Sunday, January 29, 2006

Trade recap

I know that some of you are expecting a Mike Piazza post tonight. I have to be honest with you, I'm not sure I feel quite the same urge for a tribute as some of you seem to. This has nothing to do with the (very great) degree to which I think all Mets fans should honor Mike. It has everything to do with the fact that Mike Piazza's contractual ties to the Mets were officially broken two months ago, and he really isn't any further away from being a Met today than he was the day after they declined to offer him arbitration. That said, I don't want to disappoint, there is something about him signing with another team that makes it feel more official, and, since I wasn't blogging when the Mets officially parted ways with him, I still owe a blog in tribute anyway.

However, I'm going to hold it until tomorrow. I got in late tonight and want to give it a little more thought. Since the signing will become official tomorrow, that's probably better anyway. Also, I still haven't talked about the weekend trades, so let's do that tonight.

First up, the Phillies send Jason Michaels to the Indians for Arthur Rhodes. Good trade for the Phillies. Michaels was a spare part in the OF, and you have to trade a 4th OF for a reliever. Rhodes is coming off a very strong year, but he missed most of the last two months due to injury and personal family reasons. The Phillies had him undergo an insane number of MRIs and seem sold on his health. (I remember Tim McCarver arguing on more than one occasion that we should call it RsBI, since it's runS batted in. He probably has a point. But he probably wouldn't say this for the plural of MRI, since MsRI wouldn't make sense. Anyway...) Yeah, the Phillies are, should we say, a tad on the elderly side in the back end of the bullpen now. But go with and hope it holds. I have my doubts that at the end of '07, when Rhodes' contract expires, these two are going to be a lights out tandem for the Phillies. But with the way baseball is today, and the Phillies in contention right now, you cross that bridge when you come to it. Michaels was the right price.

Cleveland gets Michaels to trade Coco Crisp, David Riske, and Josh Bard to the Red Sox for Andy Marte, Guillermo Mota, Kelly Shoppach, and a player to be named. There is no word on the ptbn, but it is not prospect Manny Delcarmen, whom the Tribe had hoped to get.

This is an interesting trade. Partly because it has a vague ring of a roto trade, with such an even swap of positions. Like this whole catcher component just seems like what you do when you say, "yeah, we could make this deal as is, but let's make it a blockbuster - wanna trade our catchers too?"

Anyway, I like Crisp; I think he's a nice player. Good for 15-15 or even 20-20, plays hard, fairly young. But Michaels is a respectable replacement. His numbers from '05 project out to 10 homers, 60 ribbies, and 8 steals. This is far from eye popping from a corner OF, but neither are Crisp's numbers. And Michaels knows how to get on, compiling a .399 OBP in his 289 abs. He also had good solid numbers with runners in scoring position. Given the strong hitters that the Indians have in their lineup with Hafner, Sizemore, Martinez, and Peralta, they can carry Michael's sub-optimal power bat. Crisp to Michaels is a downgrade, yes, but I don't think a huge one.

Mota for Riske is probably also a slight downgrade, given Mota's struggles in '05. I'll still never forgive Riske for seeming to have a lock on the Indians' closers job in '04, causing me to bid on him and rely on him for saves, then accumulate a whopping one save before officially losing his job. Bastard. But he's actually been pretty good since then, as he was in '03. Mota, too, had his difficulties serving as a closer, and never really rebounded all year. But the Red Sox are contributing cash to cover Mota's salary, which makes more palatable the risk of taking him on. If he ocmes back strong he'll be just as, if not more, effective than Riske. But Mark Shapiro is risking a downgrade here if things don't break right.

Then you've got this Josh Bard for Kelly Shoppach thing, as mentioned above. Shoppach is still a "prospect," but he's about to turn 26, so that makes you wonder. And what are the Indians going to do with him, since he's blocked by Victor Martinez? But I guess the edge goes to the Indians on this.

And then you've got Andy Marte. Put all the other stuff that balances against the Indians, getting him outweighs that. A top 3B prospect is a great pickup for any team, and it's not like the Indians are so wedded to Aaron Boone for the next 5 years. Simply put, it's a terriffic acquisition, and while you don't know how prospects will turn out, this is as smart a move as any. The concern I have if I'm an Indians fan isn't the loss of Crisp for Marte, because that's well worth it. It's the risk the Indians are taking in the Rhodes and Riske for Mota change. The Indians are contending now, and with the White Sox seemingly getting better in '06, Cleveland is risking that they've gotten a bit worse. As I said, Mota could be as good as Riske, but if he blows up, that's a net loss of 2 relievers. That's a tough hit for a contending team, especially when your closer looks like he'd be more comfortable in a steel mill than a baseball mound. But: 1. Fernando Cabrera, Rafael Betancourt, and Scott Sauerbeck make up a nice bullpen themselves, and 2. Getting Marte is worth it even with the consideration that the pen might take a hit. Oh, and of course, Danny Graves and Steve Karsay will be in camp, so that's bound to be useful bullpen insurance. Because, you know, the Buffalo Bisons might need an extra arm at some point.

Good trade for the Indians. I like it a lot and am surprised to read that many in Cleveland don't. Does this mean, by extension, that the trade is a bad move for Boston? It wouldn't necessarily. But it may in this case. Marte is a top prospect. Crisp is a decent player. That's not a great exchange. The Sox had a vacancy in CF that needed to be filled, and it may be worth acquiring a player they can sell to their fans as a suitable replacement for Damon. And the Red Sox are obviously trying to win now. But if Mike Lowell falls on his face and Marte starts to emerge in Cleveland, Epstein/Hoyer/Cherington/Luchino/Yawkey/Jimmy Fund Kid/Cliff Clavin are going to regret that they didn't hold onto Marte and trade less for a player nearly comparable to Crisp. A player, like, I don't know...Jason Michaels maybe?


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