Sunday, July 20, 2008

Nationals Trade Value Rankings: 11-25

Last week I did a post (blatantly ripping off a idea) ranking the Nationals players' trade value. The first post, ranking the Nationals' top ten and explaining the idea, is here. Following is the second half of my list.

11. Saul Rivera
(30YO; moderate injury risk; 11.7 '08 VORP; 12.7 5-YV; 4 yrs. remaining under team control; $436k '08 salary)
There aren't very many relievers in baseball who have been as good and reliable over the last 3 years as our Sah-ooool. He keeps the ball in the yard, he doesn't walk many, and he gives you a ton of innings out of the 'pen. He's even closed in a pinch, racking up 4 saves in '06 and '07. Teams would have to be concerned about the wear and tear of 132 appearances since Opening Day, 2007, but if I'm a team in the hunt needing another reliable reliever (and who isn't?), Rivera would be a very nice catch.

12. Tim Redding
(30YO; moderate injury risk; 10.7 '08 VORP; 10.3 5-YV; 2 yrs. remaining under team control; $1m '08 salary)
WYSIWYG. (Look what I wrote! I'm definitely a blogger now!) He'll give you 5-6 innings and keep you in the game, but not more. You won't want to start him in the playoffs, but he could help you get there. He's a slight fly-ball pitcher, so teams that play in a lot of hitters' parks might not be as interested. But there are certainly teams in the hunt who could use him as a #5 SP.

13. Jason Bergmann
(26YO; high injury risk; 6.8 '08 VORP; 32.5 5-YV; 5 yrs. remaining under team control; $404k '08 salary)
Younger and with a higher upside than Redding, but not as reliable in the short-term. He's got very good K and BB numbers, but he's an extreme fly ball pitcher, so you aren't going to be interested unless you have horses in the OF and don't play in a bandbox. Regardless, he's clearly in the top 120 starters in MLB or could be a valuable long man from the pen. He has had elbow problems in the past, but has held up so far this year without incident. I worry that we may be on our way to making him the pitching version of Ryan Church by jerking him around from role to role, banishing him to AAA after a rough start or two... But he's more valuable to us than what we'll get back, assuming we don't ruin him.

14. Odalis Perez
(31YO; high injury risk; 13.4 '08 VORP; 6.8 5-YV; 0 yrs. remaining under contract; $850k '08 salary)
Perez was a very nice FA signing this off-season. Give JimBo his due. The dumpser-diver extraordinaire found a useful spare part down there in the muck. But the problem is that Bowden falls in love with his own genius in situations like this. He's liable to re-sign Odalis for 2 years and $10 mil, a la The Meat. Perez right now is a league-average veteran, but he will only get worse. He's exactly the guy you want to flip while his LOB% is still 79% (which is a fancy way of saying that he's stranding more runners than his skill will allow him to maintain and that his ERA is only going up from here). Ship him to the Yankees while you can.

15. Ronnie Belliard
(33YO; moderate injury risk; 6.6 '08 VORP; 16.9 5-YV; 0 yrs. remaining under contract; $1.6m '08 salary)
I'm just a huge fan of Ronnie Belliard. Now there's a winner (as opposed to some cradle-robbing, drug-dealing, degenerate gambler catchers I know). He'd be a great bench option for a team in the hunt. He's been there, he does the little things, and by any measure he's playing pretty damn well. Our HR leader should be on his way to the Rays, Cubs, D'backs, Brewers. Trade him, JimBo. I need a team to root for in the playoffs. Just not the Mets or the Phillies.

16. Joel Hanrahan
(26YO; moderate injury risk; 7.5 '08 VORP; 2.6 5-YV; 5 yrs. remaining under team control; $400k '08 salary)
You know the deal. Great K numbers, good stuff, but too many walks. His BB% is still too high this year (14.8%), but since May 9, it's just 9.5%, which is fine. Is he having a hot streak or has he turned the corner? If you have a GM who's convinced it's definitely the latter and will give you that kind of value, then do it. Otherwise, be happy we have a young power-pitcher with upside.

17. Collin Balester
(22YO; moderate injury risk; -2.5 '08 VORP; 1o.5 5-YV; 6 yrs. remaining under team control; $390k '08 salary)
Balester is better than his ERA would show so far. If Manny would put our best defense behind him, he'll stay around 4.50 ERA from here on out and keep his self-worth intact. He lacks the high-end that would fetch a big return in a trade and is too green to be in anyone's rotation down the stretch. He's more valuable to the Nationals than he is to any other team in MLB.

18. Luis Ayala
(30YO; moderate injury risk; 11.7 '08 VORP; 198.8 5-YV; 4 yrs. remaining under team control; $436k '08 salary)
His ERA this year is ugly, but is it a function of overwork in the early going or is he slipping? His numbers on balls in play are pretty similar to his salad days (44 GB%, 33 FB%). The problem is that his command hasn't been there (10.4 BB%), which sounds like overwork to me. I think Luis, managed properly, is smack in the middle between what he was in 2005 vs. what he's been in 2008: a solid mid-3s ERA arm out of the 'pen. That's nothing to sneeze at, regardless of how many boos he's heard this year.

19. Jesus Colome
(30YO; moderate injury risk; -3.1 '08 VORP; 8.3 5-YV; 1 yr. remaining under team control; $1.25m '08 salary)
He takes a lot of grief as a slow worker, but 8.23 K/9 isn't nothing. He has some value to a team who needs bullpen help down the stretch.

20. Willie Harris
(30YO; low injury risk; 6.2 '08 VORP; 10.8 5-YV; 1 yr. remaining under team control; $809k '08 salary)
Good veteran bench guy. Has been in the playoff hunt before. Could be a useful down the stretch for an NL team.

21. Felipe Lopez
(28YO; low injury risk; -4.6 '08 VORP; 82.1 5-YV; 0 yrs. remaining under contract; $4.9m '08 salary)
Nice looking man. Almost no trade value. Wouldn't you take Bill Bray for Lopez straight up right now? Or Brendan Harris, Daryl Thompson, or Gary Majewski? Wayne Krivsky got the better of that deal, no matter what people say.

22. Chad Cordero
(26YO; high injury risk; 1.7 '08 VORP; 43.7 5-YV; 1 yr. remaining under contract; $6.2m '08 salary)
You thought I forgot about him, didn't you? Well, a torn labrum makes him useless to anyone for the next 12 months or more. Of course, Jon Rauch had that injury in 2001, and he looks ok. But it's a loooong recovery, and there's a difference between a having a devastating injury at 22 versus 26. Chief won't be on the mound again full strength until 2010. Sounds like a long time from now, huh? Back in the day, when I was an undergrad taking Rocks for Jocks at U of I, "2010" was the answer to the midterm question, "when do geologists estimate we'll begin to run out of oil worldwide?" Well, 2010 is pretty far away in baseball time, but not for the oil futures market it's pretty much now. That's why you just spent $100 to fill up. Those prices are only going up, offshore drilling or no. Bottom line: Chief only had set-up man's value when he was regarded as a low injury risk last year. I might even be overrating him here. Think JimBo should have traded him last year? Oh, that's not fair, who could have predicted that a pitcher might get hurt or that a relief pitcher's value could be so erratic from one year to the next? Those guys are all really consistent, right? Jim?

23. Shawn Hill
(27YO; high injury risk; -8.2 '08 VORP; 62.2 5-YV; 4 yrs. remaining under team control; $402k '08 salary)
Healthy, he's a #3 SP on a winning team. But he's never healthy.

24. Aaron Boone
(35YO; high injury risk; 2.4 '08 VORP; 0.5 5-YV; 0 yrs. remaining under contract; $1m '08 salary)
Unless another team out there has a vice president named Boone, he's not going anywhere. But he's more valuable than the next guy.

25. Paul Lo Duca
(36YO; high injury risk; -2.0 '08 VORP; 3.7 5-YV; 0 yrs. remaining under contract; $5m '08 salary)

26. Dmitri Young
(34YO; lead-pipe cinch injury risk; 9.8 '08 VORP; 19.3 5-YV; 1 yr. remaining under contract; $5m '08 salary)
I admit it. I ranked this many guys just so I could get to The Meat here at the bottom. At this price, he has no trade value. Why JimBo gave $10m and two years to a 300-pound diabetic who won't bother to stay in shape is beyond me.

OK, so that's actually 26, but in my first post I left #2 blank to cleverly note the huge gap from Zimmerman to the next most valuable player.

I'm not ranking the rest, because I think the rest of the players on the 40-man roster have essentially no trade value whatsoever at this point. That list includes: Johnny Estrada (done), Wily Mo Pena (maybe if Bowden was someone else's GM), a bunch of organizational arms who are good to have around in a pinch but whom you wouldn't want to trade value for (Mock, Shell, Sanches, Schroder, O'Connor), Matt Chico (whose TJ surgery makes him a risk no one's going to take), and Ross Detwiler (who I guess has some value but given how he's regressed this year I would think it's pretty minimal).


Sean Hogan said...

This should be required reading for all Nationals fans. Know your players' trade values so you won't get mocked. I'd like for us to (appear) to be an intelligent fanbase.

In terms of rankings, I would probably have Willie Harris a little higher and I would not have Jesus Colome on there at all, but other than that, I think you're pretty dead-on.

Nationals Fan said...

Thanks for the compliment. It got a little long, but it was fun to do, and I feel like I know a lot more about our team having thought it all through.

Here's what I see with Colome. The 5.56 ERA seems awful (and it ain't good), but his peripherals tell a slightly different story. As I noted in the post, his K rate is excellent, which tells us the stuff is there. He can miss bats. And his GB% and FB% are fine (32 and 37, respectively). His HR rate (.14 per 9) is very good.

What's going on? Well, he has a .348 BAPIP against, which is huge. He's stranding just 62% of his runners, which is 20 points less than Odalis, for comparison. League average is 70. Pitchers don't really have a ton of control over that number (other than just that better pitchers get guys out more in all situations). He's walking too many (15%), which is a big jump over his best years, but with all the other numbers there, that number shouldn't chase him from the league. Indeed, his fielding independent ERA is 3.82, which is almost the best of his career.

So I think he's had some bad defense, bad luck, and small sample size. No, he's not Mariano Rivera, and never will me. Shoot, he's not Saul Rivera. But I look for him to have an ERA around 4 the rest of the way, maybe closer to 3.50. That gives him some value.

Willie Harris has shown he can't do it every day. He had that chance in Atlanta and crapped the bed. But he's as good a 25th man as there is in the league--defensive replacement, pinch runner, some pop, lots of versatility. I guess he could rank higher than Colome and Ayala, but I just think those two are still should be seen as pretty solid relief arms, despite their rough patches his year.

Simon Oliver Lockwood said...

Shawn Hill is 27, not 30. That might move his value up a notch or two.

Nationals Fan said...

Good catch--that's a cut and paste error, not something I was actually unclear about. My process was to put all the data into a spreadsheet to think through it all and rank that, and then re-type it all into the blog--don't be shocked if you find someone's contract number is off too or something. And if you do, lemme know and I'll fix it.

I'll fix Shawn's age now.

You're right though he would be even lower in my ranking if he was 30. But this much chronic forearm tightness is the kind of thing that is really really bad. This is a John Patterson-type giant waving red flag.

Nationals Fan said...

Actually when I went back and fixed Shawn's age I noticed I had Felipe list as 30 also. Like I said, cut and paste. Again, if you notice any other numbers that are off, lemme know.

Steve Shoup said...

Interesting note looks like Posada might be done for the year. The Nats might be able to give away LoDuca. And while they won't get much of anything in return, the money they save could be used to sign our draft picks.

Nationals Fan said...

Steve--I disagree. There isn't any reason to try to dump Lo Duca's salary.

First, it just wouldn't save us much money. It's a 1 year deal, and we're 2/3s of the way through. The money is mostly spent. Remember, this isn't a situation like with Jose Vidro where you have a longer term commitment on the line.

Second, they do kinda need a 1B. I'd just as soon see them call up Larry Broadway, Luis Jimenez, or Bill Rhinehart, but even with that, until Boone is back Lo Duca IS filling a need.

Third, and probably most importantly, if Lo Duca can get a little hot in the second half, there's still some chance that he becomes a type B FA and yields us a draft pick. He was a B last year, though the Mets didn't get the pick because they didn't offer him arbitration.

Finally, there's just no relationship between saving money on one guy and signing draft picks. They have the money. There's no need to root through the couch cushions to find the extra couple 100k that might be needed for this guy or that.

The reluctance to going over slot to sign remaining players is all about the precedent it sets--if agents decide that the Nationals "always cave," it increases the leverage of agents and players right at the stage in their careers when they should have no leverage under the CBA. Yes, this is about very rich people being greedy, but these are monopolists we're dealing with. You can call them greedy, but don't go thinking that dumping some of Lo Duca's money will make any damn difference with Crow.

Steve Shoup said...

While I fully agree with you that the Nats have the money to have a larger payroll AND sign their picks I'm just saying that the $1.75 million that is still owed to him could be better used in other areas for the team. The Nationals are a business and have to operate in some sense of a budget and my point is if you've already budgeted that. $1.75 million you mine as well use it to sign additional players. And I'm not just referencing the top guys like Crow or Nieto or Hicks, I'm talking about some of their later round tough signs like,OF J.P Ramirez pitchers Bryan Harper and Scott Sliverstein guys who fell b/c of signablity but could have bright futures. I also think that there are some cases to teams on a budget taking money they save in the Majors and putting it into their Draft and international signings. The A's for example shedded $7.5 million in the Swisher and Haren deals in the offseason, and had a much more aggressive draft than they've had in years past (still need to sign a few of them but it looks like they'll get it done) and then spent $4.5 million on 16 year old Michel Inoa. Also in 2004 when the Rockies traded Larry Walker they used some of the money to sign OF-Dexter Fowler among others.

Also I'm a bit skeptical that LoDuca will be a Type-B freeagent, while there is no way to know for sure, it is known the the Elias rankings are based on 2 year performance. I think his Type B status was based more on his 2006 season, now he will have had back to back bad years and I think that will knock him out of Type-B status.

Nationals Fan said...

Steve--I agree totally with what you say about Lo Duca's likelihood to reach B-status. He'll probably need to get hot soon. But he's going to get the PT, so why not? Looking at the B-list catchers from last year, there are some lousy names there.

Re: the money, I hear what you are saying. I agree the Nationals are a business who absolutely operate within some kind of projected acceptable spending and revenue levels. Fans who talk about the team as if it's a public trust that the Lerners are obliged to run with winning foremost with no regard for the bottom line are forgetting that MLB is a profit-making enterprise first and last, and a monopolistic one at that.

But where I disagree with you is that there's no reason to think that the 1-2m of savings on Lo Duca will be plowed into signing picks. They are already way way way below any reasonable "budget" for a team of this revenue level. That savings will go directly into profits for the Lerners, and then the decisions about what to do with the picks will be made based on the considerations I listed above, mainly thinking about the long-term precedents that are set for the team and for all MLB when owners earn a reputation for caving in to players' demands every time.

Now notice I didn't call them cheapskate bums. Now, I don't particularly admire the Lerners. They are what they are--greedy, monopolistic, open-space-destroying, water-polluting developers. I don't expect them to care about the environment when they build huge sprawling developments that will leave a gigantic carbon footprint, and I don't expect them to care about anything other than profits in running the team. Getting all exorcised about capitalists being greedy just seems to me like getting upset about the existence of gravity or the vastness of the ocean. If we're going to chat about the excesses of capitalism, that could be an interesting conversation, but it would be about the shortcomings in our politics, not about the Nationals.