What is Cole Hamels Really Worth?

By: Jack Boulia

With Jon Lester fresh off the market and Max Scherzer expected to cost a fortune, teams that were in on Lester are turning to alternatives on the free agent market as well as the trade market. Some of the options include Max Scherzer and his $200 million+ pipe dream, James Shields, Jordan Zimmerman, and then the oft-mentioned Cole Hamels. Much of the trade market consists of one-year rentals, but what makes Cole Hamels special is he is a great pitcher being paid like a great pitcher for the next few years.

Which isn’t that special.

Cole Hamels has four years and $96 million remaining on his contract. It’s market value for a pitcher like Hamels. So doesn’t it make sense trading for him is trading for a justifiably priced player?

Not necessarily.

For the Phillies, clearing $96 million could definitely help put the franchise on the right track, but as long as Ruben Amaro Jr. is in office, we know this is probably overly-optimistic. Anyway. Clearing $96 million for a player that they don’t need is actually very valuable. The Phillies are not going to be competitive for another five to seven years (in my estimate), and Cole Hamels certainly falls outside that window. Even if they kept him and his $19 million option vests, a 2015 Cole Hamels is not going to be the same player as a 2019 Cole Hamels. The point I’m trying to make is even if the Phillies accidentally become competitive and Hamels’ option vests, Hamels might only be a 1.3 fWAR player (accounting for a 0.5 fWAR decline per year) in 2019 and would likely be in the rotation as a mediocre fifth starter. So, in essence, keeping Hamels holds no value to the Phillies, but trading his contract holds a lot.

Which brings me to my next point. Because teams can sign players at market value without giving up players, if the Phillies trade the entirety of Hamels’ contract to a team, they will get very, very little in return, but, like the paragraph above states, that holds a lot of value for the Phillies. The Phillies need to anticipate a minuscule return if they trade all of Hamels’ contract. The return the Phillies would get would be more of a courtesy return. There are a couple different scenarios where the Phillies could get a decent haul of talent back; if they were to eat $20-30 million of his contract, I could see a return of Henry Owens and Devin Marrero of the Red Sox. I decided on these players because if they were to hit the free agent market right now, the combination of the two would probably cost somewhere in the $20-30 million range. However, if the Phillies eat $60+ million, I think that’s when you’ll see Mookie Betts/Xander Bogaerts offered, or maybe Javier Baez of the Cubs. Very rough guestimates, but you see the point; the more the Phillies eat, the more they get in return. It makes sense. If the Phillies ate ALL of the contract, well, you would have to trade an elite prospect for Hamels. But is Hamels really worth an elite prospect?

Hamels is a few days from being thirty-one years old, meaning his best days are behind him. I would really start to notice a significant decline after the second year of the contract meaning the third, fourth, and potentially fifth years are almost dead weight for any team that acquires his contract. But Hamels is no longer on the incline. He’d be more valuable to an American League team since the American League is more offensively-weighted, but probably less successful which might actually negate any increased value from the switch of leagues. So the Phillies could eat a lot of money but still not get a lot back because half or more of Hamels’ contract is a sunken cost.

Keep in mind this post is not bashing Hamels; Hamels is really a great pitcher and would instantly make any team better. It’s his trade value. His name has a lot of star-power…however star-power has not been shining as brightly in the trade market. The returns for players like David Price, Josh Donaldson, and Justin Upton a couple years back are three examples off the top of my head where the general consensus is that the team that bought the star-player “won”. The returns of these players stunned most people at how light they are. Dave Cameron of FanGraphs wrote an excellent article (http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/the-perception-and-the-market-of-star-player-trade-value/#more-169960) about the value of “star-power”. To paraphrase, we expect elite players to draw elite returns, however that has not been the case in recent years. With the exception of the Jeff Samardzija deal to the A’s, I can’t really remember a team overpaying. So the rough “guestimates” from above, probably don’t even come close to a Hamels deal. I would expect a B-prospect to go along with an organization’s #15-20 prospect and maybe a lottery ticket. A pretty light return, even if the Phillies ate most or all of the contract.

Remember when the Phillies demanded Julio Urias, Joc Pederson, and Corey Seager from the Dodgers in addition to taking on Hamels’ entire contract? I do. Even if the Phillies ate all of the contract, they might, might, get one of these players. Simply put, Hamels has no trade value. The Philies need to unload his contract now because Hamels is becoming less valuable every second and it will make a light return even lighter. Now let’s sit back and watch Ruben Amaro Jr. work his, er, “magic”.

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The Cubs Are Probably Going to be Good Maybe

By: Jack Boulia

Oh, Chicago. The windy city. Home of Mike Ditka and other stuff I genuinely don’t care about. Chicago fans haven’t had anything to look forward to for a long time unless they own Derrick Rose in a wheelchair-basketball fantasy league. My point is Chicago sports fans haven’t had anything this exciting happen for a long time and it hasn’t even happened yet.

But it will.

Many take a glance at the standings and see, hey, the Cubs didn’t do so well last year. They finished 71-91. That’s not so good. Luckily here at TripleB we utilize other stats that can help us explain whether or not that number is accurate of how they played. And hey, you guessed it; their record isn’t quite indicative of how they actually played. If we utilize Fangraphs’ BaseRuns table, we see the Cubs actually played about .500 ball as the estimated record was a palatable 79-83. In today’s game, with the introduction of a second wild card, teams no longer have to win ninety-plus games to make the playoffs, but rather  around eighty-five. An average team that has a hot September (any Royals fans reading?) has a legitimate shot at the playoffs. My point is it’s much easier to make the playoffs now than ever before and if the Cubs kept the same roster as this year, one hot month could vault them into the playoffs next year.

But here’s the thing; the Cubs are not going to be the same team next year. They have money to throw around and will be getting full seasons from young, impact players. If the Cubs sign Scherzer/Lester and a Brandon McCarthy type, that instantly makes them about seven wins better which instantly makes them a wild card contender. They shouldn’t have to trade any of their loaded assets for another pitcher. Due of the relatively low cost of their roster attributed to young, team-controlled players, even if the Cubs way overbid on Lester/Scherzer, the abundantly cheap, young players will offset and eventually justify the overpay. However, the Cubs do need a frontline starter. If they fail to sign one of these pitchers, the next best option is James Shields who is definitely a tier below both pitchers and will probably cost mostly the same in terms of AAV. Though a pitcher who has aged well, and will continue to age well because he’s a pitcher not a thrower, Shields wouldn’t have near the impact the other two would.

In addition to throwing large sums of money at talented players, the Cubs have many talented players of their own that they throw small sums of money at. They will be getting full seasons from Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler, Kyle Hendricks, and the absolutely polarizing Javier Baez. I don’t think we’ll see Addison Russell until 2016. Following that logic, we probably don’t see Kyle Schwarber until then as well, but regardless the Cubs’ system is still flush with talent. I’d like to look at the three offensive players listed because they are very intriguing and are the largest determinant of the Cubs’ future success. The safest player I listed, hands down, is Soler. He will probably hit .280 with twenty-five+ homeruns next year because he is very talented and very good at hitting. I should be a scout. The next is Kris Bryant who is the biggest prospect in recent memory not named Mike Trout with many scouts throwing around Troy Glaus-esque comparisons. Kris Bryant is going to struggle. Mightily. He struck out 28.6% of the time in AAA last year. High strikeout guys always struggle at first. There was a guy on the Cubs last year… I can’t for the life of me remember his name, I believe it rhymed with “Javier Baez”. Anyway, that guy struck out a lot. Or how about the consensus best player in the major leagues, Mike Trout? He slashed .220/.281/.390 in his first 135 PAs. My point is, Kris Bryant is going to struggle a lot for the first two or three months. There is now an enormous gap between AAA and the MLB and it’s starting to become very obvious as top prospects are taking longer to develop than they used to. But, rest-assured, with the type of prospect Bryant is, when he eventually figures it out he is going to tear up the NL. There is nothing that suggests that Bryant will never hit, unlike a prospect like Javier Baez. Speaking of Javier Baez, hey, let’s talk about Javier Baez. I don’t like Baez. He struck out 41.5% of the time in 229 PAs. It’s not that he’s struggling, it’s that he is completely overmatched. His power is never going to justify the fact that he is a bad hitter in every sense of the word. I will never see him as more than a two-win player. In fact, I decided to leave Baez for last because I have so little confidence in his ability. He could salvage some value by being a good defender, but he’s not that, either. Bat speed is the only redeeming part of Javier Baez’ approach and it’s useless if he can’t make contact. The Cubs did not acquire Tommy La Stella by mistake. I expect Baez to be back in the minors by mid-May and a non-factor for the rest of the season. I know Cubs fans were very excited to get to see Baez; he is an electrifying prospect. Just not the right one to get excited for.

Even without pitching, I could still peg the Cubs for 82-85ish wins next year. But I have confidence they will get pitching either through free agency or a trade. As exhilarating as the Cubs’ offensive prospects are, I think they will equate to about five wins overall between the three of them. Soler is going to be great. Bryant will eventually figure it out and become an above-average offensive player hindered by somewhat awkward defending. Baez. I think it’s unfair to place expectations on these players that they can reach their ceilings this upcoming season and so I have tempered expectations. Five wins seems fair. And if you’ve been doing the math, the Cubs just went from a roughly .500 team to an 85-90 win team. I think that’s completely reasonable to expect that. The front office is filled with smart people. Generally I would caution Cubs fans from becoming hopeful, but the future certainly looks bright in Chicago.

Target and Avoid: Battle of the Matts

By: Jack Boulia

It’s never too early to start preparing for fantasy baseball. What a valuable use of time to prepare for something imaginary. Anyway. Every year there are players who you should target, and players you should specifically avoid. My goal here is to eventually provide you with a decent-sized list of potential sleepers and potential busts. This will be in addition, of course, to the normal articles written here at TripleB in hopes of having a nice blend of baseball-related content.

Target: Matt Kemp

Simply put, Matt Kemp is polarizing to fantasy owners which is exactly why you should target him. He’s injury prone and has been injured the last few years. He’s going to start declining. He’s not going to put up peak Matt Kemp numbers. Basically, nobody believes in Kemp’s health or his ability to do what he did. But without even going into his 2014 stats yet, we know Kemp is talented. When healthy, he’s one of the best hitters in the game. The keyword here is “when”. And I know it’s not exactly trustworthy yet, but new research shows health might actually be on Kemp’s side this year (http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=23747). Like I said before; when healthy, Kemp is one of the best hitters in the game. I paid $14 for Kemp last year and looked like a moron for relying on his talent. But then he put it together and he ended up ranking as one of the best outfielders in the game at the end of the season. It has been done. I’m glad I took the gamble. It’s worth investing a bit in high-risk, high-reward players, especially when the reward is as big as Kemp’s. You’ll notice I haven’t talked about his stats at all. Well, he slashed .287/.346/.506 with a 140 wRC+ and a .369 wOBA with twenty-five homers. If he stays healthy, he should put up around the same numbers, and even the same number of runs (77) and RBIs (89). Just don’t expect any stolen bases. He’s losing his speed very quickly. He’s been swinging a little more in general, but it’s ok for him to keep doing this as long as he puts up the numbers he has been. I’d be willing to spend a decent amount on Kemp, certainly not as much as his peak years. His price might look a little inflated after the season he had, but the chances are the people in your league are skeptical of spending money on a high-risk player. Just remember you’re paying for the reward.

Avoid: Matt Holliday

For the last few years, projections have not been kind to Matt Holliday and many viewed it as a surprise because of his strong consistency. But he’s definitely declining. He’s thirty-five. His bat speed is starting to wane, and while he is a strong bet for a high-OBP and a lot of runs still, his RBIs, batting average, and general power numbers are going to start to show some wear. Steamer is a bit optimistic (and tends to be a bit optimistic) as they list Holliday for a .277/.365/.455 slash line to go along with twenty-two homeruns. Sure that looks nice, but when people pay for Matt Holliday they are paying for his past consistency and name rather than his actual production. What Steamer projects is my ceiling for Holliday. It’s very rare that a thirty-five year old improves and if last season is any indication, Holliday is falling off fast. Rarely will anybody have a career-year heading into their late thirties (see: Victor Martinez) and for the cost as high as it’ll be, it’s not worth justifying a ceiling that low when there are cheaper alternatives with more potential at this point. I’m not saying Matt Holliday would be a bad piece on a team by any means, just a poor value for my estimated $22-23 price tag.

 

Target and Avoid: Jedd Gyorko and Jose Altuve

By: Jack Boulia

It’s never too early to start preparing for fantasy baseball. What a valuable use of time to prepare for something imaginary. Anyway. Every year there are players who you should target, and players you should specifically avoid. My goal here is to eventually provide you with a decent-sized list of potential sleepers and potential busts. This will be in addition, of course, to the normal articles written here at TripleB in hopes of having a nice blend of baseball-related content.

Target: Jedd Gyorko

Gyorko had an ugly year any way you slice it, but he still has an awesome name. He mustered a .210/.280/.333 slash line, good for a 0.6 oWAR according to Baseball Reference. This, of course, came after a year in which he mashed twenty-three homeruns and drove in a healthy sixty-three RBIs and scored sixty-two times. He hit ten homeruns this year. He drove in fifty-one, and scored thirty-seven times. Thirty-seven times. That’s paltry. Gyorko’s value is at an all-time low. But people tend to forget that there is twenty-plus homer potential in this bat which you just don’t see at second base. Gyorko had a .253 BABIP this year. He was really unlucky. Most of his career contact-outcomes are still identical, but what stand out is his HR/FB rate. It dropped from 11.2% in 2013 to a mere 6.5% in 2014. According to the rate, his HR/FB ratio should have given him just under half the homeruns he hit in 2013…which is what happened. Gyorko was slightly above league average in regards to this rate in 2013, however he was well under it in 2014. His flyball distance dipped nine feet in 2014 and that makes a big difference, especially in a park like Petco. But Gyorko had a great second half. He slashed .264/.345/.410. He cut his strikeouts and increased his walks. Regression to the mean can be expected and I find it completely reasonable Gyorko will be able to reach twenty-plus homeruns next year. Not only that, but Gyorko seems like a more complete hitter and should contribute a healthy amount of runs and RBIs next year. Given that after the steroid era players bodies have been deteriorating faster, peak-power years are generally right around twenty-four or twenty-five, which Gyorko is. He represents a great value buy, and in fantasy you have to pay for potential.

Avoid: Jose Altuve

I’ve always been a fan of Jose Altuve. In his first season in 2012, he hit .290. Awesome. In 2013, he hit .283. Nice. He stole thirty-three and thirty-five bases in those seasons respectively. I got him in the last round of both drafts for the insurmountable sum of $1. In fact, I got him for the same price in 2014. His first two seasons, he was essentially a $7-8 player. This year his value exploded, driven by an average of .341 to go along with fifty-six stolen bases and eighty-five runs. But all of his value came from his absurdly high BABIP of .360. Fast guys have higher BABIPs; they can leg out more infield singles. But he will regress back down to the mean and it will be a very swift fall. He only stole the amount of bases he did this year because he got on more, because he was able to leg out singles. He didn’t get faster, he didn’t get better, he just got luckier. Altuve doesn’t strike out a lot ( a ludicrous 7.5% in 2014, 10.7% for his career); but he doesn’t do a lot outside of that. He makes weak contact. Weak contact does not drive in runs. Also, if his contact goes, so do the stolen bases. Why? Because Altuve has a career walk rate of 5.1% and if he isn’t getting on base with his contact skills, he’s not getting on base at all. The good news is, the contact probably won’t go. You can still expect thirty-fiveish stolen bases with a pretty good average and some runs. But this also fits the profile of Ben Revere, the Phillies CFer who batted .306 this year with forty-nine stolen bases and seventy-one runs. Granted he had about half the RBIs as Altuve, but still, I’d rather have Revere for $1 than Altuve for $20+. Speed can be acquired cheaply. Another thing to look out for about Altuve is the team he plays on. The Astros are composed of low-OBP, high-power hitters meaning less RBI chances and potentially less runs due to the insane strikeout rates. I expect Altuve to be about a $10 player in 2015, but he might end up being $22-23. If you’re looking for speed, there are better options. Altuve is going to regress to the mean in the worst possible way; let somebody else overpay for him.

 

Barry Bonds’ 2004

By: Jack Boulia

For a few minutes, disregard all the steroid allegations, all the “tainted” stats. You can argue that talking positively about a player that used steroids is bad, just as a team signing guys like Johnny Peralta or Nelson Cruz is bad and doesn’t dissuade players from continuing to use. But sometimes we forget how talented these players would still be without steroids. Time to dig a little deeper.

Although just a short blurb meant too be a palpable appetizer for the World Series, it’s incredible how much Bonds hit during this season. These are video game type numbers. An 11.6 fWAR is pretty impressive on its own but it’s more how he got there than the actual number itself. Bonds hit 45 home runs that year, far from his career most, but still amazing in its own right. He hit .362 with a .310 BABIP meaning he earned that .362, it was not inflated. I’m trying not to throw ALL these stats at you quite yet because these are not even the “impressive” stats.

In 2004, Bonds walked 232 times. That is no typo, I will type it again. 232 times. 232. That led to an insane 37.6% BB%. He only struck out a minuscule 6.6% of the time. But what is really impressive about Bonds is although he didn’t really get pitches to hit in 37.6% of his plate appearances, he still managed to hit the way he did posting an unreal OPS of 1.422. His .609 OBP% combined with his .812 SLG% led to this number, and I promise you none of these stats are typos. His wRC+ ended up at 233 on the season with a .450 ISO. See what I mean when I say his stats are like a video game? No hitter should be able to do this. You cannot look me in the eyes and tell me steroids make you a better hitter. They don’t. They don’t make you have the eye and plate discipline and mechanics that Bonds did. Did it give him more power? Yes. Does he deserve the home run record? Nope. But you have to respect the season he had as well as his talent. He would have made the Hall of Fame without steroids, and he probably could have posted something like this season without steroids.

To further my point that Bonds wasn’t just your average hitter fueled by steroids, look at his swing rates. Or, I guess I will. He only swung at 8.3% of pitches outside of the zone. I’m assuming many pitchers pitched around him. But he still hit .362, so it’s not like he just didn’t swing. That means Bonds had an eye, and a very good one. But even when he swung at pitches outside the zone, he made contact 64.3% of the time. That’s crazy. On pitches in the zone, he swung at 66.7% of them and honestly why not take a cut at two-thirds of the pitches you see if you can hit everything. And only 10% of the time could a pitcher throw it in the zone and have Bonds swing and miss. This paragraph might be more impressive than the other paragraphs because you can clearly see Bonds wasn’t just an average hitter that was strong; he had an elite approach and was just an incredible hitter no matter what definition of a “hitter” you use. Steroids do not make you a gifted hitter. Being a gifted hitter makes you a gifted hitter.

It’s difficult to just list stats and gawk at them, especially in this post because there are so many that are just unbelievable. But when you break it down and see how he achieved those stats, it’s amazing. And I hope you can appreciate why Bonds was so good in 2004. Take away the steroids, Bonds still has a season like this minus some power and that’s still amazing. Too often we think of Bonds and think of all the steroid allegations and bad things that came along with his career. But don’t overlook the good things. Don’t overlook the good things he can control. Barry Bonds’ 2004 was a work of hitting art.

 

 

A Post About Rafael Devers

By: Jack Boulia

Admittedly, I am a bit of a Red Sox fan. Not even a bit, a lot. My posts and interests might be a little weighted towards them as I try to keep the balance, but generally I know the Red Sox and their system better than all the other teams. Now, although I am obviously a bit biased towards my own team, I can admit that the system is very deep in comparison to other systems and will look at it objectively. This post is about a guy I think everyone should know about because if they don’t quite yet know his name, they will very soon.

To give some context to why Devers is relatively unknown, it’s because he was a July 2nd signing last year at only sixteen years old for a modest sum of $1.5 million. Generally unless the sixteen year old is a phenom like a Harper or Hosmer, you won’t hear about him for a bit, especially since Devers was not the best international prospect; he was the third best according to Baseball America. He might make a few Top-100 lists this year in the eighties or nineties but mid-season he could take a leap into the 50’s or 60’s. The problem with players as young as this (Devers is three months older than me), is that although they are given more time to develop, they are also very raw and thus more volatile and less polished than much of the competition they are going up against. Devers will almost certainly be challenged next year, and his development will depend almost entirely on how he adjusts to the higher competition.

There’s nothing that suggests Devers can’t meet expectations, but maturity and makeup have to be a large part of a young player’s profile. I still believe in Xander Bogaerts because of his makeup and it’s hard to believe he’s just barely twenty-two. Devers will also eventually have to drop in weight; although 6’0″ 195 is not unhealthy per say, much of that weight is not very good as Devers is projected to be a below-average runner. And with increased weight generally comes decreased range and he needs to drop in weight if he wants to be even a fringe-average third baseman and also reduce future injury risk.

Most of this post has seemed skeptical so far, I understand, but I’m not writing this post out of skepticism but rather admiration and excitement. According to Kiley McDaniel’s overview of the Red Sox’ system, Devers has a future hit tool ranking of 55 to go along with a 55 game power projection, citing his present raw power as a 55. Devers is very raw, very young and not quite projectible yet and I would imagine the hit tool rankings could move up to a 60 at some point. Right now I project him as about a four-win player, maybe five in his peak seasons. Simply put, he’s talented and will probably get better as he has absolutely torn through the leagues he has played in thus far. This season, he hit .322 with a .404 OBP and a .910 OPS, hitting seven homers along the way. Devers is a left-handed hitter and like many left-handed hitters, he has a beautiful swing and as cliche as it sounds, the ball explodes off of his bat and it’s impressive seeing his weight-transfer and the way his hands move when he swings. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better swing for a guy who would be a senior in high school. Devers can command the strike zone very well from what I’ve seen and his stats back it up as he struck out only 16.6% of the time while he walked 11.6% of the time. Devers is a professional hitter. The reason I’m so excited about him is because of these stats; most seventeen year-olds do not have the polish he does. There are some players in the majors that don’t have the polish he does. These types of players are very difficult to see as busts down the line because they boast the peripherals that go hand in had with major league success. He boasts these excellent peripherals, but the numbers he puts up you don’t usually see with those sort of peripherals. When I see those numbers, it reminds me more of a Matt Carpenter type, a contact guy that takes walks but doesn’t necessarily hit for power. Granted you should never just judge a hitter based on their peripherals, but it’s just very rare especially at that age to put up numbers like that.

Of course Devers is an offense-first prospect, so many wonder about the power. I want to briefly touch on his power potential separately here because it’s difficult to project. He will hit a lot of doubles. He hits a lot of doubles. His gap power is very impressive and what’s more impressive is he can hit to all fields with a fair amount of power. His first few seasons, I could see him only hitting 15-18 home runs, however as he settles in I believe he will put up 21-25 for a decent amount of time. He has the tools and the skills to hit .290/.385/.510 with 20-25 home runs. Like I mentioned before, in his peak he will be a 5+ win player because this guy can hit.

I tried to talk about some concerns about Devers; I think pitchers will start throwing him more breaking balls to counteract the large weight-transfer, but he’s a good enough hitter to adjust. Dropping ten pounds would make a big difference in defense and durability. And he’s seventeen. Kids that are seventeen don’t always make the best decisions. But these are all “he coulds”, there aren’t really any glaring concerns about Devers. Midseason, I can see him vault up to the fifties or sixties on lists. He’ll be eighteen, and will probably be the Red Sox’ top prospect going into 2016. Keep an eye on Devers.

Revisiting Trading Correctly

By: Jack Boulia

Back in July, I wrote a piece called “The Yankees and Trading Correctly” implying that there was in fact an incorrect way to trade. While some may chastise the Athletics for giving up Addison Russell, a consensus Top-10 prospect, along with the previous year’s first round pick in Billy McKinney for starters Jason Hammel and Jeff Samardzija, at the time the trade was entirely justified seeing as how they were far and away the best team in the MLB per run differential. This is not a team that can wait around for prospects to come around and possibly bust because the team is almost designed from the ground up every year. The Athletics also flipped Yoenis Cespedes to Boston for Jon Lester and Johnny Gomes. For whatever reason, this led people to believe the Athletics late-season collapse was entirely due to this trade. It was not. In two months with the Red Sox, Cespedes hit .269 with five homers and a .296 on-base percentage, good for a 1.3 WAR (per Baseball Reference for this post). In the same time, Lester compiled 1.9 WAR for the Athletics. A 0.6 WAR difference is negligible, but the Athletics offense started faltering about two weeks before they even traded Cespedes. Sure it can be viewed as a “significant” loss because Cespedes is an above-average position player, but what they gained was stability in the rotation. Sonny Gray and Scott Kazmir both faded down the line. Jesse Chavez got pushed back into relief. Without Lester, the Athletics probably do not even make the wild card game. So, looking back on it, the Athletics were justified. Billy Beane went all in but he cannot control how his players play. He traded correctly; he went all in on a team that was already an incredible force.

However.

There was an incorrect way to trade. I’m going to look at the David Price trade and the Andrew Miller trade specifically in this instance. Starting with the David Price trade, the Tigers gave up a lot. It may not have seemed like much, but it is a lot. Hopefully they have the resources to sign Price, but the Tigers may be hesitant to commit big money to another pitcher who seemed invincible (see: Justin Verlander). Teams are also realizing with the success of others like the Athletics and Cubs, pitching is abundant with offense currently trending downward every year. Sure the Tigers have Price for next year, but they may not have a window of contention next year. They could have had a very valuable team-controlled starter/reliever in Drew Smyly, as well as a cheap asset in Austin Jackson. The Tigers now have to fill a starter role but cannot use the prospects from the Joakim Soria trade or Drew Smyly. Pitching depth is valuable. Any team will tell you that. Trading three very able starters depleted the Tigers’ pitching depth and now they have to go outside the organization to look for help. They need a pitcher and an outfielder…go figure. The core is starting to age and results tend to not improve over time despite the colossal contracts and cheap, young players are what the Tigers need and no longer what the Tigers have. You have to weigh the short term benefits with the long term benefits and even short term, the trade did not work. The bullpen faltered badly and Rajai Davis faded almost immediately. David Price gave them advantage in name-value but not necessarily in actual value. Keep in mind they also gave up Willy Adames who, although his name seems plain and uninteresting, he is arguably the nicest asset in this trade. Adames is incredibly projectable, team-controlled, and very toolsy, not to mention he is a shortstop. Those are the type of assets a well-run team needs, and the Tigers are sorely lacking in that department. To finish about Adames, who is actually very exciting, when the Dodgers pried general manager Andrew Friedman away from the Rays, they liked him because he didn’t just ask for the big-three prospects. He asked for the right prospects. And with the Price trade, Adames was that “right prospect”.

Here’s the other trade that made little sense to me; the Andrew Miller trade. As a Red Sox fan, this trade does not necessarily have to make sense for me, I just love it, which should be an indication that this trade was a little lopsided. For less than a half-season of Andrew Miller, the Red Sox received Eduardo Rodriguez who had always had the stuff and the ability but had not quite put it all together. Once he arrived in the Red Sox’ organization he posted absolutely sparkling numbers posting a minuscule 0.96 ERA in 37.1 innings with a 1.9 BB/9 and a 9.4 K/9. Before the season, Rodriguez was a consensus Top-100 prospect coming in at the sixties for most lists. His stock has surely risen and according to Kiley McDaniel’s prospect ranking list for the Red Sox, Rodriguez is ranked number two in an incredibly deep farm system. He projects as a mid-rotation starter, but he definitely has the stuff to be a very good number two and is under team control for six years. And although the Orioles made it to the ALCS this year and won ninety-eight games, an impressive number, advanced stats say the Orioles were more in line with an 85-win team and have been outperforming their peripherals for the last few years. My point is this; the Orioles are not as good as people think they are and always seem to have trouble finding pitching and trading a prospect as good as Rodriguez may come back to bite. A lot. Especially since they will be facing him often.

There is a silver-lining to these trades; the teams got what they expected and more. David Price was flat-out dominant down the stretch and also his one start in the playoffs and has one more year left. Andrew Miller kept the Orioles in the playoffs and was absolutely unhittable to the point that I associate his name with the word “slider” now. But these trades did not have to be made. One in thirty teams gets to win the World Series and the team that wins usually is not the best team, but rather the team that gets hot in October. The teams are so evenly matched at this point in the season that the games can be decided with a coin-flip. You can add as many David Prices as you want, and the match-up will still be a coin-flip. Keep the guys that give you many coin-flips down the line. Do not trade for the ones that mortgage them.