Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Grading the Trade Deadline of 2008

Everyone says you can't judge trade deadline, or draft class, winners and losers immediately, but baseball pundits still crank them our for major publications, like Sports Illustrated or ESPN.

The reasons for the existing of these rash writings are twofold:

1. They're fun. People like to read them.
2. They help maintain/increase readership.

As Dan Evans put it a couple of weeks ago, "It's fun to talk about transaction winners and losers, but no one really knows which is which, since it sometimes takes years after a deal for its full effects to become known."

If you're going to drink a macrobrew, drink a Michelob. If you're going to read a macroblog, read Jay Jaffe's on SI.

Mike Trout's future was affected in 2008

Before getting into the transactions, a little context:

The 2007 postseason had the Diamondbacks sweep the Cubs, the Rockies sweep the Phillies and D'backs, to promptly get swept by the Red Sox in an altogether forgettable World Series for anyone outside of Red Sox Nation.

*~*~*

Teams began retooling through November trades. Among the more memorable moves of the month, the Phillies and Astros completed a five-player trade revolving around Michael Bourn and Brad Lidge.

The Angels swapped slick-fielding shortstop, Orlando Cabrera, for a steady rotation presence in Jon Garland.

Matt Garza was huge for the
worst-to-first Tampa Bay Rays
In a six-player trade, the Devil Rays wisely acquired Matt Garza and Jason Bartlett for Delmon Young.

On December 3rd, the White Sox struck gold by trading Chris Carter to Arizona for Carlos Quentin. You may remember, Quentin put up a 149 OPS+ for the '08 Sox, en route to a 5th place American League MVP finish.

The 2007-08 off-season was not one of the finest in the history of the New York Yankees. Right before the owners meetings, they gave up on current stud reliever, Tyler Clippard, after a 6.33 ERA across 59.3 innings, with an unsightly 17/18 BB/K ratio. The Yankees also acquired Jonathan Albadejo from the Nationals, but he only gave the them 59.3 innings of below average pitching over the next three years. Ten days later, the Yankees gave up on John Axford with an outright release. It's not clear why no other team picked up Axford until after the 2007 season, but he apparently spent that summer as a cell phone salesman.

The same day the Nationals acquired Tyler Clippard, the Tigers and Marlins executed one of the biggest trades in baseball history. Detroit sent six prospects, including Andrew Miller and Cameron Maybin, to Florida for Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis. The D-Train's career derailed in Detroit, but the rare talents of Miguel Cabrera are still driving Motown.

We've discussed this deal before.

*~*~*

A few more big offseason deals leading into 2008:

The Astros acquired Jose Valverde.

St. Louis traded Jim Edmonds to San Diego for future World Series MVP, David Freese.

David Freese his .302/.400/.489 for Lake Elsinore before the
Cardinals traded one of their all-time fan favorites for him.

The D'backs flipped Chris Carter, along with Carlos Gonzalez, Brett Anderson, Dana Eveland, Greg Smith, and more to Oakland for Dan Haren. So, in the same month, one team struck gold trading Chris Carter and another team struck gold when trading for him. In hindsight, CarGo alone is a phenomenal haul.

The swapping of Edison Volquez for Josh Hamilton by Texas and Cincinnati was the last trade of 2007.

*~*~*

Not only did Oakland get a king's ransom for Dan Haren in December, on January 3rd, Billy Beane traded Nick Swisher to the White Sox for a few guys, including Gio Gonzalez. Looking back at December 2007 and January 2008, we may want to remove the "surprising" tag from the 2012 A's.

*~*~*

February had two trades of note. On Groundhog Day, Omar Minaya gave away what amounted to a bunch of spare parts for Johan Santana.

Erik Bedard's 2007 stats could spark a blog post topic
Six days later, the Mariners tried to improve their Major League product by trading Adam Jones, George Sherrill, and Chris Tillman to the Baltimore Orioles for an impressive Erik Bedard. In Bedard's last season in Baltimore, he was virtually unhittable, holding opposing batters to a .212 batting average, while striking out 221*.

*I wonder how many times a player struck out more batters than his Batting Average Against. Hmmmm?

Those were all the notable trades before Opening Day.

To finish our context portion of the program, we'd like to point out that the Tampa Bay Devil Rays had the lowest Winning Percentage in 2007.

Here are the 2007 MLB Standings

Rk Tm W L W-L% R RA Rdiff SRS pythWL 1Run
1 BOS 96 66 .593 5.4 4.1 1.3 1.6 101-61 22-28
2 CLE 96 66 .593 5.0 4.3 0.7 0.8 91-71 29-24
3 LAA 94 68 .580 5.1 4.5 0.6 0.8 90-72 25-19
4 NYY 94 68 .580 6.0 4.8 1.2 1.4 97-65 18-21
5 ARI 90 72 .556 4.4 4.5 -0.1 -0.3 79-83 32-20
6 COL 90 73 .552 5.3 4.7 0.6 0.4 91-72 19-19
7 PHI 89 73 .549 5.5 5.1 0.4 0.2 87-75 14-23
8 SDP 89 74 .546 4.5 4.1 0.5 0.2 89-74 23-26
9 SEA 88 74 .543 4.9 5.0 -0.1 0.2 79-83 27-20
10 NYM 88 74 .543 5.0 4.6 0.3 0.1 86-76 22-15
11 DET 88 74 .543 5.5 4.9 0.6 0.8 89-73 27-19
12 CHC 85 77 .525 4.6 4.3 0.4 -0.1 87-75 23-22
13 ATL 84 78 .519 5.0 4.5 0.5 0.2 88-74 18-25
14 MIL 83 79 .512 4.9 4.8 0.2 -0.2 83-79 22-21
15 TOR 83 79 .512 4.6 4.3 0.3 0.7 87-75 29-25
16 LAD 82 80 .506 4.5 4.5 0.0 -0.1 82-80 28-20
17 MIN 79 83 .488 4.4 4.5 0.0 0.2 80-82 22-22
18 STL 78 84 .481 4.5 5.1 -0.6 -1.0 71-91 16-20
19 OAK 76 86 .469 4.6 4.7 -0.1 0.2 79-83 25-24
20 TEX 75 87 .463 5.0 5.2 -0.2 0.1 79-83 26-18
21 HOU 73 89 .451 4.5 5.0 -0.6 -0.9 72-90 25-26
22 WSN 73 89 .451 4.2 4.8 -0.7 -0.8 70-92 27-24
23 CHW 72 90 .444 4.3 5.2 -0.9 -0.5 67-95 16-26
24 CIN 72 90 .444 4.8 5.3 -0.4 -0.7 75-87 26-24
25 FLA 71 91 .438 4.9 5.5 -0.6 -0.8 72-90 22-24
26 SFG 71 91 .438 4.2 4.4 -0.2 -0.3 77-85 24-28
27 BAL 69 93 .426 4.7 5.4 -0.7 -0.3 71-91 13-31
28 KCR 69 93 .426 4.4 4.8 -0.4 -0.2 74-88 21-22
29 PIT 68 94 .420 4.5 5.2 -0.8 -1.1 70-92 16-22
30 TBD 66 96 .407 4.8 5.8 -1.0 -0.5 67-95 22-21
Avg 81 81 .500 4.8 4.8 81-81 22-22
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/14/2012.

*~*~*

We enter the 2008 trade deadline season on July 7th, the day Cleveland sent a homegrown southpaw pitching machine, CC Sabathia, to Milwaukee for Matt LaPorta, a couple of other guys, and a player to be named later: Michael Brantley.

CC Sabathia did great things during his time in Milwaukee

That morning, the teams in place for a playoff birth were Tampa Bay, Boston, White Sox, and the Angels in the American League, while the National League would've been represented by Philadelphia, the Cubs, Cardinals, and a 2-way tie for the NL West lead by the 44-45 Diamondbacks and Dodgers.

The Cardinals were the only team in 2008 to miss the postseason after being in playoff position on July 7th.

As we are about to unveil our rankings of the the 2008 Trade Deadline Winners and Losers, we present the final standings for the 2008 regular season.

Rk Tm W L W-L% R RA Rdiff SRS pythWL 1Run
1 LAA 100 62 .617 4.7 4.3 0.4 0.7 88-74 31-21
2 CHC 97 64 .602 5.3 4.2 1.1 0.8 98-63 24-22
3 TBR 97 65 .599 4.8 4.1 0.6 1.1 92-70 29-18
4 BOS 95 67 .586 5.2 4.3 0.9 1.3 95-67 22-23
5 PHI 92 70 .568 4.9 4.2 0.7 0.4 93-69 27-23
6 MIL 90 72 .556 4.6 4.3 0.4 0.1 87-75 28-17
7 NYM 89 73 .549 4.9 4.4 0.5 0.1 89-73 16-19
8 NYY 89 73 .549 4.9 4.5 0.4 0.8 87-75 27-18
9 CHW 89 74 .546 5.0 4.5 0.5 0.9 89-74 22-17
10 MIN 88 75 .540 5.1 4.6 0.5 0.8 89-74 26-26
11 HOU 86 75 .534 4.4 4.6 -0.2 -0.4 77-84 21-21
12 TOR 86 76 .531 4.4 3.8 0.6 1.1 93-69 24-32
13 STL 86 76 .531 4.8 4.5 0.3 0.0 86-76 24-28
14 FLA 84 77 .522 4.8 4.8 0.0 -0.3 81-80 24-19
15 LAD 84 78 .519 4.3 4.0 0.3 -0.1 87-75 19-24
16 ARI 82 80 .506 4.4 4.4 0.1 -0.4 82-80 22-23
17 CLE 81 81 .500 5.0 4.7 0.3 0.6 85-77 14-17
18 TEX 79 83 .488 5.6 6.0 -0.4 -0.1 76-86 28-18
19 OAK 75 86 .466 4.0 4.3 -0.3 0.1 76-85 25-24
20 KCR 75 87 .463 4.3 4.8 -0.6 -0.1 72-90 20-18
21 COL 74 88 .457 4.6 5.1 -0.5 -0.9 74-88 25-20
22 CIN 74 88 .457 4.3 4.9 -0.6 -0.8 72-90 28-20
23 DET 74 88 .457 5.1 5.3 -0.2 0.1 78-84 16-25
24 SFG 72 90 .444 4.0 4.7 -0.7 -1.1 68-94 31-21
25 ATL 72 90 .444 4.6 4.8 -0.2 -0.5 79-83 11-30
26 BAL 68 93 .422 4.9 5.4 -0.5 0.0 73-88 21-29
27 PIT 67 95 .414 4.5 5.5 -0.9 -1.1 67-95 22-21
28 SDP 63 99 .389 3.9 4.7 -0.8 -1.2 68-94 16-28
29 SEA 61 101 .377 4.1 5.0 -0.9 -0.5 67-95 18-30
30 WSN 59 102 .366 4.0 5.1 -1.1 -1.4 62-99 20-29
Avg 80 80 .500 4.6 4.7 81-80 22-22
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/6/2012.

*~*~*

Grading the 2008 MLB Trade Deadline
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Notable acquisitions: Mark Teixeira
Notable losses: Casey Kotchman
Grade: A+
The Angels acquisition for Mark Teixeira was a huge plus. This cannot be overstated. There are multiple ways of measuring how this trade benefited the Angels. On the field, let's put it this way: Casey Kotchman, in 100 games, reached base safely 130 times. Mark Teixeira, in about half the number of games (54), reached base safely 105 times.

We've discussed what an unmitigated disaster the Teixeira experiment was for the Atlanta Braves. First, they trade killer prospects to Texas (Neftali Feliz, Elvis Andrus, Matt Harrison, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia) for a tiny portion of Teixeira's career (157 games). They then flipped him to Atlanta for Casey freaking Kotchman, passing on their rights to compensatory draft picks they'd get if/when Teixeira left via free agency.

So, the Angels capitalize by getting Teixeira for a lopsided fraction of what the Braves paid, and they received two compensation picks in the 2009 draft for "losing" Teixeira to the Yankees in free agency. YANKEE and BRAVES FANS, LOOK AWAY. The Angels received the #25 and #40 overall as compensation picks. The 40th pick was Tyler Scaggs, whom the Angels used in a trade for Dan Haren. LOOK AWAY, YANKEE and BRAVES FANS. The 25th pick turned out to be Mike Trout, who just turned 21 last week, and is arguably the best player in baseball.

Imagine trading Casey Kotchman for a player used in a package to acquire Dan Haren, and Mark Teixeira for half a season before turning him into the rights to Mike Trout. Tony Reagins did that during his first trade deadline as VP/General Manager, after replacing Bill Stoneman in October '07.

Milwaukee Brewers
Notable acquisitions: CC Sabathia, Ray Durham
Notable losses: Michael Brantley, Matt LaPorta
Grade: A
The Brewers gave up a little bit. Michael Brantley looks like he has some decent seasons ahead of him. Yet, they acquired one of the best rental players of all time in CC Sabathia who got Milwaukee to thier first postseason since the hey day of Molitor and Yount.

In 2008, Milwaukee was the only contender who made a trade in July that vaulted them into the postseason. Sabathia proved valiant in September, routinely throwing on short rest and dominating the National League. He was gassed in the postseason, but the Cardinals would have been the Wild Card if the Brewers hadn't traded for Sabathia.

Cleveland Indians
Carlos Santana was a STAR prospect
Notable acquisitions: Carlos Santana, Michael Brantley, Matt LaPorta
Notable losses: CC Sabathia, Casey Blake
Grade: A
The Indians received a decent haul from the Brewers for Sabathia, but it was the Casey Blake for Carlos Santana trade that's most worthy of acclaim.

Carlos Santana has already been productive enough in his young Indians career to be the trading steal of the season.

Philadelphia Phillies
Notable acquisitions: Joe Blanton
Notable losses: Josh Outman
Grade: A
Joe Blanton's never been a sexy pick, but his contributions to the Phillies winning the World Series were grand.

Let's attribute this to luck, but in the regular season, the Phillies had a .692 Winning Percentage in Joe Blanton starts (and a .557 when everyone else pitched). They also won all three games that Blanton started in the postseason.

Chicago Cubs
Notable acquisitions: Rich Harden
Notable losses: none
Grade: B+
Since Harden's injury bug followed him to Chicago, and the Cubs never won a postseason game with him on the roster (or since), people forget how well he pitched for the team.

After the trade, Harden started 12 games for the Cubs, going 5-1 with a 1.77 ERA. The team won 9 of his 12 starts, and his excellent pitching computed to a career best 258 ERA+.

What the Cubs sent to Oakland pales in comparison to what Beane has gotten for other graduating Aces. Matt Murton, Sean Gallagher and Eric Patterson never achieved consistent success at the Major League level. Had the A's done better in the Rich Harden trade, they would probably be in first place in the AL West right now.

The Harden deal was a good win for Jim Hendry's front office. Much like his counterpart on the South Side, however, his inability to improve the team further doomed the club to a first-round sweep at the hands of another NL West foe.

Houston Astros
Notable acquisitions: Randy Wolf, LaTroy Hawkins
Notable losses: none
Grade: B+
Seeing that your team gave up very little of consequence, a few years after a trade, provides a pretty good feeling. Randy Wolf and LaTroy Hawkins are by no means the elite, best of the best, but they were pretty fantastic for the 2008 Astros. Randy Wolf pitched to a 119 ERA+, and the Astros went 10-2 in the dozen games he started.

LaTroy Hawkins somehow was able to pitch 21 innings for the '08 'Stros, giving up just 1 earned run, with a 5:1 K:BB ratio, and getting credit for an out of this world 999 ERA+.

Boston Red Sox
Notable acquisitions: Jason Bay
Notable losses: Manny Ramirez
Grade: B
Like for most Red Sox,
it's been a trying year
for Anthony Ranaudo
After arriving to the conclusion that Manny Ramirez only cared about a contract extension, the Red Sox made the most out of a bad situation.

Jason Bay, for all his faults, was as productive as he's ever been in his one and a half seasons in Boston.

The Red Sox also received a 2010 compensation pick after losing Jason Bay. Anthony Ranaudo still has a chance to develop into a useful Major League pitcher, but he's struggled with this year with 6.5 BB/9 and 1.0 K/BB ratios in Double-A. Adding injury to poor control, Ranaudo may be out for the season after injuring his shoulder.

Cincinnati Reds
Notable acquisitions: Nick Masset
Notable losses: Ken Griffey Jr
Grade: B
At 38 years old, Ken Griggey Jr didn't have many bullets left in his chamber. He didn't have the power of his youth, hitting just 3 Homeruns in 41 games for the White Sox. In exchange, the Reds obtained a valuable bullpen arm who wound up delivering a 3.07 ERA in over 240 innings through last year.

Nick Masset has been injured all season. He's recently started pitching in minor league games and should be back in Cincinnati for the stretch run.

Chicago White Sox
Notable acquisitions: Ken Griffey Jr
Notable losses: Nick Masset
Grade: B-
While Ken Griffey didn't fill up the box scores for the White Sox, he was a welcome presence in the clubhouse, he had a reasonable .347 On Base Percentage, and the team won the division to qualify for the playoffs by just 1 game. Had Kenny Williams acquired more pieces, they might have defeated the Rays in the first round and followed their path to the World Series. What isn't clear is how close the White Sox were to any other moves, and how much of their future would it have cost them?

Los Angeles Dodgers
Notable acquisitions: Manny Ramirez, Casey Blake
Notable losses: Carlos Santana, Andy LaRoche
Grade: C+
Manny's a world class weirdo
If you live east of Rancho Cucamonga, it's easy to forget what a phenomenon MannyWood was that first time around.

After teabagging his way out of Boston, Man-Ram helped get the Dodgers into the playoffs by batting .396/.489/.743 for Joe Torre's Dodgers, good for a 221 OPS+.

Like most Hollywood sequels, the rest of Ramirez's career couldn't match the first-run success.

More troubling for the franchise was the Carlos Santana for Casey Blake trade. Blake was pretty good for the Dodgers, but Carlos Santana at catcher would have helped out tremendously after Russell Martin fell out of favor.

Washington Nationals
Notable acquisitions: Emilio Bonifacio
Notable losses: Jon Rauch
Grade: C
We like to give Jim Bowden a hard time around here because he's kind of a boob on TV, and when he was an executive, he made a few disastrous moves that looked bad at the time. This move from July 22, 2008 set off a positive change of events for his club. The Nationals were a last place team in 2008, and they didn't need a closer who was going to get expensive. In the offseason, Bowden flipped Bonifacio, Jake Smolinski, and P.J. Dean for Josh Willingham and Scott Olsen. Olsen fell apart, but Willingham was really good in DC for two years.

Arizona Diamondbacks
Notable acquisitions: Tony Clark, Jon Rauch
Notable losses: Emilio Bonifacio
Grade: C-
The talent of the players being acquired declines significantly after Jason Bay. To Diamondbacks' management, Tony Clark must've resembled a rabbit's foot. He was said to be a good leader for the 2007 D'Backs club. After going to San Diego as a free agent, he was traded back to Arizona for the '08 stretch.

Unfortunately, for Arizona, Tony Clark couldn't really hit anymore, and Jon Rauch blew up to the tune of a 6.56 ERA.

While they didn't give up any future stars, the D'Backs finished the season two games behind the Dodgers.

New York Yankees
Brian Cashman look
like Michael Scott here.
Notable acquisitions: Xavier Nady, Damaso Marte, Ivan Rodriguez
Notable losses: Jeff Karstens, Daniel McCutchen, Ross Ohlendorf, Jose Tabata, Kyle Farnsworth, LaTroy Hawkins.
Grade: D
It's no secret that 2008 was one of the most disappointing* in recent history for Yankee fans.

*The Yankees have been in the postseason every year since 1994, except 2008.

The front office could not to overcome their lousy offseason with shrewd moves in July. Nady, Marte, and Pudge 2.0 combined for 0.1 Wins Above Replacement, according to Baseball-Reference.

The Yankees didn't wind up giving up a future superstar, like Carlos Santana, but they gave up a lot of talent. The opportunity cost alone is crushing.

Oakland A's
Notable acquisitions: Josh Outman
Notable losses: Rich Harden
Grade: D
The Rich Harden deal was a shame for A's fans. He was pitching well in 2008, but since his salary was going to rise to about $7 million for the 2009 season, the A's were forced to make a deal for younger, less expensive reinforcements.

Billy Beane is always
ready to make a deal
In contrast to the successful deals they had been able to complete in similar situations, this time, they came away relatively empty handed.

July was not as kind to the A's as December and January had been, but getting Josh Outman back, in the Joe Blanton deal, helped the A's recoup some of their losses from the trade with Chicago.

San Diego Padres
Notable acquisitions: none
Notable losses: Tony Clark, Randy Wolf
Grade: D-
The Padres unloaded Randy Wolf, when he still had some good mileage left in his left arm. The got Chad Reineke in return, but he's been a fixture in the rotation of the Reds' Triple-AAA team, the Louisville Bats, for a few years.

The Padres weren't in a position to demand much for Tony Clark, and agreed on Evan Scribner. In 2011, Scribner spent a couple of months mopping up the Padres bullpen. Unfortunately, he produced a 7.07 ERA. While he never blew a lead, the team lost all ten games in which Scribner pitched.

*~*~*

All other teams were relatively inactive. Tampa Bay, who made it to the World Series, made their big stride developing homegrown talent and the offseason deal of Delmon Young for Matt Garza and Jason Bartlett.

If you got to this part of the post, wow. Thank you! How did you do it? Please add to the discussion in the comments section. Did we make any mistakes? Where did we grade too leniently or harshly?

Next season, we'll take a look at the 2009 trade deadline.

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