Monthly Archives: July 2012

If I Were Rays GM: James Shields Version

I’ll start by reporting that mlbtraderumors.com is reporting that Joel Sherman of the New York Post is reporting that the Tampa Bay Rays are drawing “lots of interest” in James Shields, Jeremy Hellickson and Wade Davis, and that “The Rays are hoping demand for Shields spikes once Zack Greinke gets traded. It’s conceivable that a bidding war could emerge between the Angels and Rangers.”

Shields should be one of the most sought-after players in the trade market, if he is indeed available. At his worst, he is a league-average 2.0-WAR starter. At his best he is a 5.0-WAR starter among the games better number twos. He is a better pitcher than Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza, and unlike both of them and Greinke, Shields is under control for two more seasons, with his current deal including a $9 million option for 2013 and a $12 million option for 2014. If Garza is worth Zach Lee to the Dodgers, Shields should fetch far more than Zach Lee. If having Dempster for two months was worth Randall Delgado to the Braves, Atlanta should value Shields at Delgado plus two more prospects or young cost-controlled players already in MLB.

The big question, though, is: Should the Rays trade James Shields?

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If I Were The Cubs GM: The Ryan Dempster Version

First, the Cubs had a deal with the Atlanta Braves for Ryan Dempster.

Next, the deal was reportedly going to include Randall Delgado.

So far, so good for the teams involved. The Braves get a rental who will help a great deal in a year they think they’re primed for the playoffs. The Cubs are in full-0n rebuild mode, and they get a right-handed starting pitcher who is a likely future number three in their rotation.

Then Ryan Dempster spoke up on Twitter, and invoked his 10-and-5 rights. Since Dempster has been in the league ten years, and on the same team for five, he can veto any trade, and he did not give his approval to this one. Dempster doesn’t want to go to Atlanta, per reports, he wants to go to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Ok. So. Now what, if you’re Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer?

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The Trade Market For Five Starting Pitchers

Cole Hamels, Philadelphia

2012 to date: 2.4 fWAR, 3.40 FIP, 25% K, 6.1% BB.

Why you want him: Because you want to win this year. Because you are risk-averse and see Hamels as the best combination of excellence and reliability among all the front-end starters on the market.

What he will cost you: a major-league ready, cost-controlled stud either in the high minors or currently in MLB. Additionally, one to two more prospects, with the quantity depending on how much quality you are giving up.

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Brendan Ryan’s WAR As A Paradigm For Why To Not Always Blindly Trust Some Stats

If you looked up the most valuable shortstops to date in the 2012 season, by their FanGraphs WAR, you would not find Brendan Ryan’s name on the list. That is because Brendan Ryan has not been sent out to the plate often enough to qualify for the batting title or FanGraphs’ criteria. However, if we were to sort shortstops by WAR on FanGraphs without a qualifying number of requisite plate appearances, Brendan Ryan, and his 1.7 fWAR, would rank as the 8th most valuable shortstop in baseball.  (For the uninitiated, a 0.0 WAR, or Wins Above Replacement, indicates a replacement-level player. A minor league callup or journeyman like, say, Brooks Conrad who is freely available several times a year. 2.0 WAR is a league average player. 5.0 WAR is All-Star territory.)

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Stuff People Say On Message Boards Chapter XXIV, “Let’s Trade Our Awesome Guy While His Value Is High”

I read this on the internet today. Someone said w/r/t the St. Louis Cardinals Lance Lynn, that he should be traded because his “value could never be higher.” This person went on to say that he would “…do Lynn straight up for Hamels today…”

The Cardinals are in a pennant race, or will be in the second half.  They have probably a 50/50 shot at making the playoffs. They’re trailing Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, so more like 65/35. Lance Lynn is their second-best pitcher. Beyond that, Lance Lynn has 1.5 more years at the rookie minimum salary and then three years of arbitration, and Cole Hamels is in the last year of a contract and about to cost a truckload of money.

The idea then. Trade a really good pitcher who is cost-controlled for four more years. For a guy who would be your second-best pitcher and is just marginally better than the guy you already have, but who leaves in three months. And you’re doing this because the one you’re giving up is valuable enough to net you the latter.

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Why Is My Staff Ace Hurt?

I wrote somewhat jokingly recently about Chris Carpenter’s injury and Tony LaRussa’s overuse of Carpenter in 2011, and how that overuse–running Carpenter through several very high pitch-count outings–contributed to Carpenter’s injury this year. Carpenter now is shelved for the season, and will have a surgery that sounds incredibly complicated in which Carpenter will have a rib removed so the nerves in his upper back, neck and shoulder will calm down and possibly let him earn several million dollars to pitch poorly next season.

Also, Dan Haren is now on the DL for the first time in his career. No kidding. After seven consecutive seasons of pitching over 200 innings, Dan Haren is on the DL for the first time.

CC Sabathia is on the DL too. For only the third time in his career, and the first time since 2006. After 5 straight seasons of pitching at least 230 innings, and 11 straight seasons of at least 180.

If only there were a way to predict which pitchers are going to get injured. If only there were a way to….oh wait. There is.

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