Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Bedard Trade

[Written originally at the time of the trade.]

So Erik Bedard has (finally, officially) been traded to the Seattle Mariners for Adam Jones, Chris Tillman, George Sherrill, Tony Butler, and Kameron Mickolio. To give everyone some info. about the new O’s.

Adam Jones; 22 yr old CF, may eventually hit .300 with 30 HR 20 SB, great athlete, very good defense/arm

Had 1.002 On-base Plus Slugging (OPS) at AAA last year (in a pitchers’ park). Plate discipline isn’t there yet so he may struggle at first, but should be a league-average CF at minimum with a multiple time All-Star ceiling. Think Torii Hunter or even Vernon Wells. There might be more power though, as I’ve heard 40 HR as a projection. If he was eligible, he would be a top 10 Prospect overall, maybe as high as #6.

Along with Nolan Reimold in LF (soon) and Nick Markakis in RF, he will be part of a good/very good offensive and great defensive outfield (all 3 guys have the range for CF and the arms for RF). Jones for Bedard, straight-up, would have been defensible. Taking salaries into account, Jones will easily provide more to the O’s over the 6 years they have him under control than Bedard would for the next two.

Chris Tillman; 6’5 19 yr old RHP, Rated as Seattles #2 Prospect, #44 overall
Year In Review: Ignore the numbers--scouts walked away highly impressed with Tillman in his full-season debut.

The Good: Tillman is a highly projectable power pitcher. He has a loose, long frame and good mechanics, with a fastball that sits at 92-94 mph and touches 96, which should become a more regular occurrence as his body fills out. His overhand curveball is a true plus offering that he breaks hard through the zone. Scouts love his aggressiveness, and team officials praised his ability to survive as a teenager in one of the worst pitching environments around.

The Bad: Tillman simply needs a little polish. While he’s hardly wild, he needs to improve his command and control. Like many young pitchers, his changeup needs some improvement, but he does show some feel for the pitch, and it’s already gotten far better since he was drafted.

Fun Fact: In his last seven starts, Tillman had a 2.50 ERA and 47 strikeouts in 39 2/3 innings.

Perfect World Projection: Tillman’s ceiling is considerably high; if everything works out, he’s a number two starter.

Timetable: The Mariners are well known for pushing their prospects quickly, and Tillman will likely hit Double-A at some point in 2008.

Reasonable Ceiling: Chris Carpenter/John Lackey

“There Is No Such Thing As a Pitching Prospect”, but Tillman looks like a guy who could really take a step up in peoples’ eyes next year as his stats come around to meet his abilities.

George Sherrill; 30 yr old LHP (relief), low 90s, quality slider, 2.36 ERA, 11.2 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, 0.4 HR / 9 last year but only 45 IP in 73 games. Quality left-handed bullpen arm, though probably not going to be around for the O’s next playoff appearance. Don’t really get why he’s in the deal, but I suppose the O’s don’t want to completely give away this season (or the M’s wouldn’t give up another prospect instead). Making him the closer and letting him amass 15-20 Saves by the trade deadline could net an extra couple of prospects from a contending team in need of bullpen help. At best he becomes a poor man’s BJ Ryan.

Tony Butler; 6’7 20 yr old LHP, Rated as Seattles #8 Prospect

Year In Review: Coming off a stunning pro debut, Butler took a long time to get going, as bad weather limited him to just 14 innings in the season's first month and he followed that by missing six weeks with a tired arm. He finished the year with five consecutive quality starts, including a nine-inning four-hitter on August 26.

The Good: Despite his struggles, Butler's combination of size, velocity, and left-handedness is a rare thing. He was consistently reaching 93-94 mph by the end of the year, and his curve seems to fall out of the sky due to his height and its hard break. He's a good athlete for his size, and fields his position well.

The Bad: Some felt that having Butler pitch in his home state of Wisconsin turned out being more of a distraction that a comfort. His herky-jerky mechanics give scouts pause, with some wondering if his tired-arm period was just a sign of things to come. Like many young, tall pitchers, he needs to find a more consistent release point, as he has a lot of trouble throwing his curveball for strikes.

Fun Fact: Butler ended his prep career as Oak Creek High's all-time leading scorer in basketball, playing at the varsity level in all four years.

Perfect World Projection: Butler's ceiling is as an above-average, star-level rotation stalwart.

Timetable: Things won't get any easier for Butler as he moves to the California League for 2008. Consistency and health will be as important as his numbers.

Reasonable Ceiling: Doug Davis/Chris Capuano

He reminds me a bit of Adam Loewen. If either guy can maintain their mechanics and improve their control, they should be really good. Loewen has a bit higher ceiling, but having Butler as a #3 behind Loewen and Tillman would be more than acceptable.

Kameron Mickolio; 6’9 23 yr old RHP (relief), mid 90s sinking fastball, strikes people out and is improving control. There are going to be a lot of options from which to construct a bullpen in ’08.

(Veranda fonted scouting reports from Kevin Goldstein)
[The YearInReview, Good, Bad, etc. parts]

Per John Sickels; Adam Jones B+ (“Mike Cameron without the walks. Still young enough to get better than that.”) Should probably be an A-, Chris Tillman B+, Tony Butler B-, Kam "The Almighty" Mickolio C.

For comparison, Matt Weiters A-, Troy Patton B+, Garrett Olson B-, Brandon Erbe C+.

Not a bad haul. I would have preferred trading him to the Reds, to avoid having him in the same league, but since they wouldn’t include Jay Bruce (rightly so – 20 yo CF, #1 Prospect in baseball, great hitter, tons of power, (think Larry Walker with a few more strike-outs)), that wasn’t going to happen. The Reds still could have come up with a better package, but this is certainly nothing to sneeze at, and is good quality for a guy whose value may never be higher and who doesn’t want to stick around anyway. He’s one of the best pitchers in baseball, but his most similar pitchers through age 28 include Donovan Osborne, Bud Black, Cal Eldred, and Justin Thompson, so future dominance isn’t necessarily a given. I’m going to miss watching Bedard pitch (the game vs. Texas was the best pitching I’ve ever seen), but it was a deal that had to be made.

This is still about as good a group of players/prospects a team has acquired for a star player this winter. It’s way better than what the Twins got for Johan Santana, and a bit better than what the A’s got for Dan Haren because Tillman is the best pitcher in either group, and Adam Jones is the best position player in either group. It’s also comparable to what the Marlins got for Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis, and might even end up better if the two biggest prospects the Marlins’ got don’t both become stars, as the other 4 were mostly filler.

Now to get something decent for Brian Roberts…

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