Trading a Drabek

Burnett dominates, bats slug as Yanks trounce Rays
B is for Brackman, B is for Bust

Over the next few days, the name Kyle Drabek will surface in many a trade rumor. He is a 21-year-old pitcher, a 2006 first-round selection by the Phillies and the son of former Major Leaguer Doug Drabek. He is a much sought-after prospect and may or may not head to the Blue Jays as part of a package for Roy Halladay. No matter the outcome, though, his name in the press reminds of when another team — the Yankees — traded a 23-year-old Doug Drabek and got back not much in return.

The year was 1986. While the Yankees would put up the best cumulative won-loss record of the decade, any sort of success, post-season or otherwise, would elude them. George Steinbrenner was at his peak. He had no patience for young players and would order his GMs to trade at will. Young players, and pitchers in particular, had no chance of sticking around.

In 1986, the Yanks called up one of their top pitching prospects. A young Doug Drabek would make his Yankee debut on May 30 in relief. He threw 4.1 innings, giving up one run on one hit and three walks, and he recorded four strikes. Over the course of the season, he would appear in 27 games for the Yanks, making 21 starts. He went 7-8 with a 4.10 ERA — and a 100 ERA+ — with 50 walks and 76 strike outs in 131.2 innings. For a young kid with a lively arm, it wasn’t a bad debut.

In November, the Yanks would ship Drabek along with Logan Easley and Brian Fisher to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Pat Clements, Cecilio Guante and Rick Rhoden. Drabek and Rhoden were the centerpieces of the deal. The Yanks felt they were a starting pitcher short of a playoff berth, and Rhoden was supposed to be the key to that berth.

In a way, Rhoden reminds me of Halladay. There are some definite similarities. Before arriving in New York, Rhoden was 121-97 with a 3.48 ERA. Halladay is 142-69 in 12 seasons with a 3.45 ERA. The won-loss records aren’t identical; the ERAs are similar.

After arriving in New York, Rhoden, 33 and one year older than Halladay at the time, would pitch three more season, two in New York. As a Yankee, Rhoden went 28-22 with a 4.09 ERA. The Yanks would not make the playoffs with him around, and Drabek would go on to be a very good pitcher for the next eight years.

Although it’s tempting to draw parallels between Rhoden and Halladay, as I did just a few paragraphs ago, Roy is a much better pitcher than Rick. At the time of the trade, Rhoden’s ERA+ was a 103 while Hallday’s sits at 133. Rhoden struck out 4.8 per 9 IP and had a 1.72 strike out-per-wak ratio. Hallday’s numbers are 6.5 and 3.20 respectively. The comparison is barely valid.

In trading Doug Drabek, the Yankees made a clear mistake, and everyone knew it at the time. Dave Anderson, writing in The Times during Thanksgiving, called out the Yanks for “acquiring an older pitcher more susceptible to arm trouble rather than having the patience to let a younger, sturdier pitcher develop.” That criticism would become more apt after Drabek won his 1990 Cy Young Award. The Yanks sure could have used that.

As 2009 ticks away, the Phillies should probably trade Kyle for Roy Halladay. Doc would hand them the NL while Rick Rhoden wouldn’t have amounted to anything. Still, as the trade deadline approaches, young pitchers will always remain a hot commodity. The Drabeks know this just as well as anyone.

Burnett dominates, bats slug as Yanks trounce Rays
B is for Brackman, B is for Bust
  • the artist formerly known as (sic)

    Love me some shorting pitchers.

    • theyankeewarrior

      Maybe we can trade Andrew Brackman for Halladay? Oh wait, he sucks

  • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

    I’d love to see the Blue Jays land Kyle Drabek in exchange for Roy Halladay.

    Because I want to see Kyle Drabek of the Jays face off against John Smoltz of the Boston Blue Sox in the last week of the season. Maybe the Sox can go sign Sid Bream and the Jays can un-retire Barry Bonds. That would be hilarious.

  • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

    My prediction: The Phils keep Drabek and the deal ends up being J.A. Happ, Dominic Brown, Jason Donald, and Carlos Carrasco. It’s not what the Jays want, but it’s still a better haul than whatever they’d get from anyone else (or what they’d get in the winter).

    • Jake H

      The problem is that while Happ has been good this year he is 26 and just made the majors. I love how every thinks that Happ is such a good pitcher. I think he’s just new to the league and I will wait to see how he fares another time with teams seeing him.

      • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        Meh, he’s a lefty, they often take a little longer. I’m with you, I think Happ is solid but not a superstar, but he’s a good pitcher.

        • Jake H

          I think he’s more of a back of the rotation guy then a front line starter. Your giving up a front line starter and you should be able to get a guy who could become that at least. Also Donald isn’t going to stay at short he is below average from reports I’ve read which means he’s a 2nd baseman or 3rd baseman.

          • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

            Still, though, what two pitchers are they going to get better than Happ and Carrasco? They’re not getting Buchholz, Joba, Hughes, Kershaw, Billingsley, Richard, Feliz… all the other teams with elite pitching prospects aren’t selling them for Halladay.

            It’s like the Santana deal – you’ve got to accept the fact that you’re not going to get numerous future HOF’s, you need to try to at least get 2-4 quality starters.

            (Of course, you want to get a better haul than Minaya got, but don’t state the obvious).

            Getting Happ, Carrasco, Donald, and Dominic Brown (who’s probably the best prospect of the bunch) would have to be considered a good haul for a single 32 year old pitcher.

            • zs190

              Richard? You mean, Clayton Richard? I thought the prospect guys like KLaw consider him a back end starter at best. He doesn’t really belong to that group.

              • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

                Sorry, that was garbled. Didn’t mean to include Richard as an elite young starter, just naming other pitchers the Jays won’t be able to get.

                My bad.

        • JohnnyC

          Skip Bayliss said on national TV yesterday that Happ was a righthander…and no one on ESPN corrected him. Do we have a clue as to how much baseball that schmuck actually watches?

      • Andy in Sunny Daytona

        Happ’s hairline is 56.

  • Reggie C.

    I never knew Doug Drabek was a former yankee farmhand…turned out great for the Pirates. I thought the late 80s was a period of draft futility.

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside
      • Esteban

        wow, those are great

        • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

          Do NOT tape yourself having sex. I cannot stress that enough.

          • Esteban

            $9 is WAY too much to pay for a beer

      • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

        “I thought the late 80s was a period of draft futility.”

        Drabek was drafted in ’83 (and traded to the Yanks in ’84).

  • DSFC

    Thanks for the bad memories. Drabek, Rijo, McGee, McGriff, Buhner……

    • JGS

      don’t forget Brien Taylor

      • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        Yeah, but we didn’t sell Brien Taylor for pennies on the dollar.

        We were gonna keep him, he just tragically blew out his shoulder.

        • JGS

          true. still a bad memory though

  • Andy

    Off topic, I know, but anyone want to cite Porcello and Joba’s stats to Francesca now? Remember that rant he had that was linked to at this site, saying how much better Porcello was as a starter than Joba? Joba has pitched 5 more innings, and has an ERA over a half run lower…

    • Mikebk

      lets have a little non yankee bias here though as well. Joba is 23 and Porcello is 20, so if in 3 years porcello hasnt improved his era by 1/2 a run then go for it cause i dont think there is a person in here that wouldnt take porcello for joba if it was out there.

      • Andy in Sunny Daytona

        I wouldn’t.

        • Tampa Yankee


        • Moshe Mandel

          + a lot. The consensus on Porcello has become that he has a high probability to be a very good pitcher and eat innings, but is unlikely to become an ace. Joba has more probability questions, but he has that ace potential.

      • Tank Foster

        You really think Joba for Porcello is a good deal for the Yankees? I don’t see much difference in the pitchers.

        • Joltin’ Joe

          It’s like a higher-profile version of McCarthy/Danks. I don’t want to get bit like the Rangers did in that one. Stick with the guy you know.

      • Andy

        Missed the point. Point was Francesca was trashing Joba as a starter, saying even Porcello, a rookie from Jersey, was better than Joba, because Joba was not a “starting pitch-a.” No Yankee bias, Porcello could become a better “ptich-a” than Joba, just a comment on Francesca’s ridiculous rant using 10 starts by a rookie to make his point that Joba would fail as a starter.

        • Mikebk

          we all know francessa is ridiculous but people in here were questioning joba as a starter as well after 2 horrific outings in a row and an era that ballooned to 4.25 so that doesnt mean after two excellent ones in a row he is should now be back to being the savior. same with porcello, young pitchers will have ups and downs as they learn their consistency.

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  • The Scout

    I remember the deal that sent away the older Drabek very well. I said at the time he’s be an all-star within two years. I was wrong — it took him another year to win a Cy Young. And I predicted Rhoden would be out of baseball in two years. Also wrong by a year. Many forget how impulsive Boss George was then. He really had no clue about baseball talent — in many ways, he was worse than Hank. We can complain about Cashman (I do), but at least he thinks before he acts.

  • Tom Gaffney

    A bit of a problem with your Halladay/Rhoden comp. While I appreciate the creativity in drawing that parallel, your use of ERA to compare is deceptive. Halladay is a MUCH better pitcher than Rhoden ever was. Rhoden pitched in a different era, with significantly less offense. Rhoden’s ERA+ the year before the trade was a career high 135 and the year before, he posted a terrible 80 ERA+, while Halladay is pitching to a 164 ERA+ this year, a 154 ERA+ last year and these are not even his career bests (184 in 2005)!! Halladay’s CAREER ERA+ of 133 is almost equal to Rhoden’s best YEAR!! Good article, but you def need to add some qualifiers to that comp. Rhoden couldn’t carry Doc’s jock strap.

    • Tank Foster

      If you read carefully, he did qualify it in a later paragraph, using ERA+.

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      “Although it’s tempting to draw parallels between Rhoden and Halladay, as I did just a few paragraphs ago, Roy is a much better pitcher than Rick. At the time of the trade, Rhoden’s ERA+ was a 103 while Hallday’s sits at 133. Rhoden struck out 4.8 per 9 IP and had a 1.72 strike out-per-wak ratio. Hallday’s numbers are 6.5 and 3.20 respectively. The comparison is barely valid.”

      • Tom Gaffney

        Sorry, too quick on the trigger, there.

  • mryankee

    Somone tell me the Yanks are not getting Bronson Arroyo-that guy sucks-I would much prefer Halladay or Lee or Washburn. Why would the Yanks get that chump Arroyo when there are much better options, hell Mitre would be better than Arroyo.

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      The Arroyo rumor was debunked.

      The Mariners are still asking for at least one good pitching prospect for Washburn, though, which makes me say pass.

      • mryankee

        Well thats good news-Heath bell would be a better option you know who I kind of like why aren’t the rangers making a play for Halladay, seems to me he is the piece they need to get in the playoffs. I suppose the dream of a CC-AJ-DOC-Chamberlain rotation will not come to fruition. I still am concerned about the #3 starter if Joba is in the bullpen.

      • mryankee

        Well thats good to hear. Maybe Health bell would be a good fit and move hughes to the rotation-that is not my original idea. I also think I have given up on the Yankees aquiring Halladay. I have two thoughts one: why is Riccardi moving Hallady if he does not knwo he will be back next year and all he preched was 2010-2010-we will compete. If I were the Jays ownership I would not want a lame duck gm trading away the only reason people watch that team. 2: why aren’t the Texas Rangers trying to get halladay-they have the top farm system and clear need for a #1 starter and are close the the playoffs this year.

  • sabernar

    Did you just compare Rick Rhoden to Halladay? Sorry, but I stopped reading after that. #fail

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      Yes, you generally do fail when you stop reading. He addressed in the article why the comparison he was making wasn’t apt.

  • RollingWave

    If the teams of the 80s had McGriff / Rijo / Drabek / Bueher around, they probably ended their pufility about 4-7 years before 95.

    Sure, Rijo was traded for a inner circle hall of famer in his prime (Ricky) but really, I’m sure that’s comforting when you watch him pitch like Pedro Martinez before Pedro Martinez in the 1990 world series, and for a 7 year stretch he was essentially the best pitcher in the NL.

  • DieHardPhan

    Without getting into the many times the Phils have traded away very good talent for guys who didn’t work out, let me tell you why I don’t think the Phillies should be so quick to trade Drabek or to sell the farm for Halladay. In 2004, there was a trade for arguably the best pitcher(or at least the top 5) in the AL, where the team who traded him got two pitching prospects with pretty nice upside, both who had pitched the past season but who hadn’t done it for as long as said pitcher, and a catching prospect. Who was the pitcher you ask? Mark Mulder. And the two pitching prospects? Dan Haren and Kiko Calero. Who got the better of that deal? Mulder had ONE good season, in 05, and every one after that was not even average, while Haren has become arguably one of the best pitchers in all of baseball, and Calero hasn’t done too poorly either. Plus, Haren ended up getting Oakland a few good prospects in return for him, so they benefited twice from this trade. Halladay and Mulder have similar numbers in the AL(and Mulder put his up in less seasons than Halladay), similar builds, similar pretty much everything, and Mulder was only 27 when he was traded, and had played in the postseason and been dominant, whereas Halladay never has. Furthermore, I see a lot of similarities between Drabek and Haren, from the build, to the delivery, to the poise on the mound. Plus, the Phillies don’t necessarily need Halladay. Cole Hamels just needs to find himself again, Blanton has been pitching great so far all year and has been a huge innings eater, Moyer gives you mostly solid starts or at least enough of them that he’s still serviceable, Happ has stepped up big time and has pitched great in almost every start he’s ever had in the majors, Lopez is a pretty sold number 5 and if he stays healthy, they’ll have Pedro freaking Martinez at the back of the rotation to replace Lopez. On top of that, they still do have a few pitchers who can come in and pitch for them from their farm system if need be, a few of which have already pitched in the big leagues for a start or more and not done half bad. And believe me, this is coming from a realist who can never criticize this team enough when they deserve it, especially when it comes to personnel decisions. If we can get Halladay without selling the farm then great, but there’s no reason to overpay for a guy who you don’t even actually need. We’ve seen what happens when teams gamble by mortgaging the farm and losing, bothm in Philadelphia(many times) and elsewhere.

    On the other hand, I’d really like to see Happ go to the Blue Jays because I think he’s a perfect fit for the AL and that he’ll actually get a chance to have a permanent spot in the rotation that he doesn’t lose to whoever the GM brings in that particular year to take the job that he earned *cough* Chan Ho Park *cough* because Happ definitely deserves it. And Toronto fans, I’ve been watching Happ pitch since televised AAA games, and I’m sure that anybody who has watched him pitch will tell you that not only does he know how to pitch(a lot moreso than most young non-phenom pitchers), has the poise and attitude towards pitching that fits the AL perfectly, but he also has good enough stuff that he can pitch a shut out or shut a team down at times, and isn’t just a Jamie Moyer out there trying to play chess. I’d say that he could easily be a solid number 2-3 for you. I also don’t get why the Blue Jays aren’t asking for Jason Knapp, who some say has the most upside out of any of the Phillies pitching prospects, whether in the rotation or out of the ‘pen.

    Personally though, I’d rather keep all of our young prospects and have a rotation of Hamels, Blanton, Happ, Carrasco, and Carpenter next year, with Drabek probably joining the rotation in 2 years, and a lineup featuring both Ryan Howard AND Michael Taylor in the next two years. I’m okay with anybody but Drabek or Taylor being traded for Halladay, but getting rid of either of those two is just ludicrous. We’ve already traded Golson, Bourne, Castro(who admittedly isn’t at the level of anybody mentioned in this post), and you have to admit that we’ve had mixed results from those trades. That’s just since last off-season too. With all of our starting outfielders right around 30, and a rotation that will have 2 definite spots to fill in it within the next 2 years, why trade two players who can fill those spots for years to come?

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