Friday, June 30, 2006

What the $^%#?

I leave for 3 weeks, I'm still processing the fact that the M's are now in the thick of the division race and are 2 games over .500, and then I get this. Well thanks a lot, Bavasi.
Seriously, I'm trying to think of a worse trade the M's could've made. We gave up a brilliant fielding SS who's holding his own with the stick in AAA at age 20, and in return we get a 36 year old 1B/DH, because obviously, what this team needs is an older, less useful Richie Sexson.
Yes, Everett can't hit lefties, and should probably face righties exclusively. Yes, power is nice and we should add more if the opportunity presents itself. But isn't a right handed power with limited/zero defensive ability basically the definition of a freely available talent? Or at the very least, do you have to give up a phenomenal middle infield prospect to get it?
Perez is having a fabulous season, and if he keeps up his torrid pace, he'll add something to the M's, despite the obvious fact that he won't play a whole heck of a lot. But even so, was it worth it? Even if you believe (as I do), that Cabrera was a bargaining chip and would've been traded eventually, was this the return you expected? A RH DH? who'll turn 37 this year? I just threw up on my keyboard.

For all those who've continually demanded that the front office 'do something' or 'show that they're interested in winning' or any number of ridiculous cliches that seem dangerously close to 'make a move for the sake of making a move,' congratulations. You got what you wanted.


At 6/30/2006 3:00 PM, Blogger PositivePaul said...

Welcome back marc! Very much missed you 'round here. Hopefully I provided enough worthy content to keep this thing afloat in your absence. Wie war es in Deutschland?

While I agree that this trade definitely favors Cleveland in the long run (which trade that Shapiro has made recently hasn't), I also have a different perspective -- as well I would, since you very clearly have an advantage over me with all the time you've spent watching Drubes at Cheney.

To save time here, I'll just link to some of my thoughts, rather than regurgitate 'em. But, in a nutshell, while I agree we probably overpaid in the long-run, we cannot overlook the value of this move in the here-and-now. Our offense has been WOEFUL against lefty starters. Not just the Santanas and the Zitos of the league -- all of 'em. That problem is solved. Perez is a legit lefty masher.

Anyway, more of my thoughts are over at Dr. D's. You should probably read JFro's right underneath mine, too.

At 7/02/2006 11:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If .226 is holding your own at AAA, then Sexson, Reed and Everett are mashing the ball at the big league level. Yes, Cabrera was only 20, but he had nowhere to go. He would rot in AAA, unless you want to move Lopez or Betancourt. That is not in the M's plans for the next few years. You are making a run now, why not keep it going? A big bat for a RH DH would do it. It may have been too much to give up, but nothing is going to come cheap.

At 7/03/2006 11:05 AM, Blogger marc w. said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 7/03/2006 11:05 AM, Blogger marc w. said...

.226 isn't the issue. The fact is he's 20 and has an obp over .320. Take a look at Jeremy Reed's .260 OBP - THAT'S not getting it done. But a guy giving you great MI defense, in his first attempt at AAA, when's he's about four years younger than everyone he's playing against, with a bad-but-not-that-bad OBP? That's not a bad player.
Batting average is highly variable, and relying on it to judge the value of a young prospect like Cabrera seems rash. It's the same with OVERvaluing Tuiasosopo, who has a shiny .300 average and nothing else. I know which SS prospect I'd rather keep...

(every time I bash Tui he goes on a tear, so maybe this'll help him out...)

Now I agree that Cabrera isn't in the M's long term plans. But what team WOULDN'T want a solid MI guy in their system? Look at Colorado... I bet Cabrera would instantly vault over Quintanilla and would be knocking on the door of Barmes next year or 2008.
He's not in Cleveland's long term plans either, unless they want to make him a 2b. If I'm cleveland, I package him with someone and get a top-notch pitching prospect, or a solid 2 or 3 starter. That's what the M's should've tried to do. 37YO platoon DHs are NOT all that valuable. ESPECIALLY if the manager won't ever use them (but that's another story). And if there's a black hole in this line-up, it's been CF much more so than half of the DH slot.

If anything should come cheap, it's righties who don't play defense.

At 7/03/2006 12:01 PM, Blogger marc w. said...

If the M's are this cavalier with their prospects to cover *every* little hole, then we have a serious problem.
The first issue I have with the deal is reacting rashly to the problem that our DH has poor platoon splits. This is indeed an issue, though again, there's no way they needed to give up so much. Middle infield prospects (esp. 20 year olds in AAA) are not a dime a dozen; compared to RH DH-types they are one in a million. Would you give up Adam Jones for a slightly better RH-DH platoon partner? Would you give up Cruceta for Perez? If it's all about fixing a current problem, why not?

Second, and this may even be bigger, why is Perez the guy you want? He's having a great season as a lefty masher, but it's less than 100 ABs, and it's so *clearly* out of line with his career norms. We are paying dearly for this year's equivalent of Clint Barmes. Remember when Chris Shelton was hitting .579 or whatever? The M's just gave up a top prospect because they confused 100 ABs from a 36 year old with his 'true' ability. He's what, a career .270 hitter against lefties? Yay.
Again, Eric Byrnes is a better hitter against lefties, and could've actually helped (and I said that BEFORE Reed got hurt). Now we've got a hole at CF, and we can't use Cabrera to patch it. We're stuck with a 'lefty masher' the manager won't use, and we're probably stuck with WFB in CF. I'm not impressed.

It's not that Cabrera will help the M's more in 2006 than Perez. It's that Cabrera should've brought someone in who would've helped a LOT more than Perez. We bought WAY, WAY high and sold low. I'm told that's not the way it's supposed to be done.

At 7/04/2006 8:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well you can make whatever complaint you want. The M's have a chance to make the playoffs this year. They made a move to try to make it better. You always have to give something up. Why keep someone around, if they are going to rot away in AAA?

I understand your concerns about paying the price of Cabrera, and filling "a hole". It is not like the M's are 20 under .500 just putting a body out there, saying "oh, we could win five more games by trading this guy". It is all about having the chance to go to the playoffs.

If you don't want the playoffs, then fine. But, just because, you want to save and rebuild, year after year, doesn't get you anywhere. Sure you have a chance like anyone else at the beginning of a season, but where does having Cabrera put you -- nowhere closer.

No one said Reed's .260 OBP was getting it done. Now you don't have to worry about that being in the lineup. You can't compare a CF to a MI. OBP doesn't mean anything, if you don't have people driving you in, that is why BA does matter. To me, BA means more than any of the numbers. The higher you BA goes, the higher every other number will get. It starts with OBP in some ways. Just look at the Angels' Cabrera, 60 straight games on base. He is also hitting .298. It all goes hand in hand.

At 7/04/2006 11:22 AM, Blogger marc w. said...

"Well you can make whatever complaint you want. "
Yes. And that's an important thing to remember on this Independence Day, 2006. Happy 4th, M's fans.

"It is all about having the chance to go to the playoffs."
I understand this, and I think this is the most persuasive argument in favor of the trade (which I think is basically a moot point now; he won't get pinch hit ABs due to some bizarre fixation in Hargrove's mind, thereby neutralizing about half-3/4ths of his value).
If you're in a playoff hunt, don't you owe it to the team/fans to go for it? Well, yes, but you have to be smart about it. There's a difference between bringing in a guy who can win you playoff games and giving up a lot in return (think of the Randy Johnson trade, which I think was good for both teams. Would've been really good for Houston had they been able to resign johnson) and bringing in a platoon partner at DH. The bench was a weakness, true, but I'll keep saying it: Righties are everywhere. We gave up a top prospect for the poor man's Olmedo Saenz. A guy who would LIMIT our defensive flexibility, and will become Petagine's poker buddy or something.
The M's figure to hit lefties better through some regression to the mean from Sexson/Beltre/Johjima, and besides, why not try and deal someone in the lower minors, or something we're even more well-stocked with on the farm: bullpen arms.
I know this probably doesn't matter to you, Sid, but it matters to us: If the M's did this to Cabrera, there's nothing to stop them dealing George Sherrill for something moderately interesting at the deadline. Hey, Jake Woods came in and gave 'em some innings. To get something, you have to give up something good in return, etc. etc.
It would be eerily similar to the M's dealing young lefty bullpen guy Ron Villone in 1995 for a couple of months of Andy Benes (who went 63IP of 5.86 ball, giving up 72 hits and basically just getting hammered....but still went 7-2). Benes was sub-replacement level for them, but at least Villone sucked too, and hey, remember that Edgar Martinez double? Good times. Good times.

"OBP doesn't mean anything, if you don't have people driving you in, that is why BA does matter. To me, BA means more than any of the numbers."
As you can probably guess, I disagree with just about all of this. OBP doesn't matter if no one's driving you in, but slapping a bunch of singles doesn't matter if no one's driving you in either. But more fundamentally, having a high OBP means making fewer outs, and outs are bad. Would you rather have a .280 hitter with a .290 OBP or a .240 hitter with a .340 OBP? I know which one I'd take (let's assume both play SS, and don't hit for a lot of power. Or let's assume both are 1b with a lot of power. Doesn't really matter).
I'm fine that Cabrera is gone; he'll be a really good player someday, but I always knew he'd be a good player somewhere else. But for this? You can dress it up in fancy 'it's a playoff race!' clothes, but it's still ugly.
Byrnes, Saenz, how about Justin Huber if KC doesn't want him... or, one of my favorites, Matt Diaz of the suddenly hapless Atlanta Braves. He was acquired (from KC) for a low-A pitcher. We've got those! Atlanta needs pitchers more than rh pinch hitters!
All these guys would've helped a lot more.

At 7/04/2006 4:42 PM, Blogger PositivePaul said...

Phwhehwh. I cannot go without Internet connectivity that long again! I'm starting to wonder if the neighbors down there are picking up on us pilfering their bandwidth -- there certainly wasn't much to be had this weekend ;-)

That aside, I feel like I need to comment on this yet again. It certainly appears to us that the price for a semi-easily-replaced veteran lefty masher (with no defensive value) is unbelievably high. Like I mentioned over at Dr. D's, I'm worried that we indeed gave too much away, and that losing Drubes might very well hurt our chances to upgrade the pitching staff -- an even more important upgrade that's needed for any hope of the M's to contend...

The only thing I worried about seems to have reared its ugly head this weekend -- Hargrove won't use him as a pinch hitter. Inded that very much seems to be the case, and if so, then this trade wasn't so smart after all. I assumed that Hargrove was one of the guys initiating the call for us to fill that role. After this weekend, and his hesitancy to use his new weapon, I'm convinced more than ever that Hargrove is asleep at the wheel.

No matter what Bavasi does to improve this team, it's getting more and more obvious that the M's are going to only play cat-and-mouse with the division title as long as Hargrove's ruddering the ship.

As Napolean would say:


At 7/04/2006 4:57 PM, Blogger PositivePaul said...

Oh, and I forgot to add -- we really don't have an idea what things "cost" in the real world of GM-dom. Look at how high the cost of mediocre pitching skyrocketed in the 2004 and 2005 offseasons. I'm not convinced that anyone predicted that spike.

I do agree that the price feels a bit high, but in the real GM world (and not Rotodom) I'm sure things aren't that easy. What the sabermetrically bent see as Easily-Replacement-Level-Talent may cost twice as much in the real world. I'm not saying I'm completely happy giving up A-Cab here, but I do realize it was a hole the M's needed to patch with a short-term fix.

It doesn't excuse the signing of a woeful hitter as your DH, nor does it address a much larger need (starting pitching and bullpen help). But we don't really know how other GMs around the league valued A-Cab -- especially being well aware of the M's needs. I'm quite confident that Bavasi knows what he's doing, for the most part, and that the trading costs for starting pitching are through the roof (since there are many more buyers than sellers).

A-Cab was a spare part -- probably one of the more valuable, sure. He wasn't the only piece we have to trade, though, and losing him doesn't entirely decimate the farm. I'm not going to say that it was a completely smart trade, but I don't really know what the market is. It definitely hurts losing him, even if it's to patch one a medium-sized hole.

I wonder what it would cost to replace the manager...

At 7/05/2006 6:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of the research presentations I attended at the SABR convention last weekend was about how much you pay for 'the last piece of the puzzle'. And it tried to quantify in financial terms, the value of a win (the wins between 86-93 are the most profitable of course, as you start adding in postseason revenue and potential for increased season ticket holders the following year).

Anyway, my point is that while we sit here and think 'we overpaid', the idea of 'overpayment' is really quite variable across the league - it's not as simple as boiling it down to a statistical equivalent for a player (i.e., why didn't KC have to pay that much to get a guy with similar stats). The value of any player the Ms sign is a function of their market share, revenue, the players' objective stats/projections, AND whether the Ms honestly think that player is, at that time, one of the last pieces of the puzzle to get them to the playoffs. Which automatically makes his price go higher.

So, while I agree we should have gotten more for Cabrera (a lot more), I guess my main issue with the trade is that the Ms are stupid enough to think Eduardo Perez is the last piece to ANY puzzle. (but hey, in the offseason, they were stupid enough to believe the same about one Carl Everett too).


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