Trade Deadline Observations

If you have a pitcher that's a candidate to be traded - James Shields, Jeff Niemann, Erik Bedard, Hiroki Kuroda or Wandy Rodriguez, for example - things are more likely to get worse than they are to get better. That's because most of the prospective buyers are teams in hitter's parks. None of the teams with the most extreme pitcher's parks - the Mariners, Rays, A's, Padres, Mets, Dodgers or Marlins - are buying right now, and that means your pitcher is likely to wind up in Yankee Stadium, Arlington, the Great American Ballpark, Miller Field, US Cellular Field or some other place where baseballs tend to fly into the seats. The presumably better run support will help - as will not having to face that team's offense any more - but if you're a Shields owner, you'd probably rather the deadline come and go uneventfully. One notable exception might be Jeremy Guthrie of the Orioles who's pitching in the brutal AL East in a roughly neutral park. A trade to the Cardinals or even the Brewers (though their defense is abysmal) would be an upgrade.

On the other hand, things could get a lot better for B.J. Upton, David DeJesus, Coco Crisp, Ryan Ludwick, Josh Willingham or any other poor sap trapped in a cavernous, pitcher-friendly expanse.

The Rangers should deal for B.J. Upton. The Rays have already called up Desmond Jennings, and Brandon Guyer is ripening on the vine at Triple-A, so Upton would likely be available for the right price. The Rangers don't have a legitimate defensive center fielder who can hit, and Upton, who's under contract through 2012, would be an immediate offensive and defensive upgrade. Moreover, the park and lineup would likely boost Upton's stats significantly.

The Yankees should deal for Ubaldo Jimenez. It remains to be seen what it would take for the Rockies (who are built to win for 2012 and are by no means a long-term project) to part with Jimenez who's under contract through 2012 with club options through 2014. But the Yankees have $200 million invested in a club that's almost sure to make the playoffs, but woefully thin beyond C.C. Sabathia for the postseason's short series. If they have to include Dellin Betances and Manny Banuelos in addition to a mid-level player or two, they should. As a hitting prospect, Jesus Montero might be a surer thing, but even he should probably be on the table for Jimenez. (The team was willing to move him for Cliff Lee last year, and Montero's had a bad season in 2011).

After last season's .276/.361/.498 line as a 23-year old while playing plus defense in center field, Colby Rasmus should be borderline untouchable. But he's slumped badly this season and has already lost playing time to John Jay. It's hard to know how much a change of scenery would benefit Rasmus, but the talent is there, and it wouldn't be surprising if he were available at a discount given his strained relations with the team.

I hope the Giants don't trade for Carlos Beltran and clog up their outfield even further. As it stands, Aubrey Huff's contract forces them to play top prospect Brandon Belt in left field, and they've already got two center fielders (Andres Torres and ostensibly Aaron Rowand), defensive whiz Nate Schierholtz, Cody Ross and Pat Burrell. Unless Beltran could still play center (a dubious proposition given the condition of his knees), his addition would solve a problem they don't really have. On the other hand, even if Jose Reyes isn't available (as the Mets allege), getting a shortstop like the Mariners' Brendan Ryan - a defensive superstar who has hit for average in the past - would be a significant upgrade at much lower cost.


By: elsicilian
On: 7/25/2011 3:30:00 PM
Isn't Dave Dombrowski looking for an SP too? Comerica is a pretty favorable ballpark, and the lineups in the AL Central aren't ridiculously imposing either. I've got Bedard on a couple of my teams, and I am hoping he gets traded there ...
By: Chris Liss
On: 7/25/2011 3:52:00 PM
I think Comerica is pretty neutral, but yeah, the AL Central isn't bad, and he'd certainly get more run support than he has now. But it's not as good as Safeco, and the defense is worse.
By: elsicilian
On: 7/25/2011 4:37:00 PM
Ain't that the truth ... still from a fantasy perspective, I think getting traded to Detroit would be a net situational improvement for a guy like Bedard, who has pitched really well when healthy, but has been undermined by a lack of run support. Also, it's possible that any one of those guys you mentioned might reap great psychological benefits from joining a contender in the middle of a pennant race. As Yogi Berra said, baseball is 90% mental - the other half is physical.
By: Erickson
On: 7/25/2011 5:56:00 PM
Regarding Bedard, I know that they're not the same pitcher, but I can't help but remember what happened to Jarrod Washburn once he left Safeco and went to the Tigers.
By: bogfella
On: 7/25/2011 6:28:00 PM
As you suggest, Washburn was never the pitcher Bedard has been, and Bedard did it in relatively hitter friendly Baltimore prior to moving to Seattle. In watching him this year (and I have watched several times), there are many things I like better than what he displayed in his most productive season. If he moves to Detroit, and things don't pan out, I would hesitate to blame it on the move away from Safeco. Good pitchers, all things being equal, pitch well in less than ideal environments. Yes, the peripherals can vary, but overall performance is still somewhat predictable.
By: Zenguerrilla
On: 7/26/2011 8:09:00 AM
Where does Philly fall in the rank of pitchers parks this year? I am guessing it is a top ten with the good pitching and average offense? no?
By: elsicilian
On: 7/26/2011 8:22:00 AM
Washburn was also 35 years old and several years removed from anything resembling a decent season when he got traded to Detroit for the final 8 games of his career. Furthermore, although he had a pretty good first half for Seattle that year (2009), he was a notoriously poor second half player (especially in the latter stages of his career), so it's likely that his swan song would have been pretty ugly wherever it occurred.

All in all, not really a valid comparison; but Washburn's example offers a wonderful seed of doubt for untold legions of reflexively paranoid Bedard owners. So thanks for that!
By: Donald__Trump
On: 7/26/2011 11:26:00 AM
I am surprised that nobody talks about Rich Harden getting traded. I know everyone jokes about him being injury prone, but he routinely plays at least half a season, and was a good/great pitcher as recently as two years ago. He seems to be healthy and pitching well. A trade to the NL (Cards, Brewers) could make him a meaningful player in fantasy leagues. Further, he is on a one year, 1.5m contract, so money is not an object, and since he won't be a type A/B free agent, the type of prospect that is needed to land him should be pretty low.

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