Nationals Arm Race

"… the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same – pitching.” — Earl Weaver

How do the Angels Prospect trades look now?


The Angels traded the farm to get Dan Haren a few years ago; would they make that same trade again?  Photo unknown via wikipedia

The Angels traded the farm to get Dan Haren a few years ago; would they make that same trade again? Photo unknown via wikipedia

When Jean Segura took off this season (especially well-known to fantasy baseball players, who were able to suddenly get a top-10 guy off the waiver wire), people asked, “Where’d he come from?”  Well, like many other rising stud prospects this season he was once the property of the Los Angeles Angels.  But the Angels have not valued their prospects much lately, and have traded away a slew of talented guys chasing after the playoffs in the last few years.
Here’s a quick look at the Angels’ prospect-involved trades as of late:
  • July 2010: Traded Patrick Corbin, Tyler Skaggs, Rafael Rodriguez and Joe Saunders -> Arizona for Dan Haren.
  • Nov 2011: Traded Tyler Chatwood -> Colorado for Chris Ianetta
  • July 2012: Traded Jean Segura and 2 minor leaguers -> Milwaukee for Zack Greinke rental
  • Nov 2012: Traded Jordan Walden -> Atlanta for Tommy Hanson
So, what do they have to show for these prospects-for-veteran trades?  After making the playoffs in 2009 but losing in the ALCS:
  • In 2010 with Haren, they finished in 3rd place, two games under .500 and 10 games back of the divisional winner Texas.
  • in 2011 with Haren in the rotation for a full season, they finished in 2nd place, again 10 games back of Texas.
  • in 2012 with both Haren, Ianetta and the Greinke rental they finished in 3rd again, 4 games out of the wild card.

And now in 2013 they’re scuffling despite hundreds of millions of dollars spent in the FA market on Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton. The only things they have left to show for all the above trades are Ianetta’s .213 batting average and an injured Hanson.  But now they’re missing three potential front-line starter prospects, a closer-quality reliever and one of the more dynamic young infielders in the game.  Oh, and to fill in for those missing starters they’ve

When the San Francisco giants traded uber starter prospect Zach Wheeler for a 2 month rental of Carlos Beltran in 2011 in a failed attempt to get back to the playoffs, scouting pundits and Giants fans howled in derision.   Its harder to criticize the Giants moves in general (two World Series in the last three years) , but now with Tim Lincecum looking like the highest paid middle reliever in baseball history and with regular AAA pitcher tryouts to fill Ryan Vogelsong‘s 5th starter spot, you can only wonder what that team would look like with the newly promoted Wheeler slotting in behind their big guns Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner.

Some GMs over-value prospects and hoard them, while some under-value them and have no problem flipping them for proven major league talent.  What I’m afraid of as a Nats fan, right now, is our GM panicking and trading away (ala the Angels over the past few years) even more of our long-term prospect depth chasing the short-term goal.  Especially if we trade away guys and then still don’t make the post-season.  I realize this is a hedge towards the rumors we’re hearing about how Mike Rizzo is “heavily working the phones,” but I don’t think we should break the bank and trade one of our best prospects for 3 months worth of a guy like Matt Garza.

10 Responses to 'How do the Angels Prospect trades look now?'

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  1. I completely agree that the Nats shouldn’t do one of these deals this year. Mostly because I do not think they are one player away from substantially improving their playoff chances. And if they were, that player would not be a pitcher, despite how bad Haren has been. But if you were one player away, I would take a shot at these, especially if you didn’t bankrupt your farm to do it. That is the other thing your post shows: do this three years in a row, and you are in trouble almost regardless of how it turns out.

    The key, as is it almost always in baseball, is player evaluation. I think these prospects deals, and, for that matter, free agent contracts, have less to do with the money involved and everything to do with how well the player you are getting performs. Werth’s contract really stinks, but mostly because he has never been the 4WAR player they thought that they bought, and never will be. So the length and size of the contract looks brutal now because he probably isn’t a starting corner OF on a contending club, regardless of his salary. If he was, the Nats would be ok with it. But when you look at where they can improve their lineup, I think it comes down to Werth or Span. I think our OF, even with a healthy Harper, is bottom third in baseball because of those two. And of the two, they’d love to get a slugger for the corner spot but can’t because of Werth’s contract.

    I think that we just ride this year out, and see if our guys can turn it around. But the offseason will present a real challenge for Rizzo. He has two declining players in Werth and ALR, who unfortunately are counted on to be middle of the order sluggers. Unless we can work some magic to turn one of them into a real slugger, I don’t see the offensive problems going away next year.


    28 Jun 13 at 8:25 am

  2. We have more than a month until the trading deadline, and Rizzo really should wait it out and see where the team is then. If we are still scuffling around .500, it would probably be pointless to make a trade. What is really disturbing when you look at the farm system is how few blue chip position player prospects they have right now. Brian Goodwin likely has the most trade value. Beyond him we have a lot of guys with significant flaws in their game or who are old for their league. If I thought they could get away with flipping, say, Jason Martinson or Zach Walters for a rent-a-starter I’d be for it. But I doubt that is possibility.


    28 Jun 13 at 8:51 am

  3. Agree on high level; nearly last in offense; we need hitters not pitchers. But, there’s not an obvious place to put a hitter, so who knows what the heck they’re going to do.

    I go back to the Gio Gonzalez deal. At the time I think we were kind of shocked at the player outlay. Norris, Cole, Milone and Peacock. That looked like quite a haul for a guy who a lot of pundits thought was a pitcher whose home park drastically elevated his statline. Peacock had just finished pitching a couple of lights-out September outings, Milone looked servicable, NOrris was our heir apparent catcher and Cole was considered the best prospect of them all despite being only in low-A.

    As it has turned out thus far, I think the team got pretty darn good value. Milone looks like a decent enough pitcher, but he’s a 5th starter type whose home/road splits are pretty distinct. Peacock got shelled and demoted for Houston (though he’s looking good in AAA); I still think he’s a reliever. Norris has struggled. We eventually got Cole back of course, but he’s struggled too frankly (though he is quite young for his level even given that its his 3rd year in the minors).

    To your other point; yeah this is the team that Rizzo wanted, and now he has it. Look no further than Philadelphia for the perils of lots of long term, high priced deals for guys in their 30s. If Philly could trade every one of their big contracts right now they probably would.

    Todd Boss

    28 Jun 13 at 8:54 am

  4. The team can’t trade Goodwin; he’s their Span replacement in 2 years! You know, Denard Span, our “speedy leadoff/centerfielder” that we JUST HAD to have because of some ridiculous notion about lineup construction that Rizzo has. You know, Denard Span, whose acquisition basically forced out our #5 hitter from last year Michael Morse, eliminating his power and his charisma from this team. You know, Denard Span, whose current OBP is .308. By way of comparison, Morse’s OBP right now? .313. While hitting 11 homers and slugging 120 points more than Span.

    Can you tell that i’m still irritated about the Span deal?

    Exercise; take a team whose team offense was mostly in the 10-12th range of typical offense categories last year (runs, homers, slugging, OPS+, etc), remove its #5 hitter, replace him with a lead-off hitter and his 82 OPS+, stick with a second baseman hitting below .160 for the better part of 3 months, take away various middle-of-the-order hitters for weeks at a time (Harper, Zim, Werth) and then have the entire bench fall off a cliff in terms of production. What do you have? Nearly the worst offense in baseball.

    Todd Boss

    28 Jun 13 at 9:09 am

  5. I think that the Gio trade is a great example of what I was trying to say, too. I think that most people would agree that the Gio trade was a really good one for the Nats. But not because the prospects that we gave up haven’t done too well, but instead because Gio has performed really well. So the fact that Norris and Peacock haven’t turned out to be quality major leaguers so far is immaterial to me: we liked them when in our org, and they are gone now, so that cost is fixed. Gio is the part of the trade that makes it good, regardless of how the prospects fared. I’d feel that way even of the prospects were doing well.

    I was a big proponent of keeping Morse at the time for depth, but I have to say, I think that they got great value for him. Morse’s WAR is 0.0. But that is a phenomenal improvement over TMo, who has an amazing -1.3 WAR in about 100 ABs this year, so keeping Morse would have been a big help if only to avoid the temptation to play TMo. But Krol already has .4 WAR this year, and is controllable for another 6 years. So at this stage, if you had to choose between 1 year of Morse and 6 of Krol, I think that most teams would take Krol. Plus, I think Cole hasn’t struggled as much as the ERA indicates: his peripherals are pretty good and as you say, he is still young. The last guy may be just a guy, I don’t know, but could turn into a bullpen piece. I would do this trade over again in a heart beat. I’d just find someone else to play instead of Moore (I say all that, but I can’t fault the Nats for starting out with him, based on 2012, just holding on too long).


    28 Jun 13 at 11:49 am

  6. Yeah, Span, I was willing to give him a chance but he’s killing the offense as much as anyone. And using Morse’s old walk up music at the 7th inning stretch has gone from a nice tribute early in the year to a grating reminder of how this year’s team doesn’t measure up.


    28 Jun 13 at 12:29 pm

  7. Not sure what we can do about Span right now, except hope he improves. Who else can you bat lead off? Desmond leads the team in homers right now (amazing, but also indicative of how much the team misses Harper; he’s right behind Desmond but has missed a month straight).

    Todd Boss

    28 Jun 13 at 1:17 pm

  8. Good points on WAR. I know Morse gets severely penalized in WAR b/c of defense and lack of baserunning. But, then again it doesn’t matter how fast you are on the basepaths when you bash the ball to the fence (or over it).

    Nats were definitely patient to a fault with a number of guys this year. Espinosa, Moore, Duke, Haren. How many games did it cost them?

    Todd Boss

    28 Jun 13 at 1:52 pm

  9. Nats were definitely patient to a fault with a number of guys this year. Espinosa, Moore, Duke, Haren. How many games did it cost them?

    Fangraphs would suggest that the group was -2.5 WAR (I threw in HRod), but that is to a replacement player. If you assume a Rendon or someone better than replacement level took their respective places, it could be a 5 game swing.


    28 Jun 13 at 2:12 pm

  10. HRod! They were overly patient with him for 3 years!

    5 game swing puts them … 10 games over .500, or right about tied for the division lead. Yup. That ties almost directly into the little statisticial post I just did about runs scored and pythagorean W/L records….

    Todd Boss

    28 Jun 13 at 2:28 pm

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