Nine to Know: Thoughts on the trading season

  1. I love the Texas Rangers acquisitions of  Mike Adams and Koji Uehara from San Diego and Baltimore respectively. While everyone was after help for the ‘pen,

    Koji with runners on base. Courtesy of BaseballAnalytics.org

    Texas grabbed two of the best. Overall, batters are hitting just .155 against Adams. That is even less than Adam Dunn is hitting! Righties are just 8-for-75 (.107) and they hit .105 against his killer slider. Check out how effective Koji is in my latest piece for Baseballanalytics.org. These additions may have us thinking about 1977-78. That’s the last time the same two teams met in consecutive years in the World Series (the Yankees won each 4-2 over the Dodgers).

  2. Speaking of the Giants, baseball is one weird game. First of all I love the pickup of Carlos Beltran going to a team that had no one in double figures in homers. So the Giants get Beltran, head to Cincinnati to face the Reds who were just swept in  four-game set by the Mets. And what happens? The Reds take all three games of the series. Beltran is now 2-for-17 in his four games with San Francisco. I think that once the crowded outfield situation sorts itself out that this will prove to be a great deal. The Giants also picked up Jeff Keppinger on July 19 to help around second and I really like the addition of the veteran Orlando Cabrera at short. Don’t surprised if Cabrera adds to the Giants in the way that Edgar Renteria did last season.
  3. The Giants greatest competition for a return to the Series would have to be the Philadelphia Phillies. The best team in baseball only got better with the addition of  Hunter Pence, acquired from the Hapless Astros. The Phils needed a right-hand hitting right fielder (sound familiar Boston?) and they got him in Pence. After hitting .282 each of the last two seasons, Pence came to the Phils hitting .308 with 11 homers and 62 RBI. His minus one Total Zone fielding total is not great, but the Phils should expect his bat to make this difference. Pence should only be better in the Phils lineup with a drop in pressure from the misery of being one of the few guys who could hit in Houston.
  4. The other strong NL East team, the Atlanta Braves, made their own great pickup in getting Michael Bourn from the Astros. David Pinto on BaseballAnalytics.org has a good analysis of this “Bourn again” hitter. The addition of Bourn gives the Braves a true leadoff hitter. Bourn is hitting .303 and leads the NL in steals with 39 after leading the last two seasons with 61 and 52 respectively. The Braves rank 14th in the NL with 42 steals this season, so Bourn practically doubles their total. In addition, their leadoff batters have been hitting .258 with 67 runs scored, a number that should go up considerably with Bourn. In addition, Bourn has a plus 11 Total Zone rating and should make a huge difference in the outfield.
  5. Let’s hear it for the Pittsburgh Pirates who were buyers this year. Good for them and good for their fans. The Buccos first picked up Derrek Lee to supplant Lyle Overbay at first base and add some veteran presence to the ballclub. Lee is hitting .248 with 12 homers and 41 RBI with half of those homers coming in July. The Pirates also picked up Ryan Ludwick from the Padres. Ludwick is only hitting .238, but he’s hitting .258 away from San Diego and could inject some offense into the lineup. The moves in and of themselves aren’t huge, but the buying versus selling is.
  6. Along the same lines, the acquisition of Ubaldo Jimenez by the Indians from the Rockies is another reflection of team that has ordinarily been a seller, going after a pitcher that other teams wanted. If there is nothing wrong with Jimenez, and that is a big “if,” this pickup could prove to be significant for the Tribe. Cleveland gave up a lot for Jimenez who is under their control through 2013. Last year, Jimenez was 19-8, with a 2.88 ERA but this year he is 6-9 with a 4.46 ERA and a 1.374 WHIP. We’ll see what happens, but at least the Indians fans can see their front office making the effort.
  7. Potentially the most significant pickup in the AL East went to Toronto who picked up Colby Rasmus. Rasmus is a five-tool player who needed to get away from Tony LaRussa and Mark McGwire. There are many reports that indicate that he needs to get away from his dad, Tony Rasmus who seemed to interfere in the coaching process in St. Louis. Rasmus hit .246 with 11 homers in Bird Land and if batting coach Dwayne Murphy can do for Rasmus what he has done for other members of the Jays, Toronto will have a star. On the other end of that deal, the same could be said for Edwin Jackson, the pitcher the Cards added to their rotation. Jackson, along with Mark Teahan were traded by the White Sox. Jackson was 7-7 with Chicago and is already 1-0 with St. Louis and this is before Dave Duncan, pitching guru extraordinaire, has gotten to work with him. Jackson is in his ninth season in the bigs and has already pitched for the Dodgers, Rays, Tigers, Diamondbacks, White Sox, and Cardinals.
  8. If Erik Bedard is healthy, that acquisition could be a big one for the Red Sox. How many other teams have thought about that “if” as well? All the Sox need is two-three months of health from him and he’s due, since he just came off his eighth visit to the DL. Interestingly, the Yankees made no deals this initial trading season for the first time since 1998. Presumably, management listened to Brian Cashman who already felt the team sacrificed draft picks for Raphael Soriano (who is just back from the DL), and didn’t want to loot the farm system for the assortment of mediocre starters who were available. Just a reminder, trade can still be made, but now the player needs to go through waivers. This remains an advantage for the Yankees (and the Red Sox) because often the players they seek are high-ticket items and other teams beneath them in the pecking order are less likely to want to take on payroll.
  9. Are there milk cartons with Tony Reagins picture on them? Sometimes you wonder if the Angels’ GM exists. Some other losers yesterday include Heath Bell who s stuck in San Diego, Hiroki Kuroda who showed no guts by not waiving his no-trade clause, the Chicago Cubs who didn’t move some their high-priced items, the Royals who didn’t get teams to go after either Melky Cabrera or Jeff Francoeur, and the biggest loser at the deadline was Barack Obama who traded the keys to the house and got nothing in return.