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Transaction Oracle
— A Timely Look at Transactions as They Happen

Monday, November 07, 2011

Royals - Acquired Sanchez

Kansas City Royals - Acquired P Jonathan Sanchez and P Ryan Verdugo from the San Francisco Giants for OF Melky Cabrera.

I count many Giant fans as friends. I can’t imagine that any of them are happy at the moment. If the name Aaron Rowand doesn’t come up in discussing this trade I’d be shocked.

Strictly on the basis of play in 2011 the Giants get the better of this deal, but that’s a silly basis to make the deal. Cabrera is young enough that his excellent play last year could be a new talent level, but it’s roughly 7 to 1 against as best I can tell (yes, the Giants may have information that I don’t have access to and thus reason to be optimistic. But as Steve Mann pointed out years ago, people in baseball are generally overly optimistic about this kind of thing. And as a counter to this point, the Royals did deal him). To be clear, I’d expect him to revert to being a bad hitter for a starting corner outfielder and decent but not exceptional with the glove. As a corner outfielder that is.

I expect the plan is to play Cabrera in center. He’s not likely to be gouge your eyes out awful, but he is stretched. It’s also moderately likely that Andres Torres comes into the equation either as the starter in center (I’d bet against this) or as a late inning defensive replacement (with Cabrera shifting to left), but nothing is settled yet. And if there’s one GM whose intentions I have a consistently bad read on it’s Brian Sabean.

The funny thing about this deal from the point of view of the Giants is that they could get everything they hope for from Cabrera and still regret the deal. I don’t think it’s likely, but every now and then a pure power pitcher like Sanchez figures out the strike zone. Here again you can argue for both sides of the improvement case. Maybe the Giants believe it just won’t happen, maybe the Royals have spotted a correctable mechanical issue. More likely the Royals are selling high, buying low and following the old mantra that you never know with pitchers (and can never have enough pitchers). Sanchez clearly has enough of an arm to be worth taking a shot on. All in all I’d bet on a frustrating , slightly above 1 WAR pitcher (which makes the kvetching about the deal kind of over the top, but I still hate, hate, hate the deal from the Giants point of view). Not many hits, plenty of strikeouts but far too many walks and an uncomfortable number of home runs.

I’m not sure why the Giants have to give up an extra player, and to be honest I wouldn’t be shocked if Verdugo turns out to have the best future of anybody in the deal. Don’t get me wrong, he’s strictly a suspect. Plenty of pitchers have piled up huge strikeout rates it the low minors only to fail as they move up. And he has obvious control issues. Still, as a starter in AA he struck out more than one hitter per inning and starting pitchers with that kind of K rate (and a K/BB rate of better than 2-1) always have a chance.

ZiPS Projection - Jonathan Sanchez
———————————————————————————————————-
Year   W   L   G GS   IP   H   ER HR BB SO   ERA   ERA+  WAR
———————————————————————————————————-
2012   8   8 26 25 136.1 125   66 15 79 126 4.36   95   1.1  
2013   8   8 26 25 132.2 122   64 15 77 121 4.34   95   1.1
———————————————————————————————————-
Top Comps:  Randy Johnson, Herb Score, Al Leiter

 

ZiPS Projection - Melky Cabrera
—————————————————————————————————————————
Year   AB   R   H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB   BA OBP SLG OPS+  DEF WAR
—————————————————————————————————————————
2012   566 75 161 36   5 13   63 38 81 15 .284 .330 .435 106   -6   2.7      
—————————————————————————————————————————
Top Offensive Comps: Ken Berry, Jim Piersall, Garret Anderson

 

Ron J Posted: November 07, 2011 at 08:43 PM | 35 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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Reader Comments and Retorts

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   1. Davo Dozier (Mastroianni) Posted: November 07, 2011 at 10:49 PM (#3988206)
This is *A* history of Jonathan Sanchez:

In 2007, his first full year, he pitched awfully out of the bullpen. In the offseason, the Giants converted him to a starter.
In 2008 he struggled a 5.01 era in 29 starts.
In 2009 he improved to a 4.24 era, with 9.8 K/9. He threw a no-hitter, and had sporadic moments of magic throughout the year.
In 2010, he threw 216 innings with a 3.16 era and 227 strikeouts. In his very first postseason start, he had 11 strikeouts, 2 hits, and 1 walk over 7 innings. He was still just 27 years old.

...By this narrative, we're looking at a pitcher on track for stardom, and you don't trade guys like that for Melky Cabrera. And based on the reaction I've been hearing so far, it appears a lot of people still believe in that storyline.
   2. crazycrabbers Posted: November 07, 2011 at 10:50 PM (#3988207)
Is the defense for center field?
   3. Best Regards, President of Comfort Posted: November 07, 2011 at 10:56 PM (#3988216)
I expect the plan is to play Cabrera in center. He's not likely to be gouge your eyes out awful, but he is stretched.
Did Melky's weight gain hurt his defense? Becuase I remember him being quite good in center with the Yankees (when he wasn't acknowledging the Bleacher Creatures on a ball in play)
   4. Dan Szymborski Posted: November 07, 2011 at 10:58 PM (#3988219)
Defense is for centerfield.
   5. Greg K Posted: November 07, 2011 at 11:00 PM (#3988220)
Heh. The last couple hours I've been wondering, "how likely is it Sanchez follows the Randy Johnson route?"

I take this to mean ZiPS' answer to this question is : "a lock".
   6. frannyzoo Posted: November 07, 2011 at 11:00 PM (#3988221)
One player's top comp is Randy Johnson, and the other's a guy from "Mayberry R.F.D.". I'm going with the Royals as winners here.
   7. Shock Posted: November 07, 2011 at 11:04 PM (#3988228)
Heh..


Yeah, Randy Johnson, Al Leiter, same diff....
   8. The District Attorney Posted: November 07, 2011 at 11:04 PM (#3988229)
A "pure power pitcher" throws harder than 90.

As did Randy Johnson.

It's true that the Giants shouldn't play Melky in CF.
   9. crazycrabbers Posted: November 07, 2011 at 11:05 PM (#3988230)
I like Sanchez but there was a lot of bad signs last season. He lost a mph on his fastball, his focus during games seemed horrible, he seemed to have no control over his mechanics and then had an "injury" that he never came back from.

I don't think the Giants were bringing him back regardless if they could trade him or not. That was the vibe coming from the front office.
   10. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: November 07, 2011 at 11:18 PM (#3988239)
Randy Johnson, Herb Score, Al Leiter


Yikes! That's a pretty killer list.
   11. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: November 07, 2011 at 11:30 PM (#3988245)
Ya I thought the Royals only got the slightly better of the trade till I saw that comp list
   12. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 07, 2011 at 11:39 PM (#3988249)
Did Melky's weight gain hurt his defense? Becuase I remember him being quite good in center with the Yankees (when he wasn't acknowledging the Bleacher Creatures on a ball in play)

Larry, at his best he was average in CF, but quite good in LF.
   13. El Tigre Makes A Desert And Calls It Peace Posted: November 07, 2011 at 11:40 PM (#3988250)
Where's Bobby Witt on the list?
   14. Dan Szymborski Posted: November 07, 2011 at 11:41 PM (#3988254)
Al Leiter in his 20s was a different pitcher than Al Leiter in his 30s. At one point, he threw in the mid-90s.
   15. Greg K Posted: November 07, 2011 at 11:46 PM (#3988260)
Al Leiter in his 20s was a different pitcher than Al Leiter in his 30s.

As was Herb Score!
   16. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: November 08, 2011 at 12:18 AM (#3988277)
Herb Score was a different pitcher than Al Leiter in his 30s?
   17. Bhaakon Posted: November 08, 2011 at 01:12 AM (#3988300)
In 2007, his first full year, he pitched awfully out of the bullpen. In the offseason, the Giants converted him to a starter.


Actually, he was a minor league starter converted into a reliever because the Giants were desperate for bullpen help and wanted to rush him. It's not like he'd never started before.
   18. zenbitz Posted: November 08, 2011 at 01:51 AM (#3988309)
Actually getting 3 WAR out of Melky would be OK. But its moot if the giants dont score Beltran or Reyes.

As for Sanchez... Man was he hard to watch. The stupid bit is that the giants claim to have no money to see if he cant be RJ
   19. North Side Chicago Expatriate Giants Fan Posted: November 08, 2011 at 03:27 AM (#3988352)
AAAAAAHHHHHHH
   20. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: November 08, 2011 at 03:53 AM (#3988362)
Why does ZIPS only project 136 innings? I thought ZIPS doesn't project playing time? Won't that affect his WAR?
   21. Davo Dozier (Mastroianni) Posted: November 08, 2011 at 04:15 AM (#3988371)
17: But I was just telling a story!

(Note: I actually didn't know that.)
   22. Dan Szymborski Posted: November 08, 2011 at 04:22 AM (#3988376)
"ZiPS doesn't project playing time" is essentially shorthand for saying "ZiPS projections for playing time include no specific insight as to how the organization will utilize the player."

Or in other words:

ZiPS knows how often a player's played
ZiPS knows the historical effects of position/age on playing time
ZiPS knows how long-term quality of play has tended to affect playing time
ZiPS knows recovery time from general injuries and some specific ones (Tommy John, pitcher shoulder, hitter hand/wrist/arm, hitter leg)
ZiPS knows playing time decrease is less as a player approaches specific milestones

What ZiPS doesn't know is that the Angels will feel required to give Vernon Wells every last chance past any point of reason. Or that John Lackey is out in the future. Or whether or not any number of decisions will be made.

The goal of ZiPS is to be objective - if by inserting my subjective opinion, I could make ZiPS more accurate, I would still not do it.
   23. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: November 08, 2011 at 04:25 AM (#3988379)
So the 136 innings is based on a projection of injury?
   24. Dan Szymborski Posted: November 08, 2011 at 04:37 AM (#3988383)
So the 136 innings is based on a projection of injury?

Yes, when it comes to pitchers, being injured is a good predictor of being injured. Probably the second best predictor after simply being a pitcher.
   25. Walt Davis Posted: November 08, 2011 at 05:43 AM (#3988404)
Also over the last 3 seasons, Sanchez has thrown only 450 innings. I think a simple Marcel 5/3/2 would project 139. So ZiPS is really just consistent with past "usage".

What I think is missing here (and in the discussion in the other thread last I checked in on it) is that it doesn't necessarily matter what these guys' futures hold. I believe they're both FAs after this year. If Sanchez puts it all together this year, he'll leave the Royals anyway. The Royals could try to lock him up early but they take the risk that he turns into Ollie Perez. If Cabrera has turned a new leaf, it's probably more likely the Giants will hold onto him. Anyway, even if you like Sanchez's future, a straight-up trade here would be fair ... the real coup here would seem to be the inclusion of Verdugo. The Giants should not have had to give up an extra piece here.

And being similar to Randy Johnson through age 28 is not that impressive: 9 K/9, 5.7 BB/9, .8 HR/9 and 101 ERA+. Again, Ollie Perez looked a lot like that through age 26 when he signed his big contract. Johnson did take his big step forward at 29 (BB rate down to 3.5) ... and if Sanchez does that, he'll leave the Royals. (Johnson also threw about 640 IP from 26-28.)
   26. RollingWave Posted: November 08, 2011 at 08:04 AM (#3988429)

Larry, at his best he was average in CF, but quite good in LF.


He also came on the heels of the Yankees' epic run of Matsui / Bernie / Sheffield / Abreu era outfield... which naturally made any competent outfielder look much better.
   27. MM1f Posted: November 08, 2011 at 08:47 AM (#3988432)
Anyway, even if you like Sanchez's future, a straight-up trade here would be fair ... the real coup here would seem to be the inclusion of Verdugo. The Giants should not have had to give up an extra piece here.


Verdugo is a useful piece, but lets not go overboard here. He is an old lefty with average stuff who doesn't throw strikes, Jim Callis said he wasn't among the Giants top THIRTY prospects. He is a guy I'd have a spot for on my AAA club, but he simply isn't good enough to be a "real coup."
   28. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 08, 2011 at 06:00 PM (#3988586)
He is an old lefty with average stuff who doesn't throw strikes, Jim Callis said he wasn't among the Giants top THIRTY prospects. He is a guy I'd have a spot for on my AAA club, but he simply isn't good enough to be a "real coup."


He's a 24 y.o. LHP with very nice K-rates (9/9 as a SP, 10-14/9 as a RP) who seems to be making progress on his control. He had his lowest K-rate yet (4.35/9) while transitioning to starting.

That's a nice lottery ticket. Should be a useful RP if nothing more.

Age shouldn't worry you with pitchers, especially LHP. They just don't follow standard aging curves.

I'll load up on lefties with good K-rates all day long. A lot of these guys just don't "figure it out" until their late 20's.
   29. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 08, 2011 at 06:01 PM (#3988588)
If Sanchez puts it all together this year, he'll leave the Royals anyway.

No, Walt, he gets moved at the deadline.
   30. Ray (RDP) Posted: November 08, 2011 at 10:30 PM (#3988799)
I basically agree with Ron. But it's worth nothing that Cabrera was basically a league-average hitter in the majors at age 21. More was expected of him, but he simply didn't develop, and even regressed. Then we have his 2011.

Is this the top end of his range? The BABIP would seem to indicate that it is. But I wouldn't be shocked if he maintained this performance, his increased BABIP being offset by the fact that he's entering his theoretical prime. 27 next year.

Now, all of that being said, I still agree that you sell high on him, and that's what the Royals did (while the Giants did the opposite). I like the trade from the Royals' perspective. I also think it has a chance of not mattering much, since I think both Cabrera and Sanchez have a good chance of struggling/disappointing going forward.

But there's one fundamental rule here I think the Giants have violated: If you wouldn't have made this trade a year ago, you shouldn't make the trade now.
   31. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: November 08, 2011 at 11:04 PM (#3988817)
Al Leiter in his 20s was a different pitcher than Al Leiter in his 30s. At one point, he threw in the mid-90s.


way back in Spring Training in '87 or '88 the Yankees' staff was old and ummm, velocity challenged, the NYC beat writers loved Leiter, one dubbed him the "pop machine," because you see the catcher's mitt popped with every pitch threw...

This of course was the dawn of what Yankees fans regard as the Steinbrennarian dark era, and Leiter, despite having the best stuff on the staff road the Columbus shuttle for two years before being traded for Jesse Barfields's desiccated carcass...

OK that's not fair, Barfield did have two decent years left in him and Leiter got hurt had a complete control meltdown, before emerging as a good pitcher several years later (sans 95 mph heater)- For what its worth Leiter always struck me as the pitching opposite of Lima- Lima never walked anyone- he always challenged hitters and he was always in the zone- even when he was getting smoked- Leiter walked a boatload of batters- but it wasn't due to poor command- he simply never gave in to batters, he was always trying to throw just OFF the plate, just outside the zone and trying to get the batter to chase something bad- Lima's approach worked when he had pretty good stuff- when he didn't the results were horrendous- Leiter OTOH was surprisingly effective with piss poor stuff AND while walking loads of guys - because he wasn't being consistently hit hard- because he refused to throw anything hittable- the pitcher he became was really something that was impossible to predict from his "pop machine" days.
   32. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 08, 2011 at 11:40 PM (#3988848)
Is this the top end of his range? The BABIP would seem to indicate that it is. But I wouldn't be shocked if he maintained this performance, his increased BABIP being offset by the fact that he's entering his theoretical prime. 27 next year.

Yeah, but his K-rate and BB-rate both got worse last year.

Only elite hitters or really fast guys can sustain a .335 BABIP. Cabrera ain't either.

I think the only way he gets around the inevitable BABIP regression is to get stronger and add power. He certainly has shown no ability to learn the strike-zone. He was better as a rookie.
   33. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: November 09, 2011 at 03:55 PM (#3989181)
This of course was the dawn of what Yankees fans regard as the Steinbrennarian dark era, and Leiter, despite having the best stuff on the staff road the Columbus shuttle for two years before being traded for Jesse Barfields's desiccated carcass...
Although if speaking of guys with an arm, even then Barfield had a ####### cannon.
   34. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: November 09, 2011 at 05:58 PM (#3989259)
Although if speaking of guys with an arm, even then Barfield had a ####### cannon.

Well yes, pretty much the day after the trade Barfield had the best arm of anyone, pitchers included, in the Yankee organization.

Basically he was a guy who if he'd failed to hit would have been converted to pitching in the minors buy most orgs...
   35. Russ Posted: November 10, 2011 at 06:51 PM (#3990360)
Although if speaking of guys with an arm, even then Barfield had a ####### cannon.


1986 Barfield Strat card: Arm: -5

Could not score from third on a D20 roll against this guy unless you were Vince Coleman or Rickey Henderson.

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