05 August 2003

Trade Analysis...

How did this happen?

I went away for a couple of lousy days, and I came back to find that my favorite team's starting right fielder, third baseman and best pitching prospect had been jettisoned to the National League, and that they had gotten an overrated thirdbaseman, a backup outfielder, an injured lefty reliever and a couple of prospects in return. Not good.

What's more, my favorite team's immediate rival had gotten the second-best available starter (Jeff Suppan), two of the best available relievers (RHP Scott WIlliamson and LHP Scott Sauerbeck) and had given up only a couple of marginal prospects to do so.

Now don't get me wrong, I think that Yankees GM Brian Cashman did a pretty good job in getting a new, fairly productive thirdbaseman (Aaron Boone) to replace the aging, underproductive one they had (Robin Ventura), who was necessarily dumped into the Dodgers' already underachieving hitting ranks. And though I don't happen to put much stock in "team chemistry", if you hafta get rid of Raul Mondesi, it's best to get something for him and to send him someplace where he can't come back to haunt you. Arizona seems pretty safe.

Aaron Boone isn't that much of an upgrade on Robin Ventura, but it's something. Even when Ventura's batting average dips below .250, he walks enough to keep up a respectable OBP, but his almost complete lack of power this year (13 2B, 9 HR) and his age (36) meant that some upgrade was needed. There really wasn't anywhere else in the lineup they could expect to significantly upgrade anyway. And they got some decent (albeit old) prospects back in Bubba Crosby and Scott Proctor.

Boston, on the other hand (...yep, still five fingers!), did a wonderful job shoring up their bullpen with Sauerbeck and Williamson, not to mention getting Byun Hyun Kim earlier in the year, while essentially giving up only a 2B prospect, once most of the original deal was un-done.

Suppan, frankly, I'm not very worried about. While he's a durable pitcher having a pretty good year (for the Pirates, no less) his career ERA is almost 5.00, and he's really not giving up any fewer hits or getting any more strikeouts this season than he normally does. What he is doing is allowing fewer walks (about one per nine innings less) and homers (about one-half per nine innings less). This, as Oakland GM Billy Beane and any sabermetrician worth his salt will tell you, is a good way to keep your ERA down. Unfortunately, it might just be a fluke. Suppan may revert to giving up that extra homer and extra walk and revert to the league-average innings muncher he usually is, in which case the Red Sox playoff foes have little to fear from him.

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