2012 didn’t work out the way the Philadelphia Phillies expected. The pitching is still strong with the big three of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Cole Hamels in the rotation, but it was time to reconfigure a lineup that was middle of the pack offensively. Ryan Howard and Chase Utley are back for Opening Day 2013, however Carlos Ruiz is suspended for the first 25 games of the season. The entire 2012 Opening Day outfield of Juan Pierre, Shane Victorino, and Hunter Pence are gone. The Phillies also said goodbye to near-.300 career hitter Placido Polanco at the hot corner. With the free agent pool looking slim, it was up to trades to upgrade the offense for next season.
Phillies acquire CF Ben Revere
Twins acquire RHP Vance Worley and RHP prospect Trevor May
Phillies acquire 3B Michael Young
Rangers acquire RHP Josh Lindblom and RHP prospect Lisalverto Bonilla
It is going to be weird to see Michael Young wearing anything but a Texas Rangers uniform. No one has played more games in their career for the Rangers than Young. With the emergence of Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus, the studliness of Adrian Beltre, and super-prospect Jurickson Profar waiting in the wings, it was time for the Texas’ clubhouse leader to look to greener pastures for a full-time role. Young last season hit .277 (his worst since 2002), but is still just one season removed from leading the American League in hits and batting .338. Philadelphia will be pleased if they get something the middle, plus Young’s great clubhouse leadership.
Revere is a vital cog for the new-look Phillies outfield and is the second centerfielder that the Twins have traded for pitching in a week. Revere was known more for his speed and defense in his rookie season, but evolved into a better hitter in 2012 (hitting .294). Revere will now be the Phillies table setter atop the lineup and does well in not striking out, with only 100 in 989 career at-bats. That should only get better as the 24-year-old continues to grow and enters his prime. Revere was also one of only six players with 40 or more stolen bases last season.
The Twins have been looking for pitching. A lot of it. Minnesota only has Scott Diamond set for a rotation and Worley will factor into the mix if not be assured a spot of his own. May had a rough 2012 in the minors, but was one of the top Phillies pitching prospects prior to that.
Lindblom will factor into the bullpen needs for the Rangers. More importantly though, it sheds $10 million off their payroll in an attempt to bring back Josh Hamilton.
-Bryan Mapes ( @IAmMapes)
It doesn’t come as a surprise to most of Brewer Nation that their acquired pitching ace, Zack Greinke, wasn’t going to be around forever. Having not lost at Miller Park in almost a year and a half, it was almost too good to be true. Alas, every good thing in Milwaukee (except Ryan Braun) comes to an end. (Read: CC Sabathia, Prince Fielder). And just like that, Greinke was shipped off to his first large market team in the form of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Not without cost however, as the Brewers acquired three strong prospects from the Angels’ organization. Let us recap:
SP – Zack Greinke
SS – Jean Segura
RHP – John Hellweg
RHP – Ariel Pena
An outside observer might think that this would be unbalanced, and for the time being, it is. It will help an Angels team that is currently 5 games back of their division and surging as of late behind the AL Rookie of the Year leader, Mike Trout, and the big man on campus, Albert Pujols. If they catch the Rangers by seasons end, that would be a big plus, but with the moves that are being made, a Wild Card spot may be all LAA needs to make a strong run to the World Series.
The Angels aren’t at that point yet. They got a 9-4 would be All Star who had countless blown saves behind him, who also posted a 3.39 ERA with a K/9 of exactly 1.00. Now when you put it like that, the Angels padded their already stellar rotation with one more right handed mastermind. I’m not worried about him not performing in Los Angeles, he will. It’s the people behind him and possibly the spotlight that would make him flinch, but I don’t see the stone faced Greinke flinching anytime in the near future. After posting a solid first outing for them, I think they’ll be glad with their trade. Now can they resign him? That’s a question we’ll have to see after the season.
Over in the Midwest, the Brewers are collapsing behind their bullpen who has managed to ruin win after win for their starters. With the current state of affairs in Milwaukee, this was a great rebuilding trade for a team that probably wasn’t going to resign Greinke at the end of the 2012 season anyway. Plus, being 16 games back never helped anyone. They acquired three top prospects from the LAA farm system and will be looking to make a lot of noise in 2013 or possibly when the rosters expand to 40 at the end of the season.
Jean Segura, the 22 year old Dominican and a career .311 hitter in the minors, was one of the Angels top prospects. He’s certainly going to battle for Alex Gonzalez’s spot in 2013 as Segura has the power and speed to make a difference right away. His base stealing alone will bring an aspect that the Brewers have focused on under Ron Roenicke. On top of that, he can swing a quick bat, and will strive for 15 home runs and around 30 doubles a season. Segura is pretty sure handed with the glove as well, posting a .971 fielding percentage over 6 seasons.
Let’s head to the pitchers. It would be hard to miss John Hellweg in the halls of Miller Park as he stands a tall 6’9″. He packs a fastball that tops out at just under 100 mph on some days, but usually hovers around the mid to upper 90s. Locating that fastball however has been the problem. Hellweg’s pitching arsenal and control aren’t quite mature enough to be a prolific starter just yet. With some crafting at AA-Huntsville, he could lower the 1.378 WHIP, strike out more batters, and depending on how his stamina develops, we could see John make a debut in the majors sooner rather than later.
Ariel Pena has the potential to make an impact in the Brewers’ organization as he has improved his statistics each year and his pitches have matured quite well. As with any young pitcher, he does have control issues, but his BB/9 has gone down every season and his ERA/WHIP have both trended downward. Pena also needs to change his “miss” pitch, as it tends to float up in the zone, which at Miller Park, is never good. We’ll keep an eye on him as he has yet to make his first start for AA-Huntsville.
Side Note: The Brewers also traded C George Kottaras to Oakland for RP Fautino De Los Santos. Two mainly backup players for both teams. Kottaras is best known for catching Randy Wolf every fifth day while also tallying one of the Brewer’s elusive cycles. De Los Santos has always been seen as a potential closer for Oakland, but didn’t pan out early this season and has spent his time in Sacramento. Keep an eye on Kottaras as he’ll be Suzuki’s backup in Oakland, but De Los Santos will start in the minors.
So? What do you think? Who came out on top? That kind of depends if you live in the present or the future. Feel free to let me know in the comments or on Twitter – @FalconKP
The Twins have had enough of Francisco Liriano. The starter has been arguably the biggest Jeckyl and Hyde pitcher in the Majors. He’s been marvelous at times with a 12-3 record and 2.13 ERA in 2006 or the no-hitter in 2011. He’s been down right awful at times with a 12-20 record and a 5.18 ERA over the past two seasons. It’s the latter that finally caused the Twins to cut bait instead of hoping Liriano would return to his former self.
The White Sox were looking for another starter in the rotation as Cy Young candidate Chris Sale is battling fatigue. Honestly though, you can never have enough starting pitching, just ask the Yankees. It was shocking that the Twins traded Liriano in their own division, but maybe that shows how little they thought of Liriano now. They think that he can’t hurt them.
The Twins picked up two prospects in the deal with infielder Eduardo Escobar and pitcher Pedro Hernandez. 23 year-old Escobar was called up by Chicago this season and has hit only .207 in 87 at-bats. Escobar’s value is in his fielding where scouts have him rated as having above-average range and a fantastic arm. Escobar was the 8th ranked prospect in the White Sox system coming into 2012 by Prospect Corner and 7th by ESPN prospects guru Kevin Goldstein. He will battle Brian Dozier to be the Twins shortstop of the future. Hernandez is also 23, but the lesser of the two prospects. Hernandez got rocked in his 1st start in the Majors giving up 8 earned runs over 4 innings at the Red Sox, but has been good in the minors this season going 8-2 with a 2.94 ERA over 85.2 IP in AA and AAA.
The key to this deal though is if Liriano just needs a change of scenery to rekindle his former magic. Liriano has shown that he can still strike batters out with a great 9.8 K/9 this season, but with that comes the wildness. The past two seasons have been the worst for Liriano’s control as he has given up 5.0 BB/9, that stat has been the biggest in contributing to Liriano’s woes the past two years. It will be an interesting project for White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper to try and be the one to fix Francisco Liriano.
The way I’m seeing the trade presented right now, I think the Twins got the better end.
-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)
Last night, I was totally excited to go to bed and get a full night’s sleep for the first time all week. And then right as my night was winding down…*Buzz*. Dodgers acquire Hanley Ramirez from the Marlins.
I nearly fell out of my seat. As a Dodger fan, this was the news I’d been waiting to hear for weeks – finally, another bat to complement Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier in the middle of our lineup (Ramires is hitting .245 with 14 homers and 47 RBI so far)! And to think, the Dodgers only gave up a high-ceiling starter in Nathan Eovaldi and a decent Single-A reliever, Scott McGogh.
Not only that, but the Marlins threw in lefty specialist Randy Choate, something the Dodgers also sorely needed. Despite Scott Elbert’s (the lone lefty in the Dodgers ‘pen before the trade) solid season, left-handed hitters were very successful against him this year.
Coming into this trade deadline period, I was adamant that the Dodgers improve on at least three of these five areas: left field, first base, third base, lefty relievers, starting rotation. In one trade, they scratched two of those off the list, and are still in talks to acquire an outfielder from the Phillies (they are closely eyeing Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence) and trying to finalize a deal with the Cubs for starter Ryan Dempster.
Is this the trade that will push the Dodgers back to first place in the NL West? Does this lock down a playoff spot for a squad that had more ups and downs than Space Mountain?
Time will tell. But on paper, the trade looks like a complete steal for Los Angeles.
It’s understandable that the Fish wanted to unload Ramirez. He was unhappy from day one with moving to third base to make room for Jose Reyes at shortstop. He’s had his attitude problems in the past, and is currently recovering from a hand injury he sustained from punching a fan out of frustration.
Well, I’d be frustrated too if my team wasn’t playing up to expectations. Ramirez should be ready to play and fully recovered here soon, and he’s coming to a much better team environment than he left in Miami.
The Dodgers manager, Don Mattingly, is the polar opposite of Ozzie Guillen. Mattingly is calm and collected and knows how to lead a team through turbulence. Additionally, Ramirez will learn from stand-up veterans like Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Bobby Abreu, etc.
All signs point to this being a fantastic trade for the Dodgers. Ramirez won’t even get a chance to be a prima donna in this clubhouse, and the additional bat in the middle of the lineup has to strike fear into opposing teams. A 3-4-5 of Kemp, Ethier and Ramirez is one of the best in all of baseball now.
Let us not forget who the Marlins got in this deal. Despite struggling a bit of late, Eovaldi is a big, hard-throwing right hander who has shown flashes of brilliance at the big league level already. He hits 97 on the gun regularly, has a pretty good curveball, and is developing a change-up to go with it. Also, Eovaldi is just 22 years old – plenty of time to grow.
In the last two days, the Marlins have acquired two big, right-handed starting pitching prospects and a host of other lower-level minor league guys. But, they’ve traded half their infield and one of their established starters. Anyone who thinks this team is not in fire sale mode, needs to lay off the booze.
There is no doubt that the Dodgers won this trade. That’s how it was designed. L.A. gets an impact bat for NOW, Miami gets some building blocks for the future. But the real question is, how would you grade this trade by the Dodgers?
Take into account that they didn’t have to give up prized prospect Zach Lee, but they took on Hanley’s entire contract, and vote in the poll below!
– Jeremy (@Jamblinman)
“El Caballo” Carlos Lee certainly didn’t want to go to Los Angeles, invoking his no-trade clause to block a deal to the Dodgers. Instead, Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow didn’t panic, and pulled off some fireworks on the 4th of July sending Lee to Miami.
Houston picked up two prospects in the deal in third baseman Matt Dominguez and left-handed pitcher Rob Rasmussen. Dominguez was immediately added to the Astros 25-man roster and was ranked as the 4th best prospect by Baseball America coming into the season. Rasmussen was 4-7 this season for AA Corpus Christi with a 3.90 ERA.
This trade also allowed for the Marlins to demote Gaby Sanchez for the second time this season. Lee will take over 1st base duties for Miami, but can also play some left field if needed. Marlins needed to acquire a bigger bat for a power position as Sanchez was hitting just .202 with three home runs in 182 AB’s for the Marlins. The 36 year-old Lee has been better for a below average Astros lineup, hitting .287 with five homers. Moving to the seemingly pitcher park in Miami, might turn Lee even more into a batting average play and suck more power out of him. Houston is great for power with their short left field porch for righties.
Lee is reunited with Ozzie Guillen, who managed him back in Chicago in 2004.
Houston doesn’t get off cheap however, as they have to pay almost all of the remaining 9 million dollars on his contract to get Lee off their roster. When you’re getting prospects in a return and a good one in Dominguez, it’s worth the risk for the Astros. Miami gets a cheap replacement to see what Lee has left in the tank to make a run in the N.L. East. If Sanchez can sort himself out in the minors, he could get another chance at the gig in 2013.
-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)