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talking trade

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here are some random trade musings for friday morning; danup returns to the chair next tuesday.

miguel tejada?: joe strauss snuck that name into a notes column yesterday -- at the very bottom, where we might not notice it. strikes me as exceedingly unlikely to happen -- the astros (like most teams) don’t make deals within their division, and moreover they don’t view themselves as out of the race. why should they? they’re only 5 games behind the cards, just 5.5 games out of first place. if we’re in the race, so are the ’stros. . . . . but let’s just pretend this were possible; how helpful would such an acquisition be?

tejada leads the league in hitting so far this year, but that almost surely won’t continue; once the BA heads back toward the mean, what’s left? tejada still hits a lot of doubles, but since coming to the nl a year and a half ago he has only gone yard 5 times away from the astros’ cozy home park (including 0 times this season); he’s basically a gap-power hitter at this point. kinda like joe thurston. of greater concern, tejada’s defense is atrocious. according to his UZR values at fangraphs, he’s been costing his teams runs for several years and this season is at -19 runs per 150 games. presumably the cardinals envision him at 3b initially, a position he has never played in the big leagues before (although i'll grant that it’s an easy shift from ss to 3b). he might rise to the level of league-averageness at the hot corner, but if glaus does return, then tejada probably gets the everyday ss job -- and that hurts the team. over the course of two months, he’d be about 10 runs worse with the glove than brendan ryan / tyler greene; i don’t think his bat is good enough anymore to overcome that fielding deficit. tejada had a .701 ops away from houston last season, with isolated power of .087; this year his ops away from houston is .805, not all that much better than thurston’s .748.

a tejada trade would be the type of move that would satisfy la russa’s (and pujols’s) yen to add a brand-name player, but i question whether it would really make the cards better. in spite of the marquee name, i don’t see tejada as more than a modest improvement over the status quo -- and only if he stays at 3b. if he ends up playing shortstop every day, i think he makes the team worse. in the very unlikely event the astros were willing to make tejada available to a detested nl central rival, they’d surely demand premium talent in return . . . . pass.

felipe lopez?: the cards saved the guy’s career last season; maybe he could return the favor this year and bail out the cards’ flagging offense. the dbacks are 9 games under .500 and 14 games out of first; brandon webb has been disabled all year with a sore shoulder. only the washington nationals’ season is more dead than the dbacks’. lopez is on a one-year deal and would only cost the cards about $2m in additional payroll, plus a modest (and expandable) prospect. although he’s not a markedly better hitter than what we’ve seen from joe thurston, lopez is a switch hitter who punishes left-handers. his career UZR/150 at 3b is +6 runs (including +18 in his 13 games at the position for st louis last year), and he’s an average defender at 2b. he’s a more likely "get" than tejada -- and also, imho, a better fit for the cardinals.

doug davis?: this lefty starter, also dead weight on the sinking diamondback roster, might have a bigger positive impact than any 3b on the market right now. i know the cards are supposed to be looking for a hitter, not a pitcher . . . . but with lohse out and wellemeyer sucking, adding a reliable starting pitcher surely couldn’t hurt this team. davis is a pending free agent with an $8.5m salary this year and sports a 3.42 ERA; his FIP is only 4.79, but davis (like tom glavine, a similar pitcher) has a history of posting ERAs that are better than his FIP. in the st louis ballpark, i'd feel safe in projecting 6+ ip per start with a 4.00 ERA; his k rate is still good, and he’s the type of pitcher (veteran, groundballer) who tends to work well w/ dave duncan. it would probably cost the cardinals at least one young arm, and not an inconsequential one -- wave bye-bye to one or two of boggs, motte, perez, todd, etc. steep price for a rental, but given that the cards have a deep stockpile of such arms, i’d give very serious consideration to that type of a deal.

jarrod washburn?: another expensive pending free-agent lefty on a dead-end team. the mariners are playing .500 and are only about 5 games out of first, but who are they kidding? the cards reportedly made inquiries on washburn last year, and i heartily endorsed that idea; i still do. washburn is pitching for a new contract and having a fine season; he wouldn’t cost nearly as much in talent terms as his teammate erik bedard (also a pending FA), but like davis he’d bolster the rotation and give the cards a southpaw option. probably would cost at least as much as davis in talent terms.