The Managing Editor of Baseball Prospectus, Christina Kahrl breaks down all the moves in her long-running "Transaction Analysis" column
Christina Kahrl: Hi gang, straight from the personal swamp that has me wondering if acre-feet are good for frequent-flooder mileage, let's skip that nonsense and talk about some baseball.
dwiest12 (NoVa): Any chance the A's give Dan Johnson another shot if Daric Barton needs some time in AAA to sort out his swing? Hannahan at first base seems wrong somehow.
Christina Kahrl: None, because Johnson's a Durham Bull, and hitting .286/.405/.500 in ~240 PA. Hannahan at first gives me Bruce Bochte flashbacks.
DSchmitz3 (Madison): Is Jason Bay to the Twins for Francisco Liriano a legitimate trade?
Christina Kahrl: No, I don't think so. That's a lot to give up for a 1 1/2 year rental of a veteran with an especially ghastly recent season under his belt.
Or (Dallas): In retrospect, just how surprising was the haul gathered for Teixeira? It doesn't seem like many teams are willing to give up packages like that for a rental anymore.
Christina Kahrl: I've written in the past of the death of the deadline blockbuster and how paralysis by analysis is a factor, but the more important consideration is that more teams fundamentally get the cost of what they give up when they go shopping for a multi-month veteran addition.
Ted Hunter (Cane, NH): Is Bronson Arroyo cooked?
Christina Kahrl: He's certainly basting.
Nick (NYC): Christina, Willie Bloomquist continues to get ABs at center while Ichiro is back in right and Jeremy Reed sits on the bench. Instead of sending Willie to the bench the guys at Lookout Landing suggested using Bloomquist as SS instead of Betancourt. I'm inclined to think Bloomquist shouldn't play everyday, but if he is going to, where do you think Willie would cause the least damage.
Christina Kahrl: "The Revenge of Willie Bloomquist" sounds like a spoof of "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford," but I think it's a case of the Mariners and many of their fans getting their just desserts for forever overrating Willie Bloomquist. There's a fundamental cowardice of leadership when you can be cowed by Willie Bloomquist into treating paying customers to an awful lot of Willie Bloomquist. Apparently it's Willie's world, and the Mariners are just dying in it.
Winston (Marlborough Country): Are the Jays any dumber for giving up on Thomas than the padres for giving up on Edmonds?
Christina Kahrl: Hrm. It's a tough call--Edmonds certainly didn't look like he couldn't cover center, and given his injury history, there were reasons to bail on him. Thomas, not so much, it was just a slow start.
macman (dc): Christina, My Nats suck like I've never seen a team suck before, and that includes the year the O's lost like 18 in-a-row to start the season. What TA entries do you expect to see from them in the next 6 weeks?
Christina Kahrl: It's the kind of offensive suckitude that makes me think of getting to follow the '85 Giants wallow, but at least that brought on a happy ending--Al Rosen and Roger Craig were put in charge, and the Giants were in the playoffs two seasons later. That last point is the one to keep in mind, because in the era of expanded playoff possibilities, the present's endurable because the future doesn't represent a sentence to more of the same, especially not with the kind of talent on the way up in their farm system.
We'll see who Jim Bowden offloads by the end of July, but given how terrible so many players have been, I would expect the Nats to be busy through the end of August, frankly, as they deal away all sorts of talent that ought to make it through waivers (or that they wouldn't miss much if claimed).
As for TA coverage, I want to take a quick swing through the major moves each team's made of late, enjoy exploring the more interesting problems teams have confronted and the solutions they've come up with (especially the Orioles' shortstop situation, which I find fascinating for reasons that defy easy explanation), and settle back into doing stuff regularly again.
BL (Bozeman, MT): Does Kansas City's ravaging of its interleague foes tell us anything important about the balance of the leagues, or is it just a happy little sample-size fluke for a KC and AL fan to enjoy?
Christina Kahrl: More the latter than the former, although I do wonder if there's a chance that Trey Hillman's more comfortable without the DH or something. It'll be worth looking at the boxes to see, but frankly, I didn't think the Royals were condemned to awfulness this season. So, they learn that Tony Pena Jr. isn't a solution--they really already knew that, no differently than when they futzed around with the Buddy Biancalana and Angel Salazar types before getting Kurt Stillwell.
Or (Dallas): What sort of return could be fetched for Milton Bradley?
For Vicente Padilla, who a year ago had less value than a pepsi container intended for popcorn and filled with rocks?
Christina Kahrl: It's going to take a gambling man in a suit to make a deal for Bradley, because as this year's chase after an announcer demonstrates, the guy's fuse is so short he's more dangerous than Roy Scheider's cargo in "Sorcerer." I can't help but make a comparison to Tony Phillips, another valuable player who frightened some of his employers, because they're also both fragile. Like Phillips, Bradley could rip off a number of great seasons and make people ignore the other stuff for a while; for his sake, I hope he does so. But there's a pretty small group of people willing to take the chance, and you can bet that they're also less willing to put up a lot of talent to take a shot at it.
Padilla's more interesting in terms of what he might bring in return, in that he might be seen as a solution for this year and next at roughly market pricing (his 2010 option can be bought out), giving his new team a mid-rotation starter without their having to risk making a Pavano- or Eaton-sized mistake.
HeeSeop (Chicago): What do you think of Eric Patterson getting playing time in LF? Is it all part of Jim Hendry's master plan to eventually put 8 second basemen on the field at once?
Christina Kahrl: Heehee, Hee, but I argued in favor of plugging in Patterson back when Soriano was hurt the first time around. He might have value in trade, and he might have value to the organization. Either way, playing him makes a decent amount of sense.
Or, it's a chance to have nine guys go Cesar Tovar on us, and play everywhere in a game. A crowd of second basemen might be the crew to do it with. ;)
Grasspike (NC): What kind of action would it take to turn the Reds around? Firing Dusty Baker and hiring Manny Acta? Trading Griffey/Dunn/whoever for whatever prospects they can get? How should they approach the situation?
Christina Kahrl: I think Dusty's potentially exactly the kind of manager that Walt Jocketty's comfortable working with--an assertive veteran skipper who has definite thoughts on the kind of team he wants to field. I think it'll be a combination of things, but the real key will be working in the kids in the rotation without overworking them. Maybe this time Dusty learns.
mhixpgh (Back From Progressive Field): Just this week I visited Cleveland and took in a game at Progressive Field. Great place to see a game. It was Omar's triumphant return to Cleveland. He laid down a bunt to win the game. The fan base still seems very energized. Does this help or hurt a front office as they plan for the future? Do they need to "seem" to compete? Or is an organization like Cleveland smart enough to do the "right thing" and trust their fans to buy into the plan?
Christina Kahrl: I think you can trust a fan base to learn and invest some faith in what you're trying to do--look at the confidence it seems most A's fans have in Billy Beane, something that's not merely the product of a certain amount of celebrity. A passionate audience means you still have an audience, and that beats disinterest any day of the week.
Cubs Fans (Chicago): I can't wait to see Volquez and Cueto throw 130+ pitches in a meaningless September game.
Christina Kahrl: That's the sort of thing you say, and it comes back and bites you when it's against your team, either is shutting you out, and the Cardinals are about to move into first. At least, that's what I'd worry about. ;)
mlapointe (chicago): Given that Theriot's performance has likely entrenched him in the starting lineup, and Ronny Cedeno's performance seemingly has him getting the lion-share of middle infield spot starts, what is Mike Fontenot's use now? Does he have any value in a trade? He seems like he could possibly bring the offensive value of Mark Derosa if he got the playing time.
Also, what does Rich Hill have to do in order to return to the majors? Change teams?
Christina Kahrl: Fontenot's getting starts at second with DeRosa moving out to left in the positional wheel that Piniella has been employing whenever his roster's Soriano-free, and it works pretty nicely. Add in that it means that he's got a bench player kept sharp with a goodly amount of playing time, and it makes for a better stabbity to go after the opposition with when he's back to pinch-hitting. And if Theriot or Cedeno or DeRosa goes down, it's a happier thing to be the team that still has Fontenot. He'd make for a mediocre regular, and while that might make him wealthy, I think it's more useful to keep him on this roster, especially as the lefty alternative to the righty-hitting Reed Johnson off of the bench.
Hill... it's a gut-wrenching thing to see a guy's control just go away like that. I'd trade for him, but I'm not sure the Cubs can afford to trust him until he gives Iowa a good month or so. It's interesting that Will brought up the Cubs in today's lead article about dealing for Sabathia--I would think that Hill would make a pretty important piece in such a swap, although it would be a bit risky to have both Cliff Lee and Hill in the same rotation. That would be sort of a southpaw roller-coaster ride that would require splatter shielding to protect bystanders.
Rob (Brighton): What should the Red Sox do with Charlie Zink and Jeff Bailey? These guys are putting up obscene numbers down in the international league, but both are past the prospect stage. Even though I fully believe that Zink at least is legit, I can understand that there are other guys in the sox system that look to have brighter careers. Can the Sox get something for these guys, or are they likely to leave as free agents?
Christina Kahrl: Zink's interesting, but I suspect it'll have to involve getting dealt as part of a package to a team desperately in need of a starting pitching, even though it would make sense of the Sox to look at him as an mop-up innings sponge (not that they need one) since they've already invested a roster spot in a knuckler-capable backup backstop. Heck, trade him to either Texas team, because I have to think people haven't entirely forgotten Joe Niekro or Charlie Hough.
As for Bailey, he's just the latest guy charged with keeping PawSox fans engaged.
Corkedbat (Dallas): I know the Orioles want to break .500 in the win column this year, but, in your opinion, is that worth keeping on to Brian Roberts for? Are they shopping anyone?
Christina Kahrl: I think it makes sense for the O's to shop him, but it's also equally clear that they should want a shortstop prospect in return, and there aren't a ton of those close to ready and readily available among the contending teams.
sbiel2 (Washington, DC): You have been very critical of Jim Bowden over the years. If you had to summarize the top few reasons why you think he's not a good GM, what would they be?
Christina Kahrl: He gets a little overly worked up over iffy fourth starter types; if they pan out, you look brilliant, and if they don't, you've blown on money on Jimmy Haynes or Ryan Drese or the like, and for what? And they never really pan out, not for very long. It's one thing to give them shots, it's another to treat them as something more than disposable starting pitchers. However, to be fair, he does seem to have learned that lesson.
He's made some really poor choices for manager in the past, but as a member of the Manny Acta Admiration Society, that's not so much an issue. Too many Boones? On his watch, the Reds' player development system went to pieces, but that's not going to happen here because of the impressive commitment the organization has made to its farm system.
I actually think this is a great front office--it's designed to be a team, and there's a lot of complementary talent involved. Bowden's surrounded by people who are great at things he isn't, and that leaves him to do things like try to work out some new wild deal. I like it.
Jeff (Boston): Thoughts on Chris Davis from Texas? I have some horrendous offensive players (Jonny Gomes, better at punching than hitting, leaps to mind) and want to know if I should aggressively go after Davis. I think so. Thoughts?
Christina Kahrl: Yes. Now. Don't talk to me, just go.
ashitaka (long beach, ca): The run differential looks nice and all, especially compared the LAAOA's. But there seems to be an odd amount of blowout wins skewing the Pythag a bit, not to mention they have all those pitchers looking forward to increased workloads. In other words CK, do you see Beane buying or selling?
Christina Kahrl: I think there's more work to be done on the outsized impact that blowout wins can have on a team's overall outlook. Beating the bejeezuz out of other team's 11th or 12th pitchers isn't really a skill that defines playoff teams. I think Beane's going to be flexible, willing to do both at once (perhaps similar to where the D'backs were in 2006, when they decided to keep their bid for contention alive by calling up the kids while dealing Shawn Green), depending on what people are looking for, and what they're looking to offer. If he gets a great offer on Joe Blanton, he'll listen.
john (ct): What happened to the Indians? There are no sure things, but usually injuries play a part when things don't happen. Only Haffner, a huge disappointment, is hurt.
Christina Kahrl: The problem with trusting to your ability to put together functioning platoons in the outfield corners is that you have to have enough working parts to put them together, and the Indians didn't, not really. Andy Marte's failure to develop is something nobody really foresaw, but I think there's also a lot to be said for how much Jhonny Peralta's been a tough player to figure out what to do with, and Garko's limited upside doesn't really help, and add in Hafner's tragic case of the olds seems to really just cinch a system-wide failure on offense.
ekanenh (desk): Mets 6-9 this afternoon:
And Omar fired the Manager?
Christina Kahrl: Yep. The ex-manager's a bit soft-spoken, though, and doesn't charm the socks off of people, and in real life, that stuff plays its part.
The King (Grinnell, IA): The Cards' were supposedly going to use this year to sort things out for '09. Now they've got the second best record in the NL and their bullpen is suspect. Johnny Mo won't trade top prospects for relief pitchers will he?
Christina Kahrl: No, not top prospects, nor should he. I expect he'll take his time, see if Izzy's going to get ironed out, review the cheap pick-ups, work a few connections, and land a moderately talented thirtysomething who might suddenly magically improve after Dave Duncan shows him a thing or two, and it'll only cost him a non-40-man C prospect out of A-ball.
Bud (The Lone Star state): Hey, Christina! What would you put the over-under at for Sabathia's new contract?
Christina Kahrl: I'll be lazy and say $100 million, because it's a big, round number, and even with the specter of the Zito deal overshadowing the landscape, somebody's going to bite on that.
theguag (Louisville): Interleague is almost up. Whither Chad Tracy?
Christina Kahrl: Starting four times a week in the Snakes lineup, moving between first and third. At least I hope so, for their sake.
The King (Grinnell, IA): Wouldn't a contender be wise to get 3 months of Derek Lowe and a compensatory draft pick for one top prospect and one mid-to-top prospect? Will Lowe cost more than that?
Christina Kahrl: Sure, it might make sense, but let's face it, that would mean the bitter-end win-now crowd would have to submit to the will of the "let's be great" development crowd in the Dodgers' front office, and that means letting initiative move up instead of down on management's decision tree. I don't see it happening.
theguag (Louisville): You don't think Tracy gets traded?
Christina Kahrl: I think they need him, frankly, as a matter of handedness and what he gives them and that Conor Jackson and Mark Reynolds do not. It's not a condemnation of any of the players involved, just a reflection of the fact that none of them is perfect, and it would be better to employ all of them to good effect.
abernethyj (Chapel Hill, NC): Can the Braves capitalize on their third-order win percentage, overcome their myriad of injuries, and get back to the playoffs this season, or is that just a pipe dream at this point?
Christina Kahrl: I guess I'm a bit skeptical, because of the rotation.
Mike (Arizona): Justin Upton needs AAA time, true or false and he's on pace to strikeout 170 times.
Christina Kahrl: Maybe in a perfect world, but he can obviously play, and last I checked, 170 Ks doesn't carry some special stigma, beyond going onto your permanent record.
jimbeau (Left Coast): While the big focus is on C.C., that other Tribe FA pitcher (Byrd) should definitely get traded - regardless of Cleveland's potential to still compete this year. So where might be his likely destination and what might he bring back (not necessarily expecting a lot)?
Christina Kahrl: Ideally, to a team whose park has outfield fences are the next county over.
perforatededge54 (NY): Are the Yankees and Brian Cashman becoming TOO concerned with not trading their prospects, to the point where its hurting the team?
Christina Kahrl: No, Hank, they're doing their jobs.
collins (greenville nc): Christina, what figure from baseball history was most similar to Napolean? (You may select your own criteria of similarity.)
Christina Kahrl: It would be easy to draw a comparison to almost anybody who was seen as brilliant in his heyday, and who then tried one comeback too many. Earl Weaver has his equivalent to the 100 days, for example, and I suppose we could say the same of Casey Stengel. In contrast, you'd have to compare Connie Mack to Kaiser Franz Josef, in terms of far outliving his useful career.
Stephanie (DC): What are the odds the Rays pick up an outfielder (Nady?) to solve the hydra they currently have? More or less likely than the team being in play for someone like Sabathia?
Christina Kahrl: Not great, I think, because the Rays know that Nady's not a great solution, he's a mediocrity having a good patch. Why give up any of their goodies for that?
statham (Toronto): Christina - if Chris Davis and Max Ramirez hit in the 3 weeks or so what do the Rangers do with Hank Blalock? Move him back to third? If healthy(huge assumption I know) is there likely to be any kind of trade market for him?
Christina Kahrl: That's what they should do--leave him at third, not just because of the intra-organizational crowd at first, but also because that's where his value in trade would be maximized.
Nathaniel (Madison): Share your flooding stories.
Christina Kahrl: Just standard-issue misery: torrential downpours seem to cause the collection pit to back up, and guess where it goes first? The fun was that I'd only just moved back home on Tuesday the 17th when I was flooded again on the 22nd; the lovely new floor didn't last a week. Happily, while resolving the first incident took months, the second should only take weeks; I guess it helps when you're on a first-name basis with the insurance guys, flooring contractors, lawyers, and mitigation contractors, but that's the sort of intimacy that I wouldn't wish on anybody else. It's been a huge stressor, but I'm looking forward to settling back into a routine of ballgames and reading and writing.
Jonathan (Cincy): Do you see a good fit for Adam Dunn among any of the contenders? Rays, Jays, A's, Twins?
Christina Kahrl: I kind of like the idea that he'd go to Tampa Bay, because it might be the sort of place he'd re-up with, and it would be a signature statement of sorts by the organization. But remember, he's got a limited no-trade clause, and can only be dealt to ten teams; for tax reasons, the weather, and that sort of stuff, I can see how Tampa Bay would be agreeable to him, not to mention joining a fun team in the hunt.
mase1361 (DC): Do you still heart Lastings? Sample getting larger...
Christina Kahrl: I do, but maybe I'm a glutton for punishment.
Ali Nagib (Chicago): SAT Question Time: The 2008 Chicago Cubs will end up looking the most like A) the 1907 Cubs B) the 1929 Cubs or C) the 1984 Cubs?
Christina Kahrl: Hrm, interesting... in '29, Hack Wilson frightened people in the field; in '84, Keith Moreland frighened people in the field; and in '08, Soriano frightens people in the field. I'm inclined to go with '84. Just keep Derrek Lee's glove away from the Gatorade.
SC (Bridgeport, WV): Nate Silver: Time machine inventor or actually six people? Seriously, how does that man find the time? Also, watch out for mold.
Christina Kahrl: Nate's a whirling dervish, to be sure. And believe me, mold, slime, mildew, they're all in the cross-hairs.
david (dc): Would Felipe Lopez to Baltimore actually solve their SS problem? Or will his "defense" give up as many runs as his bat adds?
Christina Kahrl: His bat wouldn't add all that many runs; it's not a solution, it's a patch, and the Orioles already have that in Alex Cintron.
Christina Kahrl: With that, I need to bring this a close earlier than usual. I owe you an article, and I want to get a few done in the days to come. Thanks again for all of the questions, and here's to revisiting a lot of these themes as we get closer to the deadline.