August 3, 2006
Lies, Damned Lies
Is Bigger Better?
If ESPN took a SportsNation poll on that one, the map would probably be about as monotone as the 1984 presidential election. But, as we discussed last week, a huge amount of trade deadline strategy boils down to context. Replacement value means one thing in the abstract, and another when the potential replacee is
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the trades made since last Monday, July 24. A couple of very brief methodological notes before we proceed. The numbers you see represented in the tables are the expected number of runs added or lost, based on comparing the projected MLVrs or NRAs of the ingoing and outgoing players. These projections apply a combination of pre-season PECOTA projections, and year-to-date performance--the year-to-date component receives a 50% weight when a hitter reaches 650 PA, a starting pitcher 200 IP, or a relief pitcher 80 IP. Finally, some of the players included in the trades will be part-time players for their new clubs, or will take playing time away from a variety of incumbents. Where this is the case, we indicate the playing time split with percentages in parenthesis.
Yankees Bobby Abreu replaces Bernie Williams +14.3 Craig Wilson replaces Melky Cabrera (35%), Andy Phillips (35%) +6.8 Sal Fasano replaces Kelly Stinnett (25%) +1.3 Cory Lidle replaces Shawn Chacon +6.8 Yankees Total +29.2
I wrote about the
That’s exactly what I’m reminded of here. The Yankees identified their areas of need--not that this is so difficult when you have corpses like
(I realize, by the way, that I’ve made things out to be slightly simpler than they are, since Williams will remain in the lineup from time to time. But, since Bernie, Melky Caberera and
Rangers Carlos Lee replaces Kevin Mench +5.2 Matt Stairs replaces Mark DeRosa (50%) +1.7 Kip Wells replaces John Rheinecker +4.7 Josh Rupe replaces Francisco Cordero -3.6 Rangers Total +8.0
This is a nice series of moves by the Rangers, but degrees of magnitude less important than what the Yankees did.
Dodgers Julio Lugo replaces Izturis, Martinez, Saenz and Lofton (25% each) +5.8 Greg Maddux replaces Chad Billingsley +1.2 Elmer Dessens replaces Odalis Perez +0.3 Dodgers Total +7.3
There’s been some griping that
That said, Lugo is having a bit of a
Mets Endy Chavez (50%) and Lastings Milledge (50%) replace Xavier Nady -7.5 Roberto Hernandez replaces Heath Bell -3.0 Mets Total -10.5
I’m surprised that these moves haven’t drawn more criticism. Yes,
And yes, this probably won’t cost the Mets much, since they would need an anti-miracle to miss the post-season. But I’d have played a hold strategy here, or perhaps hedged my bets a little more at second base by acquiring a Walker type. As it stands, there’s a good chance that Chavez and Milledge won’t hit, and the Mets will need to overpay for someone like
Brewers Kevin Mench repalces Carlos Lee -5.2 David Bell replaces Jeff Cirillo (40%) -0.2 Tony Graffanino replaces Corey Koskie (40%) -1.1 Francisco Cordero replaces Jorge de la Rosa +6.3 Brewers Total -0.2
I don’t know if Doug Melvin is eating too much chorizo, but this is a strange series of moves by the Brewers. I’m not sure that I can remember a team hedging its bets in this fashion at the trade deadline before. That said, “strange” doesn’t necessarily mean “bad.” Mench isn’t that big a downgrade from Carlos Lee, and will provide a respectable, arbitration-eligible bat in 2007 and 2008 while the team leverages its young talent and addresses other areas of need. Cordero is a good “buy low” guy, and comes to a team that can make good use of him--his impact could be even greater than what’s represented here if we consider that he’ll be pitching high-impact innings for a team that plays a lot of close ballgames.
Now, there was an opportunity for the NL Wild Card pretenders to step up and play hardball. The Brewers are a much better team with
Tigers Sean Casey replaces Chris Shelton (75%), Dmitri Young (25%) -0.9 Tigers Total -0.9
One thing this analysis can’t properly account for is depth. The Tigers now have a good hedge in place in the event that
Mariners Ben Broussard replaces Greg Dobbs (75%) +9.1 Mariners Total +9.1
We now get into a series of low-wattage moves that could be surprisingly impactful on the pennant races. Reuniting
Padres Todd Walker replaces Geoff Blum (50%), Mark Bellhorn (50%) +7.7 Padres Total +7.7
Similarly, the Padres do a nice job of picking up a league-average player at the position where the incumbents were costing them multiple runs off the scoreboard each week. This was a really awful move by the Cubs, by the way.
White Sox Mike Macdougal replaces Sean Tracey +6.5 Total +6.5
Kenny Williams’ inactivity at the trade deadline was out of character, and as we described last week, perhaps no team stood more to gain by trading for a big bat than the White Sox. But, picking up
Cardinals Ronnie Belliard replaces Hector Luna, Aaron Miles (50% each) +6.4 Cardinals Total +6.4
This move is out of character too, as it isn’t like Walt Jocketty to move a player like Luna who is in the midst of a career year of sorts. It’s a good move, though, as Luna was radically outperforming his PECOTA projection, and as
Reds Rheal Cormier replaces Brian Shackleford +4.8 Kyle Lohse replaces Justin Germano -0.8 Reds Total +4.0
Wayne Krivsky was the Assistant GM in Texas when the Rangers were using folks like Dale Mohorcic as their closer, which perhaps explains his strange obsession with building the bestest bullpen ever.
Rockies Jeremy Affeldt replaces Scott Dohmann +1.1 Rockies Total +1.1
We’ve saved the best for last. Just what impact will each of these moves have on the pennant races?
Team Runs Added Before After Change ---------------------------------------------------------- Yankees +29.2 75.0% 94.7% +19.7% Padres +7.7 59.0% 67.5% +8.5% Rangers +8.0 23.2% 30.2% +7.0% White Sox +6.5 33.5% 40.2% +6.7% Dodgers +7.2 14.8% 19.4% +4.6% Reds +4.0 59.8% 63.6% +3.8% Cardinals +6.4 82.9% 86.5% +3.6% Mariners +9.1 6.8% 10.1% +3.3% Rockies +1.1 12.8% 13.1% +0.3% Tigers -0.9 97.6% 97.5% -0.1% Brewers -0.1 7.0% 6.7% -0.3% Mets -10.5 99.9% 99.3% -0.6%
Unsurprisingly, the Yankees emerge as the clear winners. We’re using the PECOTA version of the playoff odds report, as of the morning of the trade deadline (July 31); by that standard, the Yankees were already in pretty good shape. Nevertheless, they’ve gone from being 1:3 favorites to reach the playoffs to a virtual lock, and have substantially strengthened their lot once they get there.
But who would have thought that the second most important move of the trade deadline cycle was the Padres’ pickup of Todd Walker? The lesson here is that it doesn’t necessarily take a move that makes headlines to have a tangible impact in August and everything after. I suspect that a lot of the teams that came up short at the trade deadline--like the two clubs that have ‘Sox’ in their name--had grandiose plans that proved impossible to execute. The Red Sox merely adding a