Friday, July 31, 2009

Sitting out the Best Sellers' Market in Years

Over the last week, we've seen unfold one of the most favorable trade markets for rebuilding teams seeking prospects in years. And what's most unusual is that aside from the Phillies the contenders have been flipping prospects for relievers and bats, not starting pitching.

Here are the most prominent trades that have gone down in the last week or two. In most cases, the team giving up the prospects overpaid.

That's not to say these are all bad deals for the contenders. The Cliff Lee trade probably makes sense for both teams, for instance. But despite all the talk of the economy putting a damper on trades, teams have been giving up very, very good value for in many cases very ordinary vets.

Take a look. Where relevant, the Baseball America prospect rankings are listed in parentheses:
  • Tim Alderson (4) for Freddy Sanchez
  • Daniel Cortes (3) and Derrick Saito for Yuniesky Betancourt
  • Brett Wallace (2), Shane Peterson, and Clay Mortensen (6) for Matt Holliday
  • Jeff Clement (1 in '08), Ronny Cedeno, Aaron Pribanic (27), Brett Lorin (28) and Nathan Adcock (24) for Jack Wilson and Ian Snell
  • Scott Barnes (9) for Ryan Garko
  • Josh Bell (8) and Steve Johnson (15) for George Sherrill
  • Carlos Carrasco (2), Jason Knapp (10), Jason Donald (4) and Lou Marson (3) for Cliff Lee and Ben Francisco
  • Brandon Allen (6) for Tony Pena
  • Cole Gillespie (9) and Roque Mercedes for Felipe Lopez
So with all these good young players getting shipped around in exchange for guys who are a lot like the 30-year-olds we have declining on our roster, why aren't we in on any of this action?

Reports have been that the Nationals, like during the Jim Bowden error, have simply priced themselves out of the market and are without a chair when the music stopped. Rizzo evidently is trying to fleece someone when he should be just seeking solid value for a rebuilding effort.

In fact, there was a report from San Francisco that the Giants wanted Willingham but that Rizzo simply made him untouchable.

If true, I can't possibly explain it. We'll see what's happening today. Maybe Rizzo has the best deal yet up his sleeve. But more likely we're seeing one of the reasons why the Nationals will still be losing 100 games in 2011 and 2012.


Kevin said...

The players getting shipped around are nothing like the 30-year olds declining on the Nats roster. Garko: better, younger, cheaper than Johnson. Sherrill: better than Beimel. Sanchez: who should the Nts have offered, Anderson Hernandez? Holliday: sure, Willingham is hitting now, but if you're STL, you're going to feel better, TLR is going to feel better, an Albert is going to feel better if you get the guy who's been pretty good for a few years now. Cliff Lee: no equivalent on the Nats roster.

I'm not saying Rizzo isn't possibly overvaluing Beimel, Johnson, or Willingham, or that Sabean isn't a bad GM, but you also have to be honest about who is on the Nats roster.

Positively Half St. said...

It seems the Marlins have put Ryan Tucker on the table, a starter who was ranked #5 in their system this year, for Nick. Even if the Nats have to pay some of Nick's salray, that seems promising.

Steven said...


I'm not saying that these are all deals the Nationals should or could have done. I'm establishing that the overall trend in the market was towards sellers. Teams were overpaying, because there are right now more teams looking to buy than sell. It's not that different than any other market.

So while the Nationals wouldn't have been able to do the Matt Holliday trade, the fact that it took such a huge package to spring him is telling.

Really, your argument is that no team in all of MLB was willing to give up fair value in prospects for Dunn, Beimel, Willingham, Johnson, or Harris. That's not a credible position.

hleeo3 said...

Nats have to jump on that offer. It won't get better than that imho. Johnson for Tucker do it Rizzo.

Steven said...

No doubt. The same report mentioned Aaron Thompson and also said the Rockies are still interested.

Look, there's a major league team in the wild card race that's playing CHRIS F-ING COSTE at first base. You're telling me we can't make a deal???

Ridiculous. 100 losses in 2012, here we come.

hleeo3 said...

Not that I am gonna defend Rizzo but could this be his lack of GM experience at work? or are the Lerners and Kasten tying his hands on any sort of deal that would trade our old, productive guys to teams for adequate prospects?

I wouldn't mind watching a AAA team if I knew that we had guys, actual prospects in AAA and AA.
But I don't think using Johnson as a stop gap for Chris Marrero is a solution. Johnson is one bad play gone wrong from being on the DL for a year again. We could always have Dunn finish the year at first and than bring up Dukes. Than if Dunn is horrible at first than we sign an old 1B to a 1 year deal in free agency.

flippin said...

Johnson for Ryan Tucker plus we pay part of NJ's salary. That's my head hitting the desk, repeatedly...

Mr. Mustache said...

Some of those prospects listed have dropped off quite a bit since their preseason ranking. Alderson used to be the bee's knees.

If it was the Alderson from the preseason that the Pirates got, then it was a great deal for them and shame on the Nats, but it currently doesn't look like that is the case. Look at his FB.

ckstevenson said...

The biggest issue is that WaTi and WaPo are both throwing in one liners that the Nats think they have a solid foundation to be good much sooner than others expect. And the cite that we control Willingham for two more years.

So we're probably being very specific with what we want and are asking for a lot. I'm not sure if that is Rizzo or a Kasten thing.

One thing I do see though is the continuing trend of "the Nats reportedly are asking for too much in return". We say that with Jimbo and now with Rizzo. Kasten is the only common denominator in my eyes.