weekend discussion: trade wainwright?

to any member of the VEB community who was touched by the shooting rampage in kirkwood, deepest sympathies. what a terrible waste.

the play-in phase of the tournament is over; the field of 16 is set. here's a bracket with the seedings and matchups from here on out:

if you want to see the entire bracket, including the play-in phase, click right here. and there's still time to get in on Cardinal70's bracket challenge, if you haven't already e-mailed your picks to him. we're taking a couple days off from the tourney to get organized, so you have a little time to send in your picks for this phase.

here's today's weekend-discussion topic: by my count, erik bedard is the 5th prominent pre-free-agent pitcher to get traded this off-season (the other 4 being dan haren, johan santana, dontrelle willis, and matt garza). all were traded for prospects or very young major-leaguers. several other pre-free-agent pitchers have appeared on the rumor circuit, including joe blanton, tim lincecum, ervin santana, ian snell, and even scott kazmir. so the question is: what type of offer would the cards have to get to consider dealing away adam wainwright?

i'm not suggesting that wainwright is in the same class as all those other pitchers; he's obviously less accomplished than bedard, haren, or johan. but he's also cheaper than all of those guys and under team control for more years, so his overall market value might not be as far below theirs as we think. we know what price the market set on the 5 pitchers who've already moved, and we have some idea of what's being asked for guys not yet traded. one recent report says the a's want two blue-chip prospects plus a third player for blanton; the pirates reportedly want one blue-chipper in exchange for snell.

suppose the braves asked for wainwright in a straight-up deal for brent lillibridge --- an outstanding prospect at a premium position where the cardinals need help, and a guy who'd be under club control for 6 years (vs adam's 4). would you do it? i wouldn't, because garza (a less accomplished pitcher than adam) fetched a better player (delmon young). if garza's worth that, then wainwright's got to be worth more. so let's say the braves made lillibridge the centerpiece but also threw in gorkys hernandez, the speed-burning outfielder they just picked up from detroit, and a so-so pitching prospect. this'd be along the lines of the package that arizona gave up for dan haren --- not as bulky a package, to be sure, since wainwright's not quite the pitcher that haren is. would you do it then?

this is only one example, and it's as speculative as can be --- purely a conversation starter. i'm not seriously arguing that the cards can, or should, consider trading wainwright to the braves for some prospects. in fact, i'm sure it's out of the question --- since the cards don't see themselves as being in even a mild rebuilding mode they likely would never consider trading wainwright for prospects unless a team bowled them over with a spectacular offer, and that ain't gonna happen. so just consider the question in the abstract; it's a theoretical exercise. if you were the gm, and you saw the prices (in talent) that established, pre-free-agent pitchers were going for --- would you dangle wainwright out there to see what kind of offers came back? and what type of offer would you have to get before you pulled the trigger?

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