What’s the price tag for Huston Street?

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We’ve got less than a month until pitchers and catchers report, and with all the crap that’s gone on this winter, I couldn’t be more psyched. Maybe when they start playing some games, we can put the winter of Santana and PEDs behind us. You might have heard that there’s a congressional hearing going on now about steroids, but let’s forget about that and talk some baseball.

Yesterday, a Mark Kotsay for Joey Devine trade was finalized, furthering Oakland’s reconstruction. Remember back in 2005, when we needed a CFer, and the A’s wanted Phil Hughes for Kotsay? Yeah. Glad we didn’t pull the trigger on that one.

This leaves the A’s younger and less experienced, as have all of their moves this winter. My first question: How far-reaching is this rebuilding going to be? One might figure that Joe Blanton will be on the move, but new reports suggest that he’ll be around to make the Opening Day start for the A’s. Another big name is Huston Street, Oakland’s stud closer who spent much of 2007 on the DL. That’s the name that attracts — or should attract — the Yankees.

With such a compelling case to keep Joba in the rotation, the Yanks are still short a solid 8th inning guy. Barring a surprise turnaround from Kyle Farnsworth (hey, he’s had three completely dominant seasons), there’s going to be a lot of nail-biting going on late in close games. A proven reliever — a rare commodity for sure — would help alleviate those woes. Street is ideal not only because he’s proven he can pitch, but because he’s not eligible for free agency until after the 2010 season.

If he is available, the next question is, how much? Billy Beane clearly isn’t going to give Street away. He’s gotten a huge haul this winter by trading Dan Haren, Nick Swisher, and now Mark Kotsay. He’s not going to, for instance, trade Street straight-up for, say, Jeff Marquez. He’s going to ask for the sky at first, likely Hughes. And then he might back down to Kennedy, but I can’t see him going below that. And that’s not a move the Yankees should be making. At that point, I’d rather just stick Kennedy in the 8th inning.

(For the record, I do not advocate sticking Kennedy in the 8th inning role. I’m just saying that if the Yankees felt they needed an 8th inning guy so badly that they’d trade Kennedy for Street, they’d be better off just putting Kennedy in that role.)

The only slight on Street is that he’s a one-inning pitcher. In 2006, he never pitched two innings in an outing. Of course, that is the purpose of an 8th inning man. But what I’m asking is, what’s that worth to you? The 8th inning is critical, and it’s one the Yanks could stand to improve, as we said in our pinch-hit post today. But at what cost? Would you trade Ajax? Tabata? Horne?

It’s not an easy question to answer. We’re talking unproven prospects here in exchange for a proven reliever. That stacks the deck in Beane’s favor. And when he’s got the advantage, my suggestion would be to avoid doing business with him. While he fails some of the time (see: Tim Hudson), he often gets the better of teams (see: Mark Mulder). Why play with him when he’s at an advantage?

This all might be a moot point, though. Street does have injury concerns, which likely deflate his value. Beane would be smart to hang onto him until July. If he’s healthy, some contending team is going to overpay for him. I just hope that team isn’t the Yankees.

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  • jsbrendog

    the yankees do not need hustoin street. Look at the teams that make it in the playoffs and world series, their bullen has young hungry fireballers who make a difference out of the blue where the old hats falter and wither……keep it in house

    • Geno

      Exactly. Try Humberto, Horne or any other in-house option before we trade for anyone.

  • MikeD

    I would love to see the yanks get street. If a package of horne or tabata plus marquez gets it done I would pull the trigger.

    • Ron

      Jeez, isn’t that a little excessive for Huston effing Street? Given Street’s health history, I wouldn’t trade Horne or Tabata even up for him. Marquez, maybe.

  • nick blasioli

    the yankees sure need to address the eighth inning problem…i sure would like to relax a little more when we have the lead going into the ninth…i dont know if street is the answer,,,but who is….????

  • Glen L

    I’m totally with jsbrendog … stay in house and let it develop

  • Tripp

    Let it develop at the cost of losing games. That’s pretty difficult for the Yankee front office to swallow. What about a replacement for Rivera? This guy would fill that role pretty well.

  • ceciguante

    intriguing. they should at least be talking to beane about this, and consider making an offer before he hijacks everyone in july. the 8th inning is crucial. i strongly disagree with the first commenter who makes it sound like the BP is only about young fireballers. explain scot shields to me, then? young fireballers tend to be wild — some work out, others pitch like brian bruney. the yanks should make it a priority to carry 2 closer-quality guys in the pen. 2 or 3 yrs ago, i really wanted them to convince bj ryan to pitch the 8th (instead of close) when he was on the market…i still can’t get over that one.

    • jsbrendog

      bj ryan has pitched like 5 games for the jays since he signed. I would say that should help you get over it since he is torontos version of the american idle carl pavano but in the bullpen

      • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph P.

        He pitched only 5 innings last year, true. But Ryan pitched 72 for the Jays in 2006.

  • TurnTwo

    a package built around Horne is certainly reasonable, considering what the true value is for a closer on the market. I wouldnt trade AJax or Tabata for him, but Horne and a couple lower level guys that project out to be solid back end rotation/bullpen guys would do it (McCutcheon, and Patterson or Robertson?).

  • nolan

    Ajax? Tabata? Horne? Giving away any of these guys for street is insane! Street was injured last year AND all the prospects listed above play positions that are much more valuable than a reliever. Im sure Horne could be just as effective as Street. But why even move him to the bullpen when we have melancon, humberto sanchez, cox, olendorf, veras and other young fireballers who compete for that spot. We have all the pieces we need….just let the young talent move up to the big leagues!

    • MikeD

      How in the world are you sure a AA guy could be at least as good as a proven mlb closer?

  • E-ROC

    It’s all up to Billy Beane. I think he’ll want to get Street’s value up before trading him. His stock shouldn’t be that high. Beane will probably use the Valverde deal as starting point. Scott Patterson, Daniel McCutchen, and another prospect? IDK.

  • Steve S

    i believe that Kennedy is integral to the rotation this year. He is the one guy who could probably flirt with 200 innings. he is also the one kid who doesnt rely on his velocity as a big part of his game.

    I think Street doesn’t merit that much value. I would try and get harden on the cheap, the guy has no value, is young and could arguably slotted in the rotation or in the bullpen. Street is nice but I would rather give somebody who is further away like a Dellin Betances.

    Also whats the reality of Sanchez helping out by mid year. This was a guy who was ahead of Hughes in his development before the arm injury. I think the 8th inning thing is overblown, they should just examine how things go at the beginning of the year. Also they do need to protect Joba, and him starting the first half as a middle reliever wouldnt be the worst thing, you dont want a Prior situation. Make him a two inning guy, then a three inning guy, and then by July or August let him start. Girardi seems like he is the type of guy who can maximize those innings.

  • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph P.

    It’s awesome to see so many people come to the defense of the young guys.

  • CB

    Before last season I think BA had Oakland’s farm system rated as #27 in all of MLB. For whatever reason Beane really let their system fall apart. He’s trying to rebuild the team by rebuilding the farm system as quickly as possible.

    Beane’s trading all of these young veterans now with 3 years on their contracts because it maximizes his leverage. He’s done a good job so far.

    He’s going to demand a ransom for Street – probably at least 3 players. Kennedy alone or Kennedy and some throw ins won’t get it done IMO. Beane will want something like Kennedy, Tabata, and Betances or Kennedy, Horne, and Tabata. There’s so little relief pitching available – the Brewers gave Gagne a one year $10 million deal after his debacle in Boston. Demand is far greater than supply and Beane will take full advantage of this.

    I’d pass on street given the likely price tag. Relief pitching is too much of an uncertain thing to give up so much talent for a guy who at best will give you 75 innings in a year. Street had a heavy workload for a closer his first two years and got hurt last year.

    I’d try Horne in the pen or one of the other young guys before trading them away for street.

  • Rob

    I was going to say Horne and Marquez for Street, then I realized by June, why not Horne for the 8th?

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  • Rob

    Here’s Sickels on Horne – Dec 17th:

    “Horne has finally overcome his injury-plagued college career, emerging as one of the better pitching prospects in the game. His velocity has returned to pre-Tommy John standards, hitting 93-95 MPH last year in Double-A. Both his curveball and slider have improved, and last year he added a major league changeup to the arsenal, giving him four solid or better pitches. His command, erratic in the past, also took a step forward. All of his numbers were just fine for Double-A Trenton, and it was only the emergence of Chamberlain, Hughes, and Kennedy in the Yankees system that kept Horne from getting more attention. Assuming that his command continues to hold up, we should see him in the majors sometime in 2008, and it would not surprise me at all to see him thrive there, earlier than people expect. Grade B, and that might be a notch too low.”

    Seems like a great candidate for 8th inning duty.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph P.

      With four pitches, though, he’d have to ditch one. And they’re all solid. I’d like to extend our bullpen search to the max before we move Horne there.

  • Bo

    Defense of young prospects is terrific but get real here.

    Streets not exactly 40. And we do kinda need a reliable arm besides our closer out there. Right?

    Dont fall in love with every prospect.

  • Jeff

    I am really high on Kennedy and feel he should not be moved for anyone outside and ace pitcher. Street can stay unless we get him for a combination of bottom of the rotation straters like Karsteins or Igawa… Doubt that is what Beane is looking for.
    Seeing there is going to be an innings limit for three members of our young staff I’d like to see Joba start the season in the pen and be relieved by the super Humberto Sanchez who I think is going to really pan out once he gets healthy. I surely want Joba in the rotation but if his innings are going to be cut short anyway he should limit them early in the season and then pass the eigth inning tourch to someone who can prove to do the job… hopefully Humberto will be the man.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

      Re: Karstens and Igawa.

      Ask yourself this: Do you want either pitcher making 20+ starts for the Yankees?

      Then ask yourself this: If we don’t want either of them making those starts for our team, why would another GM want those guys pitching on his team?

      That’s how you have to evaluate a trade proposal. There’s absolutely no way Beane would trade Huston Street for a package centered around Jeff Karstens or Kei Igawa, two pitchers that just aren’t going to be viable Major League starters.

  • E-ROC

    After thinking about it, Daniel McCutchen, Scott Patterson, and Jeff Marquez isn’t half bad, I guess. I don’t know. I wish there was a Yankee rumor about having interest in Street.

    • steve (different one)

      “An official connected with the Yankees’ thinking said Tuesday that the Yankees have expressed interest in Oakland closer Huston Street.”

      there you go. i completely made that up, but that is the same standard that 90% of the rumors you hear are held to anyway.

      someone on the internet said the Yankees were interested, it is now “rumored”.

  • Aaron

    Realistically here, the Yankees probably won’t be in the running for Street. I say this for a few reasons.

    1. Yes, they need someone for that 8th inning but they will not overpay to get someone to satisfactorily fill that role. Using a rotating door of in-house options (Humberto Sanchez, Kevin Whelan, J.B. Cox) would probably be the better approach for the Yankees.
    2. Considering what Beane has received in the trades he’s already made this offseason, he’ll be asking for a lot for Street. With that you must consider what positions the A’s are lacking prospects at. They have outfielders (Carlos Gonzalez, Ryan Sweeney, Travis Buck) so that’d probably rule Austin Jackson or Jose Tabata out initially. They have a few starters (Gio Gonzalez, Brett Anderson, etc.) so that may not be their primary goal either. The A’s are lacking on middle infielders and bullpen arms. Who would the Yankees have to offer? I don’t see Alberto Gonzalez quite being good enough to begin building a package around.
    3. Look at what teams need help at the back end of their bullpen. I think there’s a better chance a team like Milwaukee or Arizona – young teams with the chance to compete but still have a big whole/question mark at closer – to make a big push for Street.

  • YankCrank20

    Aaron is absolutely right. We’re dealing with Billy Beane here, no package built around Ajax, Horne or Tabata will work. Cashman didn’t draft, pay and develope these guys to be good in Oakland. I just like how everyone defends our kids in the system, when I can remember as of 2005 all we can say we really knew about was Phil Hughes and Eric Duncan

  • http://yankeesetc.blogspot.com/ Travis G.

    i think Street is being a bit underrated here. the dude is only 24, has a 169 ERA+ over 199 ip, with a 202/51 k:bb rate, a whip of 1.02. he also hasn’t allowed an ER to either Boston or the Yanks in his career (yes, a small sample at 21.2 innings, but still impressive).

    i know he was hurt this year, but what was it? he came back in July to pitch great down the stretch.

    that said, i wouldn’t give up more than Ajax/Tabata/Horne and Marquez.

  • dan

    How about we wait for an actual rumor to pop up before we make up trade scenarios? Just a thought.

  • KAnst

    To gauge his value the best bet is to look at similar deals. Jose Valverde was traded this offseason after coming off a great year. That netted the DBacks Chris Burke (a mediocre middle infielder who can play the outfield), Chad Qualls (a workhorse 8th inning reliever) and Juan Gutierrez (24 year old triple A starter who profiles best as a reliever).

    The Astros also traded away Brad Lidge, once one of the best closers in baseball, he has been a bit off the last few years, but still young and great with strikeouts. For him they got Geoff Geary (a durable middle inning reliever), Michael Bourn (a plus plus runner and very good center field defender), and Mike Costanza (a power hitting corner infielder who is 24 in AA)

    The last reliever deal was for a half season of Eric Gagne. For this the Rangers got Kason Gabbard (a back of the rotation starter), David Murphy (a fourth outfielder) and Engel Beltre (a promising but raw teenager)

    All of those relievers have similar results to Street, they also have better stuff. Street is younger and cheaper then those guys. Looking at those trades though relief pitchers arent worth all that much. It seems like they targeted one 7th-8th inning reliever or 5th starter who is in the bigs now, one fourth outfielder type who is big league ready, and one raw but promising guy.

    If I was the Yankees I would make an offer along the lines of Steven White, Brett Gardner, and Jairo Heredia. I think that is a fair offer, it gives them a guy who can join their rotation next year, and outfielder who can start for them by midseason, and a very good young pitcher. I would also throw in a Dan McCutchen or Mitch Hilligross type to further the package.

    Nobody has traded any top of the line prospects for relievers recently and I dont expect the Yanks to be the first

    • steve (different one)

      this was a good post.

      but the situation is muddied by the fact that Street has less service time than any of those guys. the Yankees would control him for 3 more seasons.

      that makes him more valuable than those other guys.

      you mentioned the fact that he is younger and cheaper, but someone like Gagne or Lidge isn’t a great comparison because of the time to free agency.

  • Lanny

    A thing to remember

    Oakland just did trade its CF to Atlanta.

    Melky and a pitcher for Street?

    Or Gardner?

    Idont think they move Ajax but you never know. Maybe Beane throws some pieces in.

  • http://www.depressedfan.com Brian

    Gardner and Marquez. Gardner is a high OBP guy who could start for them right away in center and lead off. Marquez is a middle of the rotation arm down the line. That’s quite a haul for the A’s and truthfully, neither guy is a huge part of the Yanks plans, especially if they don’t move Melky.

  • MKT

    I’m a fan of Huston Street to the Yankees simply because of the confusion it would cause among New Yorkers being asked by uneducated tourists where to find “Houston Street.”

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