Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Wheeling & Dealing

A couple of smaller deals going down yesterday.

First, the Houston Astros, still trying to stay in contention for some reason, traded for some pitching help.

Houston got:

Randy Wolf, 31 year-old LHSP, 6-10 with a 4.74 ERA (82 ERA+, 4.28 FIP) this year, but has an ERA of 3.17 in his home (extreme pitcher's) park, and a 6.63 ERA on the road.

San Diego got:

Chad Reineke, 26 year-old RHP, 5-9 with a 4.41 ERA in 20 games, 19 starts, for AAA with 8.01 strikeouts and 2.80 walks per nine innings and a 1.31 WHIP.

It's not a great haul for the Padres, but I find it amusing that Paul DePodesta got Ed Wade to bite (maybe) with the bit of propaganda that he posted on his blog (It Might Be Dangerous, You Go First):
"Randy Wolf - Randy has a limited no-trade provision in his contract, so there are a number of designated teams to which Randy does not have to accept an assignment. Randy is another guy who is on the collective radar of the buyers at this point and for good reason. After having a shoulder cleanup in the middle of last season, Randy has had a very good year to date. His average fastball velocity is the highest it has been in any of the past six years (which is the timeframe of the data set) and his strikeout rate is as high as it has been since 2001. His ERA currently stands at 4.38, though almost a full run of that is due to two starts in Colorado and Chicago during which he gave up 14 runs in eight innings. His collective line of 109 innings, 109 hits, 42 walks, and 100 k's is one of the better lines you'll find during this deadline, but his line of 101 innings, 95 hits, 33 walks, and 94 k's (3.48 ERA) without those two starts is even more indicative of the pitcher he has been. In fact, his 12 quality starts ranks 7th in the NL behind Haren, Lincecum, Hudson, Santana, Webb, and Volquez."
No way do a Billy Beane or Theo Epstein (or several others) take that seriously, but Wade just might have (even if he didn't read it, I imagine a similar argument may have been presented to him). Fine job by San Diego to turn nothing of much value to them (Randy Wolf, who is a free agent at the end of the year) into a cheap (probably) bullpen arm. And they saved some money to boot.

From the Houston side, this is just dumb. They didn't give up that much (but it was still one of their top prospects - oh, what a bad farm system), but they are 12 games out in the Central (tied for last with the Pirates) - spending any money or resources to improve (by maybe a game or two) this season only makes almost no sense. Wolf likely won't result in extra draft picks after the season, but perhaps there's a small chance it helps the Astros sign him a little more easily. I guess that's worth perhaps $3.5 million and an arm to them.

The second deal made more sense as the first place Diamondbacks upgraded their bullpen in a trade with the Nationals, who correctly are trying to sell.

Arizona got:

Jon Rauch, 29 year-old RHRP, is 4-2 with 17 saves and a 2.98 ERA while averaging 8.19 strikeouts and 1.30 walks per nine innings to go with a 1.01 WHIP.

Washington got:

Emilio Bonifacio, 23 year-old second baseman, is hitting .302/.348/.387 in AAA.

Rauch is a good reliever with two years (well, one and a team option) left on a relatively cheap contract. He immediately becomes the D'Backs best option out of the pen. I don't know if they'll install him as the closer, or leave protecting 3 run leads to Brandon Lyon (and his ERA of over 8 in the last month) and let Rauch and Chad Qualls shut things down in the higher leverage situations. I assume that this means Arizona will make a stronger push to sign Orlando Hudson after this season, but they shouldn't miss Bonifacio much. Good deal for them.

At first blush, I thought this was an OK deal for Washington. Thinking about it (and really looking at Bonaficio's stats), I think they could have gotten more. Bonaficio was one of the D’Backs top prospects, but he's a fairly light-hitting (some average, but no OBP or power) second baseman with a lot of speed and good defense. That's not bad (and considering the Nat's just gave Christian Guzman $16 million over 2 years, they seem to value that skill set) but it doesn't seem worth using the team's best trade chip. Considering the Rockies are asking for an Ian Kennedy type prospect in return for two months of Brian Fuentes (and draft picks), either they have their sights set unrealistically high, the reliever market isn't going to be crazy this summer, or Bowden made a bad call. This likely lessens what the O's could get for Bradford, Walker, or Sherrill though.

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