Friday, August 01, 2008

For the record

I've discarded about nine potential posts so far. Suffice it to say that I believe these things:

-Manny Ramirez is not exactly a major upgrade, and he's only a significant upgrade because the Dodgers have Pierre in LF instead of an average LF. Ramirez is a ~5 win/season offensive upgrade, a ~3 win downgrade in range, about a full win upgrade in arm and a full win downgrade in baserunning. Ok, so 2 wins/season, and we'll give some extra credit for improving the bench if Monsieur Sweeney ends up cut. So, 1 win this season and a .015 or so improvement in their expected win percentage for the playoffs.
-Casey Blake is a slight upgrade over LaRoche, I guess. I'm not going to give a shred of credit for being an upgrade over DeWitt.

And for that, they give up the entire careers of LaRoche (major league regular already and has a very good chance to be a 3-4 WAR player), Santana (has enough with the bat that it would be a surprise if he doesn't eventually achieve competence as a major league backup, and could certainly end up a 2-3 WAR player), Meloan (probably a solid #2/#3 reliever, potentially a bullpen ace or #4 starter), and Morris (he's pretty far away but seems to have the potential to be a major league starter). Personally, I wouldn't have traded LaRoche straight up for a salary-less Ramirez and Blake, although I guess the draft picks would make it closer to consideration.

The big spin is that the Dodgers get the Winners now and get a draft pick to replace each of the prospects traded. The problem there is that they have traded successful draft picks (Morris excepted, perhaps) whose bonuses have already been paid. It is true that they may end up with 4 players of equal caliber, but it is not likely, they have to shell out signing bonuses, and there's about 4 years of depreciation. Plus, it's not like the Dodgers wouldn't eventually get compensation picks in six plus years if LaRoche and company are successful major leaguers.

I know few Dodger fans would likely agree, but LaRoche is way more valuable than Andre Ethier; if the Dodgers could have traded Ethier instead of LaRoche to complete this deal, they absolutely should have. Blake could have played RF and LaRoche could have played 3B. Ethier's hitting is below average for his position, he'll probably be a super-2 at the end of the year, and while his defense may be a plus I haven't seen compelling evidence that he's any whiz out there. Blake could have been his equal in RF, and LaRoche could have been Blake's equal at 3B. Maybe LaRoche was key to getting the deal done, in which case we have to wonder about why the Dodgers would neglect the simple fact of LaRoche's superiority and build a strategy around his jettisoning.

So yeah, if the Dodgers win the World Series, LaRoche is no more than an average 3B, and one or two of the comp picks ends up being a legit major league regular then I guess I'll apologize to Ned. But this is clearly a wrongheaded trade and seals the wrongheadedness of its predecessor, the Blake deal. Unfortunately, the gasbags on parade have lavished enough praise on Colletti for this trade that even its likely disastrous outcome will be downplayed because of the obvious Need for the trade. Well, you can't spell Need without Ned.


At 10:37 AM, Blogger Paul said...

Glad you posted on this. I had this to say last night on DT:

After thinking a lot about this trade, a trade my gut told me was terrible for the Dodgers from the start, I decided some math was in order.

The problem with that, however, is that the sample size for the remainder of the season is so small that a "net-wins" analysis is far more likely to be wrong than right (in either direction). What we need is beyond me, other than to say that as I thought it out, that we need it is further evidence of how awful this trade is.

Basically, long term, what we did was trade LaRoche and Morris for two top-50 draft picks. That is a trade that is clearly stupid.

The remainder of the trade is some increased probability of winning our division this year. As we stand today, before the trade and before tonight's loss, we had a 35ish% chance to make the playoffs (for the Dodgers, making the playoffs and winning the division are so close to the same thing as to consider them identical). So, what will our probability be tomorrow, before the game starts? I don't know. The math is beyond me. What I do feel, however, is that it just can't be that great an amount.

I also feel very certain that by merely playing the right players (forget all year - just start doing it now) would have meant more than the acquisitions of Blake and Ramirez. There is a substantial possibility that the Ramirez acquisition could mean very little (assume he replaces Either) and certainly a non-zero chance that it hurt us (assume he replaces Either day-to-day and several more games are Ramirez-Jones-Pierre).

I lack your evaluation skills, so it is comforting to see you reach a similar conclusion.


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