Filed under: Stats & Analysis | Tags: Chase Headley, David DeJesus, Eric Chavez, Eric Owens, Gary Matthews Jr., Joey Gathright, Kevin Kouzmanoff, Mark Kotsay, Matt Antonelli, Miguel Cabrera, Mike Cameron, Nate McLouth, Oakland A's, Pittsburgh Pirates, Reggie Willits, San Diego Padres, Torii Hunter, Travis Buck, Xavier Nady
Well, we’ve all probably heard the disheartening trade rumor involving Chase Headley to the Pirates for Xavier Nady and Nate McLouth. Don’t get me wrong; I like X, and McLouth is intriguing. However, why would you give up Head for so little? Especially considering that X still embodies the characteristics (low OBP, can’t hit righties, etc.) that made you want to get rid of him in the first place? I hope it’s just conjecture…I really don’t think this is a serious offer, at least from the Pads’ standpoint.
Well, enough of that unpleasantness. On to the trade candidates…note that not all of these guys have been mentioned in rumors. Some of them are pure speculation on my part as to who might be a decent trade partner. The list ended up being unexpectedly long, so I’m breaking it into 2 parts; I’ll go over a few of the players today, and the rest (hopefully) tomorrow.
We may as well start with the flavor of the week. Mentioned in the Nady-for-Headley rumor today, McLouth hit .258/.351/.459 in 137 games with the Bucs last year. His career big league line is .249/.322/.429 over 284 games; not exactly the stuff of legend, but I wouldn’t say it’s much worse than Cammy would have done. Defensively, McLouth posted a 2.62 range factor and an .886 zone rating, which puts him roughly mid-pack among all NL center fielders. He’s been in the bigs full time since 2006; in 5 minor league seasons, he put up a solid line of .292/.362/.427. A BABIP of .297 in 2007 indicates that his line is probably pretty close to his ability level; moving to Petco, expect the numbers to drop a little, maybe 5-10 points. As far as price, he’s probably not worth it if the deal involves Headley; that’s the offer that was mentioned this morning. If they can swing the deal for someone of lesser value, though, McLouth might be a decent fit. I don’t think I’d go any farther than decent, though.
Some have mentioned DeJesus as a nice fit, particularly because he fits this new “good OBP” mold that KT and the gang are hooked on (with good reason). DeJesus is a .282/.358/.415 player over 4 years as a starter in K.C.; a pretty decent line, all told, for a center fielder. Last year, he experienced a bit of decline, hitting just .260 with a paltry slugging percentage of .372; unfortunately, it looks like this line is closer to his talent level than the 3 years prior. His BABIPs for 2004-2006: .320, .335, .332. In 2007? .291. Not a sexy pick, but probably a very realistic one; with Joey Gathright behind him, and the Royals apparently hellbent on getting a free agent CF, he can likely be had for cheap.
I live in Temecula, so we get Angels games up here; I’ll tune in when the Pads play an early game and the Angels have a late game, or vice versa. I took a liking to Reggie this year; he’s the closest thing to Eric Owens since Eric Owens. Gritty guy, plays his ass off, jersey always dirty…and he can get on base, too. He hit .293 with a stellar .391 OBP for Anaheim last year. Of course, that all comes with a pathetic .344 slugging percentage, so don’t expect Mike Cameron; this guy won’t do anything more than hit singles, take walks, steal bases and make plays in center. Reggie appears to be tremendously lucky, posting a very high .363 BABIP in ’07; however, Reggie’s BABIP has consistently been in the .340-.370 range through the minors, so maybe there’s something to it. His name keeps coming up in the Miggy Cabrera rumors, and with Torii Hunter now in center, Willits is expendable (read: cheap).
Gary Matthews Jr.
Not so cheap is another expendable Angels center fielder. The former Friar signed a 5 year deal last year at $10M per and was lauded as the answer for the Angels in center; however, he proved his 2006 was a fluke (or a product of that bandbox in Arlington), regressing back to .252/.323/.419 in Anaheim. His .283 BABIP in ’07 indicates he’s probably a little better than that; I’d anticipate him being closer to his career line of .261/.334/.419 in ’08. Still not worth $10M a year for 4 years. I wouldn’t seriously consider Matthews.
Longtime Padre fans likely remember Kotsay trolling around center here from 2001-2003. He was a favorite of mine during my high school days, probably because his play reminded me of the aforementioned Owens (if you can’t tell, he was probably my favorite Padre of the early ’00s in spite of his average ability). Kotsay’s a career .282/.337/.415 hitter, pretty similar to DeJesus’ line. He suffered back issues last year and only got into 56 games, hitting only .214. In ’06, he hit .275 with a .294 BABIP, so we can probably expect similar numbers in 2008 if he’s healthy. Due to the injury, he might be had cheap; he’s certainly worth looking into as a low-risk, medium-reward trade option.
My brother suggested Buck as an option, and it kinda makes sense; Oakland has a surplus of center fielders with Swisher, Kotsay, et al., while we have a surplus at 3B with Kouz apparently entrenched there now. We have a hole in CF with Cameron now apparently out, and Oakland has a quasi-hole at third with Chavez’s health (and the team’s desire to keep him) still in question. A Headley for Buck and token prospect deal almost makes sense. Buck hit .288/.377/.474 last year in 83 games, with a stellar OPS+ of 130. His BABIP of .347 suggests he played a little over his head in 2007, so that’s something to be aware of. Using very unscientific methods to adjust his BABIP back down to league average (.290), I come up with a line of .235/.327/.388; his real talent level probably lies somewhere in between. Like our own Matt Antonelli, he didn’t have much minor league experience before coming up; he played only 127 games in the minors and only 52 above A ball. In those games, however, he hit .325/.398/.510, pretty good numbers by any standard; thus, he’s probably going to be a solid major leaguer. Swapping him for Headley would be an exchange of two prospects on roughly the same plane of talent; surprisingly, I think this might be a fair deal.
More to come…