Thursday, March 3, 2011

Giants trade that wasn't

There’s almost always something worth snipping from Baggarly’s Extra Baggs blog, and yesterday evening was no exception:

The Giants should consider themselves fortunate that the Mariners ultimately pulled out of a trade for right-hander David Aardsma at the July 31 deadline last year. The Giants didn’t end up needed Aardsma because Ramon Ramirez was so good. And now Aardsma is just getting rid of his crutches after hip surgery in January. I’m told the deal would’ve sent [Ehire] Adrianza to the Mariners, along with either Jason Stoffel, Eric Surkamp or both.
If this doesn’t make you shudder, then you don’t understand what you just read.

Trading for a reliever that has one good season under his belt, and who also is smack dab in the middle of the season following and showing his true colors, is not a good idea. Not when you’re including two of your top ten prospects in the deal. Stoffel is an interesting arm too, and sending all three would be inexplicable.

Neither Adrianza nor Surkamp are hot prospects, but each has a shot at contributing at the major league level. Adrianza may not ever hit enough to play every day, but his glove is ready to play at shortstop in the big leagues and pretty spectacularly. Surkamp, on the other hand, has done nothing but dominate in the lower levels and could blossom into a mid-rotation starter in a couple years. Valuable indeed.

Aardsma had a solid season in 2009 when he saved 38 games and threw 71.1 innings. He was worth 1.9 wins above replacement (WAR) according to FanGraphs. He struck out 10.09 batters per nine, but also walked 4.29 per nine. Thanks to a pretty low batting average on balls in play (BABiP) of .253 and a really low home run rate of 0.50 per nine (thanks also to a ridiculous 4.2% home run per fly ball rate – hello, Safeco), his ERA was 2.52.

Compare that to his career numbers where he’s missed a lot of bats (9.08 K/9) but also walked way too many (5.05 BB/9) and given up far more long balls (0.91 per nine with an 8.5% HR/FB rate). Sure enough, his numbers in 2010 were very close to these, a lot less so to his 2010. He doesn’t pound the zone and because of that, he’ll probably never be a great reliever.

But he was a “closer” and apparently Sabean had some lingering infatuation after trading him in 2005 to acquire LaTroy Hawkins. I don’t want to delve too deep into why he could have possibly believed the players mentioned by Baggarly were worth giving up for Aardsma. In fact, the more I think about it the more I’m compelled to believe Baggarly has bad information. Maybe he checked in with Jenkins’ source?

If not, God help us.

I am almost certain you have also heard by now that Matt Cain has been shut down for a few days with “right elbow inflammation.” While this isn’t good news, it’s certainly not time to panic. And that’s exactly what Cain suggested: Don't panic.

I wrote all about this last night. About how we shouldn’t panic but we shouldn’t assume pitchers for the Giants will always be healthy simply because they have been lately. They’ve had a bit of luck, maybe some skill in keeping their pitchers healthy, and nothing more.

Pitchers get hurt. It’s what they do. One day you have Adam Wainwright penciled in opening day, the next he’s headed off to Tommy John surgery. One day you have the phenom with the golden arm, Stephen Strasburg, the next he’s headed off to Tommy John surgery. One day you have the luxury of complaining about you overpaid fifth starter… the next, well, you never know.

It’s a cold, cruel world for pitchers.

About my blog post “that I wrote all about last night”… Blogger ate it. Seriously, some really, really, really, wonky stuff started happening and I eventually had to delete the whole thing. Good times. It was up for about five minutes, I think, so to those one or two that read it: Lucky you!

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