Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Random Thoughts On The Trade

Bare with me... I'm just dumping some thoughts out on the keyboard while they're dancing around in my head.

Several issues with the trade....

--I've been in favor of trading Wilkerson, so that doesn't upset me.
--Trading Terrmel Sledge isn't a big loss. He had a really severe hamstring injury, the worst kind. Essentially it ripped from the bone, and it's the kind of injury that's sometimes a career-ender. And he's NOT YOUNG. He may not have experience, but he's only one year younger than Soriano.
--I don't know who the PTBNL is [UPDATE: Now we do! It's Armando Galarrago, Baseball America's #5 Nat prospect. He's old for his league, but pitched very well last season, after battling back from Tommy John surgery. He's not one that I'm thrilled about giving up. One of the few kernels of wheat amongst the chaff.]

--Soriano is the kind of player who's VASTLY overrated by conventional analysis. Look at those homers! Look at those RBI! He's an exciting, flashy player, who looks good while playing the game, but isn't nearly as good in real life as he is in Roto Ball.

--Soriano is the kind of player who's VASTLY underrated by statheads. Once a player gets overrated by those fans, the statheads take the opposite view to the point that he's worthless. Garret Anderson is the prime example of that. No, he doesn't get on base. Yes, he's had a HUGE park advantage in Texas. Yes, stolen bases are overrated by most people.

But they're missing the point.

He may not get on base a ton, but he's a career .320 guy, and has been as high as .338. Not great. But not horrible either. Plus with his extra-base power, and his stolen bases, he puts himself in scoring position A LOT. (He's an excellent percentage base stealer, BTW) I don't know whether the extra times in scoring position offset the additional outs he makes because he's not getting on base, but it's not as clear cut as the stathead dogma makes it out to be.

Yes, Soriano has played in a great hitter's park. You're going to hear a lot about his home/road splits. They're right. He hits better at home. For the last three seasons, he's hit .260/ .303/ .465. That's not very good. I'll admit that.

But keep this in mind. When on the road, the majority of his games are in Oakland or Seattle, the two biggest pitcher's parks in the AL. And Anaheim's stadium is neutral, at best. Just as he's had a significant park advantage at home, he's had a significant park disadvantage while on the road. (And that's even before adjusting for the excellent quality of the Oakland and Anaheim pitching staffs over the last few years)

Soriano's neither as good as one camp would tell you, nor as bad as the other.

That being said, I'm a little squeamish about the deal. The reason? Money.

Soriano made $7.5 million last year thanks to arbitration. He's headed there again, and the number is only going to go up. Think $9 million, at least. Wilkerson was probably only going to make about $5 million in arbitration.

Is Soriano $4 million better than Wilkerson? Probably not. That $4 million could go a long way towards patching the holes in the rotation, which Joey Eischen and Tony Armas (who are on the verge of being re-signed) can't fill.

I'm not going to pillory Bowden for going after Soriano. He's a valuable player -- and a much better player than Juan Encarnacion. But I have to wonder what his plans are financially. With Soriano in left (a position he's previously said he doesn't want to play -- but that's an issue for later), there's about $10 million left. He damn well better be sure that he gets one of those remaining starters!

Leftover thoughts...
--This means that Marlon Anderson, presumably, is Nick Johnson's backup. Gulp. Last year's 131 was NJ's career high in games. Marlon for the other 31? Ouch.

--What happens if Soriano protests playing left even more? He can't be happy going to a pitcher's park in a walk year, and being asked to play a new position. Fast players aren't always great fielders either. What if he doesn't cut it?

--If he's in left, who's in center? I'd hope they'd give Ryan Church the chance with Marlon Byrd as caddy. But Bowden might want a true leadoff hitter. Could Tyrell Godwin get the big callup? That's probably a battle for spring. And Ryan Church is already two touchdowns behind.

--What do you guys think? Good? Bad? Neither? Cannonize Bowden? Crucify Bowden?


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