Hot stove round table: Part 4by Bryan Tsao
December 17, 2007
A's trade Dan Haren and Connor Robertson to the Diamondbacks for Carlos Gonzalez, Brett Anderson, Chris Carter, Aaron Cunningham, Greg Smith, Dana Eveland
Geoff Young: This seems to help both teams. The A's have followed a similar path before, with Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder, and Barry Zito, so it should come as no surprise that they would move Haren. Of the guys they're getting in return, I like Gonzalez the best, although Carter and Eveland could turn into something. I expect the NL West to remain one of the most competitive divisions in baseball, with Arizona probably the early favorites.
Chris Constancio: In my opinion, this package of prospects is comparable to the rumored offers for Santana. You can also make a case that overall the package of prospects is comparable to what the Marlins got for Cabrera and Willis, though Arizona didn't send anyone with the upside of Andrew Miller.
Carlos Gonzalez is a top tier prospect. Scouts and coaches have questioned his focus and attitude on the field for some time now, but the 21-year-old is an athletic outfielder with above-average power potential. Brett Anderson is now Oakland's best pitching prospect. At only 19 years old, Anderson cruised through the Midwest League and California League, posting an above-average strikeout rate, walk rate, and groundball rate at both stops. He isn't particularly athletic and doesn't throw hard, so he might get labeled as a mid-rotation "finesse" pitcher by the time he gets to the major leagues. His performance has been special, however.
Eveland and Smith, both left-handed pitchers, profile as more average pitchers who could help the A's right away. Eveland is only a year removed from being one of the most effective pitchers in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League.
Carter, a first baseman, and Cunningham, an outfielder, are both a few years away but greatly improve the organization's depth among position players. Cunningham was one of my choices for a breakout season in 2007, and he didn't disappoint as the 21-year-old demonstrated a well-rounded offensive skills in the Carolina League and Southern League this year. Although he probably won't be a star, I think only a freak injury could stop his ascent to the major leagues as a good fourth outfielder or better.
Carter is limited to a future at first base or as a designated hitter but his upside is considerable. If you thought his 25 home runs 2007 were impressive, wait until you see what he does when he's another year older, leaves his pitcher-friendly home ballpark, and heads to the California League next year!
Although Arizona gives up a lot of prospects, they already have a solid core of young talent and now have a good and affordable No. 2 starter for their rotation. Oakland avoids adding talent to a competitor in the American League and their farm system suddenly looks above average. It's a deal that works well for both teams, in my opinion.
John Beamer: The trade that the Yankees dared not make. Any time you make a six to two swap you're going to come out with something. The A's farm system isn't what it used to be, with few stellar prospects in the ranks. Beane figured that with the Angels strengthening, the odds are on a few fallow years for his Oakland team. Rather than doing a Houston and trying to contend when they probably can't, Oakland has entered rebuilding mode.
Haren is getting $16 million over the next three years and is worth probably $18-20 million in the free agent market. That is a big surplus in value that the A's have given away. Carter and Cunningham are the linchpins of the deal from Oakland's perspective and they both project well. Evaluating minor league talent is not easy but these guys do have the potential to be stars. Oakland is thinking about its new park and this trade increases the odd of contending then
This trade vastly improves the Diamondbacks. With Haren and Webb the Snakes have the best pitching in the National League. Are they favorites for the NL West? Probably. Not only do they have a great rotation but their crop of youngsters have one more year of experience under their belt. However, let's not get too giddy. Although there is some evidence to suggest that teams can outpeform their pythag record it is unlikley to be that big an effect (perhaps a couple of games). Don't underestimate how lucky the Snakes were in 2007 to play in the post season. They are a much better team with the addition of Haren and will be on the playoff bubble. 2008 will be exciting in the West.
Chris Jaffe: About 20 years ago, the Mets won 90 games despite being outscored by around 20 runs. However, they had a very young team, a well-respected manager, and in the offseason made a big splash by nabbing Gary Carter. Instead of falling back, they remained one of the best teams in the league for several years.
I think history is repeating itself. There's a lot of of-season left, so I can't say with any confidence who is the team to beat, but right now they're my provisional favorite to win the NL West. And with a rotation fronted by Brandon Webb and Haren, they should be damn tough to take down in the postseason. Expect Arizona to win their third pennant in the next two years.
Dave Studeman: Baseball fans might want to read the latest Baseball By the Numbers from Phil Birnbaum and SABR. Bill James has an article in there exactly about how teams that beat their Pythagorean projection did the next season. It confirms what you're saying.
Bryan Tsao: As an A's fan, I love Haren as a pitcher, but I'm beginning to think that the A's managed to sell high on him. While that may or may not mean that they got sufficient value for him, Haren has always been a streaky pitcher. He seemed to put it together better last year, but there's not much in his performance record to indicate that he will be able to replicate his stellar performance going forward. A reasonable expectation would be something between the 3.07 ERA he put up last season and his 4.31 career ERA.
I'm sure that Haren will be great for the Diamondbacks, with some otherworldly stretches when the splitter is diving well, but he will likely go through a few rough patches when he starts leaving it up in the zone. I just hope that the Diamondbacks and their fans aren't disappointed if the Haren they get is last season's Haren, and value him for very good pitcher that he is.
Also, the fact that different people are touting different prospects that the A's got is very promising to me. I think Beane did a great job of getting a return on Haren. We got over Mark Mulder and Tim Hudson, and hopefully some day Gonzalez or Anderson or Carter will be helping us get over Haren.
Diamondbacks trade Alberto Callapso to the Royals for Billy Buckner
Chris Constancio: Looks like a small trade, but I think this represents a solid incremental improvement for the Royals. Buckner has some upside but probably won't be more than a fifth starter for any competitive team. Callaspo is an exceptional contact hitter, and he has complemented those skills with above-average plate discipline since leaving the Angels organization. In other words, he could be a Dustin Pedroia-like hitter with the versatility to play any infield position. I think Callaspo will be the Royals' starting second baseman by July.
The caveat here is that Callaspo has some history of domestic violence. I won't pretend to know how serious this is and whether or not it will lead to distractions in the future.
Twins sign Adam Everett to a one-year, $2.8 million deal.
Dave Studeman: The Adam Everett saga is incredible to me. One of the biggest advances sabermetrics has made in recent years is in the area of fielding, yet the Astros showed no appreciation for Everett's brilliance in the field and what it's worth. And the low salary he received from the Twins show that other teams don't get it, either.
Our old friend Aaron Gleeman has a fine article on the subject and I won't try to replicate his logic and numbers here. But I'd rather have Everett than David Eckstein, despite his weaker bat, and I'd be willing to pay millions more for the privilege. If I had millions to spend...
I guess there are two questions about Everett. 1) Is he merely a great-fielding shortstop, but not quite Gold Glove worthy (as many seem to feel) or is he the greatest fielding shortstop since Ozzie Smith? Most people who have looked at the numbers would vote for the latter. 2) Will his broken leg seriously impact his future? I'm not aware that he looked any worse after his return.
I feel bad for Kenny Williams. Imagine having traded Jon Garland for Orlando Cabrera, when you could have had Adam Everett (probably only somewhat worse than Cabrera including both fielding and offense) for a major league pittance.
Lisa Gray: Adam Everett is the greatest fielding shortstop since Ozzie Smith. period.
I personally think that Ed Wade and Tal Smith decided to get rid of every single player they could from last year's team other than Hunter Pence and guys with no-trade clauses. But I can tell you that too many fans decided that Everett's bat in the No. 8 hole was responsible for the losing, and seeing as how No. 8 hitters should hit like A-rod, well, they had a point—thing is, just about no one thinks that saving runs is worth anything
As for his broken leg, well, we'll have to see. It took three times as long to heal as they first said, but he didn't look different the few times I saw him in September.
Chris Jaffe: He'll be 31 on opening day, so even aside from his leg, he should be expected to slow up some on defense.
As our resident Astros expert, Lisa's opinions on how he looked should taken seriously. I have one problem with reading too much into it though: he only played in three games after his injury, and was a late inning defensive replacement in one of them. In 21 innings, he touched the ball eight times: once when Ausmus threw to second to nab a stolen base attempt; once on a 6-4 force, another time he was the pivot man on a double play, four times the classic ground out to short, and Jeff Francoeur hit an infield single to short.
I think he's a great gamble, but his leg makes him a bit of a gamble.
The weird part is that the Twins only have one real groundball pitcher on their starting staff, Carlos Silva, and there's been talk of him leaving Minnesota all offseason.
Blue Jays sign David Eckstein to a one-year, $4.5 million deal.
Geoff Young: Can the Jays make noise? Yes. Will it be a useful noise? Probably not. Eckstein is a solid shortstop, but he's not a serious difference maker and right now, the Jays need one of those if they're to put up a fight in the AL East. That lineup just has too many question marks for my taste.
Diamondbacks trade Jose Valverde to the Astros for Chad Qualls, Chris Burke and Juan Gutierrez
Geoff Young: The Astros are a puzzle to me. It looks like Ed Wade and company are trying to leverage the NL Central's general weakness into a division title. I'm not sure they have the guns to justify moving this aggressively this soon, but I guess they figure since there's no real dominant team in the division, they might as well go for it. We'll see how it works for them. Valverde is a solid reliever and a name brand. Still, I'm not sure that a "proven closer" should be Houston's top priority right now.
Bryan Tsao is the editor of The Hardball Times website. He welcomes comments, questions, and suggestions for both himself and the site via email.