8:25 AM–MLB Deadline Day

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Let’s take a brief look at the trades that have been completed up to now, at 8:25 AM EST.

White Sox acquire Francisco Liriano from the Twins

It’s increasingly looking as if Twins’ “interim” GM Terry Ryan probably should’ve stayed retired. Getting Eduardo Escobar and Pedro Hernandez for a lefty arm in Liriano—even one who’s a pending free agent—is a nonexistent return on a potential difference-maker down the stretch. And why trade him 3 days before the deadline? Why not wait? The only situation in which to jump at a trade that early is when there’s an offer on the table not to be refused. This was a deal that the Twins should’ve refused, or at least waited to see if anything else came up.

Blue Jays trade OF Travis Snider to the Pirates for RHP Brad Lincoln

Snider was a 1st round draft pick of then-Blue Jays’ GM J.P. Ricciardi in 2006 and is the prototypical lefty masher with pop that the supposedly stat-savvy once coveted. He’s gotten chances to play with the Blue Jays and shown flashes of being a 15-20 homer man, but has also endured horrific slumps. Snider’s more of a Matt Stairs-type than an everyday player.

Lincoln was also a 1st round pick in 2006 who failed as a starter—amid blame being doled on former Pirates’ pitching coach Joe Kerrigan for changing his mechanics—and has found a home in the bullpen. Perhaps the Blue Jays are going to try him as a starter; perhaps the Pirates will give Snider a legitimate chance to play.

Neither is a kid anymore with Lincoln 27 and Snider 24. Both could use a change.

Cubs trade LHP Paul Maholm and OF Reed Johnson to the Braves for RHP Arodys Vizcaino and RHP Jaye Chapman

Vizcaino is recovering from Tommy John surgery, but had a 100-mph fastball before he got hurt. Chapman is 25 and stagnating at Triple A. He strikes out a batter-per-inning. Johnson is a speedy and useful extra outfielder who can play all three positions.

I’ve always liked Maholm and felt it was a drastic mistake for the Pirates to turn down his contract option when they could’ve held onto him and used/traded him. Maholm is not a rental for the Braves as he has a contract option for 2013 at $6.5 million. That said, this trade is in line with the Braves looking for an “impact” starter such as Zack Greinke, but also placing the likes of Jason Vargas in the category of “impact”. Vargas is not that and nor is Maholm, although Maholm is better than Vargas. It’s a useful and not earth-shattering pickup.

If it were a team president/GM combo in Chicago that was the target of ridicule by the self-proclaimed “experts” in the media and clever purveyors of snark, does anyone doubt that the joke would be made that the Cubs are under the mistaken impression that the combination of an Arodys and a Chapman means they’re getting a 200-mph fastball in some weird Frankenstein mixing and matching of human parts?

Cubs trade C Geovany Soto to the Rangers for RHP Jacob Brigham

Brigham’s numbers in Double A haven’t been impressive over the past two seasons, but Cubs’ boss Theo Epstein is cleaning house and accumulating arms. Soto was a burgeoning star once, but injuries and apparent apathy from playing with a team spiraling so far, so fast appears to have affected him negatively. The change to a contender with a very friendly home part for hitters is a good move for him.

In a corresponding move, the Rangers designated Yorvit Torrealba for assignment. Is there anyone, anywhere who doubts Torrealba’s going to wind up with the Mets?

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Is Adam Jones Wearing a Ken Griffey Jr. Costume?

All Star Game, Ballparks, CBA, Cy Young Award, Draft, Fantasy/Roto, Free Agents, Games, Hall Of Fame, History, Hot Stove, Management, Media, MiLB, MLB Trade Deadline, MLB Waiver Trades, MVP, Paul Lebowitz's 2011 Baseball Guide, PEDs, Players, Prospects, Spring Training, Stats, Trade Rumors, World Series

Not that I’m aware of.

Adam Jones is not Ken Griffey, Jr.

In fact, Adam Jones isn’t even Brady Anderson.

But that’s not stopping the Orioles from horribly overvaluing Adam Jones. Nor is it answering the questions of why the Braves were asking about Jones and at least willing to discuss Jair Jurrjens and Martin Prado in a trade for him to begin with.

If Orioles GM Dan Duquette indeed asked for Jurrjens, Prado and “at least two” of the following: Brandon Beachy, Randall Delgado, Arodys Vizcaino Julio Teheran and Mike Minor, then it’s clear that time away from the trenches didn’t mellow Duquette’s trading style at all. His method of dealing as GM of the Red Sox and Expos was to offer what he was willing to trade and ask for about a 60% markup on what it was worth. Sometimes it actually worked as evidenced by his trade for Pedro Martinez and when he acquired Derek Lowe and Jason Varitek for Heathcliff Slocumb.

Braves fans should be relieved that GM Frank Wren turned down that preposterous request.

But the Orioles are going to build around Jones? The Braves are pursuing him?

Why?

Jones’s star has fallen. In 2008, he was an excellent defensive center fielder; in 2009-2010 he was slightly above average; and he 2011, he wasn’t good at all.

At the plate, he seems to have some power.

“Seems” is the operative word because of his 25 homers in 2011, 19 came at Camden Yards. It could’ve been an anomaly because in prior years, his production was around even home to road, but it’s a concern especially if he’s being sent to Turner Field—not exactly a hitter’s paradise.

He doesn’t walk and strikes out a lot. His attitude left much to be desired before the arrival of Buck Showalter; the prior regime had told Jones he needed to play deeper in center field and he replied, “I’ll think about it.”

There haven’t been any public issues under Showalter.

And where are the Braves going to put him? In left field? If they’re going to do that, his poor defense in center field won’t matter, but if they’re even considering swapping Jurrjens and Prado for a bat, surely they can get someone who’s better than Jones.

The rumors are conflicting and the sense I get is that it’s more rumormongering and blowing a casual chat out of proportion into a substantive negotiation in the interest of webhits and discussion on a slow baseball news day.

Either way, if the Braves are pursuing Jones and the Orioles are looking to build around him, each side needs to take a step back and examine him more closely because he’s nowhere near as valuable as they think he is.

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The Braves Said No To Papelbon For Vazquez?!?

All Star Game, Cy Young Award, Draft, Fantasy/Roto, Free Agents, Games, Hall Of Fame, History, Hot Stove, Management, Media, MiLB, MLB Trade Deadline, MLB Waiver Trades, MVP, Paul Lebowitz's 2011 Baseball Guide, Players, Playoffs, Prospects, Spring Training, Stats, Trade Rumors, World Series

Yes. And they were right to do it.

Peter Gammons revealed on Twitter that in 2009, the Braves turned down an offer from the Red Sox of Jonathan Papelbon for Javier Vazquez.

Vazquez was subsequently traded along with Boone Logan from the Braves to the Yankees for Melky Cabrera, Mike Dunn and Arodys Vizcaino.

At first glance, it’s easy to say, “How could Frank Wren turn down Papelbon for Vazquez?!?”

But if you think about it and consider why the Braves were trading Vazquez in the first place, it made sense.

As great as Vazquez was in the 2009 season, he was on the block because he was making too much money and had the most trade value for the Braves at the time coming off a reputation-rejuvenating year; they would’ve preferred to have traded Derek Lowe, but with Lowe’s $15 million salary and length of contract, that wasn’t happening. The Braves were flush with cheaper starting pitching and had Tim Hudson, Tommy Hanson, Lowe and Jair Jurrjens in the majors and youngsters Kris Medlen and Mike Minor on the way; they also had Kenshin Kawakami. Vazquez was a salary dump and trading Vazquez’s $11.5 million for Papelbon’s $10 million defeated the purpose of doing it. They got Cabrera who was coming off a solid season and playoffs for the Yankees and was set to be paid over $3 million in arbitration; they also received the lefty arm of Dunn whom they sent to the Marlins for Dan Uggla, and the big minor league prize, the flamethrowing Vizcaino.

They could’ve used Papelbon, but they signed Billy Wagner for $6.75 million; Wagner was excellent for the Braves in 2010 and wasn’t looking for a long-term contract. They also knew they had an option on Wagner for 2011 if he decided to pitch and Craig Kimbrel nearly ready—they were set for the future at closer.

In exchange for Vazquez the Braves got Uggla, Vizcaino, Cabrera and Wagner.

That’s a far better haul than Papelbon for Vazquez straight-up.

In hindsight, Papelbon would’ve been good for the Braves; Vazquez likely would’ve been a disaster for the Red Sox; it worked out well for all sides that the deal didn’t happen.

That doesn’t immediately assuage the shock when reading a splashy report that said the deal was offered, but Wren did the smart thing.

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From The Man Who Brought You Kei Igawa…

Management, Media, Players, Spring Training

Brian Cashman’s poor pitching decisions are becoming analogous to the schlock film producer who tosses out a lot of content and only hits when he has the star power of a C.C. Sabathia to rely on. Even the middling names with a modicum of said “star power” are enigmatic, good box office/bad box office dependent on the script, director, etc.

That would be A.J. Burnett.

The lawsuit filed against Aroldis Chapman‘s representatives claims the Yankees made an offer worth “more than $54 million” for Chapman; Cashman denies it—MLB Trade Rumors posting—I believe him.

While it and Cashman’s recent spate of honesty speaks well of his forthrightness exemplified in the contracts of Derek Jeter and Rafael Soriano, it doesn’t make his scouting eye look particularly good.

He’s got a rocky history with pitchers.

What makes it worse are the reports of how amazing Arodys Vizcaino has looked for the Braves this spring with a fastball that was clocked at over 100-mph yesterday.Vizcaino was sent to the Braves along with Mike Dunn in exchange for Javier Vazquez and Boone Logan.

In the Hollywood vernacular, Vazquez would equate to the ill-thought-out sequel for which no one was clamoring and against whose making they were warned.

Vazquez was a reasonable enough idea in theory, but was a disaster in practice; Logan is a useful lefty with a good fastball but isn’t a difference-maker one way or the other.

Two pitchers with 100+ mph fastballs—one from the left side (Chapman); and the right side (Vizcaino); both in their early 20s—are difference-makers.

Did Logan and Vazquez make the opposing manager think differently in how to approach a game against the Yankees?

No.

Would Vizcaino and Chapman?

Absolutely.

The failure to recognize that ability in Chapman, an ability that should’ve been clear in watching him throw once, is another blot on Cashman’s record in terms of pitchers. At one time, blame for errors in acquisitions and development could be shifted to the capricious lunatic George Steinbrenner; now there’s no one to blame for the gaffes with Joba Chamberlain; the trade of Vizcaino; and the inability to recognize what Chapman is.

Other clubs aren’t innocent here either. The Red Sox—who doled a ridiculous amount of money on Daisuke Matsuzaka—should’ve spotted Chapman’s talents as well.

As for the argument that because of the failures of Matsuzaka and Kei Igawa, the Yankees and Red Sox were rightfully reluctant to shell out more cash for an unproven commodity like Chapman, it’s self-righteous nonsense.

Similar to saying, “because Oliver Perez was a disaster, the Mets shouldn’t have pursued Cliff Lee“, it’s lumping everyone in the same pile. In fact, “lumping everyone in the same pile” is one of the reasons Chamberlain’s development has been stunted to the degree it has.

They’ve tried to formulate a set of guidelines to build up pitchers that are treating everyone the same. Akin to The Verducci Effect—why wouldn’t big league GMs listen and adhere to a sportswriter when developing pitchers?—they’re not treating each person as an individual who can’t be placed into a pure statistical, broad-based category and built as such.

And it’s a practical failure.

Speculation is rampant that because Cashman is being so open in his attempts to lower the Yankees payroll and build a club in a vein as the Red Sox and Rays do, he’d like a chance to be “small market Brian” and run a club under restrictive finances that would never constrain him with the Yankees and their financial might.

I’d like to see it; judging from his pitching decisions, it would not go well.

At all.

On another note regarding the Vazquez trade, Braves GM Frank Wren is looking like a bandit; not only did he get Vizcaino, but he spun Dunn off to the Marlins to get Dan Uggla. A year after the fact, the Braves have Uggla and Vizcaino for Omar Infante, Vazquez, Logan and Dunn.

In any configuration, that’s a terrific trade.

I’ll answer the mail later today.

Paul Lebowitz’s 2011 Baseball Guide is available now. Click here to get it in paperback or E-Book on I-Universe and it’s posted on Amazon. It currently says “Out of Stock”, but it must’ve just been placed on the site.


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