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Chat: Jonah Keri

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Saturday July 31, 2004 3:00 PM ET chat session with Jonah Keri.

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Jonah Keri is an author of Baseball Prospectus.

Jonah Keri: Hey folks, welcome to BP's special Trade Deadline Chat, or as I like to call it "Jonah's Carpal Tunnel Odyssey." Lots of questions in the queue, so let's go!

yankeehater32 (Boston, Mass): I would really like an outside opinion on whether or not the Red Sox should shop Nomar now before they potentially lose him to free agency. I haven't heard anything about his asking price going down, and with other players such as Jason Varitek asking for a raise, should Nomar be sent packing to free up cash for next year? If so, what for? Do you package Lowe with him and get another starter? If Nomar is moved I'd like the IF to shift to give Youkilis more playing time everyday, but then Bill Mueller might need to play SS. Thoughts?

Jonah Keri: Nomar's started to swing the bat after a slow start immediately following his return. The Sox need him in that lineup (Pokey may have a great glove, but he may very well be the worst hitter in baseball, and despite his cuddly rep at the Fens, shouldn't be put anywhere near an everyday job). For any Nomar deal to make sense, you'd need to get talent that can help now, as well as in the future. That's a pretty tall order.

As for DLowe, given the high prices teams are apparently willing to pay for the likes of Britt Reames and Tanyon Sturtze--err... Kris Benson and Victor Zambrano--I'd shop him hard if I were Theo. The Sox have enough pitching to make up for his loss, and as Dayn Perry recently noted in an article in the New York Sun, dumping Lowe would be addition by subtraction. (Those of you in the Tri-State area, pick up the Sun--good sports section, and BP contributes articles every Tuesday and Thursday).

salsburg (Chicago): Hi, Jonah. Regarding the Marlins/Dodgers 3 for 3 trade (this question was subnitted before any further trade by the Dodgers). The press (and maybe there's my answer) I have seen and heard have described this trade as extremely one-sided - for the Marlins! What am I missing? Even if the Dodgers do nothing else (and maybe they shouldn't), I don;t see this as anything but a huge win for them. What am I seeing wrong?

Jonah Keri: If you think the press has been critical of the Dodgers, you should hear the sports talk radio callers here in LA. I've heard several compare the deal to the Piazza trade to the Marlins a few years ago. Hey guys--they may both be Italian, but Paulie ain't Mikey.

Choi's the real catch in this trade, young, cheap and under control for several years, and already a league-average 1B. Dumping Encarnacion was the equivalent of adding a #4 starter in terms of value to the club. Not to say the Dodgers didn't give up some pretty good talent--I'd imagine DePo pursues another bullpen arm, maybe in August, to fill that slot--but the deal made sense for LA, even if they don't get Johnson and Finley.

duanstokes (Dublin, Ireland): Ok, Jonah, you're going to get asked this a lot, but how about answering it from someone in Ireland. The Mets = Insane .... discuss.

Jonah Keri: LOTS of Mets questions, but it should be well into Saturday night Guinness time in Dublin, so let's talk to duanstokes.

Benson really hasn't done much to impress this season, and doesn't lookt to be all the way back from injury. Victor Zambrano strikes out a lot of guys and is kind of the flip side of a three true outcomes hitter, only with not a ton of homers. Those walks though...ugh.

Meanwhile they gave up Huber, Kazmir, Wigginton, Peterson...double ugh.

BUT, the Mets went into this with certain beliefs. First and foremost, the scuttlebutt is that Rick Peterson saw something in Zambrano that could be fixed, with the end result (hopefully) being a lower walk rate and better success. It's hard to argue with the success of the Mets' pitching this year, and that park will help too.

Moreover, Kazmir, the best player in any of the Mets' dealings, is believed to be a major injury risk. I heard the name Darren Dreifort being tossed out there as an estimation of his risk profile, according to some Mets folks.

Would I have made the deals? No, because I think the Mets gave up too much AND face a major uphill climb to grab the Wild Card, let alone sniff the Braves.

(The same Braves that I alone among BP authors predicted would win the East, by the way. And yes, we're pretending my DBacks and Royals picks never happened).

Dave83 (Central Ohio): Are the Indians crazy to NOT trade off some of their infield depth? There's Vizquel, Belliard, Blake, and behind them Jhonny Peralta, Brandon Phillips and Aaron Boone. Broussard too, for that matter...if they move him they could play all four of Lawton, Gerut, Coco Crisp and Sizemore, while rotating them in and out of DH. Crimany, go get some young pitching with all this depth!

Jonah Keri: I don't see how Shapiro could get much for Omar, given his salary. If a team was absolutely desperate and the price in talent was low, I suppose someone like the Cubs could call and ask if he'd waive his no-trade, given their frustration with Alex Gonzalez and company. But still seems unlikely.

As for the rest of those guys, Boone remains a question mark given his injury, the fact that he's over 30, and that he was never a great player even at his peak; Phillips has great natural talent and is starting to come on in Triple-A, but still has a ways to go to be considered a slam dunk MLB SS; Belliard's living large off a huge April and his annual annihilation of lefties (see Jonah's Strat team for more details); and Blake is just...meh.

Of the guys you mentioned, I'd think Lawton would attract some interest and make sense as a guy who could fetch a prospect. Still 49 minutes to go, so who knows.

(By the way, I'm typing a ton here, so while I'm trying to look while typing, if anyone sees a trade go down, just send it in)...

Jurgen (Toronto): Hey, Jonah: I keep telling anyone who'll listen that the Twins should trade Lew Ford. Obviously, the Twins would rather part with Jacques Jones or Michael Restovich, but nobody wants them. As for Ford, he'll 27 and he's (likely) never going to be better, and it's not as if the Twins don't have a million players ready to step in and take Lew's place. (Not to mention that it's increasingly looking like the only way Mauer will contribute in '04 is as the DH.) Don't you think the Expos would jump at the chance of Lew Ford and Grant Balfour for Livan Hernandez?

Jonah Keri: The Twins are one of the most interesting cases as the deadline approaches. They have clear weaknesses at second base and short and could use an arm or two as well. But the White Sox lost Thomas and Magglio, Everett isn't what he once was, and they're already slipping as is. The Twins are a team that could stand pat and still win the division. If I were Terry Ryan, I'd still try and move if the price is right, if only to get an upgrade for the playoffs.

Better yet, assuming he's healthy, I'd like to see Grant Balfour get a shot in the rotation, something Ryan hemmed and hawed on a bit in the recent Q&A I did with him, but an idea that he seemed to remain open to pursuing nonetheless.

(As for the guys you mentioned, Restovich is overrated, Jones is viewed as a big asset because of his CF-like D in Minny's spacious corners, and the Twins aren't likely to sell high on Ford, with the way he's been producing. That's not a fault of Terry Ryan's per se--few GMs ever make that kind of move...Paul D aside, apparently).

Jeff Hildebrand (Illinois): Ok, here you go. Just came across the wires: Florida Marlins - Acquired pitcher Rudy Seanez from the Kansas City Royals for outfielder Abraham Nunez. Whee...

Jonah Keri: Chris Kahrl's heart just went pitter patter. Chris' admiration of Rudy Seanez is matched only by the crush I had on Casey Candaele.

Neil D (Brooklyn): What odds would you have given back in April that the Yankees would let the trade deadline pass without getting a second baseman to replace Enriguel Wilro?

Jonah Keri: Who says they're done?! 43 minutes is forever in Steinbrenner Time. Plus with the way Cairo's been improbably producing, at least in spots, I'd imagine they'd go after a P before a 2B. Or maybe bring back Tino or something if they're worried about Giambi.

Julian de Lavalle ((Pembroke Pines, FL)): Hey Jonah. Give this your best shot. At what is the Barry Zito for Adam Dunn/D'Angelo Jimenez trade happening?

Jonah Keri: Nothing against Dan O'Brien, but if that deal ever went down, Brad Kullman should be promoted to Reds GM within a matter of seconds.

The Reds may need pitching, and the A's could use a big bat, but that's Beaneway Robbery.

Elroy (Toronto): The Jays are supposed to be one of the better organizations at protecting minor league pitchers however their top pitching prospects : Rosario, McGowan, Perkins, Arnold, have all been struggling with injuries. Is it coincidence? Do pitch counts matter?

Jonah Keri: Tough one, Elroy. Anyone who's read Baseball Prospectus long enough has no doubt heard us trot out the phrase "There Is No Such Thing As A Pitching Prospect." The phrase is an exaggeration of sorts, but the basic idea is that young pitching is difficult to project, and even tougher to usher to the majors and on into stardom.

As far as pitch counts go, arbitrailt assigning a random number to a pitcher's limit is pretty suspect. Ultimately you have to consider a huge variety of factors, including the pitcher's size, age, mechanics, and one of the most important factors in my mind--his game situation. If a pitcher's only in the 2nd or 3rd inning, but has already thrown 35 pitches, given up a ton of baserunners and a few runs that inning, it may be time to pull him, both to try and win that game, and to save him from overtaxing his arm.

Will Carroll and I are working on a project that we hope will address a lot of these issues. I'm absolutely fascinated by the efforts made by some of the leading minds out there (Glenn Fleisig, James Andrews and the folks at ASMI, Tom House, Mike Marshall, plus several savvy pitching coaches out there), and while I don't possess any medical knowledge of note to advance the discussion all that far, I hope to continue Q&Aing a lot of the brightest minds, so that they can share some of their insight.

Dave (Omaha): Is this the slowest trade deadline ever? Seems like we've had three major trades, and they've all happened within a ten minute period yesterday.

Jonah Keri: It's been getting slower and slower every year from where I'm sitting, Dave. The BP authors have been kibbitzing internally the last couple of days, and someone compared MLB trading to the NFL, where team budgets have become so rigid and the risk of making a bad move--or even worse, looking dumb and thus risking your job security--seems to be overshadowing good, aggressive moves by bright general managers.

All the more credit to Allard Baird for grabbing Justin Huber at a discount, Paul DePodesta for making a strong effort to improve what's alreadya first-place team, Dave Littlefield for flipping a back-of-the-rotation starter for some decent value, etc.

thomasps3 (Boston): Just a question abotu Joe Randa...Is he going to get dealt before the deadline? And if so, what are the chances Teahan gets the call-up. The reason I ask is because I'm in deep AL only league and have heard a lot about Teahan lately. Do you have any projections for him?

Jonah Keri: Randa would make sense in a lot of ways, if the Royals could find the right trade partner. Again, though, risk aversion has become so prevalent that just because a deal may make sense doesn't mean it's going to happen. The other factor to consider is that while Randa could give a team league-average production at 3B, not too many pennant contenders have absolute black holes at the position, to the point where acquiring a Randa could legitimately add 2-3 wins to the ledger in the last 2 months--the way, say, the Padres getting Carlos Beltran could.

tim (san fancisco): um... are the giants going to do anything to counter the deals of the dodgers or just sit there while their rivals are going to run away with the division?

Jonah Keri: This is one that puzzles me more than most others. Brian Sabean probably doesn't get enough credit for some of the impact deadline deals he's made over the years. Heck, the Jason Schmidt grab alone gives him three years' immunity in my book. With the Dodgers making a major push both on the field and in the trade market and the Padres playing good ball lately, I'm surprised the Giants haven't made a bigger move.

I do think Ricky Ledee could be a nice part-time player and that comined with Alfredo Simon the Giants got a decent little snag for the struggling Felix Rodriguez, for what it's worth.

Bill O'Brien (Las Vegas): Apparently having taken the long awaited Big Leap Forward (.269/.405/.510, .320 EqA), is Eric Chavez the best all-around player in the AL going forward? The only other guys under 30 who seem to be close are Vlad, A-Rod, and Tejada. Chavez is the youngest of the bunch, plays the best defense (except maybe A-Rod), and the only one hitting better plays a less important position.

Jonah Keri: Good question, Bill. The first reflex would be to say no way and move on, but Chavez has shown some nice improvement. The biggest rap on him was always his inability to hit lefties, but a .311 average with a bunch of walks and eight homers in 103 AB looks pretty sweet. I do think the other players you mentioned are all in that higher sphere as well, and in particular I'd note that Tejada has almost become underrated by some of the stathead bunch, possibly as a backlash to his ill-deserved MVP award a few years ago. But the guy hits a ton, field a pivotal position well, and doesn't get enough credit for his great durability.

The title of "all-around" player is a bit tricky, but I think a guy like Manny who hits THAT much brings such immense offensive value that he needs to be in the discussion too.

So I'd go:

1) Jeter
2) Jeter
3) Jeter
4-tie) Manny/Chavez/A-Rod/Vlad

collins (Greenville NC): Mistake for the Twins not to give up Kubel to get Benson? They might not need him next year, with Stewart, Hunter and Ford in the fold.

Jonah Keri: I think Terry Ryan did well holding onto Kubel here. The guy looks like a really good hitter, and as Ford showed this year, just because a player would seem to be blocked from a job doesn't mean he can't muscle his way in if he's good enough. We're seeing that with Justin Morneau too.

If it was something like Restovich/Mike Ryan for Benson+, I'd consider that deal, but given the Twins look like heavy favorites to win the division at this point anyway, there was no point in overpaying here.

john (dayton): What the latest on Steve Finley? He was supposed to be a done deal to the dodgers, but now they have a 1st baseman and can move Green back to outfield. So whats going to happen and do the Dodgers need him?

Jonah Keri: The latest buzz we're hearing is that Randy Johnson will stay put but the Dodgers are still discussing Finley.

If I'm the Padres, I swoop here. The upgrade they could make for Jay "Rey Ordonez Jr." Payton to Finley, or even better, Beltran, would be a huge gain for them. You're right that the Dodgers can get by without Finley (Roberts/Werth platoin has some decent value), though I do think he'd help in LA somewhat anyway, especially with Shawn Green's power dead and buried due to his scragged shoulder.

wmcdonal56 (Iowa City): Who would you rather see on your Expos.. Kris Benson, or Anna Benson?

Jonah Keri: (checks to see if wife is in the room)...

Anna, by a country mile. If they brought back the 7th inning stretch dancers and had Anna take part, attendance would skyrocket and the franchise would be saved.

Lugnutz87 (Raleigh, NC): I've heard that CJ might get moved to the Dodgers from the Rockies. I haven't heard anything about the deal other than him. Any info you could share? Thanks

Jonah Keri: Charles Johnson is still mulling his no-trade clause, last we heard. Keep in mind that deals could be announced after the 4 pm ET deadline as paperwork gets filed at the last minute, which is why we'll be sticking around well past the deadline to keep chatting.

As for the value CJ might bring, you've got to worry about the drop-off from Coors to Dodger Stadium, not to mention CJ being another Ronnie Belliard type who's capitalized on a strong early season to put up numbers that look better than they'll be by year's end. If he comes cheap enough, bring him in, sure, but I'd rather see a CJ/Ross 1/1A situation than Johnson catching 80% of the games if I'm a Dodgers fan (though thanks to Rick Monday, that's highly unlikely).

keef66 (st. petersburg): I know this will be covered by Chris in TA, but did Chuck Lamar get a brain transplant?

Jonah Keri: Even accounting for concerns about his mechanics, TINSTAAPP and everything else, that sure looks pretty nice from Tampa's POV, doesn't it? That's a pretty tough division to try and conquer, but the Rays are going to move up the queue on my MLB Extra Innings viewing list in the next few years if nothing else, given some of the exciting young talent they have on board. Last I heard B.J. Upton was supposed to be called up this weekend too, which would only make things most interesting.

(Check out Dayn Perry's most recent Can of Corn, which ran on Friday, on the debate between Upton and the Mets' David Wright for best prospect in baseball. I still think Andy Marte's got a shot to hang with any of 'em, but interesting reading nonetheless.)

freethinker0 (Texas): Polanco to Oakland - can you tell us he truth behind this rumor?

Jonah Keri: The three-way trade that had been discussed involving the Yankees seems unlikely, if you figure the odds of Oakland helping the Yanks out.

Polanco could be a decent little upgrade if the A's went for it, though even with Dotel that pen has been worked pretty hard and is still a bit suspect. For the A's, as for several other teams, the best way to go about the deadline may be a 1999 A's-style reshuffling, where veterans with inflated value like Billy Taylor get traded for younger talent, and veterans get brought in at the same time to help the club.

That's what Paul DePodesta's tried to do, with the added bonus that if Johnson or Finley don't make it to LA, the Dodgers still did all right.

Dave (North Carolina): Way to throw my boy Marte a bone Jonah. You rule.

Jonah Keri: No Dave, you rule.

And I only throw bones to dogs who deserve 'em.

PhilsPhan (Hoboken, NJ): Quick rant: The trade deadline is 26 minutes away and ESPN is showing tennis and billiards (!) on their 2 main stations. Not only that, but I can't watch any games on MLB.com because there is currently a "national broadcast game" on Fox. Damn you Bud Selig!!

Jonah Keri: No worries, PhilsPhan, that why we're here. In addition to this marathon chat, we've got Chris Kahrl doing daily Transaction Analysis updates all week and all weekend, Joe Sheehan all weekend, Will Carroll breaking down injuries, BP Radio, BP Skywriting, Madden-BP 2005 (featuring REAL Ricky Williams pot-smoking action!) and many more multimedia goodies.

I just wish we had John Kruk's endless font of insight. Alas.

etaylor (Pittsburgh): What do you think of Matt Peterson and Jose Bautista, would the Bucs have been better off with Huber instead of Bautista?

Jonah Keri: Not a big fan of Peterson's, I don't see huge upside there. Part of getting Bautista, you *know*, had to be the Bucs going after a guy they got heat for letting go. To be fair, he is a young, talented player, and the Pirates could certainly use a quality 3B for the next 6 years. If Wigginton can give them a low-OBP, high-slugging, half-decent defensive performance at third for the next year or two while Bautista matures, that helps a little on the margins too.

I.G. (Mass.): Sorry if this is a duplicate sumbission. Did DePodesta make a mistake in not dealing Erwin Jackson to get Unit? espn claims that was the hang-up.

Jonah Keri: It may have been more complicated than that, I.G. The Dodgers had also tried to work out a contract extension for Randy, apparently unsuccessfully, thus increasing the unlikelihood that RJ would waive his no-trade clause to go to LA. Citing the desire to protect Edwin Jackson could be a bit of spin here--though there's no denying his ability.

It'd be pretty interesting if, say, the Yanks swooped in last minute and somehow landed Unit after all the song and dance the two parties went through. Actually the silence out of the Bronx is a little puzzling, until you consider the sweet-a** stadium deal they may be close to getting.

Jimi (New York): Mariano or Gagne? Also, what are the odds on the Craig Counsell to the Yanks deal? i read about it in Sports Illustrated a couple of weeks ago and haven't heard it since Sincerely The Other Jimi H

Jonah Keri: Speaking of the Yanks...Counsell could be a decent UT guy and even offer a decent little platoon with Miguel Cairo. If Mussina and Brown can avoid injuries and deliver and Giambi can make it back to make some kind of contribution, this may be a team that could use just a small tweak or two like that one.

Also, Gagne. Call me when Mariano takes a cross-check to the chest or eats a poutine with gusto.

BarryR (Los Angeles): And Charles Johnson says no -- look for Bill Plaschke and JA Adande (the LA Times nitwit twins) to go ballistic on DePodesta tomorrow.

Jonah Keri: If the Dodgers won the World Series, you wonder if people, would still be pining for Lo Duca. How come we never hear any talk about the guy who blasts 50 homers or even the guy who isn't good enough to be in the big leagues as the heart and soul, or the backbone or whatever of a team? How much character does it take to be a 75th-percentile major league player exactly?

jorens (brooklyn): tom martin to the braves. wow!

Jonah Keri: Parade on Peachtree!

In other news, the Dodgers have just acquired Nate Silver to shore up their bullpen. Nate won't actually be pitching, he'll just be down at Hollywood Park hustling at the poker table for the couple mil. Paul D will use to get Guardado.

buyhighsellhigher (LA): Jonah, You picked the Diamondbacks to win the NL West this year. What were you smoking? Also, I keep buying energy stocks at their top. Any suggestions to make money in this sector?

Jonah Keri: Wow, a question about my sanity AND about stocks at the same time. Had you thrown in college hoops and Paul Klee, we could have run the gamut of my interests.

I thought the Diamondbacks had an underrated farm system, one that had already produced a front-line player in Webb and decent secondary talent in Cintron, Kata and Hammock, and looked poised to deliver Tracy, Hairston, Edgar Gonzalez and a bunch of others. With Sexson added to the mix and RJ being RJ, in a weak division, I though they'd surprise. And OK, I wanted to be a bit of a contrarian too.

As for energy stocks, depends on the stock. Oil prices are at a 21-year high and there have been some nice movers, but you don't want to buy a stock when it's extended either. (Steel's on fire too, by the way). Pick up Investor's Business Daily or William O'Neill's How To Make Money In Stocks at Amazon (or hit www.investors.com) to learn the right time to buy a leading stock. Keep in mind that the market's in a correction, though, and that three out of every four stocks follow the broad market's trend.

rscully (Fairfax, VA): Word is Finley is on his way to LA. Can Werth still catch?

Jonah Keri: Any relation to Vin, rscully?

Werth catching would be a pretty cool byproduct of this deal, assuming it goes down. More likely, with CJ reportedly turning down the Dodgers, we see more David Ross, and maybe a promotion for Koyie Hill. I've always liked Ross, going back to when I wrote him up in the Baseball Prospectus 2003 book, and given the right matchups and playing time arrangement, I think he can do pretty well.

One thing to keep in mind as this deadline passes is that the waiver deadline isn't until Aug. 31, and teams like the Dodgers have the resources to claim a couple of the many, many players that teams will float out there in an effort to shed salary. Same goes for the Yankees, maybe the Giants, Angels, Cards, Padres, Red Sox, and others.

Dave (Omaha): Given the M's position, unless something is announce soon, do you think they screwed up in hanging on to aging players like Hasegawa and Villone?

Jonah Keri: Hasegawa had a ridiculously lucky 2003, with a batting average on balls in play that defied explanation. He's a decent but not great pitcher who doesn't constitute much of an upgrade to any contender. And Ron Villone is Ron Villone.

The Mariners may very well have tried to trade these guys, but they'd have needed to find a pretty big sucker if they were to get real value for middling arms such as those.

ben (westchester, ny): ismael valdes just trade to the marlins for travis chick.

Jonah Keri: That's kind of interesting. Valdez has something like a 5-run difference between his home and road ERA. Even accounting for Pro Player being a pitcher's park, you have to wonder how he'll fare outside the Hitter Death Zone that is Petco.

If the Pads don't acquire an arm, I'd like to see Tankersley get a chance over Sterling Hitchcock. Tank fared pretty well earlier in the season, and the Pads have a good and deep enough bullpen (how about Scott Freakin' Linebrink?!) to win games if he can simply manage a couple runs allowed in 5-6 innings.

yankeehater32 (Boston, Mass): Hey Jonah...The deadline has passed, Larry Walker is still in Colorado....so he goes through waivers and then what?

Jonah Keri: He can go through waivers, but he's going to pay the rest of his $12.5M this year, another $12.5M next year and a $1M buyout for '06 for a guy that okd and injury-prone (and I say that as a huge Larry Walker fan, going back to the days when he'd talk shop with us hosers in the RF bleachers during pitching changes at the Big O in the early 90s).

MaxLevin (Geneva, Switzerland): Hey Jonah, despite acquiring Carlos Beltran, the Astros are 6 back in the Wild Card. As a Cubs fan, a part of me hopes that they sell just so that I don't have worry about them anymore. But another part of me hopes that they just totally blow out their future trying to beat the odds this year. Any word on whether the 'Stros are buyers or sellers right now?

Jonah Keri: Looks like the worst of all possible worlds--they were neither. You have to wonder how many teams inquired about Beltran and what Gerry Hunsicker told 'em. This is a player who could have changd a pennant race almost by himself. Scott Boras/testing free agency angle aside, at worst you're getting an elite CF for two months and two compensatory draft picks if he bolts for free agency. You're telling me the Yankees, or the Padres, maybe the Cubs or White Sox, couldn't have used an upgrade like that?

Mike (Seattle): Any chance on that confirmation day in the market popping in for a visist anytime soon? I'm rtying to find something to hold on to given the Mariner's refusal to trade "studs" like Ron Villone.

Jonah Keri: Confirmation day works best when it comes some time between Days 4 and 10 of a rally attempt, and ideally between Days 4 and 7. Thus far the last few attempts have run into run into heavy selling by institutions before they can ever get going. The election, geopolitical concerns, oil prices, interest rates...investors hate uncertainty, so this is what we've got, at least for now.

As for Villone, maybe the M's could implement a "Strip Away My Self-Esteem Day" in his honor, much like the old Jay Buhner shaved head nights.

Jamey Newberg (Dallas): With Texas interested in Estes, is Colorado going to force the Rangers to give up either Kinsler or Thompson, the two players they'd agreed to move for Walker?

Jonah Keri: Again, apparently not, obviously. The Rangers have done a nice job of not overreaching for veterans at the cost of good, young talent, despite reclaiming first place roughly two hours after Joe Sheehan e-mailed BP authors to inform us that the A's wouldn't cede first again for the rest of the season. (Yet another Diamondbacks-for-first example of why analysis works better than predictions).

The Rangers have a nice, young base of talent, and they know that even if they don't win it this year, they're pretty well positioned to make a run with the core they have now, going forward.

ben (westchester): What is wrong with Javier Vazquez? He doesn't look anything close to the pitcher the yanks trade nick the stick for. He just left after giving up 2 singles 2 walks and a shot by tejada that just missed going over.

Jonah Keri: A few more questions, as it looks like the trade trickling may have come to a halt, and those who know me know that sitting still for longer than 90 minutes can get dicey...

There have been some who've said that Vazquez has been an injury risk for a while, giving some mechanical irregularities and general concerns about his shoulder. Combine his Pedro-like slight frame, and you sort of have to marvel at the heavy workloads he's borne for the last several years.

That said, he's not having quite the season he did last year, but other than his elevated HR rate, there's been nothing in his peripherals to indicate much erosion of skills here. Not that a markedly higher HR rate is something to ignore by the way, but as it stands, he's still one of the best the Yankees have, and they'll stick with him.

Geoff (Ashburn, VA): ESPN says Nomar to Cubs! WOW?

Jonah Keri: Trying to find confirmation as I bang this out.

Obviously a lot depends on what's going the other way (haven't seen that info yet), so I want to hold back before commenting at length.

Angele yelled across the house that Loaiza was dealt to the Yankees for Contreras by the way. That could be a good deal for the Yanks given the way Contreras has tunk lately, but Loaiza's reverted to the Esteban of old this year too.

twinsfan (st paul, mn): loaiza for contreras

Jonah Keri: If the Twins didn't already have the division in hand, I think this probably cinches it, by the way.

Tom (Chicago): Todd Walker just said on the local Fox post-game that Alex Gonzalez is headed to Boston. He Assumed it was for Nomar, but didn't know for sure and didn't know any other names, but it seems like it would be Clement.

Jonah Keri: On ESPNews they're saying it's a four-team trade. Hooray, something meaty to talk about! (this is what I ws saying about paperwork and deals being reported after the deadline) If Boston unloads DLowe at the same time, and gets something to go with Clement (assuming it is Clement), this could work out for them.

Man, this is fun.

RC Cook (Dallas TX): Reggie Abercrombie and Koyie Hill to the Diamondbacks for Finley- did Arizona do OK there?

Jonah Keri: Haven't seen confirmation of this one either, but if true, it's a nice deal for the Dodgers. I like Hill, but Abercrombie's a tools goof who really hasn't shown much in several minor league seasons. If that's what the price of Finley ended up being, I'm more than a little surprised that the Padres weren't willing (or able) to top that.

I.G. (Mass): what makes you thing esteban is better than jose?

Jonah Keri: 22 homers and 135 baserunners allowed in 95.2 IP for Contreras.

e (Illinois): Looking at LA's acquisitions, they are going heavy lefty with Choi & Finley. Righties on 25 man: Saenz, Beltre, Werth, Ross, Jose Hernandez Switchies: Bradley, Izturis Do you think this is a concerted effort to make this team playoff ready vs the heavy righty staff of contenders like St Louis, the Cubs, and Atlanta?

Jonah Keri: Good question. The Cubs certainly have one of the scariest collections of righty pitching I've ever seen, and while the Cards' pitching could implode at any time (Jeff Suppan's 10 walks in his last start don't inspire warm and fuzzlies if I'm a member of Cardinal Nation), it is righty-dominated too.

You know what, I don't have much to add to that...I think you're 100% right, and that's a great call.

frankopy (santa clara ca): wouldn't nyy, even with its shallow minor league talent, be able to send something suitable to montreal to get livan, who i think would help shore that staff up and be comfy with stepbrother el duque on board?

Jonah Keri: The Expos signed Livan to a three-year contract a couple months ago. He's viewed as a key component for the team in D.C. or Mars or wherever it is they play next year and thereafter. After a very solid year and two-thirds' performance, I think at this point we have to take Livan seriously as an upper-echelon big league pitcher. So no, I don't see what the Yankees could offer that would be all that attractive in this case. Not to say I wouldn't consider a great offer if I'm Omar Minaya, but the Yanks wouldn't be it.

Lugnutz87 (Raleigh, NC): My Phils just calle up Marlon Byrd. Any chance on him actually getting to play over Doung Glanville? And when is Bowa getting fired? The over/under should be about 2 weeks.

Jonah Keri: Re Bowa: I'd have pegged him to be canned a while ago, so you have to wonder.

Re Byrd: Jason Michaels looks like the front-runner for playing time to me right now. I guess they wanted to get a bullpen upgrade in Felix Rodriguez, but he hasn't been nearly the pitcher he used to be, and while Ricky Ledee's no star, he's a useful piece if they don't trade for a CF upgrade. This is another team that could ahve REALLY used Carlos Beltran.

Brian Durack (Texas): (becuase I have grown tired of the trade talks) Do you see Jason Schmidt with some injury issues in the upcoming years due to his massive workload?

Jonah Keri: We touched on the ability to manage picthers' workloads in-game a little earlier. Schmidt seems to be one of those guys, along with Livan, Colon, Sabathia, and some others, who do a pretty good job of knowing when to ease up on the throttle a bit when appropriate so that they can go deeper into games. Of course this was much easier for say, Christy Mathewson to do way back in the day (Read Pitching In a Pinch if you haven't already, great stuff), given today's lineups may feature power guys up and down the order, including at tradiitonally defensive positions. But if done wisely, this tack seems to work, as it apparently has for Schmidt.

That said, Felipe Alou would do well to be smart about workload, in particular not letting Schmidt go through many high-stress innings. The key here is for the manager and GM to be in sync--Brian Sabean needs to deliver some power arms to that bullpen to help Felipe and the starting rotation out, or this thing could start to get ugly.

branwilson (Dallas): It is being reported that Texas traded cash and a player to be named later to the Mets for Scott Erickson... wasn't he waived???

Jonah Keri: He was designated for assignment, meaning the Mets could still trade him, which they of course did.

As to whether he has anything left, the answer is no. He does continue the Jim Palmer legacy of ex-Oriole Handsome Man(tm), however.

Beau Giles (San Francisco): Dodgers pick up Brent Mayne according to Fox Sports on TV.

Jonah Keri: Now this trade deadline has EVERYTHING! Actually Mayne at least gives the Dodgers a lefty component to go with Ross (there's that lefty theory again).

I'm facinated with everything the Dodgers have done here...I'm going to have to get up from the computer and make my way up to Chavez Ravine some time soon.

Tom (Chicago): Nomar trade details: Cubs trade Justin Jones (Lansing) to Minnesota for Doug Mientkiewicz Cubs then trade Minky, Alex Gonzalez, Brendan Harris, Francis Beltran, and one more prospect (didn't catch the name, but I didn't recognize it either) to Boston for Nomar and a prospect, plus cash. Red Sox then trade Gonzalez, Harris, and Beltran for Orlando Cabrera.

Jonah Keri: Wow, the Expos got Brendan Harris and Francis Beltran...nice job by Omar Minaya in getting value here (yes I know you all want to talk about the Cubs and Sox, but this may be the only place you see the Expos' side discussed, so grin and bear it).

For the Sox, Cabrera has really struggled this year. He's had tough back problems the last few years which at various times impacts and doesn't impact his performance (2003 no, 2004 apparently yes). He's a great fielder even at the worst of times--if he can regain his stroke, the Monster would suit him really well, as he can be a doubles machine when he's on, and his frustrating tendency to swing for the fences given his middling power may actually work with the short wall in Boston.

Mientkiewicz actually has a somewhat similar profile to Cabrera in some ways. Great D even when his bat struggles, and this is a guy who went .300/.393/.450 last season, which may not fit the profile of a hulking 1B, but is pretty solid nonetheless. I have a hard time seeing where he fits in here, though, especially if he continues to struggle.

As for the Cubs, hats off to Hendry. Nomar isn't quite the terror he was in the late 90s/early oughts, but he's definitely come on after early struggles, and gives them a crucial added potent bat. The Cubs are sort of the opposite of the Dodgers, in that they're a massively right-handed ballclub (hitting and pitching both), so in that sense there may be a marginal devaluation here, but not enough to diminish Nomar too much.

The Twins didn't need Mientkiewicz with Morneau around, and Justin Jones could produce value down the road. DLowe (others have reported Lowe going to Minny) is an interesting gamble in the sense that the Twins may actually have enough defense to boost Lowe's value, given how his put-the-ball-in-play tendencies so severely affect his results. Actually I'd go so far as to say that if *any* team should have gambled on Lowe, it'd be the Twins.

Obviosuly the Sox felt they needed to monetize Nomar and Lowe now before they hit free agency. I can see why you trade Lowe wuth Arroyo and Kim and all these other candidates to start around, but I think the Nomar thing was a reach. How much of this is a PR move designed to ensure the Red Sox don't get "nothing" for Nomar if he leaves for free agency? (Never mind that the Sox are better right now with him in there, they're very much in a playoff race, and two high draft picks, well selected, can have plenty of value). I'd imagine they lock Cabrera up now to try and further improve the PR angle here.

Clear winners: Expos, Cubs
Little given up, potentially intriguing gains: Twins
Cabrera better hit or this could get ugly: Red Sox

dave (Calif): Dave Roberts to Boston, according to Fox Sports. No word what comes in return.

Jonah Keri: By the way, info's flying all over the place...in the Nomar deal, Clement's name has come up, then been retracted, Lowe ditto. We'll stick around until we get this clarified, at the least.

As for Roberts, this makes sense. Nice little get for the Sox, especially with Trot's quad remaining a question mark. If the Sox make the playoffs, I like having Roberts as a semi-platoon/fill-in/speed/defense guy.

Ricky (DC): After trading Penny, Choi, Nunez and prospects for LoDuca, Seanez, Valdez, Encarnacion and Mota, did the Marlins get better or worse? After considering the LoDuca's second half numbers, lack of outfield depth and the fact Lenny Harris is still the first lefthanded bat off the bench I'm leaning towards the latter.

Jonah Keri: I have concerns about Penny. Will Carroll and others have fretted about his high injury risk before, and lately his peripherals have really gone south. Whether that's just a tired-arm/small-sample thing or not remaisn to be seen, but if Burnett stays healthy, that's still a deep staff, and dealing Penny may not necessarily hurt much. I too worry about Lo Duca's tendency to wear down in the second half, moreso in the south Florida heat. Given the way Ramon Castro crapped out this season, though, and the Marlins' unwillingness to stick Josh Willingham (sleeper prospect that I liked a lot in the BP2004 Marlins chapter), they needed an upgrade there.

Mota helps a bullpen that needed an arm even before the Benitez injury concerns. Encarnacion adds nothing, Seanez could help some if he stays healthy. A lot of choi's value lies in him being young and cheap, with upside.

If you're talking this year ONLY, I'd say it's conceivable that the Marlins may have helped their team a little, though if I were a betting man, I'd say they hurt themselves money/contract-wise without doing much to help the club, overall.

geehal (Boston): NOMAHHH!!!!!

Jonah Keri: Looks like the Cubs did NOT part with Matt Clement in the trade. That is a pretty damn sweet deal for them. I don't like the trade for the Sox--even if Cabrera plays like v2003, that's not as good as Nomar if he's hitting on all cylinders.

OK, lightning round. I've probably eclipsed most known chat duration records as we hit the 2.5-hour mark here...

Kenny Williams (Chicago, IL): What the hell am I doing? Do I realize the window of opportunity for my team is closing quickly and if I don't win this year I won't have a job past 2005?

Jonah Keri: As I said earlier, I think the Sox were all but done before today. Kenny's job may end up in jeopardy, that's certainly possible. Ultimately, if you're looking out for the good of the team, though, you convert Loaiza into legitimate young talent, not Jose Freakin Contreras.

Combine that with the Cubs' move, and well, I imagine the El sees more traffic heading north as we head down the stretch.

Gene (LA): Two items: Angels terminate Raul Mondesi. Yankees (reportedly) sign John Olerud

Jonah Keri: Olerud's not an upgrade over Tony Clark unless he can at least rediscover some doubles, though at least he still plays D. Low-risk move, in any case.

Fortunately for Mondesi, his real age is roughly 62, so he'll get all the benefits of social security and a good pension soon enough.

franktashlin (st. petersburg): What team will be hurt most by standing pat?

Jonah Keri: Giants/Padres. Anything's possible, but this looks like the Dodgers' division to lose at this point.

hektisk (Boston): Is this Nomar trade going to go down as one of the worst in recent Sox history? BP's system no longer rates Cabrera as a great defender, not since his back injury, and his bat has been anemic this year. Mientkiewicz is terror with the glove, but unless Millar struggles mightily, should not get the at-bats. And even if Millar does struggle, I'd rather Youkilis (who was playing some 1b for Pawtucket) get the at bats. He's an offensive upgrade over David McCarty (though not necessarily a defensive one), but that doesn't make him valuable. Pokey shouldn't be starting everyday, but I have my doubts about Cabrera. I'm worried that we just traded Nomar and one of our better prospects (Matt Murton) for two potential backups. Help me.

Jonah Keri: Cabrera's a lot better than Pokey.

But yes, I wouldn't be happy either.

Anthony (Long Island): So who do you expect to see traded between now and August 31?

Jonah Keri: Last one. If the Astros put Beltran on waivers, I imagine at the least you'd see him get claimed, though whether a trade gets consummated or not is tough to stay. Randy looks like he'll stay in Arizona. I could see a few smaller Craig Counsell types making it through to trades as teams bolster their benches. I still think you'll see a few pitchers change teams too, because there are still a bunch of contenders with a bunch of holes, both in the rotation and the bullpen.

Jonah Keri: Thanks to everyone for all the good questions, and for coming along on what became a wild trade deadline journey. My apologies to those who didn't get their questions answered. Feel free to e-mail me at jkeri@baseballprospectus.com and I'll be happy to chat some more. Also, starting this week, I'll be writing a weekly column for BP to go along with Q&As whenever I can get them. If people have good story ideas they'd like to see explored, drop me a note any time. And I'll be converting some of the best questions into occasional mailbags. Until then...


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