May
28

Scouting the ChiSox

By

One of the more enjoyable things to speculate about is which players the Yankees are going to acquire next. Call it typical Yankee fan conceit if you want, but I’m not sure that’s it. Fans of every team look forward to what’s next, whether it be a prospect on the horizon, a free agent signing or a trade. Speculating about trades is an enjoyable exercise – you get to investigate other teams, other players, you get to dig around their financial situation and try to find a good deal (see my Beat L.A. piece last week) or dig around player’s statistical profiles and see if you can spot inefficiencies or underappreciated guys.

This summer, many expect the Yankees to attempt to add a starting pitcher. There’s considerable uncertainty in the rotation right now – no one knows if or when Phil Hughes will be back, and no one knows how long Colon and Garcia can continue providing the team quality innings. Aside from picking at the carcass of the Dodgers, one team fans look to as a possible trade target is the Chicago White Sox. The White Sox have a wealth of starters: Jake Peavy, John Danks, Gavin Floyd, Mark Buehrle and Edwin Jackson. They also have Chris Sale, whom they use as a reliever, and Phil Humber, whom I’ve never imagined is much good but has managed to perform quite nicely so far.

In a column over at Baseball Prospectus yesterday, John Perrotto noted that the White Sox would listen to offers on Edwin Jackson. Jackson’s been passed around like a peace pipe over the course of his young career and is finally eligible for free agency after this season. Some fans wouldn’t mind seeing the Yankees take a stab at Jackson; some prefer Gavin Floyd; some prefer John Danks. I don’t know many who prefer Mark Buerhle, and personally I wouldn’t be happy at all to see him traded to the Yankees so I’ll simply avoid him for now. I also doubt the Yankees would be interested in Peavy or Humber. This leaves Floyd, Jackson and Danks. Who’s the preferable target?

John Danks

Pros – Danks is a young lefty, only 26 years old. He has a decent strikeout rate (6.90 career K/9), a career FIP of 4.30 and xFIP of 4.00. He’s also 0-7 on the year. Why is this listed in as a Pro, you ask? Thank you for asking. Danks hasn’t pitched horribly on the year, although he hasn’t pitched as well as he has in the past, so more than likely the unsightly win-loss record isn’t really indicative of his true talent level or future expected performance. Which is to say that it’s possible that the White Sox are big fans of the W-L record as an evaluative tool, and it’s possible they’re undervaluing Danks. Another plus to Danks is his durability – he’s put up 600 innings over the past three years, so he appears to be a good bet to stay healthy and provide innings. Finally, he’s 6’6″, which I find cool.

Cons – His strikeout rate isn’t exactly elite – he’s failed to top 7 batters per nine innings the last 3 years in a row. His walk rate isn’t particularly sparkly either, so his K/BB ratio is somewhat middle of the road. He’s also not a giant groundball guy, contradicting an opinion I held about him for no good reason. In other words, the peripherals are good but not great, and he doesn’t keep the ball on the ground in a tremendous way.

Contract – Danks makes $6M in 2011, he’s eligible for arbitration again in 2012, and he becomes a free agent after the 2012 season. At the time of a potential trade you’re acquiring a year and a half of team control.

Gavin Floyd

Pros – He’s put up a mid 7.5 K/9 three years running, and in each year he’s kept his walk rate below 3 batters per nine innings. He’s the owner of a 4.43 FIP lifetime, but has put together a 3.77, 3.46 and 3.44 FIP three years running. Quite simply, he’s a very solid mid-3 FIP pitcher with good control and above-average strikeout stuff. Better yet, we know that the Sox have been willing to listen on offers for Floyd as recently as November. It’s possible they don’t love him like they should.  

Cons – He battled a hip injury in 2009 and a minor shoulder injury in 2010, although neither required him to spend time on the DL. He’s only topped 200 innings once in his career. And worst of all, he was a former member of the Philadelphia Phillies, a clear sign of moral weakness.

Contract – Floyd makes $5M in 2011, $7M in 2012, and has a club option for $9.5M in 2013. At the time of a potential trade the team is acquiring 1.5 years of control and a club option for another year.

Edwin Jackson

Pros – He’s got a higher K rate than Floyd or Danks in 2010 and 2011, and he’s sporting a 3.24 FIP in 2011 following a 3.86 effort in 2010. He seems to be getting better, an entirely expected development considering he’s only 27 years old. He’s been around so long, and been traded to and from so many teams, that he likely feels older to most fans than he is. He also throws the ball very hard, consistently registering one of the fastest fastballs in baseball.

Cons – No one’s jumping up and down about that walk rate (~3.5 BB/9 at best), and while he’s sported a K rate over 7 per 9 the past two years, he has an average of 6.75 K/9 on his career.

Contract – Jackson makes $8.75M in 2011 and is a free agent after this season. He’d likely be the cheapest to acquire of all three.

It’s odd how similar these three pitchers are, to be frank. They all have career groundball rates around 43%, they all strike out 6 to 7 batters per nine innings, and they all have walk rates in the 2-3 batters per nine innings range. All things considered, Floyd probably ranks the most favorable trade target to me, despite my preconceived preference for Danks. Floyd’s really shown great control since 2009, and an acquiring team would get to keep him through 2012, provided he’s still healthy. Danks is still no slouch, and there’s probably a good case to be made that Danks will improve as he matures and gains more experience. A young, tall, durable lefty with good stuff isn’t anything to sneeze at. Yet, it would certainly be nice to see Danks improve his control. In Jackson there’s also an interesting question of projection – he has really good stuff, and he’s still young, despite spending a lot of time in the majors. Is he showing signs of maturation as a pitcher in the past two years? It would certainly seem that way, and as such Edwin Jackson wouldn’t be a bad target for the Yankees at all this summer.

All three of these pitchers would look nice in Yankee pinstripes this summer. It would be fantastic to see if Cashman could pull another Wilson Betemit deal with Kenny Williams and get an undervalued commodity with plenty of team control for low cost, but it’s extremely difficult to anticipate a move like that. For now I’ll continue to wish Jake Peavy well on his road to recovery and hope Ozzie Guillen has a fight with one of these three guys and runs them out of town all the way to the Bronx.

Categories : Pitching, Trade Deadline

30 Comments»

  1. Eric says:

    God these weekend writers are terrible

    /obligatory

    Good stuff Stephen. What price would you be willing to pay for these guys?

    • Steve in PDX says:

      Agreed. I’ve read loads of articles on these pitchers, but very little about the cost of each.

  2. Don Juan says:

    Why would the White Sox trade any of their better starters when their division is up for grabs? The Twins are down. Chicago got off to a terrible start but has been playing much better since they got swept by the Orioles. They will be in the thick of the AL Central race.

    • Guns of the Navarone (a mushroom cloud layin' mothafucka, mothafucka!) says:

      Not just this season but next season too. They have the pieces to contend and the better pitchers (Danks & Floyd) are under team control. The only pitcher I see them moving is Jackson…and I frankly don’t want him.

      • Don Juan says:

        Yeah, he’s awful. It’s no wonder they want to trade him. 3 run HR by Jose Bautista. Jackson is not an upgrade over our current #4 and #5. The Indians are playing .620 ball and that won’t continue for the whole season.

        • Reggie C. says:

          Since when is giving up a HR to Bautista an indicator that Jackson is awful?

          Jackson isn’t going replace CC Sabathia as staff ace, but Jackson has some recent successful stretches (2009, half of 2010). With the organization wondering how long it’ll take Hughes to find his 2010 strength, the need for a DURABLE arm is present.

          If Cashman is in an acquiring mood at the deadline, Jackson is the most realistic target. He walks after 2011 if it doesnt work out. That’s life since the CWS have no reason to move Danks or Floyd in a open AL Central.

  3. MikeD says:

    Let’s offer the Sox Joe Girardi for John Danks and Ozzie Guillen, hoping to confuse the Sox into focusing on the swap of Girardi for Guillen. We’ll promote Pena to manager, insert Danks in the rotation, and have Ozzie host the post-game interview on YES. Must watch TV.

  4. BronxByte says:

    Too soon yet to talk about deals with any teams. No team will start waving white flags this soon in the season or they see attendance take a plunge.
    First things first. Let’s see if Girardi will ever learn strategy in this game. Let’s see if these Yankees will stop stranding runners. Let’s see if they can play with some fire in their bellies.

  5. CMP says:

    Nice breakdown Stephen R.

    I wouldn’t mind seeing Jackson in pinstripes. He’s at least as good as Burnett and would probably be the Yankees 3rd best starter right now behind CC and Colon.

  6. CMP says:

    Also we all owe you a debt of gratitude for running that out of control commenter off the site the other day though I fear it won’t last for long.

  7. Rey22 says:

    Would a package centered around Betances be too much for Floyd or Danks? They’re both young and not half a season rentals, so I assume it won’t be exactly cheap. I think I’d do that deal.

    • nycsportzfan says:

      i personally think both would be outterworldy, and way to much to pay.. If they want one, then fine, but mix in a couple mid tier guys after that, not a bunch of grade A prime beef guys.. I’d offer em a Banuelos, Tim Norton(he’s gonna be a good reliever, mark my words), and possibly Robert Lyerly type guys, or maybe if they don’t like that, a Banuelos and Phelps, and Jorge Vazquez type deal…

    • CMP says:

      I’d have a hard time giving up Betances or Banuelos if it wasn’t in a package for a true number 1 starter which Floyd and Danks likely won’t ever be since they both have such a high ceiling.

      Everyone else including Brackman, Montero, Romine, Sanchez, Heathcott, Stoneburner, etc are fair game though and should be more than enough to build a fair package if the Sox were so inclined to move one of them.

      • Gonzo says:

        I’d have no problem giving up Betances for either. I don’t think I’d do ManBan because he has the higher floor.

  8. nycsportzfan says:

    I would love adding JOhn Danks or Gavin Floyd, both would be ideal 2nd/3rd type starters, and with as stacked as our Farm is, we can really give the White Sox a fair trade for them, without totally stripping our farm down to nothing…

    Just as a example, we could really give them something like Romine/Noesi/Heathcott/ and a throw in middle type prosepct like say Tim Norton, and still have a boatload of talent, from Gary Sanchez and Montero, to Jr Muprhy to Dave PHelps, to Adam Warren, to the killer B’s, to Nunez…etc Maybe they want Nunez? If they really want a guy like Banuelos, then just give them Banuelos and 2 mid tier guys like Norton and Lyerly or something.. Bottom line is, we got the tools to get a guy like Danks or Floyd without killing the farm, and either one would be a big help, when Colon and Garcia fall back to earth or whatever… Its just a smart move for NY..

    Personally, i think the Yanks should investigate the Danks, Floyd, Wandy Rodriguez, Kuroda, Kubel, Rickie Weeks, Pence, and try and secure a pitcher and Outfielder, and if not, maybe we make a smaller deal for a guy like Randy Wolf or something.. But at worst, we should be able to snag a Kuroda type deal..

    • FIPster Doofus says:

      I like all of those trade targets except Wolf, who’s terrible, and Weeks doesn’t make much sense. For one, the Yankees already have a second baseman; secondly, I don’t see the Brewers selling off such a huge piece this season, especially one with three years left on his contract.

  9. FIPster Doofus says:

    Danks or Floyd would be great pickups. While I’m not too wild about Jackson, I do agree he’d be an upgrade and would cost the least. Ergo, he’s a decent option. Hard to believe the White Sox traded Daniel Hudson – whom they would’ve had long term – for a little over a year of EJax, though.

    Anyway, good article.

    • CMP says:

      I wonder why everyone is so down on Jackson?

      Granted he’s far from an ace but since 2009, only 18 starting pitchers have accumulated more WAR than he has and he’s still only 27.

  10. Monteroisdinero says:

    Is it possible Colon and Garcia do not fall back to earth this year? That they are this good all year? That they would like one last shot at some good money in their careers? Those two and CC have been darn good so far and Nova can learn alot from two veterans at their craft.

    Since the Sox are still smarting over Swisher-can we send him back?

    I think a bullpen loogy is more desireable right now.

    • MikeD says:

      Agreed, its’ certainly unlikely they both don’t fall back to earth.

      Certainly Garcia is not going to post a low 3.00 ERA. Out of the two, I’d give Colon a better chance of maintaining his current ERA (3.77 after his last game) simply because, unlike Garcia, Colon is basically the same pitcher he was when he won the Cy Young Award. He was hitting 95 mph in his last start when he got blown out in the 6th. Remember the game when A-Rod hit three HRs and drove in ten RBIs against the Angels? Colon was the starter in that game and he was bad. That was also the year he won the Cy Young, so my guess is when he’s off, he’s going to be bad, but he’ll be better more reguarly than bad as long as he can hold his velocity. That’s why I wasn’t too concerned with his start the other day. When I see the velo drop, then I’ll be concerned.

    • Jerome S. says:

      Garcia is not that good, Colon is but he’s also a health risk.
      All my opinion.

  11. Craig says:

    John Danks is 6’1″. The 6’6″ pitcher is Gavin Floyd. Even though I’m not particularly high on Danks, he may be the most untouchable guy on their team. Even if they were willing to listen to offers, I’m definitely not willing to surrender what it would take to acquire him. I’m actually a bigger fan of Floyd who is likely a little less costly (but still costly).

    In the end, it’s going to be Edwin Jackson who comes over in a deal if one is made. The Sox have six guys in their rotation and they don’t want to keep operating beyond the point of diminishing returns (forgive me if I butchered an econ concept there). They’ll probably want to make a deal pretty soon and Jackson looks like the guy that will be left out once the music stops.

    I’d like it. He’s got great stuff, good upside and we can grab two 2012 draft picks if he’s not worth re-signing. After all, he only needs to be a No. 4 or 5 for us.

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