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December 4, 2007

Transaction Analysis Special

Minor Exchanges

by Christina Kahrl

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The White Sox send 1B-R Chris Carter to the D'backs for OF-R Carlos Quentin: An interesting exchange, but one I think the Snakes will get the better of. Quentin's health-related setbacks aside, his power potential still strikes me as another example of park-generated hype from within Arizona's bandbox-laden farm system, and corner outfielders with only modest pop aren't great prospects. He'll be one of the guys fighting for playing time in left field in spring training. If he beats out guys like Brian Anderson and Ryan Sweeney, that's not necessarily a reflection of real value; Quentin might be able to particularly exploit the Cell's nearby corner in left, but it's more likely that his value will come from his combination of Bayloresque peltability at the plate (his minor league HBP totals are nothing short of alarming) and his willingness to work the count and take a decent number of walks. He might not be Ozzie Guillen's kind of of guy at the top of the order, but if Quentin can deliver on that element of his ability, he'd help fix that one problem for the Sox.

For the Snakes, this might represent the third nice pickup from an otherwise generally poorly-stocked Sox system. Between Chris B. Young, Aaron Cunningham, and now Carter, it looks like if the White Sox have a position player prospect, he winds up with Arizona. Add in the potential confusion of the Snakes first one and now the other first base prospect named Chris Carter, and it's king of amusing. Credit GM Josh Byrnes for trading up Carter-wise. Carter is only about to turn 21 having already gotten his full-season debut under his belt, and his power projects into the thirties in the major leagues. Kevin Goldstein did a nifty write-up of his virtues in the White Sox Top 11 Prospects, and if he's not much of a first baseman, that hasn't been a problem for the organization when employing either their original Chris Carter (now a Red Sock), or Conor Jackson in the majors.

The Yankees send RHP Tyler Clippard to the Nats for RHP Jonathan Albaladejo: I like this deal for Washington, because it's a nice low-stakes pickup for the Nats that involves adding a command/control right-hander who might be able to stick as the fourth or fifth starter. As unlikely as it might be that Clippard ever morphs into something more than that, it beats taking another spin with the Simontacchis of the world. If he doesn't pan out, it only cost them a minor league journeyman reliever with a pretty good slider. While Albaladejo is good enough to stick in the back end of somebody's bullpen for some stretch of time, it seems hard to suggest the Yankees would be one of those teams. If they do, more power to them, it's a good application of resources; with the amount of young starting pitching talent coming up in-house, there was no chance that Clippard had a future doing anything more than toil in Triple-A as an organizational soldier.

The Rays send OF-S Elijah Dukes to the Nats for LHP Glenn Gibson: A very interesting exchange, one in which the obvious risk involved with employing Dukes will draw the usual observations. Me, I think it makes perfect sense to see if Dukes can get his life sorted out and possibly realize his talent playing in a predominantly African-American city with a new start; I'll talk about that element of the story a bit more later in the day when I review last week's big National League moves, but right now, this seems like a nice match of player and organization, complete with manager Manny Acta's endorsement. Sorting out whether Lastings Milledge plays center or Dukes does, and who plays right, the loser or Wily Mo Pena, and then how to employ the three of them and Austin Kearns... all in all, it makes for an interesting collection of talent and opportunity. If Milledge can't play center, if Dukes stays in trouble, if Pena can't handle off-speed stuff, they have the depth to at least present an outfield that should no longer depend on more improbable experiments, like Alex Escobar, or merely getting by with Nook Logan.

The Rays may have given up on Dukes, but they didn't give him away. Gibson's an outstanding young talent, a lefty with a plus curve, standard southpaw velocity, and good command. He dominated the New York-Penn League before his 20th birthday, and gets good marks for his aptitude, perhaps from having picked up a few tricks of the trade from his old man, former Tigers lefty Paul Gibson. He should be heading into a full-season debut next spring, and while the organization is already chock-a-block with pitching talent, there's a certain amount of wastage in pitching prospects; as with Jell-O, there's always a little extra room, and it's a long way between Low-A and the majors. The Nats may realize immediate benefits, but the Rays get a spot on their 40-man and Gibson's long-term upside.

The Pirates claim INF-R Josh Wilson off of waivers from the Rays, and RHP Ty Taubenheim from the Blue Jays, and designate 1B-R Brad Eldred and RHP Brian Rogers for assignment: Hardly earth-shattering, but consider this an official organizational surrender on Eldred, and an expression of disinterest in seeing whether or not he'll grow up to surpass or only mimic the legendary Joey Meyer when it comes to feats of strength. Wilson's a perfectly adequate utility infielder who will cost them less than Cesar Izturis would have, and provides that bit of tactical surprise that goes with having a seemingly limitless number of "J. Wilson" infielders to overwhelm the opposition with in a flurry of double-switch magic. A simply better team would be nicer, but a utility infielder with sock is a place to start. Taubenheim might be able to stick around as a nice enough utility pitcher, sort of like John Wasdin, only less famously so.

Christina Kahrl is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Christina's other articles. You can contact Christina by clicking here

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