Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The World's Most Tradable Assets

This is by far my favorite time in the baseball season, even more exciting than the playoffs.  The All-Star break has come and gone and baseball has resumed with most of the teams still in the mix.  The new Wild Card spot has added an extra boost of excitement.  Not only will more teams make the playoffs, less teams will turn it in this time of year and become sellers at the trading deadline.

Ah, the deadline.  There are more rumors during this time of year than an all girls high school.  Will he be traded, will they sell, will the big name move to the big market, is my team one small piece away from contention, will they get the guy who makes this season a championship one.  The trading deadline will be crazier than ever this year.  You have more teams going after less people.  There are a couple big names out there, and more than enough suitors.  People will get bid up, feelings will get hurt, and I have a weird feeling someone will get traded that nobody saw coming.  This extra playoff spot actually was a really good idea (score one for Selig).

In the American League, there are seven teams that are within three and a half games of the fifth wild card spot.  If you add the four teams leading the division and wild card, you have eleven teams still in the mix.  That is completely unheard of in this day and age of baseball and big spenders.  Then in the National League you have stories galore.  The return of the Pirates, the fall of the Phillies, the actually good Mets and RA Dickey, the defending champ Cardinals holding on for dear life post-Pujols, the Giants staying neck and neck will the Dodgers basically without a competent Lincecum, the Nationals leading the league without their highest paid player but with the future in Harper and Strasberg, it is endless stories until the end of the season.

We are going to look into the most tradable assets in the league and their most likely destinations.  Small markets are making moves, will your favorite player be one of them?


Cole Hamels- I wonder if the Phillies are happy or upset that Hamels came out to the media and said even if he gets traded he would be willing to return to Philadelphia.  On the one hand, they must be ecstatic they could give Hamels up for a rental and still get him back next year.  On the other hand, the fact that he basically said that whoever gets him has no chance of reaching an extension.  Either way, I think a team will work a deal, once the Phillies must bring down their demands, and they will take a chance to make this their year.  Hamels is a World Series MVP and a Cy Young candidate.  Those stats are irreplaceable when you're trying to win it all.  That being said who else would be a better fit for him besides the Texas Rangers?  A team that was one win away from a World Series victory that just lost their ace who got them there to a division rival has to replace him with something better.  Some may say that the Yu Darvish signing may be bigger to them, but we have no idea how he will perform when the bright lights are on.  We know how Cole pitches in those situations.  Even though the Rangers say Mike Olt and Martin Perez are not for sale, a championship is priceless and they need to pull the trigger on this one.

Likely Destination: Texas Rangers

Matt Garza- The Cubs are one of the few sellers in baseball, and Garza is the most likely candidate to move.  He is an interesting case.  He is young and when he is on he is very good.  Unfortunately, there are reports that he is somewhat of a head case.  He has already been traded out of Minnesota and Tampa Bay, making that three teams is less than seven years.  He is having an off year sporting an over four ERA, but he is only 28, he has great stuff, and there will always be a market for young guys with great stuff.  There are many teams that haven't been in the fold in a while that may take a chance on this guy.  In my opinion, that team will be the Toronto Blue Jays.  The Blue Jays haven't made the playoffs since the World Series winning year in 1993.  Another selling point is Garza has shown that he has the ability to pitch in the AL East, a tall task for any major league pitcher.  He knows the Yankees, Red Sox, Orioles, and Rays very well.  The Blue Jays are looking for someone to get them over the hump, and Garza could be their guy.  He wouldn't cost as much as the top tier guys on the market, but he will be more than serviceable.

Likely Destination: Toronto Blue Jays

Wandy Rodriguez- For the second year in a row, Wandy Rodriguez is spurned by trade rumors in Houston.  Rodriguez is the wild factor on the trade market because he is signed through 2013.  He is the best pitcher on the market that isn't a rental.  More teams are going to go after him because he is a help now and help later player.  He has the stuff to be a good number two.  The Astros are also said they would be willing to eat as much as half his contract in the trade.  Some assets will have to be traded to get this guy, but he could end up being the best pick up in the 2012 deadline.  When you look around the league, who needs this guy as much as they do in Boston?  There is a whole new regime in Bobby Valentine and Ben Cherington.  They want more than anything to turn around this atrocity of a season.  They are in last place in the AL East, yet only four games out of a wild card spot.  Having Rodriguez to start game one of a playoff series, if they need to use Lester for the one game playoff, is something you won't lose sleep over.  The fact that he will be coming back for more next year is even better.

Likely Destination: Boston Red Sox

Zack Greinke- Greinke is a harder man to plant into one destination.  He is a great pitcher.  Although, he had been with the Kansas City Royals prior to his stint with the Brewers.  Those aren't exactly the mecca of sports pressure.  Add to the fact that in last year's postseason he got shelled to the tune of fifteen earned runs in three games pitched and you aren't looking at him like he is the most clutch pitcher in the league.  Then there is that little issue with the social anxiety disorder.  If it wasn't for that scaring off New York brass he would most likely be a Yankee right now.  Point is, all these issues are present, but there are still many teams looking to obtain this guy at the deadline.  I just believe that these issues will end up causing a team to hesitate before giving up a top prospect for a post season question mark.  Reports say the Brewers are planning on offering Greinke an extension, and I think it is in his best interest to accept it and stay in Milwaukee.  Greinke is a talented kid, no doubt about that, but he isn't built for the big city and the bright lights.  Stay in Wisconsin and enjoy the fact that you aren't ridiculed for every wrong move you make, because that is the life of an athlete in the major markets.

Likely Destination: Milwaukee Brewers

Ryan Dempster- This could be the guy who changes the game in regards to who is winning it all.  Dempster has been superb so far this season, minus a DL stint.  He now has 33 straight innings without a earned run.  His ERA is under two.  He has a winning record...on the Cubs.  Dempster is a veteran that has had an up-and-down career.  No real postseason experience being on bad teams for most of his run, Dempster is a wild factor.  Will we see this dominant guy that we have seen all year, or will we see a guy who shows that he only has one start when the lights are brightest.  He needs to go to a team that has an established rotation, but just needs that one more guy to solidify it as top tier.  There have been many teams named to be linked to Dempster, but I think a surprise team will end up reaping his benefits, and they reside in LA.  No, it isn't the Dodgers, I am talking about the Angels.  They have two monsters at the front of their rotation in Weaver and Wilson.  Their number three to five starters, however, have not kept with the pack.  The Angels need Dempster as much as Dempster needs the Angels.  Could you imagine playing this rotation in the playoffs while still having to tame a lineup with Pujols, Trumbo, and Trout?  It is a perfect match and one that could swing the World Series back to Anaheim, or wherever the Angels play their games.

Like Destination: Los Angeles Angels

Denard Span- This is definitely not the year for huge name hitters, but that doesn't mean that there can't be a name here that will change the outlook of a playoff team.  Span isn't ever going to hit more than ten home runs, so he can't win a game with his power.  His speed, on the other hand, can do wonders for the team who eventually gets him.  His is a lead off guy who has a great on-base percentage.  A team that would love his production is the Cincinnati Reds.  Zach Cosart's hot start has cool off considerably.  He is no longer a good option for leadoff.  Dusty Baker would love someone to get on base more consistently for the power guys Votto, Phillips, Bruce, and Rolen.  Span brings a 351 OBP for 2012.  Cosart now has a 290 OBP.  I can't imagine the Reds would feel bad taking Drew Stubbs .219 average out of the lineup for a guy who would improve them dramatically.

Likely Destination: Cincinnati Reds

Carlos Quentin: Carlos is currently being evaluated on his hurt right knee, which will obviously affect his trade value.  For now lets pretend he is coming back.  He is a great piece on a terrible team.  He missed the first two months with a torn meniscus, which will hurt his trade value, but he has been tearing the cover off the ball for most of the month of June.  He has cooled a bit, but that could have to do with realizing that he plays on the Padres.  Quentin is the kind of guy that can turn a game around with one swing, and there are plenty of teams that see that potential.  My opinion is the team that will take him is no lock to make the postseason this year, the Miami Marlins.  The Marlins have a huge Latin community, and a Latin coach, that would love to see Quentin in Miami.  He provides that extra pop that has been missing from this Marlins team all year.  The entire Marlins team is having a down year, hitting wise.  Hanley Ramirez has completely disappeared, Jose Reyes went from winning a batting title to barely hitting .250, their best hitter is Justin Ruggiano (do you even know how to say that name?).  Quentin is Miami bound, and I think they will keep him there for a long time.

Likely Destination: Miami Marlins

Alfonso Soriano- All signs for Soriano point towards him being stuck on the Cubs.  You have a huge contract, declining production, and not the best teammate.  Remember, this is the MLB, people get desperate and make any move they can to make a splash.  The market for hitters is minute, there are more buyers this year than any year before, and the asking price for Soriano is going to be minuscule.  Theo Epstein is trying to get the big contracts off the payroll and to rebuild the depleted Cubs farm system.  Soriano won't get them back as much as Dempster and Garza, but he will bring something.  Soriano's seventeen homers and 53 RBIs would look good in the middle of just about every lineup.  Soriano would be a great stop-gap for the Rays until Evan Longoria returns from injury.  He would get the Rays off the hook on Desmond Jennings, who is having an atrocious season.  He would help the offense give the pitching some much needed support.  I am sure the pitching staff is sick of having to win every game for them.  The Rays are in the bottom half of the league in almost every offensive category, Soriano will help solve that problem.

Likely Destination: Tampa Bay Rays

Chase Headley- The San Diego Padres fire sale continues.  Of all the players on this years trading block, Headley is the one who could go anywhere.  Headley has a plethora of teams going after him.  They are said to be asking for "a lot" in return for him, but he will be worth it.  The team that absolutely has to get him is the Pittsburgh Pirates.  The Pirates are relevant at this point in the season for the first time in twenty years!  (Last year this is the point they started their downward spiral and they were never this good.)  The Pirates have a great farm system with a lot of middle of the pack prospects that could turn great for San Diego.  The Pirates just got their fiftieth win of the season, which usually doesn't come until early September for this organization.  He is still young and has a .789 OPS, which is great considering he plays ball at Petco Park.  At PNC Park you need a guy who shows he can hit in the more pitcher friendly parks.  The fans of Pittsburgh need this to be their season.  They are well on their way to a division title, and if not that then at least a spot in that one game playoff.  This is the year to break the streak, don't let it slip through your hands.

Likely Destination: Pittsburgh Pirates

Shane Victorino: Victorino would love to be a Phillie, you can tell.  He has bought into the way of life and has won over the fans, which is no understatement.  He was a part of Philadelphia's first title since the 1983 76ers.  He works hard and plays even harder.  He is a consummate professional in everything he does.  So why hasn't anyone scooped this guy up yet?   Well, he is having one of his worst seasons in Philadelphia.  The asking price is way too high.  He is a free agent in the offseason.  As you know, three strikes and you're out.  I believe he will get dealt, however.  One of those three will change.  Victorino no doubt wants an extension before going out on the market against a very deep outfield crop.  Going up against the likes of Josh Hamilton, Michael Bourne, and BJ Upton, Victorino doesn't come out with a bigger contract.  That being said I believe a team can come to an agreement that will make everyone happy.  I believe the Tigers are going to be the ones winning the Flyin' Hawaiian derby.  He can steal bases which will throw pitchers off their game against Fielder and Cabrera.  He plays great defense for a shaky pitching, behind Verlander of course.  He is a great leader and pulls through in the playoffs.  Detroit becomes very intriguing if this trade goes down.

Likely Destination: Detroit Tigers

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