoche/Kotchman, the Red Sox had no room for Kotsay so they sent him to Chicago where he might be of some use in an AL Central pennant race as a fourth outfielder and spare first baseman.  As for Anderson, he was once one of the top prospects in the White Sox system, so why not take a flyer on a player who’s never lived up to his potential?
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To Oakland: Grade: D
scott-hairston-jc-424.jpgUTIL Scott Hairston

To San Diego: Grade: A
RHP Sean Gallagher
RHP Craig Italiano
RHP Ryan Webb

Once a part of the Rich Harden trade, Gallagher is a former 12th Round pick of the Cubs.  He’s far exceeded his draft position already, but he may be falling down to earth again.  This must be why the A’s have packaged him in a deal with two other minor league pitchers for journeyman utilty-man Scott Hairston.  This is a strange deal for the prospect-oriented A’s who acquire the 29-year-old in his contract year when they aren’t contending.  Add on top of that that they gave up some significant talent to get him, and I can’t quite figure this one out.  Italiano was a 2nd Round pick of the A’s in 2005, and Webb is hoping to turn around his career after a standout 2004 made him a popular sleeper pick to make an impact at the major league level in 2005.  He was drafted out of high school so he’s still only 23.
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July 29th

To Cincinnati: Grade: B
OF Wladimir Balentien

To Seattle: Grade: B-
RHP Robert Manuel

This a probably going to end up being a fairly inconsequential deal.  Balentien was once highly regarded in Seattle’s system but his stock has fallen since he’s played major league ball where he’s hit only .207.  Manuel was an undrafted signi
ng of the Mets in 2003 and is 26.  The Mariners will be his third organization.  He only made his debut this year and is likely at best a journeyman middle-reliever.
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To Seattle: Grade: C-
jeffclement1.jpgRHP Ian Snell
SS Jack Wilson

To Pittsburgh: Grade: A
C/1B Jeff Clement
INF Ronny Cedeno
RHP Nathan Adcock
RHP Aaron Pribanic
RHP Brett Lorin

Pittsburgh is clearing house again…because they SUCK.  But they may have pulled the two best deals of the week, one being this one, the other, the Freddy Sanchez deal (more on that later).  Pittsburgh parted ways with a pitcher (Snell) who has talent but badly needs a change of scenery.  He has yet to pitch to his full capabilities and it was wise of the Pirates to deal him before it gets worse (which it probably will).  Jack Wilson is a fine fielder at Short, but his bat has lost what little bite it used to have.  The Mariners appear set on picking up his $8.4M option for 2010 which is strange considering his very limited offensive potential on a team that already has trouble scoring runs.  As for the Bucs, they receive a former 3rd overall pick in Clement who has been blocked by a lot of catchers in the M’s system and a breakout year from Rob Johnson.  Clement is so bad defensively behind the plate that First seems like a more realistic option.  His bat has a nearly unlimited ceiling if he can ever figure out major league breaking-balls.  Pittsburgh is Cedeno’s 3rd organization after originally being signed by the Cubs and is another player who has yet to live up to lofty potential.  And oh yeah, The Pirates also got three prospect pitchers as well.  This one will end up being a trade Seattle will want back.

The other 14 trades will be reviewed over the next few days.

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