Notes on 755 Hank Aaron Dr

Monday, August 02, 2010

The Deadline Trade

I’m not sure that it will make much difference in the long run, but I do think that this was a slight upgrade. Since the trade included an outfielder and a reliever on each side, it makes sense to compare the players traded directly.

Rick Ankiel / Gregor Blanco:
Ankiel has more power. Blanco has a total of one home run, and only 22 extra base hits, in his major league career. And he only hit 32 home runs in the minors, with about two thirds of those at single-A. On the other hand, Blanco’s much better at getting on base. Ankiel’s career OBP is only .311; Blanco’s is .361. Ankiel’s OBP has been declining over the past three years as well, which is hardly a good sign. Blanco is also younger than Ankiel, by four years. Defensively, I think it’s a wash. Both can handle center field, but neither of them is a defensive whiz.

I think Ankiel’s power is more of a plus than Blanco’s OBP. The danger, to me, is that the Braves get the idea that Ankiel is a long-term solution in CF. He shouldn’t be thought of as such; this is a short term fix in reaction to both Nate McLouth and Jordan Schafer regressing terribly this year. In any case, this is a slight upgrade, or at worst, a wash.

Kyle Farnsworth / Jesse Chavez:
Anything that makes Jesse Chavez go away is a plus. He throws the ball hard, but it doesn’t appear to move at all. The “hard” part seems to enchant organizations, who seem to then discover that for some reason it’s not possible to make his pitches move. The Royals become his fourth organization in the last year. Kyle Farnsworth is hardly an ace reliever, but I expect that he’s less likely to be consistently useless in the bullpen. This is a significant upgrade.

So the Braves seem to have won the trade? In the short term, sure. In the long term, maybe not. Maybe the Royals can fix Chavez. A new grip, a change in mechanics, an added pitch – any of these could turn him into a really good pitcher. Blanco is more likely to be a contributing member of a major league roster in 2014 than Ankiel. (Not a starter, necessarily, but as a guy who can play all the OF positions, I think he’ll stick around for a while.) And the Braves did have to trade a minor league prospect, Tim Collins, in the deal.

Collins was just acquired in the Yunel Escobar deal. He’s a really small lefthander, who somehow throws really hard. I was rooting for him to make it to the big leagues. (In truth, I see no reason to stop rooting for that, until such time as he faces the Braves.) Chances are that Collins will never amount to anything, just like most of the players in AA. But there’s a chance that he ends up having Billy Wagner’s career… That being said, the whole point (well, a major part at least) of stockpiling players like Collins is to use them in trades just like this one.

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