Trading with the NL

For an introduction to this post, check out last night’s item on the Yanks’ recent trades with AL teams. Tonight, I’m tackling the NL. Some thoughts at the end.

Arizona Diamondbacks: The Yanks and Diamondbacks have made a few key franchise-defining trades over the years. Two of them involved Randy Johnson, and a third sent Ian Kennedy to the desert where he has blossomed. The most recent deal between these two clubs saw Juan Miranda head to Phoenix in 2010 in exchange for minor leaguer Scottie Allen.

Atlanta Braves: The Boone Logan trade on December 22, 2009 was the last deal between these two teams. I will say nothing more of that transaction. Before that, the two teams hadn’t exchanged players since a 1995 deal sent Luis Polonia to the Braves for a nobody.

Chicago Cubs: Matt Garza seems to be available, and Brian Cashman‘s buddy Theo Epstein is now in charge of the Cubs. Over the past ten years, the Yanks have acquired Matt Lawton (2005) and Glenallen Hill (2000) from the Cubbies.

Cincinnati Reds: On July 31, 2009, the Yanks acquired Jerry Hairston for Chase Weems. They haven’t won a World Series since Hairston left. Coincidence? I think not.

Colorado Rockies: The Yankees and Rockies haven’t done much on the trade market together. Their biggest deal involved sending Mike DeJean to Colorado for Joe Girardi back in 1995. In April 2010, the Yanks acquired Robby Hammock for a PTBNL who was never actually named later.

Florida Marlins: The Yanks and Marlins have made three trades, and one of them was absolutely awful. In 1999, the Yanks sent Mike Lowell to Miami for for Todd Noel, Mark Johnson and Ed Yarnall. Their last deal came in 2005 when the Yanks Ron Villone for Ben Julianel.

Houston Astros: On July 31, 2010, the Yanks sent Mark Melancon and Jimmy Paredes to the Houston Astros for Lance Berkman. Should of kept.

Los Angeles Dodgers: In 2007, the Yanks took Scott Proctor away from Joe Torre and turned him into Wilson Betemit who eventually became Nick Swisher. Despite their intertwined histories, the Yanks and Dodgers have consummated only 29 trades.

Milwaukee Brewers: On June 29, 2011, the Yanks purchased Sergio Mitre from the Brewers, and there was much rejoicing in the land.

New York Mets: The Yanks have traded just 12 times with their crosstown rivals. Most recently, the clubs swapped southpaws in 2004 when the Yanks shipped out Felix Heredia for Mike Stanton.

Philadelphia Phillies: The Bobby Abreu fleecing marks the most recent trade between these two perennial contenders. In 2006, the Yanks acquired Abreu and Cory Lidle for C.J. Henry, Jesus Sanchez, Carlos Monasterios and Matt Smith.

Pittsburgh Pirates: After a flurry of trade activity in 2008-2009, the Yanks haven’t made a move with the Pirates since they landed Eric Hinske for Casey Erickson and Eric Fryer in June of 2009.

San Diego Padres: Money in exchange for Chad Gaudin in 2009 was the last dealing between these two teams. The Hideki Irabu deal stands out as the biggest between these two teams.

San Francisco Giants: The Yankees and their former executive Brian Sabean have not traded together in ages. The last deal between these two teams came in 2001 when the Yanks sent Jay Witasick, after his disastrous appearance in Game 6 of the 2001 World Series, to the Bay Area for John Vander Wal.

St. Louis Cardinals: Not much dealin’ going on here. In June of 2003, the Yanks sent Sterling Hitchcock to St. Louis for Ben Julianel and Justin Pope. I guess they liked that Julianel guy.

Washington Nationals: In February, the Yanks sent Adam Olbrychowski to D.C. for Justin Maxwell. But remember when the Yanks got Javy Vazquez for Randy Choate, Nick Johnson and Juan Rivera? It seemed like quite the deal at the time.

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So that’s the Yanks’ recent trade history. As I’ve gone through the transactions from the other 29 clubs, I’ve noticed that franchise-changing trades happen every few years, and they’re never as expected. In back-to-back seasons, the Yanks landed Curtis Granderson and Nick Swisher and tried the same with a well-intentioned Javy Vazquez trade. Otherwise, though, most trades are minor moves that have only tangential impacts on the big league club, and they don’t happen all that often.

Now, we wait. Perhaps the Yanks will make a big splash on the trade market. It seems likely than via free agency this year. But we don’t know what the moves will be or when. Trades that actually happen come together without the media fanfare of rumored deals. It could be Nick Swisher, it could be Mike Lowell or it could just be Chad Gaudin.

New “Resources” Pull-Down Menu

Just a heads up, we’ve done some behind-the-scenes reshuffling, and we now have a new “Resources” pull-down menu in the nav bar above. It’s directly under the “Ave Blues” in the street sign in the banner. This is where you’ll now find neat stuff like the 2012 Draft Order page, the Depth Chart, the Blogroll, and Joe’s ongoing Guide To Stats project. I plan on added some more stuff to it in the future as well, but I’ll let you know when that happens.

Open Thread: Craig Wilson

(Photo via www.bestsportsphotos.com)

A lot of things went wrong for the Yankees in 2006, specifically the injuries to Hideki Matsui and Gary Sheffield and the collapses of 2005 saviors Aaron Small and Shawn Chacon. One of the outfield holes was plugged when Brian Cashman stole Bobby Abreu (and Cory Lidle) from the Phillies at the trade deadline, and he also shored up another hole by trading Chacon to the Pirates for Craig Wilson.

Melky Cabrera was doing a fine job as a rookie (.360 OBP), but Andy Phillips wasn’t getting it done as the regular first baseman. Wilson replaced him after the trade, and his versatility was also supposed to be a plus. He was exactly the kind of guy everyone loves to suggest for a bench job these days; he’d hit 29 homers two years prior to the trade and was capable of playing four positions (catcher, first, and both corner outfield spots). Wilson had a dozen hits in his first ten games with New York, but he just stopped hitting after that. A 10-for-64 finish to the season dropped his Yankees’ batting line to .212/.248/.365 in 109 plate appearances.

The Yankees let Wilson walk as a free agent after the season, and he didn’t have much baseball left in him. He hasn’t seen the big leagues since 2007, and hasn’t even played in the minors since 2008. Wilson turns 35 years old today, so he’s younger than I realized. Baseball-Reference says he managed to bank over $10M during his seven-year career, which is a pretty good head start on life after baseball.

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Here is tonight’s open thread. The Devils are the only local sports team in action tonight, so you’re pretty much on your own as far as entertainment goes. You folks now what to do by now, so have at it.

Bernie headlines 13 newcomers on Hall of Fame ballot

The BBWAA announced the 2012 Hall of Fame Ballot today, with former Yankees star Bernie Williams headlining the group of 13 newcomers. Fellow former Yankees Ruben Sierra, Tony Womack (ha!), and Terry Mulholland are also on the ballot for the first time, joining holdover Don Mattingly. This will be Donnie’s 12th year on the ballot, though he received just 13.9% of the vote last time around. It would take a campaign that would make Jim Rice blush to get Mattingly in the Hall before his 15 years on the ballot are up.

As for Bernie, I don’t expect him to ever get voted into Cooperstown, but I do hope he gets a decent sized vote and maybe spends a few years on the ballot. He was a personal fave, I hope he does well.

Bad ideas to move along the off-season

The slower the off-season moves, the more restless we get. Baseball has already been gone for a month, and Yankee baseball gone almost two. With little significant activity on the trade and free agent markets, our idle thoughts can turn us mad. With these mad thoughts we can come up with some pretty silly ideas.

This is precisely what happened today when I thought of a post for this slot. Both ideas were pretty terrible, but with little to no action they seemed better than nothing. And so I present to you, a pair of damn terrible ideas to move along the off-season.

Trading for Jeremy Affeldt

Earlier today Ken Rosenthal reported that the Giants are looking to trade Jeremy Affeldt or Ramon Ramirez. The reason: their bullpen is just too expensive. It seems silly for them to cry poor after signing Javier Lopez to a two-year, $8.5 million contract earlier this off-season, but that’s apparently the situation. Since the Yankees are in the market for a lefty reliever, there’s a natural inclination to connect him with the Yanks. Unfortunately, it’s a pretty bad idea.

Affedlt is due $5 million in 2012, which is quite a sum for any reliever, let alone a LOOGY. Yet even as a LOOGY he’s not a guaranteed performer. His numbers from the past few years might look good on the whole, but here’s how he has performed against lefties.

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The walk rates are far worse than Boone Logan has ever done. Sure, he can strike out a lefty if need be, but the walks remove some of that luster. Remember, too, that his low home run rates from the last two years came when he pitched in a pitcher-friendly park. He might come cheaply, since he’s a salary dump, but that’s a lot of salary for such a mediocre pitcher. The Yanks are better off sticking with Logan and spending that money elsewhere.

Adding a bad contract to get Garza

If the Cubs can dish Carlos Zambrano in any way, they just might do it. He’s owed $18 million this year, and the Cubs would do well to save even a fraction of that. They also have Alfonso Soriano, due $54 million in the next three years. Another recent Rosenthal report states: “The Cubs, to facilitate a deal, are willing to pay a significant portion of…Soriano’s contract.” At the same time, they’re said to be shopping Matt Garza.

That might set off a lightbulb. Could the Yankees try to take on one of these players in order to make a Garza deal more palatable? The answer, very plainly, is no. Even if it were a possibility, it wouldn’t be a very good idea. It would mean the Yankees would actually have to use those players in some capacity.

If the Cubs do intend to deal Garza, they likely want the greatest return in terms of prospects they can get. They might want to get rid of Soriano, and they might want to get rid of Zambrano. But they don’t necessarily want to get rid of Garza. They want to do that to get a return. Getting rid of the other guys is just a bonus. That is to say: why would they take less than possible on Garza just to shed dollars? That question gets amplified when we consider that teams wouldn’t be taking on all of Soriano’s or Zambrano’s contracts.

Let’s imagine for a moment that the Cubs are in dire financial straits and would take a lesser package of players for Garza if it meant trading Soriano or Zambrano. Why would the Yankees want either of them? Sure, they’d come far cheaper than their current contracts, but they won’t come for free. Zambrano is crazy, he walks too many guys, and his strikeout rate fell considerably last season. Soriano is under contract for his ages 36 through 38 seasons, and he’s had a rough go of it lately. His OBP hasn’t been over .330 since 2008, and last year it was below .300. And, despite a .375 wOBA in April, he still finished with a .325 wOBA.

At this point in the off-season, with a desolate, baseball-less winter ahead, our brains stir at any peep of baseball news. If it involves something the Yanks might do, we can stir even more. Yet the grim reality is that few of the currently available options make sense. That won’t stop us from discussing them, of course. But that doesn’t make the ideas any better.

Scouting The Trade Market: Tom Gorzelanny

Late last night we learned that the Yankees aren’t having any “hi-level” trade talks about a starting pitcher at the moment, a vague little term that could mean lots of things. Are they not having serious discussions about any pitchers, or are they not having discussions about a high-end pitcher? Could be either depending on how you interpret the report.

Anyway, we all know the Yankees are indeed in the market for a starting pitcher and perhaps a lefty reliever as well, so let’s take a look at a player that could potentially fill either role: Tom Gorzelanny of the Nationals. Washington has surprising rotation depth, with Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmerman fronting a group that also includes Chien-Ming Wang, John Lannan, Ross Detwiler, Brad Peacock, and Tom Milone. They’re also dipping their toe in the C.J. Wilson/Mark Buehrle end of the free agent pool, which would further push Gorzelanny out of the picture. Let’s break down the 29-year-old southpaw’s credentials…

The Pros

  • A four-pitch lefty, both of Gorzelanny’s fastballs (two- and four-seamer) sat right around 88-89 mph as a starter before jumping to 91-93 out of the bullpen in the second half. He also uses a changeup and slider — both in the low-80’s — pretty regularly.
  • Gorzelanny was pretty dynamite after moving to relief this summer, striking out one-third of the 27 left-handed batters he faced while surrendering just three singles and two walks. In a small sample (190 plate appearances), he’s held batters to a .283 wOBA with 20.5% strikeouts and 10.5% walks while coming out of the bullpen.
  • He’s done some fine work against same-side hitters throughout his career, holding them to a .294 wOBA with 24.6% strikeouts (9.11 K/9) and 7.9% walks (2.93 BB/9). This past season, Gorzelanny set career bests in strikeout rate (8.14 K/9 and 21.3% of batters faced) and walk rate (2.83 BB/9 and 7.4% of batters faced).
  • During his time with the Cubs (mid-2009 through 2010), Gorzelanny managed to provide 2.7 fWAR and 1.6 bWAR of value in 174.2 IP, the best stretch of his career since a strong 2007 campaign. His pitching coach in Chicago was current Yankees’ pitching coach Larry Rothschild, so there’s some familiarity there.

The Cons

  • Gorzelanny has been on the DL twice in his career, both times for elbow inflammation (26 days in 2011 and 31 days in 2006). He does have a knack for the fluke injury though; he’s dealt with six different hand/arm injuries as a result of being hit by batted balls since 2006. Six times! None required a DL trip, but sheesh, the guy is a magnet for comebackers.
  • He’s solid against lefties and as a reliever, but the numbers against right-handed batters and as a starter are not all that impressive. Opposite-hand batters have tagged him for a .354 wOBA with a 15.6% strikeout rate and a 10.4% walk rate during his career, and as a starter those numbers are .346, 17.1%, and 9.9%, respectively.
  • Gorzelanny is a pretty extreme fly ball pitcher, getting a ground ball just 36.2% of the time this past season and 41.1% of the time in his career. That number against lefties isn’t any better (43.9%), and he’s been rather homer prone as a big leaguer (exactly 1.0 HR/9).

Gorzelanny is a candidate to be non-tendered next month (deadline is December 12th), and MLBTR’s projections peg him for a $2.8M salary in 2012, his third time through arbitration before becoming a free agent after the season. He cleared waivers last August, indicating that no team (including the Yankees) thought he was worth the pro-rated portion of his $2.1M salary. Acquiring a player in the offseason is different than acquiring the player during the season though, only because there’s a bit more flexibility about how the available payroll space is distributed. Just because no team claimed Gorzelanny off waivers in August doesn’t mean a team wouldn’t be willing to trade for him now.

These non-tender/trade guys typically don’t bring much back in a trade; their teams are just trying to get anything back rather than nothing. Both Andrew Miller and Zach Duke were traded for fringy Triple-A relievers before being non-tendered last offseason, two fringy Triple-A relievers that have already been let go by the Marlins and Pirates, respectively. Gorzelanny is better than either Miller or Duke, so maybe the Triple-A reliever will have to be slightly less fringy, but I think you get the point. We’re not talking about a multiple prospect package here.

Ultimately, we’re likely looking at a lefty reliever, because I’m not sure Gorzelanny can make it work as a starter in the AL East. This situation is somewhat similar to what I wrote about Chris Volstad in the mailbag two weeks ago; Gorzelanny does make some sense for the Yankees as a lefty reliever/emergency starter, but the Yankees don’t make sense for Gorzelanny. If they don’t trade for him and he hits the free agent market as a non-tender, then chances are he’ll be able to find a starting job somewhere, or at least find a better opportunity to win a starting rotation spot. It’s a question of whether or not the Yankees will want to give up something to get him in a trade, then pay him close to $3M to work out of the bullpen exclusively for the first time in his life.

Prospect Profile: Mark Montgomery

(Photo Credit: www.longwoodlancers.com)

Mark Montgomery | RHP

Background
A standout player at Bruton High School in Williamsburg, Virginia, Montgomery set a school record by striking out 107 batters in 60 IP as a senior. He was named to the All-District Team his final three years with the Panthers, and was also named to the All-State and All-Region Teams as a senior. Team MVP and Player of the Year honors from the Virginia Gazette and All-Daily Press followed his final year. He also ran track. Montgomery wasn’t much of a pro prospect at the time though, so he went undrafted in 2009 and headed to Longwood University.

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