Jul
23

Scouting The Trade Market: Shawn Camp

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The Yankees have been rolling with four specialists in their seven-man bullpen for a few weeks now, but it wasn’t until this past weekend that we got a real good look at how problematic that can be. Cody Eppley twice allowed walk-off hits to left-handed batters — granted, one was a switch-hitter — when he should be limited to righties only. Once David Phelps was out of Sunday’s game, Joe Girardi was left with a bunch of short relief matchup guys and the Yankees paid the price.

Trading for bullpen help is always sketchy but at this point it seems unavoidable. Joba Chamberlain seems to be very close to return but it’s impossible to count on him until he’s actually back on the big league mound and pitching effectively given the severity of his injuries. Heck, even if Joba comes back and adds that necessary non-OOGY, there’s still room in the bullpen for improvement. Since the Cubs are poised to trade everything not nailed down before next Tuesday’s trade deadline, let’s look at veteran reliever Shawn Camp.

The Pros

  • The 36-year-old right-hander is in the middle of what is arguably the best season of his career, pitching to a 2.79 ERA and 3.33 FIP in 48.1 innings. Camp’s 6.70 K/9 (18.3 K%) is his best strikeout rate in four years, his 2.05 BB/9 (5.6 BB%) his best walk rate ever. He also gets a healthy amount of ground balls (48.0%).
  • A true three-pitch reliever, Camp sits in the upper-80s with his sinker and backs it up with a low-80s changeup (for lefties) and an upper-70s slider (for righties). He doesn’t have a platoon split, holding left-handed batters to a .278 wOBA and right-handers to a .266 wOBA this season.
  • Camp has never been on the DL and spent 2006-2011 with the then-Devil Rays and Blue Jays, so he’s familiar with the AL East. He’s on a one-year deal making just $550k (!) this season, so we’re talking pure rental here.

The Cons

  • From 2009-2011, left-handed batters posted a .353 wOBA against Camp while righties were limited to a .302 wOBA. That lack of a platoon split really only applies to this season.
  • Camp’s strikeout rate has been trending downward as the season has progressed. He struck out 23 of the first 107 batters he faced this season (21.5%) and just 13 of the last 90 (14.4%). Strikeouts aren’t really his thing anyway, but still.
  • The Cubs have not been easy on him. Camp is second in baseball with 47 relief appearances and ninth with 48.1 relief innings. Last season he only threw 67.1 innings across 67 appearances and he’s on pace to zoom right by that. Chicago knows what they have here, a veteran guy pitching well on a one-year deal, so they’re getting their money’s worth.

There’s definitely a “lightning in a bottle” element here, but Camp has been a pretty solid middle reliever — in the AL East! — over the last three or four years anyway. That’s all the Yankees need him to be, a solid non-matchup guy in the middle innings. His success against lefties this season could very well have something to do with his slider, which has consistently been his best pitch. Camp has gone to the slider against left-handers far more than ever before in 2012 — 37% this year vs. 19% since the start of the PitchFX era. That success against batters of the opposite hand may be a fluke, but at least there’s some tangible evidence suggesting it could be legitimate improvement.

Either way, the Yankees need a reliever and Cubs have one to offer, so there’s a fit. Chicago’s new Theo Epstein-led regime has been emphatic about getting young pitching back in any trade, something the Yankees have plenty to offer. They’re not getting a top prospect for a rental middle reliever and probably won’t get a Grade-B prospect either. Brett Myers was just dealt for two fringe prospects and a player to be named later while the Astros ate his salary. A one-for-one swap for Camp could involve a non-top 30 prospect — Caleb Cotham? Zach Nuding? Shaeffer Hall? — and maybe nothing else. He’s worth a look and carries minimal risk.

Categories : Trade Deadline
  • YankeesJunkie

    Joba will be a huge boost to the pen when he comes backs in a couple weeks which will be a huge upgrade for the pen. Also, if the Yankees choose to use Phelps in a 1-3 innings Aceves role he could be that fifth reliever leaving only Rapada and Logan as specialist.

    • Elvin

      Thats a good idea. I personally believe the Yankees need outfield help more than they need bullpen help because Joba is close to coming back.

      • G

        True, but if the cost is this ridiculously low, there’s no reason not to do this in addition to acquiring an outfielder.

    • steve g

      unfortunately girardi seems to view phelps only as a short reliever (see yesterdays game)

      • Ted Nelson

        He pitched almost 2 innings…

    • Jacob

      Yes but the thing with joba is he is coming off surgery and has been out for a year, he couldbe absolutely terrible and it is not realistic to expect him to completely dominate. I think he will be fine but it won’t be a surprise if he does not

  • MannyGeee

    I like the Shawn Camp idea. as much as we love the “dualing side-arms” of Eppley & Rapada, it would be nice to not have to deal with the matchup drama.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      I don’t mind it either, but I do mind it when they suddenly become the road to Chad Qualls.

      *prays for a new meme*

      • jjyank

        Bridge to Qualls?

        • Robinson Tilapia

          The sun don’t shine
          The moon don’t move the tides
          To wash me clean

          The sun don’t shine
          The moon don’t move the tides
          To wash me clean

          Why so unforgiving and why so cold?
          Been a long time crossing bridge of sighs

          Erica should look that up. 70′s rock, but one of the best.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          It’d be a great screen name that would remain relevant for about a week.

          • jjyank

            Bridge to Qualls-where.

            Sarah Palin reference :P

          • that space cadet glow

            The Bridge on the River Qualls

  • http://thecarsboneblog.tumblr.com Raul Ibanez AKA Tom Marvolo Riddle

    “Since the Cubs are poised to trade everything not nailed down before next Tuesday’s trade deadline”

    How about some Alfonso Soriano? I have no idea what his current contract is like, but UZR (even though it’s flawed) grades him out at 10.7 and he’s hitting pretty well. 110 wRC+, .268/.320/.448 18HRs 54 RBI, .342wOBA and .200ISO. His walk rate this season is right online with his career (5.9%) though he still strikes out a ton (22.8% this season, 20.7% career.) I think he should at least warrant a tire kick.

    • http://thecarsboneblog.tumblr.com Raul Ibanez AKA Tom Marvolo Riddle

      .220ISO*

      btw…he might have been my favorite player as a kid, so I may be a little bias.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        When’s that silly contract of his up? DO we think he could fill in in LF? Non-prospect and salary relief? As good an option as any, I guess.

        Loved him as well. So did my mother-in-law.

        • DM

          18mil/per thru 2014

          • Robinson Tilapia

            Never mind. :)

            • Paul VuvuZuvella

              What if Theo picks up $7 million of 2014 salary? What would count against the Yankees for Luxury Tax purposes?

              • http://thecarsboneblog.tumblr.com Raul Ibanez AKA Tom Marvolo Riddle

                Not much, the CBA looks at AAV(average annual value), so when it comes to the luxury tax thing in 2014 it’s still 15.2 AAV.

              • Need Pitching (and maybe hitting too)

                Any money paid by the Cubs would be deducted from the Yankees luxury tax payroll in the year the Cubs pay.

                So if the Cubs picked up $7M of his 2014 salary, Soriano would count for $10M against the Yankees payroll in 2014 (17M AAV – 7M Cubs 2014 payment)

                I’d imagine the Cubs would have to eat a whole lot more than 7M for a trade to have any chance of occurring, though.

                • http://thecarsboneblog.tumblr.com Raul Ibanez AKA Tom Marvolo Riddle

                  Really? I thought any money ate out of the contract was out of the entire value of the contract, that you couldn’t take it out of a single year.

                  • Need Pitching (and maybe hitting too)

                    Any cash consideration
                    that is, pursuant to the preceding sentence, included in the Actual Club Payroll of the payor Club shall be subtracted from the Actual
                    Club Payroll of the payee Club in the same Contract Year in which it is added to the payor Club’s Actual Club Payroll.

                    That’s out of context and rather convoluted, but I believe the payment is subtracted in the year the other team pays, rather than averaged out over the contract.

          • http://thecarsboneblog.tumblr.com Raul Ibanez AKA Tom Marvolo Riddle

            Including 2014? sheesh…I’m surprised they aren’t already looking to dump that salary. If we gave theo like a B level contract, would he be willing to eat like 6m per season off of it?

            • Kosmo

              rumor has it the cubbies would be willing to eat most of Soriano´s remaining contract.

            • http://thecarsboneblog.tumblr.com Raul Ibanez AKA Tom Marvolo Riddle
            • jjyank

              I’d be down for that if there was some serious contract eating.

              • http://thecarsboneblog.tumblr.com Raul Ibanez AKA Tom Marvolo Riddle

                I have no idea what the Cubs want/need but just spitballing, JR Murphy and Zolio Almonte For Soriano if the Cubs eat anywhere from a third to half of the remaining contract?

                • Kosmo

                  seriously the Yanks would not have to give up Murphy or Almonte to obtain AS. Similar to what the Pirates gave up for Burnett.

                  • Kosmo

                    well maybe something in between.

                  • jjyank

                    Yeah, I am not cool with giving up Murphy for Soriano at all.

                    • http://thecarsboneblog.tumblr.com Raul Ibanez AKA Tom Marvolo Riddle

                      Prospect huggers =P but seriously…what do you guys think it would take? Really just a bag of balls like we got back for Burnett?

                    • jjyank

                      I think Kosmo is right, something in between. Maybe a prospect in the 25-35 range and a little salary relief.

                    • Kosmo

                      Melky Mesa

                    • jjyank

                      Mesa’s not a bad choice. Maybe someone like Jose Pirela could work too.

                    • http://thecarsboneblog.tumblr.com Raul Ibanez AKA Tom Marvolo Riddle

                      I’ll drive Melky to the airport, make it happen.

    • DM

      His contract is ugly; I think he’d have a lot of AL suitors otherwise.

    • vin

      If you ever thought watching Swisher and Teixeira strikeout in the playoffs was frustrating… may I remind you of 2003?

      • Kosmo

        well according to RAB if he´s given another ton of ABs in the playoffs his BA will approach his career ave. of .274 so there is still hope !

      • http://thecarsboneblog.tumblr.com Raul Ibanez AKA Tom Marvolo Riddle

        Yes, let’s not trade for a guy because he had a bad post season series he had a decade ago.

        • vin

          It was more of a comment on how the people who want to reacquire the likes of Soriano, Damon, Matsui, are the same folks who are convinced that playoff strikeouts = #can’thandlethepressure/nottrueYankees

          Apparently my sarcasm was lost on everyone.

          • http://thecarsboneblog.tumblr.com Raul Ibanez AKA Tom Marvolo Riddle

            Haha, it was. I only thought Soriano because Mike said the Cubs are going into absolute fire sale mode, and I looked up his numbers and he’s been productive this year. This past off season, if you look at some of the threads I was absolutely against the signings of Damon/Matsui, and actually said Raul Ibanez as a possibility before he was signed. I actually think there is nothing more flawed than people’s idea of ‘clutch’ i don’t know his numbers off the top of my head but David Justice is considered a “clutch” post season guy, but his numbers in the playoffs are terrible. Honestly the only narrative I hate more than ‘not true yankee’ vs true Yankee is TOO MANY HOMERS.
            /end rant defending my intelligence.

    • Brian S.

      Naw. He’s having a nice year this season but we can do better. Even if they eat over 90% of the contract.

  • Robinson Tilapia

    Mike, do you think what we saw with Phelps last night was, OOGERY notwithstanding, a sign that PHELPS is being considered in this role?

    I’d be fine with a guy like this for a non-prospect, especially one with a recent pattern of success in the AL East.

    • nsalem

      let me rephrase. What does OOGERY stand for?

      • Robinson Tilapia

        A shit ton of LOOGYing and ROOGYing.

  • Jersey Joe

    Like you said, he is a pure rental and despite his low price tag, I would not give more than Ramon Ortiz at this point. With Joba back soon there is no reason to improve the pen. In fact, I like the recent strategy the Yankees have been using by picking up scraps who were either DFA’d or signed to minor league deals like Rapada, Eppley, Wade, and even Wise (technically he did come in for relief).

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Ramon Ortiz probably has beyond negative trade value as guy pushing 40 in AAA.

  • Yankee in CT

    This is a perfect idea. Hope Csshman is reading this.

  • Kosmo

    Camp is having a good season and has pitched exceptionally well in RISP situations. Here´s a short list of other relievers who could be sought after:
    Brad Ziegler
    Luke Gregerson
    Betancourt
    Belisle
    Balfour only if Oakland tanks in the next 2 weeks
    Liriano would be an invaluable backup plan if Pettitte is slow in returning and Garcia doesn´t cut it. He could also pitch out of the bullpen.

    • Jacob

      Give me Ziegler now, is he actually available?

      • Kosmo

        I´m just thinking of possibilities. Ziegler is 32 and Arizona doesn´t look like a contending team this year. For example they could take a bullpen prospect like Whitley or someone else.

        • Jacob

          Oh god you are going to have me dreaming of zieger in pinstripes forever now, that guy is so awesome I swear non OOGY uhhh so beautiful

          ARIZONA GETS:

          MANNY B.
          NUNEZ
          ALMONTE
          TYLER AUSTIN
          MONGOMERY
          PHELPS?

          YANKS GET:

          J.UPTON
          ZIEGLER

          Just spitballing here not sure what type of prospects they want but I know they wanted a MIF and I figured maybe and OF and everyone always wants a pitcher. Feel free to tell me if this package sucks

          • Kosmo

            Your package has its merits.

  • Brian S.

    We should see what they want for Bryan LaHair. He has a 155 wRC+ against right handers this season (he’s unusable against lefties though), hits way better on the road, and can play RF/1B as well as DH. Then we could steal Cody Ross from Boston this offseason and use a LaHair/Ross platoon in RF next season.

    • jjyank

      I don’t feel like looking into it in depth right now (my work computer is slow as hell), but I’m down with that if it means they use the money saved by letting Swisher walk to re-sign Cano.

    • Jacob

      He has tailled off like crazy as of late and I want no part of Ross

  • the other Steve S.

    You guys are fixing a problem that the management of the team doesn’t think IS a problem. I personally choked whet Girardi came out for Phelps. Hey Joe, what’s the plan if this game goes 14 innings? Swisher pitching? Phelps is a starter for God’s sake. I think he can face down a lefty or two.

  • Ted Nelson

    That you really, really want them to trade for a reliever doesn’t make it “unavoidable.”