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.
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.
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.
(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.