Monday, 25 August 2008

An Uncharacteristically Bad Trade

Word is that Robinzon Diaz, he of the 4-AB cup of coffee and awful injury luck this year, is the PTBNL (player to be named later, what? you didn't know that by now?) headed to the Pirates in exchange for utilityman Jose Bautista. We can all breathe a collective sigh of relief that Russ Adams is still a Jays' farmhand.

Now, I'm going to leave aside the fact that Bautista would probably be a non-tender candidate in the winter had he remained a Pirate because of his cost after arbitration, thus making him freely available had JP held off a few more weeks. And I also won't mention that he's really not that much better, offensively or defensively, than Hector Luna, who's already in the Jays system. Or that the Jays had no better than a 3% chance of making the playoffs when Bautista was acquired and really didn't need to add a veteran. I didn't just say all of those things and am now moving on to Diaz...

Let's take a look at the young catcher. He has his flaws (the typical Latin disdain for the base on balls, defensive rawness), but he was always a good hitter for average and had chalked up slow, but steady improvements in his slugging percentage starting at A ball at age 20 right up to his short stint at AAA last year at 23. And then he was struck by an assortment of injuries this year (a bad ankle sprain cost him 2 and a half months) that really hampered the incremental progress he'd been making and robbed him of at least a short-term stint with the Jays.

Of the three top catchers in the system (Diaz/Jeroloman/Arrencibia), Diaz was the closest to being big league ready and I would have given him a mulligan on 2008 and let him try to make the big club as Barajas' backup in spring training. When we had three young catchers with upside we had the luxury of letting them develop at their own speed, albeit with a bit of friendly competition to spur them on. Now we're down to two and should one flame out Guillermo Quiroz-style, then all that depth behind the plate is gone.

JP Ricciardi rarely makes bad trades and that is to his credit as a GM. Still, when the initial speculation was that he'd be sending Russ Adams or a redundant reliever like Frasor (non-tender candidate) or Tallet (probably would've been traded for something like Bautista in the off season) over to the Pirates, I could accept the logic of trading for Bautista. But to give up a younger player who might've been useful in 2009 as a stopgap until JPA's ready for veteran filler with only the longest of Hail Mary shots at the post-season? And where do you find playing time for this guy next year with Hill and Rolen hopefully healthy and J-Mac, Scutaro, and Inglett already filling out your bench?

Time will tell, but I'd say JP got snookered on this one.

-- Johnny Was


eyebleaf said...

whoa, new layout. i like.

i don't think we can judge this trade until a few years down the road. for all we know, Diaz could flame out Quiroz-style, or Kevin Cash-style. so let's hold on and see what happens.

and while Bautista might have hit the open market, i think going out and getting him was JP being pro active. there's no guarantee we would have got him then, right? the way rolen's season has gone (south), we need all the insurance we can get over at third base, and i'll take Bautista any day of the week over Luna...

i do feel you, though, because i was surprised it was Diaz heading to Shittsburgh. but, only time will tell.

The Southpaw said...

I'm not worried about it. He wouldn't have been my first choice to go (that would have been Thigpen) but I'm not with you on several points. I like Bautista a little but way better than I like Luna;
I'm not impressed with Diaz and I'll be more than a little surprised if he's ever a major league starter;
I think of the catching prospects we have at the upper levels he's the one most likely to pull a Quirz;
I like acquiring someone who is a potential 3B in the unfortunate event Rolen can't get his groove back (albeit i would have of course wanted a better option);

As for what happens when everyone is healthy - I submit that since both Inglett and Bautista can play the OF, that you can carry both of them and your backup SS because you won't need another reserve OF. Inglett and Bautista have compatible platoon splits so it should work out as well as having Coats or Wilkerson 2.0 out there.


SP said...

Honestly shocked that it was Diaz. There were probably a ton of other options, why the one that we might be relying on as backup catcher next year? Who will be backup catcher option now?

I don't agree that Bautista is only marginally better than Luna though.

I am sure that the anti-JP crusaders will have a field day with this trade. How it means JP is admitting his "mistake" in trading Glaus for Rolen.

P.S. I like the new white background. The solid black made it hard to read and going from black to white on another site was hell on the eyes.

The Southpaw said...

The Luna-Bautista thing was kind of flippant b/c I think they're both close to redundant. It also should be noted that it'll cost around $2 mil to retain JB next year vs peanuts for Luna as AAA depth. If Reed Johnson was dumped to save a million bucks last winter, why blow that savings on Bautista next because he's just marginally better than the one comparable guy you already have?

Championship teams are not made on the backs of 150-AB super util guys. I'd just as soon have pocketed the cash and kept Diaz, who, incidentally, dabbles in the IF himself.

And yeah, who's the backup catcher next year? You're not re-signing Gregg Zaun...


The Southpaw said...

Hrm, timing that is shitty:

the Twins DFA Mike Lamb, a lefty-hitting corner IF who OPS+'d 119 in '04, 113 in '06 and 112 in '07. He sucked professionally for the Twins this year, but wouldn't you rather him than Bautista if it's Rolen-insurance you're looking for in '09?


Anonymous said...

Losing Diaz is pretty much irrelevant. It's amazing to me that prospects who haven't had a chance to fuck up much in the majors (like Diaz) get more credit than guys who have shown to have definite major league use along with some unfulfilled potential (like Bautista). I'm hoping Bautista will be a more useful utility player for us next yr than JMac, meaning we'll have a real SS and McDonald will be redundant.

The Southpaw said...

As for back-up catcher, I'm thinking I'd have made a play for David Ross if I knew the Pirates were probably getting Diaz.

But finding sume schmuck to be a backup catcher is not that tough.

the Lamb timing does suck though.

Anonymous said...

PBTNL?? Is that a 'Player Be To Named Later'?

The Southpaw said...

I don't know what you mean, that alleged typo has disappeared from the archives...