March 20, 2003

I'm back!

My internet is working again! Yay!

I've been unable to do much of anything computer wise the last couple days and thus have been slacking off on my blogging duties. But no longer!

Here we go...

The Padres sent Bubba Trammell and Mark Phillips to the Yankees for Rondell White.

This strikes me as a really strange trade.

Bubba Trammell and Rondell White are, essentially, interchangable players.

Trammell has EqAs of .279, .277 and .270 the last three years. He is strictly a corner outfielder/DH type and would probably best be used as a strict platoon player, getting playing time against lefties, against whom he hit .295/.375/.485 over the past three years.

White has EqAs of .288, .301 and .237 the last three years. He is a pretty good fielder in left or right field and can handle centerfield if needed, but is extraordinarily injury-prone and coming off of a horrible season.

Basically, White is a better, more versatile player when healthy - but he is almost never healthy.

If I were a GM and you told me I could pick either Bubba Trammell or Rondell White to be my left fielder for the next couple of seasons, I would probably take White, but they are very close. And that is why this deal is strange to me.

The Padres and Yankees are swapping above-average outfielders of similar skill levels and ages. Yet the Yankees received a second player in the deal, left-handed starter pitcher Mark Phillips. The reason being given for the Padres including Phillips in the deal is that by taking on White and getting rid of Trammell (and his contract), the Padres will free themselves of $5 million dollars for next year.

White is a free agent after this year, while Trammell has another year on his contract for $4.75 mill and a $250,000 buyout. So they'll save $5 mill, but they will be without Trammell for the 2004 season. That's not a bad thing, since Trammell is basically just an average player, but is it worth giving up one of your top prospects for?

I really like Mark Phillips. He's a big left-handed starter with awesome stuff. Baseball America ranked him as the #3 prospect in the San Diego system and I would agree with that ranking.

Phillips was San Diego's #1 pick (ninth overall) in the 2000 draft. He runs his fastball up there in the mid-90s and also works with a great curveball that one of my readers who has seen him pitch quite a bit once described to me as "disgustingly filthy," which is about the highest compliment you can give a pitcher.

The caveat for all pitching prospects is that they need to stay healthy (which Phillips has done) and show they can pitch at the upper-levels of the minors (which Phillips has not done). Still, as far as pitchers that haven't pitched at Double-A yet go, I like Phillips quite a bit.

He struck out 9.5 batters per 9 innings last year at Single-A. His control was pretty bad at times (5.7 BB/9), but I don't worry about that as much in a 21 year old pitcher. Mark Phillips is still a long way from the Major Leagues and may never get there, but he is potentially a #1 or #2 starter at the Major League level and has awesome stuff and good results in the minors so far.

Basically the Padres sold him and an extra season of Bubba Trammell to the Yankees for $5 million dollars. I'm just not sure I would have been willing to do the same.

A side note on this trade: Fellow blogger Geoff Young of "Ducksnorts" has been singing the praises of Mark Phillips for quite a while now and I am sure he is upset by this trade, to say the least. Check out his blog for what is sure to be more on this trade.

I have talked before about how I think a good general manager/manager is able to look at a player and see what he can do and not what he can't. A player might be a horrible everyday starter, but can he hit lefties? Can he hit righties? Is he good defensively? For example: It is easy to say that Kevin Young stinks and, while that is true if he is getting 500 ABs a year, he could be a very effective half of a first base platoon. There are hundreds of players like that throughout baseball, in both the majors and minors.

One manager that I have been impressed by in this regard is Jim Tracy of the Dodgers. He did a marvelous job making Marquis Grissom a very valuable player over the last couple years by platooning him and he has worked wonders with several minor league veterans, like Dave Roberts and Paul LoDuca.

Well, apparently other people think the same thing about Jim Tracy. Fellow Baseball Primer author Eric Enders wrote a great article that examines Tracy's track record with unproven players, usually of the "veteran minor leaguer" variety. It's a really good article and I recommend you check it out.

Jim Tracy: A Dash of Genius, or a Lot of Luck? (by Eric Enders)

I know I have written about this subject enough already for several lifetimes, but since I last wrote about Johan Santana and Kenny Rogers, Johan has gone from asking to be traded to being happy with being put in the bullpen once again.

First, the anger:

"We'll see what my agent has to say," Santana said. "I want to be part of this team. I love this team — great teammates. But you have to look out for yourself, too. You have to take care of yourself, and if they're not going to do it, you have to find somewhere else."

"I know they're looking for a replacement (for injured starter Eric Milton), but to me it looks like I don't mean nothing to them...I feel screwed."

First of all, Johan should probably be told that if he "don't mean nothing to them," he, in fact, means something to them. Of course, that's beside the point. As you can probably guess, I almost passed out when I saw the headline, "Rogers' signing angers Santana, request for trade possible."

Johan gave me about a week to worry about it and now this is the new spin on the situation:

Time apparently was all Twins pitcher Johan Santana needed to heal his wounded ego.

Five days after saying he felt "screwed" by the team's decision to sign veteran Kenny Rogers to join the starting rotation, Santana settled back into his role as a set-up reliever by striking out five Boston batters over two innings during a 7-6 victory over the Red Sox on Tuesday at Hammond Stadium.

"I'm just looking for a chance to make the team, and right now I'm a part of the team. So somehow I've got to help the team," he said. "You just have to keep going, and keep my head up, and keep doing the same things I did last year."

I am sure Johan is still quite unhappy about not being in the rotation and I can't say that I blame him, since I am quite unhappy about it too. But it sounds like he "talked to his agent" and his agent told him to shut up and pitch, which is generally good advice. I am confident he'll get his chance to start before the year is up and he'll have a very good season. But Johan, please no more talk about trade requests, I don't think my heart can handle it again.

And finally...

If you haven't entered already and you are interested in doing so, this is your last chance:

Enter the 1st Annual Aaron's Baseball Blog Pre-Season Predictions Contest!

The deadline for entries is Monday, so if you want to do it, do it now. I'll be unveiling my predictions sometime next week.

*****Comments? Questions? Email me!*****

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