2004 Effect of Deadline Deals
Ventura- .255/.350/.408 with 11HR and 0SB in 306AB
While the differences between Aaron Boone and Robin Ventura aren't earth shattering, Boone has more power and speed, Aaron may have been most helped by his contract situation: he's on board through the 2004 season. With Raul Mondesi and Ventura, the Yankees had two spots in their lineup that would be open next season. Boone will close off the third base position, and also send a message to Drew Henson reading, "Go Play Football!"
The right field situation is the more interesting one. The team has many options the rest of the season: Karim Garcia, Ruben Sierra, David Delucci, and Juan Rivera. But Yankees management has been hesitant to give Rivera significant playing time, decreasing the probability of locking down the 2004 full-time job. And with all-star Vladimir Guerrero readily available over the winter, trading Rivera seems definite. Guerrero will have a hard time finding suitors, as many teams don't have the money to go after the Dominican slugger. But the Yankees and Dodgers might, with New York having more money and exposure to offer Vlad.
Trading Brandon Claussen makes the rotation race a little more interesting for next season. Technically, the team has four starters signed for next year: Mike Mussina, Jose Contreras, Jon Lieber, and Jeff Weaver. The team has had it with Weaver though, and he will be in the first trade Brian Cashman can make. Also, expect the team to sign two of their three free agents, Roger Clemens, David Wells, and Andy Pettite. My guess is Clemens and Wells will re-sign, both taking less money and deferring payments.
The yield for Mondesi and Ventura was unique, as the Bronx Bombers got younger in the two deals. David Delucci is a great left-handed hitting bat off the bench, and can play all three outfield positions. Bret Prinz will have a chance at taking Antonio Osuna's job in middle relief, although I believe the team will sign a veteran to block Prinz. Sprowl is a good hitting catcher that needs a position switch and another new organization, as prized prospect Dioner Navarro is in front of him. Bubba Crosby also needs another organization, and should draw interest as he flirted with .400 in the PCL this season. Finally, they got a sleeper in Proctor, who has shined since moving to the bullpen.
Sanchez was penciled in for the 2004 2B job, with Todd Walker being a free agent. Bill Mueller has played second base on ten occasions this season, and is the favorite next season. That is considering Kevin Youkilis, the third base prospect that the Sox basically chose over Sanchez:
Sanchez (AAA): .341/.430/.493 5HR in 211AB
So, Epstein is hoping Youkilis takes third base next season, and Bill Mueller can play second base every single day. But, expect the club to get a super-bench player who can play both positions, someone in the Tony Graffanino mold.
Suppan is a free agent at the end of the season, so his future value is zero. Jeff and John Burkett are likely gone, and the team has a few options for those spots. There are five in-house candidates: Jorge De la Rosa (top pitching prospect), Ryan Rupe, Casey Fossum, Ramiro Mendoza, and Byung-Hyun Kim. The battle should come down to Fossum and Mendoza, with De La Rosa starting in AAA. Expect them to pursue at least one starter, with Bronx Bomber Andy Pettite and the long sought after workhorse Bartolo Colon.
The Williamson addition was a good one, as Dumatrait doesn't quite fit in the Theo Epstein prospect profile. Scott adds versatility to the 'pen, and won't be leaving the team next season. Boston will only lose Mike Timlin from the bullpen, and middle relievers are easily replaceable. Williamson allows the club to have two closers, along with Kim. This is the type of bullpen by committee that works, not the April 1 version.
Baltimore's farm system was believed to be one of baseball's five worst before the season. In 2003, they've added:
In Ainsworth, the team has found a cheap, possible improvement over Sidney Ponson. He'll be over his current injury by next year, ready to sit atop the Camden Yards' rotation. Moss is good at the end of a rotation, as he's a southpaw whom eats innings and changes speeds. The rotation will soon add Riley, who is doing well at AAA, after dominating the Eastern League. Fortunately, the team will lose the insane contracts of Scott Erickson and Pat Hentgen when the season ends.
That money should go towards adding the middle of the lineup hitter this team has lacked for so long. I believe the candidates they're considering to be:
Jose Guillen will not solve Oakland's future offensive woes, as he will leave for bigger dollars in three months. As will the team's biggest threat, and former AL MVP, Miguel Tejada. That means the A's two best right-handed hitters are as good as gone. Bobby Crosby will replace Tejada, while Billy Beane will actively pursue a left fielder to replace Guillen. Packaging Terrence Long's contract with a good prospect would be a very good idea.
What Oakland gave up isn't important, simply replaceable talent. They now have four great starters with the addition of Rich Harden, and some good options next year. Let's look at the options:
Justin Duchscherer- 11-2 3.06 126/132.1 101/13 at AAA
This allows the A's to trade Ted Lilly in the offseason to acquire their left fielder. I have two possible trade scenarios for you:
- Ted Lilly, Terrence Long, John Rheinecker to Cards for J.D. Drew
Releasing Appier and trading Scott Schoenweis will open two holes next year: one rotation slot, and middle relief. Assuming Jarrod Washburn, Ramon Ortiz, John Lackey, and Aaron Sele stay around, it could be quite a race for the fifth spot. The question comes down to when will Ervin Santana be ready for the Show? Likely not next April, allowing current fifth starter Scot Shields to retain the job.
Then, with Schoenweis and Shields gone from the bullpen, two spots are open. Expect the Angels to sign a leftie-killer (like Gabe White), and add a long reliever from their system, possibly Greg Jones. Next year will be important for the former world champs to try again at proving 2002 wasn't a fluke season.
Let me be the first on record to say Dave Littlefield has gotten too much heat. Yes, just Freddy Sanchez is probably not sufficient value for an overachieving Jeff Suppan and Scott Sauerbeck. But what does a rebuilding team need with a veteran innings-eater and LOOGY with a $2M contract?
Sanchez will likely be the 2004 Opening Day 2B, and likely will bat in the second spot. This move has an interesting subplot, as the Pirates are owed Bobby Hill, Frank Beltran, or Steve Smyth from the Cubs. Hill and Smyth will probably get overlooked, as Beltran will become the closer next year. The money that was going to Pat Meares, Pokey Reese, Randall Simon, and Aramis Ramirez will go to finding new power hitters. How about actively pursuing Adrian Beltre and trading for Sean Casey? It wouldn't be too expensive, and those two still have great potential.
This whole report changes if Brian Giles is traded in the next three weeks, although I think the Pirates will ultimately hang on to him.
With the platoon of David Delucci and Danny Bautista slumping, the Diamondbacks couldn't afford not to add another outfielder at the deadline. At first it looks like Delucci, Prinz, and Sprowl is too much for Mondesi, but consider who is in front of Prinz and Sprowl in the organization:
Brian Bruney, AAA- 2-1 1.21ERA 13H/22.1IP 22/10 K/BB
So, with those four players setting Prinz and Sprowl down in the team ladder, the trade was basically Delucci for Mondesi. While the ties to Delucci and Arizona date back to the team's existence, Arizona needed another bat in the lineup. Mondesi has more power, speed, and a better arm than Bautista, Delucci, or Quinton McCracken. This was a good job by Joe Garigiola of using organization depth to acquire Major League talent.
With Brian Jordan done, Fred McGriff not playing and Adrian Beltre not hitting, Dan Evans needed to add another bat. Problem is, Robin Ventura isn't the hitter he was with Evans in Chicago, and can't legitimately help this team. He will be gone at the end of the season, and expect the team to be non-tendering Adrian Beltre as well. With Jordan, Burnitz, Henderson, McGriff, Ventura, and Beltre all likely gone next year, Dan Evans will have the chance to add a big bat. The team will likely consider Vladimir Guerrero and Miguel Tejada, but it would be smarter to add Kaz Matsui, the next Japanese player, and the oft-injured Juan Gonzalez at the same price.
While both Crosby and Proctor may end up playing in the Major League one day, it won't matter to Evans, who wasn't expecting performance from either before the season. This team has a great future with pitchers Edwin Jackson, Greg Miller, and Joel Hanrahan to go along with James Loney, Joel Guzman, and Franlyn Gutierrez. I think it is likely that the Dodgers won't truly contend until these players get established, as Kevin Brown and Darren Dreifort's contracts kill flexibility.
What to watch this week