The Curse of Jerry Hairston, Jr./Eric Hinske:

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Sporting News: Yankees, Red Sox reportedly step up efforts to acquire Cubs’ Matt Garza

WGN Radio’s Dave Kaplan reported Wednesday via Facebook that the Toronto Blue Jays, New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox are among those discussing a trade for the 28-year-old Garza, who was 10-10 with a 3.32 ERA in 2011, his first year with the Cubs.

Garza is under team control through the 2013 season, which greatly enhances his trade value. In fact, Kaplan reported, Cubs management’s “incredibly high” price for Garza could prevent a trade.

I find myself unmoved by a potential Garza acquisition.  Particularly if the price teams are paying so far this offseason is indicative of the price the Yankees would have to pay.  Unless they can make a steal like trading for Andrew Bailey and Ryan Sweeney and giving up nothing of any value.  Seriously, how does Oakland justify making a trade where they give up the only two decent players?  I guess they save some money at least. 

In other “news”, or at least what qualifies as news now that the Yankees are on an austerity budget, Yankees Sign Lefty P Hideki Okajima.  It’s a minor league deal with an invite to spring training.  My guess is he’s done as an effective reliever, but whatever.  Doesn’t hurt to give him a shot I guess.

--Posted at 8:59 am by SG / 45 Comments | - (0)


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I’m not smart enough on prospects to know this, but Garza was traded for a boat load of Cubs prospects last year. So, shouldn’t that be the starting point? Garza is a year older and cost controlled for a year less.

So, shouldn’t that be the starting point?

New management.  New market.  I’m guessing Epstein’s starting point will be Gio Gonzalez/Mat Latos, and they’ll work down from there.  I think Garza winds up on the Jays.

Bumped from last thread (so sue me):

Garza is pretty intriguing.  Not having really followed his career, I just checked him out on FG.  Seems that he somehow went from being more of a flyball pitcher to an extreme GB’er in 2011.  Also, he threw a lot more sliders and changeups compared to years past.  Obviously, going from the ALE to the NLC will do wonders for any pitcher’s game, but it also appears that he benefitted from some real changes in his approach.  I’m not sure he’s worth what it might take for the NYY to get him, but he’s only 28 and he may be legitimately improving as a player.

[3] I agree.  He doesn’t just try to blow folks away anymore.  I like Garza, liked him since he came up with Minnesota.  K rates look decent and steady.  He strikes me as a legitimate number 2 starter from whom one can reasonably expect 3-4 WAR and 115-120 ERA+, league adjustment notwithstanding.  The question is the price.

Sorry to jack up the thread, but is Edgar Martinez a reasonable comp for Montero?

SG- The last CAIRO iteration has Garza at 2.0 WAR for 2012, but I recall a correct for replacement level. Is it something like 2.6 or 2.7?

fwiw, according to Fangraphs, Garza’s WAR the last three years was 5.0, 1.6 and 3.1.

Okajima?  Uh, okay!  What?!

Here’s the RAB analysis of Garbanzo.

I doubt Garza will be worth the cost.  FanGraphs has him as twice having a WAR better than 3 - last year at 5 and 4 years ago at 3.1.  BBRef has him twice, 2008 and 2009 (3.2 and 3.8), with last year being 2.9.  Until last year he usually out-performed his FIP, but I have a feeling that was being a FB pitcher with a great OF defense in TB.  His walk-rate has been fairly consistent, but his k-rate has jumped around from low-average to very good.  By some measures (e.g. fWAR) last year was a career year…at age 27 in a weak league/division. 

So…Garza is really only just a little better than Edwin Jackson.  Over the past 4 years - same age - Garza has slightly better K, BB, and WHIP, same HR.  Garza did more of it in a tougher division (3 years w/ Tampa, one of which had Jackson on the team).  Most of Jackson’s “bad” numbers are from a horrendous half-season in AZ which in the context of the 3.5 other seasons seems flukish.

So…how much in players and 2 years of arb-eligibility - for arguments sake say it works out to 2/$20M for Garza - is he worth over Jackson?  What if Jackson came down to 3/30?

[8] I do wonder if Okajima has any remaining utility as a lefty specialist.  I doubt his stuff has declined since he never could break a pane of glass.  He relied on a deceptive herky-jerky delivery, it seemed to me.  Maybe he started sucking because batters learned to read his motion.  Nonetheless the career stats against lefties are very good.  Since he costs next to nothing, it’s hard to criticize the signing.  I bet he’ll be up with the big squad this year if he doesn’t break camp with it.

[10] I basically agree with this analysis, but one fact that you overlook is that he started throwing his secondary pitches a lot more last year, with good success.  So there’s some reason to believe that he has improved as a pitcher.

Also he posted a 3.1 WAR three years ago, not four.

Here’s the RAB analysis of Garbanzo.

Don’t you mean The Garza Strip?

[13] Yes.  That’s exactly what I mean.

  What if Jackson came down to 3/30?

I still can’t get past what you need to do to fit in another guy. We have a 5 man rotation on the 25 man right now. Hughes to the bullpen is probably what would happen, and I think thats a bad idea from a long term vision perspective.

[15] How about dumping swamp turkey or sticking him in the pen?

[16] I think we went through this a few threads ago. Dumping him costs your probably $8M per year, and he’s contributing probably 1 WAR per year. So is Jacksons value over 1 WAR per year worth $18M (using Mike K.‘s estimate of Jackson coming down to 3/$30M)?  I think even if you considered the value on the margin (playoff victories, etc.) it’s a tough sell.

Would trading for Garza take them out of the running for Hamels?

[16,17] I’m just realizing that the scenario presented has Jackson a Yankee for 3 years, while Burnett is signed for 2.

So, it’s $18M for Jackson value over ~1 WAR for each of 2012 and 2013, then it’s $10M for his contribution by itself in 2014.

[12] Oops, my bad on the years.  Yes, it is very possible that Garza is simply a better pitcher now (though, his ERA+ was only 118, very good, but not great, and not his best).  But how much in players are you willing to bet on it, is the question?  If it was only a matter of money, sign him.  I just don’t think I’m willing to bet the farm on him.

[15, 17, 19] I’ve already been on board that getting Jackson means AJ goes, not Hughes.  IDK if Yankees would do that, but that’s *my* condition.

For the rest…I think your math is wrong.  AJ currently costs $33M.  Say the Yankees could trade him and get another team to pick up $12M of the salary.  So over the next two years, instead of paying AJ $33M to put up 2 WAR of value, maybe you’re paying EJax $41M ($20M for him plus $21M for AJ) to put up 4 WAR of value.  In the one case, you’re paying $16.5M per win, in the other $10.25M.  Or another way to look at it, $4M per extra win.  That also assumes AJ can be a 1 WAR pitcher, and Jackson won’t be better than 2 WAR.  I think there’s a pretty good chance Jackson could be more like a 3 WAR, and AJ a 0.  But if we up the difference a little - Jackson has a 2 and 3 WAR season, AJ has a 1 and 0 WAR season - the 4 WAR difference is only $2M extra per win.

Now, on top of that, is the 3rd year for $10M.  As you say, that’s probably separate.  Even if Jackson is a 1.5 WAR pitcher by then…you’re only overpaying a little (about $6.67M/Win).  He may be tradeable at that rate if all the youngsters develop, or he may save you needing to find another pitcher.

[18] Obtaining any pitcher who has a contract beyond 2012 makes it more unlikely they sign/trade for another pitcher next off-season.  However, one thing that might make Garza more desireable than Jackson, is Garza would be off the books for the 2014 season (when they want to be under $189M, while Jackson would likely be still there eating up space.  Unless they can overpay him a little to take a 2 year deal.

So I guess here’s a question.  If you could sign Jackson for the same amount you expect Garza to get over the next two years (say 2/22), and that’s all he gets, would you sign Jackson and pass on Garza?  (BTW, that 3/30 idea I got from a Dave Cameron chat yesterday)

[11] Here is Joe P’s take at RAB.  He notes that Okajima was hurt in 2010.  If he’s healthy he’s probably better than anyone else they have in the (high) minors.  At the least, maybe he’s insurance if Logan goes down.  At the best, he’s a great situational lefty.

Seriously, how does Oakland justify making a trade where they give up the only two decent players?  I guess they save some money at least.

This must be it, right?  Is Beane just throwing in the towel for the near future given the Rangers and Angels situation? 

But I’m guessing the Yankees’ cost would have been one of the B’s and Montero for Bailey and Sweeney, right?

I’m a Cubs fan and I’ve taken a look at Matt Garza’s trade value in a few different ways. If the Cubs are expecting a return similar to what Latos or Gonzalez got they’re likely to be disappointed by what teams would be willing to give up for Garza. He’s probably not as good as either of those pitchers, is a bit older and has two years of club control as opposed to four. There’s just no way that Garza has that much value. I’d be thrilled if the Cubs could get that much, but I think it’s a dream.

Best estimate I can come up with is about half what Latos/Gonzales brought in return. Earlier this offseason when I first looked at Garza’s trade value I suggested Yonder Alonso in a straight up trade. That would have been fair compensation and Alonso would have filled a need for the Cubs for several years.

I agree with SG. I think he ends up in Toronto and I’m even cautiously optimistic they’ll get more than Garza is really worth. I wouldn’t pay what the Cubs seem to be asking for Garza. I really wouldn’t even entertain the idea.

Regarding the trade the Cubs made with the Rays a year ago, I’m not sure that’s really a starting point. From everything I’ve seen (pitch f/x, his peripherals), it appears Garza is simply a better pitcher these days than he was a year ago even if we adjust for the NL being the inferior league. As a result, I think the Cubs can get back what they gave up despite a year less of club control. That’s not close to the Latos/Gonzalez trade though.

[21] I’ve already been on board that getting Jackson means AJ goes, not Hughes.  IDK if Yankees would do that, but that’s *my* condition.

Well, yeah, if that’s the plan then OK. But I think that’s one of the instances where it’s something we’d like to happen, but never will happen in reality. Hughes would almost certainly go to the bullpen - we’d here things like ‘Burnett is an established starter with a proven track record’ and ‘Hughes has had success in the bullpen.’

[21] For the rest…I think your math is wrong.  AJ currently costs $33M.  Say the Yankees could trade him and get another team to pick up $12M of the salary.  So over the next two years, instead of paying AJ $33M to put up 2 WAR of value,

Yeah, I said this wrong. You end up paying $18M for Jackson, but (in my example) part of that cost is sunk cost in Burnett. Even if we agree that Jackson is a 1 WAR improvement, by buying that WAR at $10M, you push the cost per WAR of that rotation spot down from $16.5M/year.

I also am not sure about Burnett likely to be worse than projected and Jackson to be better - I’ll defer to the CAIRO projections and worry about that when SG does his 1, 2 and 3 sigma breakdowns of the roster.

EDIT: I guess my point is that, even though buying a better pitcher at a cheaper cost pushes the cost per WAR down for the Yankees, I get the feeling that they are not interesting in the gross payment of $18M for what they think Jackson is.

10. Mike, I’d like to counter some of your points here. It seems a bit flippant to deem Garza’s 2011 a career year. In countless cases, players have sustained improvement in both their peripheral numbers and performance. And if Garza pitched in a weak division, facing hitters like Pujols, Holliday, and Berkman on the Cardinals, Braun and Fielder on the Brewers, Jay Bruce and Votto on the Reds, what do we call C.J. Wilson’s divisional “competition” by comparison? Wilson is a superior pitcher to Garza, but would it be fair for me to disregard his improvement as a pitcher by attributing it entirely to facing little league lineups featuring Vernon Wells and Kurt Suzuki as centerpieces?

And should Garza regress toward his fly ball tendencies with the Yankees, he has Gardner in left and Granderson in center. I’d be willing to part with Betances for Garza.

Garza might actually be better than Gonzalez, but due to age and $, he’ll be vallued much lower.

[28] Straight up? Absolutely, but why would the Cubs do that?

[28, 29] Betances scares me with those walks. Actually, ever since SG said he hopes Betances isn’t Daniel Cabrera I’ve been scared of Betances.

Betances walked 5.0/9 last year. Banuelos walked 4.9.

Career: Betances 4.3, Banuelos 3.6.

Banuelos is younger though.

[30,31] Betances is pretty low probability, but his ceiling is crazy high.

BTW the MiL numbers between Betances and Cabrera are pretty scary:

Betances’ 80+ innings in 2010 were amazing though. That’s basically as dominant as you get.

Here’s Banuelos for fun:

Banuelos is far more valuable than Betances because he’s got better probability and less injury history, but Betances is still pretty valuable.

[31] Yeah I’m not thrilled about Baneulos’s walks either, but he’s like 3 years younger and only going to be 21. Lots of time to fix that. He looks like he had pretty good control in the low minors, and then those 2 BB/9’s turned into 3’s which turn into some 4’s as he advanced.

BTW- I was looking at some Chris O’Leary stuff (mainly out of boredom) on pitching mechanics. Talking about AJax in the other thread made me think of Ian Kennedy. Chris O’Leary is not a fan of IPK’s and think’s he’s a high injury risk. Wonder if this factored into the Yankees giving him up, although even if they didn’t think he is, I still think getting Granderson for Kennedy, Jackson and Coke was a good deal considering what Granderson has become.

[33] I refuse to worry about Banuelos’ 1 year of poor control until he starts to show it again in 2012.

29. I think Betances, Noesi and David Adams would be fair. Weirdly enough I really cringe at giving up Noesi, because anyone would do Betances for Garza. Noesi is the ‘bonus guy’ I could see burning the Yankees in a trade.

[36] That is a pretty solid trade.

SG- The last CAIRO iteration has Garza at 2.0 WAR for 2012, but I recall a correct for replacement level. Is it something like 2.6 or 2.7?

2.0 seems wrong, but I don’t have my spreadsheet in front of me so I can’t tell you what it should be now.  But yeah, I’d think something in the 2.5-3.0 area is probably closer to the truth.

How do you titillate an ocelot?

Oscillate its tit a lot.


[28] Sorry, I meant career year *thus far*.  Which at 27 isn’t surprising, but we need to be careful when determining how much he’s worth, of trying to figure out if it is normal growth, change in talent, or just a career year that won’t be replicated.

The NL Central is a weak division, but perhaps I am not giving enough credit to the level of offense there.  So point there.

While yes he would have a good OF defense, I also believe DNYS boosts HR more than the Trop does.  So it’s *also* a matter of his HR% going up.  Mainly though, I was pointing out that his ERA was better than his FIP not because he’s one of those pitchers who we should expect to regularly outperform his FIP (those are rare), but that it was a product of his environment.  Which may or may not be repeatable with good OF defense in NY.

Betances straight up?  Yes.  It’s when you start adding in other B+ or better prospects, or major leaguers (Nova) who are already contributing that I say no.

[26] If they couldn’t trade Burnett, quite possibly.  Though not definitely.  Sometimes everyone is SURE they’ll make the wrong choice, and they don’t.  I do however think they’d be *more* likely to trade Burnett and eat the money, if they have an arm like Jackson’s (or Garza’s) in the rotation.  Obviously, I have no idea how the Yankee brass is really thinking…

I also am not sure about Burnett likely to be worse than projected and Jackson to be better - I’ll defer to the CAIRO projections and worry about that when SG does his 1, 2 and 3 sigma breakdowns of the roster.

Normally I would too.  But we do I believe have some outside information that CAIRO isn’t considering, particularly about AJ.  That is, FB velocity is diminished, plus some of the Pitch-f/x charts Jonathan has put out.  So we have some extra information that may be helping us determine that AJ’s talent level has changed beyond what CAIRO would normally predict.  OTOH, perhaps not.  Perhaps this is the normal level of decline consistent with CAIRO’s age adjustment, and I’m being overly critical.

For Jackson, I’m just betting that a horrendous first-half with AZ in 2010 was a fluke, dragging down his projections.  CAIRO can’t *know* if it’s a fluke - just like it couldn’t know Cano’s 2008 was likely a fluke (as it now appears).  And again, it may *not* be a fluke.  But that’s why I’ve referred to it is a bet a few times.  I’d bet it was a fluke.

I don’t really see the difference between Sweeney and Reddick and what if Bailey doesn’t pitch all year? It’s a real possibility. Oakland isn’t gonna compete and they don’t wanna wait even longer and get even less for Bailey, so why not move him now and get some decent prospects? Doesn’t seem like a fuck up to me.

I don’t really see the difference between Sweeney and Reddick and what if Bailey doesn’t pitch all year?

Well sure, if you don’t see a difference between Sweeney and Reddick and Bailey doesn’t pitch all year the trade is fine for Oakland.  I guess I just see that Ryan Sweeney has clearly had a much better baseball career than Josh Reddick and projects much better than him in 2012 and I also see that Andrew Bailey had Tommy John surgery which has a very good recovery rate and was healthy from May 29 through the end of last year and am making the crazy assumption that he won’t be on the DL all year in 2012.

[43] He doesn’t have to miss all year to affect the deal. Let’s say over the next couple years he pitches only 60 innings - that makes a big difference. And the Red Sox have no idea what will happen - this is what it means to have an injury history. I agree that he’ll probably pitch for them and pitch well, but how many times do we go on and on about the value of relief pitching? Oakland isn’t gonna win now so they traded him before his value got even lower. Maybe it was dumb, but it wasn’t retarded. And looking at other deals, like the Santos deal, it’s not exactly out of whack.

Well, this wasn’t a baseball trade for Oakland.  They weren’t trying to get value back for Bailey and it’s not about trying to rebuild either.  They are simply dumping every dollar of payroll that they can and intentionally fielding a truly abysmal team so that attendance will tank even further and MLB will let California taxpayers build them a shiny new ballpark in territory that had previously been ceded to the Giants.

Happy New Year!

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