Thankful for November Trades
by Asher B. Chancey, BaseballEvolution.com
November 23, 2005
I had no idea trade season was going to kick up so soon. But just like that, Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell appear headed to the Red Sox, Carlos Delgado is headed to the Mets, and the White Sox have shipped Aaron Rowand in exchange for Big Jim Thome.
This is very disappointing. I hate to see a perfectly decent World Series team firesale twice in 10 years. I wish the Marlins luck in moving out of Miami, because for whatever reason they simply can't get it done there. If winning two World Series in a decade can't motivate a city to support a team, I don't know what can. I would think that a team that wins two World Series inside of a decade could sell out a stadium in Boise, Idaho, but I guess I am wrong. I don't know where they are going to go, but I wish them luck. Maybe the good people of Portland Oregon would like a team? Or perhaps San Antonio.
If the Marlins are looking to trade Miguel Cabrera, I do hope they will be kind enough to contact the Chicago Cubs. Former teammate Derrek Lee has found Wrigley Field quite to his liking.
Carlos Delgado to the Mets
Carlos Delgado is a) getting older, he will be 34 next season; b) struggling with injuries, he missed 18 and 34 games the last two seasons; c) five years removed from his best season. Don't get me wrong, he was fan-tiggity-tastic in 2003, but 2000 was his best year, and he has been inconsistent ever since.
Come on, this Carlos Delgado, Asher. Why the hell do you have a problem with this trade? Well, I'll tell you why – because he is going to the New York Mets!!!! Murphy's Law is absolutely at play here. Even sure thing acquisitions like Carlos Beltran (hey, that's weird) go awry when they join the Mets. Remember – Roberto Alomar, Mo Vaughn, Jeromy Burnitz, Kaz Matsui, Richard Hidalgo, etc. etc. etc. The Mets just don't have luck in the acquisition department, so we have every reason to skeptical. Don't get me wrong – anything team would be stoked to have him.
Jim Thome for Aaron Rowand
I love it when people talk about losing players who are "incredibly popular with the fans." Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Derrek Lee, Alex Rodriguez, Ken Griffey, Jr. – these guys are all incredibly popular with fans, because fans like good players, but when they leave to go to another team, you never him them described as "incredibly popular with the fans," but rather, "the team is really going to miss his bat," or "you just can't replace a guy like that." Simply put, "incredibly popular with the fans" means – this guy is not actually very good. Remember Paul "Heart" Lo Duca? He was incredibly popular with the fans.
Anyway, this is how people are describing Aaron Rowand. And with good reason – after a really good 2004 season, he was simply not good in 2005. In fact, how good he wasn't in 2005 makes it easy to overlook the fact that he was terrific in 2004, and if the Phillies can somehow turn him back around in 2006, he will be a steal. Otherwise, I am a little disappointed that the Phillies didn't manage to get some pitching out of the deal.
And, incidentally, I am not sure why the White Sox need Thome with Thomas and Konerko around. I understand that this gives them insurance in case they can't re-sign Konerko, but I would rather just pony up the dollars for Konerko, who is five years younger than Thome and hasn't been hurt recently. How much of Thome's contract are they eating in this deal?
As for Thome – way to work old chap! Back in the AL, where you may never need to don a glove ever again. Well done.
For my money, I am hoping Thomas ends up in Detroit with ex-teammate Magglio Ordonez, and they are both healthy next year and the Tigers win the division. (Foreshadowing for Spring Predictions).
Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell to the Red Sox
So, the Boston Red Sox have acquired Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell from the Marlins for some minor leaguers. In theory, of course, the Red Sox get a former World Series MVP who is one of the best young pitchers in the league and a third baseman who is a year removed from being pretty solid and two years removed from being fantastic. Here we have an example of how the way you phrase something can disguise the practical reality of the situation.
Assuming the Red Sox intend to go into the 2006 season with both of these players, the practical reality is that this transaction for the Red Sox is, to put it kindly, problematic.. The primary catch in this deal for the Red Sox is Josh Beckett, a pitcher who is loaded with talent, to be sure, but who has been absolutely cursed by injuries in his young career. More specifically, Beckett has been cursed by blisters throughout his career. Just an absolutely odd recurring injury, Beckett has missed part of three seasons because of blisters on the fingers of his pitching hand. He has never pitched 200 innings, and he has never notched 30 starts. He is a great player, but he is not without question marks.
There are, also, peripheral issues to consider with Beckett. Any time a pitcher goes from pitching in a pitcher's park to pitching in a hitter's park, eyebrows are raised. Secondly, the Red Sox do not clearly need starting pitching next season. Acquiring a top flight pitcher is never, of course a bad thing to do, but the Red Sox have a relatively stocked rotation, with Curt Schilling, Matt Clement, Tim Wakefield, and some combination of Bronson Arroyo, David Wells, and Wade Miller. (In fact, it could be argued that what the Red Sox need is not pitching but pitcher coaching). The Sox are not, however, stocked at reliever. After Keith Foulke imploded last season, Schilling manned the closing duty, but it remains to be seen whether this is something he is going to be willing to do again. While the Red Sox were busy bartering for Josh Beckett, the Mets were wining and dining Billy Wagner, a primo closer who would probably be able to have a greater impact on the Sox than Beckett. But, one may think, at least they don't have to pay top dollar to Wagner. Which brings us to Mike Lowell.
Don't get me wrong – it is entirely possible that Mike Lowell, hitting in cozy Fenway Park instead of spacious Pro Player Stadium/Dolphins/Joe Robbie Stadium, will have a renaissance. Look at what the Sox did for Bill Mueller a couple of seasons ago. However, assuming that we know what to expect from Mike Lowell, and assuming that he is merely average next season, the Red Sox will be paying a boatload for Lowell next season. I don't know the specifics of the deal yet, but the Marlins aren't in this thing so they can eat salary, so we know the Red Sox will be paying the lion's share of the deal. Paying lots of money for little return is, even for this team's well-lined coffers, never a good idea.
There are peripheral issues here as well. I am not sure, but didn't Theo Epstein just resign as Red Sox General Manager? So, the question in my mind is "who is running the show?" (Which of course means that who is no longer on first.) The Red Sox are about to hire a new General Manager. Anytime a GM comes into a job, he inherits the previous GM's issues. What the Red Sox have done is increased the inherited issues the new GM will take on when he takes the new job. This is simply not the best scenario. What if the Red Sox hired someone in the mold of Billy Beane? The first thing a Billy Beane type would do is find a way to get rid of Mike Lowell and his salary. In short, the Red Sox may have simply made the job of the new GM more difficult already.
Additionally, it is important to realize that the Red Sox have given up three minor leaguers in this deal. Who they are, I don't know (yet) but I know that this shouldn't be overlooked. A couple of years ago, the Marlins dealt Matt Clement, Antonio Alfonseca, and to the Cubs for Julian Tavarez, and a minor leaguer. That minor leaguer turned into Dontrelle Willis. This is, of course, merely an anecdotal example, but it has merit.
The Red Sox are the second highest grossing, and second highest paying, team in baseball, second in both cases to the Yankees. And this deal reeks of New York Yankee dealing – trading minor leaguers for superstars, and sacrificing the farm system while taking on big money contracts. While it is hard to dog a team that goes to the playoffs every single year, the Yankees have come under a lot of flack of late for their inability to develop players or pitchers. The Yankees pitching staff this past season was atrocious, while former Yankee pitchers were staring all over the league. The Yankees are simply not developing players any more, and the Red Sox would seem to be on their way to creating a similar system.
So, there you have my rant – my "this isn't as great as it looks". Now, I give you the other side. I put it at the end because it is brief and requires little explanation. Essentially, the entire AL East has become a pitching void. The pitching stars of the division are Roy Halladay, who missed considerable time this past season with injury and as been inconsistent the last two years, Randy Johnson, who was inexplicably bad this past year, Curt Schilling who missed plenty of time due to injury the last year, and Scott Kazmir, who is still probably a year or two away. And that's it! If hitting wins games but pitching wins championships, the championship is up for grabs in the AL East, because no one has any pitching.
By acquiring Josh Beckett, and doing so in November, the Red Sox have shifted the balance of the AL East already, and now it is for the rest of the division to play catch-up for the next four months leading up to Spring Training. Which means the rest of the division will now have to start looking for pitching just to keep up, and the Red Sox get to move on to their next acquisition.
Lets just hope that a new closer is part of the deal when they shed Manny Ramirez.
Disagree with something? Got something to add? Wanna bring up something totally new? Asher resides in Philadelphia, PA and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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