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"Lou is not talking about mechanics when he goes out to the mound,"
~Chicago Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Beckett To Rangers Likely To Happen

When I woke up this morning I read about the proposed deal that would send Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell to the Rangers for Hank Blalock and one of the Rangers top pithching prospects. (Thomas Diamond/John Danks) As I do with all trade rumors, I thought about the effects the deal would have on each team, but was also aware that thus far it was still a rumor. Even if the discussions were as far along as reported, there was still uncertainty about the Rangers willingness to deal either Danks or Diamond. All the Rangers future plans are entrenched with those two guys at the top of the rotation. There was also the issue of how much, if any of Mike Lowell's salary the Marlins would pay. Essintially, this proposed deal still had the two biggest trade holdups as the main ingrediants; young pitching and money. For those two reasons, I was reluctant to assume this deal would go through. Atleast not quickly.

My mind has changed though. The Dallas Morning News is reporting that the deal will likely be done by Monday, with Danks being the pitcher sent to Florida.

Let's assume for a minute that the deal has already been completed. Do the Rangers or Marlins win? Or is it one of those great trades in which both teams win? It's fairly hard to truly evaluate deals in this day and age. Because so many trades are simply salary dumps it's not fair to judge the deal simply on production of the players. The Marlins here are clearly just trying to get rid of Lowell's salary. I also wonder how much they were influenced by the talent Billy Beane got from St Louis last year by trading Mulder. Many low payroll clubs trade their stars one year before they are eligible for free agency. But Beckett, like Mulder last year, still has two years until he will be a free agent. I think it might become a trend to trade these guys two years early, as you can get more in return from a team when that team is not just renting the players for only one year.

While the Marlins appear to be doing everything right by dumping Lowell's salary and trading Beckett while his value is highest, I still think the Rangers win this deal. Why? Because of the players the Marlins are getting in return.

Danks may turn out to be a fine pitcher. Or he may stink. It's so hard to project pitchers. That's why many people, Brian Sabean included, subscribe to the TINSTAAPP theory.(There Is No Such Thing As A Pitching Prospect) Even if everything goes perfectly for Danks, he still won't be as good as Beckett. The only knock on Beckett is his ability to stay healthy, and that's a fair knock. But his innings totals have increased over the past 3 seasons. In '05 he pitched a career high 178.2 innings. That's not what you want from your #1 starter, but the steady increase offers hope.

You also have to wonder how much Blalock has been helped by his home ballpark. Take a look at his home road splits and all doubts might be erased.

Home: .297/.361/.534 HR-20
Road: .231/.276/.335 HR-5

Throw in the fact that he's hitting just .196/.228/.356 vs lefties and basically all you've got is a guy who can only hit right-handed pitching in Ameriquest or Coors Field. That's not so bad for the Rangers who play 81 games in one of those parks, but what do the Marlins see in this guy. Yes, he's only 25. Yes, he will get better. But how much better? All I'm saying is that the Marlins are giving up one of the best young pitchers in baseball for a prospect and a guy who hasn't shown the ability to hit away from Arlington. It seems too risky for my taste.

But it makes them cheaper, right? I guess that's what this really ocmes down too. I just wonder if they can't get a better package somewhere else.

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