A Whirlwind of Deals

While the Mets remained status quo over the past 48 hours, a number of trades were made among postseason-contending teams. Let’s break them down.

Phillies obtain Cliff Lee and Ben Francisco for prospects Jason Knapp, Carlos Carrasco, Jason Donald and Lou Marson

Wow. The Phillies get a Cy Young winner and a very capable (and relatively young) fourth outfielder in return for three minor leaguers. Granted, those prospects are top-notch, but they are still prospects — not proven MLBers. Further, the Phils did not give up any of Kyle Drabek, JA Happ, Dominic Brown, nor Michael Taylor, their four most coveted youngsters.

Lee steps right in to give the Phillies the best one-two lefty starting combo in MLB. Francisco is a talented offensive force who runs the bases well and has gap / doubles power that could evolve into homerun power at Citizens Bank Park. He is, however, a notorious streak hitter who runs scalding hot and ice cold — not unlike current Phillie Pedro Feliz. This trade more or less locks up the NL East for the Phillies.

Mariners trade Jeff Clement, Ronny Cedeno, Aaron Pribanic, Brett Lorin and Nathan Adcock to the Pirates for Ian Snell and Jack Wilson.

Finally, the Bucs find a taker for Jack Wilson, a hard-nosed, good-fielding, light-hitting, overpaid shortstop. Snell was an eternal enigma who requested a demotion to AAA to get his head straight. Both will do well in Seattle, and the Pirates will be happy with the players they received. Cedeno steps right in to Wilson’s position at shortstop, and Clement is essentially a lefthanded-hitting version of Ryan Doumit — an offensive-minded catcher with some holes behind the plate, and who may eventually find a home at 1B.

White Sox trade Brian Anderson to Red Sox for Mark Kotsay

The Red Sox had DFA’d Kotsay to make room on the roster for Adam LaRoche, so the fact they received anything for him in return is gravy. They get Anderson, who is essentially a hyped-up version of Jeremy Reed, and can stock him in AAA. The White Sox get a veteran bat who will be used immediately in return for a player who was unlikely to ever meet previous expectations. Good move for both clubs.

Giants acquire Ryan Garko from Indians for minor leaguer Scott Barnes.

This was the deal the Mets needed to make — obtain a slugging, under-30, inexpensive first baseman / outfielder who can fill in at 1B and the outfield corners and be a candidate for regular duty in 2010. Unfortunately, the Mets don’t have ANY minor league pitching prospects at the AA level who are coveted by other teams, so such a deal can’t happen — at least, not without the Mets overpaying (as usual). After being drafted out of St. John’s last year, Barnes rocketed through the Giants’ system, and despite being in the minors, could be ahead of where Jon Niese is right now. But since the Giants have tons of young pitching at the MLB level and throughout their system, he was expendable. This is what is defined as “depth”.

Giants acquire Freddy Sanchez for minor league pitcher Tim Alderson

In a matter of 24 hours, the Giants replaced one-half of their infield, adding much-needed offense to their feeble-hitting lineup. In Sanchez they get a solid singles hitter who will step right in to play second base, which has been something of a black hole for San Francisco this year. They did, however, give up a solid pitching prospect in Alderson — a 20-year-old who was ranked the #4 prospect in the Giants’ organization, and the 26th-best prospect in all of baseball. But again, the Giants are loaded with young arms, so it’s not a big deal for them. Maybe they overpaid, but, you have to give up something to get something — especially at the trade deadline. The Bucs, who are going nowhere, did well with this deal.

Final Thoughts

The Phillies deal, obviously, is the one that on the surface most affects the Mets. But the Giants also made moves that should significantly improve their club, and since they’re unlikely to oust the Dodgers in the NL West, they are a major obstacle in terms of the Wild Card.

The Mets likely won’t make a deal — partially because they don’t have the parts to spare, and mainly because they look at players returning from the DL as their “acquisitions”. The problem with that thinking is, you don’t know when those players will return, nor if they’ll return at 100% right away. For example, Jose Reyes might be back by mid-August — but will he be able to run at full speed? Similarly, when / if Carlos Delgado returns, how long will it take him to get his timing back? And will his hip allow him to swing with the same force he had before? Will either Billy Wagner and J.J. Putz be able to crack 90 MPH when they come off the DL? Lots of hopes and wishes — which has been the Mets’ strategy for three years running.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. isuzudude July 30, 2009 at 9:52 am
    I’m not claiming to be any expert, but I’m not in love with the Phillies’ deal for Cliff Lee. Firstly, if Lee bombs with the Phils and doesn’t help them capture back to back championships, they could decide to decline his $8-mil option and let him walk as a FA, which means they traded 4 prospects for Ben Francisco. Secondly, yes, Lee was last year’s AL Cy Young, but combine his stats from 2007 with this year’s, and you get a 12-17 pitcher with a 4.36 ERA, a .280 opp avg, and a 1.38 WHIP. So he’s anything but consistent, and, to me, hardly worth giving up half the farm for, especially considering how little time remains on his contract. He reminds me a lot of Esteban Loaiza and his miracle season in 2003, and then his plummet into mediocrity every season before and after. Thirdly, Lee is now going into a rotation that already includes the likes of Cole Hamels, JA Happ, and Jamie Moyer. See a trend? All lefties. Granted, they all have good numbers, but what happens if the Phils get matched up against a team with strong splits vs LHP, like the Dodgers or Cardinals, both of whom are predominantly right hand hitting? To me, it spells early exit from the playoffs. And lastly, although least significant, what was the motive for signing Pedro Martinez if a pitcher of the status of Cliff Lee was going to be acquired anyway? Even without Lee, the Phils had Hamels, Blanton, Happ, Moyer, Lopez, Kendrick, Carrasco, Park, Bastardo, and a potentially returning Brett Myers. Now add Pedro and Lee to the mix and that’s one over-crowded rotation. Perhaps some may see that as a good problem to have, but would the money promised to Pedro, or the prospects used to obtain Lee, have been better utilized to upgrade at catcher over the .228 hitting Carlos Ruiz, or to beef up a bullpen headed by Brad Lidge’s 7.11 ERA? So, in my eyes, although I agree Lee makes the Phils’ rotation stronger, I don’t think it makes them any more of a lock to win anything. And I certainly think they could have put the prospects they traded away to better use in getting a piece that they more sorely needed than a SP.
  2. joejanish July 30, 2009 at 10:39 am
    ‘dude – while I agree that Cliff Lee has had his ups and downs, most of that had to do with suffering injuries during spring training in 2007 and then having a disastrous season. If you look at every year other than 2007, Lee is in fact a pretty darn consistent hurler. His numbers this year are nowhere near what they were in ’08, but a 3.14 ERA and 1.30 WHIP in the AL is nothing to sneeze at. The key, I think, is that he’s pitched 8 innings or more in 8 of his 22 starts this year — that length is going to take enormous pressure off the Philly bullpen.

    Maybe they gave up too much, and maybe Lee is a bust, but that’s part of the gamble at this time of year. Further, what other “piece” did they “sorely need” ? Their position players are more or less set, and their biggest question mark as you point out is Brad Lidge — but it’s generally not prudent to give up a huge package for a closer, and there aren’t many closers on the trade block (Heath Bell, who else?). Similarly, there aren’t any catchers available, other than Victor Martinez, who is 30 and quickly becoming a 1B. Though, I’m sure the Lee talks included Martinez’s name at some point.

    I think the Phillies played this pretty well. They get Lee when he’s just coming down from his peak, but still an outstanding hurler and innings-eater, and if/when he walks away as a free agent, the Phils likely get a draft pick for a guy who by that time will be starting the downside of his career. And for this they gave up no MLB players.

    Plus I think you underestimate Ben Francisco. He’s not a star but he’ll fit in nicely. It’s a similar under-the-radar acquisition to Jayson Werth.

    Also, are you really criticizing the Phillies for stockpiling pitching? This strategy has been the reason they’ve taken the NL East two years in a row. Picking up Pedro as insurance made a lot of sense at the time, in case they didn’t make a deal and also to give them a bit of leverage in trade talks. Now they have an extra arm in the minors who can take his time getting ready for September. I see Pedro as a nice luxury as a long man in the postseason.

    Compare that to the Mets, who sign people like Tim Redding, pencil him in to be their #4 or #5 starter, and then cross their fingers that everyone else stays healthy and performs as expected.

  3. isuzudude July 30, 2009 at 6:00 pm
    Yeouch! That’s my expression after Joe laid the smackdown on my candya$$
  4. joejanish July 30, 2009 at 6:11 pm
    Sorry ‘dude … this house of cards built by Minaya and Co. gets my blood boiling. This front office has had FIVE YEARS and the best they can develop and deliver to the big club as “MLB ready” in that time is Dan Murphy, Nick Evans, and Jon Niese?

    (I don’t count Pelfrey nor Joe Smith because they weren’t “developed” but rather drafted and force-fed to MLB. And F-Mart has yet to arrive as “MLB ready”.)

    Worse yet, they have last-place teams at AA and AAA, with longshots rather than legitimately “ready” prospects coming up in 2010. A colossal fail.

    Meantime nearly every other team in MLB has a stockpile of prospects chomping at the bit in the minors, and the Phillies will hardly feel the loss of the four legit prospects they just sent away for a Cy Young Award winner.