Monday, October 12, 2009

Why You Don't Make Big Trades: Cardinals

I saw some fans who wanted to trade away Bumgarner, even Posey in an isolated case or two, just to make the playoffs this year. Many wanted to get Matt Holliday. Hopefully they can learn from what happened with the St. Louis Cardinals.

The Cardinals traded away, basically, their Bumgarner or Posey (yes, we have two of them) in Brett Wallace (plus other players!) in order to get a couple of months usage of Matt Holliday. Clearly, they were a better team than we would have been had we had Matt Holliday on our roster. And yet, they get pushed out, rather meekly too, in the first round of the playoffs.

Making the Playoffs is NOT our Goal

There is no guarantees in the playoffs. Even the better teams will have an off-series and lose 4 out of 10 times, if this were a game played on the computer. So betting your future on a gamble for this season is not an easy choice, you have to believe that this year is your best and basically your only chance to make the playoffs and do something.

The Giants were not in that position. This is their first season of success in a long while. Hopefully, if Sabean is up to the job, it will continue for the next 5-10 years and give us some thrills along the way. And our goal is not to make the playoffs, but to go all the way and get us a World Series Championship.

But trading away our great prospects just to make the playoffs this season is not a luxury that we could afford, not if we wanted to be good for the next 5-10 years, not if we want to eventually win the World Series. We need Bumgarner and Posey to deliver at the MLB level for us to make the next leap (and later Wheeler) and be a serious contender, and not a "just glad to be here" team, as we would have been this season.

And Alderson and Barnes are not great prospects, they have some potential, but limited upsides means that ultimately not that valuable, plus they are years away from delivering value to us. They got us players who are proven major leagers, to varying degree of performance. And they could be traded later to recoup some of that value, if necessary, and if they are lost, well, we did not really lose that much in the trade, it is only the Fanboys who think that both Alderson and Barnes has that much value.

Patience was needed, and an understanding that any big trades to get what we needed to make the playoffs in 2009 would bite us in the rear big-time in terms of limiting our potential to be good in the long-run instead of just the short-run. I don't want to be a Brewers team that sold off a big part of their future to get a CC Sabathia, and now is struggling in the aftermath of that decision.

I would rather we keep the young guys, hopefully develop them to their full potential - and they should blossom in the 2011-2013 time frame, and get our team that much more closer to winning it all. When we reach that time, then we can think about trading off our best prospects to win it all. Then is when we need to capitalize on our time with Lincecum, Cain, etc., not now.

Now would doom us to more of 2005-2008 and with no chance of a 1997-2004.


  1. I'm on board with not trading talent for a one year run. However a multi-year run is pretty dependent on Sabean identifying good hitting. Something that he has not demonstrated a talent for in years. During his entire tenure I think the Panda is the only legitimate hitter we developed who could play for a contending team. Outside of being unable to develop championship caliber hitting he repeatedly displays NO ability to acquire good hitting. Ownership is going to extend him again because timmy and co. dragged the corpses at the plate to 88 wins, however I have no faith in Sabean to put together an offense.

  2. Brett Wallace is nowhere near as good of a prospect as Posey or Bumgarner. Wallace is a pretty good bat with no position, and considered by most to be an ideal DH. Most consider him a fringe top 60 prospect. The Cards had no use for him, as 1st, his only realistic position, is taken by Albert Pujols. It was also probably meant to be a move for the future, as well. They wanted first dibs at trying to sign him to a long term contract.

    And nobody wanted to trade Bumgarner or Posey for Holliday. If anything, people were pushing for the Giants to try and get him with Tim Alderson and a package of other prospects. The A's wouldn't have even had enough leverage to try and ask for either of Posey or Bumgarner, anyways. Holliday was playing quite poorly by his standards in his time with Oakland, and he was only under contract for two months.

    Thirdly, it's kind of a fickle argument to say it wasn't worth it for them to acquire Holliday just because of the error he made. It didn't cost them the series. It cost them one game. They still sucked the other two games of the series, and that's the team's fault. The trade was definitely worth it for them. It turned them into a postseason favorite. Even if it didn't work out, they didn't give up any significant parts of their future to go for it this year. It wasn't a bad idea.

    Also, it wasn't just the fanboys who thought Alderson and Barnes have value as prospects. Barnes is a good prospect. Look at his stats. Alderson is debatable, as his stuff isn't overwhelming, but he has excellent control. It's always good to have arms like that in the system. You can't possibly argue that we won either of the trades we sent them away in. The 'proven major leagers' we traded for consist of a crappy 1B and an expensive, frequently injured 2B.

    The part about the Brewers is just completely inaccurate. Not having Matt LaPorta is not why the Brewers are bad now. Do you really think they don't have enough offense? Their offense scored the 3rd most runs in the NL. Their pitching staff sucks. That's why they're not that good now.

  3. Using the Cardinals as an example also is contradictory to what you've been arguing in the past. Their pitching is just as good, if not better, than the Giants. As you have argued repeatedly,they are constructed to win in the playoffs in a short series with 2 stud pitchers who should dominate. Guess that teory doesn't work so well after all.

  4. You can degrade Alderson all you want, but that doesn't change the reality of the Sanchez trade, which is that it was totally unnecessary.

    We could be negotiating a contract in free agency with Freddy Sanchez this offseason without having traded Alderson at all. They could even have opted to go for a Felipe Lopez or Akinori Iwamura.

    All the trade did was lose us an arm that we invested a 1st-round draft pick and a signing bonus in, an arm that would eat some innings at the back of the rotation at the least, and it lessened (!) our options at the cornerstone.

  5. LOL Wallace is the same as Posey or Bumgarner! He is actually closer to Alderson, than he is to Posey or Bumgarner. ranked him #42 on their rankings while Bumgarner and POsey are 6 and 19. I don't put much stock in list but, especiialy if the difference is about 10 spots but 23 spots is d efinete sign that he isn't considered in the same league as our two. With that said he is a good prospect, FOR THE AL!

  6. You need to quit with the "people wanted to trade Posey and Bumgarner" stuff everytime you attempt to defend Sabean.
    I never saw it suggested anywhere, unless a 'troll' did it to stir the pot.

  7. Where to begin?

    First, Boof, you need to read and understand The Hey Series if you are going to criticize my stance. And probably take a class in statistics and probability. And nice strawman argument.

    I've never said that this strategy will win every time. There is no strategy to do that, even more money than the next two teams don't help the Yankees. All I've said is that this strategy is the way to maximize your chances in the playoffs.

    Also, it is not just starting pitching, but the pitching staff as a whole (6.6 K/9 is way below NL average; SF led NL with 8.1), the closer (Franklin? Ugh!), and their defense is not that good(team UZR is -17; which means their defense costed them 2 wins).

    Speaking of which, Anon, I did not say that it wasn't worth it for the Cards to acquire Holliday because of the error he made, I said that it wasn't worth it to them to get Holliday because they didn't win the World Series.

    Many of you need to improve your reading and retention skills.

    Kevin, you say that Sabean don't know hitting talent. When with the Yankees, it was under his scouting direction that they drafted Jeter and signed Jorge Posada. He also put together one of the best offenses around with Bonds, Kent, Burks, Aurilia, etc.

    The problem of the past few years, again, as I've been saying for 6-7 years now, is that when you are winning, you have lousy draft picks, so to maximize what he got, he focused on getting pitching, pitching, and more pitching. That means you get a lower talent level among hitters because you are spending it all on pitching.

    Maybe an example will help. You don't have a lot of money. You would like to get baseball cards of your favorite Giants, but you can't get them all because you don't have the money. Magically, you can select from the pitcher's pile or the hitter's pile, and select packages of only them. You really like the pitching, so you buy 10 packs of pitchers and get maybe 2-3 Giants pitchers but only buy 3 packs of hitters and don't get any.

    Or put another way, California now has a new Lottery ticket system. You can buy tickets to win a Giants pitcher or tickets to win a Giants hitter, but you only have about a 1 in 10 chance of winning. You like the pitchers so you buy a 10 tickets, but, what the heck, you buy 1 hitter's ticket. You hit on one of the pitchers but you strike out on the hitter.

    About Brett Wallace, I said that he was basically their Bumgarner or Posey. Yes, I did realize that he's not as highly ranked as they are, but they did get 2 other players, Peterson, who is good defensively in the OF and OK with the bat, and Clayton Mortenson, who is a middle to back of rotation guy. Plus, Wallace had a plus defensive year at 3B in 2009 (Minor League Splits, read it), adding almost a win, so he is most definitely playing 3B and will be good there offensively and defensively.

    The point is that they had to give up their top prospect to get Holliday, and if any of you think you would have gotten Holliday for a package of Alderson and others, you are as deluded as you think I am.

    The point about the Brewers is that they now have nothing they can use right now to trade, whereas if they didn't trade for Sabathia, they could trade LaPorta for whatever they want, and they could have gotten some pitching, and not just for a couple of months.

  8. Alderson and Barnes are nice prospects but neither are that great nor a sure bet to make the majors, their stats are not really that good for Advanced A. We got major league players for them, that's good on a value basis.

    If Franchez was on the open market, he wouldn't know us from Adam and might not have any interest in coming here. He's now part of the team and the team says that they want him. That's a big difference for some players. Also, you don't know what he would get on the open market, he could get more than 3 years and $20M and we would have to overpay to get him.

    And, who knows, maybe you are right and Sabean signs him to a stupid contract, in which case I would agree with you. It all depends on how unfold, which neither of which knows.

    But your attachment to Alderson dregarx, is puzzling because you admit that you are new to all this, and yet I've studied the minors for many years now and have seen prospects like him come and go and do nothing, so maybe my opinion has a little something behind it. Whatever, you clearly don't understand the ideas of sunk costs or what the value of back of the rotation pitchers are (hello, jeff weaver, sidney ponson, brett tomko, etc...) or know how horrible a fielder Felipe Lopez is or how unlikely a draft pick in Alderson's range of the first round will make the majors (I've been writing about it for 6-7 years now, around 10% chance), and the list goes on...

    Last for now, I'm sorry if you don't read as many sources as I do, but I did see people (not trolls) talking about trading Posey and Bumgarner (I'll admit, more the latter than the former but still, I saw them), so I'm going to talk about it. Just because you didn't read it does not make it so. I know what I read.

  9. I hate to tell you this, but Posey and Bumgarner are not as good as you think. Posey is more BJ Surhoff than Joe Mauer. Bumgarner.... eh fastball, okay secondary stuff, tricky delivery will only get him so far.

  10. You're making too much sense, Martin. It's more fun for the fans to make believe that Alderson was the next Greg Maddox.

  11. Look. I have no idea how valuable Alderson is. I just know he has some value.

    What I care about is that the Giants could have not made the trade and signed Freddy Sanchez this offseason anyways. It's not an attachment to Alderson, it's a judgment of what we gained.

    In my book, the value of Sanchez "now [being] part of the team" is less than the value of a player, any player. That that player is a 20-year old first round draft pick in AA just adds to the infuriation.

    I'm not so naive as to think, like some do, that Sanchez will sign with the Pirates again if his option is declined because of his attachment to Pittsburg. Because in this day and age players give their agents the reins and let them run with them, and go for the best monetary option in most cases (just like all rational people who want to work as employees in a free competitive market).

    Once the Giants say they want to go for a multi-year deal, that puts Sanchez in the drivers seat.

    It's a bad situation: if they do that, the difference in contract from having him already on the team to signing him out of free agency will not be close to the value of Alderson.

    If I had the ear of the Giants' general management, I would insist they pick up his option, because the only way they cannot come out way behind is to get that year of production (a net gain that would not be gained by making a new contract due to the similarity of the situation to free agency) and look to gain a draft pick similar to the slot Alderson came out of when he leaves in free agency.

    Do you agree with me that the option is the best way to go given the circumstances of the trade and the age of Sanchez? He is old, so the longer the contract is, the less likely he will be a Class A or B free agent when he leaves.

  12. Picking up the option is not the way to go, at all. Why would we pay $8M+ to a player that wasn't worth it, when you could use those resources to go out and get a better player without the injury history? You shouldn't compound the first error (trading the prospect) by making another (overpaying him). If they can get him at a discount on a 2 year deal, then go for it. But $8M, no thanks.

  13. Professor,

    It's not relevant how good Alderson will eventually turn out to be (Maddux-like or Suppan-like). The fact of the matter is that he has(d) some value as a trading chip, and in the Giants case, one of their better trading chip. Sabean cashed that chip in and got virtually nothing. That's what people are upset about.

  14. Is anybody looking at Alderson's numbers in AA? Just because he's in AA does not mean that he's doing well in AA, he was doing very poorly, particularly with his strike-out rate. Nobody survives with that low a strikeout rate in the majors, and if he can't strike out AA hitters, what chance does he have striking out major league hitters? Zero and none.

    It happens all the time, top prospect rises, as the Peter Principle noted for all employees, to their level of incompetence. Right now, AA looks like it for Alderson, and he is doing so poorly that there is almost no way he can improve enough in one year to warrant going to AAA, let alone the majors. It's going to take him 3 to 5 years to make the majors, given how poorly he's playing in AA.

    And a player who was never considered even that high a potential pitcher - middle was the best I saw but right now back of rotation if he is lucky - but now is viewed to make the majors in 3-5 years and not 1, has very little value.

    Sanchez, given all his bad points, and I went over most of them when he was acquired because I didn't like the trade then, is a quality baseball player, and now that we got him, and he should be healthy after surgery, and Alderson declined a lot with Pittsburgh, the trade looks good to me now.

    Sanchez is not often injured, according to Baseball Forecaster, he only had a DL in 2004, for his right ankle, then this injury this year that put him on the DL.

    His road numbers are basically the same as his home, so he wasn't benefiting from playing in PNC. And his road OPS is basically the same as the NL 2B OPS this season, so he would be an average hitter with good defense (+6.7 UZR in 2009), and that is worth something on a team that had their 2B hit a collective .611 OPS (his road OPS is .745). That is worth about 3 extra wins in a season over what we got in 2009 overall.

    An average hitter who can play good defense is a valuable player. If we can get him at a fair price - and I think that is more likely with us trading for us than trying to sign him on the free agent market - then it is a good deal.

    For example, I doubt that we could have signed Jason Schmidt to the contract we did had we not traded for him.

    So we did not get virtually nothing for Alderson, we got a quality 2B, about average offensively and slightly above average defensively (according to UZR), and that is valuable on the open market, for a pitcher who does not look right now like he's going to make AAA, let alone the majors, which is where he will need to be if he is to have any trade value. I think Sabean sold high on Alderson.

  15. Anon, yes, it's true that Posey and Bumgarner might not be as good as we think. But you don't know what we think, or at least what I think.

    I think Bumgarner is at a tipping point. His fastball is not enough to do really well in the majors right now. But it was before, he had a mid-90 heater.

    So the crux of the matter is whether he gets back his velocity and it was just a typical dead arm for a young pitcher pitching professionally for the first time, or this is his new talent level.

    Even given the worse scenario, and this is his new velocity, he pitched effectively in the minors and majors. So we should at least have an average major league career. But if his velocity returns, he is going to be devastating because he knows how to pitch without velocity, but has the oomph to strike out batters when he needs to, a deadly combination.

    Posey might be a BJ Surhoff, but BJ had a good career offensively, which is what we are looking for in our catcher. I don't expect Posey to be bashing out homers left and right, I am looking for a doubles hitter, gap line-drive hitter, who can play good defense. Surhoff, in the Silly-ball era, starting 1993, had an OPS in the 800 range for a number of years. That is great offensively for a catcher, and he averaged 20 HR over a 5 year period, which I would take from Posey.

    But I would note that Surhoff was no Posey in the minors, he barely cracked 800 OPS his first year in A-ball, then was in the mid 700 OPS in AAA when he was 21. Posey at age 22 hit .967 OPS in Advanced A and .903 OPS in AAA. He was a heck of a lot better hitter than Surhoff was, and for a lot more HR power. So based on this information, I think Posey should be better than Surhoff.

    Plus, Posey is suppose to become a plus defender, but I don't recall Surhoff being that, so that should give Posey another plus over Surhoff in the long-run.

    But, for now, we're both spitting into the wind, there's no proven way to show who is right or wrong except by playing the prospect.

    I hope Sabean/Bochy brings him up in 2010 and we can see what he can do. Or better, start him opening day.

  16. Situation A: We traded Alderson for Sanchez.

    Offseason situation: We have an opportunity to sign Sanchez for a multi-year deal, or pay him $8 mil for a one-year deal.

    Situation B: We didn't trade Alderson for Sanchez.

    Offseason situation: We have an opportunity to sign Sanchez for a multi-year deal, or if Sabean so pleases, he can overpay with a high $8 mil contract for one year to bring him in.
    (Don't even dare say $8 mil is high on the open market given the injury situation)

    In Situation A, you don't gain "we got a quality 2B, about average offensively and slightly above average defensively (according to UZR)".

    Logic fail.

  17. Well, the problem is that you don't know what type of contract is signed in Situation A or B.

    Your logic fails miserably if he signs a cheaper contract with us in A than B, or if he decides to go to another team.

    You are also missing the point. The point is not that the Giants have an opportunity to sign him, the point is whether we land him or not because we don't really have a good alternative at 2B right now, which I would place blame on the Giants because they should have given Frandsen more of a chance to show what he could do in the majors. And clearly, Burriss is not ready to go in 2010 either.

    Clearly, if he signs for a cheaper contract than the market (his Pirates offer) then A is the better situation as he might sign a market priced deal instead in situation B. If he signs a higher contract, then B is better. We won't ever know, yet you feel that you do know and thus opine "Logic fail." It is your understanding of the situation that fails.

    In addition, his injury is not a serious one, and one that is recoverable and does not appear to be a recurring one, so his injury should not affect his market value very much.

  18. Dude, my logic is impeccable. All I said was the difference between situation A and situation B is not Freddy Sanchez.

    You just acknowledged my point in your first sentence by saying the difference is the type of contract: that's a disparity in money paid to Sanchez, not a disparity in the number of Freddy Sanchez's (0 or 1) that are signed with the Giants.

    So to try to retort that my "logic fails miserably" is in fact, fallacious.

  19. The point is that there is no incentive for Sanchez to sign for a cheaper contract than the market with the support of his one-year option to tide him over to an offseason in which he is most likely not recovering from surgery.

    I appreciate your faith in the altruism of people, but I try to look at things from an economic perspective, and part of that outlook is the acceptance of the fact that rational members of the marketplace seek the highest return for their services.

    You cannot assume the Pirates offer to be the "market offer" because too many variables(whether they knew about the impending surgery or not at the time of the offer, unappetizing situation with the Pirates, lack of competitors) are different between the two situations. These variables could have sent the price in either direction.

    I understand the situation: you have misinterpreted my intention.

  20. To address the "if he goes to another team".

    There is always a value in contractual offers where the player being pursued will not turn down a contract to sign a lesser contract with another team. The difference between that value and the next highest value must be greater in price than the cost of circumstance, etc. resulting from the tendencies of the individual.

    Therefore, if a team (the Giants) so chooses, through their offers, they can prevent a player from joining another team. And the number of Freddy Sanchez's signed with the Giants (1) remains the same as in the other situation, when the loss was of a prospect.

    Next time I should read more carefully, so I include all related points in the same paragraph. Darn...



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