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I will analyze trades and rumored trades going down today, updating as news breaks. Latest news will be on top.

Red Sox acquire Eric Gagne from the Rangers for Kason Gabbard and minor leaguers David Murphy and Engel Beltre

I’m a big Kason Gabbard fan, so I think that the Rangers come out the winners in this one, especially given their desperate need for major-league-ready starting pitching. The Sox did avoid giving up any of their A-list prospects and moving Gabbard is helpful in the short term to clear room in the rotation for Schilling’s impending return, but they had to renegotiate Gagne’s contract to get him to waive his no trade clause, bumping up the price tag by several million, and they have consistently under-estimated Gabbard’s potential. If Gabbard ends up being a decent major league starter, the Sox may well regret giving him up for just two months and ~20 innings of Gagne.

Astros dump Morgan Ensberg on the Padres for a player to be named

The Padres continue their endless quest for a third baseman, which has been going on for more than two years now. No word yet on which minor leaguer the Astros are getting but it was probably nobody special since the Astros had designated Ensberg for assignment and had to trade him.

Padres get Rob Mackowiak from the White Sox for a player to be named

The Padres continue their search for answers in the outfield. Mackowiak is an even better option that yesterday’s acquisition, Scott Hairston, for the 4th outfielder role, so Hairston is probably headed to the minors. The White Sox are clearly sellers this year, so anything they can get for their impending free agents is a plus.

Braves get Octavio Dotel from the Royals Kyle Davies

This deal has been agreed to by both sides, but the Braves have to wait until the Teixera deal is finalized because Davies could potentially become the alternate player if the Rangers reject Matt Harrison for health reasons. This deal makes sense for both teams – the Braves have soured on Davies but the Royals would get a live arm to upgrade their ever-beleaguered rotation. There is speculation that Moore could have gotten a bit more for Dotel than Davies, but that his familiarity with Davies from his days in the Braves organization and his gut-feeling that Davies can be a star swung things in favor of the Braves.

Dodgers deal Wilson Betemit to the Yankees for Scott Proctor

At first glance this seems like a good deal for the Dodgers. Betemit had lost his starting job and had nowhere to play, and the Dodgers bullpen has been devastated by injuries and having to move Chad Billingsley, Mark Hendrickson, and Brett Tomko into the rotation to replace injured starters. However, Betemit’s low batting average of .231 conceals the fact that he has an extremely respectable OPS of .834, and by all rights should be starting at 3B over Nomar Garciaparra, who has a pathetic OPS of .690. Betemit’s OBP is .359; Nomar’s is .330. Betemit’s SLG is .474; Nomar’s is .360. Betemit has 10 home runs in 156 at-bats; Nomar has 4 home runs in 358 at bats. Meanwhile Scott Proctor has been one of the most abused pitchers in baseball since the beginning of 2006, and his peripherals are way down across the board since last year. So basically, this is a great deal for the Yankees. Betemit is a huge upgrade over Miguel Cairo as a utility infielder, and offers insurance at 3B should A-Rod opt out of his contract. Given a full year as a starter, Betemit should be able to hit 30 homers with a decent OBP.

Red Sox ship Joel Piniero to the Cardinals for a player to be named

This deal makes sense for both teams. The let’s-convert-piniero-to-a-bullpen-ace plan had been a complete bust for the Red Sox this season, so much so that they had busted Piniero down to the minors July 25. But for the Cardinals, Piniero immediately becomes something like their third best starting pitcher, so giving up a player-to-be-named seems like a pretty cheap price for a team with no starting pitching to speak of to gamble on Dave Duncan’s ability to help a player that is only 28 years old and has already started 148 big league games.

10 Responses to “2007 Trade Deadline Roundup”

  1. Gabbard had no where to go in the Sox organization.

    Beckett and Dice-K are on multiyear deals, Wakefield is likely to pitch until he earns his AARP membership (on a cheap, 1 year, renewable salary no less), Lester the cancer survivor is back on the mound, and Schilling’s 2008 price dropping by the minute while he’s on the DL.

    Even Tavarez had a better than expected first half.

    Compare that to Texas, whose pitching has been suspect since Nolan Ryan started hawking pain relievers.

    Point being: the Sox didn’t give up that much. The two minor league no-names will be easily replaced by compensatory draft picks if Gange walks.

    When the offense finally starts running on all cylinders, the Sox then have a respectable SP staff, and the best bullpen in MLB just got better.

  2. Gabbard will go nowhere, not to mention that he is a perpetual injury case. If he wins 30 games as a pro, I will be impressed.

    This is a great deal for the Red Sox. Good luck beating them in 6 innings in the postseason.

  3. Sarah Green says:

    Two minor-league no-names?? Rich, I’m shocked. I expected better of you. David Murphy may be another case of having nowhere to go (now) in the Sox organization, but here’s the skinny from soxprospects.com:

    “Murphy is a tall, athletic left-handed batter with a sweet swing. Pulls a lot of pitches, and displays excellent patience at the plate. Loves the game, and displays good leadership skills. Needs to work on adding more power. Accurate, strong arm. Major-league ready defensive outfielder at all three OF spots. Above average speed for a corner outfielder, perhaps about average for a centerfielder.”

    Sounds good to me. Sounds, actually, like they should have dumped Wily Mo a long time ago and brought this guy up to get his at-bats in, because he’s just what the Red Sox need. He might not be Jermaine Dye, but hey, the price was right (ie, free).

    As far as Gabbard…I think Nick has a tiny man-crush on Gabbard. I still maintain he’s been inconsistent—good work, flashes of brilliance, punctuated by occasional meltdowns. He’s still young. I think people don’t respect him because he throws junk. But junk works!

  4. Sorry, Sarah, I stand by it.

    Soxprospects rates 4 other OF ahead of Murphy (including Jacoby Ellsbury, who we saw earlier this season). Note that all the other prospects have similar glowing reviews. How well known is a 25 year old AAA who loses the call up to a guy two years younger?

    I think the Sox agree that it’s time to move WMP, but demoting him to AAA or decreasing his playing time further kills what trade value he has left after his disappointing performance at the plate this season.

  5. Sarah Green says:

    I will have to look at the reviews of the other prospects, and when I get home I want to see if Baseball Prospectus has anything. I’d been hearing about Murphy for a while.

    I know that you can never have too much pitching, and I recognize that we have a couple dicey injury situations already, but I don’t understand why the Red Sox chose to make their major trade of the deadline a deal to improve the one area where they haven’t had any problems this season.

  6. Nick Kapur says:

    To me it’s pretty straightforward. Kason Gabbard has proven that he can pitch at the major league level and have some success, and that makes him a tremendously valuable commodity, as I think we can all agree that there is nothing so scarce in the game today as starting pitching.

    Now I’m not saying that Gabbard shouldn’t have been traded. I’m just questioning whether 20 innings of Eric Gagne is worth it. Gagne is on the downside of his career, in my view. He’s nowhere near what he was in 2003 when he was the greatest relief pitcher in baseball history. His velocity is way down, his changeup no longer dips and dives, and he is very hittable. I would have held on to Gabbard, showcased him down the stretch, and then traded him in the offseason when everyone is looking for starting pitching and there is none to be had.

    As for Murphy, I don’t think he is any big loss. Soxprospects is hardly an unbiased source, as Rich points out – they think all Sox farm hands are going to be awesome. Murphy is major-league ready, but by “ready,” I mean “ready to be a fourth outfielder at best”

  7. Nick, there is one other aspect to the Gagne trade that you didn’t touch on.

    The Red Sox bullpen got better.

    The Angels, Yankees, and Indians bullpens did not.

    Heck, the Yankees actually took a step backwards bullpen-wise with the Proctor trade.

    Now, the Sox get 6IP out of their starters and go Okajima, Gagne, Papelbon. Tell me that is not a scary lineup?

    Also, with Buchholz waiting in the wings/tearing things up in the minors, the Sox should be covered in terms of Injury Risk. His numbers say Major League, but we won’t know his demeanor until he gets a chance.

    2 final things. I agree on your assessment of Murphy. 4th OF at best.

    I also agree that there is nothing so rare as starting pitching . . . aside from closing pitching.

  8. Paul Moro says:

    Nick, I think that the Red Sox sold Gabbard at the peak of his value. He was pitching like a middle-rotation pitcher when most talent evaluators never had him in such a category prior to his call-up. Sure, you could’ve showcased him, but there was also a good chance that he would pitch poorly from here on out. Then what? He has a .225 BABIP so far this year. Sure, with only this many games left in the season he could have easily put off the inenvitable. But the chance of failure was fairly high.

    And say what you will about Gagne. You’re absolutely right that he’s no longer the pitcher he was a few years ago. But he’s still a power arm. Yes, his BABIP is low too. But he’s still striking out nearly a batter an inning which makes the likelihood that he can keep that up greater. And power arms are invaluable in the playoffs because they help decrease risk.

    I think it was a no-brainer on the Sox’s part.

  9. Nick Kapur says:

    Well I guess part of my point is that I think Gabbard has been underrated by said “talent evaluators” due to his having a fastball which tops out around 90 mph. But I look at his minor league stats and see a groundball pitcher who yielded fewer hits than innings pitched at every stop with healthy strikeout and walk totals. To me that signals a pitcher who can have a successful career in the major leagues. However, I suppose that’s neither here nor there if the Red Sox had already decided they weren’t going to keep him.

    What this trade really comes down to is the value the Sox could have got for Gabbard in terms of trading for prospects or players who could help next year and beyond, vs. the value Gagne will add in the post-season, because I think we can all agree that Gagne is not going to make the difference between the Red Sox going to the post-season or not at this point. I mean, Rich has a point about how an awesome bullpen shortens a game, but in the end who really cares, if the Sox were going to make the postseason anyway?

    So it all comes down to the postseason. And the thing about the postseason is, extra relievers are actually less valuable in the postseason than in the regular season because of the off-days between games and the use of starters in relief roles. And the Red Sox already had the best bullpen in the league. So it all comes down to, if Gagne alone is the difference between winning the World Series and not, then that’s the only way this trade is worth it, because that’s the only possible added value renting Gagne for two months can provide to this particular team. I mean if the Sox were a different team just on the cusp of making the postseason, then Gagne would be a lot more worth it, but that’s not the case.

    Overall, I don’t feel too strongly about the trade, despite all this debate. Gabbard is not essential to the Red Sox’ plans, and Gagne is in fact a good player. But overall I’m slightly against the trade, assuming they could have traded Gabbard for someone who is not just a rental and who has greater added value and impact potential, possibly over a longer term.

  10. Sarah Green says:

    I never said Dave Murphy wouldn’t be a fourth outfielder. But what is something that the Red Sox could really use at the moment? A defensive fourth outfielder who doesn’t strike out alot! Instead they’re still stuck with Wily “Mo Strikeouts” Pena, who couldn’t catch herpes. But they trade their benchwarmer OF guy (and their fifth starter, and another dude) for two months of use of yet another bullpen hand. It’s not an insane deal, but it’s not necessarily a great deal. I don’t understand why Boston seems to have Gagne-fever.

    I do think there is some credence to the possibility that the Sox nabbed Gagne partly to keep him away from the Yankees. Fuck you, Yankees!

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