Monday, June 30, 2008

Maybe we just should have made more trades with Bill Bavasi and Ed Wade

Well, congratulations to the Nationals for taking two of three from the hated O's. Enjoy the bragging rights, Nationals fans--we deserve it.

My biggest impression though from these games is that it's amazing how much just two trades, the Erik Bedard and Miggy Tejada deals, appear to have helped the O's.

First, Houston's Ed Wade gave up
LF Luke Scott, RHPs Matt Albers and Dennis Sarfate, LHP Troy Patton, and 3B Michael Costanzo for two years of Tejada. Hmmm... a bad team going nowhere gives up a package of young, improving players with upside to get short-term rental of a flashy middle-infielder who can't really play his position anymore. Sound familiar, Soriano?

Then, worse yet, since-fired Seattle GM Bill Bavasi gave up
CF Adam Jones, RHPs Chris Tillman and Kam Mickolio, and LHPs George Sherrill and Tony Butler for Bedard. Hmmm... team comes off over-achieving .500 year convinces itself it's better than it is and gives up package of young, improving players with upside to for a guy two years from FA coming off a career year he's not likely to repeat. Remind anyone of the FLop/Kearns deal?

I don't have to tell you what budding superstar Jones and Scott (.280 BA-14 HR on the year) did to us this weekend--you were there. Sarfate (2.86 ERA in 34.2 IP in '08) wasn't bad either. We didn't even see Albers (3.49 ERA in 49 IP), who's hurt. Sherrill gave up the game-winner today, but with 26 saves he's probably an all-star. And then there's Patton, a talented 22-year-old, rated by Baseball America as the 78th best prospect in baseball, and Tillman, a 20-year-old rated who made 67 on BA's list. Mickolio, Butler, and Costanzo aren't top prospects, but they're the kind guys, just talented enough that they could pan out, that bad teams have no business throwing away.

As a card-carrying Angelos-hater, it pains me to say it, but MacPhail is doing exactly what Bowden didn't do when he got here, and we're already seeing the difference. (And as a baseball fan with so little patience for bad GM-ing that I created a website called Fire Jim Bowden, let me say... wow! Wade and Bavasi really stink/stunk!!)

Now, you are probably thinking, "Wait a minute, that's not fair. Bowden didn't have anyone close to Bedard or Tejada when he came here."

Well, that's true. But what opportunities we did have, he squandered. Wilkerson, Vidro, and Cordero each could have fetched a nice package of prospects if they had been dealt at their peak value. Livo probably would have brought more if we'd moved him earlier.

The point is, JimBo
, like Wade and Bavasi, sprinted in the opposite direction, shipping off what little young talent he had for his first two years here and in the process committing the team to at least 2-3 more years of losing than was necessary.

6 comments:

Brian said...

Seriously, you are just looking for any chance to slam Bowden

Well, that's true. But what opportunities we did have, he squandered. Wilkerson, Vidro, and Cordero each could have fetched a nice package of prospects if they had been dealt at their peak value. Livo probably would have brought more if we'd moved him earlier.

I will grant you the lack of a move on Cordero was an error. But Wilkerson was used to get Soriano who returned Jordan Zimmermann and Josh Smoker when Soriano left. You can argue that he should have traded Soriano for a better deal but Soriano was not a similar situation to Bedard or Tejada, both of those guys were still under contract (or club control) while Sorinao was in his free agent year. Teams were not going to pay a premium for a guy filing for free agency.

Vidro got the Nationals Chris Snelling and Emiliano Fruto, two younger players. Snelling was turned into Ryan Langerhans and Fruto into Wily Mo Pena. I would argue with you that even in 2005, Vidro would not have returned much more than that.

The haul for Livan (Garrett Mock & Matt Chico) is honestly better than anyone could expect. Even in 2005.

Brandon said...

Plus Bedard was a K monster last year, and Tejeda is a former MVP.

We Nationals have not had those kind of players. If Bowden had them, who knows what we would've gotten. You can see what he's done with Schneider, Church, Albaledejo, and Gibson. If that isn't maximizing the return of your assets, I don't know what is.

Nationals Fan said...

@Brian--My critique of Bowden's first 2 years here is based on the overall pattern of getting rid of young guys and draft picks for older, declining players and short-term rentals who were never going to be part of the First Great Nationals Team.

We can quibble over any particular move, but that overall trend I think is pretty undeniable in the period from 11/04 to the Livan trade in 06, when Kasten finally mandated rebuilding.

Re: Wilkerson--my gut is that if we had tried to trade him coming off his 32-HR year and *only* asked for prospects in return that we could have done better than the value of the Soriano compensatory picks. I would have never used any of Wilky's value to get Soriano because I have no interest in bringing in a flashy vet to help us get to 72 wins.

Reasonable people can disagree on the value of the 1 year of Soriano, but to me the goal is to build a contender, not plateau at near-respectability, so I think Soriano was a waste of time and Wilkerson's value would have been better used for prospects only.

Re: Vidro, I'm guessing that he had more at least some more value in the 2004-5 off-season when he was 29 and still just a year removed from an AS appearance and silver slugger than he did after 2 years of injury and regression in 05-6, but you may be right.

Re: Livan, don't get me wrong. I like the Mock/Chico deal. It's clear that Bowden doesn't make that deal if Kasten hadn't forced him kicking and screaming into finally going young, but I applaud that deal. But again if we had done it in the 04-05 off-season we a) *might* have gotten more for him and b) maybe the young 'uns we got back would be helping us now.

Nationals Fan said...

@Brandon--I'm a backer of the Dukes and Milledge deals. Albaladejo for Clippard seems like it'll be inconsequential for both sides, but I have no quibble.

My thesis is that we should have aggressively gone with a rebuilding strategy sooner, and if we had we'd be much further along.

I totally agree that Bowden had no assets whatsoever that measured up to the value of Bedard and Tejada. It's also not fair to expect him to get the kind of value that you get when you are fleecing Bill Bavasi.

The point ins't that Bowden should have been able to get all these guys MacPHail got. The point is that the overall pattern of Bowden's first 2 years were to give up draft picks and young players for older, declining, soon-to-be FAs who had no chance to be part of the First Great Nationals Team.

MacPhail had more talent, but he still could see that his team had no chance to contend and committed to using every chit he had to restock the minors and bring in youth.

Bowden, as you point out, had significantly *less* talent on the MLB roster, but *still* misread the situation, sprinted in the opposite direction of rebuilding, and pushed back the arrival of the First Great Nationals Team at least 2-3 years.

Brian said...

I think Soriano was a waste of time and Wilkerson's value would have been better used for prospects only.

I don't. Obviously, it's all conjecture at this point, but Wilkerson was never going to bring two prospects anywhere close to what the Soriano compensation ended upon being. And the other two guys in that deal were not building blocks. Sledge was a 5th OF and while Galarraga has performed for Detroit, he was a pitcher coming off of arm surgery and realistically profiled as nothing more than a #5 starter which I still think he will be.

Re: Vidro, I'm guessing that he had more at least some more value in the 2004-5 off-season when he was 29 and still just a year removed from an AS appearance and silver slugger than he did after 2 years of injury and regression in 05-6, but you may be right.

Given Vidro's contract and rapidly declining skills, getting anything for him should be considered a plus in any rating you do of Jim Bowden. Other MLB teams (besides Bavasi) knew that as well.

Livan

Getting two players from the Diamondbacks top 15 for Livan is pretty damn good and I think you are splitting hairs, looking for something to criticize in that deal.

There are things to criticize Bowden for (not trading Cordero being an example) but the other examples used are not good ones.

Nationals Fan said...

@Brian--Fair enough. As you say it's all conjecture. (You will take note of the frequent use of words like "might," "maybe," and "probably.")

As I've said, my point isn't really about any particular move and more the overall pattern. Starting with a team desperate for rebuilding, pretty much every move he made from 11/04 till the Livan deal was young for old, more players for fewer back, young guys under team control for short-term rentals and soon-to-be FAs.

The overall outcome is that few if any of the guys we brought in are helping us now, and a lot of the guys we gave up could be.

As for whether I'm "just looking for any chance to slam Bowden"... well, I am writing from a pretty specific POV. Given the name of the blog, you can't blame me for not being up front about it! :)