Saturday, November 10, 2007

Trade Rumors

Here's my opinion on some of the possible trades for the Yankees:

Apparently one rumor was posted a while back on MLB Trade Rumors saying that a possible package of Wang, Melky, and Ian Kennedy for Johan Santana. In addition, it said the Yankees would pursue Aaron Rowand heavily. I have a real problem with a deal like this. Here's my projection for Chien-Ming Wang next season:

215 IP 1.321 WHIP 3.64 ERA (87 ER allowed)

This was based on a lot of calculation involving singles, doubles, triples, home runs, walks, and hit batsmen allowed (along with their run values) while factoring in double plays induced. Basically I used base runs to determine a score rate off Wang multiplied by the base runners allowed and home runs allowed. It's a pretty damned good formula. It gave Wang a 4.03 expected ERA this year and a 3.99 expected ERA in 2006. Then multiply this expected number by a factor of 0.91, because each year his ERA was 0.91 times his expected. This gave me 87 ER allowed for an ERA of 3.64, pretty reasonable to expect of him. Let's look at Ian Kennedy's minor league totals:

149 IP 0.97 WHIP 1.87 ERA
165 K

That's pretty damned good. The Yankees kept him down in the minors longer than Joba because a guy like him who doesn't throw 98-101 mph is not going to be as convincing as a guy who does. And well, he basically was just as good. Here were Joba's numbers:

88.1 IP 1.01 WHIP 2.45 ERA
135 K

Aside from Joba's insane K/9 IP, Kennedy was actually better. And 165 K in 149 IP is not too shabby either. A lower ERA in a lot more innings and fewer baserunners allowed. This guy has the potential to be an excellent major league pitcher. However, not to assume he will meet his potential, let's say he's a league average starter, which was a 4.47 ERA in Yankee Stadium this year. Let's say he pitches 160 innings this year, too.

160 IP 1.40 WHIP 4.47 ERA

So he allows about 80 runs in those 160 innings. Wang allows 87 and Kennedy allows 80. So 375 IP and 167 ER. That's a 4.01 ERA. And for that, the Yankees pay about $1 million. Excellent, excellent deal. And this is assuming that Kennedy only pitches 160 innings and only at league average. He is very likely to be better than that. It could be as good as 390-400 innings at a sub-4.00 ERA. Giving that up, the Yankees will probably be getting about 215 IP of about 2.90-3.30 ERA (I'm not bothering to project his numbers, this is basically just a given). So that's about 70-80 runs allowed in 215 innings. To cover Kennedy's hypothetical league average performance over 160 innings, you'd need to rely on Mike Mussina or the DeSalvo/Clippard/Rasner crowd. I don't like an inconsistent starting rotation. One game is a sure win because Santana is pitching, another game is a likely loss because Mike Mussina and his Wakefieldian fastball, or one of our 4A pitchers is on the mound. Mussina could return to decent form. He could suck like he did for a lot of this year. He's 39 = more likely to suck.

Now, obviously, Johan Santana is an awesome, awesome pitcher. However, he is going to be commanding a huge amount of money post-2008. Baseball Prospectus has him worth around $22 million per year for 2009. And hell, seeing what guys like Jeff Suppan and Barry Zito get, he deserves it. But, do we really want to be dragged down by another enormous contract if we're going to give up important pieces of the team? Plus, Santana has a lot of mileage on his arm, and you never know, it may have affected him a little this year (33 HR allowed, 9 more than previous worst). Sure he'll be an upgrade over Wang, but it's at the loss of a top-notch prospect in Kennedy, an excellent defensive centerfielder with good offensive potential in Cabrera and a hell of a lot of money. Even if we didn't have to give up Wang in this deal, I would be very reluctant to make a trade like that. Here's why.

Say the Yankees pursue Torii Hunter or Aaron Rowand to replace Melky Cabrera. Rowand is 30 years old, and likely to not repeat last year again, and Hunter at 32 is even less likely. Both guys have decent pop. You can expect around 20 home runs from each guy. Melky when he hits his prime will probably be 12-15 homers at most. However, Melky has a better eye (8.8% BB rate versus Hunter's 6.6% and Rowand's 5.7%), strikes out less often than the two of them, and can possibly be a leadoff hitter within a year or two. As far as defense goes, Hunter and Rowand are not upgrades over Cabrera.

Torii Hunter (2007)
.891 zone rating and 47 plays made out of zone in 1314 innings
5.0 win shares

Aaron Rowand (2007)
.861 zone rating and 69 plays made out of zone in 1373 innings
5.1 win shares

Melky Cabrera (2007)
.910 zone rating and 33 plays made out of zone in 1072 innings
4.9 win shares

The Yankees will have a solid 23 year old likely leadoff-type hitter (who could replace Damon when he's gone) who's excellent defensively for basically $500k. Rowand and Hunter will be slight upgrades offensively (they'll hit for more power, but probably put up similar/worse OBP) and downgrades defensively. They will be demanding Gary Matthews, Jr. type money (5 years $50 million) and they're both in the 30s. Sound like a good deal to you?

So essentially the Yankees will be paying $32 million a year more if they make the Wang-not-included deal (trade for and then sign Santana to an extension worth what he's likely to command) and they'll only marginally improve. And they'd probably be worse than before should they include Wang in the deal.

If there was a deal on the table along the lines of Kennedy and a couple second-tier prospects like Horn/Tabata or Ohlendorf for Santana, then that wouldn't be a bad deal if it was accepted. However, I find this kind of deal unlikely to happen.

EDIT: People have proposed a trade including Robinson Cano for Johan Santana

This is a bad idea in my opinion as well. And I think the Twins would want more than Cano, so this move would be bad in my opinion.

Robinson Cano (2007)
41 2B, 19 HR

Screwing around with calculations, I got Cano creating 92-95 runs, which is just about what you'll find for other runs created formulas. An average major leaguer creates around 80. So he is worth about a full win to win and a half above average on offense. On defense, he is 31 FRAA. Combine the two, and he is worth about 45 runs more than an average player. So about 4.5 wins above average. Santana I don't think will merit a loss of 4.5 wins. Santana, as I said, will allow 70-80 runs in 215 innings. An average major league pitcher allowed 107 runs in 215 innings. So basically Santana will be worth 3.5-4 wins above an average starter. So the Yankees will lose about one win above average overall, assuming they even have an average second baseman next year as a replacement. And I know everyone's saying, "You win with pitching! You win with pitching!" No, you win with pitching, hitting, and fielding. Matsui is aging, Damon is aging, Abreu is aging, Jeter is aging. The Yankees offense will not be as formidable as it was last year in all likelihood. Think about it. Posada will not repeat last year. A-Rod will still be great (I can't believe he's actually back, I'd accepted him being gone) but not what he was this year, Damon and Matsui are likely not to improve much. Giambi hopefully gets in shape and stays healthy but you can't count on it. So Cano's bat (and glove while we're at it) is certainly desirable and you can't afford to lose him and possibly more pitching prospects for Santana.

As Yankees fans, we have to stop approaching each year as with a "Must win now!" attitude. It can lead to making deals for guys who put up flashy numbers at a suspicious (i.e. old) age and acquiring excellent players, but at great losses (good players you already have and lots of money). 2008 is a transition year as Douggy Bombs has said, and I am perfectly willing to accept that. If we do not make these deals, the 2008 Yankees will still likely be a very good team that can either win the AL East or the Wild Card. Plus, as already stated, Santana is a free agent at the end of 2008. With Pavano and Giambi coming off the books, and no more A-Rod, and the new Stadium being complete, look at all the money that will be available to land Santana and all the Yankees will have to give up is money. I know that whatever team trades for him will try to retain him, but what team will be able to offer the kind of contract the Yankees can? Few if any. Sure there have been times that the soon-to-be free agent who got traded at the July 31st deadline was signed to an extension. But there have been times that the free agent signed elsewhere. Randy Johnson in 1998. Carlos Beltran in 2004. So if the Yankees acquire Santana, it should be via free agent signing post-2008 season, not via trade.


Douggy Bombs said...


good post

Jack Bauer said...

Pretty much agree with everything said there.

Good post indeed.