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August 16, 2011

Transaction Analysis

Delmon Dealt UPDATED

by Kevin Goldstein and R.J. Anderson

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American League

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Acquired OF-R Delmon Young from Twins for LHP Cole Nelson and RHP Lester Oliveros. [8/15]

There is some intrigue with this move. On the surface, acquiring a right-handed outfielder makes a good bit of sense for the Tigers. They hold a 2 1/2-game lead over the Indians entering play on Monday, and starting left fielder Brennan Boesch is experiencing a right thumb strain that has limited him to one plate appearance in recent days. Jim Leyland has used Andy Dirks in left field in the wake of Boesch’s injury, but there is reason to believe this trade might not be about replacing Dirks.

Young appeared to be headed in the right direction with a strong showing in 2010, but his ascent towards respectability has petered out in 2011. He never developed into much of a power hitter, but his ISO now sits comfortably below .100, and that is a problem for a player who cannot field, does not walk, and has never posted a batting average over .300. Young is only 25 and has hit better since returning from the disabled list (.286/.352/.429 in 108 plate appearances), but he will qualify for free agency after the 2012 season and could be due in excess of $6 million next season.

Even with those negatives, though, Young offers some value. For instance, he fights crime alongside a mutant rat, and he hits let-handed pitching. Leyland has taken steps to limit Dirks’s exposure to lefties as 85 percent of his plate appearances have come against righties. Young, meanwhile, has historically hit lefties better than righties, posting an OPS over .800 in 2009 and 2010. That combination should be enough for Detroit to pull the plug on Magglio Ordonez as an everyday player.

Ordonez was horrible in the first half (a .217/.290/.301 slash line) and has slipped further in the second half (.235/.264/.286). PECOTA is optimistic that Ordonez could provide some offense over the rest of the season, but there is a legitimate chance he is done as a useful major leaguer, especially since he has little to offer beyond his bat. Detroit has to pay Ordonez the remainder of his $10 million salary whether he plays, is benched, or is released, so there is no disincentive to do what’s best for the team at this point. A Dirks-Young platoon isn’t the sexiest thing in high heels, but the Tigers goal is improving enough to gain entry to October. If that means writing Ordonez off as a sunk cost, then so be it.—R.J. Anderson

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Acquired LHP Cole Nelson and RHP Lester Oliveros from Tigers for OF-R Delmon Young. [8/15]

A tenth-round pick in last year's draft, Nelson created some buzz in his pro debut when he allowed just 12 hits over 27 1/3 innings while striking out 36, but he's come down to earth in his full season debut with a 4.87 ERA in the Florida State League.  He was moved to the bullpen in early July, where he has pitched much better. At 6-foot-7 and 233 pounds, Nelson is an imposing presence on the mound, and his best pitch is a low-90s fastball than can get up to 94.  It features a strong downward plane due to his height, producing plenty of ground balls. He throws a hybrid breaking ball with some bite, but the bread and butter is his fastball with movement and velocity.  With just one plus pitch, his future lies solely in the bullpen.

A 23-year-old Venezuelan, Oliveros is a short, stocky righthander with a fastball that earns high grades for both its velocity and movement, but he's yet to find another pitch that will help him succeed in the big leagues, where he struck out just four of the 53 batters he faced in nine July appearances. He's been outstanding since moving down to Double-A, but that is a level where man can often live by fastball alone. Scout have noted improved control and more aggressiveness, but little in the way of progress with his fringy slider. The arm strength and age give him a chance to turn into a solid middle reliever, but it's no guarantee.—Kevin Goldstein

Kevin Goldstein is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Kevin's other articles. You can contact Kevin by clicking here
R.J. Anderson is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see R.J.'s other articles. You can contact R.J. by clicking here

Related Content:  Andy Dirks

15 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

John Collins

Any expectations for the PTBNL? I'm guessing it won't be anyone too valuable.

Aug 15, 2011 13:21 PM
rating: 2

Looks like the jury is in. Matt Garza, Jason Bartlett, & Eduardo Morlan for Delmon Young, Brendan Harris, and Jason Pridie?

Ouch. Rays win again.

Aug 15, 2011 13:26 PM
rating: 3

Obviously Rays win big, but, as a Twins fan, I'm taking misguided solace in the fact that Delmon was the last of the six remaining on the team he was traded to.

Aug 15, 2011 17:03 PM
rating: 2

At this point, I would only gouge for his future.

Aug 15, 2011 15:29 PM
rating: -1

Terrible job by the Twins. Gave up too much to get Young and now they get next to nothing to get rid of him.

Aug 15, 2011 16:01 PM
rating: 0
Brian Kopec

Sunk cost at this point.

Aug 16, 2011 08:24 AM
rating: 3

This is probably the best the tigers can do to patch up the lineup post deadline but is is enough to prevent the customary leyland-tigers second half fade? My heart wants to say yes but then my head thinks I sound like charlie brown running to kiick the football swearing that this time ill kick that ball to the moon.

Aug 15, 2011 17:17 PM
rating: 0

Well, Bill Smith couldn't afford to keep Delmon AND overpay Cuddyer this offseason, so might as well dump Delmon now, right?

For his next trick, watch Smith turn a #3 starter into a journeyman reliever.

Aug 15, 2011 17:32 PM
rating: 4
John Carter

Having Tigers roots, I'd love to see Detroit hang on, but they still have a gaping hole at secondbase and well below average pitching after their top two starters. Fister is reminding me of Jerrod Washburn after a deadline deal Detroit made for him just when he was having one of his best years then suddenly had absolutely nothing left for the stretch drive. Perhaps, it is not so much Leyland's fault Detroit has late season swoons, but Dombrowski and his entire organization may be not doing something right. I think we all suspected Fister would be not anywhere as good as his season's stats up to his trade, but some of us hoped Dombrowski knew something that we did not. Well, Dave?

Aug 16, 2011 09:17 AM
rating: -1

What did Slowey do to incur the Wrath of Smith anyway ?

Aug 16, 2011 13:46 PM
rating: 0

It goes like this:

1) Gardy misguidedly hands the #3 and #4 spots in the rotation to Blackburn and Duensing in spring training, based on a flawed evaluation of their abilities (in Blackburn's case compounded by his completely frivolous long-term contract).

2) This leaves the actual 3rd and 4th best pitchers as it seemed at the time (Baker and Slowey) to battle it out for the 5th spot. Baker wins this battle and Slowey gets sent to the bullpen.

3) Slowey struggles to adjust to the pen and expresses his frustration with the change in role. He is demoted and labeled "not a team guy." The Twins as an organization are intolerant of "makeup issues," so Slowey becomes an outcast.

That's pretty much it. It's not unheard of for guys like this to come back with the Twins (Perkins this year), but it takes a while to fully extricate oneself from the doghouse and I don't think they're going to pay Slowey $3+ mm next season to pitch in AAA. Perkins wasn't making much money (~ $500k) when he got banished to AAA so they could let him sit there. If the Twins don't move Liriano or Pavano in the offseason, clearing a spot for Slowey, I think he'll be traded, and for very little return b/c otherwise he's a non-tender candidate (though non-tendering a mid-rotation starter due $3 mm is insanely stupid). Quite frankly I think they would have already moved him for a minimal return had Kyle Gibson not gotten hurt.

Aug 17, 2011 06:37 AM
rating: 0

Non-substantive clarification: The teenage mutant ninja turtles are the crime-fighters. The mutant rat is the criminal. If Delmon is a crime-fighter, he's fighting alongside the turtles, not alongside the rat.

Aug 16, 2011 14:32 PM
rating: 0

The Turtles' sensei is a mutant rat, so we're back to fighting alongside.

Aug 16, 2011 16:29 PM
rating: 3

A piece couple pieces of trivia no one's pointed out yet. Delmon is the Younger brother of Dmitri Young, who's drinking, drugs and general scumbag legal troubles resulted in him letting the team down not once but twice at a time when they desperately needed a left handed power hitter. Here's hoping alcoholism, overeating, wife beating and general attitude problems don't run in the Young family.

Aug 17, 2011 17:12 PM
rating: -1

This is interesting enough, but where's the wrap-up of the June draft deadline? The things BP doesn't cover is becoming more important than what they do cover.

Aug 22, 2011 05:52 AM
rating: 0
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