August 26, 2002
Revisiting the Lawton/Reed trade
It got me thinking about last year's deadline deal that sent Twins' starting right fielder and leadoff hitter Matt Lawton to the Mets for Rick Reed.
I remember seeing the trade on the ESPN2 ticker:
I saw "Mets trade SP Rick Reed to Twins..." and I got excited.
The low budget Twins had actually made a trade to acquire some high priced talent!
Then the scroll continued and I saw "...for RF Matt Lawton."
I was pretty dumbfounded.
While I liked the acquisition of Rick Reed to help bolster the pitching staff, I couldn't figure out why the Twins would trade their starting right fielder and probably their most productive hitter (up to that point) to get him, when the offense needed a boost as it was.
After the trade, the Twins' offense became almost non-existent, Rick Reed struggled, and they faded badly in the second half, losing the division to Cleveland.
Terry Ryan took a lot of heat here locally about the trade and he also took some flak from the "stat-head" websites that I frequent.
And I will admit that I was among those not pleased with how the trade worked out for the Twins.
But that was last season.
This year has been a whole different story.
Matt Lawton (who was traded to Cleveland in the off-season, coincidently) has struggled badly all season when he hasn't been injured (he has already missed 21 games).
Here are Lawton's 2002 stats with Cleveland, compared to his numbers with the Twins last year, before being traded (the games played are close enough for a good comparison):
Year ABs .AVG .OBP .SLG SBs
2001 376 .293 .396 .439 19/25
2002 396 .240 .344 .396 8/17
As you can see, Lawton has not been anywhere close to the great on-base % source that he was for the Twins.
His batting average has dropped over 50 points and his speed has disappeared.
His outfield play, which was never great, has suffered because of his injured shoulder, to the point that he was switched from RF to LF.
Combining his totals from his time with the Mets last year and Cleveland this year makes for about a full-season's worth of games for Lawton, since being traded:
ABs .AVG .OBP .SLG HR 2B BB SB CS
579 .242 .346 .389 16 30 79 18 11
So, basically Lawton has not very good since the Twins traded him.
Just for comparison, contrast the numbers above to his numbers with the Twins in 2000:
ABs .AVG .OBP .SLG HR 2B BB SB CS
561 .305 .405 .460 13 44 91 23 7
Okay, enough already about Matt Lawton!
How has Rick Reed fared as a Minnesota Twin?
Reed in 2002:
26 Games Started
12 Wins, 6 Losses
93 Strikeouts vs. 20 Walks
Not too shabby.
His 4.10 ERA is about 9% better than league average.
He has eaten innings (he is on pace for about 185 IP) and pitched a lot better than league average, which is exactly what the Twins have needed in the wake of a lot of injuries to their key pitchers (Joe Mays, Eric Milton and Brad Radke have all missed significant time).
And since the All-Star break, he has been even better, helping the Twins put away the White Sox:
G IP ERA. W L SO BB
8 52 3.12 6 1 32 3
You gotta love that 32-3 K/BB ratio!
Of course, a significant part of the trade was what the two players did in the last part of last season for their new teams.
While I already touched on Lawton's struggles with the Mets, I haven't mentioned how Reed fared with the Twins last year.
He wasn't very good.
GS IP ERA. W L SO BB
12 68 5.19 4 6 43 14
There is no doubt that the Twins faded in the second half of last season and lost a chance at winning the division in part because of the Lawton/Reed trade.
However, this season the trade has worked out very well for the Twins.
Reed has been about as good as he was during his last 2 years (all of 2000 and most of 2001) with the Mets.
In those two seasons he had an ERA that was about 10% better than league average (when taking home ballpark into account).
And this season, as I already said, Reed has an ERA that is about 9% better than league average.
And that is without even taking into account that he plays in a hitter's park, the Metrodome.
The guy the Twins traded away, Matt Lawton, has struggled both at the plate and with injuries.
And, although losing his offense in RF hurt for the end of last season, the Twins have had and will continue to have an adundance of qualified hitters available to play right field for them.
As a whole, Twins RFs have hit .284/.361/.477 with 21 HRs, 23 doubles and 80 RBI.
And they have guys like Michael Cuddyer, Mike Restovich and Lew Ford in AAA, ready to step in at any time.
Once again, Terry Ryan made a good trade.
Even if it took a little while for me to realize it...